Friday, January 13, 2023

  Two Ham Radio Bills Introduced in Congress

Two bills aimed at helping hams were introduced in thewaning days of the 117th Congress. The ARRL reported that H.R. 9670, introduced by Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson, would pre-empt most antenna restrictions imposed by homeowners’ associations, and H.R. 9664, introduced by Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko, would instruct the FCC to replace symbol rate limits in HF amateur radio communications with bandwidth limits, a topic on which the ARRL has had a rulemaking request pending for several years without Commission action. HOA antenna restrictions, of course, have been the subject of ARRL lobbying efforts over several decades.

As both bills were introduced in the final days of the 2021-22 Congressional session, they died without action at the end of the year. At press time in mid-January it was unclear if either bill had been reintroduced or whether the sponsors had plans to reintroduce them.

  Ohio Distracted Driving Law Exempts Hams

Amateur radio operators, first responders and utility workers are among motorists exempted from a new distracted driving law that took effect in Ohio at the beginning of the year. 

According to Newsline, Ohio’s new law holding a cellphone or similar device in your hand while driving a primary offense, meaning that a police officer may pull you over for that, even if you aren’t doing anything else wrong. 

It isn’t clear whether the exemption applies to all devices that an amateur may be using, or only to a non-cellphone radio transceiver.

Milestones: Orlando Award Winners Named

 The Orlando Hamcation® has announced the winners of this year’s Carole Perry Educator of the Year award and the new Gordon West Ambassador of the Year award. 

The 2023 Carole Perry award is being shared by Ken Lyons, KN4MDJ, and Jim Storms, AB8YK. While neither one is a professional educator, both have helped develop the next generation of hams and ham radio leaders. According to the award committee, Lyons is deeply involved in educating youth about radio through the Scouting program, regularly organizing and coordinating events that introduce amateur radio to more than 1000 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts each year. Storms is co-founder and current team leader of the Dave Kalter Memorial Youth DX Adventure, a program that hosts young hams and their parents in Costa Rica each summer to “be the DX” – at no cost to the participants. Many of the previous attendees are already demonstrating leadership in the hobby.

John Bigley, N7UR, has the honor of being the first recipient of the Gordon West award, presented to “an individual who represents and inspires others, embodies the amateur radio spirit, and has made outstanding contributions to the amateur radio community.” Bigley is the creator of a one-day “boot camp” program for prospective amateurs and supports group activities and licensing classes, appearing in various alter egos, including Professor Elmer Sparkgap, Captain Coax and Jordon West (Gordon’s long-lost twin). He also hosts a weekly radio program about amateur radio and shortwave, and serves as the ARRL Nevada Section Manager.

Both awards will be presented at next month’s Orlando Hamcation. (Full disclosure: CQ Editor W2VU serves on the Carole Perry award judging committee.)

  Milestones: W7SAR Receives National Award

Civil Air Patrol Colonel Jerry Wellman, W7SAR, was named the 2022 National Volunteer Emergency Manager of the Year by the International Association of Emergency Managers. According to the ARRL Letter, this is the highest award bestowed by the association on a volunteer emergency manager.

Wellman is former commander of the Utah wing of the Civil Air Patrol, and has taught emergency management communications classes in Utah, Arizona and Colorado. He has also served on the Utah State Emergency Response Team and as ARRL Utah Section Emergency Coordinator. He received the award at a ceremony in November.

Milestones: Arnie Coro, CO2KK, Silent Key

 Longtime shortwave radio host, professor and former CQ VHF columnist Arnaldo “Arnie” Coro, CO2KK, passed away in early January, according to Region 2 of the International Amateur Radio Union, which he served as Area C Emergency Coordinator at the time of his death.

Many readers will recognize Arnie as the longtime host of “DXers Unlimited” on Radio Havana. He was also a college professor in Havana and very active in emergency communications through the FRC, the Federation of Radio Amateurs of Cuba. Coro received Cuba’s National Radio Award in 2017. He was 80 years old at the time of his death from complications of chronic health conditions.

COVID’s Continuing Toll - Mourning Two Members of the CQ Family  

The pandemic may have quieted down, but COVID-19 continues to exact a toll, including the recent passing of two members of the CQ “family,” one of whom may be familiar to you and the other whose work may be familiar even though his role here was always behind the scenes. Both succumbed to complications of the COVID virus.

