Friday, August 26, 2011

WX4NHC to activate at 1300 UTC on Saturday 8/27

The following is from WX4NHC, the amateur radio station at the National Hurricane Center:

WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, will be activating its HF and EchoLink/IRLP station on Saturday, August 27nd , 2011 at 9 AM EDT (1300z) and continuing operations on Sunday, August 28th until late evening

We request all land based stations as well as ships at sea in the areas affected to send us weather data (measured or estimated) and damage reports.

If you are in the affected area and normally monitor on a local Net on VHF, 40 or 80 meters, we would appreciate your checking into the HWN NET or EchoLink/IRLP Net once per hour to receive the latest Hurricane Advisories and to report your local conditions.

Please do not venture outside during the hurricane to gather weather data.

Your safety is the first priority.

There are many constantly changing atmospheric variables that affect the storm’s track and strength.

Please refer to the National Hurricane Center Advisories for official information.

WX4NHC will be monitoring the Hurricane Watch Net on 14.325 MHz.

Secondary HF frequencies will be 7.268 MHz and 3.950 MHz +/- QRM, should we loose propagation on 20 meters.

EchoLink “WX-Talk” Conference Room and IRLP node 9219 will also be monitored.

WX4NHC will also monitor CWOP, APRS and MADIS/MESONET Automated weather stations in the affected area.

Surface Reports using our On-line Hurricane Report form will be monitored.

Amateur Weather Enthusiasts and ON-NHC Volunteers may report directly to WX4NHC on-line.

ON-NHC Volunteers are both Ham Radio Operators and Non-Ham weather observers that use their own weather instruments to submit "Surface Reports" directly to NHC over the Internet via the WX4NHC on-line report form. These "Surface Reports" are very important as they give Hurricane Specialists at NHC a better idea of what is actually happening on the ground level during the storm.

The WX4NHC Group continues to expand its efforts to increase the quantity and quality of surface reports to include many different modes of reception and groups of people; including HF, VHF/UHF IRLP & EchoLink, VHF & HF APRS, CWOP NOAA Program and ON-NHC Weather Observers Network.

(see our web site for more information on these programs):

WX4NHC is very proud to have maintained an active Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center for the past 31 years.

We appreciate all of the volunteers who help with our efforts.


Thank you,

John Mc Hugh, K4AG
Coordinator for Amateur Radio
National Hurricane Center, WX4NHC

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hathaway: Sunspot Cycle Will Be Smallest in 100 Years

NASA's Dr. David Hathaway predicts
that solar Cycle 24 will peak in mid-
2013 at around 75.
NASA solar physicist David Hathaway told hams at the Huntsville Hamfest in August that solar Cycle 24 will likely be the smallest in at least 100 years, in terms of maximum sunspot numbers. But he says it is too early to know if this cycle is a precursor to what some scientists are predicting to be "the death of sunspots" or a "little ice age."

In a talk titled "The Sky is NOT Falling," Hathaway explained why predictions of "killer flares" capable of causing massive disruptions are not likely to occur -- mostly because of too few sunspots. At the same time, he said, predictions of future cycles with no sunspots -- based on observations to date -- are premature because the "missing" activity is associated with the peak of the sunspot cycle, which is not yet here.

Hathaway's current prediction is that Cycle 24 will peak at a maximum of around 75 in mid-2013, the lowest peak in the past century. And while he says it is too early to write off Cycle 25 completely, he feels it could be even weaker than the current cycle. He admits, though, that "every time you come up with a model, you find a problem and you have to go back to the drawing board."

Heathkit Returning to Kit Business

Good news for Heathkit fans -- the company says it is bringing back kits! Heathkit was a major player in the U.S. ham radio marketplace from the 1950s into the 1980s, and was the dominant kit manufacturer of the time. It left the kit market in 1992 amid sagging sales.
An announcement on the company webpage says its return to kit-making will start out with "common around-the-house items," including an ultrasonic "Garage Parking Assistant" and a wireless swimming pool monitor kit. No word yet on whether radio kits are in the plans; however, Heathkit is asking kit-builders to submit suggestions via its website at <>.

