Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Opportunities for Young Hams - YOTA Camp and Scholarships

YOTA Camp Applications Accepted Through March 15
 Licensed amateurs from North, Central and South America between the ages of 15 and 25 are encouraged to apply for this summer's first-ever North American edition of the popular Youth on the Air (YOTA) Camp. The deadline is March 15. There are slots for 20 to 30 campers to attend (20 guaran- teed; up to 10 additional slots may be added if funding is available).

The North American YOTA Camp will be held from June 21-26, 2020, at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting near Cincinnati, Ohio. Cost of attendance is $100 plus transportation to and from the museum. Some scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee, which is not collected until after an applicant has been accepted. For details or to apply online, visit <http://YouthOnTheAir.org>.

Foundation for Amateur Radio Scholarships Available

 Applications are now being accepted by the Foundation for Amateur Radio for the more than 50 scholarships it admin- isters. Initial applications are due by April 30, with amendments permitted through May 7. Amounts vary widely as do requirements for individual scholarships, although a general requirement is to hold a valid amateur radio license and be enrolled in or accepted to an accredited college, university or technical school. According to the ARRL, applicants submit a single application and are considered for any award for which they qualify. Detailed information and application forms are available on the FAR website at <https://tinyurl.com/t5cpmrm>.

ARRL Board Fires its CEO

Barry Shelley, N1VXY,
is the ARRL's new
interim CEO.
(ARRL photo)
The ARRL board of directors voted at its January meeting not to renew the contract of CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX. No official reason was provided. However, Hudson Division Director Ria Jairam, N2RJ, suggested in an email to members that lack of progress in the League's new "lifelong learning project" was a key factor from her perspective, along with a statement that the ARRL doesn't "hire a CEO simply for their 'vision.' Rather, the CEO is the person that manages the League staff at the direction of the Board." Michel had been CEO for just over a year. 
Former ARRL Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY, was named interim CEO while a search committee interviews candidates in preparation for submitting three candidates to the full board for a vote. Shelley had also served as interim CEO in 2018 before Michel was selected for the position.

Change of Leadership at AMSAT

Clayton Coleman, W5PFG, has been elected president of AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, following the resignation of Joe Spier, K6WAO, for personal reasons. Spier had served as president since late 2017. Coleman was previously AMSAT secretary and served on the organization's board of directors from 2017 to 2019. He has been involved in amateur satellite activities since 2011.

Amateur Satellite WiFi Network Proposed

(KE4AL drawing via Twitter)
Also in the news from AMSAT is a proposal for launching a constellation of nanosatellites which will talk to each other as well as stations on the ground. According to the AMSAT News Service, the goal of the so-called amsatLink project - proposed by AMSAT VP of User Services Robert Bankston, KE4AL - is to create an ad-hoc 802.11 wireless network, using amateur frequencies in the 2.4-GHz band, which would support data modes as well as digital voice. The program would use off-the-shelf components to hold down costs. It's estimated that each satellite would cost less than $5,000 and that ground stations could be set up with an investment of about $150.

Did Earthquake in Turkey Rile Up the Ionosphere?

(UN World Food Programme map via reliefnet.int)
When a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck an area in eastern Turkey on January 24, hams from the country's national amateur radio association provided tactical communications in the affected area and, according to the ARRL Letter, helped the Ministry of Health get a mountaintop repeater installed and operational. 
Half a world away, meanwhile, the earthquake may have been making an impact on the ionosphere. Newsline reports that hams operating the North American "Noontime Net" on 40 meters noted "an attenuation of the amateur bands" at nearly the exact time that the quake occurred. It says researchers are studying possible links between earthquakes and propagation, noting that stresses in rocks along a fault line just before a quake cause the release of positive ions into the atmosphere. Those ions then rise into the upper atmosphere, says the report, possibly causing anomalies in the ionosphere.

7X7X DXpedition Highlights Young Operators

(Courtesy 7X7X QRZ page)
Young members of the 7X7X DXpedition team
(Courtesy 7X7X QRZ page)
If you worked the 7X7X DXpedition in Algeria at the beginning of this year, you were helping motivate young hams as well as working a new country! According to the ARRL Letter, the 9-person DXpedition team included four hams in their 20s, three of whom had previously taken part in YOTA (Youngsters on the Air) activities in Europe and Africa. The four young hams included two each from Algeria and Tunisia. Four of the older hams were also from Algeria, with Tunisian team co-leader and well-known DXer Ash Chaabane, 3V8SF/KF5EYY, rounding out the crew. 
The station operated on the QO-100 satellite as well as 160 meters and all the HF bands, for a total of 5800 contacts in four days. "We urge all DXpeditioners to involve youngsters in their future trips," said Chaabane, and to "do their best to make it easy and least costly for them."

ARRL to Strongly Oppose Withdrawal of 3-GHz Band

The ARRL is in the process of preparing a "strong response" in opposition to an FCC proposal to reallocate the current 3.3-3.5-GHz amateur band for 5G wireless use. While the band is shared and the current amateur allocation is secondary, hams are making varied uses of the spectrum, according to the ARRL Letter. The FCC has asked for comments about current amateur uses and possibilities for relocation. 

