Thursday, December 22, 2011

RAST HQ Station Destroyed by Flooding

Some of the damaged equipment at the Radio Amateur Society
of Thailand (RAST) headquarters station, HS0AC.
(Photo courtesy Swen, HS0ZFZ)
Last fall's massive flooding in Thailand, the country's worst in 60 years, counted among its victims HS0AC, the headquarters station of the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST). The station was underwater for nearly two months, according to well-known Thai contester Champ Muangamphun, E21EIC/KY1A. Additional photos of the devastation have been posted on the web at <>. 

RAST is seeking help from hams around the world in rebuilding its headquarters station. If you have spare equipment available, contact Finn/OZ1HET at <> or <>. Monetary donations are also being accepted via PayPal. For details, contact <>.

February: Five Years of Code-Free Licensing

February, 2012, will mark the fifth anniversary of the end of Morse code testing for all levels of FCC amateur radio licenses. The final code tests were administered on February 22, 2007 after being a part of U.S. license exams since the inception of amateur radio licensing nearly a century ago. Over the decades, code test speeds rose and fell with changing times. Code testing for the entry-level Technician Class was eliminated in 1991.

Since the end of code testing, the ranks of radio amateurs in the U.S. have increased by nearly 50,000 and many newer hams are learning CW even though it is no longer required. Detailed looks and commentary on the fate of Morse code in the five years since the end of code testing will be published in the February issues of CQ and WorldRadio Online magazines.

(Editor's note: If you don't know what the Morse code message above says, this is your opportunity to start learning!)

APRS Weather Balloon Smashes Distance Record

Payload (including APRS transmitter)
of the record-setting weather balloon CNSP-11.
(Courtesy California Near Space Project)
An amateur radio weather balloon launched by a group of hams in California on December 11 flew across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean before landing in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Algeria three days later. The balloon was carrying a ham radio APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) transmitter and was tracked by amateurs in North America and Europe as it made its record-smashing 6,236-mile journey. The flight nearly doubled the previous distance record of 3,361 miles. For complete details on the flight and the story behind it, see the "VHF-Plus" column in the February 2012 issue of CQ.

"End of Mission" for AO-51

Launch of AMSAT-Echo
(later AO-51) in 2004.
(AMSAT Photo)

As the 50th anniversary of the December 12, 1961 launch of OSCAR-1 approached in late November, controllers of AMSAT-OSCAR 51 announced that amateur satellite's "end of mission." AMSAT-NA Vice President of Operations Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, said, "It is with a heavy heart I report that AO-51 has ceased transmissions and is not responding to commands." AO-51 provided low-earth orbit satellite contacts for seven years before its batteries finally failed. The AMSAT News Service reports that the AO-51 command team will regularly attempt to communicate with the satellite over the coming months and years, in hopes that at least one of its batteries will come back to life.

AMSAT Seeks NASA Funding for Fox-1

The amateur satellite planned to replace AO-51 is called Fox-1, and in mid-November, AMSAT submitted the project for consideration in NASA's CubeSat Launch initiative, part of the space agency's educational programs. Educational components of the Fox-1 mission include incorporation in the ARRL's Teacher Institute seminars, according to the AMSAT News Service. 

Projects selected for the program will have their integration and launch costs paid by NASA, significantly easing the financial needs of the satellite builders.

AMSAT-DL Receives Signals From Mars Satellite

Artist's conception of Mars Science Laboratory in
operation on the red planet. (NASA/JPL CalTech photo)

Amateurs at the AMSAT-DL facility in Bochum, Germany, received telemetry signals from the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) satellite about seven hours after its recent launch. According to the AMSAT News Service, the satellite was more than 67,000 miles from Earth at the time of reception. This is believed to be the first reception of MSL signals outside of NASA's Deep Space Network. AMSAT-DL's Bochum facility is part of its work on the planned P5A amateur satellite to Mars mission.

Congress Considers Easing ITAR Restrictions

(Photo Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)
International cooperation on amateur satellite missions has become nearly impossible since the U.S. government's enactment of its International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. The rules limit exchanges of technology between countries - even friendly countries - if that technology could possibly have military applications. Violators face stiff fines and possible jail terms. According to the AMSAT News Service, this rule has technically made AMSAT-NA a "munitions supplier," even though its satellite technology has always been strictly for civilian use.

Now, ANS reports that Congress is considering a bill -- H.R. 3288 -- which is aimed at easing ITAR restrictions on commercial satellite development and which, if passed, may once again permit amateur satellite groups around the world to collaborate on multinational ham radio satellite projects. More information, including bill tracking, is available at <>.

