Friday, November 22, 2019

WRC-19 Wraps Up; Hams Gain Worldwide 6-Meter Allocation

The 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, has concluded with a win for hams who enjoy six meters.

Key achievements overall, according to top International Telecommunication Union (ITU) officials at a wrapup news conference, included identifying new orbital slots for broadcast satellites; setting new rules for non-geostationary satellites, with a focus on "mega-constellations" of small interconnected satellites to provide 5G broadband coverage worldwide; rules for Earth stations in motion to provide greater connectivity for people aboard planes, ships and trains; global harmonization of millimeter bands for 5G while protecting incumbent services; and identifying frequency bands for HAPS - High Altitude Platform Services - which would provide internet access to remote locations via floating platforms roughly 30 miles above the Earth's surface.

The major interest for hams was a proposal to provide worldwide harmonization of amateur allocations at 6 meters, which is not currently designated as an amateur band in ITU Region 1 (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).

Responding to a question from CQ, ITU Terrestrial Services Chief Nikolai Vassiliev reported that the conference had reached final agreement on a worldwide 50-MHz allocation, noting that "this is a very interesting band" capable of supporting communications over several thousand kilometers when conditions are right.

In addition, ITU Space Services Chief Alexandre Vallet assured CQ that the new rules on non-geostationary satellites will apply only to commercial satellites and will have no impact on the Amateur Satellite Service.

We will have more details, particularly on the 6-meter agreement, as they are released.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

YOTA Camp Coming to North America

Following in the footsteps of successful Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) camps in Europe and Africa in recent years, a group of young hams and their supporters in the United States will be bringing the YOTA camp concept to North America in 2020.

The first Youth on the Air Camp to be held in the Americas is scheduled for June 21-26 at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester, Ohio, near Cincinnati. According to a news release, attendance will be open to licensed hams between the ages of 15 and 25 living in North, Central or South America. The program will feature activities related to contesting, kit-building, satellite communication, D-STAR, APRS, antenna building and radio direction-finding/orienteering. It is hoped that the 2020 event will serve as a pilot for future YOTA camps in different parts of the Americas (Region 2 of the International Amateur Radio Union).

The Region 2 YOTA camp is sponsored by Electronic Applications Radio Service (EARS), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to wireless technologies and activities. Donations to EARS are tax deductible in the US as permitted by law. Current sponsors of YOTA Camp include ICOM America, Heil Sound, X-Tronic, R&L Electronics, the YASME Foundation, World Wide Radio Operators Foundation, the Northern California DX Foundation, the Orlando HamCation and Orlando Amateur Radio Club, the Dayton Hamvention and the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, the Huntsville Hamfest, the Southwest Ohio DX Association, the ARRL Foundation and the Radio Amateurs of Canada. For more information about making a donation or attending the 2020 YOTA camp, visit <https://yotaregion2.org>.

Nominations Open for 2020 Hamvention Awards

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has announced that nominations are open for the 2020 Hamvention awards. Nomination deadline is February 15, 2020. There are four categories: Technical Achievement, Special Achievement, Amateur of the Year and Club of the Year.

The Technical Achievement Award will be given to a selected amateur radio operator who has achieved technical excellence in the world of amateur radio. Examples are inventions, processes, discoveries, experiments and other technical accomplishments or any other outstanding technical achievement that contributed to amateur radio.

The Special Achievement Award will be given to a deserving amateur that made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the radio art and or science. This award is usually given to a respected amateur who spearheaded a single significant project.

The Amateur of the Year Award is given to a ham that has made a long-term commitment to the advancement to amateur radio. This individual will have a history of ham radio contributions and has had a dedication to service, professionalism and the advancement of the avocation of amateur radio.

The Club of the Year will be honored for clearly demonstrating their involvement in varied aspects of Amateur Radio for the greater good of their community and/or their nation.

