Friday, July 6, 2018

ITU Chief: Kosovo's Z6 Prefix "Unauthorized and Illegal"


The secretary-general of the International Telecommuni- cation Union says Kosovo's Z6 amateur radio prefix has not been allocated to any country by the ITU and is therefore "an unauthorized and illegal usage of this international numbering resource." 

According to the ARRL Letter, Secretary-General Houlin Zhao's finding came in response to an inquiry from Serbia, which has never recognized Kosovo's secession, even a decade after the former Yugoslav province declared independence. Zhao also advised the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) that the Z6 prefix was unauthorized and asked that it remove the prefix from its website listing, even though Kosovo's national organization, SHRAK, is an IARU member. 
 
The ruling does not affect Kosovo's status on either the ARRL's DXCC list or CQ's country list for award and contest purposes. The ARRL notes that it now joins other entities, such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (1A) and Western Sahara (S0) where amateurs are using "unofficial" prefixes.

FCC Fines Drone-Maker, Pennsylvania Ham



 In two unrelated actions, the FCC is proposing a fine of nearly $3 million for a drone manufacturer it says is using unauthorized audio/video transmitters in its devices, and agreed to a $7,000 payment from a Pennsylvania ham to settle a 4-year-old enforcement action for interference on 14.313 MHz.
The FCC alleges that HobbyKing, which manufactures radio-control craft and associated products, marketed uncertified radio transmitters, sometimes sold as amateur radio equipment, and proposed assessing a fine of $2.8 million.

The action stems from a complaint filed by the ARRL in early 2017, according to the ARRL Letter. The League told the FCC that the devices – which it tested in its lab – operated on frequencies "intended for navigational aids, air traffic control radar, air route surveillance radars, and global positioning systems, not Amateur Radio frequencies, as the marketer had purported." Because of this, the League complaint added, these devices "represent a real and dangerous threat to the safety of flight." The FCC's Notice of Apparent Liability said the Commission had previously warned the company to stop selling noncompliant equipment and said HobbyKing also had failed to fully respond to a previous letter of inquiry. The FCC also warned consumers who own these devices to "cease using them immediately or risk enforcement action."

In Pittsburgh, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania reported that Brian Crow, K3VR, had agreed to pay the FCC $7,000 to settle a previously assessed fine of $11,500 for allegedly causing interference to other amateurs. Crow was one of two amateurs cited in 2014 for intentional interference with communications on 14.313 MHz and for failure to identify his transmissions. The news release from U.S. At
torney Scott Brady also said Crow's Extra Class license would be reduced to Technician Class for six months, and that he may have no further contact with the other amateurs involved in the case.

RBN Testing Separate Telnet Feed for FT8 Spots


RBN map of HF spots
The Reverse Beacon Network is testing a method of creating a separate feed for spots derived from FT8 contacts and keeping the main stream limited to CW and RTTY transmissions. 

The ARRL Letter says RBN managers cited the sheer quantity of FT8 spots in relation to other modes, noting that on May 23 and 24, more than 85% of all RBN spots originated with FT8 stations. The announcement said it was unclear whether this was the result of the digital mode's exploding popularity or the fact that it can spot stations 22 dB below the noise. At press time, the separate FT8 spot feed was still being beta tested.

Attendance at Dayton, Friedrichshafen, Down Slightly


Two of the world's three largest ham radio shows had slight downturns in attendance this year, but neither organizer is concerned. Attendance at the Dayton Hamvention® was reported by General Chairman Ron Cramer KD8ENJ, to be 28, 417, down about 900 from last year, which was the highest number in the past 20 years. Cramer speculated that some people were waiting to hear about upgrades from 2017 and that some of those didn't come together until the last minute.
 
Europe's biggest hamfest, "HamRadio" in Friedrichshafen, Germany, welcomed 15,460 attendees this year, 1650 fewer than in 2017, according to show officials. Organizers noted that this year's show was earlier in June than usual, which may have accounted for the drop in attendance. They note it will be back to its traditional late June weekend next year.

