Friday, August 20, 2021

Hurricane Watch Net Update on Grace and Henri

The following is from Hurricane Watch Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV:
The Hurricane Watch Net will activate for Hurricane Grace at 5:00 PM EDT (2100 UTC) August 20 on 14.325.00 MHz and continue on this frequency until we lose propagation. We will startup on 7.268.00 MHz at 7:00 PM EDT (2300 UTC) and continue for as long as we have propagation. Grace, as of 1800 UTC, is a Category 1 Hurricane with sustained winds of 90 mph, is expected to make landfall sometime around midnight local time between Túxpam and Veracruz. Henri, a Tropical Storm, forecast to become a Hurricane later today, is expected to hit the New England area on Sunday. Therefore, we will activate Sunday morning at 8:00 AM EDT (1200 UTC) on 14.325.00 MHz and remain active there as long as propagation allows. We will start up on 7.268.00 MHz at 7:00 PM EDT (2300 UTC) and remain active there until we lose propagation. If required, we will resume operations on Monday beginning at 8:00 AM EDT (1200 UTC) on 14.325.00 MHz As with any Net Activation, we welcome your observed ground-truth data from those in the affected area. The information forecasters at the National Hurricane Center need includes Wind Speed, Wind Gust, Wind Direction, Barometric Pressure – if available, Rainfall, Damage, and Storm Surge. Measured weather data is always appreciated but we do accept estimated. We are also available to provide backup communications to official agencies such as Emergency Operations Centers, Red Cross officials, and Storm Shelters in the affected area. We also collect and forward significant damage assessment data to FEMA officials stationed in the National Hurricane Center. Once we have completed operations for Grace, we will shift our focus to Herni. Henri is expected to make landfall in the New England area on Sunday. We will announce activation plans for Henri as soon as possible. We are quickly approaching the heart of hurricane season. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have a Family Emergency Plan in place as well as reviewing your Emergency Supply Checklist. If you don’t have one of each already, you can download them from our website homepage,

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Hurricane Watch Net to Activate for Grace

The following is from Hurricane Watch Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV: HWN will activate today at 5:00 PM EDT (2100 UTC) on 14.325.00 MHz and continue on this frequency until we lose propagation. We will startup on 7.268.00 MHz at 8:00 PM EDT (0000 UTC) and remain active until we lose propagation. Looking ahead to the final landfall, unless something drastically changes, we will plan to activate Friday afternoon using the same start times. As with any Net Activation, we welcome your observed ground-truth data from those in the affected area. The information forecasters at the National Hurricane Center need includes Wind Speed, Wind Gust, Wind Direction, Barometric Pressure – if available, Rainfall, Damage, and Storm Surge. Measured weather data is always appreciated but we do accept estimated. We are also available to provide backup communications to official agencies such as Emergency Operations Centers, Red Cross officials, and Storm Shelters in the affected area. We also collect and forward significant damage assessment data to FEMA officials stationed in the National Hurricane Center.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Amateurs Asked to Keep Emergency Frequencies Clear Following Haiti Earthquake

The following is from the ARRL. We encourage you to keep these HF frequencies clear for emergency traffic:

Following Earthquake in Haiti, Radio Amateurs Asked to Keep Frequencies Clear 
August 14, 2021 | ARRL

In a statement received by ARRL on August 14, 2021, Region 2 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU-R2) has requested that radio amateurs in the Americas keep the following frequencies clear to support emergency communications in Haiti following an earthquake this morning: 3750 kHz, 7150 kHz and 14330 kHz. The statement came from IARU-R2 Emergency Coordinator (EMCOR) Carlos Alberto Santamaría González, CO2JC.

According to preliminary information from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on August 14, 2021 at 1229 UTC, about 12 kilometers northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 33 kilometers to the east-northeast of Les Cayes, Haiti; 18.352 degrees north and 73.4801 degrees west at a depth of 10 km.

Mr. Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, President of the Radio Club of Haiti, reported significant structural damage.

International news reports fear high casualties.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Growing Confusion on Bouvet DXpedition

There's bad news, good news and growing confusion on the long-planned (but currently cancelled) 2023 DXpedition to Bouvet Island. There are now three separate groups planning trips to the subantarctic island, including one that split off from the original group (but holds the 3Y0J license) plans to make the trip in 2022 and another that says it's ready to go later this year.

We reported last month that the Intrepid DX Group was working to figure out a way that Nigel Jolly, K6NRJ, could continue to be captain of the Braveheart even though he had to sell the charter vessel because of Covid cancellations. Apparently, that didn't work out, but the ARRL reported in early August that the group had found a "suitable and affordable" vessel whose captain was willing to make the trip to the sub-antarctic island. The new team of up to 12 operators will be led jointly by David Jorgensen, WD5COV, and Kevin Rowett, K6TD.  

