Maker Faire Lake County – 2021

The first Lake County Maker Faire will be held virtually on April 17th from 10 AM to 3 PM.  Admission is free, but you need to register in advance by visiting the website Maker Faire Lake County .

Amateur Radio in the 21st CenturyMCWA is delighted to be part of the Faire and was looking forward to showcasing ham radio last year until the event was canceled due to COVID.

MCWA will be presenting a program titled “Amateur Radio in the 21st Century” at 10:45 AM.




Complete schedule of presentations

McHenry County Century Bike Run

The inaugural McHenry County Century Bike Run will be held on May 30th from 6:30 AM to around 3 PM. 

MCWA was contacted to ask if any amateur radio operators would be able to assist in event communications.  Wendell Smith (N9REP) has been in touch with the coordinators and is looking for volunteers to assist in the event.

Wendell says that it is a lot of fun and a great opportunity for the newer hams to get involved in public service. It is also a way to showcase amateur radio’s capabilities.

Please contact Wendell for more information and to sign up to help.

FCC to require valid email address on file

Beginning on June 29th, 2021, amateur radio licenses and applicants MUST provide the FCC with a valid email address. Failure to do so may lead to the application being rejected as “defective”.

Furthermore, if the FCC sends an email that is returned as undeliverable, the operator license is subject to revocation or suspension.

Under new Section 97.23, each license must show the grantee’s correct name, mailing address, and email address. “The email address must be an address where the grantee can receive electronic correspondence,” the amended rule will state. “Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct email address.”

Go to the FCC’s ULS License Manager System and log in with your FRN and password prior to June 29, 2021 and confirm or add an valid email address.

For more information read the ARRL News Item FCC to Require Email Address…


2020 – The Year in Review

Oh what a year

The year 2020 is the year where the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” is figuratively and literally true.  The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and changed the way we live, work, and socialize. However, we have adapted and weathered the storm and there is light at the end of the tunnel with two vaccines approved for emergency use and more on the way . Things will begin to return to normal in 2021 and by this time next year it is our hope that we will have put the pandemic behind us.


Our last in-person meeting was on March 3rd with Kermit Carlson’s (W9XA) ARRL Update. It seems so long ago and I know that many of us miss the in-person meetings, the pre/post meals, and the ham breakfasts. Remarkably, there was only one month (April) where we didn’t have a meeting. The MCWA Board acted quickly and set up virtual meetings via Zoom. Although no substitute for in-person meetings, the Zoom meetings had certain benefits, especially for those members who had moved away from the area. 

There was a full slate of presentations covering many aspects of amateur radio including some that may have been new to club members. A big thank you goes out to Mike Metroka (WB8BZK) for arranging for these programs and to the presenters for all their hard work to put together these presentations. A special thank you to those first-time presenters.

Club highlights

Despite the pandemic, MCWA did enjoy a successful year. Our membership has continued to grow and is at its highest level recorded. A membership survey taken near the end of the year indicated a high level of satisfaction by the membership . It also provided an opportunity for the members to suggest ways that MCWA can better serve their needs.

The year also saw the relaunch of our club website that continues to grow and add new features.

Field Day safety during the pandemic was a challenge, but the FD team was able to put together a plan to safely participate in Field Day and managed to finish in First Place in Illinois and the Central Division.  For those unable to attend the on-site K9RN Field Day experience, there was an Alternate Field Day event allowing club members to participate and boost the club’s aggregate score.

Another highlight was MCWA’s participation in a JOTA event in October with the scouts that was organized by Doug Tucker (KD9PQI) and Bill Wacaser (KD9WEW).  Those attending enjoyed an introduction to amateur radio led by Bill and Doug and then a tour of five demonstration areas that covered a different aspect of amateur radio. A reporter from the Northwest Herald covered the event, which was picked up by a number of news services around the world. 

In October, the club honored Mike Metroka (WB8BZK) for his five years of leadership as MCWA President and Vice-President.  Ralph Iden (WB9ICF) was elected as the new club President and Gary Kaatz (W9TD) the club secretary.  Mike continues to serve on the Board as Director – Past President,  as John Dewey (KA9CAR) retired from the Director – Past President role.


The club mourned the loss of several current and former MCWA members in 2020.  In early February, Hank Schumacher (KB9ASC) passed away followed by Bill Lieberum (KB9IWH) in April. The club also grieved the loss of Joe Szczubelek (K9DMV) in June a little over a week before Field Day where he was a regular. In late November, the club learned of the passing of Dr. Richard Gorski (WD9JFA) who was a founding member of MCWA. In addition, Pierre Berube (K9EYE), Tom Craner (KD6KHK), and Steve Maresso (KB9OLD) lost close family members.  

Looking forward to 2021

We now have two vaccines that have started to be distributed, which means that there will come a time where we will again meet in person, share meals together, attend hamfests, and generally be getting back to normal.

But it will be a few more months before doing these things will be safe for all, so please remain vigilant so we will be able to enjoy each other’s company when this is all over. 

And, we are in the upswing on the solar cycle, so we have good DX to look forward to. 

Happy New Year and stay safe.

FCC announces $35 fee for Amateur Radio licenses and vanity callsign applications

The FCC has announced its decision regarding the imposition of a $50 fee for new and renewed licenses and vanity callsigns.  According to an announcement from the ARRL dated December 30th, 2020, after reviewing the comments received from the ARRL and other parties, the Commission agreed that a $50 fee was too high since much of the process is already automated. Therefore, the fee for these applications will be set at $35, with administrative changes (address, etc.) being free. They also discussed their rationale and reasons for rejecting other arguments raised in the comments.

“The FCC has agreed with ARRL and other commenters that its proposed $50 fee for certain amateur radio applications was “too high to account for the minimal staff involvement in these applications.” In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, the FCC scaled back to $35 the fee for a new license application, a special temporary authority (STA) request, a rule waiver request, a license renewal application, and a vanity call sign application.

The effective date of the fee schedule has not been established, but it will be announced at least 30 days in advance. The FCC has directed the Office of Managing Director, in consultation with relevant offices and bureaus, to draft a notice for publication in the Federal Register announcing when rule change(s) will become effective, “once the relevant databases, guides, and internal procedures have been updated.”

The full text can be found at FCC Reduces Proposed Amateur Radio Application Fee to $35

Thanks to Glenn, K9OK, for breaking this news on the EN52 6m Net (50.180 MHz, 02:00 UTC) Wednesday night.