Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Multiple Events Planned for Centennial of "Transatlantic Tests"

Next month will mark the 100th anniversary of the 1921 "Transatlantic Tests" that marked the beginnings of international shortwave communications via amateur radio, and many events and activities are planned to mark the occasion, including an article here in CQ next month.

The ARRL and RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) are jointly sponsoring several events, according to the ARRL Letter. The first will be the Transatlantic Centenary QSO Party on 16 meters between 0200 and 0600 UTC on December 12, the date on which ARRL's Paul Godley, 2ZE, at a station set up in Androssan, Scotland, successfully received the signals of several amateur stations in North America. The first was 1BCG in Connecticut, operated by members of the Radio Club of America. For the centennial, the ARRL will have W1AW on Top Band and the RSGB, along with the GMDX Group (see last month's DX column) will operate GB2ZE from Scotland. All participants will be able to download a certificate and a special prize will be awarded to the first stations in both North America and the UK to contact both special event stations.

In addition, the Crocodile Rock Amateur Group (CRAG) will operate GB1002ZE from its base near Androssan between December 1 and 26, and all amateurs in the UK and Crown Dependencies have been authorized during that time period to add "/2ZE" after their call signs. For information on additional activities, visit <www.arrl.org/transatlantic> or <www.rsgb.org/transatlantic-tests>.

Finally, the Antique Wireless Association has been busy refurbishing a replica of the transmitter used on the Connecticut end of the Transatlantic Tests at 1BCG, and plans to have it on the air December 11 from a location near the original 1BCG station.

Bouvet DXpedition Garners Grants

The Norwegian group organizing the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island scheduled for next year has received grants from multiple amateur radio organizations in support of its efforts. The ARRL has donated $5000 to Amateur Radio DXpeditions, the trip's sponsor, according to the ARRL Letter. This follows grants of $15,000 from INDEXA, 10,000 Euros from the German DX Foundation, and $100,000 from the Northern California DX Foundation. The DX column in the November issue of CQ contains a comprehensive report on planning for the adventure by expedition co-leader Ken Opskar, LA7GIA.

Meanwhile, the Intrepid DX Group, which originally planned this expedition but had to cancel it when "Braveheart" captain Nigel Jolly, K6NRJ, put the vessel up for sale, reports that the boat now has a new owner who has promised to continue to make it available for amateur radio DXpeditions from its future base in Ushuaia, Argentina.

Covid Continues to Cause Cancellations

The 2021 Tokyo Ham Fair
has been cancelled due to
the ongoing Covid pandemic
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has prompted additional cancellations. The ARRL Letter reports that the Japan Amateur Radio League, JARL, has reluctantly decided to cancel the 2021 Tokyo Ham Fair, which is the world's largest hamfest (yes, even bigger than Dayton). 

In addition, AMSAT changed its October 30, 2021 annual symposium and general meeting  from in-person to virtual. It was scheduled to be held on Zoom and livestreamed on YouTube at <https://youtu.be/RTvcceM7Tz0>. The AMSAT News Service also reported that the event had been renamed the 2021 AMSAT Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO, Memorial Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting in memory of its former president and satellite pioneer, who died in late September (see next item for more on K3IO).

Milestones: K3IO, K7SZ, SKs

Inaugural CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame member Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO (formerly W3IWI), became a Silent Key on September 28 at age 82. Clark was a leading authority on Very Long Baseline Interferometry, a key player in the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and a pioneer in amateur radio digital and satellite communications. As a founding member of TAPR (Tucson Amateur Packet Radio), the AMSAT News Service reported, Clark was a leader in developing the AX.25 digital protocol on which all amateur packet radio is based. He was also AMSAT's second president and was instrumental in developing much of the hardware that flew on multiple amateur satellites. He spent his professional career at NASA.

Longtime CQ and Popular Communications columnist Rich Arland, K7SZ, passed away October 7. Rich was also an authority on QRP (low-power) communication and authored several editions of the ARRL's Low Power Communications book. He was CQ's "Learning Curve" editor from 2010-2012 and a longtime columnist for Popular Communications..

Antarctic Eclipse Festival: Hams Wanted!