ARRL Foundation Grants 89 Scholarships


The ARRL Foundation in mid-June announced its 2018 scholarship winners. The foundation administers some 70 scholarship programs for a variety of organizations. This year, 89 scholarships were awarded, with recipients being about two-thirds male and one-third female, and living all over the United States. Virtually all of the scholarships are for post-secondary education.
 
Not yet thinking about post-high school plans are sister and brother Audrey and Jack McElroy, KM4BUN and KM4ZIA, respectively. The Forsyth County (Georgia) News reported in July that both were helping to provide communications for the Atlanta Track Club's Peachtree Road Race 10k run. Audrey, who's 14, ran in the race and carried a handheld with her to report on any problems she observed, while 10-year-old Jack manned a station at the medical tent near the finish line. The Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10k race in the country, according to the report. Audrey and Jack's parents are both hams as well.  Dad Tom is W4SDR and Mom Jan is K4PRM.

ARES Continues Toughening Up Training, Moving to Paperless Reporting


The ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is in the process of a major revamping to more closely align its structure, training and operation to be more compatible with the Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS). Virtually all public safety agencies in the U.S. use ICS and NIMS in their operations.
 
Among the changes being implemented, according to the ARRL Letter, will be additional mandatory training, both from the ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency; as well as a new online volunteer management, communication and reporting system that is currently being tested in ARRL sections with large ARES organizations.

Names in the News…


Pedro Duque, KC5RGG/ED4ISS, Spain's new Science
Minister (European Space Agency photo)

Radio amateur and former astronaut Pedro Duque, KC5RGG/ED4ISS, has been named as Spain's new Minister of Science. According to Newsline, he is an aeronautical engineer who has made two trips to space, the first in 1998 aboard the shuttle Discovery, and the second in 2003 on the International Space Station. During that trip, Duque made two ham radio contacts with schools in his home country.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham, WX4KEG, was among the operators conducting the annual on-air test of the center's amateur radio station, WX4NHC. The station's assistant coordinator, Julio Ripoll, WD4R, told the ARRL Letter that the test was very successful, with all radios and antennas working well.
Princess Elettra Marconi was a guest operator on May 31 at the Wellfleet Marconi Station on the Cape Cod National Seashore for a commemorative exchange of messages with the historic Signal Hill station in Newfoundland. According to Newsline, Ms. Marconi's father, radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, sent the first two-way wireless message from the U.S. to Europe from the Wellfleet station in 1903, and it was at the Newfoundland station in 1901 that he received the first transatlantic radio signal, the letter "S," transmitted from England. (See our interview with Princess Marconi in the March 2018 issue of CQ. – ed..)

Milestones: JA1AN, K6KU, W6SZN, Silent Keys


Three prominent amateurs became Silent Keys in June... 

Shozo Hara, JA1AN, who served as president of the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) for 41 years, passed away on June 9. He was also a member of the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame. According to Alinco's Nakata "Naky" Katsumi, Hara had been licensed since 1952 and had also chaired the Japan Equestrian Foundation and was a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee.
Jack Curtis, K6KU, became a Silent Key on June 4. Curtis developed the first keyer-on-a-chip in 1968 and his invention revolutionized Morse code sending. According to the ARRL Letter, Curtis's keyer chips were built into many amateur transceivers of the late 20th century and were the basis of a wide variety of commercial memory keyers.
Finally, Kip Edwards, W6SZN, passed away on June 6. Edwards was a director and secretary of the YASME Foundation at the time of his death at age 71. An attorney, DXer and DXpeditioner, Edwards had also served previously as president of both the Northern California Contest Club and the Northern California DX Club. The ARRL Letter reports he had retired from his legal practice five years ago and moved to Washington State.

