Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ARRL to Permit Use of LoTW for CQ Awards

Applicants for CQ's WPX award will soon be able to use ARRL Logbook of the World (LoTW) credits in their applications, under an agreement between CQ and the ARRL announced on January 24. Previously, ARRL had prohibited the use of its LoTW system by any outside organization. The target date for starting WPX support on LoTW is April 1, 2012. Support for additional CQ awards will follow, although no timetable has been set. 

CQ Communications President and Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA, said he is looking forward to making it easier for hams to apply for CQ awards. "We have had excellent results with electronic confirmation support from eQSL for several years," he said, "and I am glad that we are now able to begin expanding that convenience to those participants in our award programs who use Logbook of the World. We look forward to a smooth launch for WPX, and to the expansion of LoTW support to include the rest of our award programs as well."  Standard CQ award fees and ARRL LoTW credit fees will apply, and will be collected separately.

The complete announcement is posted below

ARRL Seeks Input on 60-Meter Band Plan

With the coming changes in FCC rules for 60 meters (which may have taken effect by the time you read this; but no date had been announced at press time), the ARRL is seeking input on a new 5-MHz band plan. Until now, only upper sideband had been permitted on the five specified channels in the band. The new rules will permit data, RTTY and CW as well as USB phone. They will also swap one channel for another and will increase maximum permitted power from 50 watts to 100 watts. With activity expected to increase after the new rules take effect, the ARRL Letter says the League is looking for user feedback on what modes and activities should be recommended for each of the band's five channels. Suggestions should be e-mailed to <>.

Foundation for Amateur Radio Seeks Scholarship Applicants

Amateurs pursuing higher education may be eligible for one or more of the 50 scholarships administered by the Foundation for Amateur Radio (FAR). Awards range from $300 to $5000 and may give preference to students from certain geographic areas or in certain courses of study. The application deadline for most awards is April 15, although a few have a May 15 deadline. Details and downloadable applications may be found on the FAR website at <>. You may also request an application package by sending a letter or QSL card to: FAR Scholarships, P.O. Box 911, Columbia, MD 21044-0911.

Ham Radio Embracing "DIY" Community

A multi-pronged effort is under way to promote greater cooperation and closer relations between hams and do-it-yourselfers, also known as "makers." While launched independently, these efforts dovetail with each other.

CQ is launching a new "Makers" column as of its March 2012 issue; the ARRL has released a "suite" of promotional materials aimed at introducing DIYers/makers to ham radio, according to the ARRL Letter, including a new video called "The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio." And the AMSAT News Service reports that Diane Bruce, VA3DB, has started a "ham radio-builder" e-mail list, on which members will be encouraged to contribute simple projects, with lots of photos and good instructions. Interested hams may sign up for the list at <>.

Last BPL Company Using Ham Bands Shuts Down

The only remaining broadband over power lines (BPL) provider in the U.S. using frequencies that include amateur radio bands, has gone out of business. According to the ARRL Letter, IBEC - which had been the subject of ARRL interference complaints to the FCC - announced on its website that losses from last spring's tornadoes in Alabama had left it with "no other option than to close our doors and cease operations." The company had used BPL to provide internet service to rural areas.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said that while the League regrets the loss of jobs resulting from IBEC's closure, "in the long run, the rural areas that IBEC was trying to serve will be better served by broadband technologies that are superior to BPL and do not pollute the radio spectrum." ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, added, "Now that IBEC is out of the game, no other (BPL) system in the country uses the amateur bands in their deployments."

New French AMSAT Group Established

A group of satellite-active amateurs in France have formed AMSAT-Francophone to promote amateur satellite activities in all French-speaking countries. According to the group's website, it was formed by former members of AMSAT-France after that organization disbanded several months ago. The AMSAT News Service reports that its website may be accessed at <> (French version) or in "Google English" at <>.

Diamond DXCC Challenge

The ARRL is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its DX Century Club (DXCC) program with a special year-long activity throughout 2012. According to the ARRL Letter, the Diamond DXCC Challenge will provide a special certificate to amateurs who contact other hams in all of the 231 entities on the original 1937 DXCC list. Many of these countries no longer exist, have been divided into multiple countries or absorbed into larger countries. QSLs are not required. The program will use an Excel® spreadsheet, similar to that used by the CQ DX Marathon, on which participants may track and submit their entries. Complete details are available at <>.

In a related story, the ARRL reports that traditional DXCC applications in 2011 rose by 57% over the number for 2010, most likely reflective of the overall improvement in DX conditions brought about by the rising sunspot cycle.

Texas Ham to Experiment With HF Spread-Spectrum

The FCC has given Special Temporary Authority (STA) and an experimental call sign to ham in Texas for the purpose of experimenting with spread-spectrum communications in the HF and low-VHF bands. Currently, amateurs are permitted to use S/S only at 222 MHz and above. "Newsline" reports that Philip Williams, KA1GMN, of Euless, Texas, has been given six months to experiment with using S/S on 160 through 2 meters, using signals no wider than 2.5 kHz and the experimental callsign WF9XJD. No word on who he'll be able to contact.

