This Week in Amateur Radio

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This Week in Amateur Radio: North America's Amateur Radio News Magazine. Articles on amateur radio and news stories in the media featured here.
Updated: 13 min 58 sec ago

New Beta Version of WSJT-X is Now Available, Mock FT8 Contest Set

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:35
A new WSJT-X "release candidate," version 2.0.0-rc4, now is available, and the version 2.0 Quick Start Guide has been revised and extended. The developers urge anyone upgrading to the new version to read the release notes thoroughly, since the upgrade requires users to change operator settings, so the software may not work "out of the box" when upgrading from previous versions.

AMSAT's Fox-1Cliff CubeSat Set to Launch on November 19

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:35
AMSAT is counting down to the launch of the next Fox-1 satellite, Fox-1Cliff. According to Spaceflight Now, the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base of Spaceflight's SSO-A SmallSat Express mission, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle, is currently scheduled for November 19 at 1832 UTC. Fox-1Cliff carries the Fox-1 U/v FM repeater, AMSAT's L-Band Downshifter, the flight spare of the AO-85 Vanderbilt University Low Energy Proton (LEP) radiation experiment, and the standard Fox-1 Penn State University-Erie MEMS gyroscope experiment. Virginia Tech provided a video graphics array camera that's similar to the one on AO-92 but which will provide images at a higher 640 x 480 resolution. More information about the launch and early operations phase will be released prior to launch.

India Gains Three New Bands, Sweden Gets Permanent 60-Meter Access

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:35
Radio amateurs in India now have access to three new bands. India's Ministry of Communications' Department of Telecommunications has published an updated National Frequency Allocation Plan, effective October 25, which lists the new bands at 5 MHz (60 meters), 472 kHz (630 meters), and 136 kHz (2300 meters). All allocations are on a secondary basis. On 60 meters, hams now have access to 5,351.5 - 5,366.5 kHz at 15 W EIRP; on 630 meters, 472 - 479 kHz at 1 W EIRP, and on 2300 meters, 135.7 - 137.8 kHz at 1 W EIRP. Sweden's IARU member-society SSA reports that radio amateurs there gained routine secondary access to 5,351.5 - 5,366.5 kHz at 15 W EIRP on November 1. Temporary permission has been available since 2016, by application. SSA recommends following IARU Region 1 guidelines for using the band; a Swedish version is available. - Thanks to Paul Gaskell, G4MWO, Editor, The 5 MHz Newsletter; SSA

Palm Radio Going out of Business

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:25
Key and paddle maker Palm Radio is going out of business, Dieter Engels, DJ6TE, announced on the company's website. "For health reasons and after the passing of Brunhilde, DK7SN; Uli, DL2BAT, and Klaus, DL9SKE, I am not able to continue Palm Radio in its current form," Engels wrote. "I will only deliver remaining stock," and he invited inquiries via email. Marshall Emm, N1FN, of Morse Express - a carrier of Palm Radio products-said that Engels "has been unwell for some time," but added that Morse Express would continue to service them for as long as it can. Palm Radio products have been popular among portable operators.

FCC Approves Use of Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System in the US

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 21:25
The FCC has granted, in part, the European Commission's request for a waiver of Commission rules so that non-federal devices in the US may access specific signals transmitted from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) known as Galileo. The action means that consumers and industry in the US may access certain satellite signals from the Galileo system to augment the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The Order approved finds that the Galileo GNSS is uniquely situated with respect to the US GPS, since the two systems are interoperable and RF compatible pursuant to the 2004 European Union/United States Galileo-GPS Agreement.

