Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hams Help in Thai Flooding; Ask for Clear Frequencies

The Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) is asking amateurs around the world in to keep open frequencies in the 40-meter band being used for flood relief communications in the wake of the country's worst flooding in over 60 years. The ARRL reports that 7.060 to 7.063 MHz are being used for emergency communications, along with three 2-meter frequencies. A video (in Thai) of ham station HS0AB in action at the Don Mueang Airport may be viewed at <>. For updates, see the RAST website at <>. It is in English.

U.S. Ham Population Tops 700,000

For the first time ever, there are more than 700,000 licensed radio amateurs in the United States. As of September 30, 2011, according to the ARRL and, the total number of FCC amateur licensees was 700,221. This represents a 145 percent increase over the U.S. ham population in 1971, according to the ARRL, and an increase of more than 200,000 in the past 20 years. After dipping between 2003 and 2007, license numbers have risen steadily for the past four-plus years, passing the 2003 peak of 687,860 in March 2010, according to statistics tracked by Joe Speroni, AH0A. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, says there are currently approximately 150 ARRL-coordinated exam sessions each week, compared with about 55 per week in the mid-1980s. (Keep these numbers in mind next time someone tells you ham radio is dying. -- ed.)

ARRL at the White House

(Courtesy the White House)
Three representatives of the ARRL recently briefed members of the White House National Security Staff on amateur radio's capabilities in an emergency. The September 12 meeting, according to the ARRL Letter, was organized by White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt, W7HAS. ARRL President Kay Craigie, K3KN; Chief Executive Officer Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, and Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, W5MPC, made the presentation, focusing on amateur radio's capabilities to provide Internet messaging connectivity when normal infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.
Meanwhile, though, Newsline reports the FCC and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) jointly issued a set of tips to citizens for keeping lines of communications open during emergencies, but did not include any mention of personal two-way radio services such as amateur radio, CB or the Family Radio Service (FRS).

DX0DX Donations to be Refunded

Donations made to support the now-cancelled DX0DX expedition to the Spratly Islands will be refunded in full, according to Newsline. In an e-mail to the news service, team leader Chris Dimitrijevic, VK3FY, said he would personally make up any shortfalls between amounts donated and funds on hand in the expedition account. The long-planned DXpedition was cancelled due to personal safety concerns. Questions may be directed via e-mail to <>.

Danish Study: No Link Between Cell Phones and Cancer

The largest study yet of possible connections between cell phones and cancer has found no evidence of any link. The Associated Press reported in October that the Danish study of more than 350,000 cell phone users monitored over 17 years found there was no increase in cancer risk compared with non-cell phone users. In the U.S., both the Food and Drug Administration and the FCC have found no evidence of a link. Fears of a connection persist, however, the story reported, despite the fact that cancer rates have not increased since cell phones were introduced.

Ham Radio Satellite Milestones

Former CQ columnists
Bill Orr, W6SAI (SK) and
George Jacobs, W3ASK,
hold the OSCAR-1
satellite shortly before its
launch in December 1961.
(Photo from CQ magazine,
used by permission)

December marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of OSCAR-1, the first amateur radio satellite and the first non-government satellite every placed in orbit. (See N6CL's "VHF-Plus" column on page 74 of the December issue of CQ for a look back.)

In addition, October marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of UoSat-1 (UO-9), built by the University of Surrey in England. According to the AMSAT News Service, UO-9 was the first amateur satellite to carry an on-board computer, to have battery and attitude management capabilities, a CCD camera and other features that became the foundation for amateur satellite technology in future years.

DXCC Offers Special Update Procedure for ST0R QSLs

With paper QSL cards from the ST0R DXpedtion to South Sudan just beginning to arrive in DXers' mailboxes in mid-October, the ARRL is offering DXCC members a special one-time deal to update their country totals - with the ST0R card only - before the update deadline on December 31. The offer is only good for those hams who have already made at least one submission to DXCC during 2011. Complete details may be found at <>.

U.S. Postal Rates Increasing on January 22

The cost of a first-class stamp will increase by a penny, to 45 cents, as of January 22, 2012. Rates to Canada and Mexico are increasing a nickel to 85 cents and other international destinations will be $1.05, an increase of seven cents, according to the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, the cost of mailing a postcard will go up three cents to 32 cents. That's the second postcard rate increase in less than a year.

Dayton's 2012 Theme: "Internationally Connected"

Planners of the Dayton Hamvention® have chosen "Internationally Connected" as the show's theme for 2012. According to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, which sponsors the three-day event each May, this year's choice was made to recognize the many hams who travel to Dayton from all over the world and to acknowledge "the important role that ham radio plays in promoting international goodwill." DARA has set up a new committee specifically to work with foreign guests. The 2012 Hamvention will be held from May 18-20. The show brings about 20,000 people a year to the Dayton area and generates some $10 million in revenue for the region.

Ham a Victim of California Shooting Spree

"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said a friend of David Caouette, N6DAC, who was one of the eight people killed in a widely-reported shooting spree at a California beauty salon on October 12. According to news reports collected by the ARRL Letter, Caouette had the misfortune to have parked his vehicle next to the gunman's car and was shot dead by the gunman as he exited the beauty parlor in the Los Angeles suburb of Seal Beach. Caouette had been a ham since 2008.

