WARNING: Radio Rating — D minus...
Yeah, sorry... this show is all about the Eclipse. There's barely any ham radio in it, and the video is really important.
On the other hand, we will say that pictures of the total eclipse don't do it justice, so maybe you're better off with just the audio.
Gary KN4AQ, Jeff AC4ZO and Bobbie KD4ZVW traveled to Wyoming for the best potential of clear skies to view the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. They were not disappointed.
Thanks to Frank NF9H and KC KC9MTL, we found a site that was ideal. We also touristed around the Denver area, visited Pikes Peak, the HRO store in Denver, a hamfest, WWV, the Red Rocks Amphitheater, and a super kite shop (very little of which you'll see in Gary's highly edited video).
The centerpiece of this show is video Gary shot of... not the eclipse (though some of that is there - you see it in the poster for this episode)... but the ground, the people reacting and the area going dark. You'll only hear that in the audio. Then you'll hear Gary's reaction. And maybe that's enough.
The Amateur Radio Parity Act drew plenty of critics in its original form (HR 1301, the early days) from hams who thought the government shouldn't stick its nose into private contracts. After the ARRL and the CAI (Community Associations Institute) arrived at compromise language, the US House of Representatives was happy (and passed it), but ham critics accused the ARRL of 'selling out'.
More recently, several hams who are also lawyers crafted their own, considerably more thoughtful arguments about to why the compromise bill (now HR-555 and S-1534) are not good for Amateur Radio.
Two of them, former FCC attorney Jim Talens N3JT, and well-known antenna law attorney, author (and contester) Fred Hopengarten K1VR, join David and Gary to make their case.
If you want an explanation of what's in the Bill, pre- and post-compromise, check out HamRadioNow Episode 259 (Click-bait titled PokeHAM GOta). If you want to be able to read along, the video is on YouTube. The link will take you to the spot Gary starts his review.
This episode also has some text of the bills, but we're pretty careful to read everything out loud. So we'll give it a Radio Rating of B+.
Last time on HamRadioNow... David and Gary wondered if there was an ARES mission with the coming Total Eclipse. Something about millions of people cramming into a 70-mile wide swath of darkness, overloading the highways and cell systems, and taxing emergency services. So yeah, maybe there was. But we hadn't heard much about it. Just Propagation studies and QSO parties.
Well, watching that show were Don and Betsy Reid, W7DMR and K7BTS. Don is EC for Benton County OR ARES, and Betsy is his AEC. And they were already making plans with their ARES group to be on the air from the county EOC, running a net.
So in this show we'll get the details. We'll also talk to the HamKid, Sam Reynolds KM4WDK. Sam and his family are planning to drive down to South Carolina from their home in Charlotte. Sam was a good foil for our concerns that, while there will be ARES activity in many areas (and especially in South Carolina), it's hard for hams who may be traveling to those areas to learn about them.
OK, we'll stop doing the whole show here in the cliff notes and let you listen. Especially since this talker gets a Radio Rating of A. That one pesky map keeps it from getting an A+.
All the chatter about Amateur Radio and the Eclipse (coming August 21 to a sky near you, if you're in the USA...) has been about propagation. What effect will the eclipse have on the bands?
But major HRN fan Mark Cartwright noted that one county in Idaho had declared Eclipse Day to be a State of Emergency.
Think about it. The path of totality is about 70 miles wide, stretching from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic in South Carolina. Most of it is in very rural territory, and a few small to medium size cities are right in the middle. Millions of people are expected to flock to that zone. In any given county, it could be tens to hundreds of thousands, depending on expected viewing conditions.
It turns out that emergency management in most areas have been preparing for months. The State of Emergency may (or may not) be a bit too much, but at a minimum, EM is expecting gridlock on most major arteries in the zone. So are astronomers who have experienced total eclipses before.
While an eclipse isn't a 'natural disaster', and won't wipe out communications (maybe a little on HF), that many people in rural territory will certainly overload the cell system.
Does Amateur Radio have a role? And are ARES groups stepping up to fill it?
This show began as an off-line Skype discussion between hosts Gary KN4AQ and David W0DHG. At some point, David said 'this ought to be a show', and Gary pushed the Facebook Live button.
We'll probably do another show after we've rounded up a few ECs, etc. in the zone to talk to about what they're planning.
Gary shows some maps of the path of totality. You can see it here:
But mostly it's a discussion. So an accidental Radio Rating of A.
Toward the end of the show, they go off-topic, and Gary discusses the 'Future of HRN'. Spoiler alert: Gary says that view counts and downloads do not justify doing the show. Only the level of fan contributions make it worth doing (and that's at the 'just barely' level). So while this 'show-not a show' rambles and ambles a bit (typical, really), you might want to stick around to the end.
Early this morning, Tropical Storm Emily spun up in the Gulf of Mexico, aimed at Tampa FL and a path across the state in just a few hours.
It wasn't expected to do more than rain a lot. But ya gotta be prepared, right? Just in case?
So we talked to Darrell David KT4WX, the ARRL Section Manager for West Central Florida. And he told us. The short answer is "Stand By". The longer answer is... this show.
This is talking heads. Darrell isn't even on video - he's on the phone. You'll miss a few web sites and radar of the rain (see the episode picture, available on some of these fine podcast apps). And you'll miss Gary trying to reorient a couple of cameras that he was too rushed to reset from the Fix It! Volume 2 show, so that's fun. But we're pleased to bestow a Radio Rating of A.
Back in HRN 335: Fix It! with AC4ZO Jeff and Gary reviewed a fix of Gary's Icom 7000's optical encoder, and then looked briefly at a new (maybe) problem that surfaced — a hollow 'ping' and ringing in the transmit audio. And in that episode, we noted that swap and replace is one of the most effective (speed, if not cost) troubleshooting techniques.
So that's just what we did. Gary borrowed another 7000 and played with all the settings that made (or mitigated) that tin-can sound.
What happened? Or rather and you won't believe what happened next!
You will quickly notice that this episode audio is entirely SSB. Awesome, right? And really, this is barely an episode. But corporate policy is to put an episode number on everything. Gary sneezes, it's an episode. That's how we keep ahead of Ham Nation.
RADIO RATING? Well, the video shows the radio display and menus a lot. Maybe not critical for understanding what Gary's doing (he describes them most of the time). But enough to pull the RadioRating down to B-.