SCARS News March 30, 2021

With The SCARS Exam Team — Menu

By SCARS Exam Chief - Peter Laws N5UWY

First, an update: Still no word from the FCC on when the new application fee goes into effect. “Conventional Wisdom”, from people who may know, is “June”.  In the meantime, get those renewals done (you can renew 90 days before your license expires) or upgrades completed and avoid the fee.  Contact me,, if you need assistance with renewal.

Next, we have been holding in-person exam sessions since July 2020, and are continuing to do so.  We follow city and CDC guidelines and regulations regarding masking, distancing, and sanitizing and have so far restricted the number of examiners present.  Given the rate of vaccinations (over 600,000 Oklahomans, about 16% of the population, we may be able to welcome back vaccinated members of the exam team, possibly as soon as June.  It’s kind of up to the virus.  Get stuck if you haven’t been!

Now a bit about our process, most of which you don’t see even if you attend an exam session. 

If you’ve been with SCARS for a while and are scoring at home, you may have noticed that the SCARS Exam Team no longer uses the ARRL VEC but has switched accreditation to Laurel (Md.) ARC VEC. “LARC-VEC” has been a VEC — “Volunteer Examiner Coordinator” —  since amateur testing was delegated to the amateur radio community in the early 1980s.  LARC-VEC has never charged a cost-recovery fee and does not do so today, even though that’s permitted under Part 97, the rules that govern the Amateur Radio Service.  You’ll likely recall that ARRL-VEC collects a $15 fee as do several other VECs.

I thought I would share some of the behind-the-scenes activity associated with our team’s session and you can see how things have changed — for the better! — since we switched VECs beginning at Field Day in 2018.

ARRL-VEC Workflow (before June 2018)

Acknowledge receipt of candidate web registration via email.  Request that candidates get an FRN if they didn’t already have one.  Standardize the address data via the USPS website.  Confirm FRN or (for upgraders) license data with FCC.  Enter it all in a spreadsheet  None of these tasks are required but all are intended to streamline the exam session experience for candidates and volunteer examiners.

Before the session, paste candidate data into a fillable-form PDF of the NCVEC Form 605 and a fillable-form PDF of the ARRL exam answer sheet.  Print former on “buff yellow” paper and the latter on plain paper.  Again, not required, but done to improve the session flow.

Attend the exam session.  Verify candidate ID, collect ARRL-VEC cost recovery fee, add candidate to roster, hand out test papers, grade tests, fill out CSCEs for successful candidates by hand (press hard, you are making three copies).  Have VEs and candidates sign paperwork. 

At the end of the session make certain:

o That all candidates are recorded on the session roster with their test results, remembering that a retest of a failed element is considered a separate “candidate” with a separate fee and record data accordingly (retain carbon for team records).

o That all VEs signed the Test Session Report and tally elements passed and failed, and new licenses earned.  Tally up collected fees and check that the totals match  (retain carbon for team records).  Make out a check for the cash in order to not send cash through the mail.

o To send all paperwork to ARRL at their expense (initially Priority Mail, later First Class Mail).

Each of the above steps at and after the session was required by ARRL-VEC.

Watch for licenses to post the following week (or the next week or occasionally the week after that).  Confirm that data was transcribed correctly and have ARRL-VEC correct if needed (rare).  Notify candidates that their license or upgrade has been issued by FCC — none of these steps were required but they are good “customer service”.

LARC-VEC Workflow (June 2018 and later)

Acknowledge receipt of candidate web registration via email.  Require candidates to get an FRN if they didn’t already have them. Standardize the address data via the USPS website.  Confirm FRN or (for upgraders) license data with FCC.  Enter it all in the spreadsheet. None of these items are required, but all are intended to streamline the exam session experience for candidates and volunteer examiners and are identical to how things were done previously.

Load candidate data into LARC-VEC Session Manager software (“SM”). 

Attend the exam session.  Verify candidate ID, mark candidate present in SM software, hand out test papers, grade tests.  Print out CSCEs and LARC-VEC Form 605 for successful candidates and affix candidate and volunteer examiner signatures. Print out VE sign-in sheet and have examiners sign. 

