Thursday, July 15, 2021

A Message to our Print Subscribers



July 15, 2021

To our loyal readers,

While CQ's digital editions are distributed like clockwork – the first of each month – the print editions are lagging far behind. The general business slowdown due to the pandemic over these past many months has ultimately resulted in an income pinch delaying the printing of these issues. While the world is opening up for business again and our business is getting back to a new normal we find ourselves too far behind to simply catch up. Tough times bring tough choices – and so, as a means of bringing CQ's print edition distribution back in sync we have decided to make CQ's June and July issue digital only issues. The August issue will be CQ's next print edition.

For our readers: We are extending current print subscriptions for two issues and will continue to email PDFs of these issues to all current print subscribers on requested. We have added individual issue links from the CQ homepage – www.cq-amateur-radio.com - so that the June and July issues can be viewed immediately at no charge (links are at the bottom of the homepage).

Thank you for your patience and support.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Solar Cycle 25: More Good News

Another sign of increased solar activity is being reported by spaceweather.com - a decrease in stratospheric cosmic ray levels that appear to be inversely proportional to solar activity. Nearly every week for the past six years, staff at the website, working with students from Earth to Sky Calculus, have been sending weather balloons equipped with radiation sensors into the upper stratosphere to measure cosmic ray levels. Those levels peaked at the solar minimum in late 2019 and have been decreasing ever since. 

Spaceweather's Dr. Tony Phillips explains that the radiation comes from deep space and has to fight its way through the sun's magnetic field in order to reach the Earth. That field weakens during the declining years of each solar cycle and strengthens as solar activity increases. The stronger the sun's magnetic field, the fewer cosmic ray particles are able to break through. A graph of the cosmic ray measurements is available on the spaceweather.com website.

YOTA Camp Under Way in Ohio

Sam Rose, KC2LRC, getteing campers ready for
a foxhunting event at the 2021 YOTA camp
in Ohio. (KD8RTT photo via Twitter)
The first-ever Youth on the Air (YOTA) Camp in the Americas is under way as this is written. The camp was originally scheduled to be held in 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid pandemic. 

Hosted by the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting outside Cincinnati, Ohio, the camp brought together some 30 young amateur radio operators (ages 15-25) from around the United States. Continuing Covid-related travel restrictions did not permit young hams from other countries in North, Central and South America to attend this year.

Highlights of the week-long program included a scheduled contact with an astronaut in orbit through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, program, as well as a weeklong operation of special event station W8Y. Updates and additional information are available on the YOTA website at <http://YouthOnTheAir.org>.

Friedrichshafen "Ham Radio" Show Held Online

Once again prevented by the Covid pandemic from being held in person, the 2021 "Ham Radio" show in Fried- richshafen, Germany, was held entirely online in late June, dubbed "Virtual Ham Radio World." According to the organizers of Europe's largest hamfest, there were two dozen commercial exhibitors at this year's event, as well as 28 associations, 70 lectures and 600 parallel connections. While the organizers were very pleased with the turnout and reception, they made it clear that "a digital event cannot completely replace a trade fair held in person," according to Project Manager Petra Rathgeber. They are very much looking forward to returning to an in-person event in 2022.

Ukraine Declares "Russian Woodpecker" Antenna Site a Cultural Monument

The Duga-1 radar antenna array near Chernobyl.

(Photo by Ingmar Runge via Wikimedia Commons,
CC BY 3.0, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/
w/index.php?curid=34594448>)


The government of Ukraine has declared the massive Duga-1 antenna array near Chernobyl – the source of the infamous "Russian Woodpecker" over-the-horizon radar signals in the 1970s and 80s – as a protected cultural monument. According to the Vice online newsletter, the designation is part of an effort by Ukraine to get the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and surrounding buildings all declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, the Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators reported that vandals were removing pieces of the huge structure and that added protection was needed.

For those too young to remember, the "woodpecker" was a Soviet-era early warning radar system built to detect incoming nuclear missiles from the United States. Its tapping signals caused havoc on the HF ham bands as they swept through the shortwave spectrum. Chernobyl, of course, is the site of the world's worst nuclear power disaster in 1986 and the Duga-1 array is within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It is speculated by some that the Chernobyl power plant was built primarily to provide electricity to the Duga radar.

 

Milestones: Changes at IARU and in Amateur Industry

New IARU Secretary Joel Harrison, W5ZN
(ARRL photo)
Former ARRL CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, who stayed on as Secretary of the International Amateur Radio Union after his retirement from the League, has now stepped down from that position as well. The new IARU Secretary (traditionally a U.S. amateur associated with the ARRL) is former ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN. Harrison took over the position on July 1.

