Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Opportunities for Young Hams - YOTA Camp and Scholarships

YOTA Camp Applications Accepted Through March 15
 Licensed amateurs from North, Central and South America between the ages of 15 and 25 are encouraged to apply for this summer's first-ever North American edition of the popular Youth on the Air (YOTA) Camp. The deadline is March 15. There are slots for 20 to 30 campers to attend (20 guaran- teed; up to 10 additional slots may be added if funding is available).

The North American YOTA Camp will be held from June 21-26, 2020, at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting near Cincinnati, Ohio. Cost of attendance is $100 plus transportation to and from the museum. Some scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee, which is not collected until after an applicant has been accepted. For details or to apply online, visit <http://YouthOnTheAir.org>.

Foundation for Amateur Radio Scholarships Available

 Applications are now being accepted by the Foundation for Amateur Radio for the more than 50 scholarships it admin- isters. Initial applications are due by April 30, with amendments permitted through May 7. Amounts vary widely as do requirements for individual scholarships, although a general requirement is to hold a valid amateur radio license and be enrolled in or accepted to an accredited college, university or technical school. According to the ARRL, applicants submit a single application and are considered for any award for which they qualify. Detailed information and application forms are available on the FAR website at <https://tinyurl.com/t5cpmrm>.

ARRL Board Fires its CEO

Barry Shelley, N1VXY,
is the ARRL's new
interim CEO.
(ARRL photo)
The ARRL board of directors voted at its January meeting not to renew the contract of CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX. No official reason was provided. However, Hudson Division Director Ria Jairam, N2RJ, suggested in an email to members that lack of progress in the League's new "lifelong learning project" was a key factor from her perspective, along with a statement that the ARRL doesn't "hire a CEO simply for their 'vision.' Rather, the CEO is the person that manages the League staff at the direction of the Board." Michel had been CEO for just over a year. 
Former ARRL Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY, was named interim CEO while a search committee interviews candidates in preparation for submitting three candidates to the full board for a vote. Shelley had also served as interim CEO in 2018 before Michel was selected for the position.

Change of Leadership at AMSAT

Clayton Coleman, W5PFG, has been elected president of AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, following the resignation of Joe Spier, K6WAO, for personal reasons. Spier had served as president since late 2017. Coleman was previously AMSAT secretary and served on the organization's board of directors from 2017 to 2019. He has been involved in amateur satellite activities since 2011.

Amateur Satellite WiFi Network Proposed

(KE4AL drawing via Twitter)
Also in the news from AMSAT is a proposal for launching a constellation of nanosatellites which will talk to each other as well as stations on the ground. According to the AMSAT News Service, the goal of the so-called amsatLink project - proposed by AMSAT VP of User Services Robert Bankston, KE4AL - is to create an ad-hoc 802.11 wireless network, using amateur frequencies in the 2.4-GHz band, which would support data modes as well as digital voice. The program would use off-the-shelf components to hold down costs. It's estimated that each satellite would cost less than $5,000 and that ground stations could be set up with an investment of about $150.

Did Earthquake in Turkey Rile Up the Ionosphere?

(UN World Food Programme map via reliefnet.int)
When a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck an area in eastern Turkey on January 24, hams from the country's national amateur radio association provided tactical communications in the affected area and, according to the ARRL Letter, helped the Ministry of Health get a mountaintop repeater installed and operational. 
Half a world away, meanwhile, the earthquake may have been making an impact on the ionosphere. Newsline reports that hams operating the North American "Noontime Net" on 40 meters noted "an attenuation of the amateur bands" at nearly the exact time that the quake occurred. It says researchers are studying possible links between earthquakes and propagation, noting that stresses in rocks along a fault line just before a quake cause the release of positive ions into the atmosphere. Those ions then rise into the upper atmosphere, says the report, possibly causing anomalies in the ionosphere.

