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: 14 min 48 sec ago

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.”

FCC Launches “More than Seven Dirty Words” Podcast

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:50
[UPDATED and CORRECTED 2018-08-29 @ 1350 UTC] The FCC has launched a new podcast series, More Than Seven Dirty Words, that will feature interviews with FCC officials and staff in addition to others in the communications arena. The podcast aims “to share untold stories, explain important policy issues, and maybe even do the impossible — make telecom interesting,” the FCC said in announcing the new media outlet. “One of the wonderful things about the digital age is the many ways to share information, so we’re excited to launch this new FCC podcast,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who shares some banter in a brief introductory segment with program host, FCC Policy Advisor Evan Swarztrauber. Guests will share their personal stories behind FCC news headlines and break down various telecommunications-related issues. The podcast’s title is drawn from the first episode’s introductory discussion, which touches on the court fight over George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” and the fallout from the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. The first podcast, “Puerto Rico se Levanta” runs 22 minutes and focuses on the FCC’s response to the 2017 Puerto Rico hurricane disaster. Episodes will be available at, as well as on iTunes, and Google Play.

FCC Sticks by Prescribed Page Limit in Denying Request in Radio Amateur’s Appeal

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:46
In an August 24 Order, the FCC denied a request by William F. Crowell, W6WBJ (ex-N6AYH) of Diamond Springs, California, for permission to file an appeal that would exceed the page length prescribed by FCC rules. “We find that Crowell has not shown good cause for exceeding the prescribed page limit,” said the Order, signed by Linda L. Oliver, Chief of the Administrative Law Division in the FCC Office of General Counsel. “Crowell’s request indicates that he intends to appeal the order by Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Richard L. Sippel dismissing his renewal application for Amateur Radio license W6WBJ and terminating the proceeding. Under the Commission’s rules, appeals of an ALJ’s dismissal order are limited to 25 pages.” Crowell explained in his July 30 request that his appeal “involves approximately 16 important issues of Constitutional, statutory, and regulatory interpretation applicable to the Amateur Radio Service, which have never been decided by the Commission or by the courts.” He argued that 25 pages would be insufficient and asked for an additional 10 pages.

CITEL Addresses Telecommunications Initiatives Prior to ITU Plenipotentiary Conference

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:41
The Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL), through its Permanent Consultative Committee 1 (PCC.1), met last week (August 20 – 24) at Organization of the American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington, DC. The group gathered to discuss telecommunications regulatory and development issues and to coordinate OAS strategic telecommunications initiatives for establishing positions in advance of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-18) this fall. At the opening session, OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro identified the approval of a revised International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP) as one positive result coming out of the OAS General Assembly earlier this year, noting that representatives of the Dominican Republic and Argentina have signed off on the revision. Almagro encouraged more countries to adopt and implement the protocol. CITEL Executive Secretary Oscar León also stressed the importance of signing the revision through OAS and promoting national ratification according to the local rulemaking process.

Colorado Club Supports Make-A-Wish Foundation Trailblaze Challenge

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:38
The Park County Radio Club (PCRC) in Colorado (AB0PC) provided communication assistance for the first Colorado Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge fundraiser hike on August 11. The hike took place on Segments 2 and 3 of the Colorado Trail, totaling 23.7 miles. The elevation at the start of the Challenge hike was 6,112 feet, reaching 8,290 feet at the highest point for a total elevation gain of 2,178 feet from start to finish. The average grade along the trail is about 5%, but it exceeds 18% at some spots.

Korean Postage Stamp Recognizes Amateur Radio Direction Finding Championships

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:33
Korea Post has issued a postage stamp in recognition of the 19th Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) World Championships, being held September 2 – 8 in Sokcho City, Gangwon Province, Korea. The Korean Amateur Radio League (KARL) will host the event. Representatives of at least 30 countries, including the US, are expected to participate. Events will include formal ARDF competitions on 2 meters and 80 meters, plus sprints and foxoring. Each country may have up to three persons per age/gender category on its team, in accordance with International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) ARDF rules. Nine men and three women have been preparing to represent the US in Korea. “I issued invitations to 30 persons to compete for the US, based on their finishes in the 18th USA ARDF Championships in June and in the 17th USA ARDF Championships last August,” said ARRL/USA ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV. “Because of health issues, economic considerations and activity conflicts, only 12 were able to accept.” Moell said Team USA members range in age from 29 to 76 and are paying their own way to attend the event. “They're very motivated and I think they'll have a great time,” Moell added.

via the ARRL: Islands on the Air Seeking Proposed Additions to List of Valid Island Groups

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:29
The Island on the Air (IOTA) program is reviewing its list of valid island groups, as it typically does every 5 years. “This time, IOTA management has decided to bring forward the review to give a chance for any new groups announced to be activated in 2019, the target year,” said Roger Balister, G3KMA, in an August 31 announcement. He continued, “The review process is scheduled to start with an announcement of some additions at this year's [Radio Society of Great Britain] Convention, and may possibly finish with a top-up at next year's Friedrichshafen HAM Radio event.”