Iranian Radar on Ten Meters


If you can't hear anyone on 10 meters, you can apparently blame Iran. Well, actually, it's the solar cycle, but the ARRL Letter is reporting that various Iranian radar transmitters were operating on the band throughout the month of May. The International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring System says strong, long-duration radar signals originating from Iran were heard daily on 28.860 MHz, with other signals using frequency-hopping techniques and appearing on various frequencies.

Ham Station Upgrade Planned for Space Station


(NASA Photo)

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station organization is working on getting updated ham gear launched to the orbiting outpost later this year. 
Dave Taylor, W8AAS, the ARISS U.S. operations manager, told Newsline that plans call for a customized Kenwood TM-D710 transceiver to be sent up, along with a ham-designed multi-voltage power supply that should provide power for the 710, the HamTV digital ATV transmitter and more. Taylor noted that most of the ham gear on the station is 18 years old and has been operating regularly in a less than ideal environment.

Speaking of HamTV, the space station's digital amateur television transmitter has been declared defective, after it stopped working in mid-April and attempts at remote repairs did not succeed. According to the ARRL, the current plan is to return the transmitter to Earth for repairs, then re-launch it to the space station. That all depends on available funds and approvals from various space agencies.

Free Online Propagation Courses Offered



The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is offering two free online propagation courses, one each for HF and VHF propagation. UCAR is a respected consortium of more than 100 North American colleges and universities. It manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research and provides educational programs for the general public. The two propagation courses are among them. 

For more information, visit:

Bullied on the Air? Ham Help is Available


If you've been bullied on the radio (and yes, it does happen, even among hams), you now have a place to turn for support and encouragement. Newsline is reporting that one amateur in Australia is offering support and more. Otto Benschop, VK6FLAB, has held an Australian "foundation" or beginner's, license since late 2010, and in his early days on the air, was subjected to routine harassment and rude remarks by other hams with more advanced licenses. Benschop has set up a page on the VK6.net website (<http://www.vk6.net/bully>) with tips on coping with bullying episodes and even a form on which one can report instances of being bullied. The form is focused specifically on Australia but the tips and links may be helpful anywhere.

Beachin' … on the Radio



We've got islands on the air, as well as summits, parks, lighthouses, zoos and even pubs! Now add one more to the list: beaches. 
According to Newsline, the Beaches On The Air program was started by two Spanish hams, EC1CW and EA1LQ, in late 2015. As with most "OTA" programs, there are separate challenges and recognitions for both "activators" and "chasers."
For those without a seashore nearby, don't worry. Newsline reports that shorelines of inland lakes and rivers count as well. For more information, visit <www.beachesontheair.com> or <https://www.facebook.com/beachesontheair/>.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Starks Nominated to Succeed Clyburn on FCC

Geoffrey Starks, an assistant chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, has been nominated by President Trump to become an FCC Commissioner. Once confirmed by the Senate, he would fill the Democratic vacancy on the Commission created by the departure of Mignon Clyburn at the end of her term.

 A graduate of Harvard and Yale Law School, Starks worked for the Department of Justice before joining the Enforcement Bureau three years ago, according to a report on Politico. His first task at the FCC was to go after fraud, abuse and waste in the Universal Service Fund, which is intended to assure the availability of basic telecommunications services – including broadband internet – to all Americans. At press time, no date had been set for confirmation hearings in the Senate.

ARRL Issues "White Paper" on Proposed Governance Changes

The ARRL has issued a "white paper" to offer background and context to proposed changes in its Articles of Association and By-Laws, as well as the so-called "code of conduct" for directors and vice directors. It essentially says that proposed changes regarding personal liability of directors, vice directors and officers are needed to bring the wording into compliance with Connecticut state law; and that it wants to add ARRL's informal name, "ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio," to the formal name of American Radio Relay League, Inc., that is already in those documents.

Regarding the "code of conduct," the paper says the process of reviewing the entire code and developing any recommended changes "would take longer than anticipated" and would likely not be ready for presentation to the board of directors at its summer meeting this month. The complete white paper is at <https://bit.ly/2sM4zm8>.