Ham Band at 500 kHz a Step Closer

An international amateur radio allocation around 500 kHz moved a step closer to fruition in late September, as a key committee of the Council of European Post and Telecommunications authorities (CEPT) approved a draft proposal for a secondary amateur allocation between 472 and 480 kHz. According to the Southgate Amateur Radio Club's website, the approval means that the 48 member countries of CEPT will back the proposal, which was drafted by the Radio Society of Great Britain. Ham groups are still hoping for a 15-kHz-wide allocation, but feel this agreement is a good start.
Meanwhile, another CEPT committee recommended that member countries work to establish a uniform set of guidelines for administering amateur radio license exams to people with disabilities.

Portuguese Repeaters Victims of Economic Crisis

Several amateur radio repeaters and Echolink nodes in eastern Portugal are off the air, apparent casualties of the European economic crisis. In a letter to Southgate Amateur Radio News, Miguel Andrade, CT1ETL, reports that four repeaters and one Echolink node along the Spanish border are offline due to a lack of financial support. He says discussions are under way "to achieve the necessary partnerships and sponsors to assure that all these stations can work again." However, he notes that at this time, "it is not possible to predict any date for their reactivation."

Ham Satellites Featured at Astronautics Conference

Amateur radio satellites were featured in several sessions of the 62nd International Astronautical Congress, held recently in Cape Town, South Africa. The AMSAT News Service highlighted two such sessions. One showed how data collected by South Africa's SumbandilaSat (SO-67) can be used to select future ground stations with minimum interference potential. The second was the introduction of Cape Peninsular University of Technology's planned cubesat, which will include a beacon on the 20-meter amateur band. Its primary purpose will be to optimize an HF radar system operated by South Africa's National Space Agency, but it is expected that it will also provide "interesting antenna characterization opportunities" to amateurs. (We're not exactly sure what that means, but it certainly sounds impressive! -- ed.)

KA3HDO Retires From NASA

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, a key player in getting amateur radio aboard the International Space Station, has retired from NASA after a 36-year career with the space agency. His final post was as Chief Engineer of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters. Over the years, he worked on a variety of human and robotic space missions as well as many other programs and experiments. He was also AMSAT's Vice President for Human Spaceflight Programs from 1991 to 2009, and served as ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) Program Leader and Chair of the ARISS International Working Group.

Tennessee Ham Fined for Marine Band Transmissions

The FCC has upheld a $17,000 fine against David Perka, KA3PRB, of Lewiston, Tennessee, for allegedly transmitting without a license on Marine Channel 16 and interfering with the U.S. Coast Guard. Newsline reports that the FCC says Perka admitted to not having a license in the Maritime Radio Service and that his transmissions were intentionally transmitted to harass the United States Coast Guard. The FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $17,000 against Perka in 2009. He subsequently requested a reduction in the fine based on an inability to pay. However, in a September 2011 ruling, the FCC said Perka did not submit sufficient documentation to back up his claim and that considering the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation, it saw no reason to reduce the original penalty. No word on whether any action may be taken against Perka's amateur license.

LightSquared vs. GPS Dispute Takes on Political Overtones

The running battle over the FCC's decision to allow LightSquared to build a national broadband network adjacent to the frequencies used by the Global Positioning System (GPS) has become a political battle in Congress. According to a report on Newsline, Republican House members claimed that LightSquared has ties to Democrats and wondered whether political favoritism played a role in the FCC's decision to "fast-track" the company's application over the objections of the GPS industry and other government agencies. An FCC spokeswoman said the agency's expedited approval for LightSquared's network was conditional on resolving problems with GPS and other technologies using nearby spectrum.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


CQ Magazine is pleased to announce a significant expansion in the number of DX Marathon plaques to be awarded each year. Presently, the Northern Illinois DX Association sponsors the only two plaques one for the top Unlimited Class score and one for the top Formula Class score. Starting with the announcement of the 2011 Marathon results in the June 2012 issue, DX Marathon Administrator John Sweeney, K9EL, says additional plaques will be awarded for the following top scores:

Top CW score Plaque sponsored by Bencher, Inc.
Top SSB score - Plaque sponsored by the Collins Amateur Radio Club in Memory of Art Collins, W0CXX

Top Single band scores (10,12,15,17,20,30,40,80) Plaque sponsor wishes to remain anonymous

Top Continental scores - Plaque sponsor wishes to remain anonymous

An additional sponsor for top Digital Mode score is desired. Please contact the DX Marathon Administrator, K9EL, at if you wish to sponsor this plaque.

Please check the DX Marathon website ( for details on the new plaques and qualifying scores.

With the addition of the Republic of South Sudan to the DXCC list, CQ has also added the Republic of South Sudan as a qualifying entity for the 2011 DX Marathon. An updated score sheet (2011.4) and updated CQ Country Lists are now available on the DX Marathon web site.

The CQ DX Marathon is a year-long activity encouraging DXing on the HF bands. Competition begins anew each January 1st. Details are available on the CQ magazine website ( and on the DX Marathon website.