Friday, December 21, 2012

ARRL Asks FCC for Ham Band at 472 kHz

Rather than waiting five years for the FCC to follow up on the actions of the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12), as has been the case with WRC-07, the ARRL has filed a Petition for Rule Making requesting the establishment of a domestic amateur radio allocation at 472-479 kHz. The NPRM calls for a power limit of 5 watts EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power), with only 1 watt to be permitted in certain locations. The FCC had not responded to the League's petition as of this posting.

ARRL Offers Daily/Hourly LoTW Updates After Major Malfunction

A bug in the ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) online confirmation system that came to light during the weekend of the CQ World Wide CW DX Contest has been fixed, according to League CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ. However, logs submitted before 2100 UTC on November 25 might have been accidentally overwritten, so users should check their logs.

As of mid-December, log processing continued to be very slow, with some 26,000 logs waiting in the queue at any given time. New hardware to resolve this problem was ordered in December and was expected to be up and running by early-to-mid February. Meanwhile, the Logbook website now includes pages with both hourly and daily updates so that users can see how many logs are waiting to be processed and the dates on which the logs currently being processed had been uploaded.

It is not known how these problems with LoTW may impact the projected date of mid-2013 for adding LoTW support for CQ's Worked All Zones (WAZ) award.

Retired Colonel Named to #2 Spot in Army MARS

Paul English, WD8DBY
(Courtesy Army MARS)
Army MARS Chief Stephen Klinefelter has announced the appointment of recently-retired Colonel Paul English, WD8DBY, as the service's Program Officer, formerly known as Deputy Chief. MARS is the Military Auxiliary Radio System. English, who holds an Extra Class license, is now a civilian employee of the Department of Defense. According to a MARS news release, he retired from the post of Director of Communications for U.S. Army South, the Army component of the U.S. Southern Command. He was previously deputy commander of the 7th Signal Command and had served in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there, as well as in Iraq.

KB5TZZ Named Director of Johnson Space Center

Astronaut Eileen Ochoa, KB5TZZ, will become the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, at the beginning of 2013. She has been Deputy Director since 2007 and will succeed Michael Coats, who is retiring.

Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to fly in space, a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. She subsequently made three more space flights and has held administrative posts at Johnson Space Center since 2002. She has a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University and was selected as an astronaut in 1990.

Kornienko (RN3BF) and Kelly to Spend a Year in Space

Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, RN3BF, and Astronaut Scott Kelly have been chosen to spend a full year aboard the International Space Station in 2015-16. A major part of their mission, according to the ARRL Letter, is to help increase understanding of how the human body reacts and adapts to long-term space flight. This understanding is important for planned manned missions in the future around the Moon, an asteroid and, eventually, Mars. The two men are set to begin a two-year training program in early 2013.

Hams Play Role in Production of "Lincoln" Movie

(White House photo)
Nine of the 16 telegraph stations shown in the War Department in the Steven Spielberg movie, "Lincoln," were fully operational and used equipment provided by members of the Morse Telegraph Club, many of whom are hams. According to Newsline, club president Jim Wades, WB8ISW, served as a Technical Advisor for the production. The Morse Telegraph Club is an association of retired railroad and commercial telegraphers, historians, amateur radio operators and others with an interest in the history and traditions of telegraphy and the telegraph industry. For more information, visit <>.

Contesting News Website to Shut Down producer Jamie Dupree, NS3T
(NS3T via
The contesting news website,, is going to shut its doors at the end of 2012, according to its founder and producer, Jamie Dupree, NS3T. In a posting on the site, Dupree said increasing time demands at work and at home were keeping him from having enough time to devote to running and keeping it updated.

South Africa: All Hams Must Re-Apply for Licenses

The South African government has said it will begin enforcing a rule that limits amateur radio license renewals to five years, after which the licensee must re-apply. Newsline reports that the South African Radio League (SARL) says that all amateurs in the country will need to reapply between 2013 and 2018.
(Courtesy CIA World Factbook)
In a separate development, SARL has launched an antenna defense fund to help South African hams cover the costs of mandatory approvals for antenna towers. It estimates that fees and other associated costs will total roughly US$600 per application. SARL's goal is to raise and maintain a fund of approximately US$60,000 (50,000 Rand) to help the nation's amateurs. Anyone interested in contributing may e-mail <> for more information.

