Thursday, November 19, 2020

End of the Line for Arecibo's Iconic 1000-Foot Dish Antenna

In light of two cable failures over the course of several months, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has accepted engineering recommendations to decommission and disassemble the iconic 305-meter (1000-foot) radiotelescope that is the focal point of activity at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The engineering reports indicated that it would not be safe for workers to try to make repairs on the antenna and that even stress-testing remaining cables could result in their catastrophic failure. Other facilities at Arecibo were not affected by the damage to the main dish and will remain in operation, according to a National Science Foundation news release.

Radiotelescope instruments at Arecibo Observatory
(University of Central Florida photo)
 Opened in 1963, the Arecibo radiotelescope was originally dedicated to studying the ionosphere and was used to make many groundbreaking discoveries, including that of the first binary pulsar, which resulted in the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to Dr. Joe Taylor, K1JT, and Dr. Russell Hulse, ex-WB2LAV.

Angel Vazquez, WP3R, is Head of Telescope Operations at Arecibo. He wrote on the HamSCI reflector that today was "(i)ndeed a sad day for science. I've dedicated 43 years of my life to the AO. We live with memories and thanks to so many of you for being part of that history and living in those memories..."

The NSF news release did not give a specific timeline for the decommissioning and disassembly of the main antenna and appeared to leave the door open for building a new facility in the natural dish that accommodates the current telescope.

“Critical work remains to be done in the area of atmospheric sciences, planetary sciences, radio astronomy and radar astronomy,” said the president of the University of Central Florida (UCF), which manages the observatory for NSF, adding, “UCF stands ready to utilize its experience with the observatory to join other stakeholders in pursuing the kind of commitment and funding needed to continue and build on Arecibo’s contributions to science."

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Volunteers Needed for Propagation Research Project

 From our friends at HamSCI...

HamSCI ( is looking for amateur radio operators around the world to help collect propagation data during the December 14 eclipse across South America. Data collection requires an HF radio connected to a computer.

There will be 24-hour practice runs on November 21 and December 5. The main data recording will run from December 9-16, to ensure an abundance of control data.

Details of the experiment may be found here:

Instructions are also available in Spanish and Portuguese. 

Interested operators should sign up at this link ( or directly contact Kristina Collins at


Monday, November 16, 2020

CQ WPX Contests Add New “Multi-Transmitter Distributed” Category, Remove Single-Op Unassisted Categories

(Sayville, NY – November 16, 2020) – A new “Multi-Transmitter Distributed” category is being added to the CQ World Wide WPX Contests to better accommodate operators who wish to compete as a team without all being in the same physical location. 

According to CQ WPX Contest Directors Bud Trench, AA3B (SSB and CW), and Ed Muns, W0YK (RTTY), the new category will permit up to six separate stations in different locations (but all within the same DX entity and CQ zone) to operate as a single contest entry. This was inspired by innovations being made in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but Trench and Muns say the new category will be permanent.

In addition, QSO alerting assistance will now be permitted in all single-operator categories except for the "Classic" categories. This means that there will no longer be separate listings or recognition for "Assisted" vs. "Unassisted" categories, and all Classic overlay entries must be unassisted. Finally, Classic overlay stations will now have a maximum operating time in each contest of 24 hours rather than the previous 36.

The rule changes take effect with the 2021 running of the WPX contests – RTTY on February 13-14, SSB on March 27-28 and CW on May 29-30. NOTE: These changes apply ONLY to the WPX contests and NOT to the CQ World Wide (CQWW) DX contests.

Complete details will be posted in the near future with the full rules on both the CQ website <> and the WPX contest sites at <> and <>.




Wednesday, November 11, 2020

P5 Remains Atop Clublog Most-Wanted List

Clublog has released its new list of "most-wanted" DX entities and North Korea (P5) is once again at the top. 

The rest of the top-ten, in order, are all islands: Bouvet (3Y/B), Crozet (FT5/W), Scarborough Reef (BS7H), San Felix (CE0X), Pratas (BV9P), Kure (KH7K), Johnston (KH3), Peter I (3Y/P) and Kerguelen (FT5/X). The complete list is on the Clublog website at <>.

