Monday, June 14, 2021

2023 Bouvet DXpedition Cancelled

The 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island planned for 2023 (see June issue DX column) has been cancelled. 

According to organizers Paul Ewing, N6PSE, and Kenneth Opskar, LA7GIA, the change in plans resulted from the recent sale of the ship RV Braveheart, on which the group planned sail to the remote island in the Southern Ocean. 

In an announcement to the DX community on June 13, Ewing and Opskar said that the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic prompted owner and captain Nigel Jolly, K6NRJ, to sell the vessel, which had transported numerous DXpeditions to and from their destinations. As a result of the sale, the group's contract was cancelled and its deposit was refunded.

The announcement also said that the group had stopped accepting donations and was beginning the process of refunding 100% of all donations already made. "We will continue to research other ships," the statement concluded, "and possibly find another suitable vessel for a future project."

A Kickstart for Cycle 25?

Solar physicist Scott
McIntosh (Nat'l
Center for Atmos-
pheric Research photo)
The solar scientist who's been bucking the tide of pessimism from most of his colleagues and predicting a huge sunspot cycle (see News Bytes, Sept. 2020 issue) continues to see lots and lots of spots in the future. According to spaceweather.com, Scott McIntosh of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, along with colleague Bob Leamon of the University of Maryland/Baltimore County, are predicting that a "terminator event," in which oppositely charged magnetic fields collide near the sun's equator and annihilate each other, will be occurring soon. This is a normal occurrence between solar cycles, they say, but the key to predicting the strength of the new cycle lies in the timing between terminator events – the longer the time between them, the weaker the new cycle will be. They are predicting a short 10 years between the previous terminator event and the upcoming one, and McIntosh says, "If the Terminator Event happens soon, as we expect, new Solar Cycle 25 could have a magnitude that rivals the top few since record-keeping began."

Asked about the fact that most other solar scientists feel the new cycle will be a weak one, like its processor, McIntosh replied, "What can I say? We're heretics!"

NOAA: Expect Another Active Hurricane Season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic and Caribbean this year, but does not expect a repeat of last year's season in which the number of named storms exceeded the letters in alphabet. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says we should expect 13-20 named storms, of which 6-10 will develop into hurricanes and 3-5 will become major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. 

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November 30, but the season's first named storm, Ana, developed in late May. The center is also predicting a near- or below-normal season in the central Pacific.

A Tale of Two SATERNs


Among hams, SATERN has long been an acronym for the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network. Now, according to the ARRL, it also stands for Strategic Auxiliary Team Emergency Readiness Net, a new group organized by former Salvation Army SATERN manager Lee Glassman, WA5LEE. To make matters even more confusing, the "new SATERN" holds daily nets on 14.265 MHz, the frequency formerly used by the original SATERN for its daily nets, which have now been moved to 14.325 MHz on a reduced 3-day-a-week schedule.

Logo of the "new" SATERN - Strategic
Auxiliary Team Emergency Readiness Net

Salvation Army SATERN National Committee Chair Michele Heaver told ARRL that her organization considers the new SATERN to be a "breakaway" group, does not support it and has no association with it. Glassman reportedly took the action because of "a conflict of ideals," including increased credentialing requirements and background checks being imposed by The Salvation Army on net members, and because it stopped holding daily nets on 14.265. He said his new group used the same acronym and frequency because they were already familiar to net participants.

Latest WSJT-X Release Includes New Q65 Mode

WSJT-X Q65 screen
(from WSJT website)
A new version (2.4.0) of WSJT-X, the software suite that includes FT8 and other digital protocols, has introduced a new mode, Q65. According to the release notes, it is designed to accommodate fast-fading signals and paths with Doppler shifts of more than a few Hertz. "Q65 is particularly effective," the notes say, "for tropospheric scatter, rain scatter, ionospheric scatter, TEP (trans-equatorial propagation) and EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) on VHF and higher bands." It uses the same message formats and sequencing as those used in FST4, FT4, FT8 and MSK144. Q65 is one of 11 total modes included in the latest WSJT-X package. For more information or to download the free software, visit <https://tinyurl.com/nzcmxywm>.

"Oh, the Humanity!" - CQ DX Editor at Center of New Hindenburg Documentary

The crash of the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937.
N2OO's uncle, Harold Schenck, shot film of
the disaster from a different angle.  (US
Information Agency photo, via National
Archives)

One of the most famous air disasters in history was the May 6, 1937 crash of the Hindenburg airship as it prepared to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey. WLS (Chicago) radio reporter Herbert Morrison was on the scene recording the landing when the ship burst into flames and crashed to the ground, leading to his famous quote, "Oh, the humanity!"

The source of the spark that ignited the hydrogen gas that carried the Hindenburg had not been determined in the nearly 85 years that have passed since the disaster. Enter CQ DX Editor Bob Schenck, N2OO, and airship expert Dan Grossman, whom Bob met while operating a special event station , W2H/75, at a 75th anniversary observance in Lakehurst in 2012. It seems that back in 1937, Bob's mom and his uncle were at Lakehurst to watch the Hindenburg's arrival, and Uncle Harold was filming the landing. He was in a different spot than all the newsreel cameramen and had a different perspective on the airship as it approached. According to Bob, his uncle offered to share the film with investigators at the time, but no one was interested.

