[VHFcontesting] [PNWVHFS] FFMA, DL88, and K5QE...

KA0TP at aol.com KA0TP at aol.com
Tue Feb 28 20:10:18 PST 2012

General Rules for ARRL Contests Above 50  MHz
1.11.A station located precisely on a dividing line between grid squares 
must  select only one as the location for exchange purposes. A different 
grid-square  multiplier cannot be given without moving the complete station 
(including  antennas) at least 100 meters.
I hadn't realized Grid boundary contacts were being done the FFMA way.  
Because of the error distance on GPS', I think moving at least 100  meters for 
new grids to count makes sense.
Yes it would lesson the amount of time on air in each grid.
So the extra verification for Single-Dual grid contacts seems a bit much  
but not overboard...
Video of the area would show if the situation is such that you couldn't  
move to get both grids seperately. (Ridges, private property, etc.)
Thomas  D. Popp - KAØTP
Portland, Oregon

http://lists.topica.com/lists/PDXHamInfo - Portland region Ham  news
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In a message dated 2/28/2012 7:29:19 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
k5qe at sabinenet.com writes:

Hello everyone associated with FFMA....After I finally retired from  
business, I went back into Ham Radio with a vengeance.  I built up a  respectable 
home station and then started working on the contest  station.  I have won 
first place(at least once) in most of the premier  VHF contests around.  I 
have won the CQ WW VHF contest 3 out of the last  4 runnings.  I have 2M WAS 
and hope to finish 6M WAS(someday).  I  have 107 DXCC confirmed on 2M, but I 
have never bothered to do the ARRL's  silly paperwork.  SO, I have done 
about all there is to do in the VHF  contesting world.  When the FFMA first came 
along, I decided to put some  serious effort into that, even though it was 
clear that I would never win the  award myself.  I decided to work on 
activating rare grids in my general  area, trying to help others that needed these 
rare grids.  Because I am  retired and have the money for these 
DXpeditions, we have put on 3 very well  done efforts and had 3 more planned in the 

I have been  part of every one of the K5N Grid Activation Group's efforts 
in EL58, DL79,  DL89, and finally the DL99/DM90 Winter DXpedition.  I have 
already spent  over $1500 on preparations for the 2012 attack on 
DL88--currently the rarest  grid in the FFMA constellation.  

I have  tried to be sure that the FFMA was actually a quality award.  I 
have done  this by twice protesting operations or practices that seemed "fishy" 
to  me.  The first one turned out to be a false alarm, although the  
circumstances were a bit off to be sure.  The FFMA "officials" have  refused to 
offer up any comments or any "proof" of the second one.  I  don't understand 
what they are doing....one would think that the integrity of  their award 
would be of paramount importance.  I contacted Russ-KB8U who  activated CN79, 
probably the rarest grid of all time, and asked him what  "proof" was 
required that he was actually in that grid.  His reply:   NOTHING.  

However, at this time, my  relations with the FFMA "officials" are severely 
strained--see the emails  below.  After my reply to their emails, I have 
heard nothing from them  for 4 days.  No "Go to Hell-Strong Letter Follows", 
no "proof" that the  expedition to the grid corner in question was actually 
at that location, no  NOTHING.  

Hence, with a lot of regret, I am withdrawing all my  efforts, equipment, 
and money from the FFMA arena.....this unless some  accommodation can be 
found.  I will leave the door open on that....I  really don't want to hurt the 
decent folks that are trying to win a difficult  award AND I enjoy the 
DXpeditions as hard and as costly as they are.   However, I will not expend money, 
time, and effort in support of an  organization/program that impunes my 
integrity(directly) and calls me a  liar(indirectly).  

Therefore, I have ceased my efforts on the  DL88 grid activation trip.  I 
will instruct Bill-N5YA to cease building  the special rig necessary for 
DL88.  I will cease my work on the Special  Use Permit that is required for an 
expedition to the Big Bend National  Park.  I most certainly will not 
purchase the $2500 worth of solar panels  and the charge controller necessary for 
that operation(because the Park  Rangers will not let us have a generator in 
DL88).  I suppose the $1500  already spent is just down the drain....

