Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Young Hams Rack Up the Contacts During YOTA Month

December is YOTA (Youth On The Air) Month around the world, and young hams involved with the YOTA organization in North and South America were very active in 2020. According to the YOTA in the Americas group (<>), 24 operators under age 25 took turns operating four special event stations in the US and cranked out more than 14,000 contacts!

17-year-old Audrey McElroy, KM4BUN,
was among two dozen young U.S. hams
who took part in operating special
event stations during YOTA month in
December 2020 (Photos courtesy
YOTA in the Americas)

Four 1x1 special callsigns were used during the event: K8Y, K8O, K8T, and K8A (Y-O-T-A). The young operators made 14,699 QSOs using SSB, CW, digital modes, and satellites, according to the group. This is an 11.3% increase in QSOs from their total in 2019 (12,487). Some operators used the callsigns during contests such as CWops CWTs, FT Roundup, and the RAC Winter contest.

The following is from the report:

We asked USA operators for their favorite aspect of YOTA Month. Michael Lippert, W3MLJ, said, "My favorite part of YOTA month was running 5 radios at once. They were all on digital modes. Running the big FT8 pileups was very fun and to see the rate of the contacts being logged was really cool." Calin Rismiller, K8MTJ, commented, "In general I liked making a bunch of QSOs in a short period of time. In particular, I had a really nice conversation with KC9CUK, Erich, on 40 meters. I also got a kick out of working ZR1ADI, South Africa, on 20-meter FT8."

Youth from the Americas enthusiastically spread the word about youth in amateur radio and made 14,699 QSOs in the process. The event was a great prelude for the first ever camp to be hosted in the western hemisphere, which is planned for July 11-16, 2021.

Calin Rismiller, K8MTJ, of Columbus, Ohio
enjoyed operating special event call K8O
during YOTA month in December 2020.

Globally, over 137,000 contacts were logged using 46 callsigns, all operated by hams under the age of 26. That total surpassed last year's record number of 129,029. The USA placed second, behind Croatia, in the total number of contacts made during the event. Over 2,100 operators (both youth and adults) requested and received an award based on the number of YOTA contacts made as of January 19.
Awards that have not yet been claimed can be downloaded at <>. Additional statistics are also available at the same web location. All YOTA Month QSL cards should be requested by OQRS. More information about YOTA in the Americas can be found at <>.

Main Ham Station on International Space Station Suffers Antenna Problems


The International Space Station
(NASA photo)

Replacement of a decade-old piece of coax on the outside of the International Space Station apparently resulted in a loss of signals for the amateur station inside the Columbus module used for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, contacts. 

According to the AMSAT News Service, the ham gear was shut down and disconnected from the interior feedline for safety before crew members conducted a spacewalk on January 27 to install cabling to support the Bartolomeo attached payload capability on the exterior of the module. The work included replacing an old piece of coax used for ARISS and one additional antenna with a new cable for ARISS and three additional antenna connections. 

When the crew reconnected and restarted the radio system the next day, no signals were heard, either on the voice repeater or APRS. A planned school contact was canceled when no signals from the space station were received.

As we went to press, the ARISS team was still trying to determine the source of the problem, which could also be an issue with the internal cable.

Ham-Involved COVID Plasma Study Published


The New England Journal of Medicine has published a major study on the use of blood plasma from recovering COVID-19 patients to help fight the disease in others. Two hams were involved in the study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the ARRL Letter, Dr. Scott Wright, K0MD, of the Mayo Clinic was co-principal investigator and "public face" of the study. The other ham involved was Dr. Peter Marks, AB3XC, of the FDA. 

Results showed that administration of so-called convalescent plasma reduced the risk of death by 36% among patients not on a ventilator, and by just over 6% for more seriously ill patients. Wright says he hopes the treatment will be particularly useful in parts of the world where more advanced (and expensive) approaches are not available. Over 100,000 people took part in the study.

A New and Better Arecibo?

Damage to the monster dish at the Arecibo
Observatory in Puerto Rico last year following
the failure of support cables. (University of
Central Florida photo)

The head of astrophysics at the Arecibo Observatory has proposed a plan to replace the iconic radiotelescope – which was destroyed last year due to failure of support cables – with a bigger and more advanced instrument. 

According to Newsline, the proposed Next Generation Arecibo Telescope would be built on a flat 300-meter-wide platform that could be hydraulically tilted to angles of 45 degrees or greater. The platform would contain more than 1000 closely-packed 9-meter dishes, each with its own receiver covering a broader frequency range than the original radiotelescope. The $400 million proposal was presented to the National Science Foundation in January.

ARRL to Look Again at Online Board Elections

The ARRL's board of directors will be taking a second look at the use of electronic balloting in elections for directors and vice directors after a previous attempt nearly a decade ago produced disappointing results. According to the ARRL Letter, the board in 2012 introduced a hybrid system of paper and electronic balloting, but overall participation in League elections dropped off significantly so the board decided in 2015 to return to paper ballots only. 

With online voting now becoming commonplace in professional organizations, the League has decided to revisit the issue, with the board asking the Administration and Finance Committee to investigate and report back by next January.

Special Prefixes for Anniversary Celebrations


With the CQ WPX RTTY Contest this weekend and the WPX SSB Contest coming up in March, there's news of special prefixes being approved in two different countries to mark significant anniversaries. The ARRL Letter reports that in celebration of Peru's bicentennial as a republic, the Peruvian Radio Club will be operating OC200P, OC200E, OC200R, and OC200U at various times throughout 2021. The calls will alternate in different months.

Two hemispheres away, the Finnish Amateur Radio League is celebrating its centennial and will be operating OH100SRAL throughout the year. In addition, several well-known Finnish hams operated OH0W from the Aland Islands from January 29 to February 3 for the CW weekend of the CQ World Wide 160-Meter Contest.

Milestones: SP9FIH, 5K0K Win Cass Awards; Former CQ DX Editor W1UL, SK


2019 Cass Award
Single-Op winner
SP9FIH (Photo
courtesy Cass

Team members of the 2019
Cass Award Multi-Op winner
5K0K (Photo courtesy Cass Awards)
The 2019 Cass Awards were announced in late January. Sponsored jointly by Club Log, DXLab and the Northern California DX Club, the awards recognize operators of DXpeditions who work the most unique call signs during their activations. The single-op winner, for the third year in a row, is Janusz Wegrzyn, SP9FIH, who contacted over 7500 different stations during a two-week one-man DXpedition to Palestine, where he operated as E44WE. The multi-op Cass Award went to the nine operators of the 5K0K expedition to San Andrés Island in October, 2019, during which they made 20,744 contacts, a Cass Award
record. For more information, visit <>.

Urb LeJeune, W1UL (ex-W2DEC)
SK (photo courtesy K8CX Ham
Former CQ DX Editor Urb LeJeune, W1UL (formerly W2DEC), became a Silent Key in late January after contracting Covid-19. Licensed since 1949, he was one of the founding members of the North Jersey DX Association and was later a member and president of the Old Barney Amateur Radio Club in southern New Jersey. After a long absence from hamming, according to current CQ DX Editor N2OO, Urb became active again in 2009, operating with 100 watts and a multiband antenna. He managed to work 321 countries since returning to the air 11 years ago. Urb was 87.