Skip ahead 75 years and Dan Grossman was very interested. Now, Bob, and Uncle Harold's film, are the centerpieces of a PBS "Nova" documentary, "Hindenburg; The New Evidence." The program aired on May 19 but is available online at <https://tinyurl.com/3fhphy7w>. There's enough science and technology involved to keep most hams interested. And the secret word is: capacitor. (Tnx to N2OO and NL7XM)


SuperDARN Radars Identified as QRM Source on HF

SuperDARN radar site in Saskatchewan
(Photo by Daryl Mitchell via
Wikimedia Commons)
The ARRL Letter reports that the SuperDARN ionospheric research radar network has been identified by the International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring Service as a source of interference on 14.210 MHz and possibly other frequencies. This is in addition to over-the-horizon radars, mostly based in Russia and China, that have long been sources of QRM on the HF ham bands.

SuperDARN stands for Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, which operates 35 HF radars in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They operate continuously to track the motion of charged particles in the ionosphere and help scientists better predict space weather hazards, such as geomagnetic storms.

ARDC is Busy With Major Grants

Amateur Radio Digital Communications, or ARDC, administers the AMPRNet (44) internet domain and recently came into lots of money as a result of selling off a portion of that domain that it determined it was unlikely ever to be used by hams. In 2019, it began making grants for various projects and programs involving amateur radio and/or digital communications. It recently made its largest grant ever as well as its first international grant.

The organization donated $1.6 million in May to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help save its iconic radome and large dish antenna it protects from removal as part of roof renovations on the building where it sits. The dish is used by the MIT Radio Society, W1MX, for moonbounce and other microwave communications, as well as radioastronomy. Plans are being developed for additional uses by the university and the club.

A separate ARDC grant to the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC, Germany's national ham radio organization), will help in "boosting and securing European HAMNET expansion by providing sponsored hardware for radio links to make use of the AMPRNet IP space in Europe," according to ARDC. It is the group's first grant to an organization outside the United States. HAMNET is a high-speed digital network using amateur radio microwave bands.


Recognition for Slow Speed CW Net

The K1USN Radio Club in Massachusetts has won the 2021 CWOps Award for Advancing the Art of CW, in recognition of its weekly SST, or Slow Speed [con]Test, net. The Morse code promotion group said the net "provides a place for new and unpracticed CW operators to gather and operate at relaxed speeds in a friendly and encouraging manner that helps them continue to improve their CW skills."

K1USN is a club made up of civilian, former and current military radio hobbyists. Information on its SST net may be found at <www.k1usn.com/sst.html>.

CWOps is an organization made up of hams who can send and receive Morse code at speeds of at least 25 words per minute. It sponsors the CW Academy, scholarships, the above award and many on-air activities. For more information, visit <https://cwops.org/>.

ARRL Staff Changes

Several staff changes have been announced by the ARRL as a result of the recent retirements of long-time staffers and an ongoing reorganization of the Field Services Department, which administers the League's volunteer organization along with elected Section Managers.

Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, retired in early June after nearly 23 years on the ARRL staff. He is being replaced by Field Services Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, who is retaining responsibility for contest management. The new Field Services Manager is Mike Walters, W8ZY, who comes to the position from the volunteer post of Connecticut Section Emergency Coordinator.

Finally, Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, has retired from his job as ARRL Operations Manager and has been replaced by well-known contester (and former CQ World Wide DX Contest co-director) Bob Naumann, W5OV. Naumann most recently worked in sales for DX Engineering.

 On the topic of retirements, former ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has announced his retirement as of December from another longtime post, as General Counsel for the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). Imlay has worked with that organization since 1980, according to RadioWorld, which says his roster of other clients has included JVC Kenwood, NASCAR, the National Football League and Goodyear. Imlay served as Counsel and General Counsel for the ARRL from 1982 to 2018. He was recently inducted into the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame (see announcement below and article in July issue).


Milestones: W1OUN, YV5AM, SKs

Gordon Pettengill, W1OUN, a physicist, radio-astronomer and former director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, became a Silent Key in May at age 95. According to the ARRL Letter, Pettengill joined the staff at Arecibo when the facility opened in 1963 and became director in 1968. He was the principal investigator on two missions to Venus and helped make the Arecibo dish available to hams for moonbounce work.

Former IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) Region 2 President Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM, also passed away in May. He was 79. A Venezuelan lawyer and diplomat, Leandro was posted to a variety of countries around the world during his 36-year career. He held various posts in the IARU Region 2 organization (representing the Americas) and served as its president from 2007-2019. According to the Region 2 website, he also was part of the IARU delegation to World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs) in 2008 and 2011.

K7UGA Featured in YouTube Documentary

The late Senator Barry Goldwater,
K7UGA (CQ file photo)
The Arizona Historical Society recently streamed a documentary, "The Senator Was a Ham: Barry Goldwater and Amateur Radio," in a Zoom presentation that remains available on YouTube. According to Air Force MARS, the film focuses on the thousands of phone patches made via K7UGA during the Vietnam War. Goldwater had a network of volunteer operators staffing his station when he wasn't there to operate in person. "The senator from amateur radio" represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate from 1953-64 and again from 1969-87. He was the Republican Party nominee for president in 1964. The program may be viewed at <https://youtu.be/tufY6s8KJBc>.

Equipment Delays and Shortages Persist

Hams ordering new gear may be facing delays and backorders due to continuing problems with the global supply chain network for just about everything as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of press time, DX Engineering was advising customers on its website that "(m)any suppliers are behind schedule, (and) you may experience delays in shipping or product availability … We are working hard to ensure the fastest delivery possible, but your order may take longer to arrive due to circumstances beyond our control. We appreciate your patience and understanding." 

And it isn't just one dealer. Ham Radio Outlet's web page advises that "(d)ue to unprecedented shipping volumes, UPS, USPS and FedEx are experiencing delivery delays." Patience is the watchword as you wait for your new gear to be delivered.