NASA Official Applauds ARISS Program

NASA Education
Director Susan White
(NASA Photo)
The head of NASA's Johnson Space Center Education Office says the space agency appreciates the efforts of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program and counts on it as one of its "outside resources" for NASA's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program. Susan White told the annual ARISS International meeting in late October that NASA "applauds the fine educational outcomes garnered by ARISS," according to the AMSAT News Service. She said NASA's educational focus for 2012 will be continuing to make the best use of its resources, including outside efforts such as ARISS, and professional development in promoting its STEM initiative.

Several Ham Satellites Scheduled for Summer Launch

From website

A Russian DNEPR rocket is scheduled to launch several amateur radio satellites into orbit this summer, including FUNcube-1, Triton-1 and Triton-2. 

The AMSAT News Service reports that FUNcube-1 is designed as an educational satellite, transmitting signals that can be easily received by schools and colleges, using a simple "ground station" that looks like a USB "dongle" that can be plugged into a computer. It is planned for a nearly sun-synchronous orbit for easy access planning.

The Triton satellites' primary payloads are radio science missions, but telemetry and scientific data will be transmitted on amateur frequencies, and after the satellites' three-month scientific missions end, they will be available for general amateur use.

Also scheduled for launch on the same flight, according to ANS, are "UKube-1, Delfi n3Xt (also carrying a linear amateur U/V … transponder), Trio-Cinema 1 & 2 and other spacecraft using frequencies in the amateur service." More information is available from AMSAT-UK at <>.

SATERN Starts HF Digital Net

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has started an HF digital net in its southern territory, comprising the southeastern and mid-south states. According to an announcement from SATERN, the net meets daily at noon Central Time on 20 meters (14.065 MHz), using OLIVIA as its primary digital mode. Recommended software is FLDIGI/NBEMS (available for free download at <>), as net control stations will be using features that are exclusive to that software.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ARRL, CQ, Sign Agreement to Provide Logbook of the World Support for CQ Awards



ARRL & CQ Sign Agreement to Provide
ARRL’s Logbook of The World Support for CQ’s Awards

(Hicksville, NY and Newington, CT - Jan. 24, 2012) – CQ Communications, Inc. (CQ) and ARRL – the national association for Amateur Radio, have signed an agreement to begin providing support for CQ-sponsored operating awards by the ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) electronic confirmation system.. The agreement was announced jointly today by ARRL Chief Operating Officer Harold Kramer, WJ1B, and CQ Communications President Richard Ross, K2MGA.

CQ's awards will be the first non-ARRL awards supported by LoTW and will be phased in, beginning with the CQ WPX award. Additional CQ awards will follow. The ARRL’s LoTW system, an interactive database recording contacts between radio amateurs was created in 2003  and has been adopted by 47,500 radio “hams” worldwide.  It already has records of 400 million contacts and grows weekly.  The target date for beginning LoTW support for WPX is April 1, 2012. Amateurs will be able to use LoTW logs to generate lists of confirmed contacts to be submitted for WPX credit. Standard LoTW credit fees and CQ award fees will apply.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, observed that this step gives radio amateurs throughout the world an inexpensive and convenient means of gaining credits toward CQ’s popular operating awards. “LoTW has significantly increased interest and participation in the ARRL’s DXCC, Worked All States and VUCC awards programs. We anticipate a similarly positive response to the addition of the CQ WPX award. Amateurs will be able to spend more time operating and less time chasing QSL cards.”

CQ President Richard Ross, K2MGA, said he is very pleased to be able to move forward with Logbook support for CQ awards. "We have had excellent results with electronic confirmations for several years," he said, "and I am glad that we are now able to begin expanding that convenience to those participants in our award programs who use Logbook of the World. We look forward to a smooth launch for WPX, and to the expansion of LoTW support to include the rest of our award programs as well."

ARRL ( is the national association for Amateur Radio in the United States and publisher of its membership journal QST. CQ Communications, Inc. ( is publisher of CQ Amateur Radio and several other magazines.  There are currently over 700,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the USA and approximately 2.5 million worldwide.

To learn more go to  <>.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Major Solar Storm Hits Earth

GOES Solar X-Ray Image / Courtesy
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
The largest solar radiation storm since 2005 has struck the Earth, touching off radio blackouts, geomagnetic storms and aurora displays in upper latitudes. According to CQ Propagation Editor Tomas Hood, NW7US, a long-duration magnitude M8.7 (M9-class) X-ray flare erupted in NOAA Active Sunspot Region (AR) 1402 on January 23, peaking at 0359 UTC. This flare triggered a proton event, resulting in an S3 (Strong) Radiation (Proton) Storm and a Polar Cap Absorption (PCA) event over the polar regions.