At the end of the session:

o Direct SM to print session roster showing candidate names, test results, and licenses earned (if any) and to print session summary. 

o Scan all session paperwork to PDF, upload to LARC-VEC dashboard.

o Upload encrypted results file to LARC-VEC dashboard. 

Watch for licenses to post later that evening — unless we miss the last batch processing window, in which case the licenses post the next morning, assuming it’s a weekday.  Notify candidates that their license or upgrade has been issued by FCC.

So there are many fewer steps, especially for the Team Leader (N5UWY in this case).  And better than that, the process is quicker for candidates at the session.  Even better than that, if we test on a Thursday and there are no FCC SNAFUs, the licenses get issued or updated the same evening.  As I tell candidates, FCC rules changed years ago to consider a license “granted” as soon as it appeared in the database, not when the now-obsolete paper license arrived.  Nearly 3 years in that speed is still incredible to me. 

The spreadsheet I mentioned has data back to 2000.  My predecessor as team leader, Jim Copeland, AD5WJ (ex-NW0K),  started keeping track of the time the 13 and 20 WPM tests were eliminated along with Novice and Advanced testing.  There are nearly 2000 candidates listed there. VECs (not individual VEs) are required to retain records for 15 months after a test.  In keeping with that, I periodically delete all but a candidate’s name, callsign, and FRN each of which is public information.

The results file we upload is encrypted because at one time it was possible to enter a Social Security Number in place of the FCC Registration Number and you can’t be too careful with PII like that.  Although using SSNs is no longer possible, the software still encrypts the file.

What’s with the “buff-yellow” paper?   In the old paper-based days when the FCC hand-sorted license applications at Gettysburg, Penna, the applications were sorted by color – I am told that other services had different color application forms.  I kept that tradition going under the old system but stopped when we moved to LARC-VEC since all paperwork is printed, as needed, right at the session.

I need to make one thing clear:  Because no fee is collected, it is up to LARC-VEC accredited exam teams to provide all paper and printing themselves.  While postage costs have recently “dematerialized” like so many things these days, we still have costs for paper, ink, and occasional printing of professional-looking question booklets. SCARS members voted to cover these costs when we started with LARC-VEC back in 2018 and on behalf of the exam team, I want to publicly thank the membership again for supporting this valuable service.  And thank you as well to one of the team’s Deputy Team Leaders, Mark, N5HZR, for making a printer available for exam sessions. 

OU Balloon 3 – Newfoundland — Menu

The OU Aerosat Capstone project under the direction of Dr. Thomas Hays KI5AIF launched their third balloon on Sunday March 28, 2021 at 10:30 am local time. This balloon is similar to the previous two, with an SBS 13 envelope, a QRP-Labs APRSLight-W transmitter and a small 4.8 volt solar cell producing 50 mW. This rig transmits on 144.39 MHz using APRS technology, and on 20 meter WSPR to send back altitude, location, voltage, and more metric data.

The first day of the trip ended just south of Little Rock, AR floating at 43,000 ft, and the rig woke up east of Nova Scotia. However, something started a downward progression and when it woke up, the balloon was down to 31,000 feet, dropping at 250 feet per minute. While no one knows ‘what happened’, but the balloon went through the large storm system that hit Tennessee the day before.

This trip made over 3,000 miles in about 27 hours. That means it averaged 81 mph and reported speeds in excess of 170 mph during the trip.

The balloon team is working a couple additional launches in a couple of weeks, so keep watching APRS and WSPR for ground based tests before the ‘big days’.

Mars Landing Heard by Hams — Menu

Remember the recent Mars rover that landed way back in February, about a month ago? Well, Scott Tilley VE7TIL not only remembers it, but he regularly listens to the spacecraft circling Mars, that relayed those transmissions. In an article from, Scott talks a little about his setup, but it’s really just a 2′ dish and an SDR receiver. He’s heard signals from Mars, the moon, and circling zombie satellites. He’s also the guy that ‘found’ the satellite LES-5 that was thought to have been dead for 50+ years.

