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

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 <> and donate there, or visit our website at <> 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!

License Fees Likely on Hold Until 2022

The $35 fee for new and upgraded amateur radio license applications that the FCC announced earlier this year likely will not take effect until early next year. According to the ARRL, FCC staff recently told a meeting of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs) that work still needs to be done to prepare the Universal Licensing System to process fee collection from hams, and that it probably will not be ready to go live until early 2022. 

The $35 fee will apply to all applications for new or modified licenses (such as upgrades or changes in non-vanity calls), as well as renewals and vanity call applications. This will apply to both individual and club licenses. There will be no fee charged for administrative updates, which include changes of name, mailing address or e-mail address, or cancellation.

Once the system is functional, the League says, the new fees will not be collected by Volunteer Examiner (VE) teams, although they will still collect current exam fees. Once a license application subject to the fees reaches the FCC, the Commission will email the licensee/candidate a link through which the fee may be paid via the FCC Pay Fees system. The applicant will then have ten days in which to make the payment. Once the payment is received and the application is processed, the FCC will e-mail the applicant a second link which will provide access for 30 days to view, download or print their official license. After the 30-day period, hams will be able to access their license documents (as they can now) by logging into their FCC ULS account.

ARRL to Cover License Fees for Young Hams

License applicants under age 18 who take their exams with a VE team associated with the ARRL VEC will have their $35 FCC application fee covered (once) by the ARRL, under a new program approved by the League's board of directors. 

The ARRL Letter reports that the "Youth Licensing Grant Program" will cover the FCC fee for anyone under 18 who passes one or more license exams at a single test session. Young applicants will also pay a reduced exam session fee of $5. This would apply only to candidates whose exams are coordinated by ARRL-VEC, which will pay the license fees directly to the FCC. The League anticipates initially covering up to 1000 young applicants.

KT5KMF Honored With ARRL Youth Award

Katherine Forson, KT5KMF, of Plano, Texas is this year's ARRL Hiram Percy Maxim Award winner. This award is given to a young ARRL member "whose contributions to both amateur radio and her local community embody the ideals of the Amateur Radio Service," according to the ARRL Letter. Forson, a high school senior, has been licensed since age 9 and currently holds an Extra Class license. She is the ARRL's North Texas Section Youth Coordinator as well as a trained Skywarn spotter and RACES member. Forson told Newsline that her interest in ham radio has helped her decide on a career path in meteorology. She hopes to enroll in Texas A&M University's geosciences program next fall.

Staff Shakeup at ARRL

A major staff shakeup is apparently under way at ARRL headquarters. The September 2 issue of the ARRL Letter included what was essentially a help-wanted notice, seeking candidates for several high-level positions, including Membership Manager, Public Relations and Outreach Manager, Director of Emergency Management and Director of Information Technology. 

In addition, the League has openings for an Acquisitions Editor, Assistant Marketing Manager, Lab Engineer-EMC/RFI Specialist and Social Media Strategist. No explanation was given for the large number of departures from the ARRL staff. 

Anyone interested in applying for one of these positions may look at the job descriptions at <> or contact the League's human resources department at <>.

FCC Grants 60-Day Waiver to HF Data Rate Rules for Hurricane Relief Traffic

Amateurs participating in hurricane relief communications between August 30 and October 29 may use HF digital modes at speeds faster than normally allowed under FCC rules. 

The ARRL Letter reports that the FCC has granted a 60-day waiver to the usual data rate limits of 300 baud for frequencies below 28 MHz (except 60 meters) and 1200 baud on the 10-meter band in order to permit more efficient transmission of hurricane-related traffic. The waiver applies only to those amateurs in FCC-regulated areas who are directly involved in hurricane relief communications.

Hams Help Coordinate Animal Rescues in California

California's huge Caldor fire resulted in thousands of evacuations from dozens of rural communities but many people were unable to take large animals and livestock with them. Two animal welfare groups in the area have been conducting animal rescues and welfare checks, and the ARRL Letter reports that members of the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club have been providing the groups with communication support, especially in areas with little or no cellphone service. 

Establishing a net control station in the group's Mobile ARES Communication Center, hams were dispatched with each animal rescue team in impacted areas. The groups are providing food, water and care to animals until their human families can return.

W2NAF Receives NASA Research Grant

Dr. Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF
(CQ archive photo)
NASA has awarded a grant of nearly a half million dollars to Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, to study methods of predicting traveling ionospheric disturbances, or TIDs, using data from HF amateur signals collected by the Reverse Beacon Network, WSPR and PSKReporter. 

