Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hamvention Award Nominations Open - Deadline Feb. 1

 Nominations are now being accepted for the Dayton Hamvention®'s 2016 awards. According to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, these prestigious awards include:

  • Amateur of the Year Award - recognizing an individual who has made a long-term, outstanding commitment to the advancement of amateur radio;
  • Technical Excellence Award - for a person who has made an outstanding technical advancement in the field of amateur radio;
  • Special Achievement Award - honoring someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of amateur radio, usually someone who has spearheaded a significant project; and
  • Club of the Year - awarded to a radio club which has made a significant contribution to the advancement of amateur radio. 
Nominations must be received by February 1. Additional details and nomination forms are available on the Dayton Hamvention® Website at:

Nominations or questions may be e-mailed to
or mailed to Dayton Hamvention Awards, PO Box 1446, Dayton, OH 45401-1446. The 2016 Dayton Hamvention will be held on May 20-22 at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Milestones: HRO Founder Bob Ferrero, W6RJ, SK

Bob Ferrero, W6RJ (SK)
(Courtesy HRO website)

Ham Radio Outlet founder Bob Ferrero, W6RJ, became a Silent Key in early December at age 78. A Navy veteran and former California Highway Patrol officer, Bob (then K6AHV) acquired the (only) HRO store in Burlingame, California in 1971. Over the succeeding decades, he turned the company into the world's largest ham radio retail chain, with 14 stores across the United States. 

An active DXer and DXpeditioner, Bob was inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame in 1997 and the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame in 2005. He received special recognition from CQ at the 2009 International DX Convention in Visalia, California, for his many contributions to the amateur radio hobby.

Surprise Operation from North Korea; More Possible in February

Polish DXer Dom Gryzb, 3Z9DX, made a surprise on-air demonstration of amateur radio for officials in North Korea in mid-December and was planning to return to the air for a full-scale DXpedition this month. North Korea (P5) is at the top of every DX "most-wanted" list.
According to the ARRL, Dom appeared unannounced on 20, 15 and 10 meters on December 20 and 21 as P5/3Z9DX, the first time an amateur station had been on the air from North Korea since 4L4FN's operation in 2001-02. The brief operation in December was a demonstration for government officials and coincided with a solar flare that heavily degraded HF propagation. Only a few hundred stations were worked, mostly in Asia. 

Dom - who was headed back home for Christmas - told DX World that he was planning a full-scale operation in February. (Considering the past history of P5 operations, we'll believe it when we see it in the rear-view mirror. -ed.)

A New Ham in Congress

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM),
KG5IKQ (Photo courtesy
House of Representatives)
New Mexico Representative Steve Pearce is now the third Member of Congress with a ham radio license, joining Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI, of Oregon, and Rep. Daniel Benishek, KB8TOW, of Michigan. Pearce, now KG5KIQ, passed his license exam at a test session arranged by ARRL New Mexico Section Manager Ed James, KA8JMW.

 According to the ARRL Letter, Pearce had met previously with James and Rocky Mountain Division Director Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, to discuss ham radio. In mid-November, an aide asked James if he could help arrange a Technician exam for the congressman. He passed and his license was issued on November 18.

Spanish Ham Killed in Afghanistan

(Flag of Spain Courtesy
Wikimedia Commons)
A police officer and ham radio operator serving as an embassy guard at the Spanish embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was among seven members of the diplomatic staff killed in a gun battle with bombers believed to be Taliban fighters. 

According to the ARRL Letter, Isidro Gabino "Gabi" San Martin Hernandez, EB1BT, was working as part of the embassy security team on December 11 when a car bomb exploded at the compound's guest house gate. The bombers then entered the embassy grounds and a 9-hour battle with security officers ensued. San Martin and another police officer were among the seven Spanish casualties. Authorities said all of the attackers were killed by Afghan Police Special Forces.

WRC-15 Rules Out Non-Amateur Use of Amateur Satellite Bands

In addition to creating a worldwide amateur radio allocation on 60 meters (see last month's news), the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) specifically excluded amateur radio frequencies on the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands from consideration at the next conference for expanded spectrum for short-duration, low-orbit non-amateur satellites. 

According to the AMSAT News Service, the only frequencies that will be under consideration for non-amateur satellite use at WRC-19 will be 150.05-174 MHz and 400.15-420 MHz. It was specifically noted that some satellites have used amateur frequencies for telemetry, tracking and command, and that "such use is not in accordance" the ITU regulations defining the amateur radio and amateur satellite services.

