Thursday, March 29, 2018
CQ is once again proud to co-sponsor the Amateur Radio Newsline Bill Pasternak Memorial Young Ham of the Year award. Nominations are open now and must be received by May 31 to be considered. Nominees must be 18 or younger and live in the United States, one of its possessions or Canada. They must have done or be doing something significant in or for their communities that involves amateur radio, or must be making contributions to amateur radio itself. Simply being licensed at age 4 won't do it.
Applications may be downloaded from <https://www.arnewsline.org/yhoty/>. The Young Ham of the Year award will be presented at the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama in August.
If you're connected with a group that operates an emergency communications vehicle, the Dayton Amateur Radio Association wants to put it on display at this year's Hamvention. The association says a special area has been set up for EmComm vehicles at the Greene County Fairgrounds, and encourages groups to bring their vehicles as part of this year's Hamvention theme of "Serving the Community" and to have the units staffed and able to demonstrate their capabilities throughout the three-day event.
|WSJT-X screenshot. FT8 is part of the WSJT-X suite|
of programs. (From WSJT home page)
The DXpedition mode allows an FT8 contact to be made with a single exchange of transmissions with the DX station able to transmit up to five signals simultaneously, making it possible under ideal circumstances to make as many as 500 contacts per hour.
A pair of Chinese satellites destined for lunar orbit may be launched sometime this month or next, and
The relay satellites will be necessary because the dark side of the moon never faces the Earth. These satellites will include a telecommand uplink as well as a telemetry and digital image downlink, both on 70 centimeters.
The plan is that amateurs will be able to send commands to the satellites to take photos and then send them back to Earth. The satellites will also include educational payloads as well as scientific instruments to monitor the electromagnetic spectrum between 1 MHz and 30 MHz to learn about "energetic phenomena from celestial sources."
NASA has selected two AMSAT "GOLF" satellites to be part of its CubeSat Launch Initiative, or CSLI. GOLF stands for "Greater Orbit, Larger Footprint" than standard low-Earth orbit (LEO) cubesats. GOLF-TEE (Technology Evaluation Environment) will serve as a rapidly deployable LEO testbed for technologies to be used in CubeSat missions to a variety of orbits, according to the AMSAT News Service (ANS).
GOLF-1, according to NASA,"is an educational mission that will host two-way amateur radio communications, analog and digital transponders, and two experiment payloads provided by students." ANS says AMSAT must still work out a "Cooperative Research and Development Agreement" with NASA for each satellite in order to finalize their selection. Target launch dates are late next year for GOLF-TEE and sometime in the 2020-21 timeframe for GOLF-1.
Another satellite chosen by NASA for this program will be designed and built by middle school students in Tennessee, with support from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It will study reforestation patterns in areas affected by forest fires.
The International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 youth initiative will again be sending young hams to radio camp this August … except it will be the "Youngsters on the Air Winter Camp" this year because the event will be held in South Africa, where August is the middle of winter! IARU Region 1 consists of national amateur radio societies in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, including the Middle East. According to the ARRL Letter, the weeklong program will bring together 80 hams between the ages of 16 and 26 to meet people from different countries and cultures, sharing the common bond of amateur radio. And of course, they'll be on the air from camp station ZS9YOTA. Contributions are being sought to help support the event.
Nearly two dozen crew members of the hospital ship USNS Mercy have earned new or upgraded ham
|USNS Mercy (US Navy photo)|
During that time, they held two or three training classes a day for interested crew members, who attended following their work shifts. Exams were given by a local volunteer examiner team when the ship docked in Hawaii. Captain Bretz said he plans to research the effectiveness of using amateur radio as part of the ship's ongoing humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
Ham radio has made another recent appearance on TV. Newsline reports that the March11 episode of
In addition, ham radio has been receiving regular mention (and stretching-the-limit use) on the CBS "genius" drama, "Scorpion." (Everything on "Scorpion" stretches technical limits, which is part of the show's fun!)
