Tuesday, November 18, 2014

John Bergman, KC5LK, Named CQ WAZ Award Manager

John Bergman, KC5LK, of Brandon, Mississippi, has been named the new CQ Worked all Zones Award Manager, effective January 1, 2015, it was announced today by CQ magazine Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. Bergman will succeed fellow Mississippian Floyd Gerald, N5FG, who has served the DXing community in the position for the past 11 years.

John has been licensed since 1978 (originally as KA5AFT), and holds an Advanced Class license. He has been heavily involved in DX and DXing for over 20 years, is a charter member of the 599 DX Association, former member of the Magnolia DX Association, and a member and past president of the Jackson Amateur Radio Club. He is also a volunteer examiner and a card checker for both ARRL and CQ awards. John also dedicated 10 years to working with the W5 incoming QSL Bureau.

He holds DXCC (338 current entities; 344 total); 5-Band DXCC with endorsements for 30, 17 and 12 meters; has 1680 band/entities in the DXCC Challenge, is a member of the DXCC Mixed and Phone Honor Rolls, and has 5-Band WAZ with 179 total zones to date.

"We wish Floyd well in his retirement from WAZ and thank him for his decade-plus of dedication to the DXing community," noted CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. "I am looking forward to working with John as he assumes the leadership of the most prestigious award program in all of amateur radio. WAZ is the second-oldest active award program in ham radio, and one of the most difficult to achieve. I am confident that John will do an excellent job of preserving its heritage while also promoting its future growth."

"I am very appreciative of Rich and CQ magazine giving me this opportunity to serve CQ and the DX community," said Bergman, "and will strive to continue the high standards of WAZ Awards program."

As of January 1, any correspondence relating to the CQ WAZ Award program should be directed to: John Bergman, KC5LK, P.O. Box 792, Brandon, MS 39043, USA; or via e-mail to <kc5lk@cq-amateur-radio.com>.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Ham Satellites Among Craft Lost in Launch Explosion
Video of  liftoff and explosion at < http://bit.ly/AntaresExplosion >
Two satellites carrying ham radio payloads were among more than two dozen satellites lost in the October 28 launch failure of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares 130 rocket. The rocket malfunctioned seconds after launch from NASA's Wallops Island spaceport in Virginia and was destroyed by the range safety officer in a spectacular explosion.
According to the ARRL Letter, the satellites aboard the craft included two with amateur radio payloads -- the Radiometer Atmospheric Cubesat Experiment (RACE) built jointly by the University of Texas at Austin and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and GOMX-2, designed by Aalborg University in Denmark.

GOMX-2 was to test a new de-orbiting system and flight-qualify a new high-speed UHF transceiver and a software-defined receiver built by Aalborg. It had a data downlink on 70 centimeters. RACE carried a new 183-GHz radiometer designed by JPL and had ham-band data and CW telemetry downlinks on 70 centimeters. UT Engineering Professor Glen Lightsey, KE5DDG, told the Letter, "It's unfortunate, but it is also part of the aerospace industry." Watch video of the Antares explosion at < http://bit.ly/AntaresExplosion >.
K1N from Navassa in January

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted permission to the KP1-5 Project to mount a DXpedition to Navassa Island in the Caribbean in January 2015. Navassa is No. 2 on DX magazine's "most wanted" list. The call sign will be K1N. Specific dates had not been set as of press time. For more details, see December CQ's DX column on page 86.
Video of Kerry-Widodo at < http://bit.ly/Kerry-YD2JKW >
Indonesia: Hams in Charge
The new president and vice president of Indonesia are both hams, according to the ARRL, which reports that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is YD2JKW, while Vice President Jusuk Kalla is YC8HYK. Both were inaugurated on October 20, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in attendance. Indonesia is the world's third-largest democracy.

Indonesian hams may be called on to help respond to any possible Ebola outbreak in the country. According to Newsline, an article in the Jakarta Post reported that amateur radio was an element of a proposed standard operating procedure being developed in the event that any cases of the deadly disease reach Indonesia.

Houlin Zaho will take his new post on New Year's Day.
China's Houlin Zhao New ITU Head

Houlin Zhao of China has been elected the new Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), succeeding Dr. Hamadoun Touré, who is also HB9EHT. Zhao has served as Touré's deputy for the past eight years. He takes over the top spot on January 1, 2015, according to the ARRL Letter.