Visual CW Plans Thwarted by Moon

View of FITSAT-1's LEDs as observed by Prof. Jun-Ho Oh
of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
(Courtesy FITSAT-1 website,
Plans to flash Morse code messages from the Japanese FITSAT-1 satellite have been delayed until early January due to moonlight! 

Controllers had hoped to send the visual Morse messages in mid-to-late December, but determined that waxing Moon (full on Dec. 28) would make the sky too bright for most people to be able to see the satellite. Other, earlier, attempts were cancelled due to cloudy conditions over the target areas. 

As of the time of this posting in mid-December, the plans are to begin the visual code messaging around January 7, 2013.

IARU Adds Two New Members

The national radio societies of Azerbaijan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the newest members of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). According to the ARRL Letter, the Federation of Radio Sport of Azerbaijan (FRSA) counts all of the country's 50 licensed amateurs among its members. The St. Vincent and Grenadines Amateur Radio Club has been in existence for more than 60 years and includes 21 licensed members from the country's total ham population of approximately 134. Their applications were accepted by current IARU member societies in a vote held on November 1 and announced in mid-December.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Five CQ "Family" Members Honored by YASME Foundation

Two contributing editors for CQ Communications magazines and three members of the CQ World Wide DX Contest Committee have been named as recipients of the 2012 YASME Excellence Awards.

CQ Propagation Editor Tomas Hood, NW7US, and WorldRadio Online Propagation Editor Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, were both honored for "their sustained education of the amateur community regarding propagation, solar and geomagnetic physics."

CQWWCC members George Fremin, K5TR, "Tree" Tyree, N6TR, and Trey Garlough, N5KO, were recognized, along with Scott Neader, KA9FOX, "for their contributions to many infrastructure projects that benefit the ham community at large."

They are among a total of 16 amateurs recognized by the YASME Foundation with cash grants and engraved crystal globes. The YASME Foundation helps to fund and support scientific and educational projects related to amateur radio, including DXing and the introduction and promotion of amateur radio in developing countries. (YASME Foundation, via ARRL)

Monday, December 3, 2012

CQ New Products Editor John Wood, WV5J, SK

John Wood, Sr., WV5J, CQ's New Products Editor since 2009, passed away on December 3 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 61. A lifelong journalist, John spent most of his career as a reporter and editor for newspapers in and around Memphis, Tennessee. He lived in the Memphis suburb of Germantown, Tennessee.

A contributor to CQ for several years on a variety of topics, John became editor of the "What's New" column as of the magazine's December, 2009, issue. He continued writing occasional feature articles as well. His most recent, "There's a 'Secret Service' in Memphis on the 222 Ham Band," appears in the Fall 2012 issue of CQ VHF.

John is survived by his wife of 41 years, Marie, WA4WFX; his son, John, Jr. ("Woody"), KI4VCK; his daughter, Christi, and two grandchildren. The family requests that contributions in John's memory be made to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

For those in the Memphis area, a funeral service will be held Friday, December 7, at 11:30 AM at the Memorial Park Funeral Home, 5668 Poplar Ave., Memphis 38119.

Friday, November 30, 2012

CQ Files Comments in Relicensing Proceeding

CQ Communications, Inc., the parent company of CQ, CQ VHF, Popular Communications and WorldRadio Online magazines, has filed comments with the FCC in response to WT Docket 12-283, which, among other things, proposes permanent exam element credit, even for amateurs whose licenses are long-expired.

In the comments, CQ generally supported the concept for former licensees as well as those amateurs who gained partial credit for an upgrade but did not complete the upgrade within the one-year "window" granted by a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) [for example, a pre-2000 Advanced Class licensee who had passed the Extra Class theory exam but not the 20 word-per-minute code test].

CQ disagreed with the proposal to shorten or eliminate the current two-year grace period for license renewal, primarily to protect a licensee from losing his or her call sign due to missed paperwork. CQ also disagreed with the proposal to reduce the minimum number of Volunteer Examiners at a test session from three to two, and recommended that the FCC initiate a pilot program on remote exam administration before making a final decision on that part of the proposal.

