Friday, February 24, 2012

Young Ham of the Year Nominations Due May 30

Nominations are open for the Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award. Nominees must be 18 or younger, licensed amateurs, residents of the US or Canada, and must have made significant contributions to their community, the nation or amateur radio. Nominations must be received by May 30. CQ is a co-sponsor of the Young Ham of the Year program. Complete details and nominating forms are online at <>.

200 Meters and Up!

For the first time in a century, amateur radio operators will soon be able to transmit on wavelengths higher than 200 meters (1500 kHz). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has approved a new worldwide secondary allocation for amateur radio between 472 and 479 kHz (approximately 630 meters). The 7-kHz-wide band was approved at February's World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12).

According to the ARRL, power is limited to one watt EIRP (effective isotropically radiated power), except that the limit may be increased to five watts in countries more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) from certain countries that want to give greater protection to the aeronautical radionavigation service, which is the band's primary user. These countries include Russia, Ukraine, China and several others, mostly in the Middle East and north Africa.

The new allocation will not take effect until it is published in the Radio Regulations, which the ARRL says will likely be no earlier than next January. In addition, in the U.S., FCC action will be necessary after the new international rule is in force. Hams in the United States have been restricted to wavelengths below 200 meters since the enactment of the Radio Act of 1912. 

CQ "Washington Readout" editor Fred Maia, W5YI, will have a detailed report on the new allocation in his column in the May issue of CQ.

New 60-Meter Rules in Effect as of March 5

The FCC's new rules for the 60-meter (5 MHz) band go into effect on March 5. There is one new frequency -- 5.357 MHz, replacing 5.368 MHz -- plus new modes and increased power. Operation in CW and certain digital modes will now be permitted (as well as USB voice) and the maximum power permitted on the band is increased to 100 watts ERP (relative to a dipole).
There's a chance that 60 meters may become a worldwide amateur allocation in a few years. The ARRL Letter reports that the delegates to the just-concluded World Radiocommunication Conference agreed to put the matter on the agenda for consideration at the next WRC in 2015.

K1JT Addresses WRC, Receives ITU Gold Medal

Nobel laureate and CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame member Dr. Joe Taylor, K1JT, was presented with a gold medal by the International Telecommunication Union after addressing attendees at WRC-12 in Geneva, Switzerland. Taylor, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering binary pulsars, has also made major contributions to amateur radio weak-signal communications. 

According to the ARRL Letter, he was invited by ITU Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun TourĂ©, HB9EHT, to speak about his vision of the future of radiocommunications. TourĂ© then presented him with the gold medal in recognition of his contributions to research in radiocommunications. 

(Watch and listen to K1JT's talk at <>, or click on photo above.)

Ham Radio Study Tucked into Payroll Tax Bill

Using classic legislative sleight-of-hand, sponsors of the ARRL-backed bills to mandate a study of "impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications" -- such as homeowner association antenna restrictions -- tucked the language away deep in the bill Congress passed in mid-February to retain current payroll tax cuts through the end of 2012. 

President Obama signs payroll tax cut extension bill, which
includes mandate that FCC study "impediments" to amateur
radio operation, such as CC&Rs, and make recommendations
on how to eliminate them. (White House photo)

The ARRL Letter reports that section 6414 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 directs the FCC, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, to study the "uses and capabilities" of amateur radio in emergencies and disaster relief and to identify "impediments to enhanced (amateur radio) communications, such as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations." 

The law, which was signed by President Obama on February 22, also requires the FCC to make recommendations "regarding the removal of such impediments" and to report back to Congress with its findings within six months.

A ham from Arizona is taking a different tack in attempting to get the FCC to pre-empt homeowner association antenna restrictions. Len Umina, W7CCE, has filed a petition claiming that the FCC's position that its limited pre-emption of state and local antenna laws does not extend to private land-use regulations violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. His petition has been designated as PRM12WT. As we went to press, it had not yet been posted for public comment.

FCC Denies Waiver Request on No-Test Relicensing

The FCC has said no to the Anchorage VEC's request for a temporary waiver to permit re-issuing of expired amateur licenses without the need for retaking a license exam while it considers the group's pending rulemaking petition to permit no-test relicensing on a permanent basis. According to Newsline, the Commission suggested that it was unlikely to approve the underlying petition, noting that its rules require all licensees to demonstrate their qualifications before receiving licenses, and that plenty of exam opportunities are available. However, it left the door open for possibly reaching a different conclusion when it decides on the petition in FCC Docket WT 11-130.

NASA to Launch Fox-1 Cubesat

AMSAT has had a big financial burden lifted from its shoulders with the acceptance of the planned Fox-1 satellite into NASA's "Educational Launch of NanoSat" program. 

The AMSAT News Service reports the space agency will pay the satellite's integration and launch costs, allowing AMSAT to put all of the money it raises for the project into designing and building the satellite itself. Actually, it need to build two satellites -- one to fly and one spare -- and notes that major donations are still needed, especially for the high-efficiency solar panels needed to provide the spacecraft with as much power as possible.

Vega Rocket Launches Nine Satellites

Launch of the European Space Agency's new Vega rocket.
(Courtesy ESA website)

The European Space Agency's new launch vehicle, the Vega, made its first operational launch in mid-Feburary, carrying into orbit eight student-built amateur radio satellites and the LARES Laser Relativity Satellite. 

The ARRL Letter reports that the ham-band satellites were built by students in six different countries and will transmit telemetry on VHF, UHF and microwave amateur bands. One, PW-Sat from Poland, includes a voice repeater which will listen on 70 centimeters and transmit on 2 meters.