Moon Mission Carrying Ham Transmitter Successful
A satellite from Luxembourg, flying as a "passenger" on a Chinese lunar fly-by mission and transmitting on 2 meters, successfully flew to and around the moon, then returned to Earth orbit. The Chinese mothership deployed the 4M (Manfred Memorial Moon Mission) satellite into orbit before it safely landed back on Earth. Several amateurs were able to track 4M on its journey. For more info, click here or visit < http://moon.luxspace.lu/blog/ >.
ARRL to FCC: Keep the Paper Coming, Please

W8PAL paper license, circa 1935.
The ARRL has asked the FCC to continue routinely sending paper licenses to new amateurs, even as it begins to phase them out overall. The FCC has indicated that it plans to stop routinely issuing printed license documents to Wireless Service licensees (including hams), unless they are specifically requested. For the FCC's purposes, your listing on the Universal Licensing System (ULS) database is your official license document. According to the ARRL Letter, the League pointed out in its comments that requiring individuals to go online to either download or request a printed license may be a roadblock to some applicants, and pointed out that official license documents are still required for such things as taking upgrade exams or applying for call sign license plates. The ARRL proposed sending a printed license to newly-licensed hams, along with instructions on selecting a preferred method for future renewals and upgrades.
ARRL Proposes Narrowly Defining Restrictions on Mobile Devices

Responding to a federal law that requires states to ban texting while driving in order to receive federal funds for driver safety programs, the ARRL Executive Committee has updated the League's policy statement on mobile operating to urge continued exemption of amateur radio communications from many of these restrictions. The League called for states and municipalities to narrowly define "wireless communications devices" to include only "full duplex wireless telephones" and to specifically exclude "two-way radio communications equipment." The complete text of the policy statement is available at < http://www.arrl.org/mobile-amateur-radio-policy >. 
ARRL Might (or Might Not) Want Your Views on HF Digital for Technicians
The ARRL Board of Directors will be taking up a proposal at its January meeting from Southeastern Division Director Doug Rehman, K4AC, who wants the League to petition the FCC for expanded HF digital privileges for Technician Class hams. Rehman wants to see these privileges extended to 80, 40 and 15 meters as well as the current allocation on 10 meters.

The League's Executive Committee debated the proposal at its October meeting and recommended that the full board in January consider soliciting input from members on adding digital privileges for Technicians only in the current 15-meter Novice/Tech subband. According to the ARRL Letter, ARRL CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, emphasized that this is still very preliminary.

"This is not a proposal that the Board adopt data privileges for Techs and Novices on 15 meters as an objective, and it is most definitely not an ARRL proposal to the FCC," Sumner stressed, adding "(t)hat would come later, if at all, after the Board has had an opportunity to weigh membership input." 
IOTA Freezes Actions Relating to Crimea
The Radio Society of Great Britain's Islands on the Air (IOTA) program managers have decided to "freeze" any IOTA actions related to Crimea for at least a year, because of the still unresolved political situation there. Crimea was annexed by Russia after a referendum there called for separation from Ukraine, but the action has not been recognized by the international community.

CQ initially decided not to accept contest logs from Crimean stations using Russian-issued calls, but then reversed course amid significant pressure from the worldwide contest community. (For more on this, see this December's DX column on page 86.)

December 15 Deadline for New ARISS School Contact Applications
The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program is accepting applications from schools and other "formal and informal educational institutions and organizations" for amateur radio contacts with the crew of the ISS next year. But the application window closes on December 15. These applications would be for space station contacts between May 1 and December 31, 2015. For details, click here or visit < http://bit.ly/1xqT6CZ >.
Young Ham Honored for Designing Navigation Aid for Visually Impaired

KK6ISM , wearing assistive hat.
California high school student Shiloh Curtis, KK6ISM, has been named one of nine Popular Mechanics "Future Breakthrough Award" winners for designing a robotic navigation aid system for people with visual impairments. According to the ARRL Letter, Curtis's device is built around a hat containing a robot vacuum cleaner's laser distance sensors and vibrating motors to warn wearers of obstacles. A high school junior, Shiloh and her project have also been recognized as the California State Fair's "Project of the Year" and as a regional finalist in the Google Science Fair. Her father, Dave Curtis, is also a ham, N6NZ.
Lisa Leenders, PA2LS, IARU Region 1 Youth Working Group chair.
IARU Region 1 Forms Youth Working Group
Region 1 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU R1) - representing national ham radio societies in Europe, Africa and the Middle East - has formed a region-wide Youth Working Group and appointed 24-year-old Lisa Leenders, PA2LS, of the Netherlands, to a three-year term as Chair and Youth Coordinator. According to the ARRL Letter, the group was also given a three-year budget of nearly $30,000 US for events and activities. One of its first projects will be to organize and coordinate Youngsters On The Air (YOTA) events and activities.

Delegates to the IARU Region 1 general conference in Bulgaria in September also approved forming an Amateur Radio Observation Service to monitor DXpeditions for malicious interference and to try to track down possible sources. The delegates also supported a proposal by five IARU R1 countries to the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) for a region-wide secondary amateur allocation at 69.9-70.5 MHz, also known as 4 meters. Some European countries already allow amateur operation on 4 meters. A request to the FCC for a matching band in the US was recently turned down.
IARU Seeks Worldwide Crackdown on EMI

The Administrative Council of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) is asking member nations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to take steps to minimize interference to amateur radio by "electrical apparatus or installations of any kind, including power and telecommunication distribution networks." The ARRL Letter reports that the council adopted a resolution that highlights "rapid and largely uncontrolled growth" of devices - such as plasma TVs, switching power supplies and Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) - that generate RF energy "as an unnecessary and undesirable consequence of their operation." The resolution calls on regulators to set strict standards for interference reduction and on manufacturers to voluntarily "minimize radio spectrum pollution emanating from their products."

