Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Dayton Roars Back … With an Asterisk

The world’s largest hamfest was back in-person in May for the first time since 2019. The Dayton Hamvention® drew an official attendance of 31,367 people to the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio, after being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic. According to Hamvention officials, that’s about 1000 fewer people than attended in 2019, but General Chairman Rick Allnut, WS8G, said he considered that “not bad for a pandemic recovery year.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic is not completely behind us and CQ has heard reports from multiple sources of many attendees returning home and testing positive for Covid. We wish them all a full and speedy recovery.

Also in Ohio… YOTA Camp 2022

A nasty thunderstorm was not kind to the YOTA
Camp special event station antennas. But they
reported on Twitter that they used their ham
skills to quickly get back on the air. (YOTA
Camp Twitter Feed)
The second annual Youth on the Air (YOTA) Americas summer camp was under way as this was written, based once again at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in southwestern Ohio. Tweets from the group reported that the rooftop antennas on their hotel were damaged by a heavy thunderstorm, but that special event station W8Y managed to quickly get back on the air. They also launched and recovered a high-altitude balloon, among many other activities. We’ll have more details in upcoming issues.

FCC Proposes Huge Fine for Firefighter QRM

The FCC has proposed fining an Idaho ham $34,000 for what it called willful and repeated transmissions on fire control frequencies during a wildfire operation in the state in 2021. According to the ARRL Letter, the FCC says Jason Frawley,WA7CQ, of Lewiston, repeatedly interfered with U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Land firefighting personnel by transmitting on government frequencies on which he was not licensed to operate. Frawley reportedly told the FCC he was trying to help, not interfere, by passing along information about the area in which the fire was burning, with which he said he was very familiar.

The Commission didn’t buy Frawley’s argument, noting that this was the largest fine it had ever imposed for this type of interference. The case even drew the attention of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who said the transmissions “put fire suppression and public safety itself at risk,” noting, “You can’t interfere with public safety communications. Full stop.”

AMSAT Launches Youth Initiative, with QCWA Support

AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, introduced a new youth initiative program rudin its Hamvention® forum in May. According to the AMSAT News Service, the program has been in the planning stage for two years and “takes a radically different approach to introducing youth to amateur radio and satellites.” 

AMSAT Development VP Frank Karnauskas, N1UW, noted that satellite use is pervasive in virtually everything we do today, from tracking climate change and forecasting the weather to broadcasting and military operations. “Our message to youth,” says Karnauskas, “is ‘Satellites in Space Help Us Live Better Lives Here on Earth,’ ” adding that once young people’s interest is engaged, the program can involve them in “experiences and exercises that then use amateur satellites and amateur radio as their ‘laboratory’ or ‘classroom.’ ”

The initiative is community-based and will work directly with young people, their parents and youth organizations, relying on two websites – KidzSat.com for kids in grades 5-7 and BuzzSat.com for teens in grades 8-12 – which will provide age-appropriate activities and exercises. Participants will also have access to a network of online software-defined radios (SDRs) that will let them receive images and telemetry from active satellites as they pass overhead.

The Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) is supporting the program through a $4,000 grant to help pay the costs of developing the online lessons and network of SDR ground stations.

Second Interoperable Radio System for ARISS Contacts Installed on Space Station

(NASA photo)
Astronauts participating in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program (ARISS) will soon have a second interoperable amateur station available for making contacts with schools and other groups. 

According to the AMSAT News Service, a new Kenwood TM-D710GA transceiver – delivered to the space station back in February – was installed in the station’s Russian segment in late May by Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, providing a second platform from which crew members may conduct ARISS contacts.


RBN Launches New Website

The Reverse Beacon Network has launched a revamped website at <reversebeacon.net>. RBN stations actively monitor the bands and report the stations they hear to the network. Those spots are then posted on the website, along with information such as band and signal strength. The new site brings back a live map (see photo) on which spots are posted, along with color-coded lines between the transmitting and receiving stations that indicate the band in use. The map updates frequently, with the most recent spots shown. Many other new features are included. For information, visit <reversebeacon.net>, click on “about” and then “Guide to the new site (beta).”

Milestones: SEA-PAC Turns 40

SEA-PAC, the largest hamfest in the northwest, celebrated its 40th anniversary in early June. The ARRL reports that the convention drew some 15,000 people to the Seaside Convention Center in Seaside, Oregon.

Thinking of Buying an EV? Watch Out for QRM

(Photo by Mariordo/Wikimedia Commons)
If high gas prices and/or environmental concerns have you considering the purchase of an electric vehicle (EV), here’s one more consideration to include in your decision-making: Will you be able to operate a mobile HF ham rig without debilitating interference from the car itself? Radio World magazine reports that the subject of electromagnetic interference (EMI) from EVs was a forum topic at June’s conference of the Audio Engineering Society.

RW reports that interference to analog AM signals is so bad in some vehicles that the manufacturers are not including AM radios with their cars, opting only for FM and digital, both of which are more resistant to electrical noise. Such noise would likely be broadbanded enough to seriously degrade analog SSB and CW signals on the HF bands as well. VHF/UHF FM is less likely to be affected.

