Sunday, October 4, 2015

Uncertainty Over Status of Hara Arena

Will Hara Arena still be open when it's time for the 2016 Dayton Hamvention®? That is the basic question being faced by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), the owners of Hara Arena and local government officials, all of whom want to be sure the world's largest ham radio gathering remains where it has been since 1964. Last year, according to news reports, the Hamvention was responsible for contributing $8.5 million to the region's economy.

There have been rumors for years that the arena was about to close, but an announcement at the end of the 2015 show promised improvements at the half-century old exhibition center in time for the 2016 event. However, news reports in early October cast new doubts on the arena's ongoing viability.

The reports - first on WHIO-TV and then in the Dayton Daily News - centered on a July e-mail sent by Hara Marketing Director Karen Wampler to the city manager and a city councilman in Trotwood, the municipality in which Hara Arena is actually located. A consultant hired by Hara recommended this summer that the city purchase the venue, but Trotwood officials felt such a move would be too risky, according to the reports. A Dayton Daily News article in late 2014 reported that Hara owed more than $300,000 in back taxes, but was working with local authorities to pay down that balance.

Wampler's e-mail, which the TV station and newspaper (both owned by Cox Media Ohio) received through a public records request, informed the local officials that they had briefed the Hamvention's chairman and select board members on the arena's status and said "they are reeling" after being told that the venue might be forced to close. "They … like us, believed we were close to stabilizing Hara for future growth, rather than ending her nearly 60-year run," Wampler wrote, adding that "(t)here may be one last chance to add Hamvention investment dollars to the proposal before their Board puts all its resources into relocating their event - most likely out of Montgomery County - in 2016."

She told the Daily News in an interview for this article that the arena is now in much better shape than it had been in July, when that e-mail was written, and that there are no current plans to close.
Hamvention General Chairman Jim Tildeman, N8IDS, shared Wampler's current optimism in a statement issued after the news reports ran. He said DARA "is fully committed to (holding) the 2016 Dayton Hamvention at Hara Arena and Exposition Center … on May 20, 21, 22, 2016," and told the newspaper that "We do not have any plans whatsoever for relocating."

Tildeman dismissed other reports as "speculation," but added that DARA is "still (keeping) an open mind to alternate plans in case they become necessary." The news articles had reported that Hamvention officials had met with the Dayton/Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau and others to examine other possible venues within the Dayton area in the event that Hara was no longer an option.

Bottom line: As of early October, Hara Arena remains open and intends to host the Hamvention next May; and DARA will hold the 2016 Hamvention at Hara as long as the facility is still open. However, uncertainty continues and contingency plans are being considered in case a move is necessary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hurricane Watch Net Activates for Joaquin

The Hurricane Watch Net went on the air today (Sept. 30) at 11:00 AM EDT, as Hurricane Joaquin set its sights on the Bahamas and ultimately - perhaps - the U.S. east coast. According to Hurricane Watch Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, "Joaquin is expected to make a very sharp turn to the north-northeast sometime Thursday.  This is due in part to a frontal system moving towards the Bahamas.  The timing of this system will dictate the timing of this turn. Due to the close proximity to land, whether or not this storm makes landfall in the Bahamas, the Hurricane Watch Net will be active until no longer a threat in this region."
The Hurricane Watch Net's primary frequencies are 14.325 MHz during the day and 7.268 MHz at night.  Please keep these frequencies clear for HWN-related traffic.

Graves says residents in the path of this storm should take every precaution to protect their families and property.  And for the latest information on this storm, and other active systems in the tropics, including Net Activation Plans, please visit the Hurricane Watch Net website at

Monday, September 28, 2015

Western Wildfires Take Toll on Ham Community

The rash of wildfires in the western U.S. this summer has taken a significant toll on the ham community. Sixty-six-year-old Mark McCloud, K6YCV, of Caleveras County, California, was one of two people who died in the Butte fire in mid-September after refusing to follow an evacuation order. According to the ARRL Letter, the county coroner said McCloud and the other victim were both found dead in their homes, which were destroyed by the fire. 
The Lake Chelan Amateur Radio Club's 2- and 6-meter
repeaters, housed in the building seen here, were
destroyed by the First Creek fire. (Photo from the Lake
Chelan ARC website,

In Washington State, the First Creek fire in late August destroyed two repeaters belonging to the Lake Chelan Amateur Radio Club. The ARRL Letter reported that the building housing the club's 2-meter and 6-meter repeaters was completely leveled by the fire.