According to the ARRL Letter, Frissell, a professor at the University of Scranton, the founder of HamSCI - (Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation)  and a former Dayton Amateur of the Year, will be the principal investigator on the two-year project and will collaborate with Phil Erickson, W1PJE, of the Haystack Observatory at MIT, and the University of Alabama's Bill Engelke, AB4EJ. 

Frissell says the grant includes funding for undergraduates at Scranton to help the faculty researchers create algorithms for developing empirical TID models. This grant complements a five-year National Science Foundation grant Frissell received last year to study the source of TIDs.

Solar Storms Could Threaten Global Internet Infrastructure

Could a coronal mass ejection like this one disrupt
internet infrastructurse here on Earth? One
researcher in California says yes.
(NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory photo)
A researcher in California is warning of a possible 21st-century repeat of the 1859 "Carrington Event," in which a huge solar storm disrupted telegraph communications around the world. 

Newsline reports that Professor Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi of the University of California at Irvine presented a paper in August at a meeting of the Association for Computer Machinery in which she suggests that severe solar storms could compromise the internet's version of repeaters in undersea cables that link networks on different continents. She warns that it is possible that some countries' internet systems could be cut off from the rest of the world for weeks at a time if such an event would occur … and she reported that astrophysicists predict the chances of that happening within the next decade are as high as 12%.

Several Ham Satellites Lost in Launch Failure

Liftoff of the Firefly Alpha rocket on its first
test flight, which ended seconds later when an
anomaly occurred at the point of maximum
aerodynamic pressure. (Firefly Aerospace photo)
Several satellites carrying amateur radio payloads were lost just after launch when controllers destroyed a Firefly-Alpha rocket after it experienced "an anomaly" as it reached the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure following liftoff. 

Most notable among the lost satellites, according to the ARRL Letter, were two built by the Spanish amateur satellite organization, AMSAT-EA. The GENESIS-L and GENESIS-N satellites were the first built entirely by AMSAT-EA. They had been intended to conduct a series of experiments, including measurement of Doppler variations to help in tracking future satellites as they reached orbit.

This was the first test launch for the Alpha rocket, built by Firefly Aerospace, a private launch company headquartered in Austin, Texas, that is focused on providing economically-priced transport of small and medium-sized satellites to low Earth and Sun-synchronous orbits.

A Mix of In-Person and Virtual Events

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact amateur radio gatherings. The Huntsville Hamfest in August was the first major hamfest to be held in-person since early 2020. Organizers report that attendance was down 20% compared with 2019 and that several vendors pulled out at the last minute due to the spread of the Delta variant, but said they were pleased with the overall results.

Meanwhile, both the TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference (September 17-18) and the AMSAT 2021 Symposium and Annual Meeting (October 29-31) were shifted from in-person to virtual events due to ongoing concerns about travel and group gatherings.

Hikin' and Hammin'

The route of the Appalachian Trail

If you're an "OTA" fan, mark your calendar for the Appalachian Trail On The Air event on Saturday, October 2, from 1200-2100 UTC. Hams with portable stations will be activating various points along the 2,190-mile trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, according to a report on Newsline

Since the trail generally follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains and many of its segments are in national or state parks, many of the activations will also count toward Summits on the Air (SOTA) and/or Parks on the Air (POTA) award programs. For more information or to register to be an activator, visit <> or e-mail <>.

Is MEM in Ham Radio's Future?

Artist's conception of the NASA Gateway station
in lunar orbit (NASA image)

That would be Moon-Earth-Moon. If you're old enough to remember the film version of "2001: A Space Odyssey," you'll probably remember that the movie opened in a transfer station orbiting the moon. Well, that is exactly what NASA and other space agencies are planning with the Gateway Project, a lunar-orbiting jumping off point for trips to the moon and to deep space. And, according to Newsline, a group of hams is working to make sure that amateur radio is aboard as well. 

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, Chairman of ARISS International (which coordinates amateur radio activity on the International Space Station), is also co-leader of a separate group called AREx, or the Amateur Radio Exploration Team. AREx is working with NASA to secure a place for amateur radio aboard the Gateway station, whose initial modules are scheduled for launch next year. Those first modules will carry equipment that is essential to life in lunar orbit, but it is hoped that a ham station can be included on future modules that have a good Earth view and a good supply of solar energy for power. The goal is to make a ham station available for communication between Gateway and hams back on Earth.