FCC Allows Implantable Medical Devices at 413-457 MHz

The FCC commissioners voted unanimously on November 30 to permit the use of implantable wireless medical devices that operate in spectrum between 413 and 457 MHz. This includes the entire 70-centimeter amateur band (420-450 MHz). These low-power devices, like amateur radio, will have a secondary allocation on the band (federal government radar is primary).
According to the ARRL Letter, Medical Micropower Networks will use multiple transmitters implanted in the body that will use electric currents to activate and monitor nerves and muscles in hopes of restoring mobility and function to people who have lost the use of limbs or organs. While there is little risk of interference to amateur radio from these ultra-low-power networks, there is concern that amateur transmitters may cause interference to these devices. The FCC is expected to issue a Report & Order specifying the new rules for these devices in the near future.

Ham Doctor Uses Radio Gear to Build New Cancer Surgery Tool

A surgeon at the University of Utah has used parts from a ham radio set to build a new tool for performing neurosurgical procedures. According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, Dr. Kim Manwaring, N7DFU, built the prototype in his basement, using parts from a ham rig and a tip made from a special alloy developed by a NASA engineer. The "FMwand" produces heat with no electricity and the special alloy heats and cools instantly, allowing the tool to be used for removing brain tumors or doing other neurosurgery that requires simultaneous cutting and cauterizing. Dr. Manwaring used the FMwand in three operations in December, including two spinal operations and one on a patient's brain. For more information, see <>.

Hams Asked to Help Run Down Satellite Batteries

Separation of the co-launched FASTRAC-1
and -2 satellites (Artist's conception).
Photo Courtesy University of Texas
It was kind of an unusual request -- we need your help to run down our batteries! The controllers of FASTRAC-1, a research satellite that is intended eventually to be opened for use by hams, noticed that one of its experiments was not booting up correctly. The only way to restart it is by rebooting everything, which can only happen if the battery voltages on board fall below a certain level. But the batteries have consistently held more charge than was needed for operations during the year-plus that the satellite has been in orbit.

So controllers decided to open the satellite for digipeating by hams, hoping that increased use -- especially over the weekend of December 10-11 -- would drain the batteries enough to prompt a reset. At press time in mid-December, there had been no word from controllers as to whether the maneuver worked. For updates, visit <>.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

WRO-Pop'Comm Live Internet Chat, Sunday, December 4

JOIN THE CHAT: Live combined WRO-Pop'Comm chat Sunday, December 4 with Editor Richard Fisher, KI6SN beginning @ 8 p.m. Eastern time (0100 UTC). To join in, at chat time, click here, or  visit: <>. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RSGB Reorganizes to Try to Save Itself

Beset by a scandal in which its former general manager allegedly stole thousands of pounds from the organization, the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) has undertaken a major reorganization to try to stay afloat. At an "Extraordinary General Meeting" of the society on November 19, RSGB members voted overwhelmingly to adopt a reform committee proposal to temporarily replace the elected board of directors with an "interim board" made up of eight amateurs with significant business and financial expertise. According to the RSGB website, these directors will serve for 15 months, will take necessary actions to put the society back on a sound financial footing and make recommendations to the membership for future governance.

60 Meters to Get New Channel, New Modes & Higher Power

The FCC adopted new rules for the 60-meter (5 MHz) band in mid-November, swapping one frequency for another and permitting greater flexibility in power and operating modes. Currently, hams in the U.S. have a secondary allocation on the band and are limited to upper sideband (USB) with a maximum of 50 watts PEP on five specific frequencies.

In the new rules, amateurs will also be able to use CW and the PSK-31 and Pactor-III digital modes; and the power limit has been doubled to 100 watts PEP. In addition, the current channel centered on 5368 kHz will be replaced by one centered on 5358.5 kHz. Voice and digital users should set their VFOs 1.5 kHz below the center frequency while CW ops should be right on the center frequency. The new rules take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which would most likely mean sometime in mid-January. The complete, 45-page, Report and Order is available online at <>.

Senators Seek to Block FCC Approval of LightSquared

At least two U.S. Senators have taken action to try to stop the FCC from granting approval for LightSquared to operate a wireless internet service on frequencies adjacent to those used for the Global Positioning System (GPS). Citing potential interference to the satellite direction-finding system "on which our public safety and national security depend so heavily," Kansas Republican Pat Roberts introduced an amendment to an approriations bill to prevent the FCC from using appropriated funds for approving LightSquared's application until interference concerns have been resolved, according to his website.

In addition, various news sources reported that Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) threatened to block confirmation of President Obama's two nominees to the FCC unless the Commission released documents he requested related to LightSquared. The Senate was scheduled at the end of November to begin the confirmation process for the two nominees, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai.