Nomination forms, available at https://hamvention.org/event-details/awards/, are dedicated to the appropriate award nomination. At a minimum, each form should be completed with the information indicated. Please make sure that the nominating person is identified with a method to reach-back to them in the case of questions from the nominating committee.

Forms may be submitted using the following methods:

Email: awards@hamvention.org

 US Postal Mail:
Hamvention
Attn: Awards Committee
Box 964
Dayton, OH 45401-0964

 The nomination process will close on 15 February. Soon after, the committee selection will take place, and an announcement will be made through selected media outlets. The winners will be posted with details on their accomplishments in the Hamvention program as well as this website.  An honors convocation and award presentation will be held on Saturday evening of Hamvention. at a location yet to be announced. Presentations of the award winners will also be made at the general Hamvention audience on Sunday afternoon prior to the prize award activity.
Please address any questions to awards@hamvention.org

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

WRC-19 Under Way; Early Progress Reported


The 2019 World Radiocommuni- cation Conference (WRC-19) us currently under way in Egypt. This quadrennial conference of the International Telecommunica- tion Union sets worldwide policies and frequency allocations within the radio spectrum. 

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which is an observer at the conference, reported that the first week's sessions resulted in "no change" decisions relating to amateur allocations at 47.0-47.2 GHz and 5.850-5.925 GHz. Both of these spectrum areas are of interest to commercial interests. The delegates also voted to defer any decision on spectrum allocations for wireless power transmission (WPT) for electric vehicles.
 
Still to come as this is written - decisions on greater amateur access to the 6-meter band in Europe and Africa, and what issues to include on the agenda for the next WRC, scheduled for 2023. The conference is due to continue through November 22.

Just before the conference began, a special issue of ITU News magazine included an article by IARU Secretary (and former ARRL CEO) Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, on "Views of the International Amateur Radio Union on WRC-19 Agenda Items." According to the ARRL Letter, the article focused on the need for a worldwide amateur allocation at 6 meters, preservation of current bands and stronger protections against RF interference from a growing number of sources.

ICON Satellite to Study Ionosphere


Stargazer L-1011 jet carrying a Pegasus rocket takes off
from Cape Canaveral. The rocket was dropped from the
plane and then launched the ICON satellite into orbit.
(NASA photo by Frank Michaux)
The newest satellite designed to study the ionosphere was successfully launched October 10 by a Pegasus rocket dropped from a Stargazer L-1011 air- craft. Sky and Telescope magazine reports that the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite will study the interaction between the ionos- phere and the thermosphere, as well as measuring airglow, a phenomenon caused by charged particles floating in the upper atmosphere. 
 
Phil Erickson, W1PJE, an astronomer at MIT's Haystack Observatory who is not connected with the mission, wrote on the HamSCI reflector that ICON's observations will need to be combined with ground-based ones to paint a complete picture of space-atmosphere interactions. He said he expected the satellite's first science data to be transmitted in early December, following a period of commissioning.

W2NAF Awarded NSF Grant for Personal Space Weather Station Program


University of Scranton Professor and HamSCI coordinator Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support HamSCI's personal space weather station program. According to a university news release, grants from the NSF Aeronomy program are extremely competitive. The three-year experiment, for which Frissell will be principal investigator, will develop and deploy ground-based space science observation equipment at two levels of sophistication - a low-cost, easy-to-use, version for hams and more complex stations for use by university partners. 

Dr. Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF (W2VU photo)

The project is formally known as Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments, or DASI. The goal is to use many personal space weather stations to make simultaneous observations in many locations of conditions in the ionosphere at any given time. (See the Propagation column in CQ's November and December issues for more on the basics of space weather and its importance to hams.)

Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI, to Retire


Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI
(Photo from Rep. Walden's website)
Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, who is also W7EQI and a champion of amateur radio in Congress, has announced that he will not seek re-election to a 12th term in 2020. Walden is the highest-ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and chaired the panel in 2017-18, when Republicans held a majority in the House of Representatives.
 
