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Vic Poor, W5SMM, Receives ARRL President’s Award


On July 9, Victor (Vic) Poor, W5SMM, of Melbourne, Florida, was awarded the ARRL President’s Award at the Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society’s (PCARS) monthly meeting that was attended by nearly 100 hams and non-hams, many from out of town. There have been only a handful of recipients of this prestigious award.

Poor — an ARRL member — developed an active interest in ham radio while still in high school and became W6JSO in 1951. He has also held the calls AH6AXV and K3NIO. He quickly developed an affinity for RTTY and later other digital modes of interest in Amateur Radio.

Poor has been instrumental in the development of many hardware and software innovations that are at the heart of modern day computing and communications technology, used both in Amateur Radio and in industry.

His early RTTY work focused on improving the designs of modulators, demodulators, and filters to improve the error rates achievable with RTTY in those days. This work continued into the development for schemes for simple message networking for amateur traffic before the availability of affordable PCs.

During the 70s and 80s new digital technologies, including packet, AMTOR and lower-cost computers became available. These advances motivated Poor to further improve digital transmission networking techniques. This included APLINK, a robust automatic global store-and-forward system that led the ARRL to include the system for use in their National Traffic System (NTS).

With the advent of widely available Internet service and continued improvements in signal processing using PCs and dedicated signal processing chips, including PACTOR and WINMOR, in 1999 Poor organized a volunteer amateur development team to replace APLINK with a much more advanced amateur message forwarding system that integrates with the Internet and other mail systems, handles multiple destination addresses, and accepts data files of any format. The system is named Winlink 2000 (WL2K) and is maintained and managed by the Winlink Development Team (WDT). Poor remains the principal architect of the system. This system has blossomed today to a major amateur-supported emergency communications network used by ARES and many government agencies including MARS, federal, state, county and city agencies, and NGOs.

In his professional career Poor has been instrumental in the development of many products that we take for granted today. He credits his interest in ham radio as the driving force behind his success in the commercial arena.

The ARRL Board of Directors voted to create the President’s Award in 2003. It is awarded to an ARRL member or members who “have shown long-term dedication to the goals and objectives of ARRL and Amateur Radio” and who have gone the extra mile to support individual League programs and goals. Nominations for the award come from ARRL directors and are approved by the ARRL President and the Executive Committee.

President Kay Craigie’s accompanying letter stated, in part: “It is my pleasure and honor to confer upon you the ARRL President’s Award….Your contributions to the development of digital communications systems in the Amateur Radio Service have significantly enhanced the ability of our radio service to provide assistance during disasters. Many other amateurs active in emergency communications attribute their own accomplishments to your mentoring….

“As a result of your long, distinguished career in Amateur Radio and communications technology, you have more than earned the appreciation that is represented by this award from the American Radio Relay League.”

Steve Waterman, K4CJX, Assistant Director of the ARRL’s Delta Division, summed up Poor’s humility: “I could have added many more accomplishments to that list,” said Steve. “The only thing Poor really wants to know about is if something doesn’t work.”  [thanks Dan Fisher, AI4GK]



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