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: 12 min 6 sec ago

via the ARRL: VE7DXW's "RF Seismograph" May Be Real Seismograph

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
Alex Schwarz, VE7DXW, in British Columbia, Canada, is exploring the possibility that "RF signatures" detected by the RF Seismograph propagation tool could also be indicating earthquakes, and may even be able to predict them shortly before they occur. A real-time HF propagation-monitoring tool developed by Schwarz and the MDSR team, the RF Seismograph shows both band noise and activity or band activity alone on six HF bands. It's a project of the North Shore Amateur Radio Club (NSARC). "We had been doing the solar eclipse experiment, and we developed the RF Seismograph software to look for changes in propagation during the eclipse," Schwarz explained. "After the eclipse, we decided to leave the RF Seismograph running, and we have now collected 4 years of data."

via HACKADAY: Does WiFi Kill Houseplants?

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
Spoiler alert: No. To come to that conclusion, which runs counter to the combined wisdom of several recent YouTube videos, [Andrew McNeil] ran a pretty neat little experiment. [Andrew] has a not inconsiderable amount of expertise in this area, as an RF engineer and prolific maker of many homebrew WiFi antennas, some of which we've featured on these pages before. His experiment centered on cress seeds sprouting in compost. Two identical containers were prepared, with one bathed from above in RF energy from three separate 2.4 GHz transmitters. Each transmitter was coupled to an amplifier and a PCB bi-quad antenna to radiate about 300 mW in slightly different parts of the WiFi spectrum. Both setups were placed in separate rooms in east-facing windows, and each was swapped between rooms every other day, to average out microenvironmental effects.

via HACKADAY: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, We're Hunting Baofengs

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
In the world of ham radio, a "Fox Hunt" is a game where participants are tasked with finding a hidden transmitter through direction finding. Naturally, the game is more challenging when you're on the hunt for something small and obscure, so the ideal candidate is a small automated beacon that can be tucked away someplace inconspicuous. Of course, cheap is also preferable so you don't go broke trying to put a game together. As you might expect, there's no shortage of kits and turn-key transmitters that you can buy, but [WhiskeyTangoHotel] wanted to come up with something that could be put together cheaply and easily from hardware the average ham or hacker might already have laying around. The end result is a very capable "fox" that can be built in just a few minutes at a surprisingly low cost. He cautions that you'll need a ham license to legally use this gadget, but we imagine most people familiar with this particular pastime will already have the necessary credentials.

Police bust their own radio shop manager for dodgy software updates (Manitoba)

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 21:05
The manager in charge of Winnipeg's police radios was arrested last Thursday for allegedly using fraudulent licenses to update the encrypted Motorola radios that police use to keep their conversations private, CBC News reports. According to court documents, an employee tipped authorities off about the alleged actions of Ed Richardson, who was the manager of the radio shop for the City of Winnipeg. The radio shop is in charge of repairing and maintaining radios used by the Winnipeg Police Service and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. Richardson allegedly got his hands on millions of dollars' worth of illegal licenses for the radios, which require frequent updates. Each of those software updates should have cost the city $94, but the informant said that Richardson didn't like paying those fees to Motorola. … Police suspect that Richardson got the unauthorized keys from a Winnipeg ham radio enthusiast who was under investigation by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Court documents say that a DHS agent traveled to Winnipeg in 2016 to brief local police about the investigation. The agent told Winnipeg police that the man whom DHS was investigating reprogrammed Motorola radios for a roster of international clients. Such clients are of the criminal ilk, as in, people who have an interest in hiding their chats on encrypted radio. That includes drug lords.

Russian "Sunflower" Coastal Radar Showing Up on 60, 40, and 75 Meters

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
The January issue of the IARU Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS) newsletter reports the Russian "Sunflower" coastal radar, located east of Vladivostok, is being heard at nights on 3,716 kHz and 6,860 – 7,005 kHz, as well as on several 60-meter frequencies. A Chinese wideband over-the-horizon (OTH) radar also appeared on 7.000 MHz in early January. While 60 meters and 80/75 meters are shared bands, the 7.000 – 7.200 MHz segment of 40 meters is currently allocated exclusively to the Amateur Radio Service worldwide. True intruders are those appearing on exclusive Amateur Radio frequency allocations. Some domestic Amateur Radio HF allocations outside Region 2 (the Americas), such as 7.200 to 7.300 MHz, are either shared with other services or not available to radio amateurs. On HF allocations such as 30 and 60 meters, Amateur Radio is secondary to other users. The 20-, 17-, 15-, 12-, and 10-meter bands are exclusively available to the Amateur Radio Service worldwide.

