[amsat-bb] LOTW & VUCC Discussion

Ted k7trkradio at charter.net
Tue Jan 25 20:33:48 PST 2011

Good evening John and the group,

Against my better judgment, but after thinking about your thoughtful memo, I
am going to reply to several points. (also, in the interest of full
disclosure, I will admit to you being my original 'satellite' Elmer, just
about a year or so ago. (i.e., its all your fault !!)

As to the ARRL, there really cannot be much doubt that they are a classic
example of an anachronistic organization. It is a classic example of a
top-down organization where the 'top is the top' until they carry you out
the door on a gurney and to the Newington morgue. As for Division Directors,
someone please point out ONE instance where these folks made any change
whatsoever on behalf of the members. A free plane ride to Hartford does not

Your point about the 'no notice' regarding the fee increase is right on
point! Again, something like this is really a slap in the face to those of
us that send in our $50.00 or so each year.  

Now, the critical issue here is really LoTW. Unless I'm missing something,
LoTW is a software program. Is the ARRL seriously, I mean seriously,
suggesting that this program cannot keep track of all of our contacts, etc.,
etc. without some human getting their hands in the process? I submit that
the next 'Young Ham of The Year' could probably do the programming in
between texting the pizza place! To charge the members for 'electronic
entries' to the program is onerous. The obvious comparison is, of course,
eQSL.cc, the 'QSO' stepchild'. That organization seems to have no problem
doing all the machinations, scoring, black magic, etc. without hardly a burp
! (some question the credibility of eQSL but that is another subject)  

Let us face facts. The LoTW process is cumbersome and convoluted. There are
minimal instructions on the site and this has put off people from attempting
to up load logs. The big pitch from the ARRL (and a classic example of their
BIAS against eQSL, is the implied credibility of the system. Does anyone
really doubt that if someone wanted to cheat about getting an award that
that person could not have a hundred cards in the mail to ARRL Monday
morning? Get real. The entire 'paper chase' is based on trust among our
community. I am not putting an award on my shack wall that is phony. (if
anyone is going to get .20 cents a card, it should be the volunteer card
checkers, not the fat cats at ARRL)

Bottom line: The LoTW process is flawed. ARRL is trying to impose excessive
fees on its membership for those flaws. The members need to wake up and
challenge the process. (an equivalent VUCC Satellite Award from AMSAT has
been suggested - GOOD IDEA) 

Lastly, John is correct, in that ARRL does protect our interests and this
type of organization is necessary to protect our interests. ARRL, just don't
put your front hand out asking for funds for 'spectrum defense' BPL fights,
etc. and then put your other hand in my wallet for an 8 x 10 award paper.

Respectfully submitted, Ted, K7TRK

From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On
Behalf Of John Papay
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 12:32 PM
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
Subject: [amsat-bb] LOTW & VUCC Discussion

We now know more about the VUCC fee changes than
we did when the discussion started thanks to comments
by Bill Moore and others.  As someone stated, the
sticker shock has everyone upset.  If the costs of
the VUCC program justify what is being charged, there's
not much you can do about it unless you find someone in
addition to Yaesu to sponsor the program.  The money has
to come from somewhere.  As Americans, we are painfully
aware of what happens when you spend more than you take in.

The League should have been adjusting rates over the years.
The Post Office, our government and businesses all do this
gradually to avoid a rebellion.  If this had been done, we
wouldn't be having such a big outcry right now.

I think the other problem with how this was done involved
notification.  Announcing that effective today, the cost for
VUCC submissions is going up drastically, was not a good
move.  Rolling out the costs for LOTW VUCC submissions is
one thing, but including the traditional filing rates as part
of it without publishing an "effective date" ahead of time is
another matter.  It wasn't well thought out.

Now that it is done, how do we proceed from here?  I think there
are two main issues that can be looked at by the Directors.  They
control what happens at the League.  My Director has been very
responsive to things that I have brought to him.  I hope your
Director is equally as responsive.  Just make sure that when
writing to them that you don't rant.  State the facts and be
specific as to what you want them to do.

The first thing they should look at is the cost of the VUCC
program.  Bill Moore has suggested that they don't even break
even considering everything involved.  Ask your Director to get
the numbers and validate the claim.  Any evaluation should include
monies derived from the website.  Yaesu sponsors LOTW but it is
unclear as to what extent they do. There may be other sources of
funding as well.

As a subset of the cost, ask your Director to find out why hybird
applications are part of the DXCC LOTW program but are not provided
for in the VUCC program.  After all, it's the same system.  I would
expect that we will always be submitting some cards along with LOTW
matches.  Most of the cost of a paper submission is subsidized by the
card checkers.  It takes a lot of time to scrutinize a card to find
the Grid.  After the initial application, only the Grid numbers are
sent to the ARRL.  A typist can enter 4 character grids into a computer
very quickly.  Callsigns, date, time, band, etc. are not entered for
VUCC.  If you send your cards to the ARRL and a paid employee has to
go through the cards, the cost is significantly higher than if a volunteer
does it.  Hybrid applications for a single filing fee should be part of
VUCC as they are now for DXCC.

The ARRL Membership was not given a warning about the fee increases.
Establishing the fees for LOTW VUCC is one thing.  Increasing the
fees for paper submissions should have had an effective date into the
future.  This would allow those who were on the verge of filing the
opportunity to do so at the current rate.  Ask your Director to have
the old paper fees reinstated until say, May 1st.  This will give the
applicants and the volunteer card checkers some time to process everything.
If the new fees are found to be reasonable they go into effect after that

I have been licensed for 50 years and prior to getting my license I was
involved with ham radio for more than 10 years.  I attended many club
meetings with my older cousin.  The topic of dissatisfaction with the
ARRL was always a big deal.  The hams talked about it all the time.  But
if you think that we would be where we are now with Ham Radio if the
ARRL had not been there representing our interests, you are sadly mistaken.

Radio spectrum is always in demand.  You can't make more of it.  You can
digitize and process till you are blue in the face but there is never
enough spectrum.  Cellphones sound lousy because they don't have enough
bandwidth.  But we put up with it because they are portable and there is
no other choice given the number of users.  If the ARRL had not been there
for us, we would all be on 80 meters.  The League is our voice.  If you
like what they are doing, contact your Director or run for the position
yourself.  Ham Radio is a hobby but there are costs involved. You can choose
what you want to spend.  No one is forcing you.  But do consider that we
the ARRL to preserve ham radio into the future.  It takes money to run the
organization and we are up against others who have very deep pockets.
Supporting the ARRL makes good sense as does supporting AMSAT.
They are our advocates.

John K8YSE

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