Hams up and down the west coast provided communications support for a variety of firefighting efforts. 

Sheriff's Deputy/Ham Killed in Line of Duty

Courtesy Okaloosa County Sheriff's Dept. website
Okaloosa County, Florida, Sheriff's Deputy William Myers, KK4KF, was shot and killed while attempting to serve an injunction in a domestic violence case. Newsline reports that Myers, 64, of Shalimar, Florida, was attempting to serve a restraining order on 33-year-old Joel Smith when Smith pulled out a gun and shot him. Myers died of his injuries a short time later. Smith was later shot and killed by police during a standoff at a nearby hotel.

According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department website, an estimated 2000 people attended a memorial service for Myers on Sept. 28, including Florida Governor Rick Scott and state Attorney General Pam Bondi. 

Special Event Stations Mark Pope's US Visit


A string of special event stations stretching from New York to Virginia took to the amateur airwaves the last week in September in honor of Pope Francis's visit to the United States. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church made stops in Washington, DC; New York City and Philadelphia. 

According to Newsline, four radio clubs in the region teamed up to operate at least as many special event stations, and expected to make between 20,000 and 50,000 total contacts. The Potomac Valley Radio Club operated N4P in northern Virginia and K3P in the DC/Maryland area; while the Frankford Radio Club and Holmesburg Amateur Radio Club in the Philadelphia area operated W3FRC/WMF (for World Meeting of Families, which the Pope was attending in Philadelphia) and WM3PEN, respectively, in addition to a separate W3P special event station; and K2P was on the air in New York City and southern New Jersey. The New York end of the operation was anchored by the Great South Bay Amateur Radio Club. 

QSL information is available at <>.

Progress on 60 Meters Ahead of WRC-15

The International Telecommunication Union's 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) will be held this fall in Geneva, Switzerland. Delegates representing ITU member countries will vote on international telecommunication policy issues during the nearly monthlong conference (Nov. 2-27). 

Of primary interest to hams are competing proposals to create a worldwide secondary amateur allocation at 5 MHz (60 meters). The South African Radio League reported in mid-September that Europe's ITU members had agreed to a European Common Proposal to create a 100-kHz allocation between 5350 and 5450 kHz. 

There was no word at press time as to whether other countries or blocs of countries were falling in line behind this proposal or sticking to others. Sixty meters in the U.S. is available on a very limited, channelized, basis.

Growing Number of Ham Band Intrusions Reported

The International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring System is reporting a growing number of non-amateur intrusions on the HF ham bands. According to Newsline, monitors in Europe are picking up Russian navy transmissions as well as Russian and Iranian over-the-horizon radar on 20 meters, Chinese over-the-horizon radar on 75 meters, Spanish fishing boats on all HF bands and taxi drivers from various countries on 10 meters.

Chinese Satellite Cluster Finally Launched

 After multiple delays, China launched a group of nine satellites carrying amateur radio into orbit on September 19th. All traveled together on a single launch vehicle.

 According to the AMSAT News Service, six of the satellites have inverting transponders supporting SSB and CW operation, all with uplinks on 70 centimeters and downlinks on 2 meters; one has both APRS (2-meters up/down) and FM voice (2 meters up, 70 cm. down) repeaters, and two more are downlink-only, transmitting telemetry on 2 meters and 70 centimeters.