Finally, CQ supported the proposal to permit the use of single-slot TDMA (time domain multiple access) on the amateur bands, but called on the FCC to re-initiate a dialog with the amateur community on broader changes in mode regulation in order to remove the necessity of going through the rule-making process whenever a new operating mode is introduced.

The full text of CQ's comments, along with others received by the FCC in this proceeding, may be accessed through the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at <>. Enter 12-283 under "Proceeding Number," then scroll down and click on "Search for Comments." The deadline for filing comments is December 24, 2012, with reply comments accepted through January 22, 2013.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FCC Formally Proposes LF Amateur Band

The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ET-Docket 12-338) which, among many other things, formally proposes a secondary amateur allocation at 135.7-137.8 kHz. The 130-page notice, whose broad purpose is to implement the decisions of the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07), also proposed granting primary status to amateur radio on the 1900-2000 kHz segment of the 160-meter band. That segment is currently shared with radiolocation systems. (The 1800-1900 kHz band segment is already allocated exclusively to the Amateur Service.)
The only current U.S. users of the spectrum segment including the proposed 135.7-137.8 kHz band are power companies operating PLC (power line carrier) systems for monitoring electrical infrastructure. Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) is a form of PLC, but the systems at these frequencies are used internally by the power companies. Ironically, if the amateur allocation is approved here, the FCC says it is likely that hams will have to coordinate with utilities and avoid causing interference to the PLC systems.
Comments on ET Docket 12-338 are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 30 days later. As of this posting, the NPRM had not yet been published in the Register.

CQ Highlighted on "Conan"

There's an old saying in politics: "I don't care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right." The same sentiment applies here as well… at the end of October, comedian and talk show host Conan O'Brien did a segment on his TBS show, "Conan," called "Real Magazines that Outlasted 'Newsweek' " … and guess which magazine was featured first? Yes! CQ!
Talk show host Conan O'Brien holds up the October issue of CQ
to lead off a segment on "Real Magazines that Outlasted'Newsweek' "
on his program, "Conan," which airs weeknights
at 10 PM eastern on TBS. (Internet screen grab)

Of course he was making fun of us (that's his job), but our October cover was still splashed across national television! And the serious point of the whole segment (that he probably didn't realize he was making) was that even though general interest magazines such as "Newsweek" are in trouble, niche magazines - such as this one and the others he featured - are still going strong. There is a future for print magazines and niche magazines are that future. The entire segment may be viewed on YouTube at <>.

One Ham Killed, Another Rescued, in Sinking of HMS Bounty

One of the first casualties of Superstorm Sandy was the tall ship HMS Bounty, a replica of the British sailing vessel made famous when a band of crew members mutinied on a 1789 voyage to the South Pacific. Fourteen of the 16 crew members were rescued safely. However, the captain - Robin Walbridge, KD4OHZ - was never found and is presumed to have gone down with the ship. The second casualty was Claudene Christian, a descendent of mutineer Fletcher Christian.

A second ham on the crew, Ship's Electrician Doug Faunt, N6TQS, was rescued. He told the ARRL Letter that the ship's crew used various methods, including HF amateur radio, to try to get help but met with little success. Finally, they were able to use Winlink to e-mail a distress message to the Coast Guard. Faunt told the Letter that "ham radio got me into my position on the Bounty, and ham radio got me out alive!"

There was also a closer-than-comfortable link between the Bounty and the CQ "family." Former CQ Youth Editor Brittany Decker, KB1OGL, crewed aboard the ship last summer. Her father, Paul Decker, KG7HF, told CQ she had considered staying on through the fall but, thankfully, decided to head off to college instead.

Post Office Wants to Phase Out IRCs

If the U.S. Postal Service has its way, International Reply Coupons (IRCs) will no longer be available for sale after January 27. According to the ARRL Letter, the postal service published a notice of its plans in the Federal Register on October 28, citing insufficient demand to continue providing the service. Comments were being accepted through November 23. Even if IRCs are no longer offered for sale by the postal service, Universal Postal Union (UPU) regulations require that post offices honor and redeem IRCs that have been purchased in other countries. IRCs are a form of prepaid postage, redeemable for a single unit of airmail postage in any UPU member country. Hams have long used them to provide return postage for QSL cards from DX countries.