It would be nice if a dialogue  could be opened with the FFMA "officials", 
so that this issue can be  resolved.  However, as I said, they have chosen 
to ignore me.  So be  it....I suggest that YOU contact them and let them know 
how you feel about all  this.  After a suitable time, I will take all this 
up with my Director  and Vice-Director.  I suggest that you do the same.  
Maybe like our  wonderful congressmen, if they catch a little heat from their 
constituents,  they might just pay attention......Don't hold your breath, I 
certainly am  not.....

Sorry to all that were planning to bag DL88 this summer, but  that is the 
way things are right now.  Maybe this can be salvaged--I am  open to 
suggestions.  IF you wish to contact me, please call or do it OFF  the reflectors....

73 Marshall K5QE


Recently, I received an email from one of the FFMA "Founding  Fathers".  It 
is reproduced below.  I returned the following reply,  which I sent to two 
of the Founding Fathers.

Hello....It is extremely  hard for me to know how to reply to this email 
and the thoughts therein.   I am so angry, that I just cannot really figure 
out what to say.....

In 2009, our entire  group(the K5N Grid Activation Group) complained about 
a contact claim made by  a Grand Wizard of the ARRL that he had worked EL58. 
 Since we had just  been there, we all knew that we had not worked him.  
Said Wizard even  sent us a card trying to get us to QSL a contact that had 
never taken  place.  Somehow, I was "elected" to write in about all this.  It  
turned out that he had a valid contact with Uri, the tanker captain, that  
often steamed through that grid on the way to the Port of New Orleans.   OK, 

In 2010, I complained about an expedition that claimed to  have operated 
from a grid corner just SE of Marfa, TX.  Actually, it was  not a DXpedition 
at all, just a single guy running around in his vehicle with  100W and a 
loop.  I actually went to that spot and it was clear to me  that it was 
extremely unlikely that he operated from the exact grid  corner.  He could have been 
close, but not at the actual grid corner  spot.  I spent 2 days on a 
reconnaissance of that spot, so I know it  well.  After some time, I was told that 
nothing was going to be  done.  No proof was offered that his claim was 
valid.  Why all the  secrecy??  Let's see his "proof".  Since I have been to 
the spot, I  will know immediately if the pictures are faked or not.  If such 
"proof"  is not forthcoming, then it will be clear to me that the entire 
FFMA setup is  a charade.  

In 2009, I participated in  the first K5N DXpedition....to EL58.  Seven 
amateurs went to EL58 and  operated for parts of 3 days.  We made lots of 
contacts and busted out  butts, but I don't think that there was anyone that 
said, "Well, you weren't  really there".  

In 2010, we tried for  DL88, but the roads were washed out and we had to 
operate from DL89 and then  later from DL79.  Again, we worked some folks and 
had some fun, but no  one said, "You were not really there".  

In 2011, we did the great Winter DXpedition to the  DL99-DM90 grid line.  
We went with 4 very well known operators and had 3  local operators that 
assisted us.  One of those was John-W0UN, who is  certainly very well known.  
Yet the response that I got was that the  League was possibly not going to 
credit that operation.  I was  furious.  Every part of our operation was 
transparent and it involved no  less than 7 amateur radio operators, most of whom 
where very well known, to  say the least.  Then to say that we were lying 
about where we were  located and that no credit was going to be given was just 
too much.  I  washed my hands completely of that and told Bill-N5YA to take 
care of  it.  Does the ARRL think that all those operators engaged in some 
kind of  a conspiracy to lie about our location??  What would be the point?? 
  We got NOTHING for our efforts....only the guys that worked us got  

Then Sean-KX9X "warned" me  that I had better have excellent proof for any 
expedition to DL88.  Who  does he think that I am, Don Miller??  Did he 
think that I was going to  LIE about that too??  Every expedition that I have 
made has been  completely above board involving multiple well known ops.  None 
have been  a single operator sneaking into and out of rare grids without 
permission of  the land owners.  What is more likely, a group of 4-7 well 
known amateurs  conspiring to lie about their location or a single guy who has 
no witnesses at  all?? 

As far as me purchasing a bunch more  consumer electronic junk to "prove" 
that I was in DL88(or where ever), that is  not going to happen.  I do have a 
cell phone, but 99.9% of the time it  sits in a bucket in the china 
cabinet.  If it does anything other than  ring when I am out of the house, I will 
shoot it.  I don't own a video  camera.  I prefer to spend my money on 
Amateur Radio gear.  Speaking  of money, I have spent about $17,000 on the 
DXpeditions that I have made so  far.  It will probably cost between $5,000 and 
$6,000 for our trip to  DL88.....all this so that I can LIE about my location.  