Fox-1D Satellite to Share Launch with Fox-1C

The AMSAT News Service also reports that AMSAT and Spaceflight, Inc. have agreed to have the Fox-1D amateur satellite share a launch with Fox-1C (recently renamed Fox-1Cliff in memory of Cliff Buttschardt, formerly K7RR, a longtime AMSAT supporter who became a Silent Key in 2008). Both satellites will offer FM repeater capabilities on different frequencies. In addition, 

Fox-1D will carry the University of Iowa's HERCI (High Energy Radiation CubeSat Instrument) experiment. The launch is scheduled for early next year, and AMSAT is seeking additional donations to help cover the added costs of launching two satellites instead of one.

On the topic of the Fox-series of satellites, the ARRL Letter reports that AMSAT has released version 1.0 of the Fox Telemetry Decoder software in advance of the scheduled October 8 launch of Fox-1A, which will also carry an FM transponder with an uplink on 435.180 MHz and downlink on 145.980 MHz. The Fox satellites are also supposed to transmit continuous telemetry as they orbit. The cubesats are intended to be reachable with a dual-band handheld radio and simple 2m/70cm beam antenna.

Carolina DX Foundation Launched

One of the premier DX organizations in the southeast has established a new foundation to help provide financial support for DXpeditions.
The Carolina DX Association recently established the Carolina DX Foundation, a separate entity with its own officers, to collect tax-deductible donations and then make donations in support of DXpedition efforts. The group is starting out with $15,000 in seed money earned from selling a collection of radios donated by Frank Dowd, K4BVQ.
According to a report on the Southgate Amateur Radio Club's news page, the goals of the foundation include "the furtherance of scientific research exploring electromagnetic wave propagation in the high frequency domain, and education through public presentations by DXpeditions supported by the CDXF." For more information, or to make a donation, contact Secretary-Treasurer Cliff Wagoner, W3ZL, at PO Box 577, Davidson, NC 28036 or via e-mail at <>.

K1JT: Beware of "Unauthorized" Versions of WSJT-X Software

WSJT-X Screen shot from
WSJT home page
Digital communications pioneer (and Nobel Laureate) Joe Taylor, K1JT, is warning users of his WSJT-X HF digital software only to use those versions of the software developed by his team and officially released on his website. 

According to the ARRL Letter, Taylor says some individuals are making their own "releases" of WSJT-X using open-source code, but warns that if you use them on the air, "you have no idea what you've got." He adds that subsequent observations of what does and doesn't work are "worse than useless" in that they "waste your time and ours." WSJT-X is currently in experimental form.

Spanish Amateur Group Urges Hams to Get on CB

How do you provide CBers with examples of good operating techniques and encourage those with the interest to "upgrade" to ham radio? By meeting them where they live, according to Spain's national ham radio association, the URE.  

Newsline reports that URE is encouraging hams in Spain and elsewhere to get active on CB. Its website even has a 27-MHz "portal" to encourage greater use of CB by hams and anyone else with an interest in radio communications.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vanity Call Sign & GMRS Regulatory Fees Eliminated

As of September 3, 2015, there will be no fee to apply for or renew an amateur radio vanity call sign, and the cost of a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) license will drop from $90 to $65.

In a Report & Order released September 2, the FCC announced that "regulatory fees" for both amateur vanity calls and for General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) licenses would be eliminated as of the 3rd. The Commission had previously announced its intention to remove these fees but had not published an effective date until now.

The order noted that this change applies only to so-called "regulatory" fees and that any application fees associated with these licenses remain in effect. There are no application fees for amateur licenses (even though there are exam fees), but there is a $65 application fee for a GMRS license, which remains in effect. Only the separate $35 GMRS "regulatory" fee has been dropped.

The complete text of the FCC Report & Order is at <>.  The section on amateur and GMRS regulatory fees is on pages 11 and 12. (Please note that due to a computer system upgrade, this document may not be available until after Labor Day.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

FCC Web Services - Including Amateur License Database - to Be Offline, Possibly Through Labor Day

Hams will not be able to access the FCC's amateur radio licensing database or file comments on rulemaking proposals beginning at 6 PM EDT  on Wednesday, September 2, and possibly extending through the Labor Day weekend or beyond.