W7EQI Re-Elected to Congress, Gains National Position

Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, W7EQI, easily won re-election in the 2012 election. Newsline reports that Walden, who is chairman of the Communications Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 112th Congress, polled nearly 70% of the vote in his district. The Congressman's website reports that Walden will keep his subcommittee chairmanship when the new Congress convenes in January, and that he has been elected by his fellow GOP lawmakers as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

China Revamping Amateur Radio Regulations

B1Z is a contest station of the
Chinese Radio Amateurs Club,
which is about to receive formal
government recognition. (PY2QI photo)
Revised regulations on amateur radio are working their way through the bureaucracy of China's government and are expected to open the door for widespread licensing of individuals and clubs in the world's most populous nation. The new rules are also expected to expand recognition of amateur radio organizations in China from only the Chinese Radio Sports Association (CRSA) to include the relatively new Chinese Radio Amateurs Club (CRAC). [See PY2QI's article, "Inside a Chinese Contest Station - B1Z in the WPX SSB Contest," in the January 2013 issue of CQ.] According to Newsline, the CRAC is expected to become China's official representative to the International Amateur Radio Union.

New Data Mode Uses Chinese Characters

As the use of amateur radio grows in China, a new digital mode has been developed that uses Chinese characters rather than the Western European/American alphabet. Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that the new mode is called CP-16 and is based on the 16x16 dot-matrix display used to generate Chinese characters on computer screens. It uses 16 on-off keyed audio characters spaced at 17-Hz intervals, resulting in a total signal bandwidth of less than 400 Hz. Transmission speed is two-to-five characters per second and it can be received on any software defined radio (SDR) receiver or SSB receiver/computer combination running waterfall-display software. The characters will appear directly on the waterfall display. More information is available at <>.

DX to be 2013 Hamvention® Theme

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has decided on DX and DXing as the theme for the 2013 Hamvention®, calling this year's show "DX Hamvention." According to the ARRL Letter, General Chairman Charles Kaiser, KD8JZR, noted that Dayton "is often an important DX destination for amateurs from all over the world," adding in a message on the Hamvention website that "possibly nowhere on Earth can one experience first-hand the incredible diversity and worldwide reach of amateur radio as during this event." This year's Hamvention will be held May 17-19 at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Morse Code from the Sky

Conceptual view of Morse code message from FITSAT-1
(Courtesy FITSAT website)
Skywatchers may get a unique treat from the heavens during December, courtesy of the students and professors at Japan's Fukuoka Institute of Technology who built the FITSAT-1 satellite, also known as Niwaka. In addition to a CW beacon and data links, the satellite features an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that controllers hope will be visible from Earth with the naked eye. According to the AMSAT News Service, Professor Takushi Tanaka, JA6AVG, said his team plans to flash "HI THIS NIWAKA JAPAN" in Morse Code from orbit on Christmas Eve (December 24) and was planning to conduct tests throughout December. So keep an eye to the sky for messages from above in Morse!

Space Station Calling…

Speaking of seeing things from space with the naked eye, NASA is now offering a new service to notify people when the International Space Station will be passing overhead in their area. The AMSAT News Service says NASA's "Spot the Station" program will send a text or e-mail message to those who sign up for the service a few hours before the ISS comes into visual range.
"It's really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, "and to realize humans built an orbital complex that can be spotted from Earth by almost anyone looking up at just the right moment." To sign up for the alert program, visit <>.

Huge Audience for ARISS Contact

An amateur radio contact between the International Space Station and students at the South Florida Science Museum was broadcast throughout the West Palm Beach area on educational, local access and public television, and watched by students throughout the county's school district. According to the AMSAT News Service, over 150,000 students watched the contact and it is estimated that an additional 100,000 people in the region tuned it in as well, along with retired Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, who sat in on the contact at the museum.

Online-Only ARRL Convention

The ARRL's Atlantic Division tried a new approach to a division convention in November -- a one-day, online-only, series of forums not connected with an in-person event. According to the ARRL Letter, the virtual convention on November 10 was hosted on and featured a half dozen topics led by prominent hams around the country. At press time, there had been no indication of how many hams participated in the free but limited "seating" event.