According to the ARRL Letter, Walden has been a strong supporter of amateur radio throughout his two-decade tenure as a Congressman, and was awarded the ARRL's first Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, Achievement Award in 2014. Walden told Politico "the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities … I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together."

NYU Asks FCC to Clarify Rules on Encryption by Hams



New York University has asked the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling clarifying that its rule prohibiting hams from transmitting "messages in codes or ciphers intended to obscure the meaning thereof" also applies to "effectively encrypted or encoded messages" that "cannot be readily decoded over the air for true meaning." 

The focus of the petition is Winlink, along with PACTOR and similar modes, in which transmissions can only be decoded by a single linked station. NYU says this makes it difficult for amateurs to self-police. According to the ARRL, NYU says its interest is borne from its long-standing commitment to fostering innovation in science, technology, engineering and math, and that "transparency and openness in amateur radio" are important elements of that goal.
 
SCS, the company that developed PACTOR, recently unveiled new software, called PMON, which it says can be used to monitor PACTOR-1/-2/-3 transmissions without a specialized modem, but the NYU petition says it isn't clear whether the software can successfully decode transmissions in which elements may be missing due to fading. Comments are due by December 2, with reply comments due by December 17.

W1AW Celebrating 98 Years of DXing


The Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW, at ARRL
Headquarters in Connecticut. (Wikimedia Commons photo)
Ninety-eight years ago, the ARRL-sponsored "Trans- atlantic Tests" succeeded in bridging the Atlantic Ocean via amateur radio for the first time. To commemorate the anniversary, ARRL headquar- ters station W1AW will be on the air all day on Tuesday, December 11, the day of the first contact, with teams of guest operators taking turns at the mic, key and keyboard. According to the ARRL, the station will be on the air from 1300 to 2359 UTC, with the primary goal of encouraging contacts between stations in the U.S. and Europe, replicating the signal paths of 1921. Additional information is available at <https://tinyurl.com/yyfvk5xd>.

Club Log Getting Foundation Support


DXers and DXpeditions have come to rely on the online services provided by Club Log (<www.clublog.org>) and its founder, Michael Wells, G7VJR. In order to accommodate greatly expanded usage, Wells is in the process of making major hardware upgrades, and he is getting significant financial help from two DX foundations. 

The ARRL reports that the YASME Foundation has approved a grant of $4,000 to Club Log, and that CDXC - the UK DX Foundation is making a $2600 donation to the upgrade. This is over and above the $650 annual donation CDXC makes to support everyday Club Log operations. The site currently has some 70,000 active users and has records of nearly 600 million contacts.

Milestones: Longtime CQ Author Paul Carr, N4PC, SK


If you were a reader of CQ in the 1980s and '90s, you likely remember the many articles on antennas and other subjects by Paul Carr, N4PC, a talented engineer with the gift of being able to explain complex subjects in an easy-to-understand manner. While never formally a columnist, Paul was a frequent enough contributor that we had a CQ nametag made for him to wear at hamfests and other events. Paul became a Silent Key in September at age 80. The following tribute and photo were provided by his son-in-law, Bruce Cardwell, KI4BC: - W2VU

 
Paul Carr, N4PC (SK)
(Photo courtesy KI4BC)

Many of you may recall some of the articles that Paul wrote in this very publication reviewing amateur radio equipment, high frequency (HF) antennas (one of Paul's true loves and areas of focus), circuits and software.  Perusing the CQ back issue website, Paul's articles and reviews span topics ranging from the “80 Meter Loop Revisited” and “The 40 Meter Fun Machine”, to linear amplifiers and many other topics.  Paul was a ham's ham, with a keen intellect and a great sense of humor. 

Paul Carr was first licensed as a Novice Class operator, KN4OKY, in March of 1957.  His interest in radio would serve him and our nation well.  Paul served with distinction as a United States Army Signal Corps officer.  In 1963, he was given a letter of appreciation for arranging communications from Europe to the United States for then-President John F. Kennedy so that he could speak with his family via the U.S. Army's HF network.