Radio ham who revolutionized the video game industry

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
IGN Entertainment have published an article about the African-American radio amateur Jerry Lawson WA6LVN (SK) who revolutionized the video game industry. His enthusiasm for amateur radio started when his parents bought him a ham radio receiver kit. "I built it and it worked," he recalled. "I think the greatest joy I ever had in my life was when I put that thing together by myself with nobody helping me." He passed his amateur radio exam at the age of 13. In the 1970's Jerry became a member of the famous Homebrew Computer Club—a gathering of computer enthusiasts that included Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak WA6BND, founders of Apple computers. In later interviews he recalled that he did not have a particularly good impression of the Steves, and even turned Steven Wozniak WA6BND down to instead take an engineering position at Fairchild.

Amateur Radio is Aboard during Attempt to Become Oldest Circumnavigator

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
The FCC has announced job openings that may be of interest radio amateurs. The agency is seeking to fill two openings for the position of Electronics Engineer (Field Agent) — one in Boston, Massachusetts, and the other in Los Angeles, California The FCC also is looking to fill a position of Attorney Advisor (Field Counsel) in Washington, DC.Jeanne Socrates, VE0JS/KC2IOV, is used to solitude. The lone 76-year-old yachtswoman passed the southern tip of Africa — some 300 miles to the north — on Valentine's Day as she forged on toward Australia and New Zealand in her 38-foot sailing vessel Nereida. While underway, Socrates keeps in touch with a community of friends via Amateur Radio — although she had to yield to the ARRL International DX CW activity over the weekend — and she's sticking to a schedule of 7.160 MHz at 0230 UTC daily. Socrates reported making contact with some ham radio friends on the US west coast on February 17. She's been blogging her progress. The retired math teacher and UK native also is no stranger to circumnavigating the globe, having already become the oldest woman to complete a solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world voyage. Ham radio served as her link to terra firma during her earlier adventures. Since 2013, she's made two additional attempts to become the oldest person to circumnavigate Earth, the goal she's now attempting to achieve. She departed Victoria, British Columbia, last October. Two earlier attempts were cut short when her vessel was damaged in rough seas. Then, she suffered serious injuries in a fall last year.

Taiwan in Time: The only ‘ham' in Taiwan for 25 years

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
Until 1985, Taiwan's amateur (ham) radio scene consisted of one person: Tim Chen, who held the country's only license due to Martial Law era restrictions. According to a Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) report, this resulted in the unusual situation where Taiwan Garrison Command had to establish a set of amateur radio regulations just for him. Since there was nobody else in Taiwan to talk to, Chen connected with people around the world, using Morse code at first via his station BV2A, and gaining voice communication capabilities in 1974 through BV2B. Chen was strictly forbidden to speak with anyone in China or the Soviet Union, but he enjoyed much popularity as the world's only BV (Taiwan's country code) station operator — so much so that US senator and fellow ham enthusiast Barry Goldwater specifically requested to tour Chen's two stations when he visited Taiwan in 1986. When Chen died on Feb. 22, 2006, an American Radio Relay League (ARRL) obituary noted that Chen was "more famous than he knew." Indeed, Chen told Commonwealth Magazine in 1984 that his favorite part of amateur radio was the people he could connect to.

New Plan Aligns ARES with the Needs of Served Agencies

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
The new ARES Plan adopted by the ARRL Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting in January represents an effort to provide ARES with a clearly defined mission, goals, and objectives; specific training requirements, and a system for consistent reporting and record-keeping. The Board's Public Service Enhancement Working Group (PSEWG) spent more than 3 years crafting the ARES Plan which, ARRL officials believe, provides a much-needed update of the program's role in public service and emergency preparedness in the 21st century. Concerns focused on bringing ARES into alignment with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS), and creating more consistent and standardized ARES training requirements. Given dramatic changes and upgrades in national, regional, and local emergency and disaster response organizations, ARRL faced a major challenge, said ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, who chaired the PSEWG. "If we didn't address these issues, such as training standards and organizational management, ARES faced the very real possibility that it would no longer be viewed as a valid and valuable partner in emergency and disaster relief situations," Williams said.