European Union Adopts BPL Standard Over Hams' Opposition

European Union flag
(Courtesy CIA World Factbook)
The European Union has adopted new technical standards for PLT (the European name for what American hams know as BPL, or Broadband over Power Lines), despite objections from national amateur radio associations in England, Germany and elsewhere. According to the British online newspaper, The Register, the new standard does require that Power Line Telecommunication signals must avoid amateur radio bands, use the minimum necessary power and shut down when not in use. The Radio Society of Great Britain and other ham groups had lobbied for extending to PLT current rules on other RF-producing devices that they not "generate undue radio interference."
In the United States, BPL has become somewhat of a non-issue as it has not turned out to be an economically viable alternative to cable and phone company internet service.

ReconRobotics Devices Limited to 100-kHz Bandwidth

Robotic reconnaissance devices
may use 70 centimeters but must
limit signal bandwidth to 100 kHz.
( photo)

The FCC in mid-November denied an ARRL appeal of its 2010 decision to permit robotic reconnaissance devices used by public safety agencies to operate in the 70-centimeter band, on which amateur radio is a secondary user. However, the ARRL Letter says the Commission made it clear in its ruling that the devices' signals are limited to a maximum bandwidth of 100 kHz.

Rod Newkirk, W9BRD/VA3ZBB, SK

Longtime QST DX Editor Rod Newkirk, W9BRD/VA3ZBB, passed away in mid-November at age 90. According to the ARRL, Newkirk wrote QST's "How's DX?" column from 1947 to 1978 and was credited with (unintentionally) introducing the term "Elmer" into the amateur vernacular as a reference to a ham radio mentor. Rod was also a member of the CQ DX Hall of Fame (inducted in 1984) and the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame (2002). He had lived in Canada since 1997.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CQ Offices Re-Open After Storm

Power has been restored to the CQ offices in Hicksville, New York, allowing us to open for business for the first time this week. Our offices had been closed since Monday due to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

If you are trying to reach us or have placed an online order, please be patient as we need some extra time to make sure all of our systems are operating properly and to work our way through the backlogs that have developed over the past three days. In addition, some telephone service into and out of the New York City metropolitan area remains spotty and it may be difficult to get a call through.

We will work to clear the backlogs and get back to full speed as quickly as possible. Your patience is appreciated. - Thank you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CQ Offices Closed Due to Storm

CQ's offices in Long Island have been closed since Monday, October 29, due to an extended power outage as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Our editorial and advertising staffs are working offsite and should be reachable by e-mail. However, the circulation, customer service and production departments are not able to operate at this time (10/31).

We do not know yet when power will be restored or when we will be able to reopen. We will post a notice here when our offices are open again. Thank you for your understanding.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Update - 1500 UTC 26 October

Update 10/31: The Hurricane Watch Net has closed. However, there is massive devastation in the northeast from Sandy and its remnants. Please keep an ear out for emergency traffic on all frequencies.

Hurricane Sandy continues to pose a significant threat to the east coast of the U.S., and the Hurricane Watch Net remains active for the foreseeable future on 14.325 MHz.  PLEASE AVOID INTERFERENCE TO THIS NET DURING THE CQ WORLD WIDE DX CONTEST this weekend.

National Hurricane Center satellite image of Hurricane Sandy
as of 1200 UTC on 26 October. The storm is expected to lash
the mid-Atlantic states this weekend and possibly cause
large-scale damage to the northeast early next week.
IARU Region II Area C Emergency Coordinator Arnie Coro, CO2KK, reports that Cuba's hurricane nets on 80, 40 and 2 meters have secured as the storm has moved north of the island, leaving at least 11 deaths and hundreds of thousands of evacuations in its wake:

After more than 36 hours of hard work, the activities of our amateur radio emergency nets activated as Hurricane Sandy was approaching eastern Cuba were closed. The services provided to our communities was of great value and fully appreciated, gaining recognition on the mass media as an example of how volunteers are able to help in a very notable way.

The role of the HF bands, 40 and 80 meters, was extremely important to carry on the emergency traffic, due to the fact that several of the normally very reliable 2-meter repeaters were damaged by the storm's very strong winds that at mountaintop repeater locations reached as high as 240 kilometers per hour (145 miles per hour).

