This Week in Amateur Radio
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: 36 min 24 sec ago
Details are still being fleshed out, but AMSAT and ARISS are working on the design of an Amateur Radio system for NASA’s Lunar Gateway. As NASA explains, the Gateway “will be a small spaceship in orbit around the moon that will provide access to more of the lunar surface than ever before with living quarters for astronauts, a lab for science and research, ports for visiting spacecraft, and more.” For NASA, the Lunar Gateway is “a spaceport for human and robotic exploration to the moon and beyond.” For radio amateurs, the Lunar Gateway will represent the next step in moving ham radio out of low-Earth orbit and into deep space. Under the current timeline, initial sections of the Gateway are scheduled to launch in 2022, with the Gateway in lunar orbit by 2026. “To make this happen, we are leveraging the work and expertise of the worldwide AMSAT organizations and the international ARISS community in this endeavor,” ARISS-International Chair and AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight Programs Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said. “We have an international team working on this and are meeting twice a month to mature the concept.” The ARISS concept was presented to NASA in May and got positive feedback, and was favorably received a few weeks later at the ARISS-International meeting in Montreal from the Canadian Space Agency’s Gateway Program Manager.
Tickets now are available for the AMSAT Symposium Saturday evening banquet on Saturday, October 19. A panel of guest speakers will present “The Foundations of AMSAT” followed by a question-and-answer session. Guest speakers will include Lance Ginner, K6GSJ (Project OSCAR); George Jacobs, W3ASK (author, diplomat); Perry Klein, W3PK (AMSAT founding president); Owen Mace (Australis-OSCAR 5 builder); Richard Tonkin (Australis-OSCAR 5 builder), and Jan King, W3GEY (founding AMSAT member and Australis-OSCAR 5 Project Manager). The 50th Anniversary AMSAT Space Symposium and General Meeting will be held October 18 – 20 in Arlington, Virginia, at the Hilton Arlington. Symposium registration is available for $60 until September 15. Banquet tickets are $55. Visit the AMSAT website for additional information.
A Warrnambool amateur radio group is set to re-connect with other lighthouses around the world following a year-long hiatus. VK3DX will host the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend at Portland’s Whalers Bluff lighthouse on August 17 and 18. Founding member Greg McNamara said the event was held on the third weekend of August every year, with members spending two days chatting to enthusiasts from more than 100 stations.
We spend a lot of time in our community discussing the many home computers from the 8-bit era, while almost completely ignoring their industrial equivalents. While today a designer of a machine is more likely than not to reach for a microcontroller, four decades ago they would have used a single-board computer which might have shared a lot of silicon with the one you used to play Pac Man. [Epooch] recently came into possession of a CMS 9619A Advanced Single Board Microcomputer, a rather unique Programmable Logic Controller intended for industrial applications. It’s powered by a Motorola 6809 CPU and features the usual array of peripheral chips. To unlock its secrets he reached not for an array of tools from 2019 but for a venerable Apple IIe microcomputer.via Blog – Hackaday https://ift.tt/33cxXD9
The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) next-generation Interoperable Radio System (IORS) successfully completed a battery of stress tests, required as part of the final certification of the hardware for launch to and operation on the International Space Station (ISS). The IORS consists of a JVC Kenwood D710GA transceiver and the AMSAT-developed Multi-Voltage Power Supply (MVPS). In early July, the equipment successfully completed a series of electromagnetic interference/electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) tests to ensure that the ARISS hardware will not interfere with ISS systems or other payloads. The IORS also successfully passed power quality and acoustics testing, which verified that the ARISS IORS will not introduce harmful signals back into the ISS power system and is quiet enough to meet ISS acoustic requirements. ARISS Hardware Team members Lou McFadin, W5DID, and Kerry Banke, N6IZW, were at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to support the 2-week battery of tests in concert with the NASA test and certification team.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, ARES, and SKYWARN Amateur Radio volunteers were promptly pressed into action as a storm system on July 23 produced severe thunderstorms that spawned three tornadoes over the Cape. Hurricane-force wind also resulted in significant tree and utility wire damage across Cape Cod, with particularly hard-hit communities including Hyannis, Yarmouth, and Chatham. Some pockets of wind damage also occurred in the northwest corner of Martha’s Vineyard. Amateur Radio SKYWARN spotters were the first to provide critical ground truth information regarding the significant wind damage and tornadoes across Cape Cod. Under the direction of Cape Cod District Emergency Coordinator Frank O’Laughlin, WQ1O, and Eastern Massachusetts Section Emergency Coordinator Rob Macedo, KD1CY, a SKYWARN net ran for several hour on a Barnstable, Massachusetts, VHF repeater. Numerous damage reports were received during the net and for a couple hours after the storm had passed.
A tower dismantling turned tragic on Saturday, July 27, in Deerfield, New Hampshire, when two radio amateurs working some 40 feet up on the tower were carried to the ground when the structure collapsed. Joseph Areyzaga, K1JGA, 52, of Goffstown, New Hampshire, did not survive his injuries sustained in the fall, while the tower’s owner, Michael Rancourt, K1EEE, 65, was seriously injured and remains hospitalized. Rancourt was taking down the tower in preparation for selling his house, and the pair had nearly completed their work. They were tied into the tower and went down with it as it collapsed.The tower, a tilt-over model said to be 40 to 50 feet, had been bolted to prevent it from tilting as it was being dismantled.
If I were to ask you what is the oldest man-made orbiting satellite still in use, I’d expect to hear a variety of answers. Space geeks might mention the passive radar calibration spheres, or possibly one of the early weather satellites. But what about the oldest communication satellite still in use? The answer is a complicated one. Oscar 7 is an amateur radio satellite launched on November 5th 1974, carrying two transponders and four beacons, all of which operate on bands available to amateur radio operators. Nearly 45 years later it still provides radio amateurs with contacts just as it did in the 1970s. But this bird’s history is anything but ordinary. It’s the satellite that came back from the dead after being thought lost forever. And just as it was fading from view it played an unexpected role in the resistance to the communist government in Poland.
