Now that the holidays are past, we have started the 2023 Hamfest Happenings. My calendar already shows seven scheduled hamfests between March and September and I expect there will be more. That listing does not include the two most recent completed hamfests, Wheaton and Collinsville. A thank you to assistant section manager KD9IPO for handling the ARRL table at the Wheaton hamfest.

The Collinsville hamfest was well attended with ARRL CEO David Minster as the dinner speaker. He also spent the day at the ARRL table meeting members. I did have the opportunity to discuss several Illinois section issues with him.

   The past couple of months have seen several things happening. In December there were two U.S. House of Representatives bills proposed, one dealing with signal rate and the other with antenna restrictions. As most of you know, these two items have been in discussion for some time without any resolution. Unfortunately, since it was a lame duck session, nothing happened. They are two of a multitude of actions we have been waiting on for several years.

   There was also the bad news just recently, that the Amazon Smile program has been discontinued. Many of you participated in the program and selected the ARRL as your organization that received the donation.

   That’s enough of the bad news. Now for some good news.

   We will soon have a central location for ARRL Illinois Section information. It is our new Section website that is currently under development and testing and will shortly go live. Look for an announcement soon. It contains many links to information pertinent to Illinois amateurs. The page will become part of the new website.

   If you haven’t updated your club information in the ARRL affiliated clubs database, now is the time to do it. That way your ARRL affiliation stays active and our Affiliated Clubs Coordinator has your correct contacts.

   It is also a requirement of affiliated clubs to designate a Public Information Officer (PIO). We have had successes this past year with more clubs meeting the requirement, but we still have a ways to go. Our Illinois Section Public Information Coordinator (PIC), KD9BAU has been working with the club PIO’s and helping them get their club information out to the public.

   If you haven’t designated a PIO for your club, now is the time to do it. Let KD9BAU ( know who it is so they can be added to the PIO list and begin to avail themselves of the many tools and the monthly PIC newsletter. It would be fantastic if the Illinois Section finished 2023 with 100% of the affiliated clubs having a designated PIO.

   VOTA (Volunteers On The Air) has begun. Each state will have a two week period where they will operate as portable W1AW. In Illinois our two weeks to operate as W1AW/9 are the week of June 28 and the week of December 6. The W1AW/9 coordinator for the June week is K9CT and I will coordinate the December week. Depending on how many operators wish to participate, we can operate all bands/all modes except on 2200, 630, 60, 30, 17, and 12 meters. There will be no VOTA operations on those bands.

   This is a great opportunity for new hams wanting to get their Worked All States award. There will not  be any QSL cards but all the contacts will be logged on Logbook of the World (LoTW).

   If you can spare a few hours during one of the two weeks please contact either K9CT ( or me ( I can tell you from experience, getting on the air as W1AW will be a pileup experience you won’t soon forget and who knows, you might also pick up a couple of those DX entities you need.

   All Illinois amateurs, Technician through Extra, are welcome to participate on their allotted frequencies and although we would appreciate you being an ARRL member, it is not required. This is your opportunity to operate using the call sign of ARRL founder Hiram Percy Maxim.

   I was disappointed that we could not generate enough interest in holding an Illinois Section Convention. I’m not sure why, but maybe it has to do with COVID/Flu, gasoline prices and the economy.  There will, however, be three opportunities to get together with your fellow hams.

   Our Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC), W9DSR, will be holding three ARES meeting during this year. One north, one central and one south. The initial meeting will be in the central area on March 25 in Springfield.

Mark your calendar now. Further information will be made available as the date gets closer on the new Section webpage.

   Has your club been an ARRL Affiliated Club for 50, 75 or 100 years? If so, please let me know so I can get an ARRL recognition plaque for you. It does take time to get the plaques printed and shipped so the sooner you let me know, the easier it will be to make sure the plaque is available on time.

   Did you know on the first and third Sunday each month, we have the Illinois ARES net at 4:30 p.m. on 3905 kHz? All ARES, AUXCOMM and amateurs interested in emergency communications are welcome to check in. On the first Sunday the net moves from North to South and on the third Sunday from South to North. Net control transfers control to each DEC (district emergency coordinator) who then calls their district. If you don’t have capabilities on 3905 kHz you can listen and participate on the net using EchoLink WB0VTM-L or node 824404.

   There is also an opportunity to check your equipment on both Sundays on 40 meters 7230 kHz (+/- pending QRM) and on 60 meters channel 5.

   As I write this many of my area roads are still covered in ice and my temperature is still below freezing. I keep reminding myself there are less than 40 days until spring arrives. It’s been strange winter weatherso far. One week it’s been 50-60 degrees and the next below freezing. I definitely don’t like 90 degree weather but my bones also don’t like the cold. The one advantage to the cold days is that it keeps me in the shack on the radio. I probably spend more time listening than talking. This morning I heard a couple of guys on CW talking about operating the FT891 mobile. That’s the same rig I have in my vehicle and I learned a couple of new tricks I’ll have to try as soon as it clears up enough that I can go mobile.

   Are you planning for Field Day? It’s a great opportunity to get out and spend time with good friends. Make sure to have your club PIO send something to your local newspapers/TV stations a head of Field Day to make sure you get them to cover your activities. If you’re not sure how to do it, our PIC will gladly help.

Until next time, 73 and good propagation.

Thom W9RY