Meanwhile, Ken Opskar, LA7GIA - who holds the 3Y0J license to operate from the Norwegian island - apparently has split off from the Intrepid DX Group and formed a separate group that is now planning a 2022 visit. Plus, Polish DXpeditioner Dom Grzyb, 3Z9DX, says he has secured a license for 3Y0I and has put together a group to activate the island later this year.

We'll keep you posted on everybody's progress.

Shifting Sands (??) on the Sun

(NASA satellite image)
Just as there have been disagreements among predictions for the strength and length of Solar Cycle 25, there are also disagreements about the significance of recent trends. In early August, reported that the cycle was "heating up faster than expected," based on July's sunspot counts, and said that if the trend continues, it could mean that we reach solar maximum in October 2024, a year ahead of the "official" forecast from the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel. 

That panel predicted that Cycle 25 would be very similar to the very weak Cycle 24, but a sharper rise could suggest a stronger cycle to come. On the other hand, the Solar Terrestrial Activity Report ( suggests that so far, Cycle 25 is very closely tracking Cycle 24, as predicted by the NOAA/NASA panel. See <>.

NOAA Issues Slight Adjustment to 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast

Hurricane season runs through November 30.
NOAA says to expect 15-21 named storms and
7-10 hurricanes this year. (NOAA file photo)

In its mid-season update, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made a slight upward revision in its forecast for the current Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through November 30. 

The Climate Prediction Center now says we should expect 15-21 named storms this season, vs. 13-20 in its previous forecast. Of those it is expected that 7-10 will develop into hurricanes (vs. 6-10) and 3-5 are likely to become major hurricanes of category 3 or higher (wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour). The major hurricane prediction is unchanged from the previous forecast. 

Radio amateurs have long been part of the response to tropical storms and hurricanes and there is a permanent amateur station, WX4NHC, at the National Hurricane Center.

Hams Respond to Major Flooding in Western Europe

Hams have been part of the response to widespread flooding in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. According to the ARRL Letter   and International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (representing Europe, Africa and the Middle East), the flooding was caused by unprecedented heavy rainfall and has been responsible for at least 120 deaths. Amateur radio emergency groups in all three countries have a mutual aid arrangement and have been coordinating with each other. 

Hams in Belgium were asked to provide a backup VHF link between the emergency call center in the capital city of Brussels and the hard-hit province of Hainaut. Other groups have been on standby to respond as needed, although it was pointed out that many hams in the affected areas were flood victims as well.

ARRL Board Creates Permanent EmComm and Field Services Committee

The ARRL Board of Directors voted in July to create a standing board committee on emergency communications and field services (the umbrella name for the League's nationwide network of volunteer appointees). The committee's primary role will be to advise the board on changing or adding League policies and programs related to emergency communications through its Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and National Traffic System (NTS). It will also work with League staff to provide greater support to Field Organization volunteers around the country. 

The ARRL Letter reports that this is only the third standing board committee, along with the Programs and Services and Administration and Finance committees. Roanoke Division Director George "Bud" Hippisley, W2RU, will chair the committee. Other appointments had not been made as of press time. (We will cover this in more detail in October CQ's Emergency Communications column.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Faith Hannah Lea, KD3Z, Named Newsline Young Ham of the Year

Faith Hannah Lea,
KD3Z (Photo
courtesy AR Newsline)

Faith Hannah Lea, KD3Z, of Palm Coast, Florida, has been selected as the 2021 Bill Pasternak Memorial Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year. Lea, who's 16, is already a junior in college. She has operated from three continents, attended the Youngsters On The Air camp in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was part of the 2016 Dave Kalter Memorial Youth DX team operating PJ6 from the Dutch island of Saba. A member of an all-ham family, Faith Hannah has also had two articles published in CQ and served as an ARES net control during three different hurricanes. Completing high school via home schooling and earning an Associate of Arts degree at age 15, Faith Hannah is currently a junior at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. She is working toward degrees in both molecular and cellular biology and business administration. 

The YHOTY award was presented virtually this year during a live webcast of W5KUB's Amateur Radio Roundtable (see <>. It is traditionally presented during the Huntsville Hamfest but Newsline opted for the online ceremony because of the spike in the Delta variant of Covid-19.

FCC to Allow FM on CB, Automatic Location Transmissions on GMRS/FRS

In a rare reversal, the FCC has agreed to two petitions for reconsideration of earlier decisions relating to permitted transmission modes on Citizens Band (CB), the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS).

In its first major change to CB rules in over 40 years, the FCC has agreed to allow FM transmissions on the band along with traditional AM and single sideband (SSB). It was persuaded that interference concerns were unfounded and that "users who hear unintelligible audio on a particular channel can simply select another channel or switch modes." CB radios manufactured with FM capability would still be required to offer an AM option.

For some time now, the FCC has permitted the manual transmission of short data messages in the GMRS and FRS services, but has balked at allowing automatic transmissions of location data out of interference concerns. Motorola has successfully petitioned the Commission to OK automatic data transmissions as well, noting that it would help in the location of lost or injured users who could not manually send out emergency messages.