IARU Region 1, covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East, lost its vice president to Covid-19 in early July. Faisal Al-Ajmi, 9K2RR, became a Silent Key after a long hospitalization. According to Newsline, Al-Ajmi had held the region's number-two spot since 2014. He was an accomplished contester and advocate for amateur radio in the Arab world.


Chris Fox, NI4L, is the new owner of the EZ-Hang antenna launcher company. He has merged the line of specially-designed slingshots into his NI4L Antennas and Electronics company (http://ni4l.com), which currently markets wire antennas, baluns and related products.

FCC Finalizes Fine Against Drone Maker


The FCC has reaffirmed its previous decision to fine drone maker HobbyKing $2.8 million for marketing non-compliant RF equipment and for failing to respond to FCC orders in the course of its investigation, which was instigated by the ARRL. According to the ARRL Letter, the League filed a complaint with the FCC in 2017 when its lab confirmed that the company's unmanned aircraft were not FCC-certified and operated on a variety of frequencies allocated to other services, including the 1300-MHz ham band, as well as GPS and air-traffic-control frequencies.

According to the Letter, HobbyKing first denied selling its transmitters to U.S. customers, then said it was never informed of the FCC's authorization requirements and that replying to the Commission's enforcement inquiries would violate its Fifth Amendment rights. In a Memorandum Opinion and Order issued on June 17, the FCC didn't buy any of it, denying the company's Petition for Reconsideration because it "fail(ed) to present new information warranting reconsideration."

R0FK/POLE Polar DXpedition

R0FK's special QSL card for his North Pole
expedition (from RF0K QRZ.com page)
Talk about social distancing … Fedor Konyukhov, R0FK, set sail with a Russian research team in mid-July for the North Pole. In addition to studying ice melt patterns and drift routes, Newsline reports that he will set up a shack on an ice floe and operate R0FK/POLE on 20 meters. 

In addition to being a scientist and a ham, Konyukhov is also a writer and an artist. He hopes to combine all four of these passions during the expedition.

Listen to Recordings of your QSOs


The free QSO Recorder Indexing Service allows hams who record contest and DXpeditions to share those recordings and for those who make contact with them to search for and listen to their contacts from the other end. The ARRL Letter says interested hams may upload their recordings to Dropbox.com, which allows you to store up to 2 GB (approximately 12,000 short QSOs) for free, with additional space available for purchase. The QSO Recorder Indexing Service then allows users to search the site, based on call sign, and retrieve recordings of their contacts. For information, visit <http://qsorder.hamradiomap.com>.

Shining a Light on the New Solar Cycle

Sun science "forever" stamps from the U.S.
Postal Service (USPS photo)

The U.S. Postal Service is highlighting the new sunspot cycle with the release of a set of stamps featuring photos of the sun taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, an orbiting telescope that has been gathering data about the sun since 2010. According to Newsline, the stamps feature 10 images, including plasma blasts solar flares, coronal holes, coronal loops and, of course, sunspots! Look for them at your local post office.

Putting Pluto Back on the Air

W7P special event certificate (courtesy NADXA)
Speaking of space… 

The Northern Arizona DX Association'sW7P special event last February honoring the discovery of Pluto was so popular that the group is putting on a repeat perform- ance in early August. Newsline reports that W7P will be back on the air from August 6-8 and will once again feature the opportunity to work Doug Tombaugh, N3PDT, nephew of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh – who discovered the mini-planet in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Doug Tombaugh will be operating as W7P/0. The special event will continue annually through the centennial of Pluto's discovery in 2030.

Satellite Roundup

 Still speaking of space… we have several satellite news items for you …

MO-112 Satellite overlaid on
image of SpaceX Cargo Dragon
launch in early June.
(SpaceMauritius.com image)
The first amateur satellite from Mauritius is in orbit and operating. MIR-SAT 1 was launched from the International Space Station on June 22 and has now been renamed MIRSAT-OSCAR 112. According to the AMSAT News Service, it carries a digipeater and a camera experiment. Details are available from <https://spacemauritius.com>.

Two satellites operating on amateur frequencies were launched June 30 as part of a multi-satellite launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9. One, from Kuwait, appears to be commercially-built, according to the AMSAT News Service, and the other was built by the University of the Mexican Army and Air Force.

Artist's conception of WISA
Woodsat satellite in orbit.
(European Space Agency image)
 Finally, a wooden cubesat called WISA Woodsat made a successful test flight into the stratosphere in June. The ARRL Letter reports that the plywood satellite, built by a Finnish wood company, was lifted 19 miles by a weather balloon, took selfie videos and parachuted back to Earth. An actual launch into orbit is planned, with the goal of collecting data on the behavior and durability of plywood in the space environment.