Maritime Mobile Service Network Operators Assist Vessel with Ill Crew Member

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 20:25
Amateur Radio operators associated with the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN) played a significant part in summoning medical assistance on November 9 for a crew member suffering chest pains on board the 48-foot sailing vessel Marie Elena, some 300 miles east of Bermuda.

via the ARRL: Amateur Radio Volunteers at the Ready for California Fire Duty

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 18:25
Amateur Radio volunteers have been active or are standing by on several fronts as wildfires continue to rage in large sections of California. In Butte County, in Northern California, the Camp Fire, the state's deadliest wildfire, triggered a call up of ARES members for communication support. A small wildfire that started in a mountainous area of Butte County quickly grew to some 20,000 acres, due to high winds and gusts of more than 50 MPH. Evacuations were ordered by the county, and eventually more than 25,000 people were evacuated. As multiple shelters opened to assist the evacuees, five Sacramento Valley ARES groups were called out to support communication between the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center (DOC) and the shelters. The uncontrolled wildfire eventually consumed the town of Paradise, and the town of 27,000 residents has been devastated. As of November 13, the Camp Fire covered some 125,000 acres, and more than 40 people had died, many while escaping the fires or trapped in their homes. More than 7,600 structures have been destroyed. An additional 15,500 residences are in danger.

via the ARRL: Montenegro, Lithuania Latest to Join the 60-Meter Band Community

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:45
Montenegro and Lithuania are the latest countries to announce adoption of a new Amateur Radio band at 5 MHz. Both countries have authorized amateur operation on a secondary allocation of 5,351.5 - 5,366.5 kHz at up to 15 W EIRP, per the Final Acts of World Radiocommunication Conference 2015. Montenegro's International Amateur Radio Union member-society, the Montenegrin Amateur Radio Pool (MARP), confirmed the new allocation. Lithuania's IARU member-society LRMD President Tadas Vysniauskas, LY2BAW, said the news was "enthusiastically received" there.

Es'hail-2 Geostationary Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio Payload Launched

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:25
A SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle lifted off flawlessly at 2046 UTC on November 15 from Cape Canaveral, carrying the first Amateur Radio payload destined for geostationary orbit. About 32 minutes after launch, SpaceX reports the spacecraft was successfully deployed into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). Positioned at 25.5deg E, the satellite will carry an Amateur Radio S-band and X-band payload capable of linking radio amateurs from Brazil to Thailand, although it's unlikely that Es'hail-2 will be accessible from North America with typical Amateur Radio satellite gear.

Southern New Jersey ARES Team Assists in Missing-Person Search

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:25
Ocean County, New Jersey, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers recently assisted search groups looking for a man with dementia who was reported missing on November 2 from a nursing home in Stafford Township. Searches concentrating on neighborhoods around the nursing home had been unsuccessful. The missing man's family organized a search for November 10, and Ocean County ARES was invited to participate. Ocean County ARES EC Bob Murdock, WX2NJ, had been informed that the search would focus on a wooded area. Tim Tonnesen, NJ2N, was instrumental in contacting the local authorities and working with the family and search teams to organize a search plan, while Murdock looked after the communications technical side and personnel. Temperatures had dropped overnight to around 32deg F, and it had rained considerably the night before. via American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources https://ift.tt/2K7Nsn6

Bank of Lithuania Gold Coin Features Amateur Radio Satellites

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 14:25
The Bank of Lithuania (Lietuvos Bankas) has released a commemorative gold 5€ coin featuring the country’s LituanicaSAT-1(LO-78) and LitSAT-1 Amateur Radio Satellites. The two CubeSats were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 9, 2014, and deployed from the ISS on February 28. LituanicaSAT-1 carried a FM transponder and a camera, while LitSat-1 had a linear (SSB/CW) transponder developed by William Leijenaar, PE1RAH. The face of the gold coin features the Lithuanian coat of arms as a star constellation, with LituanicaSAT-1 and LitSAT-1 on the other side.

via the ARRL: New CEO Wants ARRL to Serve All Ages and Amateur Radio Interests

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:55
Newly elected ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, is still on the uphill side of the learning curve as he acquaints himself with ARRL Headquarters and the nearly 90 staffers who work there. The New Jersey native arrived at HQ on October 15 and has spent much of his time since meeting with department managers and others to get his bearings, with an eye toward building consensus and aligning people, programs, and services in the same direction. “I’m still trying to understand what is working and where the challenges are,” Michel said. “Once I understand where the challenges are, I need to understand why. Before I make any changes in what we’re doing, I need to make sure the change is a step in the right direction and for the right reasons, and not kind of a random process.” Michel would like to see ARRL focus on the future of Amateur Radio and not become the redoubt of a particular generation of radio amateur or interest group. He said, “Ham radio shouldn’t abandon the old guardians of the hobby, but at the same time, it needs to have new things that appeal to people who have different interests and different passions.”