In an announcement on September 1, the FCC said the planned shutdown of its interactive public-access web applications - including the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)- is necessary to permit and upgrade to its "legacy IT systems."

During this shutdown, hams will not be able to look up call signs on the FCC database or file license renewals or updates. In addition, new licenses and upgrades will not be posted during this period. 

According to the FCC announcement, "We will work to have these web applications upgraded and available again by the morning of Tuesday, September 8." The FCC says it does not plan to release any official documents during this planned shutdown.

Helping Hams Face Fire Threat in Northwest

Volunteer ham radio operators in Ferry County, Washington, were "standing (their) ground" at the local emergency operations center / evacuation center in late August despite an ongoing threat from a large wildfire. The ARRL Letter reported that amateurs working at the shelter in Republic, Washington, were on the front lines of the battle against the so-called "Kettle Complex" of three forest fires in the north central part of the state. 

Sam Jenkins, WA7EC, the county's RACES radio officer and ARRL Emergency Coordinator, said his volunteers expected to be on post for several weeks despite the ongoing danger. He added that "the firefighters say they are going to attempt to defend our emergency operations center/emergency shelter at all costs."

Hams in other parts of the west were also active in providing communications support for firefighting efforts in one of the worst wildfire seasons on record.

No Consensus on 60 Meters Going Into WRC-15

With the next World Radiocommunication Conference approaching in November, it appeared in late summer that there might not be a consensus on proposals for a worldwide secondary amateur allocation on 5 MHz, also known as 60 meters. In the U.S., the band is currently available to hams on a very restricted basis, with five discrete channels and limitations on modes and power that are not found on other amateur bands.

According to the ARRL, as of late August, proposals from various countries were "all over the map," and it was beginning to look like there might not be a unified proposal for the WRC delegates to consider. Options ranged from no change to a 175-kHz wide option between 5275 and 5450 kHz.

Chinese Ham Satellites Cause Coordination Concern

A group of nine Chinese satellites carrying ham radio payloads that were scheduled to launch in early September were causing a great deal of concern in mid-August because their operating frequencies apparently were not in line with International Amateur Radio Union standards and there were fears of possible interference with land-based uses as well the voice and slow-scan TV downlinks from the International Space Station. IARU Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD, said talks were ongoing "with the parties involved" in an effort to resolve the potential conflicts prior to launch. At press time, the outcome of those talks was not known.

Joint US/Cuba Ham Operation Planned During CQWW

A group of hams was planning to take advantage of the recent thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba to mount a joint US/Cuban ham operation in late October, including during the SSB weekend of the CQ World Wide DX Contest. According to the ARRL Letter, a group of nine U.S. hams, led by Jim Millner, WB2REM, and nine Cuban amateurs, led by Bob Ibarra, CM2KL, planned to operate as T42US between October 21 and 28. The CQWW SSB weekend is October 24-25.

A New Option for D-STAR

Add FlexRadio's FLEX-6000 series to the list of amateur transceivers compatible with the D-STAR digital voice and data standard. Through an arrangement with NW Digital Radio, the next update to Flex's SmartSDR™ software will support D-STAR via NW Digital's ThumbDV™ dongle. Though many hams associate D-STAR with ICOM, it is actually an open standard developed by the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL). But it uses a proprietary encoder/decoder which until now has only been offered via ICOM and NW Digital Radio. Through this arrangement, FLEX-6000 series users will be able to use D-STAR as well. 
The FLEX-6000 series radios are all HF/6-meter transceivers, and until now, most D-STAR activity has been on the VHF/UHF bands. However, a news release from NW Digital notes that the use of D-STAR on HF is growing and that the new availability of the mode on the FLEX-6000 radios will help stimulate further growth. The ThumbDV™ dongle will be available from both FlexRadio and NW Digital.

