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: 1 hour 57 min ago

One of FBI’s first female dispatchers continues to bust stereotypes from her Fullerton living room (California)

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 11:36
Walk into Vi Barrett’s living room and you walk into an era when FBI guys were called “G-men,” women were “dolls” and a “dame with good gams” might be favored over other “skirts.” At least that’s the stereotype. Fortunately, Barrett was around in the 1940s to set people straight and continues to explode stereotypes today. But these days, it’s more about blowing up perceptions over age – she’s 89 – than busting gender barriers. On a desk in a corner of her living room in Fullerton, there is a contraption the size of a fist made of chrome and two tiny Lucite paddles. Barrett reaches out and with her thumb and forefinger and bats the little paddles back and forth. Instantly, the unmistakable dit-dit-dit-dah-dah-dah of Morse code fills the room. Next to the ultra-modern chrome gizmo, Barrett picks up a little brass, steel and wood machine called a “straight key” that her father gave her more than 70 years ago.

SpaceX will launch this ‘Made In India’ private satellite in November

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 11:20
SpaceX will be launching a ‘Made In India’ private satellite in November which has been developed by the 28-year-old Gurudatta Panda and his team of eight members. While Gurudatta Panda hails from Odisha, he is part of an eight-man team of engineers who have built a satellite for a private company which deals in satellite design, manufacturing, and management. ... 28-year-old Gurudatta Panda said, “This satellite will serve the ham or the amateur radio community. As a result, it will be of great help during natural calamities, when conventional communication services get disrupted”. The 10 cm cube-sized communication satellite will be on a polar orbit after the launch and will perform two passes over India every day. With this satellite, the public will be able to receive a beacon from this artificial satellite on 145.90 Mhz with the help of a TV tuner and USB dongles. It should also be noted that Exseed Space co-founder Ashhar Farhan and Gurudatta Panda were the communication engineers for this project.

via the RSGB: Railways on the Air this weekend

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:27
This weekend is Railways on the Air and many clubs will be operating special event stations from railway related sites around the country. It celebrates the anniversary of the first steam-powered passenger railway that took place on 27 September 1825—the first passenger train ran on a line in the north-east of England from Darlington to Stockton. Bishop Auckland ARC coordinates this event. You can find a list of the participating call signs at

Ducie Island VP6D DXpedition, Other Pacific Operations on Target

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:27
The VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition is set to get under way October 20 and continue until November 3. According to Jacky Calvo, ZL3CW, the equipment, already en route, has been loaded aboard the M/V Braveheart in New Zealand. The Braveheart sets sail for Tahiti in late September, and the team of operators will catch up with the gear in Tahiti to begin their voyage to Ducie Island. Elsewhere, from September 29 until October 6, Martin Wennergren, A65DC, and friends will operate from Christmas Island as VK9XT. They plan to be on 160 through 10 meters, excluding 60 meters, kicking things off with the CQ World Wide RTTY Contest for the first 48 hours, with SSB and CW on non-contest bands, then CW, SSB, and RTTY on HF, using FT8 “only when no other operation is happening or on bands that are opening or closing,” they’ve said. VK9XT logs will go to LoTW and Club Log. Stan Vatev, LZ1GC, is heading to Samoa and will be on the air by September 28 as 5W0GC. He’ll meet other operators for the YJ0GC operation from Vanuatu, set to begin on October 15. Logs will be uploaded to LoTW. HF operation will concentrate on 160 and 80. More details are on the 5W0GC/YJ0GC website. — Thanks to The Daily DX

Window to Submit Proposals to Host Contacts with Space Station Crew Opens October 1

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:27
Proposals by school and educational organizations to host Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts with an International Space Station crew member next year will be accepted starting on Monday, October 1. Completed proposals are due by Thursday, November 15. ARISS anticipates that the contacts will be scheduled between July 1 and December 31, 2019, although crew schedules and ISS orbits determine exact contact dates. A committee of educators evaluate and approve proposals. “ARISS contacts allow education audiences to learn firsthand from astronauts what it is like to work and live in space,” ARISS said. “These scheduled contact opportunities are offered to formal and informal education institutions and organizations, individually or working together.”