From left, K6HCP, K2BS and WØIYH, SK
Names in the News: Several Prominent Hams Are Silent Keys
We are saddened to report the passing of several prominent amateurs in October. The ARRL Letter reports that Ken Holladay, K6HCP, the co-founder of both Mirage Communications and KLM antennas, became a Silent Key on October 14 after an extended illness. He was 75.

Sheldon "Shelly" Weil, K2BS, passed away on October 29 from complications due to injuries suffered in a fall. He was 81. Weil was a leader in scouting and amateur radio over several decades, staffing ham stations at national and world jamborees. He also served as chairman of the Boy Scouts of America's National Jewish Committee on Scouting.

Author Bill Sabin, WØIYH, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, became a Silent Key on October 13 at age 88. A longtime engineer for Collins Radio Company, Sabin authored more than 40 technical articles and contributed to or co-edited three books on single sideband and HF radio. He was the author of Discrete Signal Analysis and Design, and a contributor to ARRL's RF Amplifier Classics.

Newsline reports on a new "app" for Apple devices running the iOS 8 operating system called "Morse Code Telegraph Keyboard." It replaces the on-screen keyboard of your iPad or iPhone with a J-38-looking hand key on which you can tap out letters in Morse code and have them print out in your e-mails or iMessages. Considering how difficult some people find using the on-screen keyboard, this just might help you compose messages with fewer typing errors! It's $1.99 at the Apple App Store.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CQ Reconsiders Policy on Crimea in CQ Contests

In response to requests from a large number of contesters around the world, CQ has reconsidered its decision regarding the acceptance of logs from stations in Crimea in CQ-sponsored contests.

As CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA, explained, "a large portion of the contesting community felt that we were unfairly denying our fellow amateurs in Crimea of the opportunity to fully participate in our contests. Since the country list for CQ contests is based on a combination of the Worked All Europe (WAE) and ARRL DXCC lists, and the ARRL has already adopted a policy regarding Crimean stations in its award and contest programs, we will amend our policy to be consistent with the ARRL's DXCC policy."

"Therefore, the listings of Crimean stations submitting logs for CQ contests will be based on the call sign under which they have operated. If they used Russian-issued calls in the contest, they will be listed under Russia; if they used Ukrainian-issued calls in the contest, they will be listed under Ukraine. This change reflects not only the desire of many contesters around the world, but also of a large majority of members of the CQ World Wide DX Contest Committee."

Friday, October 17, 2014

CQ Policy on Crimean Stations Using Russian-Issued Call Signs in CQ-Sponsored Contests

After considerable deliberation, CQ has determined that the best course of action regarding Crimea and CQ contests is to follow the lead of the United Nations and the United States government, both of which continue to consider Crimea to be part of Ukraine, until such time as the political situation there is resolved. Therefore,

Logs will not be accepted for any CQ contest from stations in Crimea operating with Russian-issued call signs. Contacts made by others with those stations will be removed from contestants' logs without penalty. No contact or multiplier credits will be given.

We fully realize that our action may very well disenfranchise several Crimean contesters who use Russian prefixes instead of Ukrainian prefixes. As regrettable as that may be, our action is consistent with international law, as well as with our own Rules. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ham Shares Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Move over, K1JT. William Moerner, WN6I, of Los Altos, California, left, has just joined the ranks of Nobel-prize winning hams. Moerner, a chemistry professor at Stanford University, shares the prize with two others - Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany. The three were recognized for separate work on what's called super-resolved fluorescence microscopy or nanoscopy, techniques that allow an optical microscope to observe cellular activity on the molecular level. According to the Nobel prize news release, the techniques use fluorescent molecules to allow researchers to "track proteins involved in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases as they aggregate, (and to) follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos."
Moerner, Betzig and Hell will share the 8 million Swedish Krona ($1.1 million US) prize that comes along with the honor. Each scientist's share is approximately $368,000 US.
EU Crisis Response Commissioner:
Ham Radio is 'Last Technical Miracle'
The European Community's Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response says radio amateurs are "the eyes and the ears of the world in time(s) when all other information channels are silent," and that when hams work together "in a Union," they are "a communication superpower in times of total electronic darkness." According to the ARRL Letter, the comments of Kristalina Georgieva (pictured left) comments were delivered on her behalf to the general conference of International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1, held in Bulgaria in September. IARU Region 1 covers Europe, Africa and the Middle East. "In short," her statement added, "you are the last technical miracle, which is an independent, reliable information channel, which can transmit an important piece of news from any place in the world, anytime, by anyone who knows how to operate this wonderful creature, called radio."
Her remarks echo the opinions of her U.S. counterpart, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ (see interview, October 2014 CQ). The ARRL says Fugate's keynote address to the League's centennial convention banquet is now available on YouTube. The link is at <http://bit.ly/1vWYKhx>.
Competing Views on International Allocation for 60 Meters