Thursday, March 22, 2018
|Kenneth Graham, WX4KEG, will take over |
leadership of the National Hurricane Center
in Miami, Florida, on April 1.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), of which both the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center are divisions, Graham "notably established two command centers in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 that provided forecasts to help authorities make critical decisions in the five months following the spill. Graham also led the effort to support decision-makers in Louisiana and Mississippi with services focused on expected impacts for hurricanes Gustav, Ike, Isaac, and during the historic 2017 season."
A licensed ham since 2004, Graham was previously systems operations division chief at National Weather Service Southern Region headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, where he led Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. He also served as the meteorological service chief at NWS headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was the meteorologist-in-charge at the local forecast offices in Birmingham, Alabama, and Corpus Christi, Texas. He came to the weather service in 1994 after working as a TV weatherman in Mississippi.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Amateurs involved in last year's hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean dominated the Dayton Hamvention® awards for 2018. A longtime cutting-edge antenna innovator and a very active radio club were also honored.
The 2018 Special Achievement Award is shared by three hams, Herb Perez, KK4DCX; Victor Torres, WP4SD, and Emilio Ortiz, Jr., WP4KEY. After Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico's electric and telecommunications infrastructure, Perez brought his ham gear to the studios of a local public radio station. Working with Torres and Ortiz, along with nearly four dozen hams in the continental U.S., the group generated and delivered more than 4000 health-and-welfare messages to worried family members.
The Amateur of the Year Award winner was part of the "Force of 50" group deployed to Puerto Rico after Maria by the ARRL. Valerie Holtzfield, NV9L, had also gone to Texas after Hurricane Harvey to help rescue small animals, according to the Hamvention announcement. She is also an avid contester and DXer, has been on four major DXpeditions and is a co-host of the "Ham Nation" video podcast.
Chip Cohen, W1YW, is being honored with the 2018 Technical Achievement Award. Chip invented fractal antennas 30 years ago and recently received a patent for using fractal antenna techniques to develop an "invisibility cloak" for aircraft and other large objects.
Finally, Dayton's Club of the Year honors go to the Portage County (Ohio) Amateur Radio Service. This very busy club says it has over 40 hours of activities each month, including public service, student outreach, periodic "Build Days" for working on projects together and monthly "Get On The Air" days when the club station is open for members and guests to learn about HF and different modes of operation.
The honors will be presented at the 2018 Dayton Hamvention awards banquet in May.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
The ARRL has petitioned the FCC for expanded HF voice, RTTY and digital privileges for TechnicianClass licensees. The League says current growth rates in licensing are insufficient to sustain the amateur service in the long run, and points out the long-standing problem that many Technician licensees never get on the air or become active members of the broader amateur radio community. The entry-level license, says the ARRL petition, must "provide sufficient, relevant, operating privileges to allow these individuals to find value in Amateur Radio and to build in a strong incentive to upgrade to the next license class by a culture of involvement among new licensees."
Specifically, the League's February 28 petition asks for RTTY and other digital-mode privileges on current Technician CW subbands on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters; plus new voice privileges on 3.900-4.000, 7.225-7.300 and 21.350-21.450 MHz. Maximum power output would be 200 watts PEP. At press time, the FCC had not yet given the petition a rulemaking number or requested public comment.
The Dayton Hamvention® says online sales are now open for flea market and indoor vendor spaces, as well as individual admission tickets. Online vendor sales were delayed due to changes that needed to be made after it became obvious that the new building planned for the Greene County Fairgrounds would not be completed in time for the Hamvention in mid-May, but that the former furniture building would be available for inside booths.
According to Inside Exhibits Chair Brian Markland, N8UDQ, exhibitors who complete online orders for the same spaces they had last year by April 15 will be guaranteed those spaces. There will be a lottery among "tent vendors" to see who is able to be accommodated in the limited number of booths now available in the former furniture building. The 2018 Dayton Hamvention will be held from May 18-20 at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio.
