Behind the Scenes @KYHAM

KYHAM began in 1993 as an experiment.   We started a a forum on a telephone BBS for local hams in Lexngton, KY.  It was surprising how many hams connected to the BBS to post news and info about ham radio activities.  Then, one of the members offered to test hooking the forum up to something just coming out into the commercial world – The Internet.  That was 1993.

Over the past 17 years many have asked at hamfests, or at meetings, or events, “What is KYHAM?  What do you do, and how do you do it?”  To answer the curiosity, we offer this as the first “Feature” on the revamped KYHAM news section.

The growth and success of KYHAM has been due to the support of the amateur radio operators and organizations around Kentucky who have faithfully posting amateur radio information to the KYHAM email list and providing the webmaster with accurate and updated information for the local listing pages.  Without that help, KYHAM would have passed into obscurity as yet another ham website withering away with old information.  The success of KYHAM is that it is a resource, and the only statewide amateur radio website.

Thanks for the history, but what goes on behind the scenes @KYHAM?  Rest assured, you will get  a little more history.  🙂

As previously mentioned, even before the web site, there was the KYHAM email list.  Now several hundred members strong, it has survived from the early days as a pathway for information about clubs, events, technical subjects, emergency communication notices, and yes, even the occasional flare up of opinions about ham topics.

The members have supported the thoughtful moderation of the flareups, and the list is almost self policing.  In all the years, only one member has been removed from the list because they simply could not conform to decorum, and had a long pattern of disruptions.  Today, KYHAM has several hundred members.  Traffic is not as heavy as we would like, but you have to bless quality over quantity.

The email list is perhaps the most automated part of KYHAM and requires the least attention from the webmaster.  He reads every post, and several times a month has to approve new members.  If a new subscriber doesn’t have their callsign, or a name that is searchable on a callbook site in their email address, he contacts them directly to ensure they are really a person wanting to participate and not a spammer.  We can’t ever promise that there won’t be any SPAM on KYHAM, but we approve every subscriber, have set the list where only members can post, and watch the trends.  We do our best.   There is another closed email list on KYHAM that we will discuss in a moment.

Looking at the web site stats, the most utilized part of the site is the Emergency Communication (EMCOMM) section.  Surprising to the average user of the site, but the EMCOMM section of the site is the “business end of this horse.”  Beginning with the request for resources and public support from Section Emergency Coordinators Craig Still, N4CQR (then KD4PWK) and Ron Dodson, KA4MAP, this part of the web site led to the Local Information Section of the site that we will discuss later, and many more resources.

Perhaps the most unknown section to those who are not KY ARES appointees is the reports form facility.  Kentucky was the first section to offer ARES and NTS coordinators the ability to file their monthly reports in 1996.  Since then, the coordinators who fulfill their duty to file a monthly report have increasing supported the form facility.  This resource was requested by Section level leadership to facilitate reporting and to make it as easy as possible for local, district and now regional coordinators.  There have been a few bumps in the road over the years.  As we changed ISPs, the back end of the form facilities changed and while the webmaster learned to program the new forms, and in May 2009, the archives were lost.

Connected to the webmaster’s role as ARRL Assistant Section Manager for Policy and Information Resources, the form facility is now used to provide statistical data to Section coordinators and others requesting it for decision making, or to provide data in meetings with emergency management officials.  Every ARES report submitted over the KYHAM web site is recorded, data analyzed, and presented to Section coordinators.  This is a manual process that takes many hours during the reporting period for the webmaster, but saves many of the other coordinators hours of work.  A time saving resource, the hours spent by one person reduces the work of up to 19 coordinators (DECs, ASECs, and the SEC).  This is an improvement on reporting not seen in any other ARRL section.

Two other forms on every local information page are the ARES registration and ARES station appointment application forms.  At first seen as a convenience where the information had to be forwarded to the appropriate coordinator, these forms are now sent to the District Emergency Coordinator and the Assistant Section Emergency Coordinators so they can welcome new ARES members or pass along coordinator applications to appoint new coordinators.  The webmaster has no burden any more.  All registrations and applications are archived for research purposes.

Another important section of the EMCOMM section is the KY ARES Training Program.  A free online course about emergency communications that has been completed by nearly 500 amateurs – it has been recognized by Kentucky Emergency Management and grants two hours for continuing education credit for EM staff that complete it.  It also serves as the basic training program for ARES coordinators of all levels in Kentucky.

We mentioned another email list earlier.  There is an email list for all KY ARES appointees (ADEC, AEC, ASEC, DEC, EC, and OES stations) to receive urgent notices from Section coordinators about emergency events, or important administrative or policy matters.  Coordinators don’t post to this list.  It is an announcement only list.

As credited above, former SEC’s asked for a local contact list.  The local information is now the touchstone of KYHAM for most.  When founded, it listed ARES coordinator information in all the counties of Kentucky.  Over the years, it has evolved into a larger project to provide as much information for those seeking Kentucky amateur radio information.  It now includes information about not only ARES coordinator, but clubs, volunteer examiners, and other organizations.  This is the part of KYHAM that is turned to by new hams, those moving into Kentucky, and government officials looking for amateur radio help.

The secret of this part of KYHAM is all the hams across Kentucky. Club officers, VE’s and ARES coordinators who collectively email several times a week with updates on phone numbers, email addresses, or sharing they have upgraded and have changed their callsign.  It the local information pages of KYHAM were not updated by all the good people of the Commonwealth, it wouldn’t be a resources.

The Links portion of KYHAM seeks to be starting point for many that are looking to surf the amateur radio world on the Internet.  It will never be a complete list, but it strives to be a starting point.  Shamelessly, the webmaster gets busy on ARES and real life stuff, and no longer has time to seek new sites to add.  When notified of a change or a new site he does add it to the list.  Please help us by suggesting links for this page.  The more the better.  Because links are less urgent, attention has to paid elsewhere.  We really need your help.

The current KYHAM BBS began in 2009, and then the webmaster made a mistake, and crashed it.  🙂  The current version was reborn early in 2010.  A BBS is where KYHAM started.  It was a telephone call-in BBS called Intellectual Dementia.  Cool name, but nothing to do with amateur radio until the sysop got his license.

The KYHAM BBS has had some success and growth, but needs more exposure to the KY amateur radio community.  It is as thoughtfully moderated as the email list.  Subscribers are screened to prevent spammers from getting on the facility.  There is an open invitation to anyone who can serve as a moderator to promote a special interest topic of amateur radio to start it on the BBS.  If they can promote and support an active topic, it is their area.  Please spread the word about the BBS.  Is is pretty new and provides a open forum for Kentucky amateur radio operators.  *shameless plug*

Lastly KYHAM News.  That is where you are now.  For many years, it was limited to the webmaster’s contribution.  It is no longer as of last week!  Because of a web software called “WordPress” we can now open it up to all the PIOs, newsletter editors, ARES/Club coordinators across the state.  This is an advancement for KYHAM.  It allows authorized persons to freely post news about all aspects of amateur radio in Kentucky.  We truly hope it takes off.  KYHAM strives to be a resource for all amateur radio operators in Kentucky.  The future of the site is turning it over to access by many more motivated operators in Kentucky.  Please ask your club newsletter editor to contact us, or if you are a coordinator, let us know, and we’ll set you up with access.

As the webmaster of KYHAM, I can’t thank enough people for the success of the site.  All I can do is ask everyone to support it by feeding us updated information and ensuring that KYHAM will always be a resource.  My role is that of an “editor,” but the hard work is done by all of you.

Most sincerely, and 73,
Pat Spencer, KD4PWL

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