At press time, we were awaiting news from Mexico on action taken by CITEL, the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission, regarding an official recommendation for an international amateur allocation at 5 MHz.
The topic is on the agenda for next year's World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15). There were separate proposals from Canada and Brazil, along with overall opposition from the U.S. National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), according to the ARRL. Canada had put forth the Radio Amateurs of Canada recommendation for two 25-kHz segments, 5330-5355 kHz and 5405-5430 kHz. Brazil proposed a single allocation from 5275-5450 kHz, all on a secondary basis.
The Brazilian proposal matches the frequency recommendation of the FCC's WRC-15 Advisory Committee. However, NTIA is calling for no change in the international allocation, despite a decade of domestic operation by U.S. hams without any interference problems that were not quickly resolved. CITEL held a WRC preparatory meeting in early October, but results were not available as of our deadline.
Greg Walden, W7EQI, Receives First ARRL Goldwater Award
Oregon Representative Greg Walden, W7EQI, is the first recipient of the ARRL's Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, Achievement Award. The award, created last year, is given to an elected federal official "who has, in a significant way, supported the well-being and continuity of the Amateur Service in the U.S.," according to the ARRL Letter. Walden has been a Congressman for the past 12 years and is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. He has been a prominent proponent of amateur radio interests in Congress.

League Reports Its Web Server Hacked
The ARRL reports that its web servers were the victim of a hacking attack in late September. According to the ARRL Letter, IT Manager Mike Keane, K1MK, said the affected servers were taken offline and isolated from the Internet when the breach was discovered. He said no sensitive personal information was affected, but still urged members who have not updated their passwords since April 2010 to do so now.
Hamvention® Award Nominations Open

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association - sponsor of the Dayton Hamvention® - is seeking nominations for 2015 Hamvention awards for Amateur of the Year, Special Achievement, Technical Excellence and Club of the Year. Nominations must be received by January 16, 2015. Details and nomination forms are available on the Hamvention website at <http://www.hamvention.org/awards.php>.
A New Home for Ham-Com

On the topic of large ham radio conventions, Texas's Ham-Com will be moving to a larger space as of 2015.
The Ham-Com board of directors announced in late September that the show, which has made its home in recent years at the Plano Centre, will be moving to the Irving Convention Center in order to accommodate a growing number of vendors. According to a news release, the new facility has three times as much space available, with room for additional growth, as well as greater choices for hotels and restaurants and easier access to both Dallas-area airports. Ham-Com 2015 will be held on June 12-13.
Qatari Satellite to Include Geostationary Ham Transponders
A commercial communications satellite planned for launch by Qatar in late 2016 will include two amateur radio transponders, one on 2.4 GHz and the other on 10 GHz. The satellite is planned for a geostationary orbit and if all is successful, will provide the first "Phase 4" amateur satellite ever launched.

The Es'hail 2 satellite's primary function will be to provide TV and commercial communications services across the Middle East and North Africa, according to the AMSAT News Service. It should cover approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, extending approximately from Brazil to India. Phase 4 amateur satellites, unlike all others launched to date, will always appear to be in the same spot in the sky and will always be available to hams within their coverage areas. For more information, see <http://bit.ly/1vbMZ7W>.
2018 WRTC to Be Held in Germany

A consortium of three German ham radio organizations has been approved to sponsor the next World Radiosport Team Championship, or WRTC, in 2018. The ARRL Letter reports that the WRTC Sanctioning Committee approved the joint application of the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC - Germany's national ham organization), the Bavarian Contest Club and the Rhein Ruhr DX Association to hold the next event somewhere in Germany. 

Three different regions are being considered. The announcement also stated that the number of qualifying contests, and the qualifying period, are being decreased from those required for WRTC-2014. Qualifying events for the 2018 competition will begin with the 2015 ARRL International DX CW Contest and end with the 2016 CQ World Wide DX CW Contest. (See recent issues of CQ for extensive coverage of WRTC-2014.)
Ham in Wisconsin Dies in Fall from Tower

A Wisconsin ham described as "an experienced climber" apparently failed to secure his safety harness to the tower he was working on before falling to his death.
The ARRL Letter reports that 59-year-old James Linstedt, W9ZUC, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was 95 feet up on a friend's 100-foot tower when he fell. The Letter quoted Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk as saying that Linstedt was wearing safety equipment but did not use it. "If he had used it," said the sheriff, "we wouldn't be investigating an accidental death."
KK6OTD: Actor Tim Allen Keeps It Real By Getting His Ticket
Actor Tim Allen, left, who portrays a ham (KAØXTT) on his hit ABC-TV comedy "Last Man Standing," has earned a real-life amateur license, according to the show's producer, John Amodeo, NN6JA.

