Friday, October 23, 2015

Contesters: Please Protect 7060 for Mexican Hurricane Net

Hurricane Patricia as of Friday morning, 23 Oct.
(NOAA satellite image via National Hurricane Center)
Attention Contesters: Please protect the Mexican hurricane emergency net frequency of 7060 kHz during the upcoming CQWW SSB DX Contest as potentially catastrophic Hurricane Patricia heads for Mexico's Pacific coast.

This request comes from IARU Region II/Area C Emergency Coordinator Arnie Coro, CO2KK, who says additional frequencies on 40 and 80 meters may be required once Hurricane Patricia makes landfall later today (Friday).

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Patricia is the strongest eastern North Pacific hurricane on record and is "heading for potentially catastrophic landfall in southwestern Mexico later today." As of Friday morning, the Category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 200 miles per hour (322 km/h).

Please avoid 7055-7065 kHz during the contest, to provide a clear frequency for the net on 7060. Thanks and good luck in the contest!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Milestones: W1UED, W9DYV SKs

Former ARRL Washington Coordinator Perry Williams, W1UED, became a Silent Key on September 25 at age 86, according to the ARRL. Williams served on the League staff from 1954 through 1994, starting as an assistant secretary and then rising to Membership Services Manager before being named Washington Coordinator in 1980. He is credited with convincing Congress not to impose license application fees on amateurs and promoted approval of vanity call signs. 

Wes Sxhum, W9DYV, in early photo.
(Photo from Central Electronics website
Wes Schum, W9DYV, also passed away in late September. You may not know his name, but you most likely are familiar with his work. According to Newsline, Schum is considered the father of single-sideband in amateur radio. As founder of Central Electronics in 1949, he and colleague Joe Batchelor developed the CE 10-A, the first practical amateur SSB transmitter. Schum was 94.

Jan 31 Deadline for ARRL Foundation Scholarship Applications

Young hams planning to pursue post-secondary education have until January 31, 2016 to apply for one of the 80-plus scholarships administered by the ARRL Foundation. 

According to the ARRL Letter, the grants range from $500 to $5000, as well as the four-year Goldfarb Scholarship, which fills the "gap" between the recipient's other scholarships and his/her "expected family contribution," based on the federal FAFSA form. Some scholarships are restricted by geographic region or planned college major. 

For more information, visit <>.

ARRL: FCC Must Clarify Proposed Rules on Modifying WiFi Gear

The ARRL has called on the FCC to make clear that hams will still be permitted to modify non-amateur equipment for use on the amateur bands. According to the League, the call came in comments on proposed FCC rules that would require manufacturers of WiFi equipment to include security features on network devices to prevent modifications. Hams often modify commercial routers and other WiFi equipment to operate on amateur frequencies at higher power and/or with external antennas. 

The League also called on the FCC to tighten rules on Part 15 and Part 18 equipment authorization to minimize the potential for interference with licensed services.

ARRL to FCC: Hurry Up on 630/2200 Meters

The ARRL is urging the FCC to quickly enact final rules to permit amateur radio operation on 630 meters (472-479 kHz) and to propose specific rules for amateur operation on 2200 meters (135.7-137.8 kHz). The FCC last April proposed rules for 630 meters and announced its intention to do the same for 2200 meters, but has yet to take further action. 

The FCC's proposals are opposed primarily by the Utilities Telecom Council, which fears amateur use of these frequencies may interfere with utility systems that control the power grid and operate between 4 and 490 kHz.

IARU: Minimize Antenna Restrictions Worldwide

The administrative council of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has called on governments worldwide to ease restrictions on amateur radio antennas. According to Newsline, the council's resolution urges member societies to press their governments to "recognize the importance" of amateur antennas and not to "place undue restrictions" on them. 

The resolution, which was adopted at the council's October meeting in Bali, Indonesia, noted the non-pecuniary nature of amateur radio and "its popularity in the student and senior communities."

