Tuesday, July 24, 2012

CQ Adopts 5-Day Contest Log Deadline

Participants in CQ-sponsored contests will now have five days after the end of a contest to either upload or mail their logs. Previously, the contests had a four-week window for log submissions. 

"Our goal is two-fold," explained CQ magazine Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. "This is the first step in an effort to speed the processing and reporting of CQ contest results, and it is one more step in our ongoing efforts to help ensure the integrity of submitted logs. Shortening the deadline reduces the time available for those who might be tempted to 'cleanse' their logs after the contest."

The change takes effect with this fall's CQ World Wide DX Contest and will apply to all future CQ-sponsored contests.

Erin King, AK4JG, Named 2012 Young Ham of the Year

 Seventeen-year-old Erin King, AK4JG, of Columbus, Georgia, has been selected as the Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year for 2012. She was recognized for promoting amateur radio through a video she made of launching the mailing tube in which her acceptance letter to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) arrived as an amateur radio high-altitude balloon payload. The award was scheduled to be presented at the Huntsville (Alabama) Hamfest in August. CQ is a corporate co-sponsor of the Young Ham of the Year Award. For more on Erin, see September's "Zero Bias" editorial.

ARRL: Executive Order Poses No Threat to Ham Radio

Despite speculation on the internet, President Obama's executive order of July 6 addressing the federal government's national security and emergency preparedness communications needs does not pose a threat to the Amateur Radio Service or to ham radio participation in emergency response. That's the conclusion of the ARRL after closely reading the order, which creates a new Executive Committee on National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications, with representation from eight federal departments and agencies. ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, says nothing in the order directly affects everyday amateur radio operations and says that based on ham radio's "ongoing, positive relationship" with the Department of Homeland Security, it is "hard to envision" any new management plan that would exclude amateur radio.

Good News, Bad News, on Antenna Restrictions

Hams in Illinois now have a state law granting them the same protections as FCC rules regarding municipal ordinances restricting amateur radio antennas. Governor Pat Quinn signed the "PRB-1"-based bill into law in early July. Extending the FCC's protections to state law removes any question of federal pre-emption in terms of compliance by municipal governments. The new law does not, however, extend to private land use regulations such as homeowner association rules and so-called CC&Rs (conditions, covenants and restrictions).

Speaking of CC&Rs, the FCC has turned down a petition by Len Umina, W7CCE, to extend the provisions of PRB-1, the limited federal pre-emption of state and local antenna ordinances, to private land use regulations. The Commission said it specifically exempted private rules from its original ruling back in 1985 because they were part of contract agreements, not laws, and in a 2001 ruling, said it would not change that position unless ordered to do so by Congress. The FCC also noted that it is in the midst of conducting a Congressionally-mandated study of the effects of private land use regulations and other "impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications," and would not consider taking any action in this area until Congress reviews its conclusions and decides whether to require any changes via legislation.

CQ WPX Award Now Supported by LoTW

The ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) online confirmation system now supports CQ's WPX Award, and early activity levels suggest that the combination will be very popular. WPX is the first non-ARRL award supported by the system and the first step in eventually permitting hams to use LoTW credits toward all CQ operating awards. 

WPX accounts have been automatically created on the award pages of LoTW participants, and instructions are posted on the Logbook of the World website. Standard ARRL Logbook and CQ award fees apply. A timetable has not yet been set for adding other CQ awards, or in what order they will be added.

Anniversaries of Note in the Ham Media

Popular Communications, one of CQ's sister magazines, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with its September issue. The magazine began publication in September, 1982, under the leadership of the legendary Tom Kneitel, K2AES/W4XAA (SK), and has been covering the broad world of hobby communications ever since. From international broadcasting and CB to pirate broadcasters and mysterious "numbers" stations, if it could be tuned in on a radio, Pop'Comm has covered it … and continues to do so. 

This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the Amateur Radio Newsline, a weekly audio news service that first aired on amateur radio repeaters in 1977 under the name of Westlink Amateur Radio News. Produced by Jim Hendershot, WA6VQP, and Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, "Newsline" has since become an institution in amateur radio media, with more than 1800 consecutive newscasts over three and a half decades.
Congratulations to our colleagues at Pop'Comm and our friends at "Newsline."