Allen is now licensed as KK6OTD. Amodeo also reported on the successful running of the second "K6H Hollywood Celebrates Ham Radio" special event from the program's sound stage, which includes a fully functional amateur station.
(Photograph courtesy of the ARRL)
Silent Keys . . .
Tuskegee Airman and longtime ham George Mitchell, K6ZE, of San Diego, California, became a Silent Key in September at age 94. According to the ARRL Letter, Mitchell was part of the group of Tuskegee veterans who belatedly received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 for their service in World War II.

Also joining the roster of Silent Keys in September and October are Fred Gissoni, K4JLX, a blind ham who was a pioneer in developing adaptive technology for people with visual impairments; and Les Mitchell, G3BHK, who founded Scouting's Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) in 1958. Mitchell's death came just weeks before the 2014 JOTA on October 18-19.
Applications Sought for ARRL Foundation Scholarships

The application period is open for scholarships administered by the ARRL Foundation. Licensed amateurs planning to pursue or already pursuing post-secondary education may apply for the various scholarships - 80 of them - ranging from $500 to $5000, as well as the Goldfarb Award, which provides aid over a four-year period.

According to the ARRL Letter, applications and supporting documents must be received by January 31, 2015. For more information, see the ARRL Foundation website at <http://www.arrl.org/the-arrl-foundation> or call 860-594-0348.
FCC Nixes Petition for U.S. 4-Meter Band
Areas with 4-meter band allocations are in red.
Those with experimental privileges are in blue.
Radio amateurs in Europe have long had access to a VHF band at 70 MHz - also known as 4 meters - due to differences in VHF TV allocations there as opposed to the U.S. With the migration of most U.S. TV stations to digital platforms and new frequencies, amateur Glen Zook, K9STH, of Richardson, Texas, petitioned the FCC for a new amateur allocation at 70.0-70.5 MHz (old TV channel 4 occupied 66-72 MHz).
After some disagreements on when the petition was filed (Zook says he submitted it in 2010; the FCC says it didn't receive it until May, 2014, according to the ARRL Letter), the FCC denied the petition, pointing out that Channel 4 still has over 100 active TV stations or translators, and that it is possible - once parts of the VHF TV spectrum are "repurposed" for broadband and auctioned off - that remaining stations will be packed into less space, making the frequencies even more crowded than in the past.
ARRL to FCC (Again): Make 2300-2305 MHz Primary for Hams

The ARRL has once again asked the FCC to elevate the amateur allocation on 2300-2305 MHz to primary status, this time to protect hams from interference from a proposed air-to-ground broadband service on adjacent frequencies (2305-2315 and 2350-2360 MHz).

The ARRL Letter reports the request came in comments filed on a petition from AT&T Mobility for in-flight connectivity service in those adjacent frequency blocks. Amateurs currently have secondary status on the band, but there are no primary users, so hams are the de facto primary users. But, according to the ARRL, lack of formal status denies them protection from out-of-band interference.

Interactive Amateur Radio Demonstration Garners Blue Ribbon @ Atlanta Maker Faire
A joint effort by five Atlanta-area ham radio groups to put on an interactive demonstration at Maker Faire Atlanta resulted in a blue ribbon from the show sponsors, according to Norm Schklar, WA4ZXV, who posted a report to the ARRL public relations reflector.

Schklar said some 40 area hams participated in the exhibit and handed out about 750 cards with instructions on where to find more information. Attendance at the fair was estimated at around 30,000. The blue ribbon was awarded, Schklar said, because "we 'made things,' had 'active displays,' looked good, and kept a steady flow of traffic in our exhibit."

Participating clubs included the North Fulton Amateur Radio League, Atlanta Radio Club, Alford Memorial Radio Club, Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society and HamJam. (See article on New York's World Maker Faire in the November issue of CQ.)
Ham Hears Signals from Mars Orbit
Signal from India's Mars orbiter, as received by G7EYT / MØEYT

A radio amateur in the United Kingdom has tuned in and decoded signals from India's MOM spacecraft, which was successfully placed in orbit around Mars on September 24.

The AMSAT News Service reports that Paul Marsh, G7EYT/MØEYT received signals from the Mars Orbiter Mission and tweeted, "S-band downlink from MOM spacecraft now on orbit @ Mars! Great signal with Doppler; congrats to ISRO - good job." (ISRO is the Indian space agency.) Now, that's DX!

[LOOK: For an enlarged view of the MOM signal received at G7EYT / MØEYT, click here.]