AMSAT Announces 2018 Board of Directors Election Results

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:27
AMSAT-NA has announced that Tom Clark, K3IO; Mark Hammond, N8MH, and Bruce Paige, KK5DO, have won new 2-year terms on the AMSAT Board of Directors. The First Alternate is Peter Portanova, W2JV. The Second Alternate is Scott Harvey, KA7FVV. Both will serve 1-year terms. The results of the voting, with 698 ballots cast, were: Tom Clark, K3IO, 574; Mark Hammond, N8MH, 507; Bruce Paige, KK5DO, 402, Peter Portanova, W2JV, 359, and Scott Harvey, KA7FVV, 176. — Thanks to AMSAT-NA Manager Martha Saragovitz and AMSAT Secretary Clayton Coleman, W5PFG

via HACKADAY: Direction Finding And Passive Radar With RTL-SDR

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:27
To say that the RTL-SDR project revolutionized hacker’s capabilities in the RF spectrum would be something of an understatement. It used to be that the bar, in terms of both knowledge and hardware, was so high that only those truly dedicated were able to explore the radio spectrum. But today anyone with $20 can pick up an RTL-SDR device, combine it with a wide array of open source software, and gain access to a previously invisible world.

via the ARRL: Puerto Rico Amateurs Beefing Up Hurricane Preparedness

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:27
September 20 is the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria's devastating arrival in Puerto Rico. Today, many amateurs there are better prepared for the next storm or other disaster that could disrupt conventional telecommunications. With this in mind, the ARRL Puerto Rico Section is hosting monthly meetings in various cities around the island commonwealth as part of an effort to establish an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organization in Puerto Rico, to be headed by Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and Section Emergency Coordinator Juan Sepulveda, KP3CR. ... Special event station K1M will be on the air September 20 – 28 to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. “Kilo One Maria” was the call sign used by US Amateur Radio volunteers deployed to Puerto Rico as Red Cross volunteers to help with hurricane recovery. K1M will operate on or around 14.292 MHz and 7.188 MHz.

US ARDF Team Tops its Own World Championships Medal Count in Korea

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 20:53
Team USA took home 10 medals from the just-concluded 2018 Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) World Championships, the highest medal count since the US team began participating in the international event 20 years ago. The 19th World ARDF Championships took place September 2 – 8 near the resort city of Sokcho in Korea's Gangwon Province. Hidden transmitters were scattered in forests encompassing 1,000 acres or more. The US has been represented at every ARDF World Championships event since 1988, with competitions taking place every 2 years. On September 4, the first day of competition, the US won its first medal of this year as Ruth Bromer, WB4QZG, captured individual 3rd place in the W60 category in the 80-meter foxoring competition. The next day, the team’s M50 competitors — Vadim Afonkin, KB1RLI; Nicolai Mejevoi, and Bill Wright, WB6CMD — won bronze medals in the classic 2-meter team competition. That same day, the team of Ken Harker, WM5R — the Team USA Captain and the new International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 ARDF Coordinator — and Joe Burkhead won bronze in the M40 category on 80 meters. Team awards are based on the aggregate scores of individual team members, who are not permitted to assist one another on the courses.

via HACKADAY: A No-Fuss Rack of Ham

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 20:48
With any hobby, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. Equipment can get scattered around the house, chargers lost in the car while cables languish in the shed… but it doesn’t have to be this way. With a go-bag or go-box, everything required is kept together in a ready-to-go condition. Heading out for a day of filming? Grab the go-bag and you’re all set. [oliverkrystal] wanted to apply this to a ham radio setup, and built this ham shack-in-a-box. Wanting to use proven components and keep things rugged and usable, the build starts with a 6U-sized plastic rack mount case. This saves weight over plywood versions and is nice and tough. A combination of off-the-shelf rack mount parts and 3D printed pieces are brought together to make it all happen. [oliverkrystal]’s printed cable organisers are a particular treat, and something we think could help a lot of builds out there. It all comes together as an impressive self-contained unit with two radios, an antenna tuner, in-built illumination and other useful features. No longer does one have to scramble around preparing gear for the weekend’s hamventures – grab the box and you’re ready to go!

IARU Region 1 Monitoring System Reports Disappearance of Two 40-Meter Broadcast Intruders

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 20:42
The IARU Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS) reports that two long-time broadcast intruders on 40 meters are gone. IARUMS Coordinator Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, said in the August IARUMS newsletter that Radio Hargeisa in the Republic of Somaliland on 7.120 MHz, and Radio Ethiopia on 7.140 MHz, departed the band during the last week of August. “We did not miss them,” he commented. IARUMS did report increasing military traffic on 7 and 14 MHz, “especially on digital modes from Russia and China.” In addition, a wideband over-the-horizon (OTH) radar in China has caused serious problems on 20 meters, while an Iranian radar on 28.860 MHz “could be heard under sporadic E conditions.” German telecommunications authorities have filed a formal complaint. Hadel said a Russian Navy system believed to be in Moscow appeared on 7.182 MHz on F1A, a 200 Hz shift, identifying as RDL. German telecommunications authorities were notified.