7X7X DXpedition Highlights Young Operators

(Courtesy 7X7X QRZ page)
Young members of the 7X7X DXpedition team
(Courtesy 7X7X QRZ page)
If you worked the 7X7X DXpedition in Algeria at the beginning of this year, you were helping motivate young hams as well as working a new country! According to the ARRL Letter, the 9-person DXpedition team included four hams in their 20s, three of whom had previously taken part in YOTA (Youngsters on the Air) activities in Europe and Africa. The four young hams included two each from Algeria and Tunisia. Four of the older hams were also from Algeria, with Tunisian team co-leader and well-known DXer Ash Chaabane, 3V8SF/KF5EYY, rounding out the crew. 
The station operated on the QO-100 satellite as well as 160 meters and all the HF bands, for a total of 5800 contacts in four days. "We urge all DXpeditioners to involve youngsters in their future trips," said Chaabane, and to "do their best to make it easy and least costly for them."

ARRL to Strongly Oppose Withdrawal of 3-GHz Band

The ARRL is in the process of preparing a "strong response" in opposition to an FCC proposal to reallocate the current 3.3-3.5-GHz amateur band for 5G wireless use. While the band is shared and the current amateur allocation is secondary, hams are making varied uses of the spectrum, according to the ARRL Letter. The FCC has asked for comments about current amateur uses and possibilities for relocation. 

The ARRL response is expected to include uses for EME (moonbounce), terrestrial DXing, satellite communication, mesh networks and amateur television, and that some of these activities cannot be moved to other bands because of the international nature of frequency allocations. Initial comments on WT Docket 19-348 were due on February 21, with reply comments due by March 23.

ITU Publication Spotlights Amateur Radio EmComm

Government administrations are being encouraged by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to include amateur radio in their national emergency plans. The ARRL Letter reports that the ITU Development Sector's latest ITU Guidelines for national emergedy telecommunication plans highlights the ongoing contributions of radio amateurs in emergency communications. "They are experts in radio communication and have the equipment, skills and necessary frequencies … to deploy networks in emergency events quickly and efficiently."

FCC Commissioner Questions Future of ITU

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly has proposed to Congress that the U.S. consider developing an
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly (FCC photo)
alternative to the International Telecommunica- tion Union, or ITU, for future matters of international spectrum management. 

O'Rielly told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that the ITU and its quadrennial World Radiocommunication Conferences, or WRCs, may actually be stifling progress in promoting advanced technology. He noted that in the ITU, as an agency of the United Nations, each country has just one vote and that at the last WRC, it seemed that certain countries came with the goal of opposing whatever the U.S. wanted. He proposed creating a separate body of the world's telecommunication leaders - similar to the G7, or Group of Seven major economies - to effectively bypass the ITU in the future.

New Extra Class Question Pool Released

The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) has released an updated version of the Amateur Extra Class question pool. The new pool will be used for constructing license exams given between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2024. According to an NCVEC announcement, the new pool has nearly 100 fewer questions than the current one. It says 239 questions have been modified, 49 new ones have been added and 139 - deemed to be outdated - were removed. The new pool has 10 diagrams, down two from the current one.

New Law Adds Teeth to Pirate Radio Crackdown

The FCC doesn't do much enforcement on the amateur bands, but it has been cracking down heavily on unlicensed, or "pirate," broadcasters in the commercial AM and FM bands. Now, a new law authorizes higher fines and swifter action against unlicensed broadcasters.
The "Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement," or PIRATE, Act, was signed into law in late January. According to the ARRL Letter, the new law increases maximum fines to $100,000 per day of violation, up to a maximum of $2 million. It also allows the FCC to skip issuing a Notice of Unlicensed Operation and go directly to a Notice of Apparent Liability, in which the specifics of a proposed fine are detailed. Authorized unlicensed low-power broadcasting under Part 15 rules (e.g., carrier current) is exempted from the new law.

Names and Locations Changing for Two Ham Gatherings

First is was "Dayton" moving to Xenia … now two other big ham gatherings are changing locations and one has even changed its name.
New England's venerable Boxboro Hamfest is moving to nearby Marlborough, Massachusetts, changing its date from early September to late July (24-26 this year) and changing its name to the Northeast HamXposition. The ARRL Letter reports that the event chairman says the new location has more space, more parking and better access to restaurants.
The Letter also reports that the W9DXCC Convention is moving to the Chicago Marriott Hotel in the suburb of Naperville, Illinois. This year's event will reportedly include both a Contest University and a DX University, along with the customary forums, banquet, etc.