Monday, June 14, 2021

2023 Bouvet DXpedition in Limbo

Update: Efforts are under way between the 3Y0J team and the new owners of the Braveheart to allow Nigel Jolly to remain as the ship's captain and for the DXpedition to go on as planned. We will keep you updated.

-------

The 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island planned for 2023 (see June issue DX column) has been cancelled. 

According to organizers Paul Ewing, N6PSE, and Kenneth Opskar, LA7GIA, the change in plans resulted from the recent sale of the ship RV Braveheart, on which the group planned sail to the remote island in the Southern Ocean. 

In an announcement to the DX community on June 13, Ewing and Opskar said that the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic prompted owner and captain Nigel Jolly, K6NRJ, to sell the vessel, which had transported numerous DXpeditions to and from their destinations. As a result of the sale, the group's contract was cancelled and its deposit was refunded.

The announcement also said that the group had stopped accepting donations and was beginning the process of refunding 100% of all donations already made. "We will continue to research other ships," the statement concluded, "and possibly find another suitable vessel for a future project."

A Kickstart for Cycle 25?

Solar physicist Scott
McIntosh (Nat'l
Center for Atmos-
pheric Research photo)
The solar scientist who's been bucking the tide of pessimism from most of his colleagues and predicting a huge sunspot cycle (see News Bytes, Sept. 2020 issue) continues to see lots and lots of spots in the future. According to spaceweather.com, Scott McIntosh of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, along with colleague Bob Leamon of the University of Maryland/Baltimore County, are predicting that a "terminator event," in which oppositely charged magnetic fields collide near the sun's equator and annihilate each other, will be occurring soon. This is a normal occurrence between solar cycles, they say, but the key to predicting the strength of the new cycle lies in the timing between terminator events – the longer the time between them, the weaker the new cycle will be. They are predicting a short 10 years between the previous terminator event and the upcoming one, and McIntosh says, "If the Terminator Event happens soon, as we expect, new Solar Cycle 25 could have a magnitude that rivals the top few since record-keeping began."

Asked about the fact that most other solar scientists feel the new cycle will be a weak one, like its processor, McIntosh replied, "What can I say? We're heretics!"

NOAA: Expect Another Active Hurricane Season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic and Caribbean this year, but does not expect a repeat of last year's season in which the number of named storms exceeded the letters in alphabet. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says we should expect 13-20 named storms, of which 6-10 will develop into hurricanes and 3-5 will become major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. 

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November 30, but the season's first named storm, Ana, developed in late May. The center is also predicting a near- or below-normal season in the central Pacific.

A Tale of Two SATERNs


Among hams, SATERN has long been an acronym for the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network. Now, according to the ARRL, it also stands for Strategic Auxiliary Team Emergency Readiness Net, a new group organized by former Salvation Army SATERN manager Lee Glassman, WA5LEE. To make matters even more confusing, the "new SATERN" holds daily nets on 14.265 MHz, the frequency formerly used by the original SATERN for its daily nets, which have now been moved to 14.325 MHz on a reduced 3-day-a-week schedule.

Logo of the "new" SATERN - Strategic
Auxiliary Team Emergency Readiness Net

Salvation Army SATERN National Committee Chair Michele Heaver told ARRL that her organization considers the new SATERN to be a "breakaway" group, does not support it and has no association with it. Glassman reportedly took the action because of "a conflict of ideals," including increased credentialing requirements and background checks being imposed by The Salvation Army on net members, and because it stopped holding daily nets on 14.265. He said his new group used the same acronym and frequency because they were already familiar to net participants.

Latest WSJT-X Release Includes New Q65 Mode

WSJT-X Q65 screen
(from WSJT website)
A new version (2.4.0) of WSJT-X, the software suite that includes FT8 and other digital protocols, has introduced a new mode, Q65. According to the release notes, it is designed to accommodate fast-fading signals and paths with Doppler shifts of more than a few Hertz. "Q65 is particularly effective," the notes say, "for tropospheric scatter, rain scatter, ionospheric scatter, TEP (trans-equatorial propagation) and EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) on VHF and higher bands." It uses the same message formats and sequencing as those used in FST4, FT4, FT8 and MSK144. Q65 is one of 11 total modes included in the latest WSJT-X package. For more information or to download the free software, visit <https://tinyurl.com/nzcmxywm>.

"Oh, the Humanity!" - CQ DX Editor at Center of New Hindenburg Documentary

The crash of the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937.
N2OO's uncle, Harold Schenck, shot film of
the disaster from a different angle.  (US
Information Agency photo, via National
Archives)

One of the most famous air disasters in history was the May 6, 1937 crash of the Hindenburg airship as it prepared to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey. WLS (Chicago) radio reporter Herbert Morrison was on the scene recording the landing when the ship burst into flames and crashed to the ground, leading to his famous quote, "Oh, the humanity!"