NJ Pirate Enters FCC Consent Decree

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
For three years, a member of the national association for amateur radio evaded the FCC with illicit broadcasts at 90.9 MHz in a Northern New Jersey city not far from midtown Manhattan, across the Hudson River. In April 2018, the Commission was finally able to act on the matter by issuing a hefty Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to the individual determined to be running the pirate radio stations, and followed up with a Forfeiture Order six months later. Now, the matter is officially resolved by way of a Consent Decree. On Wednesday (10/31), the Enforcement Bureau moved forward with a Forfeiture Order against Winston Tulloch (QRZ.com lists a callsign for a Winston Tulloch as KC2ALN). As reported by RBR+TVBR, Tulloch was fined $25,000 fine for his unlicensed radio broadcast activity. The Forfeiture Order from Enforcement Bureau Regional Director Dave Dombrowski was a simple conclusion: Tulloch failed to file a response to the April 2018 NAL.

Kettering resident's radio tower request to be heard on appeal (Ohio)

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
A public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday by city council to hear an appeal from Kettering man who wants permission to build a 50-foot radio tower in his backyard, a request that his neighbors opposed and the Board of Zoning Appeals denied in December. Wynn Rollert, 77, had requested approval to be granted a variance on his property in the 4800 block of Mad River Road in order to install the tower. Kettering's Zoning Code allows for amateur radio towers to be 25-feet without a variance, so that is why he wants approval for the extra 25-feet. In December, the Board of Zoning Appeal voted 3-1 to deny the request without comment. The decision went against a report from Zoning Administrator Run Hundt, whose report to the board indicated that the request should be approved. Hundt said that the FCC and the State of Ohio lay out what is a reasonable accommodation with the type of variance request presented by Rollert. "Basically, what that means is that we cannot prohibit based on standards of people putting up a tower," he explained. "Now, we can create reasonable provisions. For example, one reasonable thing that we did add to our code, is a fall zone. Basically if the tower fell over from its base, it would fall on the single property where it is located."

FCC Announces Career Opportunities

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
The FCC has announced job openings that may be of interest radio amateurs. The agency is seeking to fill two openings for the position of Electronics Engineer (Field Agent) — one in Boston, Massachusetts, and the other in Los Angeles, California The FCC also is looking to fill a position of Attorney Advisor (Field Counsel) in Washington, DC.

via the RSGB: ITU emergency comms document update

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 13:25
The ITU has updated a key recommendation for cross border usage of Emergency Communications Equipment. The new 2019 edition of ITU Recommendation M-1637 is clearer regarding countries facilitating the use of radio equipment that may be physically brought by visiting relief personnel into the territory where there is a disaster or emergency. The recommendation is intended to avoid delays due to customs procedures and type-approvals, etc and facilitate the use of both professional, as well as amateur, radio equipment in such situations. URL for M1637-1 is itu.int/rec/R-REC-M.1637-1-201901-I.

via the RSGB: SOS Radio Week 2019

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 13:25
SOS Radio Week 2019 will take place between 0000UTC on 1 May 2019 to 2359UTC on 31 May 2019. Individual amateur radio operators and clubs are invited to register as official SOS Radio Week stations and operate during the month. Stations can be run under individual, club, or special event call signs, from home or other locations. There are few restrictions at to what can be done when, how, or where, other than to warn participants not to operate within the vicinity of a lifeboat or Coastwatch station without clearing it with them first. For more information, visit sosradioweek.org.uk.