Prefix Hunters: Special Calls Abound

This year is featuring several short-term special call signs as well as a permanent change in Spain. The South African Radio League is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year and the country's regulatory authority has authorized a special call of ZS95SARL to be used throughout 2020. SARL reports that different clubs will be activating the call at different times, based on a schedule that was still being finalized at press time.
Also in the Southern Hemisphere, the Cairns Amateur Radio Club in Australia is celebrating the semisesquicentennial (250th anniversary) of an historic trip by Captain James Cook up Australia's east coast from what is now Sydney to far northern Queensland, where Cairns is located. Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that the club has been authorized to us VI250COOK from May 1 through August 31. During this time, Cook's trip will be replicated by the Australian Maritime Museum's replica of his ship, the Endeavour. The call will also be used by clubs along the route as the ship makes its voyage. See the VI250COOK entry on qrz.com for more info.

Finally, Spain has authorized the issuance of permanent 2x1 call signs to qualifying amateurs. EA5BB, for example, is becoming EA5U. According to the ARRL Letter, the new short calls will be available to Spanish hams who have at least 15 years of "international amateur radio" experience and have never been sanctioned by the regulatory authorities.

"Bucket List" QSO

(Courtesy K8CX Ham Gallery)
A 96-year-old ham in Canada has realized one of her "bucket list" wishes by making contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station from VE3OSC, the ham station at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.
According to the AMSAT News Service, Jean Moffatt, VE3WAD, has been a volunteer at VE3OSC for over 30 years. The science center staff worked with ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) Canada to arrange the contact with Commander Luca Parmitano on January 22. The contact was covered by local Toronto media.

A Whale of an Opportunity

 The New England Aquarium and Draper Laboratory of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are teaming up to use satellites to track the travels of radio-equipped whales in the ocean, and Draper's Chief Scientist wants hams to help. John Irvine says the program is still in its planning stages but hopes to be able to leverage the widespread locations of hams around the world to assist scientists with monitoring transmissions from radio-tagged whales. CQ will bring you more details as the plans develop.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hams Provide Emergency Communications in Australia, Puerto Rico

Ham radio is once again proving to be a vital communications resource in disasters, with amateurs supporting relief efforts for both Australia's wildfires and the series of earthquakes that rocked Puerto Rico in January. The ARRL Letter reports that hams in Australia were working with the New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association in support of the Rural Fire Service. In addition, the Wireless Institute of Australia reports that most of the amateur repeater network in the state of Victoria is off the air, due to a combination of power outages and direct fire damage.

In Puerto Rico, hams are working with the American Red Cross, primarily on the southern part of the island, which has suffered the greatest earthquake damage. In addition, the ARRL reported that it was shipping six VHF/UHF repeater antennas and six 50-foot rolls of LMR-400 coax to help re-establish reliable communications. 

At press time, the earthquakes and aftershocks in Puerto Rico were continuing, as were the massive wildfires in Australia.

Ham Bands Under Threat in US, China, and Worldwide

Ham bands across the spectrum are under threat in
China, the U.S. and around the world. (NASA graphic)
The FCC has proposed withdrawing the amateur radio allocation on 3.3-3.5 GHz to make more spectrum available for mobile broadband and the International Telecommuni- cation Union will consider a proposal to reallocate some or all of the 10-GHz band at the next World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023. Both of these proposals are discussed in detail in February's VHF-Plus column.

In addition, the ARRL Letter is reporting that China has proposed major cuts to amateur allocations there, including the 2200-meter band, 146-148 MHz, 1260-1300 MHz, 3400-3500 MHz, 5650-5725 MHz and all frequencies above 10 GHz. Alan Kung, BA1DU, the CEO of China's amateur satellite organization, told the ARRL it is unlikely that all of the proposed reallocations will be finalized but conceded that pressure on spectrum space in China and around the world will continue.

Promising Signs from Ol' Sol

Sunspots observed December 24 in the Sun's upper
latitudes, with magnetic polarities placing them in Cycle 25.
(NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory image via space.com)
Two more Cycle 25 sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun in late December, providing reassurance that there will be a new cycle and that we are not likely to be stuck in an extended solar mini- mum. This is in line with an updated international forecast for Cycle 25 issued in early December.

