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?