Friday, March 30, 2012

CQ Columnist Fred Maia, W5YI, Silent Key - Amateur Radio Examiner, Educator, Author was 76

CQ columnist Fred Maia, W5YI, a leading amateur radio journalist, educator and pioneer of volunteer examining, passed away on March 28 after a battle with cancer.

Maia, 76, published "The W5YI Report," dubbed "America's Oldest Ham Radio Newsletter," from 1978 to 2003, and has been a CQ contributing editor since 1985. His regulatory affairs column, first titled "Ticket Talk," then "Washington Readout," offered news and perspective on FCC and ITU (International Telecommunication Union) actions, and helped untold numbers of hams wend their way through often-confusing mazes of the volunteer examining and vanity call sign systems.

"Fred was one of those unusual people who was more focused on doing the job than he was on getting credit for doing it," noted CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA. "His 'job' was to help this hobby grow, and he succeeded admirably."

Maia was also a driving force in amateur and commercial radio licensing and education materials since late 1970. He was the first Volunteer Examiner Coordinator appointed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1984, and his W5YI-VEC group grew into the nation's second-largest VEC after the ARRL. Fred served as President of the W5YI-VEC until his retirement in October of 2000. In 1986, he founded The W5YI Group to develop, publish and sell amateur and commercial radio license study materials. Fred also formed National Radio Examiners to provide examination services as a Commercial Operator License Examination Manager (COLEM), and co-wrote a commercial radio licensing study manual with Gordon West, WB6NOA.

As a longtime member of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) and its Question Pool Committee (QPC), which develops and maintains the question pools for amateur radio license exams, Fred was deeply involved in many of the changes in amateur radio licensing over the past quarter century. This includes the phased elimination of Morse code requirements for amateur licenses and the current system of three license classes, Technician, General and Amateur Extra.

A resident of Arlington, Texas, Fred was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Radio Operator’s School, and was first licensed as an amateur radio operator as a teenager in Rhode Island, where he grew up. He is survived by his wife, Doris, and two daughters. A memorial service was scheduled for 3:00pm, Saturday March 31, 2012, at Moore Funeral Home, 1219 North Davis Dr. ,Arlington, TX 76012.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CQ Contest Hall of Famer W1BIH Silent Key

John Thompson, W1BIH/PJ9JT (SK)
(Photo courtesy W1RM)

John Thompson, W1BIH/PJ9JT, became a Silent Key in March at age 97. A ham since 1931, Thompson was a contester and DXer for over 70 years, competing - and often winning - from either his home QTH in Connecticut or in Curacao.

He regularly hosted guest operators at his island home at Coral Cliffs, Curacao, which became one of the world's best-known and most successful contesting locations, despite an "antenna farm" that consisted only of a tribander and wire antennas.

On the DX side of the ham radio ledger, John had an astounding total of 390 countries confirmed. He was inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame in 1994. (Tnx W1RM)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Update on Logbook of the World and CQ Awards

The April 1, 2012 target date for being able to apply ARRL Logbook of the World (LoTW) credits to the CQ WPX Award is being pushed back to mid-April.

According to the ARRL, this delay was made necessary by its decision to launch its new DXCC fee structure on April 2 and online DXCC applications on April 3. There have been no reported technical problems with the software needed to use LoTW for WPX, and beta testing of the system is planned for early April. Additional CQ awards will be added later, one at a time. We will provide further updates when more information is available.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dayton 2012 Award Winners Announced

(Photo courtesy DARA)

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has named S. Suri, VU2MY, as the 2012 winner of the Dayton Hamvention ® Radio Amateur of the Year award. Suri, of Hyderabad, India, is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of India's National Institute of Amateur Radio and has been responsible for amateur radio's role in responding to many natural disasters, most notably the 2004 tsunami that struck countries around the Indian Ocean. Suri is only the second non-US amateur to receive this honor from the association. The first was DXer and DXpeditioner Martti Laine, OH2BH, in 2000.

(Photo courtesy DARA)

This year's Technical Achievement award goes to the ARRL's Joel Hallas, W1ZR, of Westport, Connecticut. Hallas is a prolific author best known for his "The Doctor is In" column in QST.

(Photo courtesy DARA)

Dayton's 2012 Special Achievement award goes to Steven Betza, WZ2V, of Endicott, New York. He was recognized for his efforts to promote electronics engineering programs in college and high school, most notably his "Blue Horizon" project which set the world record for the highest amateur balloon flight and resulted in the licensing of 38 new hams.

Finally, this year's club award goes to Germany's national amateur radio association, the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC). All of the awards will be presented at the Dayton Hamvention® later this month.

ARRL Restructures DXCC Fees

(Courtesy ARRL website)

The ARRL has announced a new fee structure for its popular DX Century Club (DXCC) program. It establishes a single fee per application, although those will vary depending on whether they are submitted on paper, online or via Logbook of the World (LoTW). Some fees are now higher, others lower. The new fee structure takes effect on April 2. A full explanation is available online at <>; a PDF file containing a chart with all the different fees is at <>.