October Launch Date Set for Fox-1A Satellite

AMSAT has announced that its Fox-1A satellite, originally due to be launched from California in August, is now slated for liftoff on October 8. It will include an FM transponder with an uplink on 435.180 MHz and a downlink on 145.890 MHz.
In addition, NASA has notified AMSAT that its Fox-1B satellite is tentatively scheduled to be launched in November, 2016. Fox-1B will also carry a 70-cm/2-m FM transponder.
NASA photo

 On the topic of ham radio in space, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)program has announced that planning is under way to develop a new amateur station for the ISS Columbus module. According to the AMSAT News Service, the planned upgrade will include higher power and greater interoperabitlity with the ham station in the Russian service module.

FCC Proposes $8k Fine Against Ohio Ham

The FCC says a Cincinnati amateur should pay an $8000 fine for allegedly causing malicious interference on a number of repeaters and failure to properly identify his station.

 The ARRL Letter reports that the FCC's Notice of Apparent Liability says Daniel Hicks, KB8UYZ, at one point volunteered to help track down the source of the repeater interference, even though, according to the Commission, he was the one responsible for it. The FCC also alleged that Hicks used the call sign of a different local station in the course of his interfering transmissions.

WWV on 25 MHz: Original Antenna Back in Use

WWV transmitter building (NIST photo)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology resumed broadcasting WWV's time and frequency data on 25 MHz last April on an "experimental basis," and now has resumed using the vertical dipole antenna that was in use when the transmitter was shut down in 1977. 

For the past year and a half, the transmitter had been using a broadband monopole that officials decided was needed as a backup antenna for WWV's 2.5 MHz transmitter. According to the ARRL Letter, WWV's lead electrical engineer, Matt Deutch, N0RGT, said staff members "dug the 25 MHz radiating section out of the mud in the bone yard and rebuilt the 25-MHz antenna so that it looks identical to what it looked like in 1977."

End of the Line for Collins Mechanical Filters

The ARRL Letter reports that Rockwell Collins has decided to stop manufacturing its venerable mechanical filters after more than 60 years. According to an announcement on the company's website, demand for the mechanical filters has dropped dramatically as radio designers have switched over to digital signal processing techniques.

The announcement did not include a specific date after which the filters would no longer be made.

Three Amateurs Honored by YASME Foundation

The YASME Foundation has announced the 2015 winners of its Excellence Award, which is given in recognition of significant contributions to amateur radio. 

According to the ARRL Letter, this year's awards are going to: Mike Mertel, K7IR, for inventing the tunable Yagi antenna that is now marketed as the SteppIR; Koos Fockens, PA0KDF, for his research on noise in the ham bands that played a key role in the global battle against broadband-over-power-line (BPL) interfenece; and James Ying, N2IW, for developing an online scheduling app that was used extensively by W1AW portable stations during last year's ARRL centennial and is available at no charge for use by others planning large-scale multioperator events.
The award consists of an engraved crystal globe and a cash grant.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

W0ANT Sweeps Youth Awards

Fourteen-year-old Anna Veal, W0ANT, of Littleton, Colorado, has been named the winner of both the 2015 Newsline Young Ham of the Year award and the ARRL's Hiram Percy Maxim award. 

Veal, whose parents are both hams, has been licensed since age 8 and holds a General Class ticket. She started a ham radio club in her elementary school and is now president of her high school ham club. Anna has been a presenter at the Radio Club of America youth forum and took part in the TI5 Youth DX Adventure program in Costa Rica.
As Newsline Young Ham of the Year, Anna will receive radio equipment from corporate co-sponsors Yaesu, Heil Sound and RadioWavz, as well as a week at Space Camp, courtesy of CQ. The ARRL's Maxim award of $1500 recognizes young people who provide leadership in amateur radio. 

W0ANT is scheduled to receive the Young Ham of the Year award at the Huntsville Hamfest in August.

