Thursday, December 16, 2021

Rosenworcel Confirmed to New FCC Term; Promises Senator Status Update on Pending Amateur Proceedings

FCC Chairwoman Jessica
Rosenworcel (FCC photo)
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel was confirmed by the Senate December 7 for a new 5-year term as commissioner. 

The ARRL Letter reports that during the course of her confirmation hearings, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal asked for and received a commitment from Rosenworcel to provide his office with "an update on the steps that the FCC is taking to support amateur radio operators." The League notes that there are multiple amateur radio-related proceedings pending before the Commission, some for five years or longer, and is hopeful that Blumenthal's highlighting of these matters will prompt some action in the near future.

Swains Island DXpedition Postponed

The planned W8S DXpedition to Swains Island in American Samoa has been postponed until March of 2023. 

According to a post on, a combination of continued COVID travel restrictions, a limited number of flights from Hawaii to American Samoa to begin with, and the involvement of two team members in the planned 3Y0J Bouvet expedition in late 2022 led to the conclusion that "(t)he risk is too great to travel to Swains in the spring of 2022." 

Team leader Ronald Stuy, PA3EWP, assured DXers that the trip was only postponed, not cancelled, and noted that the delay should help offer improved propagation on the higher bands due to the rising sunspot cycle.

Crozet DXpeditioner: Keep Your Expectations Reasonable

Thierry Mazel, F6CUK, who plans to activate Crozet Island (FT5W) for three months in late 2022 and early 2023, is cautioning DXers not to have unrealistic expectations.   

According to the ARRL Letter, Mazel says weather and other nature-related factors will guide the setup and operation of the DXpedition. He notes that the wind blows constantly at speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour, with gusts over 90 mph, and that a combination of the island's volcanic rock and restrictions in place to protect wildlife and the natural environment limit antenna possibilities. 

He also noted that the authorities are only permitting the use of wire antennas anchored to existing buildings, and that planners are still working on the "best solution for the best antenna possible." Crozet is #3 on the ClubLog most-wanted list, behind North Korea and Bouvet.

Active Hurricane Season Ends With 21 Named Storms

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the 2021 hurricane season was the third most-active in terms of named storms and represented the first time that the agency's list of storm names was exhausted for two years in a row. 

According to NOAA, the season ended with 21 named storms, of which seven became hurricanes and four were classified as major hurricanes, with winds greater than 110 miles per hour. 

For the seventh consecutive year, the first named storm formed before the official start of the season on June 1. Probably the most damaging of 2021's storms was Hurricane Ida, which came ashore in Louisiana as a major hurricane and caused massive flooding across the eastern half of the U.S. before finally heading out to sea.

AMSAT to Seek Grants and Corporate Sponsors for Future Satellites

AMSAT - the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation - reported to members in October that the organization is in good financial shape and that donations are "healthy," but that more resources are needed in to continue designing, building and launching amateur satellites. As a result, according to Vice President for Development Frank Karnauskas, N1UW, the group is stepping up its efforts to secure grants from both philanthropic organizations and corporate sponsors. 

The organization is also seeking more volunteers to help with current and future projects. So if you've ever wanted to be part of designing, building or launching a satellite, get in touch at <>.

Space Debris Concerns Grow After Russia Destroys a Satellite in Orbit

Kosmos 1408 debris cloud
(via Wikimedia Commons)
Russia's destruction of one of its defunct satellites in a test of an anti-satellite weapon in mid-November has increased concerns about the potential risks posed by space debris to other spacecraft. 

You may recall that the crew of the International Space Station briefly took cover in their crew capsules in case debris from the Kosmos 1408 satellite damaged the station, but the ARRL Letter notes that amateur satellites are also at risk. AMSAT President Robert Bankston, KE4AL, noted that "there are at least 1,500 trackable fragments (from the Kosmos satellite) and, possibly, hundreds of thousands of smaller yet still-threatening pieces of debris in low Earth orbit," adding that satellites such as those launched by AMSAT do not have the capability that space stations do to maneuver out of the way of potentially-damaging space junk. The FCC requires all satellites, including amateur, to have an approved orbital debris mitigation plan before being licensed.

ARISS Named Newsline's Newsmaker of the Year

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program has been named International Newsmaker of the Year for 2021 by Amateur Radio Newsline. 

In addition to "enthusing youngsters in the magic of space and radio," said Newsline, the program supporting amateur radio contacts between school groups and astronauts in orbit has also "generated publicity for amateur radio in the mainstream media channels of radio, TV and newspapers." ARISS is the third recipient of the Newsline award.


Major Hamfests Plan Return to In-Person Gatherings

Both the Orlando Hamcation® and the Dayton Hamvention® plan on returning to in-person gatherings in 2022. Orlando will host the 2022 ARRL National Convention, which will also feature a day of "training tracks" prior to the start of the hamfest, according to the ARRL Letter. The four parallel training tracks will be Contest University, the Emergency Communications Academy, "Hands-On Handbook" and Technology Academy, all led by well-known experts in the various subject areas.

Dayton is also planning a return to an in-person hamfest after being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid, according to Southgate Amateur Radio News. Nominations are now open for the prestigious Dayton awards - Amateur of the Year, Technical Achievement, Special Achievement and Club of the Year. Nominations are due by February 15, 2022. Details may be found at <>.