New ARRL Chief Executive Officer Elected by Board of Directors

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:29
The ARRL Board of Directors has elected Howard E. Michel, WB2ITX, of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, to be ARRL’s new Chief Executive Officer, starting on October 15. Michel (his name rhymes with "nickel") is currently Chief Technology Officer at UBTECH Education, and Senior Vice President of UBTECH Robotics, a $5 billion Shenzhen, China, artificial intelligence and robotics company. As the Chief Technology Officer at UBTECH Education, Michel helped build this company from a startup in China to $100 million in valuation. “I have Amateur Radio to thank for starting me on a very successful career, and I’m excited about the opportunity to further ARRL’s goals as CEO. Leading the League will allow me to ‘give back’ to a great community and provide similar opportunity for future generations,” Michel said. “I have been a licensed ham for 50 years, and I’ve seen many changes in the hobby. One of my top priorities as CEO will be to develop new products and services so all licensed hams, whatever their license class or interest, find value in League membership,” he added.

Ham Radio Equipment for Emergency Communication Delivered in Honduras

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 16:29
The Honduras National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) on August 22 delivered Amateur Radio equipment to COPECO — a government disaster-organization coordination agency — for use in an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) pilot project that aims to take wider advantage of the Winlink HF email system for emergency communication. The ITU pilot project includes Central America and the Caribbean with the aim of achieving implementation throughout South America. Winlink already enjoys wide usage in North America by Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) teams. ITU donated the equipment. “The most important thing is that CONATEL, COPECO, and radio amateurs start working with the Winlink tool,” said ITU Area D Representative Miguel Alcaine. “I am very happy to know that we are doing something before disaster strikes.” The donation consists of an HF radio, a VHF radio, a multiband dipole, a VHF antenna, an automatic antenna tuner, a modem, and coaxial cable.

via the ARRL: An Amazing Recovery: ARISS Packet System Revives

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 01:41
Similar to the AO-7 satellite resurrection several years ago, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) packet radio system on the International Space Station (ISS) has begun working again. NASA ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, said over the weekend that reports he’d received indicated that the NA1SS packet signal returned in mid-August. “It appears it indeed has started working as of about 11 days ago,” Ransom said. “No idea how long it will last, given the degrading state of the current hardware. The longer it lasts, the better.” Ransom said the revived system will fill the gap until a replacement packet module goes up later this year on a Progress supply vehicle and is installed by the crew on a time-available basis. Satellite enthusiast Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK, in Arizona reported via the ISS Fan Club site that the ISS packet system was operating on August 25 at 1915 UTC during an 8° pass over the continental US. “I got my position packet through once, no QSOs this pass,” he said in a post.

Astronauts find hole in the International Space Station, plug it with thumb

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 01:41
You think you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today? Spare a thought for the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). On Thursday morning, they woke up to the news that the station was slowly leaking air. Flight controllers had been monitoring the small drop in pressure overnight, deciding to let the crew sleep as the hole presented no danger. The astronauts, commander Drew Feustel, flight engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst, Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev eventually located the source of the leak: The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The spacecraft was attached to the Russian side of the station, and originally ferried the crew of Expedition 56 to the station back in June. Read more - CNET

Radiosport hits teen's wavelength (New Zealand)

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 22:35
To know and understand Hastings teenager Xenia Berger and her band of people requires others to tap into her wavelength, so to speak. Oh, and Berger impresses, it pays to have a licence to do that. The Year 12 Havelock North High School pupil should know because engaging in the art of radiosport got her in contact with King Juan Carlos I, of Spain, in April. Berger, whose call sign is ZL4YL, suspects she had struck a frequency in California with the 80-year-old monarch who goes by the credentials of EA0JC. He reigned from 1975 until his abdication in 2014 when his son, Felipe, ascended to the throne. "I don't think at the time I realised it was him but my dad told me afterwards so that was quite cool," she says of the competition contact.

Former ham radio shop in Main Road, Hockley could be turned into flats (UK)

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 18:02
The Waters and Stanton shop in Main Road, Rochford could be turned into 11 flats by Marchi Developments Ltd after a planning application was submitted to Rochford Council. The application could prove controversial due to a complicated planning history. The developers applied for permission for ten homes with 15 car parking spaces in 2013. The application was rejected but the developers were successful on appeal. Now the owners want 11 flats and 11 parking spaces.