Take a look at those articles, dust of your SDRs and see what you can ‘find’.

QRZ050: The Readers Ask Questions — Menu

This ongoing series was written by SCARS charter member SK Jack Bickham WB5TZZ / KU5B. Jack was a prolific novelist, his two most known works were turned into the movies “The Apple Dumpling Gang”, and “Bakers Hawk.” These 104 Q. R. Zedd articles were originally published in the Central Oklahoma Radio Amateurs (CORA) Newsletter, the Collector & Emitter from September 1981 through April 1990, and are hosted on the SCARS website. We are reprinting this series to provide you with a glimpse of the past.

Originally published in the November 1985 Collector and Emitter.

From time to time we get letters from readers of our reports of the exploits of Q. R. Zedd, the world’s greatest DXer, who lives just a hoot and a holler south of Norman.

Some letters say the column is so stupid, why do we keep doing it, and all, but every once in a while we get nice letters, and even questions about your humble reporter. So if you will take my word for it that Zedd is off the air at the moment, working on his walk-in linear and writing his Christmas want list, I’ll humbly answer a few of the questions addressed to the author.

QUESTION: Are you really a ham? You don’t act like you know much.

ANSWER: Yes, I really am. Which only goes to prove that even the FCC can make mistakes. I got into amateur radio about 10 years ago, after dreaming about it since my youth (mostly on nights when I had eaten too much pizza.) I moved right up and only failed the Technician once, the General three times, the Advanced three times, and the Extra three times, but Zedd told me to keep trying and I finally passed them all, I don’t know how, luck, I think.

QUESTION: What do you do for a living, or are you a welfare parasite?

ANSWER: I wish I were, but I do the next best thing, I teach over at the University of Oklahoma and write books sometimes, and my hobbies besides amateur radio are tennis and trying to figure out if I’ll ever get a raise.

QUESTION: Tell us about your background.

ANSWER: I don’t have much of a background and it’s real dull, actually. I was born poor and have tried t lot of things to make money but have never done very_well at any of them. I think I missed my calling in 1955 when I quit selling Fuller Brushes. I sold the hell out of those toothbrushes. I had my horoscope cast once and the lady told me I was destined to be a failure all my life. That knowledge has helped me greatly by contributing to a more relaxed attitude on my part.

QUESTION: What makes you think you can write humor?

ANSWER: I never tried to write any. All my. stuff is heavy, technological, and most serious.

QUESTION: Who inspired you to create Q. R. Zedd?

ANSWER: Questions like this really upset me. Oh, ye of little faith. Zedd is real. He is as real as love and Christmas and Braums ice cream. God bless you, child, better to say the Easter Bunny isn’t real. Or Tondelayo. He lives just a hoot and a holler south of town. He invented radar and the plastic milk bottle. No one could make up Q. R. Zedd. However, if I had made him up, I would have to say three people would have been the inspiration. First would be WA5MLT, who used to live in Norman, and to this day still holds the microphone-swallowing record for the southwest region, as well as the coveted Yodar Kritch. H.O. got the rf bug bad a few years ago when he borrowed a Swan 350 from N5MS. Later he started chasing DX. He infected me with that. Thanks to H.O., I went from having a Swan 700CX and a random wire to having a Kenwood 820S and a Dentron Linear and a big beam and a Drake TR7 station and linear and a Datong and a speech processor and debts in excess of $7,000, all due to amateur radio. When my wife threw me out, I think my interest in amateur radio was listed as one of her reasons, and I owe all this to WA5MLT. My second inspiration was W5OU. When I first got into DX, I would call him breathlessly on 2 meters to report something like, “Gordon! Guess what! I just worked Italy on 20 meters!” Gordon has a logbook the size of the World Trade Center, and he would always be polite, and riffle back through the pages, and tell me the last time he worked that country on 75. He taught me humility—, a lesson I later, thank God, forgot, or I couldn’t have stayed a DXer. My third inspiration was W5NUT, who took me with him to St. Maarten once. From Gillie I learned how to work a pileup, tune the Collins S-line, and drink canned iced tea all morning without going to the bathroom. I learned a lot of other stuff from W5NUT and had the time of my life down there with him. At the risk of being maudlin, I hope I get the money scraped up to go back with him some day.