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rules for CQ WW DX Contest Translated into 14 Languages

CQ World Wide DX Contest Manager Randy Thompson, K5ZD, has announced that the rules for the competition have been translated in 14 languages. You can access them at < http://www.cqww.com/rules.htm >.
The rules now appear in:

  • Arabic
  • Bulgarian
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
  • Turkish

Thursday, September 11, 2014

'Most Wanted' DXpeditions Planned

Navassa National Wildlife Refuge
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Plans are beginning to fall into place for DXpeditions within the next year or so to two of the top-10 entities on the DX magazine "most-wanted" list.The KP1-5 Project announced in late August that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had agreed to allow an amateur radio operation from the Navassa National Wildlife Refuge sometime between late 2014 and early 2016, in coordination with the service's workflow. Navassa (KP1) is #2 on the DX magazine list. The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking proposals from individuals and groups that have previously applied for a Special Use Permit. For more information, visit < http://kp1-5.com >.An expedition to Heard Island (VKO) is being planned for late 2015 and/or early 2016, summertime in the southern hemisphere. According to Newsline, the team will be headed up by noted DXpeditioner Martti Laine, OH2BH, and CQ magazine DX Editor Wayne Mills, N7NG, under the aegis of Cordell Expeditions, a non-profit research organization led by Robert Schmieder, KK6EK. Heard Island holds the #6 position on the DX magazine most-wanted list. Updates will be posted at < http://vk0ek.org >.

GAREC Focuses on Technology

The application of advanced technology in amateur radio emergency communications was the focus of this year's Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC) conference, held this past August in conjunction with the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama. According to The ARRL Letter, participants came from all over the world. Presentations covered a wide variety of topics including the ways in which new technologies were put to use in amateur radio response to recent disasters, such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The 2015 GAREC conference will be held next June in Tampere, Finland. 

Hams Make Good Impression on Tribal Emergency Management Leaders 

Some 400 Native American emergency managers were introduced to amateur radio at the National Tribal Emergency Management Conference, held in August in Washington State. The largest gathering of its kind to date, the program included demonstrations of HF and Mesh Network amateur communications, as well as several ham radio-related presentations. According to The ARRL Letter, many of the tribal emergency management leaders who attended the conference expressed interest "in building an amateur radio component into their emergency/disaster preparedness plans." The report encouraged ARES/RACES groups to "welcome tribal communities … and to ensure interoperability with the tribal EOC as part of their operation plan(s)." 

Quite a Crowd: Webinar Held on HR 4969

The ARRL's Atlantic Division sponsored a webinar in August on H.R. 4969, "The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014." The ARRL Letter reported that some 900 people signed up for the online event and that about half that number actually attended. H.R. 4969 would extend the FCC's "reasonable accommodation" requirements for amateur antenna structures to include private land use agreements (such as CC&Rs) as well as state and local laws and regulations. The purpose of the webinar was to explain details of the proposed legislation and how participants could help build support for its passage. 

Astronaut, Ham, Steven Nagel, SK

Astronaut Steven Nagel, N5RAW (SK)
(Courtesy of NASA)
Astronaut Steven Nagel, N5RAW, who commanded the first all-ham space shuttle mission in 1991, became a Silent Key in August at age 67. He was married to fellow astronaut and ham Linda Godwin, N5RAX. Nagel was a member of the Astronaut Corps from 1979 to 1995, but continued working for NASA until he retired in 2011 and took a teaching position at the University of Missouri at Columbia. According to The ARRL Letter, he flew on four shuttle missions and logged more than 700 hours in space. One of his last public appearances was at an ARRL division convention in Missouri last year. 
Nikola Tesla
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Musk Pledges $1 Million to Tesla Museum

Billionaire and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk has reportedly pledged a $1 million donation to help build a museum and science center dedicated to Nikola Tesla at the site of the scientist's laboratory in Long Island, New York (see "TeslaGRAM - A Multinational Special Event for a Nearly Forgotten Laboratory, February 2012 CQ).
Musk is also the founder of SpaceX, one of the first private space launch agencies. According to Newsline, the donation came about after cartoonist Matt Inman, who spearheaded the fundraising effort to buy Tesla's former lab in Shoreham, New York, did a cartoon review of a Tesla automobile and included what he called "a teensy request" to Musk for additional help with the museum project. Within hours, Musk reportedly sent Inman a post on Twitter saying he would be happy to help, but did not at the time indicate the scope of that help.

Two California Communities Embrace Amateur Radio

The city council of Poway, California, has adopted a new ordinance permitting amateur radio operators to erect towers up to 65 feet tall with only a building permit and a "courtesy notice" to neighbors. According to The ARRL Letter, the League has been working with Poway's amateur community for "a very long time" on this matter. The council originally planned to require a "special minor use permit" for any tower over 35 feet tall, but communications lawyer Felix Tinkov was able to persuade the council that the 65-foot rule best met the FCC's requirement to "reasonably accommodate" amateur radio operation.

On a smaller scale, a retirement community in Redlands, California, is actively promoting amateur radio among its residents, with Newsline reporting that more than a dozen of them have recently earned their ham licenses. It doesn't hurt that Plymouth Village's executive director, Keith Kasin, is AI6BX. He is promoting amateur radio as part of the community's emergency response plan and hopes to eventually get at least 30 of the village's 300 residents licensed.