The ARRL quoted solar researcher Tony Phillips as saying that the current minimum is "deep" and "century-class according to sunspot counts," but that the new sunspots "suggest that the solar cycle is, in fact, unfolding normally," and that a new Maunder minimum does not appear to be in the offing.

Electricity Underfoot!

Graph of sudden changes in both the local magnetic field
and ground current at the Polarlightcenter geophysical
observatory in Lofoten, Norway, on January 6, when the Earth
apparently passed through a fold in the interplanetary
magnetic field. (Graph courtesy Rob Stammes /
Polarlightcenter, Norway <www.polarlightcenter.com >)
CQ Propagation Editor Tomas Hood, NW7US, will be discussing in his February column the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) on which the solar wind travels, and the fact that it resembles a wavy sheet, with a positive polarity on one side and a negative polarity on the other. When the Earth passes through one of these waves, it results in a quick flip-flop of the field's polarity as measured here, and that can have significant effects here on the ground. An apparent example occurred early this year.
Spaceweather.com reported that, on January 6, electrical currents began flowing through the ground in Norway. Researcher Rob Stammes of the Polarlightcenter geophysical observatory (<www.polarlightcenter.com>) reported measuring "a sudden strong variation in both ground currents and our local magnetic field" (see graph). Just 15 minutes earlier, according to the spaceweather report, NASA's ACE spacecraft detected a five-fold increase in the density of the solar wind and a 180-degree shift in the IMF's polarity. It was speculated that Earth had just passed through a fold in the heliospheric current sheet. 

These ground currents can cause significant problems here on Earth. Professor Louis Lanzerotti of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, an expert in the field, wrote on the HamSCI e-mail reflector that such currents have caused major power blackouts, such as the one that hit Quebec in 1989, as well as failures in undersea phone cables. 

The January 6 event also touched off auroras over Scandinavia. They were visible in Finland, but Stammes reported that the skies over his observatory in Lofoten, Norway, were cloudy so "we had to be satisfied with the electricity underfoot."

FCC Proposes Massive Fine for Pirate Broadcasting

The FCC continues its enhanced enforcement campaign against unlicensed broadcasters on the FM band, proposing a fine of more than $450,000 against Gerlens Cesar, operator of Radio TeleBoston. According to the ARRL Letter, the FCC said Cesar was operating three separate transmitters and broadcasting on both 90.1 and 92.1 MHz. The Commission said the proposed fine – the largest ever proposed for a pirate broadcaster – came after it had issued multiple warnings.

Milestones: KC9ZJX Honored; A41AA SK

Dhruv Rebba, KC9ZJX (CQ file photo)
Newsline's 2019 Young Ham of the Year has been honored by his hometown. Dhruv Rebba, KC9ZJX, is among four recipients of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. award issued by the Bloomington and Normal (Illinois) Human Relations Commissions.

According to local radio station WGLT, he was recognized for his volunteer work with a number of organizations, including the Multicultural Leadership Program, the National Computer Science Honor Society and First Robotics. The AMSAT News Service noted that Rebba is also the recipient of the AMSAT Presidential Award.

The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos Bin Said, A41AA, became a Silent Key on January 10 at age 79. The ARRL reports that he was the patron and sponsor of the Royal Omani Amateur Radio Society and its club station, A47RS. Bin Said had been the country's ruler since 1970.

IARU Region 2 Restarts Intruder Watch

Region 2 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), covering North and South America, has restarted its monitoring system program, watching for non-amateur intruders on amateur radio frequencies. The Region 1 monitoring system (Europe, Africa and the Middle East) has been quite active in identifying stations that don't belong on the ham bands and working to get them to change frequencies, but there has been no similar activity on this side of the Atlantic in recent years. The effort is being restarted by LU1BCE, who encourages all amateurs in the Americas to participate through their national societies.

First Shipment of New Ham Gear OKd for Launch to ISS

New ham radio equipment destined for the International
Space Station. Two matching units are scheduled to be
launched this year. (Courtesy ariss.org)
The International Space Station will be getting new gear for its ham station over the course of 2020, the culmination of a years-long effort called the Interop- erable Radio System, or IORS.