My initial inclination is to just widely publish a notice  that I am 
withdrawing from the FFMA world AND to publish a pointed  explanation.  If the 
ARRL Grand Poobah's believe that I would spend  thousands and thousands of 
dollars and many days of hard work just so that I  could lie about my location, 
they need professional help.  Let someone  else do all the hard work and 
spend all the money.  

73 Marshall K5QE 
Phone is  409-787-3830 if you wish to talk....

On 2/24/2012 10:14 PM,  Founding Father 1 wrote:  
Hi all,
Just wanted to once again give everybody the heads-up on  this: ARRL’s “
proof” expectations regarding FFMA portable grid activation  claims went 
through a bit of an upward evolution last summer, ESPECIALLY (but  not only) 
where activation from a 2-grid boundary, a 4-grid confluence, or a  single rare, 
difficult-to-get-to grid is claimed. 
Anybody planning to activate rare grids this  spring/summer needs to 
collect plenty of relevant evidence, especially video.  
Sean is real keen on video as part of a  proof-of-location package, and he 
especially likes to see video of the  operator operating and actually making 
a QSO. He also likes to see pictures of  your setup and your surroundings, 
and of course the obligatory GPS shot  showing latitude and longitude. Oh, 
and don’t forget a date/time stamp of some  kind. If it isn’t an option to 
automatically embed it in a corner of the video  display, pan away from the 
GPS screen to the laptop screen and zoom in on the  OS date/time display. In 
Windows 7 it’s in the service tray in the lower  right-hand corner. 
If your cell phone or pad computer is so down-rev that  it doesn’t take de
cent-resolution video, you might want to think about  upgrading before 
heading out into the boonies! My wife and I talked Santa into  bringing us a 
beautiful new white 32 GB iPad2 for Xmas this past year. That  would be perfect! 
Or maybe borrow or buy an inexpensive stand-alone camcorder.  I just jumped 
over to the Best Buy website to see what they had on sale, and  found a 
little Kodak PlayTouch 1080p HD camcorder on sale right now for  $89.99. It‘s 
probably not going to do everything you want for that price, but  man, that’s 
cheap! Of course, you can also use a USB outboard webcam (like the  
Microsoft LifeCam HD-5001, about $50, or Logitech HD C615, about $80, in  
conjunction with your laptop.
And read through those rules again! (_www.arrl.org/ffma_ 
(http://www.arrl.org/ffma) ) Direct any questions to Sean at  ARRL. (_kx9x at arrl.org_ 
(mailto:kx9x at arrl.org) )
Looking forward to the rox getting better as spring  approaches and those 
first Es season openings in April/May. See many of you on  the air soon!

MY  COMMENTS HERE:  ALL of the things mentioned above can be faked quite  
easily.  The date/time on a computer can be set to anything that you  wish.  
The time in a video camera can also be changed to any date/time  you want.  
These things prove nothing.  Anyone with PhotoShop can  take a picture of a 
GPS and change the grid display to any grid that they  want.  This is all 
very simple.  Although I cannot do it myself, I  have been assured that 
altering movies is pretty easy these days too.   Getting 4-7 mostly very well 
known VHFers to lie about what grid they are in  is NOT easy.  I would suggest 
that the "proof" that ARRL is looking for  needs a bit of consideration.

We provided several different GPS shots  to Sean for our Rocksprings, TX 
grid line expedition.  There were 3  different GPS instruments and they all 
said that Latitude was 30° 0' 0.00" and  Longitude was 100° 12'.  That means 
right on the DL99-DM90 grid  line.  There were many other pictures 
too....most are published on the  Grid Bandits DXpedition web pages.  Apparently, only 
when Bill-K5YG sent  Sean a bunch of movies, did we hear back that our 
operation was going to be  "certified".  I do not intend to have to mount a 
small Hollywood  production just to "prove" that I was in the grid that I say I 
am in.  I  don't own a movie camera and I don't intend to buy one.  Bill is 
a great  videographer and enjoys that kind of stuff....I don't.   

~The Voice of the Pacific NorthWest VHF Society~
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