Looking Up: Space and Satellite Roundup

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space;
everything else is opinion. - Democritus
Ham Balloons Circling the Globe: As of late August, three small balloons carrying tiny amateur radio beacon transmitters were circling the Earth and sending out signals on 70 centimeters. The ARRL Letter says the foil envelope balloons were all launched from the United Kingdom by Leo Bodnar, MØXER. They each carry solar powered 10-milliwatt transmitters operating on 434.500 MHz and alternating between APRS and Contestia 64/1000, both digital modes. The transmitters weigh only 11 grams (0.4 ounces) each.

Two ham satellites headed for deep space. A Japanese satellite carrying an amateur radio transponder and beacons is scheduled for launch in December to a deep-space orbit between Venus and Mars, while a Chinese satellite with a ham-band transmitter aboard is reportedly heading for a lunar flyby.The ARRL Letter reports that the payload on the Chinese satellite, currently named 4M-LXS, will transmit the JT65 digital mode on 145.990 MHz while the spacecraft travels to the moon, completes at least one orbit and then returns to Earth. Hams will be able to monitor the signals using free WSJT software. The launch, scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, is part of China's plans to eventually send a lander to the moon to collect samples and return them to Earth.The Japanese satellite will be launched with a satellite headed for a rendezvous with an asteroid. Hayabusa-2 is scheduled to make a 6-year round trip to asteroid 1999 JU3, according to the ARRL. The satellite carrying the ham station - Shin'en 2 - will head for an elliptical orbit in deep space between Venus and Mars that is in line with the Earth's equatorial plane. The satellite will carry a Mode J amateur transponder (2 meters up, 70 centimeters down) as well as CW and WSJT beacons. It is anticipated that hams will need EME-capable stations to work the satellite when it is close to the Moon and "to test the limits of their communication capabilities." At greater distances, it is unlikely that two-way contacts by hams will be possible.

CubeSat Challenge - 50x50x5: In an effort "to promote a spacecraft nation and develop innovative technology partnerships," NASA has issued a challenge to universities and aerospace companies to build and launch 50 CubeSat satellites from all 50 states within 5 years. According to the AMSAT News Service, the program is part of the White House Maker Initiative and will initially focus on the 21 states that have not yet built satellites, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Proposals must be submitted electronically by November 25 and payload selections will be announced next February 6. NASA notes that selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity and that it will not provide funding for developing these satellites. For more information, visit <http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative.html>.

SSTV on the Air Again from ISS: The slow-scan television (SSTV) experiment aboard the International Space Station was activated in early September, with photos transmitted showing the life and work of space pioneer Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. The experiment is being coordinated by Russian crew members in honor of what would have been Gagrin's 80th birthday this year. The signal is downlinked on 145.800 MHz FM, according to Southgate Amateur Radio News.

South American Satellite News: Something old, something new… LUSAT-OSCAR-19, one of the oldest amateur satellites still in Earth orbit, seems to be holding a charge in its batteries again. The satellite, launched nearly a quarter-century ago, began transmitting again in daylight a couple of years ago, according to the AMSAT News Service. But in August, hams suddenly began hearing signals from the spacecraft even after it passed into darkness, indicating that its Ni-Cd batteries were once again holding a small charge. The satellite was launched in January 1990. Among active amateur satellites, only OSCARs 7 and 11 are older.

From the International Space Station: Peru's first satellite - Chasqui-1 - was hand-launched from the International Space Station during a spacewalk in mid-August. It carries an amateur radio beacon (437.025 MHz, transmitting 1200 BPS packet or 9600 BPS GMSK) as a secondary payload. As of the date of this posting, there had not been any reports of hearing the beacon.

Foxy Crowdfunding Effort: AMSAT is turning to crowdfunding to raise money for next year's anticipated launch of the Fox-1C satellite. The amateur satellite group is trying to raise $25,000 through the FundRazr site before October 9. For details, visit <https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6pz92>. AMSAT's overall fundraising goal for Fox-1C is $125,000.

The L-O-N-G Waves: 630-Meter News

Canadian hams will be able to participate this year in the Maritime Radio Historical Society's annual special event on 630 meters, with the opening of 472-479 kHz to VE hams this past May. The ARRL Letter reports that the special event will take place on October 31 - November 1, and will include coast stations KPH and KSM operating on 500 kHz. U.S. hams may participate by conducting cross-band QSOs. VO1NA in Newfoundland, along with VE7SL and VE7BDQ in British Columbia, will be transmitting on 630 meters (477.7, 473.0 and 474.0 kHz, respectively), while listening for responses on 80 and 40 meters.And in case you think DX is not possible at these frequencies, consider this: The ARRL Letter reports that in late August, VK2DDI in Australia was able to monitor WSPR transmissions on 475 kHz sent out by KB5NJD in Texas, operating under an FCC experimental license as WG2XIQ. The path is over 8,700 miles long.
Chris Smith, W4HMV
(Courtesy of ARRL)

Nevada Ham Named to FEMA Advisory Council

Chris Smith, W4HMV, of Sparks, Nevada, is among a dozen people newly appointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Advisory Council by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ. Smith is the Chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management/Homeland Security and is responsible for coordinating statewide emergency planning efforts, according to the division website. In addition, he is the Governor's Homeland Security Advisor. According to FEMA, the National Advisory Council provides recommendations to the Administrator on a variety of emergency management issues. (Read: CQ Interview with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the October issue of CQ.)