There will be total eclipse of the sun over Antarctica on December 4, but the HamSCI citizen science group is asking amateurs around the world to help collect data on changes it causes in radio propagation. According to the ARRL Letter, it is expected that the shadow of the moon crossing over Antarctica will generate traveling ionospheric disturbances, or TIDs, that will in turn affect propagation. 

Hams and shortwave listeners with HF radios connected to computers are asked to collect Doppler-shift data from WWV or other time-and-frequency standard stations between December 1 and December 10 and report the data to an internet site. Complete details and additional information on the Antarctic Eclipse Festival are available at <www.hamsci.org/festivals>.

Parks, Parks and More Parks

The Parks on the Air organization, POTA, has announced the addition of more than 1000 parks to its list of accredited locations. According to a report on Newsline, a small group of volunteers has spent the last several months examining user requests for new park accreditations and adding those that meet the criteria to the system list. 

The organization also announced the formation of a formal help desk, staffed by a rotating group of volunteers, to provide technical support to POTA participants. The desk may be reached at <help@parksontheair.com>. For general information about the program, visit <parksontheair.com>; maps, spotting, leaderboards, etc. are at <pota.app>.

Radio Silence on the Far Side of the Moon

No, this isn't science fiction. It's about anticipated radio astronomy activities from the dark side of the Moon. The AMSAT News Service reports that the International Telecommunication Union has designated a "Shielded Zone of the Moon," and the related Space Frequency Coordination Group has proposed banning all radio transmissions in that region between 300 MHz and 2 GHz, in order to protect radio astronomy. 

This proposed ban would affect Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) as well as any amateur satellites in lunar orbit, such as China's Lunar-OSCAR-93 and -94. If approved, those satellites would not be able to operate on the 435 or 1260-MHz amateur bands. The proposed ban would also apply to satellites in Mars orbit, since Mars regularly passes through the shielded zone.


Falklands Call Sign Issues Resolved

Amateurs in certain British territories in the South Atlantic have been in call sign limbo since 2017, but a regional news service reports that an agreement has finally been reached to resolve it. According to a report from Merco Press, an "administrative oversight" in the new Falkland Islands Communications Ordinance adopted four years ago did not permit the issuance of VP8 calls for amateurs in former Falklands dependencies, but also did not provide for assignment of any other prefixes.

Now, according to the report, after several months of negotiations between Britain's communications regulator, Ofcom, and regulators in affected areas, Ofcom has authorized the use of the VP0 prefix for these territories, while VP8 will be assigned only in the Falklands. The report says legislation will need to be enacted before any of this takes effect. Once finalized, VP0 calls will be issued for amateurs operating in the British Antarctic Territory, the South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. All would be 2x3 calls; and currently-issued VP8 calls for the former dependencies will remain valid until new VP0 calls are issued.

Youth Essay Contest Deadline Extended

The Intrepid-DX Group has extended the submission deadline for its 2021 Youth "Dream Rig" Essay contest to November 15. Young hams age 19 or younger are invited to submit a two-page essay on how amateur radio can "evolve to remain relevant in the age of the Internet." Those who submitted essays last year are invited to do so again. 

The winner will receive a new ICOM IC-7300 transceiver, as long as he/she agrees to use the radio on the air and not to sell or trade it for at least one year. Submissions should be in text or Microsoft Word files and should be emailed to <intrepiddxgroup@gmail.com> by November 15. Questions should be directed to <pauln6pse@gmail.com>. The winner will be announced on December 1.

ARISS Gets Shout-Out from Top NASA Official

NASA Associate
Kathryn Lueders
(NASA photo)

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program has received high-level recognition from NASA.

 In a post on LinkedIn, Kathryn Lueders, the agency's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, said ARISS has been connecting classrooms on Earth with astronauts on board the space station for more than 20 years, noting that in preparation for their contact, "students explore a variety of STEM activities through space exploration, radio communication and wireless technologies." In addition, she said "the ARISS program plays an important role in inspiring … and encouraging students to pursue STEM careers."