The source of the spark that ignited the hydrogen gas that carried the Hindenburg had not been determined in the nearly 85 years that have passed since the disaster. Enter CQ DX Editor Bob Schenck, N2OO, and airship expert Dan Grossman, whom Bob met while operating a special event station , W2H/75, at a 75th anniversary observance in Lakehurst in 2012. It seems that back in 1937, Bob's mom and his uncle were at Lakehurst to watch the Hindenburg's arrival, and Uncle Harold was filming the landing. He was in a different spot than all the newsreel cameramen and had a different perspective on the airship as it approached. According to Bob, his uncle offered to share the film with investigators at the time, but no one was interested.

Skip ahead 75 years and Dan Grossman was very interested. Now, Bob, and Uncle Harold's film, are the centerpieces of a PBS "Nova" documentary, "Hindenburg; The New Evidence." The program aired on May 19 but is available online at <https://tinyurl.com/3fhphy7w>. There's enough science and technology involved to keep most hams interested. And the secret word is: capacitor. (Tnx to N2OO and NL7XM)


SuperDARN Radars Identified as QRM Source on HF

SuperDARN radar site in Saskatchewan
(Photo by Daryl Mitchell via
Wikimedia Commons)
The ARRL Letter reports that the SuperDARN ionospheric research radar network has been identified by the International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring Service as a source of interference on 14.210 MHz and possibly other frequencies. This is in addition to over-the-horizon radars, mostly based in Russia and China, that have long been sources of QRM on the HF ham bands.

SuperDARN stands for Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, which operates 35 HF radars in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They operate continuously to track the motion of charged particles in the ionosphere and help scientists better predict space weather hazards, such as geomagnetic storms.

ARDC is Busy With Major Grants

Amateur Radio Digital Communications, or ARDC, administers the AMPRNet (44) internet domain and recently came into lots of money as a result of selling off a portion of that domain that it determined it was unlikely ever to be used by hams. In 2019, it began making grants for various projects and programs involving amateur radio and/or digital communications. It recently made its largest grant ever as well as its first international grant.

The organization donated $1.6 million in May to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help save its iconic radome and large dish antenna it protects from removal as part of roof renovations on the building where it sits. The dish is used by the MIT Radio Society, W1MX, for moonbounce and other microwave communications, as well as radioastronomy. Plans are being developed for additional uses by the university and the club.

A separate ARDC grant to the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC, Germany's national ham radio organization), will help in "boosting and securing European HAMNET expansion by providing sponsored hardware for radio links to make use of the AMPRNet IP space in Europe," according to ARDC. It is the group's first grant to an organization outside the United States. HAMNET is a high-speed digital network using amateur radio microwave bands.


Recognition for Slow Speed CW Net

The K1USN Radio Club in Massachusetts has won the 2021 CWOps Award for Advancing the Art of CW, in recognition of its weekly SST, or Slow Speed [con]Test, net. The Morse code promotion group said the net "provides a place for new and unpracticed CW operators to gather and operate at relaxed speeds in a friendly and encouraging manner that helps them continue to improve their CW skills."

K1USN is a club made up of civilian, former and current military radio hobbyists. Information on its SST net may be found at <www.k1usn.com/sst.html>.

CWOps is an organization made up of hams who can send and receive Morse code at speeds of at least 25 words per minute. It sponsors the CW Academy, scholarships, the above award and many on-air activities. For more information, visit <https://cwops.org/>.

ARRL Staff Changes

Several staff changes have been announced by the ARRL as a result of the recent retirements of long-time staffers and an ongoing reorganization of the Field Services Department, which administers the League's volunteer organization along with elected Section Managers.

Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, retired in early June after nearly 23 years on the ARRL staff. He is being replaced by Field Services Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, who is retaining responsibility for contest management. The new Field Services Manager is Mike Walters, W8ZY, who comes to the position from the volunteer post of Connecticut Section Emergency Coordinator.

Finally, Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, has retired from his job as ARRL Operations Manager and has been replaced by well-known contester (and former CQ World Wide DX Contest co-director) Bob Naumann, W5OV. Naumann most recently worked in sales for DX Engineering.

 On the topic of retirements, former ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has announced his retirement as of December from another longtime post, as General Counsel for the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). Imlay has worked with that organization since 1980, according to RadioWorld, which says his roster of other clients has included JVC Kenwood, NASCAR, the National Football League and Goodyear. Imlay served as Counsel and General Counsel for the ARRL from 1982 to 2018. He was recently inducted into the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame (see announcement below and article in July issue).