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: 45 min 17 sec ago
An Iowa National Guard exercise in late April for the first time saw the use of a common digital mode among military, Amateur Radio, and Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) participants on the 60-meter interoperability channels. Military standard communications mode MilStd 188-110 was pressed into service to pass digital messages during Exercise Stable Mercury. Because Amateur Radio operators on 60 meters are not symbol-rate limited, all parties were able to use a common digital mode at a higher data rate to pass traffic. For RTTY or digital operation, radio amateurs must transmit on the center frequency of 60-meter channels with a bandwidth no wider than that of a USB signal. The April 23 – 24 communications exercise involved the deployment of Guard units across numerous incident command posts to operate cooperatively with federal, state, local, and auxiliary units. The scenario for the drill was based on an actual severe weather event that occurred 20 years ago, and the April exercise used radar feeds and storm spotter reports taken from the June 29, 1998, Iowa Derecho to inform this training event. A derecho is an extended straight-line windstorm associated with a fast-moving cluster of severe thunderstorms.
Well-known ARRL stalwart and former Orange Section Manager Sandra Mae “Sandi” Heyn, WA6WZN, of Costa Mesa, California, died on April 28 after a lengthy illness. An ARRL Life Member, she was 75. Sandi Heyn was the wife of ARRL Honorary Vice President and past ARRL Southwestern Division Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, who relied on her as his trusted assistant. The couple often appeared together at ARRL and other Amateur Radio functions, and Sandi Heyn nearly always accompanied her husband to ARRL Headquarters for the ARRL Board’s twice-yearly meetings during his years as a Director. As Fried Heyn said, “We were joined at the hip.” Married for 57 years, the Heyns continued as Amateur Radio ambassadors even after their official League service concluded.
The ill-fated 3Y0Z DXpedition to Bouvet Island, halted earlier this year because of poor weather and engine problems with its transportation vessel, will very likely not be rescheduled for the 2018 – 2019 Austral season, organizers say. “It has become apparent that the chance of finding a suitable and affordable vessel for the 2018 to 2019 Austral season is becoming less and less likely,” the team said in an April 26 news release. “It appears that the very earliest we could mount a second attempt to activate Bouvet would be the 2019 to 2020 season, or possibly beyond.” The 3Y0Z team reports that it has reached “a fair settlement” with transportation contractor DAP and has received a partial reimbursement of its payments. “Our vessel Betanzos is now back in Punta Arenas, and we believe that the container with our personal gear and equipment is intact. We will be arranging to transport the container back to the US, arriving in a few months.”
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, has used the latest chapter in an Amateur Radio enforcement proceeding to reiterate his call that the Commission abolish its Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) system. The long-standing case involves efforts by William F. Crowell, W6WBJ, (ex-N6AYJ), of Diamond Spring, California, to renew his license. Late last week, the FCC denied reconsideration of Crowell’s petition to have the Commission assign a new ALJ to his case, arguing that the current ALJ, Richard L. Sippel, is biased against him. Attaching his own comments to a Memorandum and Opinion Order (MO&O), released on April 26, O’Rielly said he approved the Commission’s opinion that Crowell’s appeal was justifiably denied, but he expressed concern that the ALJ “took unnecessary actions” in Crowell’s case, and in another unrelated proceeding. “On a larger scale, complaints about the ALJ process are not isolated incidents, but paint a picture of questionable decisions coupled with an elevated level of inefficiency,” O’Rielly said. “It seems to me that, too often, the Commission has had to reverse the decisions of the ALJ or address one ALJ decision or another. This reality only reaffirms my call to consider eliminating the ALJ process altogether.”
ARRL Suspends Registration for Emergency Communications Course, as Online Platform Announces Shutdown
Registration for “Introduction to Emergency Communications” (EC-001) was suspended on April 30, after ARRL learned that the online platform provider for the course — Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC) — is being dissolved, effective July 1, according to CTDLC’s parent, Charter Oak State College. CTDLC officials cited the fiscal challenges that the Connecticut state college and university system and the state as a whole are facing as the reason for shuttering CTDLC. As plans are made to move the course content to a new delivery platform, ARRL decided to halt registration. Anyone who signed up for the EC-001 session that starts on May 30 will receive a refund. ARRL has been developing new EC-001 content and will intensify the process of selecting a new platform to deliver it. More information on the new course content and a new host site for the EC-001 course will be announced, as soon as a decision is made on an alternative delivery mechanism.
The Dayton Daily News is reporting that a Louisville, Kentucky-based developer, Michael Heitz, of Garrett-Day LLC Properties, is in the process of buying Hara Arena, which served as home to Dayton Hamvention from 1964 until 2016. Heitz told the Dayton Daily News that he bought out income tax liens on the property from Montgomery County and is hoping to close on some bank liens later this week. It’s not known how much Heitz has invested in the property so far. The six-building Hara Arena complex includes some 120 acres of real estate, 25 acres alone devoted to parking. Heitz said his priority is to “clean it up and secure the property.” Hara Arena has been visited by camera-carrying urban explorers as well as by vandals since it closed. The IRS put the Hara Arena complex on the auction block last August to satisfy a tax lien, but no successful bidder came forward. An IRS staff member who was involved in the 2017 auction told ARRL early this year that the agency would not try again to auction the parcel, but suggested that other lienholders, including a mortgage holder and the Town of Trotwood, might go that route. At one point, the asking price for Hara Arena was $775,000.
Stations taking part in Europe Day “on the air” (EUDOTA) 2018 will be active from Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6, with special call signs AO1EU, AO2EU, AO3EU, AO4EU, AO5EU, AO6EU, AO7EU, AO8EU, and AO9EU. (Europe Day is Wednesday, May 9.) Sponsored by the EA Digital Foundation with the support of the European Radio Amateurs’ Organization (EURAO), the on-the-air event commemorates the creation of the European Union in 1950 and aims “to promote the European spirit and harmony among citizens, peoples, and nations.” A special QSL card and award will be available, and contacts will count toward the Radio Clubs of the World Award (EANET). — Thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News
A third public test of the nascent FT8 “DXpedition Mode” is set for Saturday, May 5, the WSJT Development Group has announced. A fourth “release candidate” now is available, and participants in the May 5 public test should install WSJT-X version 1.9.0-rc4, beforehand. “Once again, the goal is to simulate a rare-DXpedition pileup by having many stations (‘Hounds’) calling and trying to work a designated pseudo-DXpedition station (‘Fox’),” Joe Taylor, K1JT, said on behalf of the WSJT Development Team. “Everyone participating in the test must use WSJT-X v1.9.0-rc4.” Taylor urged participants to “read, understand, and carefully follow” the FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide, which contains some operating procedure details that differ from earlier versions of the beta mode software. “If you have legitimate access to more than one call sign (spouse, a club call, or whatever), please feel free to call and work each Fox more than once,” Taylor said. “The more Hounds, the better; we want the test pileup to be as deep as possible.” The third public test will include three 1-hour sessions.