Friday, October 13, 2023

FCC Back to Full Strength

New FCC Commissioner Anna Gomez (left)
with FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel
soon after her swearing-in ceremony.
(FCC photo via Instagram)
The FCC is finally back to having five commissioners, after the Senate voted in early September to confirm the nomination of Anna Gomez to fill a long-vacant seat. This will allow the Commission to take action on significant issues, as it previously had been deadlocked with two commissioners from each major political party. 

Gomez is a former high-level FCC staffer, and just prior to her appointment was working for the State Department, leading the U.S. preparations for the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23). According to the ARRL Letter, Gomez has been succeeded in that role by Steve Lang, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Information and Communications Policy. He had already been working closely with Gomez on WRC-23 preparations.

ARRL Asks Hams to Comment on FCC 60-Meter Proposal

The ARRL is asking hams who use the 60-meter (5-MHz) band to file comments in response to the FCC’s proposal to bring the U.S. allocation for the band into conformity with the structure approved several years ago by a previous WRC. 

The effect of the change would be to replace the five discrete channels on the band with a continuous 15-kHz-wide band segment. It would also reduce permitted power from the current 100-watt ERP (effective radiated power) maximum to 15 watts EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power), which is equivalent to 9.1 watts ERP, per the ARRL Letter. The docket number is WT 23-120, and the comment period runs through October 30.

The League encourages amateurs to urge the FCC to maintain the 100-watt power maximum and to keep secondary amateur access to the four current channels that are not included in the proposed new allocation.

Solar Maximum May Be Approaching

NASA/SDO photo
We may be nearing the maximum of Solar Cycle 25, based on observed weakening of the sun’s north and south poles. According to SpaceNews, this is typical as solar max approaches, as the polarity of the sun’s poles reverses with each new cycle. 

According to the report, recent measurements by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, indicate that the magnetic fields in the sun’s polar regions are rapidly weakening and are likely to disappear entirely before flipping polarity. This phenomenon has been observed at the peak of every solar cycle since scientists learned how to measure the strength of the sun’s magnetic field.

Three Hams Among RCA Honorees

The Radio Club of America’s annual list of honorees for radio-related accomplishments includes three hams this year. According to
 Newsline, they are Ruth Willett, KM4LAO, first recipient of the club’s Carole Perry Young Professional Award; ICOM’s Ray Novak, N9JA, recipient of this year’s special service award; and the RCA Business Award goes to Tim Duffy, K3LR, and DX Engineering, of which he is CEO. Duffy is also a past president of RCA, a longtime member of the CQ Contest Committee and a member of the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. 

Intrepid DX Group Announces 4th Youth Essay Contest

The Intrepid DX Group is again sponsoring its Youth Dream Rig Essay Contest, in which the top prize is – you guessed it – a really great ham rig! Entrants must be age 19 or younger, hold a U.S. or Canadian ham license and submit a two-page essay describing what attracted them to amateur radio.

Entry deadline is November 30 and winners will be announced in December. More information is available at <>.

Young Ham of the Year Award Presented to W0AAE

2023 Newsline Young Ham of
 the Year Kees Van Oosbree,
 W0AAE (K0NEB photo)

Kees Van Oosbree, W0AAE, a 19-year-old ham from Maple Grove, Minnesota, was presented with the 2023 Bill Pasternak Memorial Newsline Young Ham of the Year award at the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama on August 19. Van Oosbree was honored for his leadership in both the Youth on the Air (YOTA) Americas program and the Remote Ham Radio Youth Network.

Amateur Radio Newsline anchor Don Wilbanks, AE5DW , was the master of ceremonies at the annual presentation. Joining Don and Kees on stage was Yaesu USA Sales Office Manager Nori Romero), who came bearing gifts! 

Yaesu is a corporate sponsor of the Newsline Young Ham of the Year award, along with CQ, Heil Sound and RadioWavz antennas. 


Software for Digital Voice Modes Getting an Upgrade

The Multimode Digital Voice Modem project, which supports most of the digital voice modes used in amateur radio, is about to get a software upgrade through the efforts of Jonathan Naylor, G4KLX, and with funding from ARDC, the Amateur Radio Digital Communications foundation. 

According to Newsline, the open-source modem project supports D-STAR, Yaesu System Fusion, NXDN and more than 80% of the hotspots and repeaters on the Brandmeister-DMR network. In addition, Naylor is working on developing high-speed packet modes that will support narrow-bandwidth digital voice signals.

Air Force MARS Turns 75

The Air Force arm of MARS, the Military Auxiliary Radio Service, is celebrating its 75th anniversary next month with special event stations operating from the Pentagon and all ten of the system’s “wings.”

Newsline reports that certificates will be awarded for contacts with multiple AF MARS special event stations, which will be on the air between November 5th and Veterans Day, November 11th. Certificates will be downloadable and will be available after November 30th. For more information, visit <>.

ARRL Foundation Turns 50; Accepting Grant Applications

The ARRL Foundation is observing its 50th anniversary this year, and is now accepting applications for grants to be awarded next year. According to the ARRL Letter, clubs and other amateur radio organizations may apply for grants for ham-related projects and initiatives, especially those related to education and licensing, and particularly those with a focus on young people.

The application deadline for grants to be awarded next June is October 31. Details are available at <>.

ARRL Launches New Newsletter

The ARRL has added “The NTS Letter” to its roster of newsletters, focusing on message-handling and the NTS 2.0 vision of a 21st-century National Traffic System. 

The newsletter will be published online monthly and is edited by Marcia Forde, KW1U, the Section Traffic Manager for the Western Massachusetts, Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island ARRL sections. The first issue was e-mailed to ARRL members in early October. Input is solicited for future issues. Marcia may be contacted at <>.

Applications Open for 2024 ARISS Contacts

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program, or ARISS, is seeking applications from schools and other educational organizations for scheduled contacts with space station crew members in the second half of 2024. 

According to the ARRL Letter, “ARISS is looking for organizations that will draw large numbers of participants and integrate the contact into a well-developed education plan.” Applications will be accepted through November 10th. Details are available at <>.

Petition Started to Save BBC Longwave Service

A group of longwave radio fans in the United Kingdom has launched a petition on to try to pressure the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) into reversing a decision to shut down its 198-kHz Radio 4 Longwave service at the end of next March, just six months before its 90th anniversary. 

According to Newsline, the BBC says longwave is a “dying technology,” while its fans call it “a historic radio lifeline” and note that its transmitter at Droitwich efficiently covers most of the UK and northern Europe. The BBC says it plans to move many of the station’s most popular programs to other platforms.