CQ CQ CQ #HamRadio Saturday: Zuhlsdorf’s Law strikes again… and again.

ham radio badassLast week I wrote that I passed my Extra exam, to upgrade my license.   Really.  I did actually pass.

So, I patiently checked the FCC site every couple days to see if the upgrade was posted.  No joy.

Then I was sent this by one of the VEs.  It’s a blurb in the ARRL VE Newsletter July 2016.

ARRL VEC Exam and Application Files not being processed by FCC

FCC Investigating Amateur Radio, Commercial Application Processing Glitch [This is a bizarre new manifestation of Zuhlsdorf’s Law.]


The FCC information technology staff is continuing to look into why the Universal Licensing System (ULS) Electronic Batch Filing (EBF) system has stopped processing at least some — and perhaps all — Amateur Radio exam session files and applications. The stoppage, which began on June 28, initially affected the handling of all Amateur Radio Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC)  and commercial license applications, said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, who alerted the FCC IT Department. Somma said that by June 30, it appeared that the FCC had corrected the broader problem, and processing of most Amateur Radio VEC and commercial applications and exam session files had resumed.

The fix for the ARRL VEC remains elusive, however,” said Somma. “I assumed the issue would be cleared up quickly as the FCC has done in the past.” She added, that the FCC has been unwilling to reveal the extent of the problem, which she believes still could be affecting applications from outside the ARRL VEC.  [I’m in the queue, that’s why.]

According to Somma, resolving the problem has been escalated to Priority 1 at the FCC, and resources have been reprioritized to address the issue.

“I have been in contact with the FCC every day inquiring about their progress and will continue to do so until the problem is resolved,” Somma said. “I have also asked them to provide us with an alternate filing option as soon as possible.”

Somma said that as of July 6, the ARRL VEC had more than 900 applications and nearly 275 exam sessions in the queue and awaiting FCC processing.

“As soon as the FCC staff discovers and corrects the EBF system problem, we will immediately file the backlog, which would take only a day or so to release,” Somma estimated.  [It’s a government office.  What could go wrong?]

She said a lot of candidates and volunteer examiners have begun asking why new call signs or license upgrades have not yet been issued, and she is sympathetic with their concerns. “We usually transmit the exam sessions to FCC as soon as possible, which is 24 to 48 hours from the day they are received in our office,” she said. “Therefore, questions from the field about the delay are understandable.”

This new story can be found on the ARRL Website.

We thank you and your candidates for being patient while we work through this issue with FCC.

So, there it is.  I am in Extra Limbo.

But I DO have my ticket!  I do!


But wait.  There’s more.

I was chuffed about passing the exam, so the next day I loaded up my stuff and went out to my usual operating spot in the parish cemetery.  It’s beautiful, I can pray for the dead, and they don’t mind that I’m around.

And, in that appropriate place, my radio died.

I’ll spare you the details, but as I was tuning up there was a whirrrrrr and now I can’t change frequency and the display doesn’t work.

“Caramba!”, quoth I.  Or words to that effect.

Zuhlsdorf’s Law again.

Some of you may not remember it.

Murphy was an optimist. Therefore…

  • Corollary 1: When you need your technology to work, that is when it will fail.
  • Corollary 2: The extent of the failure is proportioned to the urgency of the need.
  • Corollary 3: When you want to show someone the great gizmo or program you have, that is when it won’t work.
  • Corollary 4: When the person to whom you wanted to show off your great gizmo or program departs, unimpressed, that is when it will once again begin to function properly.

Someone should update the Wikipedia list of eponymous laws.  Of course that probably bust the website.

I got on the horn to my local Elmer who is always helpful.  He had recently done some research on a new radio for his own use and, knowing my (lack of) experience made a recommendation.  Frankly, I was ready to get a new rig.  I really like the old Kenwood that one of you readers sent, but this is a good time for an upgrade.  I’ll get the older transceiver repaired.  I have a plan for it.

So, it was off to Milwaukee and the only Ham Radio store in any direction for hundreds of miles.