After the Signal Corps, Paul worked for the then Lockheed Corporation and the Bell System, earning his Amateur Extra class license and his Professional Engineer's license (P.E.) along the way. Several years after divestiture of the Bell system, Paul became an educator, teaching mathematics at Alabama Technical Institute in Gadsden, and earning his master's degree in mathematics from Jacksonville State University, with an emphasis on Boolean Algebra. 

Paul was a consummate ham, whose QSLs truly spanned the globe many times over. In later years, he was a dedicated low power (QRP) operator. Paul maintained essentially two ham shacks at his house in Jacksonville, Alabama.  The main shack, located in the basement and, I am quite certain, borrowing from his phone company networking experience, another, smaller “shack” located near his easy chair in the den, all accessible at the flip of a switch!

Paul never stood still in amateur radio.  He was my amateur radio Elmer, friend and father in-law.  Many of our fellow hams who knew Paul will miss him very much, as will my family and I.

Milestones: KT1NA, N4PN, W4MPY Among Silent Keys


Christina Cunningham, KT1NA, General Manager of HamTest Online, became a Silent Key in October after a battle with cancer. She was 62 and was married to HamTest Online owner John Cunningham, W1AI. According to Newsline, when Christina told John she wanted to get her ham license, he offered to help her, but she declined, saying "I'm going to test and see if your course is any good!" Six weeks later, she passed the exams for Technician, General and Extra, all in one sitting.

On November 5, prominent DXpeditioner and contester Paul Newberry, N4PN, also became a Silent Key, after suffering a heart attack. According to the ARRL, Newberry was a constant participant and perennial high scorer in its November Sweepstakes contest.

We have just been informed of the passing last summer of Wayne Carroll, W4MPY, better known by a generation of hams as "The QSL Man." According to his son, David, W5QDF, Carroll had been in poor health for several years and closed his business for health reasons in 2013. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Lola, in 2018. They had been married 64 years. He is survived by his son, David, and daughter-in-law, Sonia, KF5ZRA.


G0UPL Named First "Homebrew Hero"


Hans Summers, G0UPL, has received the first "Homebrew Hero" award, issued by a committee associated with the ICQ podcast. ICQ hosts Martin Butler, M1MRB, and Colin Butler, M6BOY, along with contributor Frank Howell. K4FMH, make up the award's steering committee. 

Summers was recognized for helping the art of home radio construction through his website, <hanssummers.com>, and his business, QRP Labs (<qrp-labs.com>). The award will be presented annually.

New Distance Record Claimed on 630 Meters


It took them two years, but Eric Tichansky, NO3M, of Saegertown, Pennsylvania, and Roger Crofts, VK4YB, of Queensland, Australia, made contact on 630 meters over a 9307-mile path on October 14, setting a new world distance record for the band. According to the ARRL Letter, that was nearly 1000 miles longer than the previous record, also held by VK4YB, for a contact with K5DNL in Oklahoma. NO3M and VK4YB have been trying to make contact around the equinoxes since 2017 and finally succeeded this year.

HuskySat-1 Launched to ISS


The HuskySat-1 satellite prior to launch
(University of Washington photo)
The University of Washington's HuskySat-1 satellite was launched to the International Space Station on November 2. It and one other satellite, SwampSat, are scheduled to be deployed from the space station on January 13, 2020. 

According to the AMSAT News Service, HuskySat is expected to operated its primary university research experiment for 30 days, after which control will be turned over to AMSAT, which will activate a 30-kHz wide linear transponder on 145/435 MHz for amateur radio SSB and CW communication.
The "footprint" of the geostationary
QO-100 satelliete (AMSAT UK map)


In other satellite news, hams in Spain are getting another year of permission to operate via the geostationary QO-100 amateur satellite. The special authorization was originally set to expire in late September of this year, according to Newsline, but the government granted an extension until December 26, 2020. QO-100 is the first amateur satellite in geostationary orbit, meaning that is appears to remain in one spot overhead at all times.

