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A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:

from The ARRL Letter on March 6, 2014
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A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:

World War II began in September 1939 as a European war, just as World War I had. Suddenly 121 of the 250 countries on the DXCC list were off the air. At that point, the US was pursuing a course of neutrality, so American hams were allowed to remain on the air. The ARRL soon issued its own code of neutrality, which resulted in the federal government's appreciative support of Amateur Radio.

Canada, along with Britain and most of the British Commonwealth, immediately shut down ham radio, however. This created an odd situation: The US (and the ARRL), following their policies of neutrality, had to treat Canada as a belligerent; no mention of Canadian Amateur Radio appeared in QST until May 1941, when QST began publishing the column "The Month in Canada." It is noteworthy that, of the 3380 Canadian hams then licensed, half were in uniform by 1941, some 900 as officers.

In those early war years, before the US entered the fray, some interesting things happened. The state of the radio art had reached the point that long-haul DX could be worked even with modest, low-cost stations. The Byrd Antarctic expeditions put KC4USA, KC4USB, and KC4USC on the air. Experimenters began to tinker with wideband FM at the upper end of 5 meters (58.5 to 60 MHz). The FCC revamped its amateur exams, eliminating essay questions (and the requirement that applicants draw schematic diagrams) and replacing them with a multiple-choice test. Exams could then be graded immediately at the examination point, sparing the applicant weeks of anxiety.

At the 1940 meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors, George Bailey, W1KH, was elected League president.

In June 1940, World War II hit American hams harder, when the federal government prohibited US hams from contacting hams outside the country. The FCC also prohibited all mobile and portable operation below 56 MHz, with the notable exception of Field Day! At the League's request, this policy was soon modified to allow Amateur Radio Emergency Corps drills during daylight hours on weekends, and to allow true emergency communication at any time.

To be continued next week.


The ARRL Letter

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