Alfred “Fred” Laun, III, K3ZO
CQ Contest Hall of Famer and longtime member of the CQWW Contest Committee Alfred “Fred” Laun, III, K3ZO, became a Silent Key in early January at age 85. He was also a director of the YASME Foundation. Fred served for many years in the U.S. Foreign Service at posts around the world, at one time being kidnapped and shot by rebels in Argentina while serving as director of the USAID (Agency for International Development) program there.

CQ Illustrator Hal Keith
Closer to home, longtime CQ technical illustrator Hal Keith passed away in late December at age 88. You probably never saw his face in the magazine, but his work graced our pages for nearly 50 years! From 1973 until very recently, most schematic diagrams and other technical illustrations accompanying CQ articles were Hal’s handiwork, as he transformed authors’ often-hand-drawn circuit diagrams into professionally laid-out schematics. While electronics was not a particular interest of Hal’s, he was frequently able to catch errors or inconsistencies in schematics, and never hesitated to question anything that didn’t “look right.”Outside of his work, Hal was a voracious reader and loved going to book signings where he had a chance to meet various authors. He and his wife, Judy, also loved to travel and were planning another trip when he became ill. 


RRI Extends Digital Network to Puerto Rico

Radio Relay International, an independent amateur radio messaging organization, has expanded its Digital Traffic Network (DTN) infrastructure to Puerto Rico. According to the organization, the DTN is a hybrid mesh network utilizing HF for long-haul traffic and VHF/UHF gateways for local emergency communications activities. Over the past year, according to RRI, the group has been providing training to volunteers in Puerto Rico as well as technical support and one-on-one assistance. 

During Hurricane Maria, it says, “one RRI volunteer alone handled over 2000 welfare messages out of the stricken area.” The system also makes use of Winlink and says it is fully interoperable and integrated with other emergency communications resources. RRI also sponsors the National SOS Radio Network and Neighborhood Radio Watch programs.

Volunteers On the Air Are On the Air

 The ARRL’s yearlong “Volunteers On the Air” event is under way. The League has declared 2023 to be the Year of the Volunteer and this on-air activity is part of its broader program. Points are awarded for each contact with an ARRL volunteer. 

Like many recent short-term ARRL activities, contacts must be uploaded to the League’s Logbook of the World (LoTW) electronic confirmation system. For details, visit <>.

 Nominations Open for RCA “Young Ham Lends a Hand” Award

Young amateurs who are especially generous in giving time to help an older person, a veteran, or the community at large, or active in recruiting other young people to get their ham licenses, may be candidates for the Radio Club of America’s annual “Young Ham Lends a Hand” award. Winners will be presented with their awards, as well as a $100 stipend, at the Dayton Hamvention® Youth Forum in May. Nominations are open until April first and should be e-mailed to Carole Perry, WB2MGP, at <>. Nominations should include the nominee’s name, call, age, contact info and reasons for the nomination.

RCA has also just released a free training module, “Introduction to Wireless,” which provides basic information on the wireless industry, including types of available jobs, education needed for those jobs and resources for finding openings. The module is presented as a PowerPoint™ deck. The package may be downloaded from the RCA website at <>, and then clicking on “Introduction to Wireless” on the red bar.

No-Scan TV on Space Station


The International Space Station (NASA photo)
The amateur slow-scan TV (SSTV) system on the International Space Station (ISS) is off the air. The AMSAT News Service reports that the SSTV card that interfaces with the ISS computer system is damaged and unreliable. In addition, the station has recently upgraded its on-board laptop computers and they are not compatible with the current SSTV hardware. The Russian ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) team is working with the ARISS International software/hardware team to develop a new interface. Once completed, the new hardware will be launched to the ISS aboard a supply rocket and installed. Until then, ARISS SSTV capabilities will be down.

FO-118 Puts HF Back on Satellites

FO-118 (From website)
Hams operating on HF have access to an amateur satellite for the first time in 30 years. China’s new CAS-5A satellite, launched in December and recently designated by AMSAT as Fengtai-OSCAR 118, or FO-118, includes an FM repeater and two linear transponders. While one transponder uses the common band layout of 2 meters up and 70 centimeters down, the second has an uplink on 15 meters (21.427-21.442 MHz) and a downlink on 70 centimeters (435.498-435.512 MHz). This is the first amateur satellite carrying an HF transponder since the Russian RS (Radio Sputnik) series in the 1980s and ‘90s.

According to the AMSAT News Service, FO-118 was designed, built and tested by a group of 31 high school students, working closely with CAMSAT, the Chinese Amateur Satellite Group. The satellite also carries CW and GMSK telemetry beacons. AMSAT-UK has a user manual for FO-118 available online at <>.