Monday, August 28, 2023

Nets Ramp Up for Idalia

Projected path for tropical cyclone Idalia as of
2100 UTC August 28. (National Hurricane
Center map)
As the first tropical system expected to make landfall in the eastern United States this year gains strength in the western Caribbean and has its sights set on Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, several ham radio emergency nets are preparing to activate.

The Hurricane Watch Net announced plans to activate as of 1200 UTC on Tuesday, August 29 on 14.325 MHz, shifting to 7.268 MHz at 2300 UTC. The net will remain active as long as the storm is a threat to land. The National Hurricane Center currently expects Idalia to cross the Florida peninsula and impact the Atlantic coastlines of Georgia and the Carolinas before heading out to sea. More detail on HWN operations may be found at

In addition to the Hurricane Watch Net, the VOipWX Net and Auxcomm USA will be listening for reports to be relayed to WX4NHC, the amateur station at the National Hurricane Center. Activity will be centered on the Echolink WXTalk conference server 7203 and Internet Relay Protocol 9219. Other internet-linked nets will be active as well. For more information, visit and/or

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

ARRL Raises Dues, Makes Print Magazines Added-Cost Options

The ARRL Board of Directors approved a 20% dues increase and a major shift in member benefits at its July meeting. Starting next year, standard one-year dues will increase from $49 to $59, and will continue to include access to the digital editions of all four ARRL publications, QST, On the Air, QEX and the National Contest Journal (NCJ). However, print editions of the magazines – including QST – will become added-cost options at $25 per publication per year, bringing the cost of a traditional one-year ARRL membership with print QST to $84. According to a letter to members from ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, it is the League's first dues increase in 22 years. 

In addition, new life memberships were put on hold while the staff determines how to make the program self-sustaining once again. This move also eliminates the time-honored tradition among ARRL members of jumping in to life memberships just before a dues increase.

A video on accessing the League's digital publications  "How to View ARRL Magazines Digitally" – is on the ARRL YouTube channel at <>.

ARRL Files in Opposition to Commercial HF Petition

The ARRL has filed comments with the FCC in opposition to a petition by the "Shortwave Modernization Coalition" to permit high-powered digital transmissions on a variety of HF bands, including some immediately adjacent to popular amateur bands. 

Calling the petition "seriously flawed," the ARRL urged the FCC to turn it down, based on a technical analysis conducted by the ARRL lab over a period of several months to determine the likelihood of interference to amateur communications from high-powered digital signals just outside the ham bands. 

"This petition seeks to put 50-kHz wide, 20,000-watt signals immediately next to seven different amateur bands with weaker protections against interference than required in other services," said the League in its comments, adding that, harmful interference "is not just likely, but certain, if the rules proposed by SMC are adopted as proposed. It is noteworthy that SMC's proposed rules would provide less protection than the much-lower power amateur radio transmitters are required to provide Part 90 receivers."

Several hundred amateurs filed comments in opposition before the comment period closed, according to ARRL. The FCC will now consider all of the comments received and make a decision at some point in the future. The "Wall Street Journal" reported on the proposal and the ham radio opposition in early August. The article is available online at <>.

From Beanie Babies to Earth Orbit: 20 Years of CubeSats

A typical CubeSat measures 10 centimeters
on each side and weighs 1 kilogram or 
less. (CQ Newsroom archive photo)
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the CubeSat, a small, standardized satellite spaceframe that opened up space launches to countries around the world and revolutionized the satellite industry. And of course, there was a ham at the helm. 

Back at the turn of the century, Professor Bob Twiggs, KE6QMD, then of Stanford University (now at Morehead State University in Kentucky) and Professor Jordi Puig-Suari of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo were looking for a way to provide university students with hands-on experience in designing and building satellites. 

The result was the CubeSat, described by the AMSAT News Service as "a tiny satellite with the dimensions of a square tissue box," which broke through the previous satellite barriers of extremely high cost and lengthy development times. They developed a standardized cube, measuring 10 centimeters on each side and weighing only 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), into which student-designed experiments could be mounted and then launched into space as "hitchhikers" on rockets with other primary payloads. According to a 2012 article in the Journal of Small Satellites, Twiggs said the basic design of the CubeSat was based on the 4-inch cube packaging for Beanie Babies, which were extremely popular toys at the time.

The first CubeSat was launched in 2003. According to ANS, the CubeSat's design was released as an open standard and "opened the doors to space" not only for university space science programs, but also "for many countries that launched their first-ever satellites, including Colombia, Switzerland, Hungary, Vietnam," and others. Many amateur radio satellites launched over the past two decades have also been CubeSats.

Fair Radio Sales Closing as Owner Retires

An institution in the surplus electronics marketplace is closing its doors. Lima, Ohio-based Fair Radio Sales ( announced its upcoming closure on its website in early August. Owner Phil Sellati said it was time to retire after more than 50 years in the surplus electronics business. Fair Radio has been open even longer, dating back to 1947. Sellati did not provide a closing date but said it would be "several months" and encouraged those interested in surplus gear and accessories to "buy an item, a pallet or a truckload." (Tnx NL7XM)

Hurricane Watch Net Recruiting Bilingual Net Controllers

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) is looking for hams who are fluent in both Spanish and English and/or in French Creole and English, to train to become net control operators on the severe weather network.

The ARRL reports that is particularly interested in recruiting potential net control stations from the central and western regions of the United States, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean.

The HWN activates whenever a named storm in the Atlantic or Caribbean is within 300 miles of a populated land area, or at the request of the National Hurricane Center. The net collects reports of actual conditions in storm-affected areas – known by meteorologists as "ground truth" – and relays those reports to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center via the center's ham station, WX4NHC. It also disseminates the latest storm updates from the NHC.

Net control operators can expect to work shifts of several hours at a time, directing the flow of information. Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, says candidates will receive training and work with a mentor during a probationary period. For more information, visit <>.

Three Hams to Fly to Space Station as Members of SpaceX Crew 8

The four members of SpaceX Crew 8 include
three licensed hams. (NASA photo by Bill Stafford)
NASA announced the roster for the SpaceX Crew 8 mission to the International Space Station in early August, and the AMSAT News Service reports that three of the four crew members are radio amateurs. 

The three hams on the crew include mission commander Matthew Dominick, KC0TOR, making his first flight to space; pilot Michael Barratt, KD5MIJ, making his third trip to the space station; and mission specialist Jeanette Epps, KF5QNU, another first-timer. The fourth crew member named is Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, also a mission specialist. The crew is expected to launch to the space station early next year for what is described as "a long-duration stay."


FCC Hiring Field Agents

If you're an electrical engineer with experience in RF engineering and looking for a job, the FCC may be looking for you! The ARRL Letter reports that the Commission is hiring agents to work in field offices in New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Candidates must be able to operate all technical equipment typically used in the field. Agents will issue violation notices as required and will maintain contact with and assist other law enforcement agencies regarding RF issues.

Applications are being accepted through August 24. The complete job postings are online at <> (New York, Boston and Chicago), and at <> (Los Angeles and San Francisco).