Our big thank you and appreciation to all the radio amateurs in eight neighboring countries who offered possible relays when propagation was difficult on 40 meters. All of us who participated enjoyed excellently clean frequencies thanks to the advice and information provided by CQ Amateur Radio, the ARRL, IARU and several national amateur radio organizations in our area.

We did learn something new... that with solar flux at or above 150, 40 meters remained open for the short distances involved in the emergency nets!"

Hurricane Sandy is expected to affect the Carolinas and Virginia over the weekend and then possibly combine with a low-pressure system moving south from Canada to create a potentially devastating hybrid storm in the northeast early next week. If you are in the alert areas, please prepare personally for the storm and contact your local amateur radio emergency communications leaders to see how you can help if needed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hams Prepare as Hurricane Sandy Threatens Caribbean, US East Coast - Keep Frequencies Clear for Emergency Traffic

The Hurricane Watch Net (<>) has activated on 14.325 MHz as Hurricane Sandy churns through the Caribbean and continues to threaten the U.S. east coast. In addition, Arnie Coro, CO2KK, Emergency Coordinator for IARU Region II, Area C, informs us that hurricane nets in Cuba are active as the storm approaches.

"We have now, starting at 1600 UTC Oct 24 ,activated our Cuba emergency communications nets on 40 , 80 and 2 meters FM, they are on SSB voice HF and FM on 2 meters

Locations of Hurricane Sandy & Tropical Storm Tony as of
2015 UTC on October 24. Please keep emergency frequencies
clear as Hurricane Sandy poses a major threat to Caribbean
islands and a possible threat to the US east coast.
(NOAA satellite image)

Operating frequencies on 40 meters are:

7110 kHz primary
7120 kHz secondary
7045 kHz for Eastern Cuba provinces

The 80 meters frequencies are:
3740 kHz primary
3720 kHz secondary

Other 40 and 80 meters band frequencies using SSB voice  may be activated
as required by provincial emergency nets."
CO2KK requests that these frequencies be kept clear for emergency communications. This is particularly important with the CQWW DX SSB Contest this coming weekend.  Please monitor weather sources and keep these frequencies in mind if you are operating in the contest. Emergency communications always take priority over all other communications.

FCC Proposes No-Retest Licenses for Former Hams - Dec. 24 Comment Deadline

The FCC is proposing to allow former hams to regain their licenses (but not necessarily their old call signs) without retesting, to shorten the grace period for license renewal, to reduce the minimum number of examiners at license test sessions to two, and to permit remote administration of amateur exams in hard-to-reach areas. See additional detail in the December and January issues of CQ. The complete Notice of Proposed Rule Making, WT Docket # 12-283, may be downloaded from <>. The deadline for filing comments is December 24, 2012, with reply comments due by January 22, 2013.

GRE Suspends Scanner Manufacturing; Alinco Unaffected

GRE America has announced that its parent company, General Research of Electronics of Japan, has been forced to temporarily suspend the manufacture of scanners for both its own GRECOM brand and for RadioShack. GRE America Sales Director Raj Gounder reported on the company's website that the shutdown is the result of the closure of its factory in China due to a redevelopment project in the area. A new factory was under construction but increased costs made it impossible to finish the building. Gounder says the company is working to establish a contract with a new factory and to resume manufacturing as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile, Gounder says GRE America will continue to market, support and service GRECOM scanners already built and will maintain its library database. In addition, he says there will be no impact on GRE America's marketing, service and support for Alinco amateur radio products in the U.S.

German Space Agency Rejects AMSAT-DL Mars Plan

After five years of discussions and negotiations with the German space agency DLR, AMSAT-DL reports that the agency has withdrawn its support for the amateur satellite organization's plan to send a ham radio satellite to Mars, the so-called "P5" satellite. According to the AMSAT News Service, the agency advised the group that P5's mission was financially infeasible and that "the scientific attraction was, compared with the current Mars missions, insufficient." 