The ARRL response is expected to include uses for EME (moonbounce), terrestrial DXing, satellite communication, mesh networks and amateur television, and that some of these activities cannot be moved to other bands because of the international nature of frequency allocations. Initial comments on WT Docket 19-348 were due on February 21, with reply comments due by March 23.

ITU Publication Spotlights Amateur Radio EmComm

Government administrations are being encouraged by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to include amateur radio in their national emergency plans. The ARRL Letter reports that the ITU Development Sector's latest ITU Guidelines for national emergedy telecommunication plans highlights the ongoing contributions of radio amateurs in emergency communications. "They are experts in radio communication and have the equipment, skills and necessary frequencies … to deploy networks in emergency events quickly and efficiently."

FCC Commissioner Questions Future of ITU

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly has proposed to Congress that the U.S. consider developing an
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly (FCC photo)
alternative to the International Telecommunica- tion Union, or ITU, for future matters of international spectrum management. 

O'Rielly told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that the ITU and its quadrennial World Radiocommunication Conferences, or WRCs, may actually be stifling progress in promoting advanced technology. He noted that in the ITU, as an agency of the United Nations, each country has just one vote and that at the last WRC, it seemed that certain countries came with the goal of opposing whatever the U.S. wanted. He proposed creating a separate body of the world's telecommunication leaders - similar to the G7, or Group of Seven major economies - to effectively bypass the ITU in the future.

New Extra Class Question Pool Released

The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) has released an updated version of the Amateur Extra Class question pool. The new pool will be used for constructing license exams given between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2024. According to an NCVEC announcement, the new pool has nearly 100 fewer questions than the current one. It says 239 questions have been modified, 49 new ones have been added and 139 - deemed to be outdated - were removed. The new pool has 10 diagrams, down two from the current one.

New Law Adds Teeth to Pirate Radio Crackdown

The FCC doesn't do much enforcement on the amateur bands, but it has been cracking down heavily on unlicensed, or "pirate," broadcasters in the commercial AM and FM bands. Now, a new law authorizes higher fines and swifter action against unlicensed broadcasters.
The "Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement," or PIRATE, Act, was signed into law in late January. According to the ARRL Letter, the new law increases maximum fines to $100,000 per day of violation, up to a maximum of $2 million. It also allows the FCC to skip issuing a Notice of Unlicensed Operation and go directly to a Notice of Apparent Liability, in which the specifics of a proposed fine are detailed. Authorized unlicensed low-power broadcasting under Part 15 rules (e.g., carrier current) is exempted from the new law.

Names and Locations Changing for Two Ham Gatherings

First is was "Dayton" moving to Xenia … now two other big ham gatherings are changing locations and one has even changed its name.
New England's venerable Boxboro Hamfest is moving to nearby Marlborough, Massachusetts, changing its date from early September to late July (24-26 this year) and changing its name to the Northeast HamXposition. The ARRL Letter reports that the event chairman says the new location has more space, more parking and better access to restaurants.
The Letter also reports that the W9DXCC Convention is moving to the Chicago Marriott Hotel in the suburb of Naperville, Illinois. This year's event will reportedly include both a Contest University and a DX University, along with the customary forums, banquet, etc.

Prefix Hunters: Special Calls Abound

This year is featuring several short-term special call signs as well as a permanent change in Spain. The South African Radio League is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year and the country's regulatory authority has authorized a special call of ZS95SARL to be used throughout 2020. SARL reports that different clubs will be activating the call at different times, based on a schedule that was still being finalized at press time.
Also in the Southern Hemisphere, the Cairns Amateur Radio Club in Australia is celebrating the semisesquicentennial (250th anniversary) of an historic trip by Captain James Cook up Australia's east coast from what is now Sydney to far northern Queensland, where Cairns is located. Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that the club has been authorized to us VI250COOK from May 1 through August 31. During this time, Cook's trip will be replicated by the Australian Maritime Museum's replica of his ship, the Endeavour. The call will also be used by clubs along the route as the ship makes its voyage. See the VI250COOK entry on qrz.com for more info.

Finally, Spain has authorized the issuance of permanent 2x1 call signs to qualifying amateurs. EA5BB, for example, is becoming EA5U. According to the ARRL Letter, the new short calls will be available to Spanish hams who have at least 15 years of "international amateur radio" experience and have never been sanctioned by the regulatory authorities.

"Bucket List" QSO

(Courtesy K8CX Ham Gallery)
A 96-year-old ham in Canada has realized one of her "bucket list" wishes by making contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station from VE3OSC, the ham station at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.
According to the AMSAT News Service, Jean Moffatt, VE3WAD, has been a volunteer at VE3OSC for over 30 years. The science center staff worked with ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) Canada to arrange the contact with Commander Luca Parmitano on January 22. The contact was covered by local Toronto media.

A Whale of an Opportunity

 The New England Aquarium and Draper Laboratory of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are teaming up to use satellites to track the travels of radio-equipped whales in the ocean, and Draper's Chief Scientist wants hams to help. John Irvine says the program is still in its planning stages but hopes to be able to leverage the widespread locations of hams around the world to assist scientists with monitoring transmissions from radio-tagged whales. CQ will bring you more details as the plans develop.