The 30-day deadline to submit ARRL Field Day entries via app upload and (timely postmarked) USPS mail is now past, and the ARRL Contest Branch reports 3,070 entries have been logged into the system. Last year saw 2,903 entries. ARRL Radiosport and Field Services Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, said the total does not include entries postmarked by July 23 and still in transit. A number of entries still show a status of “PENDING.” These include 280 incomplete entries that are missing the required list of call signs by band/mode (also known as a “Dupe Sheet”), or a Cabrillo file.
The Radio Society of Great Britain Contest Committee has announced a series of contests using the new digital mode FT4. The three short-duration events on 80 meters (dial frequency 3575 kHz USB) are aimed at offering experience to FT4 newcomers. “As this series is experimental, there are likely to be changes as we develop experience with this mode, so please check the rules prior to each event,” the announcement said. The objective is to score as many points as possible based on the distance between stations (subject to a maximum score per contact).
Scott Davis, N3FJP, perhaps best known for the ARRL Field Day software that bears his call sign, has developed a free logging program for ARRL’s Happy 150! Hiram Percy Maxim Birthday Celebration on-the-air event that gets under way on August 31 and runs for 9 days. Davis calls his software Hiram Percy Maxim Contest Log 1.0. Maxim, 1AW, who cofounded ARRL, was born on September 2, 1869. “I've never created a program for a non-recurring event before, because the coding time required is too large,” Davis said in a post to the N3FJP software user group. “I've made this exception because this is a really nice, simple rule set with the very popular field day-style exchange that has the added bonus in schedule flexibility of running for 9 days. The Hiram Percy Maxim celebration sure looks like a well-designed event that will be a lot of fun for us all.”
Responding to Tropical Storm Barry, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and WX4NHC— the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami — have announced plans to activate. The HWN will activate today (July 12) at 2300 UTC on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. "We will operate on 14.325 for as long as propagation allows and will suspend operations on 7.268 MHz at 0300 UTC," HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said. "Net operations will resume Saturday morning at 1230 UTC (on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz) or as soon as the Waterway Net concludes operation." Graves said that once the net activates on Saturday, it will remain in operation until further notice.
Responding to Tropical Storm Barry, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and WX4NHC — the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami — have announced plans to activate. The HWN will activate today (July 12) at 2300 UTC on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. "We will operate on 14.325 for as long as propagation allows and will suspend operations on 7.268 MHz at 0300 UTC," HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said. "Net operations will resume Saturday morning at 1230 UTC (on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz) or as soon as the Waterway Net concludes operation." Graves said that once the net activates on Saturday, it will remain in operation until further notice.
Would you add another radio to your smartphone? No, not another WiFi or cellular radio; a smartphone already has that. I'm talking about something that provides connectivity through ISM bands, either 433 or 915 MHz. This can be used where you don't have cell phone coverage, and it has a longer range than WiFi. This is the idea behind the LoRa Sleeve, a messaging system that allows you to send off-the-grid messages.
If you have done any sort of radio work you probably have a fair idea about what antennas do. It is pretty easy to have a cursory understanding of them, too. You probably know there's something magic about antennas that are a quarter wave long or a half wave long and other multiples. But do you know why that matters? Do you understand the physics of why wire in a special configuration will cause signals to propagate through space? [Learn Engineering] does, and their new video is one of the best graphical explanations of what's really going on in an antenna that we've seen. You can watch the video at the link.
After due consideration, and as reported in GB2RS news on Friday 5 July, RSGB President Dave Wilson, M0OBW wrote to Ofcom strongly expressing the RSGB's concerns about the proposed WRC-23 aeronautical Agenda Item that includes 144-146 MHz. The President's letter started by stating that the RSGB "shares the concerns of the global amateur community and views the French proposal as lacking a proper understanding of the implications of sharing an aeronautical application with weak-signal terrestrial and space communications services".
A number of Amateur Radio special event stations will be (or already are) on the air during July to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.
Another Amateur Radio satellite is set to launch from China. CAMSAT CEO Alan Kung, BA1DU, reports that CAS-7B (BP-1B) is expected to launch on July 22 at 0500 UTC, on the Hyperbola 1 vehicle. CAS-7B is a spherical spacecraft, 500 millimeters (approximately 19.7 inches) in diameter with a mass of 3 kilograms (about 6.6 pounds). The CW telemetry beacon will be on 435.715 MHz. The V/U FM 16 kHz wide transponder downlink is 435.690 MHz, and the uplink is 145.900 MHz. The launch from Jiuquan will be into a 300-kilometer (approximately 186-mile), 42.7° inclination orbit.
International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, said his organization empathizes with the concerns of radio amateurs worldwide regarding a French proposal to allocate 144 – 146 MHz to the Aeronautical Service on a primary basis, essentially sharing it with Amateur Radio. The band is currently allocated to Amateur Radio on a primary basis around the world. Ellam this week offered assurances that the IARU is on top of the matter, which is still a regional issue, and is already working to keep the band in the hands of radio amateurs. While the issue could end up on the agenda of World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23), a lot would have to happen first.
Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the net is “keeping a very close eye” on Tropical Storm Barry, which could develop into a Category 1 hurricane. The HWN has announced no plans to activate, however, and remains at Alert Level 2 — monitoring mode. At 2100 UTC, the storm’s center was 90 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi and some 175 miles southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana. The storm is generating maximum sustained winds of 40 MPH with higher gusts and is moving to the west at 5 MPH.