Responding to reports that Congress is unlikely to pass any telecommunications legislation this term, including the Amateur Radio Parity Act (ARPA/S.1534) now pending before the Senate Commerce Committee, the ARRL said in FCC comments that the Commission must "take the action on its own initiative that would be called for by this legislation." According to the ARRL Letter, the comments – in response to a public notice seeking input on the communications industry's response to last year's hurricanes - noted amateur radio's role in providing communications in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and said action is needed to require homeowners associations (HOAs) to permit effective outdoor antennas. "It is critical," the League noted, "to have stations located at one's residence in order to regularly participate in disaster preparedness training exercises and drills."
Commenting separately in the same proceeding in response to the ARRL filing, attorney Jim Talens, N3JT, who has written here and elsewhere about his serious concerns that the language of S.1534 will make it more difficult, not less, for hams to put up antennas in HOA-regulated areas, warned that the FCC "should not be deceived by ARRL into believing that moving forward on ARPA will help American emergency preparedness." Talens called on the FCC to adopt rules and procedures for amateur antennas in HOA-regulated areas that more closely parallel rules already in effect under the FCC's Over the Air Reception Devices (OTARD) rule for TV antennas and satellite dishes.
The full text of both comments may be found on the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System website under ET Docket number 17-344.
Commenting in the same proceeding as noted in the previous story, the ARRL also urged the FCC to
There is some controversy about the use of WinLink on the amateur bands, as some critics claim it is used by boaters to send and receive e-mail which may include business communications. In addition, the system relies on automatically-controlled relay stations, which some claim will cause interference because they are unable to listen before transmitting to be sure a frequency is not already in use.
|WSJT-X screen shot (in this case, running JT9)|
Source: WSJT-X home page
The developers are tentatively referring to DXpedition mode as "fox and hounds," with the DXpedition station being the fox and all the stations "hunting" for it labeled as "hounds." The WSJT-X Development Team says the mode will be included in an upcoming release of a new version of WSJT-X, with hopes for a field test during this summer's scheduled KH1/KH7Z DXpedition to Baker Island.
You can't get there from here… or much of anyplace else, it seems. The long-planned 3Y0Z DXpedition to Bouvet Island had to be cancelled at the last minute – with the island in sight – due to a combination of bad weather and engine trouble on the team's ship. April CQ's DX column has details.
In the wake of the 3Y0Z cancellation, the organizers of the Polish-led 3Y0I DXpedition renewed plans to travel to the island, most likely this coming winter (summer in the southern hemisphere). According to the ARRL Letter, the 3Y0I group had deferred its plans at the request of the 3Y0Z group, to avoid having two major DXpeditions to the same place within weeks of each other. The 3Y0I group says it has chartered a vessel specially outfitted for severe weather and experienced with landing troops on Bouvet, which is a Norwegian dependency. The group said it also plans to conduct video-documented explorations of the island and its glacier, and to leave behind a time capsule at the glacier's peak.
Longtime educator and radio amateur Lawrence S. Bacow, KA1FZQ, has been named as the next president of Harvard University. The ARRL Letter reports that Bacow grew up building Heathkits and reading ham magazines (his late father was also a ham). Currently the Hauser Leader-in-Residence at Harvard's Center for Public Leadership, Bacow was previously president of Tufts University and chancellor of MIT, where he was also a professor. He begins his new job on July 1.
Jim Linton, VK3PC, became a Silent Key in late February after a battle with thyroid cancer. He was best-known in the amateur radio community as the chairman of the Disaster Communications Committee for Region 3 of the International Amateur Radio Union and a well-regarded source of news and information about amateur radio activities in response to disasters in the Region 3 coverage area of Asia and Oceania. According to the ARRL Letter, he was also heavily involved in leadership of various activities of the Wireless Institute of Australia, which awarded him its highest honor in 2011.