QUESTION: What was your own greatest DX thrill?

ANSWER: I think it was the first time I worked A5A. That was on his VietnamDXpedition right before the border war wrecked his campsite and he had to hike out through Tibet.

QUESTION: Why don’t you put. the Zedd adventures into a book?

ANSWER: No demand from publishers that would pay, or do it for free, and I’m too cheap to pay for it myself. I told you I’ve always failed at most stuff: this whole Zedd thing is just another example.. I dreamed it would make me famous and rich. But that’s another story.

QUESTION: How long have you been writing about Zedd now?

ANSWER: A little over four years. This is No. 44 on the computer, and there were a few done before I got the machine.

QUESTION: How long do you plan to keep writing about Zedd?

ANSWER: I dunno. Until he makes me stop or I run out of gas or some famous biographer comes along and signs him up for a real life story and I get threatened with a lawsuit if I don’t stop, or something.

QUESTION: Do you have any advice for regular readers of the C&E?

ANSWER: Yep. Keep theM. cards and letters- coming. And regularly take tithe out to thank the good lord for Joe Harding.

— KU5B

New/Upgraded Hams

Please join the SCARS Exam Team in welcoming the following new amateurs to the air:
Brenda, KI5OLH
David, KI5OLI
Samuel, KI5OLK
Alexander, KI5OLM
Scott, KI5OLN
Bruce, KI5OLP
Scottie, KI5OLR
Vincent, KI5OLS

each of whom earned Technician class licenses as well as

Eric, KI5OLJ
Ethan, KI5OLL

who earned General class licenses. Please also congratulate:

Austin, KI5BBK
Jarod, KI5FHT
Nick, KG5ZGB

each of whom upgraded to General class.
All tested on March 4th and 5th at the firehouse under pandemic precautions.

Congratulations to all!

Next Exam Session:  April 1

Dates to Remember — Menu

Newsletter News — Menu

This newsletter is announced in several places. Feel free to subscribe to the way that suits you best. If you’re an email person, you can subscribe by visiting If you’re a Twitter person, visit us at And each newsletter announcement is posted on the Facebook group at And, if you like to search this yourself, you can go straight to the newsletter at Any way you found the newsletter, we’re glad you made it.

And, this newsletter should be for, and about, you. If you have a neat build project to share, an interesting QSO, a new radio review, a new idea, an upcoming event, a member spotlight, or if you’d like to help produce the newsletter, please send an email at These don’t have to be polished articles; we’ll edit as required. Don’t forget a picture or two. That picture is worth a thousand words.

Local Hamfests — Menu

Briefly, here’s the list of the upcoming local hamfests. Hamfests are always great places to buy new equipment, sell your underused equipment, and find that great flea market bargain. They are always a great place to meet local hams and learn some new tricks.

4/2/2021 | Ozark Con – 4 States QRP | Location: Branson, MO — CANCELED
4/9-10/2021| Green Country Hamfest | Location: Claremore, OK — CANCELED
5/21-23/2021 | Dayton Hamvention | Location: Xenia, OH — CANCELED
Ham-Com | Location: Plano, TX — CANCELED
6/12/2021 | Radio Shack Sidewalk Sale | Location: Derby, KS — On Schedule
6/12/2021 | Pryor Tailgate Event | Location: Pryor, OK — On Schedule
7/23-24/2021 | Ham Holiday | Location: OCCC – Oklahoma City, OK — CANCELED
8/27-28/2021 | Joplin Hamfest | Location: Joplin, MO — No Status, yet
9/10-11/2021 | Arkansas State Convention | Location: Mena, AR — No Status, yet
9/16-17/2021 | Duke City Hamfiesta | Location: Albuquerque, NM — No Status, yet
9/24/2021 | Reno County KS Hamfest | Location: Hutchinson, KS — No Status, yet
10/02/2021 | Wichita Area Hamfest | Location: Wichita, KS — No Status, yet
10/22-23/2021 | Texoma Hamarama Hamfest | Location: Ardmore, OK — No Status, yet
11/6/2021 | Enid Hamfest | Location: Enid, OK (or maybe December) — No Status, yet
3/5/2022 | Elk City Hamfest | Location: Elk City, OK
4/8-9/2022| Green Country Hamfest | Location: Claremore, OK
7/22-23/2022 | Ham Holiday | Location: OCCC – Oklahoma City, OK