ARRL Adopts New HF Band Plan, Proposes Major Changes to 75/80 Meters

The ARRL's Board of Directors adopted a new HF band plan at its July meeting, accepting virtually all of the recommendations of a committee charged with developing a new plan. Most of the changes have to do with recommended frequencies for automatically-controlled data stations, but major changes are proposed for the 80-meter band.

According to the ARRL Letter, the League will petition the FCC to shrink the 75-meter phone band by 50 kHz while adding 50 kHz to the CW/RTTY/data segment of the band (3600-3650 kHz). In addition, it will seek to grant RTTY and data privileges on the band to Novices and Technicians and to make the 3600-3650 segment, now an Extra-Class-only phone band, open to all for CW, RTTY and data. The petition will also seek RTTY/data privileges for Novices and Techs on 15 meters.

ARRL to Increase Dues by $10

 The ARRL will increase its annual dues to $49 at the beginning of next year. The change was approved at the League's July board meeting. According to the ARRL Letter, this will be the first dues increase since 2001. CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, noted that the organization had managed to hold its cost increases to 19% over the past 14 years, while inflation overall in the U.S. has been 32% in the same period. He described the dues increase as "a necessity, not an option."

Vanity Call Sign Fees End in September

 The ARRL reports that the FCC's decision to eliminate fees for requesting or renewing a vanity call sign will take effect next month, possibly as early as September 3. The commission had previously announced the change, stating that the costs of administering the program and providing refunds when requested calls were not available were higher than the revenues received. The decision also eliminates application fees for licenses in the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).

Amateur Radio About to be Primary Across 160 Meters

An FCC decision to elevate the status of amateur radio on 1900-2000 kHz from secondary to primary takes effect on August 6, but with an asterisk. In the course of receiving comments in the rule making proceeding, the Commission learned that commercial fishermen had for years been using offshore buoys operating in this frequency range without FCC authorization. Since there had been virtually no interference complaints, the FCC decided to authorize the buoys rather than force the fishermen to replace them en masse. The top half of 160 had previously been allocated on a primary basis to the radiolocation service, but has not been used for that purpose in many years.

FCC Finalizes Plans on Field Office Closures

Amid loud complaints from amateurs, the broadcast industry and Congress, the FCC in July adopted a scaled back version of its previously announced plan to close two-thirds of its field offices. Under the final plan, 11 offices will close while 13 will remain open. 

Radio World reports that the offices slated for closure are: Anchorage, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Norfolk, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle and Tampa; while operations will continue in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia (MD, outside Washington DC), Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (OR) and San Francisco. In addition, rapid-response Enforcement Bureau "tiger teams" will work out of the Columbia and Denver offices, and all field agents will now be required to be electrical engineers.

Is There Another High-Orbit Satellite in Our Future?

The last high-orbit amateur satellite launched was AO-40 in late 2000, which suffered an on-board explosion in orbit and never became fully operational. Ever since that time, a backup satellite "spaceframe" has been in storage in Germany, where much of the work on AO-40 was done. 

Now, Virginia Tech, working with AMSAT-DL and AMSAT-NA, has approached the U.S. government about launching that satellite into high-earth orbit in order to support scientific payloads as well as amateur radio transponders. The AMSAT News Service reports that members of AMSAT-DL approved shipping the Phase-3E spaceframe to Virginia for "further construction, testing and preparation for eventual launch" should the U.S. government approve the proposal and provide funding. High-orbit satellites are generally visible from the ground for many hours at a time and have large "footprints" that allow contacts over very long distances.

Newsline Returns to the Air, Names New Writer/Editor

Amateur Radio Newsline returned to the air in early July after missing several broadcasts due to the death of co-founder and Executive Producer Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF. What is being termed "Newsline 2.0" returned on July 9 with Caryn Eve Murray, KD2GUT, joining the all-volunteer staff as lead writer and editor. Caryn is a newspaper reporter and editor in New York.