via the ARRL: South African Radio Amateurs Poised to Support Communication as Wildfires Rage

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:45
An intense heat wave and gale-force winds in the Western Cape region of South Africa have resulted in devastating runaway fires, threatening the towns of George and Karatara in the Southern Cape area since October 24. An Amateur Radio Joint Operational Center (JOC) was established on October 29, and radio amateurs were put on standby when parts of George experienced telephone and power outages in the Knysna area. Several new fires were also reported due to lightning. At one point, those living in the affected areas were ordered to prepare for evacuation, although that order was later rescinded. Radio amateurs in the Southern Cape have been asked to make their stations available to support emergency communication, should commercial systems fail. Johan Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, who administers the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), reports that the Amateur Radio JOC is currently active on the AREDN Mossel Bay Mesh Network, Echolink, AllStar, Twitter, and Zello. The Amateur Radio JOC will remain active until all fires are brought under control. The death toll as a result of fires in the Southern Cape area now stands at 7, and more than 800 have been evacuated. Disaster relief operations continue. — Thanks to John Terblanche, ZS1I A

via the ARRL: Well-Known Contester, “Antenna Farmer” Paul Bittner, W0AIH, SK

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:45
The Reverend Paul Bittner, W0AIH, of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, died doing what he loved on October 31, when a tower-climbing mishap claimed his life at his well-known antenna farm. The ARRL Life Member and Maxim Society member was 84. A member of the CQ Contesting Hall of Fame and retired Lutheran pastor, Bittner was a well-known and respected figure within the Amateur Radio community and a prolific contester and DXer. His call sign was nearly always present in most major operating events, and even in a few lesser-known contests, and news of his tragic death and condolences and accolades quickly spread among those who knew him best. “No one was more generous, loving, and encouraging to others than the Reverend Paul Bittner,” said Mike Lonneke, W4AAW, in a post to the Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC). “He called me last week to chat about what he and Mary were up to, like getting material together for their always long and hilarious Christmas newsletter. He also knocked me out with the latest of his funny experiences in his ‘Rent-a-Rev’ sideline.” Bittner officiated at the June 2 wedding of two well-known midwestern contesters.

via HACKADAY: FT8: Saving Ham Radio or Killing It?

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:35
It is popular to blame new technology for killing things. The Internet killed newspapers. Video killed the radio star. Is FT8, a new digital technology, poised to kill off ham radio? The community seems evenly divided. In an online poll, 52% of people responding says FT8 is damaging ham radio.  But ham operator [K5SDR] has an excellent blog post about how he thinks FT8 is going to save ham radio instead. If you already have an opinion, you have probably already raced down to the comments to share your thoughts. I’ll be honest, I think what we are seeing is a transformation of ham radio and like most transformations, it is probably both killing parts of ham radio and saving others. But if you are still here, let’s talk a little bit about what’s going on in ham radio right now and how it relates to the FT8 question. Oddly enough, our story starts with the strange lack of sunspots that we’ve been experiencing lately.”

via the ARRL: Weather Forecast Forces Early Shutdown of VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:30
The VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition announced just after 1600 UTC on October 31 that, “due to an expected worsening in landing conditions,” it would cease operations. VP6D now is off the air. The final contact count was 121,136. Most contacts — 67,686 — were on CW, with 28,736 on SSB and 24,714 on digital modes. The plan had been to continue operating until November 1 at 1500 UTC. “It’s been raining all night, with 20+ knot winds,” a news bulletin from the team said. “The ship is about 300 meters off shore, the forecast indicates continuing 20+ knot winds, 2 – 3 meter seas.” “We are collecting all the logs and will send to the EU QSL management team (hopefully before we leave); they will remove FT8 dupes and refresh the server before turning on OQRS.” According to DXA, KB7QFE appears to have scored the final contact with VP6D.”