The ARRL maintains a list of all US hamfests if you would like to travel. Click here for the ARRL list of those within 250 miles.

SCARS Is On The Web — Menu

News, links, repeater info, hamfests, licensing, and more are linked from the menu sidebar at the SCARS Homepage – W5NOR.ORG!

Podcast: On The Air — Menu

The On the Air podcast is a companion to the bi-monthly On the Air magazine (an ARRL membership benefit) and takes a deeper dive into select features and projects. Each month, host and On the Air Editorial Director Becky Schoenfeld W1BXY will offer additional resources, techniques, and hints to help you get the most from the magazine’s content.

Audio Link

What does the new solar cycle have in store for the HF bands? Propagation expert Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, tells us what to expect.

ARRL On the Air – Episode 15

The “On The Air” podcast homepage is available by clicking here.

ARRL DX Bulletin — Menu

ARLD012 DX news

QST de W1AW  
DX Bulletin 12  ARLD012
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 25, 2021
To all radio amateurs   

ARLD012 DX news

This week's bulletin was made possible with information provided by
KK9A, The Daily DX, the OPDX Bulletin, 425 DX News, DXNL, Contest
Corral from QST and the ARRL Contest Calendar and WA7BNM web sites.
Thanks to all.

MALDIVES, 8Q.  Mats, RM2D will be QRV as 8Q7MS from Ukulhas Island,
Alifu Alifu Atoll, IOTA AS-013, from March 28 to April 10.  Activity
will be on 40 to 15 meters using CW and some SSB.  QSL via EA5GL.

TAIWAN, BV.  Members of Amateur Radio Taipei will be QRV as BP0P
from Taoyuan City in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB contest as a Multi/2
entry.  QSL via BP0P.

BAHAMAS, C6.  Operators AA7JV, KN4EEI, W6IZT and W8HC are QRV as
C6AGU from Water Cay, IOTA NA-001, until March 30.  Activity is on
the HF bands.  This includes being a Multi Op entry in the CQ World
Wide WPX SSB contest.  QSL via LoTW.
GUADELOUPE, FG.  Philippe, F1DUZ is QRV as FG4KH until April 1.
This includes being an entry in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB contest.
QSL direct to home call.

THAILAND, HS.  Operators E24OYI, E25KAE, E29TGW, E20NKB and E21EIC
will be QRV as E2A in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB contest as a
Multi/Single entry.  QSL via E21EIC.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA, HL.  Lee, HL1IWD will be QRV as HL1IWD/5 from
Koje Island, IOTA AS-081, from April 2 to 4.  Activity will be on 40
to 20 meters using CW and some FT8.  QSL direct to EA5GL.

ITALY, I.  Raffaele, IH9YMC plans to be QRV from Pantelleria Island,
IOTA AF-018, as a Single Op entry in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB
contest.  QSL via LoTW.

SVALBARD, JW.  Stian, LB5SH is QRV as JW/LB5SH from Longyearbyen,
IOTA EU-026, until March 28.  Activity is on the HF bands using SSB
and FT8.  This includes being active as JW2T in the CQ World Wide
WPX SSB contest.  QSL via operator's instructions.