Ham radios in times of need (India)

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 17:57
One lesson that the devastating floods have taught the state is the need to set up alternative communication channels when the traditional modes break down due to the rigours of the natural disaster. HIRUVANANTHAPURAM: One lesson that the devastating floods have taught the state is the need to set up alternative communication channels when the traditional modes break down due to the rigours of the natural disaster. At a time when the mobile signals and internet break down, the next solution is ham radios. For the past several hours, ham radio operators have been helping the rescue teams plug communication lacunae by operating their devices. About 10 ham operators are stationed in Chengannur, which was most severely affected by the flood, to help rescue workers save lives. Biju Gopi Thilak, vice president of Activehams Amateur Radio Society (AARS-KL), said they have set up a master control room and are assisting the Fire and Rescue Services personnel from Odisha and their Kerala counterparts to rescue stranded people from the interiors of Chengannur.

Ham operators hear first-hand account of man's flight around the world (Louisiana)

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 17:50
Brian Lloyd spent part of 2017 on a journey around the world in a single engine airplane as he retraced the route taken by aviator Amelia Earhart exactly 80 years earlier. She did not make it. He did and recently shared his adventure with the Shreveport Amateur Radio Association. "Because my focus was on each individual step. I land. I get ready for the next day. I fly the next day,” said Lloyd. The adventure took 66 days. Lloyd stayed in contact by talking with ham radio operators along the route. "So it really didn't hit me until I finally landed back home … in San Antonio and got out of the airplane and it was like, like getting hit with a 2-by-4. Holy Moly, I did it. I made it all the way around the world following her route,” Lloyd said.

Company Established by Inventor Nathan Cohen, W1YW, Advances Cloaking Technology

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 17:31
Fractal Antenna Systems, Inc., established by noted radio amateur and inventor Nathan Cohen, W1YW, continues to stretch technological boundaries of belief. In an August 15 news release, the firm confirmed the issuance of its newest patents that will enable the next generation of stealth-like invisibility and absorptive shielding. The technology has both commercial and military applications. The firm pioneered and invented invisibility cloaks and holds both the “source” patent (8,253,639) and the related comprehensive intellectual property portfolio. Recently issued patent 10,027,033 is a continuation of that state-of-the-art innovation. It discloses a novel means of turning invisibility cloaks on and off, by changing the characteristics of a boundary layer. “The person or sensor inside the cloak is thus no longer blind,” Cohen said. He explained that not being able to sense the outside has previously been the top impediment to the use of invisibility cloaks. The newest patent (10,030,917) describes related technology, where electromagnetic energy is absorbed by fractal-based metamaterials. Called “fractal absorbers,” the innovation uses evanescent waves to divert such impinging energy off to the sides, where it is absorbed in a resistive layer. Previously, absorbers relied on the thickness, not the width, of materials to accomplish this. Now these very thin fractal absorbers accomplish the same result with dramatic reductions in thickness and weight.

Finland: New frequencies for radio hams planned

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 17:31
Finland's national society the SRAL reports the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority plans to make changes to the national frequency table It appears Finland's radio amateurs will get new secondary allocations at 1855-1861 kHz and 1906 to 1912 kHz. There will be removal of frequencies in the subband 5250-5450 kHz and inclusion of the WRC-15 band 5351.5-5366.5 kHz and it seems alleviation of the threats to 1240-1300 MHz and 3400-3408 MHz.

via HACKADAY: Custom Split-Flap Display Is a Unique Way to Show the Weather

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 15:17
There’s little doubt about the charms of a split-flap display. Watching a display build up a clear, legible message by flipping cards can be mesmerizing, whether on a retro clock radio from the 70s or as part of a big arrival and departure display at an airport or train station. But a weather station with a split-flap display? That’s something you don’t see often. We usually see projects using split-flap units harvested from some kind of commercial display, but [gabbapeople] decided to go custom and build these displays from the ground up. The frame and mechanicals for each display are made from laser-cut acrylic, as are the flip-card halves. Each cell can display a full alphanumeric character set on 36 cards, with each display driven by its own stepper. An Arduino fetches current conditions from a weather API and translates the description of the weather into a four-character code. The codes shown in the video below seem a little cryptic, but the abbreviation list posted with the project makes things a bit clearer. Bonus points if you can figure out what “HMOO” is without looking at the list. We like the look and feel of this, but we wonder if split-flap icons might be a neat way to display weather too. It seems like it would be easy enough to do with [gabbapeople]’s detailed instructions. Or you could always look at one of the many other custom split-flap displays we’ve featured for more inspiration.