Building a "Weather-Ready Nation"

In a news release and media teleconference long on buzzwords and short on specifics, the National Weather Service announced that it is "launching a comprehensive initiative to build a 'Weather-Ready' nation to make America safer … as communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events." The plan calls for improved forecast precision and better communication of risk to local authorities; improved "weather decision support services," including mobile-ready emergency response teams; improved radar and satellite imagery; stronger partnerships to enhance community preparedness, and working more closely with emergency managers and "weather enterprise partners" such as TV stations to "enhance safety and economic output and effectively manage environmental resources." Pilot projects are slated for New Orleans, Fort Worth and the Washington, DC area.

There was no specific mention of SKYWARN or the role of trained volunteer severe weather spotters in a "weather-ready nation."

AMSAT Moves Toward Quick Launch of New Satellite

In an effort to get a new satellite built and launched quickly in order to replace the troubled AO-51, AMSAT has decided to split its "Fox" cubesat project into two satellites, Fox-1 and Fox-2. The AMSAT News Service reports that Fox-1, the intended replacement for AMSAT-OSCAR-51, will contain only an FM transponder and a simple computer system for telemetry and control, built into a standard cubesat spaceframe. A target launch date for Fox-1 will be the second half of 2013.

Fox-2 will contain the advanced technology currently under development for the project, including a software-defined linear transponder, an advanced power system and a spaceframe with deployable solar panels. The target date for launching Fox-2 will be 2015.

ARISSat-1 Certificates Available

Anyone who has received downlink signals from the ARISSat-1 satellite that was hand-launched from the International Space Station in early August may submit reception reports and receive a PDF certificate by return e-mail. Reports from students and school groups are particularly welcome, according to the AMSAT News Service. There are different e-mail addresses to which reports should be sent, depending on what information was received. For details visit the ARISSat website at <>.

As of this posting, the satellite was still operational, although its batteries were draining more quickly than expected. Updates are available on <>.

ARRL Approves ST0R Expedition; Changes E-Mail Address

The ARRL has announced that the ST0R DXpedition to the new country of South Sudan has been approved for DXCC credit. (QSLs from the expedition are also valid for the CQ DX Award.)

In addition, DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, announced that the general <> e-mail address is no longer in use. Instead, anyone with questions related to the ARRL's DX award is requested to go to <> and follow the prompts to direct their e-mail to the proper person.

Also on the DXCC front, the RTTY DXCC award has been renamed the Digital DXCC award in recognition of the growing number of digital modes beyond traditional radioteletype.

QRM Detectives at Work

Three separate reports are in the news this month of hams helping to track down and resolve interference on the HF amateur bands. The first involved "swishing" sounds heard on the 60-meter (5 MHz) band, first assumed to be signals from the primary users of the band (hams have a secondary allocation there and must accept interference from primary users). However, a joint effort by ARRL Official Observers and researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey determined that the signals actually were coming from Coastal Ocean Dynamics Applications Radar (CODAR) systems and did not belong on 60 meters. CODAR is an HF radar system used by researchers to study ocean waves and currents. According to the ARRL Letter, the effort led to a frequency change by CODAR, ending the QRM on 60 meters.

In a follow-up action on the west coast, what appeared to be CODAR activity that was causing interference on the 12-meter band was tracked down and the local ARRL OO Coordinator helped resolve the issue.

Finally, Newsline reports that hams around the world worked together in a global hidden transmitter hunt to triangulate the location of the source of a stream of Morse code dits that was heard worldwide for more than a week. It seems that a station in northern California (whose name and call have not been released) accidentally pushed a keyboard against his keyer and unknowingly activated it. The signals stopped immediately after he was contacted by the ARRL.

FCC Considers Petition for Lifetime Exam Credit

The FCC is considering a petition by the Anchorage Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) to grant lifetime credit for exam elements passed in earning licenses that subsequently expired and were not renewed during the two-year grace period. According to Newsline, the petition asks that the FCC permit volunteer examiners to give former holders of Technician, General, Advanced, and Extra Class licenses appropriate element credit so that they can obtain new licenses without retaking the examinations. The Anchorage VEC says this is in the public interest because it would result in the immediate expansion of the pool of experienced operators who would be available in times of emergency. Currently, FCC rules permit lifetime credit for Element 3 (the General exam) only to holders of Technician licenses that expired prior to March 21, 1987. The comment period on the petition closed on August 19.