Apparently, not all EVs are created equal in this regard. One of the AES forum speakers on the subject was Xperi Corp. communications system engineer Pooja Nair, who wrote in a previous RW commentary (<https://tinyurl.com/yckay4fk>) that “EMI can be suppressed in EVs using well-known mitigation techniques such as shielding cables and electric motors, installing filters and carefully locating electrical components within the vehicle. Within receivers, EMI can be limited by isolating and shielding antenna and RF sections, filtering connections and carefully grounding and placing receiver components.” Some manufacturers, Nair writes, do work hard to mitigate EMI while others take the easier path of leaving out the AM radio.

Takeaway for hams who operate HF mobile and are considering an EV purchase: Do your homework. Find out the steps taken by the manufacturer of each vehicle you’re considering to control EMI within the vehicle. Step 1: Does the car include an AM radio?

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

NOAA: Plan for Another Above-Normal Hurricane Season

(NOAA graphic)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, with 14-21 named storms expected, of which 6-10 are likely to become hurricanes and 3-6 strengthening to major hurricanes. This is in line with (although less specific than) the separate prediction issued in April by the Center for Tropical Weather and Climate Research at Colorado State University (see report below). 

The NOAA scientists say multiple factors are expected to influence this season's storms, including the ongoing "La Nina" that is likely to continue through the season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, along with warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker trade winds in the tropics and an enhanced West African monsoon, which in turn supports stronger African Easterly Waves, which power many of the strongest and longest-lasting hurricanes each season.

At a media briefing announcing the season outlook, NOAA and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials stressed the fact that a storm does not have to be classified as a major hurricane in order to cause major damage, citing Superstorm Sandy 10 years ago and the remnants of Hurricane Ida last year that caused massive flooding in the northeast even after being downgraded from their previous storm classifications.

Amateur radio operators within hurricane-prone areas should prepare for their personal safety first, followed by preparations to be able to operate without commercial power for possibly extended periods, and receive training available from FEMA, the National Weather Service and local emergency communication groups. The Hurricane Watch Net <www.hwn.net> activates whenever a hurricane is within 300 miles of land and operates on 14.325 MHz (USB) during the day and 7.285 MHz (LSB) at night.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Dave Pascoe, KM3T, and Craig Thompson, K9CT, Inducted into CQ Contest Hall of Fame; Seven New Members Added to CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame

CQ magazine has announced the induction of two new members to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame, which honors those contesters who not only excel in personal performance but who also "give back" to the hobby in outstanding ways. CQ World Wide DX Contest Director and former CQ Contesting Editor John Dorr, K1AR, presented Hall of Fame plaques at an induction ceremony held at the annual Dayton contest dinner on May 21.

The 2022 inductees to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame are:

2022 CQ Contest Hall of Fame
inductees Craig Thompson, K9CT
(L) and Dave Pascoe, KM3T (R).
(Photo by Tom Roscoe, K8CX)
David Pascoe, KM3T, a highly-accomplished multi-op and single-op contester with many championships and record scores to his credit, and he is also responsible for much of the "back office" infrastructure behind the administration of many major contests. He is the infrastruc-ture and IT security "departments" for all of the contests supported by the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF), including all CQ contests, several ARRL contests and others. He also maintains the e-mail lists on the contesting.com system, including CQ-Contest, 3830 and more. He is also a pioneer in live contest audio streaming, and is a volunteer pilot for two organizations that provide free medical-related air travel.

Craig Thompson, K9CT, a world-class contester and promoter of youth in contesting. He developed the North American Collegiate Championship (NACC) program, in which college amateur radio clubs compete against each other in the context of the larger competition of the North American QSO Party. Craig also worked closely with Tim Duffy, K3LR, to develop a version of the Contest University (CTU) program specifically designed to integrate with each year's W9DXCC Convention. He is also involved in several amateur radio organizations, serving as treasurer of CWops, a board member of the Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF), past president of the Society of Midwest Contesters and is currently chairman of the ARRL Contest Advisory Committee.

The CQ Contest Hall of Fame was established in 1986 to recognize those amateurs who have made major contributions to the art of radio contesting. This is the 39th annual induction.

CQ DX Hall of Fame 

There were no inductees to the CQ DX Hall of Fame for 2022, as the judging committee determined that none of the nominees met the high standard required for selection.

CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame

The CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame honors those individuals, whether licensed hams or not, who have made significant contributions to amateur radio; and those amateurs who have made significant contributions either to amateur radio, to their professional careers or to some other aspect of life on our planet. The 2022 inductees (listed alphabetically) are:

Franklin P. Antonio, N6NKF (SK), co-founder of Qualcomm, whose chips underlie much of our modern technology. Antonio was particularly involved in the company's satellite work and was a philanthropist as well, donating $30 million to the University of California at San Diego as seed money for a new engineering building.

Wolf Harranth, OE1WHC/OE3WHC (SK), journalist and broadcaster on Radio Austria International; founder of Austria's radio documentary archive (DokuFunk), now the world's largest archive on the history of radio, including the YASME/Colvin collection; literary translator and 2017 recipient of the IARU Region 1 Roy Stevens memorial award for his work on DokuFunk.