Michigan Radio Club Considering Group E-Mail Address for FCC Applications

As of the end of June, the FCC is requiring all amateurs to include a valid e-mail address on license applications. But some hams, especially older ones, do not have e-mail addresses or access to the internet. The ARRL Letter is reporting that the Big Rapids Area Amateur Radio Club in Michigan is working to establish a single e-mail address for all of its members who don't have their own, citing one member who is in a nursing home and doesn't have internet access. The account would be monitored by a club officer and any FCC messages would be relayed to the appropriate member. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma said this is perfectly legal, as the FCC's only concern is being able to get in touch with a licensee as needed.

Utah Club Receives ARDC Grant to Engage Youth

 The non-profit Amateur Radio Digital Communications group (ARDC) has awarded a grant of nearly $18,000 to the Bridgerland Amateur Radio Club in northern Utah to support its efforts interest and engage young people in amateur radio. 

The ARRL Letter reports that the club has an 18-month timeline for its proposed projects and activities intended to use amateur radio to further STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs for young people. Among its projects is building a portable ground station for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts which can be transported to different schools for making contact with astronauts in orbit.

CQWW Creates New Categories for Youth and Experimenters

The CQ World Wide DX Contest (CQWW) has added two new "overlay" categories beginning with this year's competition – "Youth" for operators age 25 or younger on the date of the contest and "Explorer" to permit greater experimentation with internet-linked stations and other new technologies. 

 The new Explorer overlay category has been established to allow amateurs to participate in the CQ WW contest while creatively experimenting with Internet-linked stations and other new technologies. The goal of this category is to encourage innovation in operating strategies, station design, and technology adaptation. Specifics for each of these new overlay categories may be found in the complete contest rules at <>.

MARS Members Help in Response to Maritime Emergency

In early July, an Army MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) HF training net for members in New York and New Jersey was interrupted by a series of distress calls on their frequency (which is shared with the maritime service. 

According to the ARRL Letter, several net members tried unsuccessfully to establish radio contact with the vessel in distress while the net control station alerted the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel was eventually identified as a fishing boat traveling from Jamaica to Guatemala, which apparently capsized without warning on the night of July 6. Ten of the 15 individuals on board the boat were rescued by a passing oil tanker. Unfortunately, five others, including the captain, did not survive.

Industry News: Expansion for DX Engineering and HRO

DX Engineering announced in mid-July that it had acquired Top Ten Devices, Inc., a manufacturer of contesting-focused ham station accessories. DX Engineering will take over manufacturing and distributing three popular Top Ten products, the Op Swapper, the A/B Station Selector and the Band Aide Band Decoder. Top Ten Devices was founded 30 years ago by N3RD and W2VJN.

Ham Radio Outlet says it plans to open a new store in Florida, but is playing close to the vest on specifics. Newsline reports that an announcement from the company on social media said "We're not telling yet" in response to speculation on possible locations, adding, "We're open to suggestions." HRO currently has 12 stores across the US, from California to New Hampshire. At present, the closest one to Florida is in Atlanta.

Milestones: MFJ Production Manager KB5YJF SK


MFJ/Ameritron Production Manager Mike Enis,
KB5YJF (SK). (Photo courtesy MFJ)

Covid-19 has claimed another member of the amateur radio community and industry. Michael Enis, KB5YJF, became a Silent Key on August 6 at age 53. He was Production Manager for MFJ Enterprises and its Ameritron line of amplifiers. 

Mike was described in his obituary as "a loving father, son, brother, uncle and fixer of all things." He is survived by his son, daughter and son-in-law as well as his parents, sister and brother. His was predeceased by his wife, Tammy.


Satellite Roundup…

Several news items from the world of amateur satellites:

AMSAT is looking to return to building and launching high-Earth-orbit (HEO) satellites as part of its strategic plan for the future. These provide extended windows of operation with significant coverage areas. According to a Twitter post by the organization, the plan also includes continued partnership with ARISS on human spaceflight as well as continuing to build and launch low-Earth-orbit satellites.

The AMSAT News Service reports that AMSAT-OSCAR 109 (AMSAT Fox-1E/RadfxSat-2) has now been opened for amateur use. The satellite features an inverting linear transponder with an uplink on 2 meters and downlink on 70 centimeters. Controllers advise using spectrum-efficient modes such as CW or FT4 rather than SSB voice due to technical issues with the satellite.

Finally, amateurs in Switzerland may have to get a special permit – and pay the government a fee - to use the QO-100 satellite. The ARRL Letter reports that the Swiss communications regulator is worried about hams causing interference to industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) users on 2.4 GHz (the satellite's uplink band) and is considering requiring a special permit for hams to use the first (and so far only) geostationary amateur satellite. The permit would cost roughly $75US if implemented.