ARRL Publishes Guidelines for New 60-Meter Privileges

New FCC rules granting amateurs additional mode and power privileges on the 5-MHz band, along with one frequency swap, took effect on March 5. The new rules are complicated, though, and the ARRL has published a guide to keeping legal on the band. A summary of the guidelines will appear in May CQ's "Washington Readout" column. ARRL members may also find a detailed explanation in the April issue of QST.

UPDATE: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has indicated that it has no objection to digital modes other than PSK-31 and PACTOR-3, as long as they comply with power and bandwidth limitations. This occurred after both April QST and May CQ went to press. Please see <> for more details.

"Man on a Mission" Movie to be on DVD

Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, has produced a documentary titled "Man on a Mission" which follows his quest to follow his father -- Owen Garriott, W5LFL -- into space and become the first second-generation American in space. The elder Garriott was the first radio amateur to operate from space, back in 1983. According to Newsline, the documentary is already available via video-on-demand, and a DVD version is expected to be released in May. More information is available on the First Run Features website at <>.

Brazil Bans Hams from PY0S

The St. Peter and St. Paul archipelago in the mid-Atlantic Ocean is now off-limits to amateur radio DXpeditions. The islands currently sit at #16 on DX Magazine's "most wanted" list. According to a report on Southgate Amateur Radio News, the government of Brazil, which owns the islands, issued the new restrictions in an announcement on the website of the country's Secretariat of the Interministerial Commission for Sea Resources (SERCIM). At press time, Brazil's national amateur radio association, as well as several Brazilian DX groups, were working with federal lawmakers to try to overturn the ruling.

"Ice Goat 1" on APRS

A buoy designed to monitor and report weather in the Arctic seas was deployed in March by students from the U.S. Naval Academy and is beaconing its location via APRS, the Automatic Packet Reporting System. According to the AMSAT News Service, the buoy was dubbed "Ice Goat 1" and was transported to an area Arctic ice off the coast of Point Barrow, Alaska, that was expected to melt in the spring. The scientific data will be transmitted back to the Naval Academy on an Iridium satellite link, but it will be transmitting position information via APRS on 145.825 MHz with hopes that its signals will be relayed to the worldwide APRS network by the digipeater aboard the International Space Station.

New "Topic Channels" on IRLP

IRLP, the Internet Radio Linking Project, has added a new dimension to the links it offers. In addition to linking individual repeaters around the world and providing "reflectors" that can bring together multiple repeaters, Newsline reports that IRLP has now added "topic channels." These are special-interest reflectors, each devoted to a different topic, from DXing to sports, food and politics. For more information, see <>.

Six Meters Comes to Senegal

(Map courtesy CIA World Factbook)
Hams in Senegal will soon have access to the six-meter band, just in time for the transatlantic DX that is often found on the band during solar cycle peaks. According to Newsline, the 50-51-MHz allocation will become effective when new international regulations approved at WRC-12 earlier this year become official -- probably around the beginning of 2013. Meanwhile, though, Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that authorities in Sengal have given approval for members of the Saly Amateur Radio Club in Mbour to operate their club station on six with the special callsign 6V7SIX. Club members will be monitoring the intercontinental calling frequency of 5.110 MHz as well as the French calling frequency at 50.210 MHz. As of now, 6V7SIX is the only Senegalese station authorized to operate on six meters.

Success for Cubesat's Science Mission

RAX-2 Range Time Intensity Plot
Showing Ionospheric Anomaly
(Courtesy U.Mich/RAX-2 website)
Controllers of RAX-2, the Radio Auroral Exoplorer 2 cubesat, report that the satellite's science mission has been a success, with the help of the amateur radio community. According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, the mission is to study the formation of a plasma anomaly that is known to cause scintillation of radio signals in UHF and higher frequency bands. Matt Bennett, KF6RTB, reported on March 9 that after three years in orbit, the satellite had finally detected the long-sought anomaly, using its space-based receiver to monitor signals from a high-powered radar transmitter in Alaska. More information is available at <>.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Major solar flare March 7

The following is from

SOLAR ACTIVITY: Big sunspot AR1429 has unleashed another major flare--an X5-class eruption on March 7th at 00:28 UT.   As a result of the blast, a radiation storm is underway and a CME will likely hit Earth's magnetic field in a day or so. Geomagnetic storms are already in progress at high latitudes due to earlier eruptions from the active sunspot.  Last night, auroras were spotted over several northern-tier US states including Michigan and Wisconsin.  Check for updates and images.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pop'Comm Live Online Chat Session This Evening, Sunday, March 4

The monthly Pop'Comm-WRO Live Online Chat is this evening, Sunday, March 4, @ 8 p.m. Eastern time (0100 UTC Monday). To take part, at chat time, click on the Cover It Live chat box at: < >. Hope to see you there.