Les Kramer, WA3SGZ, inventor of lower-limb prosthetic devices used by some 3000 people worldwide, including two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing; as well as multiple other inventions in the fields of electric power generation, IED detection, optical coatings for industrial processes and more.

Roy Lewallan, W7EL, author of EZNEC antenna modeling software that has become the standard platform for designing and modifying amateur radio antennas.

Peter Marks, AB3XC, physician and FDA scientist behind "Operation Warp Speed." Dr. Marks leads the team at FDA that reviewed and approved all of the available vaccines for COVID-19 as well as all intravenous therapeutics such as Convalescent Plasma, Monoclonal antibodies and diagnostic testing.

Bob Ringwald, K6YBV (SK), well-known blind jazz musician in Sacramento; co-founder of the Sacramento Jazz Festival; known locally as "the emperor of jazz" and, last but not least, father of actress and singer Molly Ringwald.

R. Scott Wright, K0MD, physician and leader of Mayo Clinic team developing the use of convalescent plasma as one of the first treatments for Covid-19; DXer, contester, former editor of the National Contest Journal.


Orlando HamCation Returns But Covid Still Affects Attendance

The Orlando HamCation returned to an in-person event this year after going virtual in 2021 due to Covid-19 (it was the last major hamfest to be held in 2020 before the pandemic took hold). Organizers report that, while the crowd was enthusiastic and glad to be back in person, the attendance of 19,500 was down from previous years. 

"We believe this is mostly due to people not wanting to fly or be in large crowds yet, and we understand," said HamCation General Chairman Michael Cauley, W4ORL, who noted that otherwise the show was a huge success. He reported a record number of RVs on site and that many vendors reported their best-ever year at the show. HamCation 2023 is scheduled for February 10-12.

Vibroplex Buys Expert Linears America

Vibroplex is now the exclusive U.S. distributor and service center for SPE Expert linear amplifiers. Expert Linears America, the previous U.S. distributor, was purchased in April by Vibroplex, which also owns a variety of other well-known brands of amateur equipment and accessories. 

Previous owners Bob, W5UQ, and Elva, KG5HIE, Hardie report that they will continue to support the SPE amplifier line and Vibroplex during the transition. All inquiries relating to sales or service of SPE Expert amps should now be directed to Vibroplex (<www.vibroplex.com>).

Hams Around the World Help in Emergencies

From tornadoes to missing sailors, ham radio operators continue to be at the forefront of providing emergency communications. 

The ARRL Letter reports that Oklahoma's Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security requested communications support from the Amateur Radio Emergency Service to accompany debris removal teams following a tornado outbreak in early May.  

Newsline reports that hams in India helped find and rescue a woman who reportedly had been abducted and tortured by human traffickers. 

And the Norwegian Radio Relay League says one of its members received a "man overboard" distress call from a freighter in the Gulf of Mexico and helped the U.S. Coast Guard locate the ship (whose coordinates had originally been misreported). The crew member was rescued.

Indiana Ham Club Gets EmComm Equipment Grant

The Northeastern Indiana Amateur Radio Association has received a grant of nearly $30,000 from ARDC (Amateur Radio Digital Communications) to purchase new emergency communications equipment, including a trailer to be used for emergencies and public events. According to Newsline, the funding follows a previous grant of $3000 from the ARRL Foundation to support the club's Go Box project.

Significant Ham Radio Presence Planned for Chinese Space Station

The International Amateur Radio Union has coordinated frequencies for a large-scale amateur radio payload expected to be launched to the Chinese space station later this year. 

According to the AMSAT News Service, the station will operate on multiple frequencies in the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands, including provisions for the crew to make voice contacts; crossband FM repeaters 1200-baud packet digipeaters and slow-scan TV/digital imaging. 

The payload has been put together by the Chinese Radio Amateurs Club, the Aerospace System Research Institute of Shanghai, and the Harbin Institute of Technology.

U.S. Military (Again) Re-Discovers HF

Newsline reports that HF radio is making a comeback for the U.S. military, which is looking at it as an alternative to its primary satellite and undersea cable systems in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. 

The Defense Information Systems Agency acknowledges that both satellites and cable systems are vulnerable to accidental or deliberate damage, and the Indo-Pacific Command's relief network has been testing HF single sideband as a backup. HF data communications are on the drawing board as well.

Power By Radio?

A "rectifying antenna" connected to the receiving
antenna converts the 10-GHz RF energy into
(NRL Photo by Gayle Fullerton)
It was an unrealized dream of Nikola Tesla, but the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory says it has successfully transferred 1.6 kilowatts of electric power over a distance of one kilometer using a 10-GHz beam. 

According to Newsline, transfer of electrical energy from point to point via microwaves is an emerging technology that could eventually open the door for transmitting power from space to earth. The project leader, by the way, is KJ4IKI, so care is presumably being taken not to fry any amateur satellites sharing the 10-GHz band with the military.