Radio City Announces Closing, Owners to Retire

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
Amateur Radio retailer Radio City, Inc. of Mounds View, Minnesota, has announced it is closing. “It's been a wonderful 36 years for us at Radio City, and we have decided to retire and close,” owners Dan, KB0XC, and Maline Fish said in a message on the retailer’s website. “We are so thankful for the many years of support and we have enjoyed working you, our customers. The technical, intelligent and polite conversations plus advice have been invigorating, thus making this decision extremely difficult for us.” The Fishes said they will shut down by year’s end, “or a bit sooner, as we empty our shelves of new and used materials.” As part of a “final good-bye tour,” Radio City will attend SMARTSFEST in Cologne, Minnesota, on September 22, and Fallfest in Carlton, Minnesota, on September 29. A good-bye party is set for October 6 at the store. Radio City said it will wrap up service on any items already in the shop but will not accept any additional out-of-warranty repairs. The store no longer will accept additional consignment items. Those not sold must be retrieved during the week of October 13.

South Carolina Amateur Radio Volunteers Assist with Emergency Communication

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers from several South Carolina counties are pitching in to help support emergency communication, as the state deals with the aftereffects of Hurricane Florence. The storm, now a tropical depression, continues to generate heavy rainfall in the Carolinas. “Amateur Radio operators are far from ‘amateurs’ when it comes to providing communication in an emergency,” ARES Richland County Emergency Coordinator Ronnie Livingston, W4RWL, said. “Our volunteers here in Richland County have been staffing stations at the Richland County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), as well as at the Red Cross, since the requests were first received.” ARES District Emergency Coordinator EMEA Area 3 Earl Dean, W4ESD, said operators at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) have been keeping in contact with field volunteers in Marion and Dillon counties, after conventional telecommunications failed there. “We were able to deploy assets and personnel, thanks to our volunteers who managed communications between these areas and coordinated with the appropriate agencies,” Dean said.

Minnesota's last ham radio store to close its doors as owners retire

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
It's an end of an era for ham radio enthusiasts as the only store in Minnesota closes in the next few weeks. Radio City in Mounds View has been in business for 36 years, serving generations of loyalists and newcomers to the ham radio community. "It's one of only a handful of ham radio stores left in the country,” said Dan Fish. “It's a place where folks can find a router like this one to help their TV antennas or some of the newer technologies like this transmitter that works over Wi-Fi." After 36 years of helping customers pick out the right telescope or the perfect ham radio, owners Dan and Maline Fish are closing up shop.

via HACKADAY: The Pre-CRT Oscilloscope

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
Oscilloscopes are especially magical because they translate the abstract world of electronics into something you can visualize. These days, a scope is likely to use an LCD or another kind of flat electronic display, but the gold standard for many years was the ubiquitous CRT (cathode ray tube). Historically, though, CRTs were not very common in the early days of electronics and radio. What we think of as a CRT didn’t really show up until 1931, although if you could draw a high vacuum and provide 30 kV, there were tubes as early as 1919. But there was a lot of electronics work done well before that, so how did early scientists visualize electric current? You might think the answer is “they didn’t,” but that’s not true. We are spoiled today with high-resolution electronic displays, but our grandfathers were clever and used what they had to visualize electronics. Keep in mind, you couldn’t even get an electronic amplifier until the early 1900s (something we’ve talked about before). The earliest way to get a visual idea of what was happening in a circuit was purely a manual process. You would make measurements and draw your readings on a piece of graph paper. This sounds crazy, but the trick was to use a spinning rotor with a contact and a matching but movable contact. You’d move the contact to examine different points on the standing wave using a galvanometer (basically a compass with a coil of wire). The speed of the rotor would essentially be your sweep and you would hope the rotating contact was in sync with your waveform.

FCC Grants ARRL Temporary Waiver Request to Permit PACTOR 4 Use in Hurricane Relief

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
The FCC has granted an ARRL request for a temporary waiver of Section 97.307(f) of the FCC’s Amateur Service rules to permit the use of PACTOR 4 digital mode for Amateur Radio communication within the continental US related to Hurricane Florence relief. The grant extends through Tuesday, September 18, and a formal order addressing the request for a 30-day waiver will be issued next week, the FCC said. Section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s Rules limits the digital data emissions of amateur stations operating below 28 MHz to a symbol rate not to exceed 300 baud, and in the 10-meter band (28.0 – 28.3 MHz) to a symbol rate not to exceed 1200 baud, thus precluding the use of PACTOR 4. PACTOR 4 is a data protocol that permits relatively high-speed data transmission in the HF bands, and many amateur stations active in emergency communications preparedness are capable of using PACTOR 4, which was used to great advantage, pursuant to FCC temporary waivers, in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, and, more recently in preparing for typhoon relief communications in Hawaii.