U.S. Panel: Shortwave Broadcasting 'Marginal' . . . but Wait!

A special committee on the future of shortwave broadcasting by the U.S. government has issued a somewhat contradictory report to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees operations of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. According to The ARRL Letter, the panel concluded that shortwave broadcasting is "a medium of marginal and continuously declining impact in most markets," as target audiences continue shifting toward AM/FM radio, TV and the internet as information sources. 
The committee also concluded that "shortwave use does not increase during times of crisis," according to the Letter. But at the same time, noting the current unrest in Ukraine and surrounding areas, it recommended that "shortwave broadcasts in Russian to Russia and the Caucasus be continued at current levels," at least for the coming fiscal year. [Additional information on the BBG committee report will be published in the October issue of CQ Plus, the CQ digital edition supplement.]

FCC Hikes Vanity Fees; Considers Elimination

The FCC has raised the fee for applying for a new or renewed vanity call sign by a little more than $5, but disclosed that it is also considering eliminating the fee altogether in the future. The current $16.10 fee will rise to $21.40 for the fiscal year that begins October 1. In its Report and Order, the FCC said it did not have enough information "at this time" on the potential impact of removing the vanity call fee, but said it would revisit the issue in the future. 

'Archie' Comic Artist Stan Goldberg SK

Stan Goldberg
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Comic book artist Stan Goldberg was never a ham, but he helped introduce amateur radio to a generation of young people in the 1980s and 90s as one of the two artists who drew the "Archie's Ham Radio Adventure" comic book. Well-known in the comic book industry, he worked for Marvel and DC Comics as well as Archie Comics. CQ was part of the amateur radio industry group, along with the ARRL, that developed and distributed the "Archie's Ham Radio Adventure" comic. The ARRL Letter reported that Goldberg died in late August at age 83 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Friday, August 8, 2014

ARRL/FEMA Sign New Agreement;
Fugate Lauds Radio Amateurs

The ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) signed an updated Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the League's centennial convention in Connecticut in July. The agreement, which outlines ways in which the ARRL and FEMA will cooperate in areas of emergency and disaster communications, was signed by ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who is also KK4INZ.
"When the power is out and telecommunications are down," Fugate said at the ceremony, "the Amateur Radio community can serve as a vital resource in support of emergency responders and survivors during a disaster." 
Craig Fugate, KK4INZ
Fugate was also the keynote speaker at the ARRL's centennial banquet, where he spotlighted amateur radio's ability to provide communications when standard means fail or are overloaded. He said that he always stresses to emergency managers that they need to have a way to communicate without using the "public switched network" on which virtually all telephone and internet traffic relies.

[CQ will feature an interview with Fugate in its 2014 "Emergency Communications Special" issue next month.]

ARRL Board Reaffirms Commitment to
Emergency Communications

Responding to criticism from members about the ARRL's plans to de-emphasize the use of the term "emergency communications" in favor of "public service communications," and inspired by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate's speech at the League's centennial banquet, the ARRL board of directors passed a resolution "on behalf of the membership" in which it reaffirmed "its commitment and desire to further improve and enhance Amateur Radio’s participation and standing in emergency communications for the benefit of the nation’s emergency response agencies and the American public." The resolution also cited the FCC rules which recognize amateur radio's value "particularly with respect to providing emergency communications" and Fugate's reference to the "emergency communications capabilities" of amateur radio.
ARRL May Seek HF Data Privileges for Technicians
Among other actions taken by the ARRL board of directors at its July meeting, it tasked its executive committee with looking into the possibility of seeking "limited RTTY/data privileges for Technician licensees on 80, 40, and 15 meters," according to a summary in the ARRL Letter. Techs currently have only CW (Morse code) privileges on those bands.
K1JT: Amateur Radio Will Thrive in Future
Joe Taylor, K1JT
(Internet screen grab, <http://www.ARRL.org>)
Nobel Laureate and ham radio software pioneer Joe Taylor, K1JT, told a attendees at the ARRL Centennial Convention in July that ham radio will continue to thrive in the future, even as radio technology becomes more digital. According to the ARRL Letter, Taylor also told a forum on weak-signal DXing that amateur radio "will continue to benefit from a healthy cross-fertilization between amateurs and professionals." He pointed out that it was hams 100 years ago who proved that the shortwave bands could support long-distance communications when scientists of the time were certain they could not, and encouraged hams to continue to make whatever contributions they can to the art and science of radio and to the public good. Taylor is a retired professor at Princeton University and the author of the WSJT suite of ham radio software that has revolutionized weak-signal communication both on VHF and HF.