Add Z8, Drop R1M

The Republic of South Sudan
Calls will now have Z8 prefixes
(Map courtesy CIA World Fact Book)

 South Sudan has finally been assigned a call sign block -- Z8A-Z8Z -- by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), according to the ARRL Letter. No word on why it took more than seven months since the country's independence before the call prefixes were assigned.

Heading north, the ARRL reports that Malyj Vysotskij Island, R1M, has been deleted from the DXCC list, effective February 17. This, the result of a new treaty between Finland and Russia that ends M-V Island's separate status. At press time, R1M remains on the Worked All Europe (WAE) list, so at least for now, it also remains on the CQ DX country list. Watch our web news page for updates.

Several Prominent Hams are Silent Keys

Several well-known names in amateur radio have joined the roster of Silent Keys.
Armond Noble, N6WR, founder and former publisher of WorldRadio magazine, passed away on February 1. We learned in early February that longtime CQ columnist Bill Welsh, W6DDB, died in November. He was CQ's Novice Editor from 1977 to 1997. (See full obits on Welsh and Noble below.)

On February 10, astronaut Janice Voss, KC5BTK, lost a battle with cancer.Dick Kirby, W0LCT/HB9BOA, passed away on January 26. Kirby was director of the ITU's Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) from 1974 until his retirement in 1995. And Bill Simons, W9BB, who designed the popular Shure 440 and 444 microphones, became a Silent Key in early January.

In addition, the CQ family has suffered a loss, with the mid-February passing of William Kehrwieder, husband of CQ Production Director and Business Manager Dottie Kehrwieder and father of Operations Manager Melissa Gilligan. Our condolences to the families of all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hams Active in Philippine Earthquake Relief - Emergency Net on 7.095 MHz

 A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck the central Philippines on Monday, February 6, killing at least 43 people. Many more are still missing. Hams are active in providing communications into and out of the quake zone.

According to Jim Linton, VK3PC, Chairman of the International Amateur Radio Union's Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee, emergency frequencies have been established on 144.740 and 7.095 MHz. He says the country's Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HEROs) group has established a command center on a Philippine Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessel and is forwarding traffic between the quake area and the cities of Cebu and Manila, the national capital. (Tnx Southgate Amateur Radio News)

Longtime CQ Columnist W6DDB Silent Key

We have just learned that longtime CQ Novice columnist Bill Welsh, W6DDB, became a Silent Key last November. He was 83. According to an obituary in the Antelope Valley (CA) Press, Welsh passed away on November 9 in Lancaster, California, his longtime home. He was CQ's Novice columnist for two decades, from 1977 to 1997.

Bill wrote on his bio page that he had been a commercial radio operator since 1944 and an amateur since 1949. Born in Boston in 1927, Bill was a veteran of the Merchant Marine in World War II. He ran amateur radio licensing courses for 50 years and had a rare talent for explaining technical material in easy-to-understand terms. Thousands of his readers considered him their mentor, even if they had never met him. However, much of Bill's time on the air was spent in the Novice bands, so many of his readers did get to meet him on the air. In addition to his CQ column, Welsh also wrote for QST, 73 and Ham Radio magazines. He also produced amateur radio training tapes for blind students, which were distributed through the Library of Congress. Even after the Novice license was discontinued, Bill continued to encourage new hams through his on-air activity and by offering a certificate for confirmed contacts with all ten U.S. call districts.(Tnx KR6C)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

WorldRadio Founder Armond Noble, N6WR, Silent Key

            Armond Noble, N6WR, founder and publisher of WorldRadio magazine for 37 years, died February 1 in Sacramento, California after a short illness.
            Noble, publisher of Sacramento-based International Travel News magazine, was hospitalized about two months ago, according to Editor David Tykol, <>.
            WorldRadio was published monthly from July 1971 until the end of 2008, when Noble sold the magazine to Hicksville, New York-based CQ Communications, Inc. With its February 2009 edition, it was renamed WorldRadio Online and became the first online-only major amateur radio publication.
            Noble had a long and distinguished career in communications. From 1953 to 1955 he served in the U.S. Army with a VHF radio relay unit. He went on to positions at commercial radio and TV stations around the United States, including: KTWO-TV and KATI in Casper, Wyoming; KOOK-TV, Billings, Montana; KTVB, Boise, Idaho; KERO-TV, Bakersfield, California, WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and KCRA Radio in Sacramento.
            During the Vietnam War, Noble was a reporter-photographer for TIME magazine and the Milwaukee Journal. He also served in the TIME-LIFE bureau in Sacramento.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Super Bowl Half-Time WRO-Pop'Comm Live Chat, Super Bowl Sunday, February 5

Join WorldRadio Online and Popular Communications magazine Editor Richard Fisher, KI6SN / KPC6PC, on Sunday, February 5 for the Super Bowl Half-Time WRO-Pop'Comm Live Internet Chat. It'll be a sprint!

As soon as the first half of the Giants-New England NFL Super Bowl ends, go to: 


Click on the Cover It Live box and you'll land right in the chat-o-sphere. Best of all, you won't miss a minute of the game. We'll shut 'er down with the kick-off of the second half.

Please join us for casual conversation about amateur radio and radio monitoring - and THE GAME, of course! We hope to see you there.

Pop'Comm Monitoring Station Registrations Top 700

The response to the launch of the Pop'Comm Monitoring Station program has been fantastic. Since its launch on January 1, 2012, we have issued more than 700 monitoring station ID signs and the applications keep coming. If you're interesting in registering your listening post, see the January 2012 Pop'Comm for details and visit: < >.