PUERTO RICO, KP4.  Yuri, N2TTA will be QRV as WP3C in the CQ World
Wide WPX SSB contest as a Single Op entry.  QSL via M0OXO.
BULGARIA, LZ.  Special event station LZ200GSR will be QRV from Sofia
from April 1 to 30 to celebrate the birth 200 years ago of Georgia
Sava Rakovski, a historian, and activist for the independence of
Bulgaria.  QSL via LZ1XM.

ARUBA, P4.  John, KK9A is QRV as P40A until March 28.  Activity is
on 160 to 10 meters using CW and SSB.  This includes being an entry
in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB contest.  QSL via WD9DZV.

BONAIRE, PJ4.  Martin, W1MD plans to be active as PJ4G in the CQ
World Wide WPX SSB contest.  QSL via K4BAI.

GREECE, SV.  Savas, SV2AEL is QRV with special call J42A until March
31.  Activity is on 160 to 6 meters using CW, SSB, RTTY, FT8 and
FT4.  This includes being a Single Op entry in the CQ World Wide WPX
SSB contest.  QSL direct to home call.

TURKEY, TA.  Members of the GITRAD Contest Team will be QRV as TC7G
in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB contest as a Multi Op/Low Power entry.
QSL via bureau.

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS, VP5.  Operators Jim, K4QPL and Eric, NR4O
are QRV as VP5/home calls from Providenciales.  They will be active
as VP5M as a Multi Single/Low Power entry in the CQ World Wide WPX
SSB contest.  QSL VP5M via K4QPL and all others to home calls.

are QRV as 7D5RI from Rupat Island, IOTA OC-245, until March 28.
Activity is on 80 to 10 meters using CW, SSB and FT8.  QSL via
operators' instructions.
NICARAGUA, YN.  Myron, KN6GHM is QRV as H7/KN6GHM from Guanacastillo
until March 30.  Activity is holiday style on 80 to 10 meters using
SSB.  He and Trevis, YN7ZTR will be QRV as YN1YN in the CQ World
Wide WPX SSB contest with two stations.  QSL via LoTW.

ASCENSION ISLAND, ZD8.  Tev, TA1HZ is QRV as ZD8HZ during all of
2021.  He plans to be active in the CQ World Wide WPX SSB contest as
well.  QSL direct to home call.

80-Meter CW Fox Hunt, NCCC RTTY Sprint, NCCC CW Sprint, K1USN Slow
Speed CW Test, FOC CW QSO Party and UBA Spring 6-Meter Contest will
certainly keep contesters busy this upcoming weekend.

The OK1WC CW Memorial, K1USN Slow Speed CW Test and QCX CW Challenge
are scheduled for March 29.

The RTTYOPS Weeksprint, QCX CW Challenge and Worldwide Sideband
Activity Contest are scheduled for March 30.

The UKEICC 80-Meter CW Contest, CWops Mini-CWT Test, Phone Fray and
QRP 40-Meter CW Fox Hunt are scheduled for March 31.

Please see March QST, page 72, and the ARRL and WA7BNM contest web
sites for details.

The latest ARRL DX Bulletin is always at the top hereARRL DX Bulletin

Amateur Radio Newsline — Menu




The Amateur Radio Newsline can be found at

W5KUB – Amateur Radio Roundtable Video

Tonight Katie show us some shack pictures. We also give out a prize (call sign plaque) to a viewer for the next 4 weeks. Tom talks about being part of the KA6LMS special event that starts tonight. Also an up date on our new experimental beta balloon that will go around the world. Plus we have just been given the clearance from the FBI to discuss something that happened to our show over 2 years ago.

The W5KUB YouTube channel link is here: W5KUB YouTube.

Ham Nation — Menu

Thank you for watching Ham Nation Episode 490! Tonight we speak with John Amodeo on the KA6LMS special event, What’s new with ICOM with Ray Novak N9JA and also speak with Kevin Duplantis K4KEV. Then we’ll round out the show with Joe Eisenberg introducing us to his favorite hand tools and Don Wilbanks brings us Ham Radio Newsline.

The last half-dozen or so episodes are linked right here: Ham Nation

73 de Mark N5HZR

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