ARDC Funds EmComm Improvements in the Caribbean …

The Amateur Radio Digital Communications group (ARDC) has made significant grants to help improve amateur radio communication infrastructure in both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Haiti. A grant of nearly $28,000 to the Virgin Islands Amateur Radio Group will fund the purchase of backup repeaters, commercial-grade antennas and training materials to help recruit new hams and get them licensed and active on the air. VIARG President Fled Kleber, NP2X, said the improvements will include the addition of digital communication capabilities which were not previously available on the islands.

In addition, the ARRL Letter reports that ARDC is making a grant of nearly $15,000 to the Haiti International Friendship Amateur Radio Club to establish a network of HF stations to provide emergency communications in remote areas cut off by last summer's 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

… and in the Rockies

ARDC is also providing a major grant, of nearly $375,000, to Rocky Mountain Ham Radio for the expansion of its multistate 5-GHz microwave network. The grant will enable the group to add nearly 40 new microwave sites and 35 point-to-point RF links in Colorado and New Mexico, providing linked repeater coverage along major travel corridors. 

According to the ARRL Letter, plans also call for the addition of seven new digital voice repeaters across New Mexico, as well upgrading the group's communication trailer in Colorado and setting up an additional trailer for use in New Mexico.

Milestones: RCA Awards and Silent Keys


RCA Youth Achiever
Award winner Audrey
McElroy, KM4BUN
(CQ archive photo)
The Radio Club of America presented its annual awards at a virtual meeting in November, with the Youth Achiever Award going to Audrey McElroy, KM4BUN (pictured). Other award recipients who might be familiar to CQ readers include Robert Hobday, N2EVG, Director of the Antique Wireless Museum in upstate New York, and Dale Hatfield, ex-W0IFO, former Chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.

One of the major contributors to the WSJT-X Development Group - Bill Somerville, G4WJS - became a Silent Key in early December. The ARRL Letter reports that Somerville was the first person to join group founder Joe Taylor, K1JT, in forming a core development group for the WSJT suite of programs in 2013.

In addition, two former ARRL staff members joined the ranks of Silent Keys in recent weeks...

Former QST Technical Editor and author Joel Hallas, W1ZR, became a Silent Key in late November. According to the ARRL Letter, Hallas had been a ham since 1955. He retired from full-time work at the League in 2013 but remained on the QST staff as a contributing editor, writing "The Doctor is In" column and producing a podcast by the same name. Hallas also wrote six ARRL books, covering a .variety of topics. He was 79.

Former ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, became a Silent Key in December at age 78. She was responsible for the creation of The Diamond Club, The Diamond Terrace, The Maxim Society, and the Second Century Campaign, among other initiatives. According to the ARRL, she also served as secretary of the ARRL Foundation, and during Hurricane Katrina, organized the Ham Aid program that provides new gear to amateurs who have lost their equipment in disasters.


India Reportedly Building Over-the-Horizon Radar System

The International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring Service reports that India is in the early stages of building an over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) system to keep watch on Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean. OTHR systems often operate over wide swaths of spectrum and frequently cause interference in the HF ham bands. 

According to the ARRL Letter, the Indian system is being designed with two types of radar arrays, one thought to be intended to help determine the maximum usable frequency (MUF) in real time and the other to then transmit and receive radar signals on the frequencies determined by the first system. No timeline for completion of the system is available.

Radio Caroline Wants Your Reception Reports

Pirate-turned-legit-broadcaster Radio Caroline is seeking reception reports on broadcasts using its new 25-kilowatt transmitter. Newsline reports that the station management wants to find out how much farther its signal is reaching with the new transmitter than with the previous 10-kW model. 

Radio Caroline broadcasts on medium wave at 648 kHz; online reception reports may be submitted at <> by clicking on the "648 Power Increase" tab.

First FM-Capable CB Rig Approved by FCC

President Electronics has received the first FCC approval to market an FM-capable CB transceiver in the U.S. The FCC authorized the use of FM on CB last summer. 

Newsline reports that President's "Thomas FCC" transceiver was granted FCC authorization on November 10 to operate between 26.965 and 27.405 MHz with a maximum output power of 4 watts. 

It is not clear how soon the radios will be available for purchase in the U.S. A European version of the Thomas model has been available there for nearly a decade.


This isn't really a ham radio story but is of interest nonetheless. Apple has decided to allow its customers repair their own devices, starting with the iPhone 12 and 13 models, followed by Mac computers using M1 chips. Apple's Self Service Repair kits will give users access to genuine Apple parts, tools and manuals in order to do their own repairs, starting with displays, batteries and cameras. The company says the kits will be available in the U.S. in early 2022 and expand to other countries as the year goes on. Apple will also give customers credit toward their parts purchases when they return old parts for recycling.

Work DX, Win a Hard Hat!

(Photo courtesy NADXA)
Attendees at January's Quartzfest ham radio gathering in the Arizona desert (see "Gordo's Short Circuits," October 2021 CQ or <>) will have an opportunity to enter a unique competition and win some pretty cool prizes.

The Northern Arizona DX Association is sponsoring its third annual Distance Challenge, with competitions in four categories and the goal of making the farthest DX contact using portable gear brought to the event. Those who don't bring HF gear will be able to use one of the three W7Q special event station operating positions to compete.

Each category champion and runner-up will share in $2600 worth of prizes from various manufacturers and dealers. In addition, the champs in each category will take home a customized hard-hat, courtesy of Cable X-Perts. Designed by NADXA Vice President Larry Gilbert, WB7EUJ (pictured), the hard-hats contain a solar cell, which powers a cooling fan, light and a USB connector for charging your phone or other device. For complete details on the Quartzfest Distance Challenge, visit <>.