Nominations Open for Hamvention Awards

The Dayton Hamvention® is accepting nominations for its four annual awards until February 15, 2021. Awards will be made for Technical Achievement, Special Achievement, Amateur of the Year and Club of the Year. These are considered to be among the most prestigious awards the amateur radio community confers each year. Nominations may be emailed to <> or mailed to Hamvention, Attn: Awards Committee, P.O. Box 964, Dayton, OH 45401-0964. Complete details and links to nomination forms may be found at <>.

Emergency Managers Monitor Colorado Wildfire with Amateur TV Video

The Boulder (Colorado) Amateur Television Club was able to provide live video feeds of October's CalWood forest fire to the Boulder County Amateur Radio Emergency Service command post at the county emergency operations center (EOC), where the pictures were displayed on a large-screen monitor. 

According to the ARRL Letter, the images were shot by a camera located about 15 miles from the fire and equipped with a telephoto lens. The transmissions were relayed via the club's W0BTV repeater, which also carried audio from the Boulder County ARES emergency net on 2 meters. The fire consumed more than 10,000 acres and destroyed more than two dozen homes. It was not expected to be fully contained until late November.

Low-Band Authority ON4UN SK

John Devoldere, ON4UN, a leading authority on DX and propagation in the low HF and MF portions of the spectrum, passed away on November 9. His ARRL book, "ON4UN's Low-Band DXing," graces the bookshelves of many serious 80- and 160-meter operators. In a Facebook post on November 10, John's daughter Marleen wrote that "John's health has steadily deteriorated throughout the year, but in the last few weeks he was home with us where he peacefully passed away yesterday." She added, "I am grateful to the many of you who have given him so much joy over the years." A "digital farewell ceremony" was planned for November 21. (Tnx W1PJE)

FCC Moves to New Offices (But No One Moves In)

The FCC has relocated its Washington, DC headquarters to 45 L Street, NE – a move planned for last spring but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The move was conducted without any FCC employees present as virtually all of them are working from home and are not expected to move into their new offices until next June at the earliest.

 The ARRL Letter reports that mail delivery to the Commission will be unaffected by the move, as the agency has its own Zip Code so the mail would be delivered properly regardless of the address on the envelope. COVID restrictions continue to prohibit hand-delivery of documents and access to FCC offices, like most federal buildings, is extremely limited.

ARRL Urges No Changes in International Allocations for 3 and 10 GHz

Maintain the status quo --- that's the gist of the ARRL's comments to the FCC's advisory committee for the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), which issued two draft recommendations in October. The League urged the committee to propose no changes to the international allocations for either the 3.3-GHz band or the 10-GHz band, each of which currently grants amateurs secondary access (worldwide for 10 GHz; the Americas, Asia and Oceania for 3.3 GHz). 

This despite the FCC's recent action to remove the domestic amateur allocation at 3.3-3.5 GHz to open up more spectrum for 5G wireless services. The comments acknowledged this move, according to the ARRL Letter, but urged no changes in the international allocations "until more is known about the technical characteristics of equipment that will be used by new services and the extent of geographic build-out." 

There is also pressure to reallocate the 10-GHz band for international mobile telecommunications; the ARRL argued that hams are good neighbors to current primary users of that band and will continue to be in the future.

ARRL Requests Accommodations for Amateur and University Satellites in Proposed Debris Mitigation Rules

The ARRL says certain provisions of proposed FCC rules to limit orbital debris from satellites would "seriously impair the ability of amateur and university experimenters to launch and operate satellites under U.S. auspices." According to the ARRL Letter, ARRL comments to the FCC on its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the debris mitigation proceeding focused on two specific areas, indemnification and maneuverability / propulsion. The League cited liability potential and high insurance costs to individual licensees as well as prohibitions on certain public universities from entering into indemnification arrangements. The League proposed exempting amateur and university satellites from indemnification requirements or, if it insisted on mandating it, to allow satellite owners as well as licensees to take responsibility.