West Point Cadets Contact Astronaut Via Ham Radio


Col. Stephen Hamilton, KJ5HY (left), officer in
charge of the West Point amateur radio club, watches
while Class of 2022 Cadet Nolan Pearce talks with
Col. Drew Morgan, KI5AAA, aboard the International
Space Station on Oct. 19 via amateur radio.
(US Army photo by Brandon O'Connor)
The U.S. military may have some of the world's most sophisticated communica- tions networks, but when it came to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy talking with astronaut and West Point alumnus Col. Drew Morgan aboard the International Space Station, the preferred method was via ham radio.
 
The October contact between the U.S. Military Academy Amateur Radio Club, W2KGY, and Morgan, KI5AAA (operating as NA1SS) was organized through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. The ground end of the contact was overseen by Col. Stephen Hamilton, KJ5HY, a research scientist at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and Officer-in-Charge of the ham radio club, which has held W2KGY since 1937.

West Point Cadet Easton Bolin talks via ham radio
with Col. Drew Morgan, KI5AAA, operating NA1SS
aboard the International Space Station.
(US Army photo by Brandon O'Connor)
Morgan is a 1998 West Point graduate, according to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, and answered questions from cadets during the brief 10-minute orbital "window" about the Army's role in space operations and how he works through challenges on board the space station. 

"The things that have gotten me through the tough times," he told them, "is thinking about serving something bigger than myself … The thing that motivates me is knowing that I've been serving my country since I showed up at West Point as an 18-year-old."

According to Hamilton, this was the second ARISS contact from West Point, but the first using West Point equipment. The prior contact, he said, was in 2007.

ARRL to Launch Magazine for New Hams


 
The ARRL has announced plans to publish a new bi-monthly magazine for new and less-experienced hams, beginning in January 2020. The publication will be called On the Air and will be offered as an either/or magazine with QST in print form, according to the ARRL Letter. Both magazines will be available digitally to all ARRL members, but membership will include only one print magazine of the member's choice.

ALARA Offers Micro-Grants to Australian YL Hams


In an effort to encourage more women in Australia to become hams, the Australian Ladies Amateur Radio Association, or ALARA, is offering a limited number of micro-grants to help offset the costs of getting started.  

Newsline reports that the grants will cover half the cost of the assessment (exam) fee, half the cost of the license fee for a new call sign, and a one-year complimentary membership in ALARA. These fees are quite high, and the ALARA grants will cover as much as $155 AUS per person. The grants will be issued only after a YL passes her license exam. More information is available at <www.alara.org.au>.

Mendelson's Surplus Building in Dayton is Sold


The downtown Dayton, Ohio, building that has housed the Mendelson's surplus business for decades has been sold. The family announced earlier this year that it was shutting down the eight-story mega-surplus store visited by thousands of hams in town for the Dayton Hamvention® as 76-year-old owner Sandy Mendelson had decided to retire. 

According to Newsline, the building was purchased by a developer who plans to turn the 555,000 square foot space into a mixed-use setting for both homes and businesses. The Mendelson family owns another building in downtown Dayton and it is not clear if there are plans to reopen the surplus business there.

Friday, October 11, 2019

WRC-19 to Get Under Way Later This Month; IARU Keeping Tabs

The 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) will soon be under way in Egypt. The four-week gathering of telecommunication officials from around the world begins on October 28 and will set International Telecommunication Union (ITU) policy and determine international frequency allocations for the next four years. 
 
The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has observers at the conference and is keeping tabs on several agenda items directly impacting amateur radio. Those include a proposal for greater access to the 6-meter band in Europe and Africa, protecting existing amateur radio bands and setting the agenda for the next WRC, scheduled for 2023.

The IARU's Administrative Council met in late September to finalize plans for WRC-19 and to discuss additional issues, primarily working with standards organizations to try to minimize "spectrum pollution" resulting from non-radio noise sources such as wireless power transfer for charging electric vehicles.