Enforcement: FCC Gets Tough With Michigan Ham

The FCC has affirmed a proposed $22,000 fine against Michael Guernsey, KZ8O, of Parchment, Michigan, for repeated instances of interfering with other amateurs and failing to identify. Guernsey had asked that the fine be reduced or eliminated due to economic hardship, but the Commission upheld the full fine, noting that complaints against him went back more than a decade and that he had ignored repeated written warnings.

In another enforcement action, the FCC has proposed fining David Tolassi, W4BHV, of Ringgold, Georgia, $1000 for repeatedly failing to identify his station.

ARRL Begins Search for New CEO

The ARRL board of directors has started the wheels turning for search for a new Chief Executive Officer for the organization. The ARRL Letter reports that current CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, has set a target retirement date of May 1, 2016. Sumner has been on the ARRL staff for 44 years and has held the top staff position, under various titles, since 1982.

Ham Named Chief Astronaut

Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy,
Astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, has been named chief of NASA's Astronaut Office, according to the ARRL Letter. A U.S. Navy Captain and former Navy SEAL, Cassidy  spent six months in space on the International Space Station in 2013 and took part in six spacewalks. He also conducted several Amateur Radio on the International Space Station contacts while in orbit. He replaces Air Force Colonel Robert Behnken, who is also a ham, holding call sign KE5GGX.

CQ's K5ZD Among ARRL Award Winners

CQWW DX Contest
Director Randy Thompson,
K5ZD (N6TV photo)
CQ World Wide DX Contest Director Randy Thompson has been honored by the ARRL for his work in promoting amateur radio to the public, particularly in connection with his role as chairman of last year's World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC-14), which was held in Massachusetts and received nationwide news coverage. He was named this year's winner of the Philip J. McGan Silver Antenna Award for volunteer public relations work.
Also honored, according to the ARRL Letter, were Anna Veal, W0ANT, with the Hiram Percy Maxim Award; David Hershberger, W9GR, with the Doug DeMaw Technical Excellence Award for his work in reducing audio distortion on single sideband transmissions, and the Microwave Development Award went to the developers of Broadband-Hamnet for their contributions to microwave mesh networking.

Dayton Attendance Up Slightly

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association reports that attendance at this year's Dayton Hamvention ® increased by about 750 over 2014 to a total of 25,621. It is the first time in several years that the official attendance figure has exceeded 25,000. The highest attendance ever at the annual event was over 33,600 in 1993.

Illinois Ham Found Murdered

Police are investigating the apparent murder of Henry Murphy, WB9TFX, of Rockford, Illinois. According to a report in the Rockford Register-Star, police say Murphy and his dog were both shot to death before their house was set on fire. Firefighters responding to the blaze found their bodies. Murphy was retired from AT&T, and according to a post on by NN9P, owned a local 70-centimeter repeater and was "a 'master' of repeater duplexer cavity fine-tuning," helping other repeater owners in the area maintain their equipment. No arrests had been made as we went to press, nor had police revealed a suspected motive.

Party Balloon Completes Double Circumnavigation

Australian ham Andy Nguyen, VK3YT, just keeps outdoing himself. We've reported several times recently on Andy's successes in flying ham radio-equipped Mylar party balloons around the world. Now, the ARRL Letter reports, his latest effort - pico balloon PS-46 - made two complete trips around the world and was into its third loop before it was forced down in the Indian Ocean by bad weather. The balloon transmitted WSPR and JT9 signals on 20 meters and was tracked by hams around the world, including at least two in the United States.

HAARP to Resume Operations as University Research Facility

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program - better known by the acronym HAARP - will be returned to service under the stewardship of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF). The facility had been built by the US Air Force in 1990 and its high-powered transmitters were used to create artificial auroras for research purposes (the facility had also been a favorite of conspiracy theorists). Last year, the Air Force shut it down and announced plans to demolish it. Now, according to the ARRL Letter, a combination of pressure from political and scientific circles has prompted the Air Force to agree to sell the facilities and equipment at HAARP to UAF. The transfer was to be effective on August 11, with additional negotiations to be conducted over the next two years for the sale of the land on which the facility is built as well.