On proposed propulsion rules – which would require satellites in low-earth orbit to be able to maneuver once in orbit – the ARRL proposed exempting small satellites that cannot accommodate propulsion systems or fuel in the limited space available. Overall, it said the FCC should not lump amateur and educational satellites in with large corporate satellite operators.

ARISS Looking for Alumni of First School Contact

It was just about 20 years ago – December 21, 2000 – that the first school contact from the International Space Station was made through the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program. ARISS is looking for participants in that first contact, between astronaut Bill Shepherd and students at the Luther Burbank School in Burbank, Illinois. Former students, family members or staff who took part are urged to contact Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, via e-mail to his call sign

COVID-19 has severely limited current ARISS contacts, but at least one school has been able to make it happen. Teacher Kelly Cammarano, KM6SMW, of the Ramona Lutheran Christian School in Ramona, California, coordinated the first direct ARISS contact in the U.S. since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in mid-October. The school had resumed in-person classes at the end of August. The students talked with Expedition 63 commander Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, just days before he returned to Earth after nearly six months in orbit.

ZL Hams Lose 60 Meters

Hams in New Zealand no longer have access to the 60-meter band. Under a provisional agreement with the New Zealand Defence Force, the band's primary user, amateurs had been permitted trial use of two frequencies on 5 MHz. At the end of the trial, though, the military informed the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters that it needed greater access to the spectrum and would not be continuing the arrangement. The ARRL Letter reports that NZART is working with the country's telecommunications regulator to see if there is any other way to provide hams there with continued access to the band.

Milestones: New AMSAT President, Thai King Becomes a Ham

AMSAT's board of directors has elected Robert Bankston, KE4AL, as the amateur satellite organization's next president. Bankston lives in Dothan, Alabama. According to the AMSAT News Service, Bankston holds an Extra Class license and has previously served the group in a variety of capacities, including vice president of user services, treasurer and chair of the 2018 AMSAT Space Symposium. He succeeds Clayton Coleman, W5PFG.

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn, HS10A,
(in suit) accepts his ham license and donated gear
at a palace ceremony. (Radio Amateur Society
of Thailand photo)

Following in his late father's footsteps, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has become a radio amateur as well as patron of the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand. Newsline reports that the monarch, also known as King Rama X, is now also known as HS10A. His father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016, was HS1A. HS10A's palace "shack" is outfitted with two ICOM transceivers, an IC-7300 for HF and an IC-9700 for VHF and UHF.

Milestones: America's Oldest Ham, ARRL Director, SKs

The oldest known amateur radio operator in the United States, and possibly the world, became a Silent Key in October. According to the ARRL Letter, Charles Clifford "Cliff" Kayhart, W4KKP, was 109 years old and had been licensed since 1937. Originally from New Jersey, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II, and had a 30-year career with Magnavox before retiring in 1976. Kayhart was living in South Carolina at the time of his death, and had been active on the air until recently from his assisted living facility.

ARRL Pacific Division Director Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT, also became a Silent Key in October. He was 65. Primarily a contester and DXer, Tiemstra was also heavily involved in emergency communications in his hometown of Oakland, California. He is succeeded on the ARRL board by Vice Director Kristen McIntyre, K6WX, of San Jose. McIntyre is a senior software engineer at Apple. She also holds an amateur license in Japan.

"Last Man Standing" Standing Down

The 2021 television season will be the final one for the long-running TV comedy, "Last Man Standing," in
which star Tim Allen, KK6OTD, portrays outdoor store owner Mike Baxter, who is also a ham, KA0XTT (a fictional call). 

The ham shack frequently seen in Baxter's office, as well as the one in his home basement, were operational, with licensed members of the cast and crew frequently putting them on the air when taping was not in progress. Ham radio occasionally played a role in the program's script as well. 

Producer John Amodeo, AA6JA, told Newsline that 21 new episodes will air in this ninth and final season, after which the program will go into syndication.