Ham Radio will be Represented at 9th Annual World Maker Faire in New York City

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
The Garden School (K2GSG) and Hall of Science Amateur Radio clubs (ARC) in New York City will join forces this month to put Amateur Radio on display during the 9th annual World Maker Faire NYC at the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens, September 22 – 23. Last year’s World Maker Faire NYC drew some 90,000 attendees. The Garden School’s ham radio club advisor and science teacher John Hale, KD2LPM, said participating youngsters will introduce Amateur Radio and mentor attendees in constructing small, electronic “Maker Key” Morse code oscillators. The project helped Garden School win a blue ribbon at last year’s Maker Faire. Something new this year: Visiting radio amateurs will be able to build a tape-measure Yagi for satellite or terrestrial use. In cooperation with the Hall of Science ARC, radio amateurs will attempt to make satellite contacts with the tape-measure Yagis as a demonstration, Hale said. The Hall of Science will host a working HF radio demonstration called “When Disaster Strikes, Amateur Radio is Ready.” Radio amateurs will be on hand to operate the radios and encourage those attending the Faire to attempt to make some contacts.

via the RSGB: IARU plan for WRC-19

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:58
The Administrative Council of the International Amateur Radio Union held its annual in-person meeting on 8 and 9 September 2018 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. With the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) of the ITU now little more than a year away, the efforts of two dozen IARU volunteers to defend amateur radio’s frequency allocations against commercial pressures and to seek worldwide harmonisation of the 50 to 54MHz band are reaching a critical stage. With these challenges in mind the Council reviewed its strategic plan to develop support for amateur spectrum allocations and approved the action plan for implementation during the remainder of 2018 and 2019. Full information on the meeting can be found on the IARU Region 1 website.

via HACKADAY: NASA Shows Off Its Big Computer In 1986

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 17:04
Sometimes it is hard to remember just how far computers have come in the last three or four decades. An old NASA video (see below) has been restored with better sound and video recently that shows what passed for a giant computer in 1986. The Cray 2 runs at 250 MHz and had two gigabytes of memory (256 megabytes of million 64-bit words). Despite the breathless praise, history hasn’t been kind to the Cray 2. Based on ECL, it had 4 processors and –in theory — could reach 1,900 megaFLOPs/second (a FLOP is a floating point operation). However, practical problems made it difficult to get to that theoretical maximum. Still, it was the fastest computer of its day and that amount of memory in 1986 was stunning. A 1987 Radio Shack catalog, for example, shows a Tandy 1000 SX that could run at over 7 MHz, had 384K of RAM, and not one but two floppy drives for only $1,199.00. Well, you’d need to pay extra for the monitor, but still. The year after that, $2,600 would get you the 4000 that ran at 16 Mhz with an 80386 onboard. For that price you got a full megabyte of memory. There were two empty slots for a hard drive and you’d still need to buy both a monitor and a display card! The Cray had 2,000 times that much memory and could probably get to it a lot faster, too. Of course, it also cost around $16 million. It is always dicey to compare speeds of different computers, but we read that the iPad 2 is about as fast as the Cray 2. Of course, the sticker price was just the start. The 5,500 pound computer could burn up to 200 kilowatts of electricity and we have a feeling the special 3M liquid that cooled the thing wasn’t that cheap either. Apparently, some lasers use a similar fluid and we found some of that currently available for about $500 for a 1000 cc container.

YOTA South Africa 2018 Participants Urged to Share What They’ve Learned

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:56
The 74 delegates to the Youngsters of the Air (YOTA) South Africa 2018 gathering held in early August in South Africa enjoyed what one participant called “a mind-blowing experience.” As the event drew to a close, the event’s patron, Gary Immelman, ZS6YI, reminded the participants that they are Amateur Radio’s future leaders and urged them to become leaders in their respective organizations at home. Campers at YOTA South Africa 2018, which was sponsored by the South African Radio League (SARL), represented 23 countries in Europe and Africa, and the US. “By virtue of the fact that you were prepared to come all this way to South Africa and to so enthusiastically participate in this year's YOTA tells me that you are a very dedicated and motivated group of young people,” Immelman said. “The enthusiasm and vigor in which you participated in the various activities gives me comfort that the future of Amateur Radio is indeed very bright.”