via the ARRL: FCC Fines Amateur Radio Licensee $25,000 for Operating Unlicensed FM Station

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:25
In an FCC Enforcement Bureau case going back to early 2015, a Paterson, New Jersey, Amateur Radio licensee has been penalized in the amount of $25,000 for allegedly continuing to operate an unlicensed FM radio station. The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 to Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, a General class licensee. The fine followed an April 2018 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture(NAL) issued to Tulloch for alleged “willful and repeated violation” of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating an unlicensed FM radio station on 90.9 MHz in Paterson. Tulloch did not respond to the NAL, the FCC indicated. “Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listener,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

via the ARRL: ARISS Plan Under Consideration for NASA’s Deep Space Gateway Program

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 12:25
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International delegates were pleased to learn last week that an ARISS plan is under consideration by NASA’s Deep Space Gateway (DSG) program. NASA Gateway Utilization Manager John Guidi, ex-KF4YUI, informed those attending the annual ARISS International in-person meeting, held in College Park, Maryland, that ARISS is the only noncommercial entity whose ideas are under study by the program. The ARISS plan focuses on Amateur Radio communication, including optical communication channels, as well as equipment development, team cooperation, education, and public outreach. “Naturally, because the NASA Deep Space Gateway program is so new and has yet to be fleshed out, ARISS needs to follow NASA’s lead in being open to how the DSG program flows,” ARRL ARISS-US Delegate Rosalie White, K1STO, explained. “ARISS’s first moves need to be loose enough that the plan, development, and execution can go in ways that dovetail with what is needed.” The Deep Space Gateway would be a small outpost orbiting the moon that would act as a “spaceport for human and robotic exploration to the moon and beyond,” NASA has said. Crewed by four people, it would provide an operational platform for further exploring the lunar surface and a hub to deeper space destinations. NASA hopes to have the completed Gateway in lunar orbit as early as 2024.

Ham Aid Kits Positioned to Deploy as Typhoon Yutu Ravages Central Pacific Islands

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
In a little more than one day, the cyclone that became Super Typhoon Yutu grew from tropical storm to a Category 5 monster. Yutu is said to be the strongest storm on record to hit the Northern Mariana Islands, home to about 55,000 people. The storm made landfall on Wednesday evening (October 24), destroying homes, wreaking severe wind and storm-surge damage and flooding, and knocking out water, power, and telecommunications on the islands. Utilities could remain down for an extended period. Before reaching the islands, Yutu’s sustained winds were reported to be 175 MPH. The storm is now tracking northwest toward the Philippines and Taiwan. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said that four ARRL HF/VHF Ham Aid kits in Guam are available for use in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a US territory. Another seven kits are positioned in Hawaii. Corey said that radio amateurs in Guam and Hawaii are attempting to get in touch with hams who can assist on Saipan, part of the CNMI. Amateur Radio teams that had planned to operate in the CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest from Saipan this weekend have cancelled their trips.

via the ARRL: Detained Norwegian Radio Amateur Now Allowed to Leave Chad

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
A tense situation involving a Norwegian radio amateur that reached the diplomatic and foreign ministry level in the African Republic of Chad now has been resolved. Kenneth Opskar, LA7GIA, had only operated as TT8KO for about a day before security police shut down his station on October 10. At that point, he’d logged and uploaded 2,150 contacts and had installed all antennas except a 160-meter vertical. Opskar considered the incident a minor distraction, until he was told that he had to remain in Chad pending undetermined scrutiny of his station and activity. Now, after having been detained in Chad for more than a week, Opskar said on October 24 that he’s free to go. "I received the news that I can leave Chad immediately," Opskar told DX-World, which has been posting updates on a running basis. His solo DXpedition is over, however. “I am not allowed to transmit. All antennas are to be taken down today before sunset, because there is a presidential event at the hotel tomorrow, and he will be here,” Opskar said. "Hotel is now packed with VIPs, police, and military personnel. I am done with sightseeing, so my flight is booked for tomorrow."

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