FEMA Administrator Visits WX4NHC

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - who is also a ham - paid a call on amateur station WX4NHC during a visit to the National Hurricane Center while Hurricane Joaquin was deciding whether or not to head to the U.S. east coast (it didn't).
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate,
KK4INZ. (FEMA photo)

 According to the ARRL,  FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, talked with station operator Hank Collins, W8KIW, and his wife, Pat, about reports being received from hams in the Bahamas as well as the multiple modes and frequencies used by WX4NHC to gather reports of on-the-ground conditions during hurricanes.

ARRL Re-Opens 146.52 for Contest Use

Reversing a long-standing policy intended to protect simplex users on 2 meters, the ARRL has approved the use of national simplex frequency 146.52 MHz for making contest contacts during ARRL-sponsored VHF contests. The change takes effect as of the 2016 ARRL January VHF contest. 

The new policy was recommended by the League's "VHF and Above Revitalization Committee," which is hoping the change will encourage more new licensees to discover and enjoy VHF contesting. The committee concluded that the current restriction is no longer necessary, due to reduced activity on the 2-meter band.
Note: There has been no change to date in the rules for the CQ World Wide VHF Contest, which continue to prohibit contest contacts on 146.52 or other countries' designated national simplex frequencies.

ARRL Launches "National Parks on the Air" Event for 2016

The ARRL is sponsoring a year-long activity to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. national park system. The "National Parks on the Air" program, or NPOTA, runs from January 1 to December 31, 2016, according to the ARRL Letter

The program will be similar to other "OTA" programs run by various groups, offering separate awards to "activators," who operate from within national parks and other sites administered by the National Park Service, and to "chasers," who contact a certain number of "activators." For the purposes of this program, acceptable sites include not only national parks but also national battlefields, historic sites, memorials, preserves, reserves, rivers, seashores, national scenic trails and other NPS-administered locations. See the ARRL website <> for complete details and program rules.

New Foundation Formed to Administer IOTA Program

The original, and arguably most popular, "OTA" program is the Radio Society of Great Britain's (RSGB's) Islands on the Air (IOTA), which has been encouraging "activations" of islands around the world since 1964. Since celebrating the program's 50th anniversary last year, the RSGB's board has been looking at ways to keep it growing and to meet its challenges, including a computer system to allow online credit submissions similar to the ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW).
The RSGB announced in October that it is forming a new organization - the IOTA Foundation - to manage IOTA in partnership with RSGB and to spearhead development of an online credit system with a target completion date of 2017. Initial leaders of the foundation will be Roger Balister, G3KMA; Bob Barden, MD0CCE; Cezar Trifu, VE3LYC, and Johan Willemsen, PA3EXX.

Satellite Roundup - Multiple Launches in Sept/Oct.

AMSAT Fox-1A lifts off from
Vandenberg Air Force Base in
California aboard the US National
Reconnaissance Office's Atlas-5
launch on October 8. (NRO photo)
The skies are once again filling up with amateur radio satellites, with eight new "birds" launched in late September and early October. 

AMSAT's Fox-1A satellite, now known as AO-85, was successfully launched on October 8 and the AMSAT News Service reportst that signals were heard on its first orbit. For more information, visit <>.

The week before, Indonesia's LAPAN-2 satellite (now IO-86) was launched from India. This satellite carries an FM transponder and an APRS digipeater. Primary access will be to stations located in the tropics, between 30 degrees north latitude and 30 degrees south latitude.

China followed its mid-September launch of nine amateur radio satellites with the liftoff of three more on September 25 (Tianwang 1-A, 1-B and 1-C), according to the ARRL. Another Chinese ham satellite - LQSat - was launched on October 7. All four lifted off from a launch facility in Inner Mongolia.