Hams Respond to Natural Disasters Around the World

Ham radio operators provided varying levels of communications assistance in response to floods in Thailand and Italy, an earthquake in Turkey and a damaging snowstorm in the US Northeast in late October and early November.

"Newsline" reports that the secretary of Thailand's national ham radio association says its members have saved nearly 1000 lives by coordinating rescue communications in the wake of the country's worst flooding in over 60 years.

Hams also responded after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck eastern Turkey, to floods in Italy and a late October snowstorm that left huge swaths of the northeastern U.S. without power.

W2ML Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from CQ

Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML; CQ Contributing Editor
Gordon West, WB6NOA, and CQ Advertising
Manager Chip Margelli, K7JA, at the  Pacificon
banquet in October, where CQ presented
Mendelsohn with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

CQ magazine honored Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pacificon hamfest in October. Mendelsohn, who is fighting pancreatic cancer, has been Communications Director of the New York City Marathon for more than 25 years and served the ARRL as First Vice President and as Hudson Division Director and Vice Director. He was also a leader in repeater coordination in the 1970s and 80s. Professionally, as an audio engineer at CBS and then ABC, Steve was press pool broadcast engineer for four presidents during foreign trips, and more recently in charge of all radio communications at Giants Stadium in New Jersey during New York Jets home games. CQ Ad Manager Chip Margelli, K7JA, presented Mendelsohn with a plaque during the Pacificon banquet.

FCC Affirms BPL Rules

The FCC has made minor tweaks in its 2004 rules for Broadband over Power Lines (BPL), but adopted neither the changes proposed by the ARRL nor its own original proposal. In a Second Report and Order on the issue, which followed a 2008 federal court ruling that it had made procedural errors in the original proceeding, the FCC changed from 20 dB to 25 dB the amount by which BPL providers need to be able to notch their signals in the event of interference complaints. But it did not go along with the ARRL's request for mandatory notching of ham bands.

BPL is a means of providing high-speed internet access to homes via power lines, using frequencies in the HF and low VHF portions of the spectrum. In test markets, certain types of BPL caused massive interference to close-in amateur stations. So far, the system has not proven to be economically feasible anywhere that it has been tried.

Portuguese Edition of CQ Launched in Brazil

The debut of the Portuguese-language
edition of CQ drew a large and
enthusiastic crowd at Fenarcom,
Brazil's largest hamfest, in early
November. (Photo courtesy Mick
Stwertnik, NCG/Comet Antennas)

The first edition of CQ Radioamadorismo, the Portuguese-language edition of CQ published in Brazil, was introduced at that country's largest hamfest, Fenarcom, on November 5. The issue and cover featured an interview with one of Brazil's best-known amateur satellite enthusisasts, Dr. Junior Torres de Castro, PY2BJO, who developed the DOVE satellite. The new magazine's website is <>.

European Governments Support Longwave Ham Band

The European Council of Post and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) has endorsed a proposal to create a worldwide secondary amateur radio allocation between 472 and 480 kHz. According to "Newsline," stations using the new allocation, if approved, would be limited to five watts effective radiated power (ERP). A ham allocation in the neighborhood of 500 kHz is expected to be taken up at January's World Radiocommuincation Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. For more on WRC-12, see  "Washington Readout" in the January, 2012 issue of CQ.

Ham Radio to Join Cast of "Last Man Standing"

Amateur radio will become an ongoing part of the ABC comedy, "Last Man Standing." Star Tim Allen will have various pieces of ham gear on his office desk, including rigs provided by ICOM, and an HF antenna from Comet. Scenes from CQ videos will be visible on his large-screen TV and some copies of CQ magazine may show up on his desk as well. His character will be identified as a licensed ham, although the callsign he will use is fictional.

Producer John Amodeo is a ham (NN6JA) and says he feels that ham radio fits right in with the persona of Allen's character, Mike Baxter, who is marketing director for an outdoor/sporting goods company. He also thinks that hams fit right in as part of the show's target audience. Amodeo warns that, at least at first, ham radio's presence will be only visual, and has not yet been worked into any scripts. (See John's article, "Producing Ham Radio," about how he got several of the show's staff members licensed as hams, on page 30 of the December 2011 issue of CQ.)

Clarification on DX0DX Refunds

Last month, we reported that all donations made to the now-cancelled DX0DX expedition to the Spratly Islands would be refunded in full. This was not entirely accurate. In an e-mail to CQ in response to questions raised by readers, team leader Chris Dimitrijevic, VK3FY, explained that "(t)he extremely high cost of this DXpedition will mean that the team will receive refunds that will amount to less than what was contributed." He said the plan was for all DX0DX assets to be sold, with the proceeds being disbursed as either partial or full refunds. Individual donors were to receive 100% refunds, he said, with club and foundation sponsors being reimbursed for 80% of their donations. The remaining funds were to be divided among team members to help reimburse their major investments in the planned trip, which was cancelled due to safety concerns.