All-Ham Crew Heading to Space Station

The International Space Station (NASA photo)
The newest crew on the International Space Station will all be hams. They are scheduled to fly aboard a SpaceX rocket in late October or early November for a 6-month stay on the ISS. 

According to the ARRL Letter, the new ham crew consists of NASA astronauts Raja Chari, KI5LIU; Tom Marshburn, KE5HOC;' Kayla Barron, KI5LAL, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, KI5KFH. Three additional crew members already aboard the station are also hams.

Four Cubesats Deployed from ISS

Two cubesats from Australia and two from the Philippines were deployed into orbit from the International Space Station on October 6. They are Australia's Binar-1 (digital; uplink and downlink both on 70 centimeters) and CUAVA-1 (also digital, but operating on multiple bands between 145 MHz and 76 GHz); plus Maya-3 and -4 from the Philippines (downlink only, APRS, CW and GMSK, 2 meters and 70 centimeters). Their launches were coordinated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA.
Flight models of the Maya-3 and -4 satellites
(Philippines Dept. of Science & Technology photo)

ARDC Funds Improved RFI Tracking in Los Angeles

Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) has given a $23,000 grant to ARESLAX, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service group in the ARRL Los Angeles section, to help it purchase equipment to better track down sources of radio frequency and other forms of electromagnetic interference. 

According to the ARRL Letter, the grant money was used to buy a Fluke ii910 precision acoustic imager, which can pinpoint source of interference and produce photographic evidence. The ARES group also used its own funds to purchase a Radar Engineers 243 RFI Locator, and group members have been learning how to use them. Section Technical Specialist Chris Parker, AF6PX, says he believes ARESLAX now has RFI/EMI locating abilities that exceed those of area utility companies.

ARDC <www.ampr.org> is a foundation that supports technically innovative amateur radio and digital communications projects, as well as funding scholarships and related educational programs. 

Amateur Radio Stars in Young Actors Workshop Film

(Screen capture from "Night")
A group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in Oklahoma wanted to make a film about an imaginary technological disaster (starting when the sun doesn't come up one morning, and power, telephones, the internet and satellites are all down) in which amateur radio plays a starring role. 

The group from the Young Actors Workshop "Camp Hollywood" visited the Edmond Amateur Radio Society's 2021 Field Day operation, looking for someone with film or video experience who could serve as a technical advisor. According to the ARRL Letter, they found ARRL Oklahoma Section Manager (and Public Relations Committee member) Kevin O'Dell, N0IRW, who met those qualifications. He not only consulted on the script and helped assemble radios and props, but ended up in the film as the voice on the radio who responds to the young actors.

Their short feature film, NIGHT, runs 34 minutes and may be viewed on YouTube at <www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf1Q4tS32Ww>.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

ARRL: Clear Frequencies Requested for Possible Nicaragua Earthquake Traffic


From the ARRL, 9/23/21:

ARLX013 Clear Frequencies Requested for Possible Nicaragua
Earthquake Traffic

IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Carlos Alberto Santamaria Gonzalez, CO2JC, has requested that radio amateurs in Central America avoid 7098 and 7198 kHz in the wake of an earthquake at 0957 UTC the morning of September 22 in Nicaragua.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the offshore magnitude 6.5 earthquake has also affected Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The earthquake was followed by another 4.0 temblor and other aftershocks of less intensity, as confirmed by Juan de la Cruz Rodriguez Perez, YN1J, President and National Emergency Coordinator of the Club de Radio Experimentadores de Nicaragua (CREN).

CREN is the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society for Nicaragua.

The earthquake occurred offshore in the North Pacific some 60 miles from Chinandega and approximately 52 miles southwest of the resort town of Jiquilillo, Nicaragua. The USGS said the quake occurred at a depth of approximately 20 miles.

According to the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies, the event was related to the tectonic processes of the collision between the Cocos and Caribe tectonic plates.

Emergency communicator Juan de la Cruz, YN1J, requested the frequency protection.

No tsunami warning has been issued and there have been no immediate reports of damage.

According to the USGS, "Little or no landsliding is expected, but some landslides could have occurred in highly susceptible areas." And, "The number of people living near areas that could have produced landslides in this earthquake is low, but landslide damage or fatalities are still possible in highly susceptible areas. This is not a direct estimate of landslide fatalities or losses."

