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

Paul Kiesel k7cw at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 28 22:58:57 PST 2012

Hey, John -

I wish you would submit for FFMA. It's one cool award and well worth displaying on your wall in a prominent place.

To All,

I hate to see all this bitterness come up. It was destined to happen, I suppose.

I still believe in trusting hams to be honest. Why can't it be that we always assume that what someone states is the truth? Well, I guess we can't, so we set up evidence rules designed to make everyone honest. So, then someone questions whether the evidence is falsified. Shouldn't we assume that the evidence hasn't been falsified? If so, shouldn't that be the end of it?  I believe it should.

Deep down, I hate this thing about having to provide a photo of a GPS readout to prove I was somewhere. That and photos showing the rig and surrounding area. Some guys will be dishonest, but one wonders why we should assume that dishonesty will prevail if we don't adopt rules to prevent it.

I don't think I am naive to think that expeditioners give factual information about their locations and that they will do what is required to get to a difficult place. I think, for them, it's important to be accurate in this respect because they understand the value of their contribution, just as a competitor in a contest appreciates the value of winning without cheating.

Paul, K7CW

 From: W9RPM <john at w9rpm.com>
To: FFMA at yahoogroups.com 
Cc: Marshall Williams <k5qe at sabinenet.com>; VHF Contesting <vhfcontesting at contesting.com>; VHF Reflector <vhf at w6yx.stanford.edu>; Pacific NW VHF Society <PNWVHFS at googlegroups.com> 
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 10:01 PM
Subject: Re: [FFMA] FFMA, DL88, and K5QE...

Marshall, that is to bad.I know some hams in my area were anxious to try for the rare Grid, but I understand where you are coming from. Some of the reasons you state in your email are the same ones that until now I have kept to myself. I had my share of rude emails from some Hams regarding FFMA.Some questioning how I could work 488 grids just since 1997. I am home all the time because of my health, so I was on the air I said. They made me fell bad for accomplishing what I had done. Questioning how I worked this and that grid, and in one case saying that no way could I have worked CN73 on JT6M with W7CE. They said it was to great of a distance etc.... And I got some of the same with EN85 on SSB. I even let others know that I had worked a guy there, and he was anxious to try and work others.

Had a hard time getting a card from FN67, but finally did, and that
    was questioned also. I even waited for the other group to go there a
    few years ago, and they had an accident on the way, so that was out.

At that time, I decided that I was not going to apply for FFMA at
    that time. I did feel that ones who had worked at it for years
    should get it. Days before the Internet and DX clusters and the new
    WSJT modes of which I used for skeds on the last toughest ones.

Maybe someday I will apply, or maybe not. I enjoy this hobby, and
    have made many good friends. I have my cards all sorted and anyone
    can see them. I know I did it, and thats the bottom line.

I do support FFMA, and anyone who accomplishes it, should be proud.
    As far as anyone from the ARRL or any FFMA officials; none of them
    have been nothing but nice to me, so I have nothing but good things
    to say on that side of it.

73 John W9RPM

On 2/28/2012 9:28 PM, Marshall Williams wrote: 
>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 wings.  
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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, fine.
>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 something.   
>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
>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 decent-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) Direct any questions to Sean at ARRL. (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
>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.  

EMAIL: john at w9rpm.com WEBPAGE: http://www.w9rpm.com/ Wisconsin VHF/UHF County Hunters: http://www.wivuch.com/ DX and CONTEST CLUB: http://www.w9idx.com/ La Crosse Hams: http://www.lacrossehams.org/ AOL IM: W9RPM
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