FCC Dismisses Petition to Bar All Felons from Ham Bands

The FCC has said no to a petition asking for a rules change to automatically bar all convicted felons from ever holding an amateur license. Newsline reports that the request was filed this past May by Bernard Parker, K5BP, of Dallas, Texas. In dismissing the petition, the FCC said such matters are dealt with on a case-by-case basis in order to take into account any mitigating factors or subsequent rehabilitation. It also said Parker had not provided a compelling argument for the Commission to revisit its current policy, especially since it already has an established process in effect for determining whether a felony conviction is grounds for denial of an amateur radio license.

Friday, August 19, 2011

September 2011 WorldRadio Online Posted Live On the Web

The September 2011 edition of WorldRadio Online magazine is live and posted on the Web. Many of your favorite columnists and special features are in this edition. And it's all free. Check it out at:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Let’s Play 2: Pop’Comm and WRO Live Online Chats, August 7

You’re invited to join Editor Richard Fisher, KI6SN, for the Popular Communications and WorldRadio Online live online chats, each being held on Sunday, August 7.

The Pop’Comm chat will kick things off at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (2000 UTC) on the Pop’Comm On the Web blog: < >.

WorldRadio Online’s live Internet chat begins at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (0000 UTC) on the WorldRadio Online Blog at: < >.

To join in, simply visit the magazine’s website at chat time and click on the Cover It Live Box, which will link you right into the chat room. If you’d like a reminder about the chats, visit the websites now and register for an email heads-up.

The chats are friendly and casual. We hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

JR8LWY Receives First Signals From ARISSat-1

According to a report from Southgate, the amateur radio satellite ARISSat-1 has been deployed from the ISS during EVA-29 on Wednesday, August 3 by Cosmonaut/ Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev.
First signals have been received by JR8LWY reporting copy of the telemetry beacon as the satellite passed over Japan.
Full operational capability of ARISSat-1/KEDR is still under evaluation pending performance evaluation of the UHF antenna.
Please submit your reception signal reports on amsat-bb and via the mission's email boxes on < >.
AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, observed, "Welcome to a new era as AMSAT returns to space with ARISSat-1/KEDR.
I encourage all hams, SWLs, educators, and experimenters to enjoy the unique opportunity presented by this mission to learn about amateur radio in space, enhance and improve your station, and hone your operating skills as you try out all of this satellite's features."

Barry continues, "ARISSat-1/KEDR marks a new type of satellite  which has captured the attention of the national space agencies  around the world for the unique educational opportunity we have  been able to design, launch, and now operate. By designing an educational mission aligned with NASA's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics goals amateur radio operators around the world can now enjoy a new satellite in orbit."
- TNX Southgate and AMSAT

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ARISSat-1 Deployed After Delay

The ARISSat-1 amateur satellite was deployed by spacewalking cosmonauts today at approximately 1845 UTC, according to minute-by-minute postings by CQ VHF staff on the CQ VHF magazine Facebook page. The deployment was delayed for about three hours after the satellite was taken outside the International Space Station due to questions regarding one of its antennas. Ultimately the decision was made to toss it into space and put it in orbit! No word as of this posting as to whether the satellite is functioning independently. You may follow progress on the ARISSat-1 web page.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

ARISSat-1 Deployment Set for Aug. 3 - to be shown live on NASA-TV

The following is from the AMSAT News Service:
In this Special Bulletin:
* ARISSat-1/KEDR Deployment on August 3

ARISSat-1/KEDR is now ready for deployment from the International
Space Station during EVA 29 on August 3.