This PCA event caused a complete radio blackout over high-latitude and polar regions. This results in any trans-polar radio paths to become as dead as a rock. This solar proton radiation storm is the strongest of the current solar cycle. 

In addition, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said plasma from an associated coronal mass ejection was expected to arrive on January 24, with storm conditions extending into the 25th.Watch for additional degradation of HF radio conditions and enhanced auroral conditions on VHF.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thank you from CQ to WWROF and Contest Volunteers

CQ thanks the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF) for its generous support of contesting through the donation of funds to help underwrite the cost of printing thousands of contest certificates earned in this year's CQ contests. 
In addition, the extraordinary efforts of CQ's world wide team of volunteers cannot go without mention.  We at CQ simply provide the name, the structure and the logistical support, but our wonderful volunteers do the heavy lifting year after year.  They make the magic happen!  Thank you all! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WRO-Pop'Comm Live Internet Chat, Sunday, January 8

REMINDER: The WRO-Pop'Comm Live Online Chat is this evening (Sunday, January 8) at 8 p.m. Eastern time (0100 UTC Monday) on the WorldRadio Online website: <>. Please stop by for the fun and casual conversation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

CQ Introduces "Maker" Column - Matt Stultz, KB3TAN, Named Column Editor

(Hicksville, NY January 5, 2012) -- CQ Amateur Radio magazine will introduce a quarterly "Maker" column, Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, announced today. It will be written by Matt Stultz, KB3TAN, and will appear in the March, June, September and December issues of the magazine.

The "maker" movement is a growing do-it-yourself (DIY) phenomenon among mostly younger, tech-savvy individuals who enjoy hands-on tinkering and experimenting with electronics, crafts and similar projects. Many "makers" are not familiar with amateur radio, even though hams have been "makers" since the dawn of radio. It is the goal of this column to help build and strengthen bridges between the ham radio and "maker" communities.

Matt Stultz, KB3TAN, is the founder of "HackPittsburgh," a "hackerspace" or community workshop for makers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has been a ham since 2009 and has integrated amateur radio into many of HackPittsburgh's activities. He recently moved to Rhode Island to begin a new job as a web developer for Makerbot Industries, which manufactures kits for building your own 3-D printer to create customized parts for projects.

Stultz's first column, titled "We Are Makers," will appear in the March issue of CQ. It provides a general introduction to the maker/hacker community for hams, as well as a description of a high-altitude balloon project that brought the two groups together in Pittsburgh. The March issue of CQ will be available, in print and online, by the beginning of March. CQ is the only major amateur radio magazine available in both print and digital form. 

Pop'Comm Launches Monitoring Station Program

Popular Communications magazine has launched the Pop'Comm Monitoring Station Program, reminiscent of the Popular Electronics WPE program dating to 50 years ago. If you're interested in learning about the program and for information on how to join, obtain a station ID sign and a Certificate of Registration, visit, please click here, or visit: <>.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yaesu Reorganizes, Announces Entry to Digital Voice/Data Market

Yaesu amateur radio equipment is once again being manufactured independently after four years as a subsidiary of Motorola. In a December 27 letter to the amateur, aviation and marine radio communities, Vertex-Standard President and CEO Jun Hasegawa announced a reorganization -- effective January 1 -- in which Motorola would take full control of the company's land mobile radio (LMR) line, while Yaesu amateur gear and Standard-Horizon air and marine radios would be manufactured by a new company with an old name -- Yaesu Musen Co., Ltd. Hasegawa said the new company would be wholly owned by members of his family. There were no changes in personnel or offices of Yaesu USA, which is now the umbrella organization for Yaesu amateur equipment and Standard-Horizon marine and aircraft equipment sold in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Yaesu announced its plans to enter the digital voice and data segment of the amateur market, introducing a new PDF brochure on its website, titled "A Digital Communications Guide for Amateur Radio Operators." The brochure provides explanations of different digital voice and data encoding and transmission, and reveals that the company is planning to introduce a C4FM (4-level FSK) FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access) handheld and mobile rig into the amateur market in the first half of 2012. C4FM is not compatible with the GMSK data format used in D-STAR radios, so it is unlikely that the two types of radios will be able to talk to each other. The C4FM signal's bandwidth (12.5 kHz) is double that of the GMSK signal, and Yaesu says that provides it with a much better bit error rate. It says C4FM is the current standard used by APCO P25 radios in the US public safety community as well as for Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) devices popular in Europe and Asia. Yaesu's digital communications guide may be downloaded in PDF form at <>.

ARISSat-1 Stops Transmitting

The AMSAT News Service reports that the ARISSat-1/KEDR satellite has stopped transmitting and has likely re-entered Earth's atmosphere. The last full telemetry transmission reported to the ARISSatTLM website was posted at 06:02:14 UTC as the satellite passed over Japan. Temperatures were reported as rising as atmospheric drag increased. ARISSat-1 was hand-launched from the International Space Station on August 3, 2011, and had no propulsion system to remain in orbit. For more info, go to <>.