CQ Certificate Backlog Cleared

A several-month backlog of certificates for various CQ awards and the CQ DX Marathon has been completely cleared out. A variety of circumstances led to the backlog over the summer, but all pending certificates submitted through the end of October have been completed and mailed as of this writing in mid-November. We apologize for the delays.

NASA Pioneer W3PRB Silent Key

Installation of original sign at the then-new
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
Maryland. (Photo from June 2008 CQ)
CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame member John Townsend, W3PRB, became a Silent Key in November. Townsend was one of NASA's early administrators, responsible for the acquisition and construction of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He was also a key negotiator of the first US-Soviet space treaty. Townsend left NASA for several years to help establish the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and to work in private industry. After the explosion of the shuttle Challenger in 1986, he returned to NASA as Deputy Associate Administrator and led America's return to space. He also served as Goddard's Director from 1987 until his retirement in 1990. Townsend was profiled in an interview in the June, 2008, issue of CQ.

Illegal 10-Meter Activity on the Rise

It seems that a large number of taxicabs in Russia have been illegally using the 10-meter band for their communications, but nobody much noticed until now, as the rising sunspot cycle brought about improved propagation on the band. According to "Newsline," most of the cabbies were using channelized FM rigs. Russia's Radio Frequency Service has reportedly promised to crack down on the illegal users. 

AM and SSB transmissions by non-amateurs in North America have also been reported. U.S. amateurs hearing illegal activity on 10 meters are encouraged to gather as much information as possible and then get in touch with the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.

One Big Test Session!

Over 100 freshman electrical engineering students at California Poytechnic University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo took their Technician Class ham radio license exams on November 4th in what is being called one of the largest single test sessions anywhere, and especially on a college campus. Ninety-six of 114 candidates passed their exams. The license exam was offered as one midterm exam option for the 189 first-year students in the school's Introduction to Electrical Engineering course. According to "Newsline," the "Freshman Licensing Initiative" is the brainchild of the Electrical Engineering Department's Chair, Dr. Dennis Derickson, AC0P. Eleven volunteer examiners oversaw the test session. Through quick processing work by the ARRL/VEC and the FCC, the 96 new hams learned their callsigns by the following Monday, November 6th. Dr. Derickson and the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club hope their success may encourage other colleges to adopt similar programs.

FCC Dismisses Several Amateur-Related Petitions

The FCC has been cleaning house lately, and in October dismissed several long-standing petitions for changes in the Amateur Service rules. The major action was denial of the ARRL's 2001 petition to make amateur radio the primary user on 2300-2305 MHz. It is currently secondary, and apparently will stay that way. Also dismissed were a petition to require that all ham gear be "field serviceable" and a 1991 (yes, 1991!) petition to require that all solid-state communication gear for civilian use be shielded from the effects of EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. EMP can be generated by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere or by very strong coronal mass ejections from the sun that are aimed directly at the Earth.

FCC "Goes Fishing" in Baxter Proceeding

The FCC seems to have embarked on a fishing expedition in its "first request for production of documents" as part of its enforcement proceeding against controversial ham Glenn Baxter, K1MAN. Baxter is accused of operating his station without a control operator present, of transmitting material of a commercial nature and other violations of amateur rules.

In its "first request," the FCC asks Baxter to submit, among other things, all documents that he has previously sent to, or received from, the FCC (one would think the FCC already had this material in its files - ed.); all published or unpublished documents - including drawings, cartoons and photographs, relating to amateur radio, the FCC, its staff or rules; and any documents "relating to any amateur radio transmission for which Baxter received or was promised, directly or indirectly, valuable consideration." (Apparently, the FCC is unfamiliar with the Constitution's prohibitions on unreasonable search and seizure -- no judge would authorize a search warrant for such a broad and vague collection of material -- and on compelling one to incriminate oneself. -- ed.) Baxter's reply was that the FCC would be the best place to find FCC documents, referred the FCC attorney to material on his website for some of the material, and for others, that "applicant does not have any such documents."

(Editorial comment: Regardless of whether Mr. Baxter is guilty of the alleged violations, it is the FCC's responsibility to prove the charges, and not by asking him to voluntarily hand over potentially incriminating documents. In addition, the FCC needs to act responsibly as well, and not attempt to drown Mr. Baxter in a sea of photocopying costs for an incredibly broad and vague range of papers, including unpublished material, which it defines as "not available … to anyone other than its creator.")

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.