NASA TV will cover the EVA live starting at 1400 GMT on August 3.
1430: Hatch Open
1446: Egress ARISSat-1/KEDR and secure to airlock ladder
1452: Remove solar panel covers
1507: Translate to deploy site, activate PWR, TIMER1 and TIMER2
      switches, verify LEDs on, and deploy
WATCH: Internet streaming < >

Read the NASA Press Release about EVA-29 and ARISSat-1/KEDR at:

NASA describes the activities for EVA-29, of which our satellite will
be the first task, "The duo's [Cosmonaut/Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov
and Alexander Samokutyaev] first task will be to deploy a boxy, 57
pound satellite, called alternately ARISSat-1 and Radioskaf-V, which
is the prototype test flight of a proposed series of educational
satellites being developed in a partnership with the Radio Amateur
Satellite Corp. (AMSAT), the NASA Office of Education ISS National
Lab Project, the Amateur Radio on ISS (ARISS) working group and

ARISSat-1/KEDR Project Manager, Gould Smith, WA4SXM said, "The satel-
lite is scheduled to be deployed from the ISS during EVA-29 on Wednes-
day August 3 around 1507Z. There is a 15 minute delay after the safety
switches are all thrown before the transmitter turns on. First signals
should be transmitted shortly after 1520Z."

The ARISSat-1/KEDR team is looking for stations to make early reception
reports (1520Z-1800Z) after the ARISSat-1/KEDR release. It looks like
southern South America, very southern South Africa, followed by south-
east Asia should be the first areas to receive the signals.

Please send your reception reports to the Title
your email - ARISSat-1 reception report.

Alaska and the western US should get a good pass around 1620Z. The
eastern US will have to wait until around 0416Z on the 4th to hear
the satellite.

When you receive the downlink signal from ARISSat-1/KEDR you are
invited to send your report to the following e-mail boxes. You will
receive a PDF certificate by e-mail.

Students and school groups are especially welcome! We look forward
to your report!

Your report must contain the following information:

1) The signal you received:
   a) the secret word*,
   b) an SSTV image, or,
   c) telemetry data

2) Your name or group name

3) The date/time of reception

4) Your e-mail address of where to send your certificate. You will
   receive a PDF certificate via email.

Here are the e-mail boxes to send your reports:

Secret word* contest to:
SSTV image to: 
Telemetry data to:
(either digital or voice report of the data you received)

Received BPSK telemetry and .CSV files should continue to be
sent to:

* Those who do hear the secret word or call sign please do not put
  it out to the world. That would ruin the contest for those still
  waiting for their station to be in range.

You can find the details of the ARISSat-1/KEDR radio frequencies,
links to telemetry decoding software and mission details on-line at:

ARISSat-1/KEDR can be accessed on these frequencies:
+ 145.950 MHz FM Downlink
+ 435 MHz - 145 MHz Linear Transponder
+ 145.919 MHz CW Beacon
+ 145.920 MHz SSB BPSK-1000 Telemetry

The latest telemetry can be seen LIVE on your computer or cell

David Carr, KD5QGR has added ARISSat-1/KEDR to the list of satel-
lites at the popular "Live OSCAR Satellite Status Page" at: > You are invited to submit your reports
on this page.

[ANS thanks the ARISSat-1/KEDR Team for the above information]
[And CQ thanks the AMSAT News Service]

CQ VHF magazine editor receives Wilson award

Kent Britain, WA5VJB, presents the
Central States VHF Society's Wilson Award
to CQ VHF Editor Joe Lynch, N6CL.
    CQ VHF magazine editor Joe Lynch, N6CL, received the Central States VHF Society's Mel Wilson, W2BOC, Memorial Award at its annual banquet, July 30, 2011. The award was presented by Kent Britain, WA5VJB, the Society's Awards Manager (and Antennas Editor for CQ, CQ VHF and Popular Communications). The award is for continuous service and dedication towards promoting VHF and UHF amateur radio activity. Lynch has served 8-1/2 years as the magazine's editor and 20 years as CQ magazine's VHF editor, along with editing the Society's 2003 and 2005 Proceedings. Lynch is also the author of The VHF "How To" Book (currently out of print).        

    Two other major awards were also presented at the ceremony. The Chambers award for technical contributions to amateur radio went to Joe Taylor, K1JT, developer of the WSJT suite of weak-signal modes; and Gene Zimmerman, W3ZZ (recently retired QST VHF Editor and former CQ World Wide VHF Contest Director), was presented with the President's award for his lifetime contributions to the VHF and UHF community.