Monday, September 20, 2021

NEWS from CQ Magazine - W8TEE Joins Contributing Staff, K8ZT Launches New Column


Dr. Jack Purdum, W8TEE, Joins CQ Staff as Microcontrollers Editor
Anthony Luscre, K8ZT, to Refocus on Exploring Ham Radio's Many Facets 


(Sayville, NY, September 20, 2021) - Arduino authority Jack Purdum, W8TEE, is joining the CQ staff as Microcontrollers Editor, while current Microcontrollers Editor Anthony Luscre, K8ZT, shifts to a new column encouraging hams to try new activities within the hobby, CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, announced today. 

Purdum is a retired professor of computer technology at Purdue University, who previously taught at Creighton and Butler Universities. He is the author or co-author of several programming books, including two editions of Arduino Projects for Amateur Radio and, more recently, Microcontroller Projects for Amateur Radio. Jack has written previously for CQ, most recently as Guest Microcontrollers Editor in our June 2021 issue. Purdum's vision for the column that it "will talk about tips and tricks, useful software tools and even applications that might make experimenting easier. The other thing I want to do is encourage hams who have never tried to program to see how easy it really is, yet the power it brings to the table." Jack's first column will appear in the November issue. 

Luscre, who has been CQ's Microcontrollers Editor since 2018 (and New Products Editor prior to that), will continue as a Contributing Editor, shifting his focus to exploring the many nooks and crannies of amateur radio. His goal is to help expand the horizons of newer hams who are still discovering different aspects of the hobby as well as experienced hams who are looking for a change of pace. Anthony's new column, "Ham Radio Explorer," will premiere in the December issue of CQ

CQ is available by subscription in either print (U.S. only) or digital (worldwide) formats. For details, visit www.cq-amateur-radio.com.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

And Then There Were Two…

The Intrepid DX Group has dropped its plans for a DXpedition to Bouvet Island in the face of two other groups planning trips sooner. According to the ARRL Letter, group president Paul Ewing, N6PSE, says his team is now "re-examining the top 10 most-wanted DXCC entities, with a plan to redirect our efforts to an activation that will be most beneficial for everyone." A DXpedition to somewhere is now planned for early in 2023. Groups led by 3Z9DX and LA7GIA plan to activate Bouvet in late 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

NJ Club Loses Towers and Antennas to Ida - Donations Sought to Help Rebuild

The following is from New Jersey's Gloucester County Amateur Radio Club, via ARRL Southern New Jersey Section Manager Tom Preiser, N2XW, and CQ DX Editor Bob Schenck, N2OO:

The Gloucester County Amateur Radio Club, W2MMD, on September 1st 2021, suffered extensive damage to two of its towers and multiple antennas, during a EF3 tornado spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Many nearby homes and several farms were severely damaged or destroyed. The W2MMD club station building, a 14x70 mobile home, miraculously was undamaged despite being directly in the path of the twister, and the radio equipment remained safe and dry, but is unusable now without the towers and antennas.

The GCARC was founded in 1959, and is one of the most active general interest ham clubs in the region, with about 150 members. We are heavily involved in education and community service, and operate three repeaters and a very popular SATNOGS station. Our HF station is, or was, completely remote-controllable including antenna rotation and legal limit power. The station in its current form was the dream project of many club members past and present, and has taken some 40 years to build, as time and funds permitted.

In order to rebuild the antenna systems promptly and get the station back on the air as quickly as possible, we will need more funds than we have available at this time. We are therefore appealing to our fellow hams, friends, family, and community to help us in any way that you can. Your donation, no matter how small, will help get us back on the air, serving our community and helping friends around the world with vital HF and VHF communications.

Please see our GoFundMe page under the heading of "Rebuilding Club Station W2MMD" at <https://tinyurl.com/j4j49r29> and donate there, or visit our website at <http://W2MMD.org> and click on the link. You may also send a check or money order to Gloucester County Amateur Radio Club, P.O. Box 370, Pitman NJ 08071. There are some pictures of the damage on the club website. Thanks and 73 from W2MMD!