I now have a new rig.


Zuhlsdorf’s Law wasn’t finished with me.  I’m like the kiss of death these days.

I return from Milwaukee and find this in my email the next day.

From the ARRL letter…


“Caramba!”, quoth I anew.


Folks, don’t let me come near anything that you hold dear… at least for a few more days.

Anyway, I have ordered up some monel wire and insulators and, soon, will brew up an antenna with the help of my local Elmer.

But, Caramba!, it has been a tough ham radio week.

You know the one about the pessimist and the optimist, right?

The pessimist says, “Things can’t possibly get any worse!”  To which the optimist replies, “Oh, yes they can!”

I created a page for the List of YOUR callsigns.  HERE  Chime in or drop me a note if your call doesn’t appear in the list.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Ham Radio and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Charivari Rob says:

    Folks, don’t let me come near anything that you hold dear… at least for a few more days.

    I can see it now. Father Z and a few of his priest friends to have some fun and go to the paintball/lazertag competition place for the afternoon. A little camaraderie, team-building, blow off some steam… Then Father Z says “Hey! I asked somebody at Gammarelli to make us some team shirts with the leftover material from the vestment order!”


  2. majuscule says:

    When I had a job and we had days like this, my horoscope reading coworker would often comment something about Mercury being in retrograde.

    But we know Barrie, don’t we!

  3. majuscule says:

    I hate auto correct! I thought I typed “better”…where on earth did “Barrie” (capitalized and all) come from????

    Should have previewed, I know…

  4. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    Any hope of Sr. Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus explaining why the FCC, an agency of the U.S. federal government, still needs to license ham radio operators?

  5. mschu528 says:

    @Charivari Rob:

    Oh, come on now. Scotty wore a red uniform for years, and he was still alive on stardate 46125.3 to meet Cpt Picard and crew.

  6. Charivari Rob says:


    He’s a Scot (and an Engineering redshirt, too – except for Harper, they fared much better):


    As for the lads in Security…


    …and now I’d better stop.

  7. WMBriggs says:

    Have you looked into vanity call signs yet?

    WFR7, W4RZ, which if you squint look like WFRZ. (Same with K… Don’t know if anybody has these.)

    [Yes, my present call is a “vanity” call sign.]

  8. Thomas Sweeney says:

    Father, presenting your travails with a touch of humor makes me smile, thanks.

  9. Kerry says:

    Are not the Democrats looking for tech assistance at their convention? Heh.

  10. Kerry says: Democrats

    Hey… you’re on to something.

    And maybe I could lend a hand at the annual conflab of the LCWR!

  11. Matt Robare says:

    Maybe you should say a Low Mass for a few days, Father. Wouldn’t want to set anything on fire with the thurible.

    (At an Anglo-Catholic parish near me, they set fire to an Advent wreath that way once. An ex-Marine deacon immediately picked it up, carried it to the doors and hurled the flaming branches into the snow — just as a nearby Baptist congregation was leaving, confirming all their darkest suspicions of what high church Episcopialians got up to.)

  12. Mike of Arkansas says:

    The demise of A.E.S. leaves Ham Radio Outlet as the last major distributor/supplier. I first ordered from A.E.S. more than 40 years ago. It’s sad to see it go.

    WFR7, W4RZ, which if you squint look like WFRZ. (Same with K… Don’t know if anybody has these.)

    WFR7 or KFR7, huh? Indeed, a very bad suggestion that would get instant application dismissal by FCC. Besides, who does not know about W9FRZ?

  13. 590SG is a beaucoup fine rig. Glad to see you’ve stayed with the Kenwood meme. And, with the built-in matching system (or tuner as some call it), there isn’t much you can’t load to get you on the air. Waiting for mine to come in, to retire my TS830.

    Good luck with it!

  14. floppy2 says:

    It’s Okay Fr. We still love you. We must all ask Our Lady to kiss Fr. on the head and dispel any hint of…..Murphy’s Law or any of the oil that may have fallen on his head.


Comments are closed.