UK Begins Revoking Ham Licenses That Have Not Been "Revalidated"

The British telecommunications regulatory agency, Ofcom, has begun the process of revoking amateur licenses that have not been "revalidated" under a recent change in rules that accompanied a 2006 switch from annual license renewals to lifetime licenses. According to the ARRL Letter, over 500 licenses were revoked in the first batch in early December. There is an appeals process, but the Letter reports that Ofcom says none of the first 500 has appealed so far. It is uncertain how many UK amateur licenses will be cancelled for failure to revalidate.

Kosovo Joins IARU; Still No DXCC Credit

SHRAK, the national amateur radio association of Kosovo, has been accepted into membership in the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). 

It was the second time a vote was taken on SHRAK's application. The first time, it lost narrowly and two affirmative votes arrived after the ballot deadline, according to the ARRL Letter, resulting in a request for a re-vote by IARU Region 1, which includes Europe and Africa. 

The ARRL says SHRAK's admission to IARU membership has no effect on its continuing refusal to recognize Kosovo as a DXCC "entity" separate from Serbia, from which it broke away.

MARS/ARES Exercise Deemed a Success

A two-day emergency exercise including both the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) and the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is being termed a success, the ARRL Letter reports, especially with regard to cooperation between the two groups. 

The exercise in early November was built around a scenario of a massive solar flare disrupting communication systems across the United States. MARS stations were asked to make contact with amateur stations in as many US counties as possible. In all, according to Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, contact was made with 26% of all counties by MARS members using primarily NVIS (near-vertical incidence skywave) on HF as well as VHF and UHF repeaters. 

The purpose of the exercise, English said, was to exchange usable information from the local level to the national level in a crisis, adding that success is possible "only through … cooperation among MARS and the larger amateur radio community."

15 Years of Ham Radio on the International Space Station

The first amateur radio contacts from the International Space Station (ISS) were made in late 2000, the beginning of a continuous amateur radio presence on the station. 

A special event to mark the anniversary - a planned slow-scan TV transmission from orbit - was postponed at the last minute, according to the ARRL, due to "complications in planning." At press time in late December, the event had been tentatively rescheduled for mid-January.

Yasme Foundation Awards Multiple Grants

The Yasme Foundation announced a dozen grants in late December to support a variety of amateur radio activities, both on and off the air. 

According to the ARRL, recipients include ARISS, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program; the ARRL Teachers Institute; the Reverse Beacon Network; scholarships through the ARRL Foundation and the Foundation for Amateur Radio; the Youngsters on the Air program in Europe, the Northern California DX Foundation's beacon project; the Haiti Amateur Radio Club; 4U1ITU, the amateur station at the International Telecommunication Union headquarters in Genva, Switzerland; the 2018 World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC); Ethiopian Amateur Radio Society club station ET3AA; the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation and Dokufunk, the Research and Documentation Center for the History of Radio Communications and the Electronic Media in Vienna, Austria. The amounts of the individual grants were not disclosed.

FCC Proposes $25,000 Fine for Interference (But That's Not the Whole Story)

The FCC has proposed fining a California ham $25,000 for alleged intentional interference to a net on 75 meters this past August. But the FCC's history with William Crowell, W6WBJ (ex-N6AYJ) goes back 15 years and his 2007 license renewal application was put on hold and then designated for hearing in 2008. To the best of our knowledge, no hearing has been held and Crowell's 2007 renewal application is still listed as "pending."
In the current case, the Commission responded to complaints that Crowell was deliberately interfering with the Western Amateur Radio Friendship Association net on 3908 kHz on multiple occasions in August 2015. Agents reportedly tracked the source of interfering transmissions to Crowell's station in Diamond Springs, California, and noted that the transmissions included music as well as "racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs and epithets." It proposed fining him $25,000.

Curiously, the Notice of Apparent Liability makes only a single reference in a footnote to the fact that Crowell's license renewal application was designated for hearing seven years ago. Reasons for that designation included allegations of intentional interference, transmitting music, indecent language and one-way communications on amateur frequencies. 

When a renewal application is listed as pending, the licensee may continue to operate even though his/her license has technically expired. There is no indication in any publicly-available FCC documents as to why the hearing process is dragging on nearly through the entire term of the license renewal that the Commission has thus far denied.

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.

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.