Coupled with a warning to avoid distracted driving, the ARRL in February announced a new Mobile DXCC Award, issued for making confirmed contacts with at least 100 DXCC entities while operating "from a working vehicle, with antennas and power source capable of operating while in motion." According to the ARRL Letter, the mobile DXCC is a one-time award, is not endorsable, and is available only for contacts made from land-based vehicles. Contacts made from boats or aircraft do not count. The League's announcement reminded amateurs to always put safety first and said "we hope all mobile operators exercise care when operating from a moving vehicle."
Unlike the standard DXCC award, one does not have to be an ARRL member to qualify. Certificates are $16. Complete rules are on the ARRL website at <http://www.arrl.org/mobile-dxcc>.
|HamSci Coordinator Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, opens|
the 2-day workshop held at the New Jersey Institute of
Technology. (W2VU photo)
Last summer's solar eclipse was the focus of the first day, with members of both groups (which sometimes overlapped) shared their findings about propagation changes resulting from the temporary lack of solar energy in the ionosphere. Most of the findings were consistent with each other and with predictions. However, one unexpected – and as yet unexplained – observation was that propagation seemed to recover after the eclipse much more quickly than it had declined as the moon's shadow began to obscure the sun.
The second day focused on building personal space weather stations to help provide ionospheric scientists with many more points of observation from which to collect and analyze data. CQ attended the conference and will report on it in more detail in an upcoming issue.
The ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) will be replacing its traditional paper reporting
ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, says the new system will not change anything about the way in which ARES operates in conjunction with a served agency, but "is simply a system that will make managing volunteers and events easier."
The ARRL also reported that ARES membership in 2017 was up by nearly 13% from the previous year and that emergency activations saw a nearly 50% increase over 2016, citing long-term activations in response to major hurricanes in the east and wildfires in the west.
|(Source: CIA World Factbook)|
"The Government should rehabilitate the ECN (Emergency Communications Network)," the report recommended, "by offering training to persons interested in becoming Amateur Radio operators nationwide, with the goal of having a licensed Amateur Radio operator in every community with an emergency shelter." It also called for equipping every emergency shelter with ham radio and/or satellite phone equipment, and for purchasing repeaters and "other technology" to provide for swift establishment of communications following future storms.
Truckee, California, will be the site of this year's USA Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) Championships, where "foxhunters" will compete for bragging rights and invitations to represent the U.S. at upcoming international competitions. The ARRL Letter reports that the competition sites, near Donner Summit at an elevation of roughly 6300 feet, have never been used for ARDF competitions in the past. The event will be held from June 13-17, starting with an optional training day, followed by a day of "foxoring" competitions that combine foxhunting with orienteering, and then two days of international-rules competitions on 80 and 2 meters.
|The IMAGE satellite prior to launch in 2000 (NASA photo)|
However, it was reported in late February by NASA that IMAGE's signal began to break up on February 22 and that the satellite again went silent on the 24th. It noted that this instance was not similar to the sudden shutdown experienced in 2005 and that scientists were hoping to re-establish contact and continue efforts to bring the spacecraft's control systems back online.
A satellite using the D-Star digital protocol was launched successfully from Russia on February 1,following the loss of a similar cubesat in a launch failure last November. According to the AMSAT News Service, the D-Star One Phoenix was one of eleven satellites from Russia, Germany and the United States carried into orbit by the Soyuz rocket. D-Star One Phoenix was a joint project of German Orbital Systems and iSky Technology from the Czech Republic.
The AMSAT News Service also reports that a balloon carrying a WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter) beacon, launched by AMSAT Argentina, completed its second circumnavigation on February 11, passing over Buenos Aires before heading out over the Atlantic for a third trip around the Earth. The last reported WSPR and APRS spots for the balloon were on February 12 as it crossed the South Atlantic, so it is uncertain whether it successfully made that third crossing.