Finally, two Danish ham satellites - AAUSat-5 and GomX-3 - were deployed from the International Space Station on October 5. The AMSAT News Service says the crew used the station's robotic arm to place the cubesats in orbit. As of this writing, no OSCAR numbers were available for either the Chinese or the Danish satellites.

ARRL.Net Users: Beware of "Phishing" Scheme

(Federal Trade Commission image)
Newsline reports that the ARRL's e-mail forwarding service has been hit by a "phishing" attack, in which members using e-mail addresses are receiving e-mails claiming to be from the League and requesting personal information.

The e-mails purportedly come from "Arrl Webmail Admin," carry a subject line of "account upgrade," and warn recipients that their accounts will be cancelled unless they provide their usernames and passwords. ARRL officials state emphatically that these e-mails are bogus and urge anyone receiving them to simply ignore them. 

Meanwhile, the League's IT department was working to block the sender's e-mail address at its "upstream server."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hurricane Watch Net Secures

The Hurricane Watch Net has shut down operations for Hurricane Joaquin after the storm skirted Bermuda without causing significant damage, according to Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. Graves thanked the many reporting stations for a considerable amount of data, all of which was forwarded to the National Hurricane Center. He also thanked the everyday users of the net's main frequencies - 14.325 and 7.268 MHz - for changing frequencies during the net's activity. More information on the Hurricane Watch Net may be found online at <>.

Uncertainty Over Status of Hara Arena

Will Hara Arena still be open when it's time for the 2016 Dayton Hamvention®? That is the basic question being faced by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), the owners of Hara Arena and local government officials, all of whom want to be sure the world's largest ham radio gathering remains where it has been since 1964. Last year, according to news reports, the Hamvention was responsible for contributing $8.5 million to the region's economy.

There have been rumors for years that the arena was about to close, but an announcement at the end of the 2015 show promised improvements at the half-century old exhibition center in time for the 2016 event. However, news reports in early October cast new doubts on the arena's ongoing viability.

The reports - first on WHIO-TV and then in the Dayton Daily News - centered on a July e-mail sent by Hara Marketing Director Karen Wampler to the city manager and a city councilman in Trotwood, the municipality in which Hara Arena is actually located. A consultant hired by Hara recommended this summer that the city purchase the venue, but Trotwood officials felt such a move would be too risky, according to the reports. A Dayton Daily News article in late 2014 reported that Hara owed more than $300,000 in back taxes, but was working with local authorities to pay down that balance.

Wampler's e-mail, which the TV station and newspaper (both owned by Cox Media Ohio) received through a public records request, informed the local officials that they had briefed the Hamvention's chairman and select board members on the arena's status and said "they are reeling" after being told that the venue might be forced to close. "They … like us, believed we were close to stabilizing Hara for future growth, rather than ending her nearly 60-year run," Wampler wrote, adding that "(t)here may be one last chance to add Hamvention investment dollars to the proposal before their Board puts all its resources into relocating their event - most likely out of Montgomery County - in 2016."

She told the Daily News in an interview for the October 3 article that the arena is now in much better shape than it had been in July, when that e-mail was written, and that there are no current plans to close.
Hamvention General Chairman Jim Tiderman, N8IDS, shared Wampler's current optimism in a statement issued after the news reports ran. He said DARA "is fully committed to (holding) the 2016 Dayton Hamvention at Hara Arena and Exposition Center … on May 20, 21, 22, 2016," and told the newspaper that "We do not have any plans whatsoever for relocating."

Tiderman dismissed other reports as "speculation," but added that DARA is "still (keeping) an open mind to alternate plans in case they become necessary." The news articles had reported that Hamvention officials had met with the Dayton/Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau and others to examine other possible venues within the Dayton area in the event that Hara was no longer an option.

Bottom line: As of early October, Hara Arena remains open and intends to host the Hamvention next May; and DARA will hold the 2016 Hamvention at Hara as long as the facility is still open. However, uncertainty continues and contingency plans are being considered in case a move is necessary.