The AMSAT News Service reports that NASA has given its safety approval to the first shipment of gear and accepted delivery of the equipment for inclusion on board an upcoming SpaceX supply launch.

The IORS consists of higher-powered radios, an enhanced voice repeater, updated APRS packet capabilities and slow-scan TV equipment for eventual installation in both the space station's Columbus module and the Russian service module.

Multiple YOTA Camps Planned in Europe This Year

Europe's Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) program cele- brates its tenth anniversary this year with multiple camp opportunities for young hams. The main YOTA camp in 2020 will be held in Croatia, with smaller "subcamps" also planned for Serbia and Norway. According to the IARU Region 1 organization, which is YOTA's prime sponsor, young hams from across the region are encouraged to apply. The costs for individuals are kept very low (roughly 25 Euros) with the sponsoring organizations and donors providing the bulk of the support.

A YOTA camp is scheduled in North America for the first time this June. See following story or visit <http://youthontheair.org>.

Over 12,000 QSOs for YOTA Month Ops in the Americas

Youth on the Air Month each December encourages young hams around the world to get on the air and make lots of contacts, both with other young hams and older ones as well. The idea started in Europe, where the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1 organization has made a concerted effort to promote ham radio to young people (see previous story). In 2019, there was also an organized effort in the Americas (IARU Region 2) in conjunction with the upcoming YOTA Camp this June in Ohio.
Organizer Neil Rapp, WB9VPG, and YOTA Month coordinator (and 2018 Newsline Young Ham of the Year) Bryant Rascoll, KG5HVO, report that 18 hams under age 25 in both North and South America used special call signs to draw attention to the activity and made a combined total of more than 12,000 contacts.

Jack McElroy, KM4ZIA, operates K8Y via
amateur satellites during YOTA Month.
(Photo courtesy youthontheair.org)
In the U.S., 15 young operators around the country alternated using four different 1x1 special event call signs, K8Y, K8O, K8T and K8A (YOTA) on SSB, CW, digital modes and satellites, racking up nearly 10,500 QSOs. In Canada, David Samu, VE7DZO (featured on CQ's November 2019 cover) made over 450 contacts as VE7YOTA, all on CW. Down south, young Chilean amateur Mathias Acevedo von Frey, CE2LR, operated XR2YOTA and one highlight for him was meeting another local young ham, Manu Antonio Pardo Rivas, CA3MPR. Their combined QSO total was over 1500 contacts. Overall, the various YOTA Month stations on both continents logged 12,467 contacts. Around the world, 48 special-call sign stations operated by young hams made nearly 129,000 contacts during YOTA Month.

For more information on YOTA Month operations around the world last December, visit <events.ham-yota.com>. For information on the upcoming YOTA Camp America and how you can help support it, see WB9VPG's article in the January 2020 issue of CQ or visit <http://youthontheair.org>.

Tunisia Begins Issuing Personal Ham Licenses

Moncef Guicha, 3V8GM (L), receives one of the first three
individual amateur radio licenses issued by Tunisia
in the last 60+ years. The Tunisian Minister of Telcommuni-
cations (center) presented the licenses personally.
(Photo via IARU Region 1 website)

 For the first time since 1956, amateurs in Tunisia are being granted personal licenses and individual call signs. According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, the first three licenses were recently issued to 3V8HB, 3V8MN and 3V1MB. Until now, Tunisian hams were allowed to operate only from an authorized club station. The process for obtaining an individual license is reportedly quite involved.

Secret Russian Satellite Carrying Ham Transponder May Have Exploded

(Image by Jose Furtado, via Wikimedia Commons)
A top-secret Russian military satellite thought to also be carrying the RS-46 amateur radio transponder is missing and may have exploded in orbit, according to a British news site. A report from "Metro" quotes an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as saying that the Kosmos-2491 spacecraft, launched in 2013, most likely blew up, either intentionally or accidentally. There had been speculation that the satellite was actually an experimental space weapon of some type.

According to Metro, astronomer Jonathan McDowell wrote on Twitter that in late 2013, "Russia launched a Rokot vehicle with three military communications satellites and a fourth, initially unannounced, payload, later acknowledged with the cover name Kosmos-2491 and associated with the RS-46 amateur radio payload ... It appeared to end its mission in 2014." 