"Obviously, our P5 mission is now compared with regular missions which cost hundreds of millions of Euro," said the AMSAT-DL board in a statement. The decision also affects plans for a geostationary Earth-orbiting satellite (P3E), which was to be part of the overall P5 program. AMSAT-DL officials are not giving up hope, though, noting that the group "recently had some interesting meetings in China and if we can't do rocket science in (Germany), we have to look for other countries."

Four Amateur Satellites Launched from ISS

Four new amateur radio "cubesats" were deployed on October 4 from the International Space Station. As has been the case for virtually all recent cubesats operating in the amateur bands, they are downlink-only satellites and most have scientific missions not directly related to amateur radio. The ARRL reports that the four satellites deployed in October were TechEdSat, a collaboration between NASA, Japan's and Sweden's space agencies and San Jose State University in California; FITSAT-1, built by university students in Japan, WE-WISH, built by Japan's Meisei Electric Company Radio Club and transmitting CW telemetry and slow-scan TV images; and F-1, built by university students in Hanoi, Vietnam. As of press time, signals had been monitored from all the satellites except F-1.

U.S. Postal Rates to Increase in January

The cost of sending a letter in the United States will increase a penny, to 46 cents, as of January 27, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Postcard stamps will also go up one cent to 33 cents. Rates will also increase for Priority Mail and other services (including the cost of mailing magazines), subject to final approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Postal Service will also be introducing a "forever stamp" for international postage, at a new rate of $1.10/ounce for all overseas destinations. For more information, see <>. Suffers Brief Shutdown Due to "Cloud" Outage

Anyone trying to access the popular website on the morning of October 22 most likely received a "server not found" message from their web browser. publisher Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, reports that the outage was the result of "some kind of big network failure" suffered by, which provides QRZ's "cloud" services. Lloyd said the outage lasted about two-and-a-half hours and knocked hundreds of websites offline. Apparently, the outage began with yet-unspecified problems in northern Virginia and then spread from there. Normal service was restored later in the day.

DHS to Provide EmComm Training at Dayton 2013

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Communications will be offering the department's Auxiliary Emergency Communications course in conjunction with next year's Dayton Hamvention®. According to Newsline, the course will be free and "is intended to supplement and standardize an operator's basic knowledge of emergency amateur radio communications in a public safety context." It is scheduled to be held just prior to the Hamvention, in the Dayton area. Details are available on the Hamvention website at <>.

Ham Store Giving Away Stations to Promote Youth Activity

A new amateur radio dealer is attempting to promote activity by young hams and to increase its visibility in the marketplace by giving away a complete HF amateur station every two years. Amateur Radio Supplies of Haverhill, Massachusetts invites applications from amateurs under age 21, stating how often they are able to operate on the HF bands, the location from which they typically operate and how they would use the equipment if they were selected. Nominations are also being accepted. The first winner will be selected on January 1, 2013. Additional details may be found at <>.

W1AGP Retires as ARRL Media/PR Manager

Allen Pitts, W1AGP, retired in October as the ARRL's Media and Public Relations Manager after more than eight years of coordinating the League's promotion of amateur radio to the public and helping local volunteers to do the same. Pitts was responsible for developing and managing several recent ARRL public relations campaigns, including "Hello Radio" in 2006, "Emergency Radio" after Hurricane Katrina, "We Do That" in 2008 and "Do It Yourself" in 2011. At press time, there was no word on the appointment of a successor.

Iran Claims Small-Satellite Launch Capability

The AMSAT News Service reports that Iran's space agency claims that nation now has the ability to launch small satellites into orbit. The announcement says several Asian countries and one university in Australia are already in talks to put satellites on Iranian rockets, which reportedly can carry payloads of up to 10 kilograms, or approximately 22 pounds. Iran has already launched at least two of its own satellites.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Help Wanted: WPX Contest Director

The appointment of Randy Thompson, K5ZD, as director of the CQ World Wide DX Contest has created a vacancy in the position of director of the CQ WPX Contest. Interested contesters are invited to apply. You must be an experienced contester with particular knowledge of the WPX Contest, must be a proven administrator, able to work well with other people and to meet deadlines for submitting material for publication in CQ. Randy has posted a detailed description of what the position involves on the WPX Contest blog page at <>.

If you are interested, we encourage you to read the blog posting and to contact K5ZD to apply, or for more information.  -- The editors