Wednesday, November 25, 2015

60 Meters Goes Worldwide

Worldwide DXing on 60 meters will become a possibility over the next several years, following approval by the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in November of a worldwide secondary amateur allocation between 5351.5 kHz and 5366.5 kHz. Power will generally be limited to 15 watts effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP), according to the ARRL. This is the first new worldwide amateur HF allocation since the 30, 17 and 12-meter bands were approved in 1979.

The 5-MHz band is currently available on a country-by-country basis. In the US, amateurs currently have access on a secondary basis to five discrete channels between 5330 and 5405 kHz, and are permitted to operate SSB, CW and PSK-31 with up to 100 watts EIRP. It is not clear how the WRC action will affect the US amateur allocation, since it creates a smaller band with lower power limits. There will be no change to the current allocation, however, until the U.S. adopts the conference's final acts and the FCC goes through the rulemaking procedures to put any new rules in place.

Amateur Radio Parity Act Clears Senate Committee

An ARRL-backed bill to give amateurs in homeowner-association controlled areas the same rights as other hams was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in mid-November and cleared for an eventual vote by the full Senate. The bill, S-1685, also known as the Amateur Radio Parity Act, would extend the FCC's limited pre-emption of state and municipal antenna ordinances to private land use restrictions as well. According to the ARRL, it would give amateurs living in antenna-restricted communities "the opportunity to negotiate with homeowners associations to install an antenna that reasonably accommodates amateur radio communication." A companion bill in the House of Representatives, HR 1301, is still in committee even though it has over 100 co-sponsors.

FCC Licensing Computer Problems Persist

A key element of the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS) computer continues to shut down periodically, backing up the flow of license applications and grants. According to the ARRL, the computer's electronic batch filing system, or EBF, is the source of the problem, which has caused at least three shutdowns since the FCC's computer system was upgraded last September. The League says FCC staff has now identified the cause of the problem and hopes to have a permanent fix in place as soon as possible. Meanwhile, staffers are monitoring the system and processing applications manually whenever the snafu pops back up.

ARES Uproar in Oregon

Oregon's state Office of Emergency Management has had a falling-out with the head of the state's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organization. 

According to news reports, Section Emergency Coordinator Vince Van Der Hyde, K7VV, told ARES members not to participate in a state OEM drill because he was not happy with the state's equipment or its notice to volunteers about the drill. The state said it would no longer work with Van Der Hyde, but emphasized that it was not cutting ties with the ARES organization itself.

ARRL Oregon Section Manager Everett Curry, W6ABM, who oversees all aspects of the ARRL field organization in the state, including ARES, assured the state's emergency coordinators that the organization would continue to work with the state OEM. He w2as scheduled to meet with OEM officials in late November.

Good News, Bad News, From Orbit


 AMSAT-NA's first cubesat - formerly known as Fox-1A and now AMSAT-OSCAR 85 - has been formally commissioned and is now in regular amateur service. It apparently suffers from a lack of
sensitivity, according to the AMSAT News Service, so AMSAT is recommending a minimum uplink power level of 200 watts EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power). Contacts have been made using 5 watts and a gain antenna such as an Arrow handheld Yagi.


Meanwhile, AMSAT-UK reports that efforts to deploy the experimental de-orbiting sail on the University of Surrey's DeorbitSail satellite have proven unsuccessful, so the control team is refocusing on making the best use of what does work aboard the satellite, which was launched last July. One goal of the project was to demonstrate the use of a deployable sail to quickly slow the satellite's orbit and speed up a planned re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Idiom Press Sold to Ham Supply

Amateur radio publisher and accessory manufacturer Idiom Press has been purchased from the Locher family by Ham Supply of Elizabeth, Colorado. According to a news release, Ham Supply will honor existing warranties for Idiom Press products as well as orders placed but not yet fulfilled as of the time of the sale. Ham Supply says it intends to continue producing Idiom's product line as well as introducing new products of interest to the amateur community. For more information, visit <>.

NJ Ham Murdered in Home Invasion

 A Belleville, New Jersey ham who was a leader in local radio clubs and the state Army MARS organization died in late May as a result of injuries suffered in a home invasion robbery about two weeks earlier. The Nutley Sun newspaper reported that 85-year-old William Fitzsimmons, N2LMU, was knocked unconscious in a home invasion robbery on May 16th, and died of his injuries on May 30. A 25-year-old man from neighboring Nutley was indicted on seven counts, including felony murder, on November 13.

Hams Recognized for Outstanding Contributions

Two organizations recently honored several hams for their contributions to the hobby and to radio in general. 

The Radio Club of America recognized Dr. Nathan Cohen, W1YW, inventor of the fractal antenna, for his work in engineering and manufacturing of radio equipment; David Bart, KB9YPD, for helping preserve the history of radio and electronic communications; Tim Duffy, K3LR, and Gerry Agliata, W2GLA, for their work with the club, and CQ contributor Carole Perry, WB2MGP, for her contributions as a woman in wireless communications. Perry is also RCA's Youth Activities Chair (see her article in the upcoming January issue of CQ).

Separately, Newsline reports that the YASME Foundation granted its 2015 Excellence Award to the development team responsible for the N1MM contest logging program: Tom Wagner, N1MM; Rick Ellison, N2AMG; Steve London, N2IC, and others.

Well-Known Alaskan Contester KL7RA SK

Richard Strand, KL7RA, was a regular presence from Alaska
in major contests for decades.

Richard Strand, KL7RA, became a Silent Key in late November, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the month. The Kenai, Alaska, resident was a very active contester who enjoyed giving out Alaska and/or CQ Zone 1 in various on-air competitions. 

According to the ARRL, Strand was also a contributor to the ARRL Handbook. He was 69.