"However," McDowell continued, "at about 1321 UTC on 2019 Dec 23, the satellite made a 1.5m/s orbit change and 10 debris objects have now been catalogued."

McDowell speculated that the satellite may have been destroyed either intentionally or accidentally, either as a result of colliding with space debris or – more likely, he says – that unused propellant still carried by the spacecraft exploded. He noted that "(r)ocket stages which don't do depletion burns sometimes blow up years later." 

Bottom line for hams: If you're looking for RS-46, it isn't there anymore.

Air Force MARS Restructures

Air Force MARS regions are now
identified as "wings" and "states"
are now "groups," to better align
with the organizational structure of
the Air Force itself.
The U.S. Air Force branch of MARS, the Military Auxiliary Radio System, has realigned its organizational structure to more closely align with that of the Air Force itself. According to an AFMARS news release, previous "regions" are now "wings" and "states" are now "groups," matching the Air Force command structure.

In addition, according to the announcement, the change "moves away from an Amateur Radio volunteer-based network structure that aligned with FEMA and other civilian amateur radio groups to a more defined and structured military network of highly-trained radio operators capable of creating a high frequency network for the passing of encrypted radio traffic across the country." Additional information about Air Force MARS is available by calling 888-778-6277 (MARS).

RAC Adds PEI Section

If you enjoy operating ARRL Sweepstakes, Field Day or the ARRL 160-Meter Contest, you'll want to know that there's about to be one more possible multiplier to work … the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) has created a separate admini- strative section for Prince Edward Island (PEI), which until now has been part of the Maritimes section, along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The ARRL Letter reports that the change will take effect on April 1, along with a shift in boundaries between two Ontario sections: The City of Hamilton and the Regional Municipality of Niagara, currently in the Ontario South section, will become part of the Greater Toronto Area section.

New VHF/UHF Tropo Records Set in Europe and Africa

D41CV - a special call of the D4C station in Cape Verde,
was at one end of four record-breaking VHF/UHF
contacts in late December and early January.

For all of you who think VHF and UHF are only good for local contacts…

The 2-meter tropo distance record for Region 1 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which covers Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was broken twice within a week around New Year's. The South African Radio League (SARL) reports that on December 28, GM3SEK in Scotland worked the Monteverde Contest Club station, D41CV, on Cape Verde off the coast of Africa at a distance of 4565 kilometers, or 2386 miles. On New Year's Day, D41CV worked GM0EWX on the Isle of Skye on FT8, a distance of 4776 kilometers or 2968 miles. A combination of remarkable VHF DX conditions across Europe and a sea duct running as far south as western Africa was credited for creating the conditions that made the record-setting contacts possible.

The tropo record for 432 MHz was also broken, twice, in the same time period by most of the same players. SARL also reports that on December 28, GM3SEK also worked D41CV on 432 MHz; and that that record was quickly broken - also on New Year's Day - by G4KUX northern England, who also worked D41CV on 432-MHz FT8 at a distance of 4644 kilometers or 2885 miles. This makes the 432 trop distance record in Region 1 just a little bit less than the 2-meter record.

Friday, December 13, 2019

European Space Agency Issues Challenge to Hams

OPS-SAT satellite (European Space Agency photo)
The European Space Agency (ESA) is asking hams to help it track a new satellite right after launch and is offering an incentive for taking part. The satellite is called OPS-SAT and it's scheduled for launch on December 17. According to ESA, "OPS-SAT is a first-of-its-kind CubeSat dedicated purely to experimentation. It carries a wide variety of advanced payloads allowing ‘Experimenters’ to deploy and test their software and apps in space." You must apply to become an experimenter, but there's a form on the OPS-SAT website.
ESA is offering hams an incentive: "The first three radio amateurs to receive at least five correctly decoded frames and submit them to ESA get an exclusive invite to the OPS-SAT Experimenter day in March 2020, as well as a tour of the control facilities and ground stations at ESA in Darmstadt, and of course a certificate."
Details on launch time, frequencies, etc., as well as a link to the experimenter application form, are at <https://tinyurl.com/sojt6yb>. (Tnx Billy Bloom)