N8BJQ New CQ VHF Contest Director

John Lindholm, W1XX, has stepped down as director of the CQ World Wide VHF Contest after ten years at its helm. During his tenure, participation in the annual July competition quintupled. Lindholm said he felt it was time for "new blood" to lead the contest in the future. John is also campaigning for a seat in the Rhode Island state legislature.

Steve Bolia, N8BJQ, has agreed to step into John's shoes. In addition to his current responsibilities as WPX Award Manager, Steve has already been helping John with VHF Contest log-checking for the past several years, so he is well-equipped to hit the ground running, starting with the 2012 contest this coming weekend.

We thank both John and Steve for their many contributions to CQ and to amateur radio.

Maxwell, Baldwin and Lieb are Silent Keys

Three longtime leaders in the amateur radio community have become Silent Keys… 

Walt Maxwell, W2DU, was a renowned expert in antennas and transmission lines and was the author of Reflections, an authoritative text on the subject (the most recent edition of which was published by CQ). He was 93.

Dick Baldwin, W1RU, joined the staff of the ARRL in 1948. He rose through the ranks and - after leaving the League briefly in the 1950s - returned and held down positions of increasing responsibility before becoming General Manager in 1975. Starting in 1976, he served concurrently as Secretary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). After "retiring" in 1982, Baldwin was elected IARU President and held that position until 1999. Dick was 92.

Paul Lieb, KH6HME, held down the Hawaii end of summertime California-to-Hawaii ducts on VHF and UHF. His beacon on the Mauna Loa volcano alerted VHF DXers to openings and he regularly drove up the mountain during these events to make contacts with hams on the mainland on bands as high as 10 GHz. He was the holder of numerous VHF and UHF DX records and his beacon helped generate a tremendous amount of data about propagation in the northern Pacific.

OSCAR-7: 10 Years Back on the Air

A QSL card from 2004, commemorating the 30th anniversary
of the launch of OSCAR-7. (Courtesy AMSAT)
It's an amazing story that just keeps getting more amazing. OSCAR-7, part of the first generation of amateur radio satellites, was launched in 1974 and operated until its batteries short-circuited in 1981. Twenty-one years later, in 2002, the satellite incredibly came back to life. AMSAT officials speculate that the batteries somehow went from a short-circuit condition to open-circuit, allowing the satellite's solar panels to power its radios when in sunlight. 

Ten years after returning to the air, AO-7 is still going strong, with uplinks on 2 meters and 70 centimeters and downlinks on 10 meters and 2 meters, respectively. It switches between bands randomly each time it starts up on re-entering sunlight, and is currently the only amateur satellite providing really long-range communications. In fact, the AMSAT News Service reports that two new distance records were recently set via AO-7, with contacts 7849 kilometers (4877 miles) and then 7903.55 km (4911 mi), just short of the satellite's theoretical maximum range of 7907 km (4913 mi).

College Students Design Supercapacitor for ARISSat

Penn State students Jacob Sherk, Kathleen Nicolas and David Jesberber (all now graduated) with the supercapacitor they designed for the next ARISS launch. John Fontecchio photo/Courtesy Penn State University
The next time an ARISSat (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station satellite) is launched, it will likely be powered by a supercapacitor designed by students at Penn State University. The students, all electrical and computer engineering majors, designed the power system as their senior project. "Newsline" reports that the battery is able to handle 16 charge/discharge cycles in a 24-hour period, and will power the satellite when its solar panels are not in sunlight. Supercapacitors are gaining interest as orbital power sources because they are not subject to failure as easily as traditional batteries. More information on this project is available online at <http://live.psu.edu/story/60125>.

UK Hams to Share 2 Meters During Olympics

Hams in London are being required to temporarily share portions of the 2-meter band with officials of the 2012 summer Olympic Games. According to Newsline, the small block of channels between 144.0125 MHz and 144.1375 MHz was temporarily allocated to the Olympics, for use only by handheld equipment operating no more than 5 watts. The reallocation was only for the period between July 27 and August 28.