Planned Experiment Will Disconnect Russia from the Internet

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 13:25
Authorities and major internet providers in Russia intend to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment purportedly aimed at enhancing national security, the Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) has reported. The stated reason for the experiment is to gather insights and provide feedback and modifications to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament in December. A draft of the law mandates that Russian internet providers ensure the independence of the Russian internet — Runet — and to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet in the event of foreign aggression. "The topic of ensuring the security of communication networks and the Russian segment of the internet from targeted impacts has been raised in Russia since 2014. It seems to me that this is justified, because today the public communication network and the internet are the most important element of the infrastructure," Alexander Pankov, the deputy director of Roskomnadzor, recently told Gazeta.ru. Roskomnadzor, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media, has been described as Russia's telecommunications "watch dog." Pankov said the topic of ensuring the security of communication networks and the Russian segment of the internet from "targeted impacts" has been raised in Russia since 2014. Russian telecom firms would be required to install "technical means" to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points that have been approved or are managed by Roskomnadzor, which would ensure that traffic between Russian users stays within Russia and is not re-routed to servers abroad, where it could be intercepted.

FCC: Supplier's Declaration of Conformity Procedures are Now in Effect

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 13:25
The FCC is reminding electronic device retailers that Supplier's Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) procedures are now in effect and being enforced. In an FCC Enforcement Advisory released February 15, the FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) pointed out that marketers of RF devices may be subject to new compliance requirements provided in the SDoC procedures. "In general, a device subject to SDoC is one that does not purposely transmit an RF signal for communications purposes, i.e., it does not send voice and/or data to a wireless receiver," the Advisory said. Such devices are known as "unintentional radiators," and most devices subject to SDoC are described in Sections 15.101(1) and 18.203 of the FCC rules. Two separate procedures are in place to address equipment authorization of RF devices — SDoC and Certification. In July of 2017, the FCC amended some rules regarding the authorization of RF equipment, and those changes became effective in November of that year, with a 1-year transition period to phase out two equipment authorization procedures — Verification and Declaration of Conformity — and replace them with SDoC. The transition period ended on November 2, 2018.

Ninth District Incoming QSL Bureau has New Manager and Address

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:25
Erik Andersen, K9EU, of Naperville, Illinois, has assumed the role of manager for the Ninth District Incoming QSL Bureau. He is a long-time volunteer with the Bureau as well as a noted and accomplished DXer and contester. He succeeds John Meyers, K9QVB, who served as manager for 2 decades and will remain a sorter and letter dispatcher. The Ninth District Bureau handles more than 45,000 DX QSL cards each month. Effective immediately, send all Ninth District Incoming QSL Bureau correspondence to NIDXA, PO Box 125, Naperville, IL 60566. — Thanks to Central Division Director Kermit Carlson, W9XA

You Can Send Bitcoin Via Radio Without Internet or Satellite

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:25
The technology these bitcoin enthusiasts are using is called shortwave radio, which uses a group of frequencies that bounce off the upper layers in the atmosphere to travel very long distances using relatively small amounts of power. The technique can be traced back to amateur radio operators transmitting as far back as 1921 and can be done with a much simpler network infrastructure than is required for traditional bitcoin transactions. This chain of transactions among shortwave operators in the U.S. represents a proof of concept for sending offline BTC in case of outages or network censorship (e.g. the possibly impending Russian internet blackout). The current technique has limitations in that it requires a brain wallet and unencrypted communication (due to regulations and bandwidth limitations), but in an emergency it represents a powerful tool to move money where you otherwise wouldn't be able to.

ARISS Plans Do-Over of Slow-Scan TV Transmissions over February 15 – 17 Weekend

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:25
The US Amateur Radio population once again grew by about 1%, based upon 2017 and 2018 year-end FCC database statistics provided by Joe Speroni, AH0A. The 755,430 total licensees represent nearly 7,300 more ticket holders than those that were in the database at the end of 2017. Nearly 51% of the Amateur Radio population in the US — 384,145 — hold a Technician license. Generals are second with 175,949, and Amateur Extras number 147,369. Advanced and Novice licensee populations continue to decline, with 39,607 Advanced and 8,360 Novices, as the FCC no longer issues Advanced or Novice licenses. A more significant statistic is 31,576 new FCC licenses last year, although that’s 620 fewer than came aboard in 2017. “New amateur licenses granted by FCC are down 2% over last year,” noted ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, “but this is the fifth year in a row the total has been greater than 31,000. I predict that the number of new licensees will be more than 30,000 at the end of this year as well, and I’m optimistic this trend will continue.” Upgrades also are down slightly, compared to last year — 9,456 in 2018 versus 9,576 in 2017, she added. “For the fifth year in a row, we have conducted more than 7,000 Amateur Radio exam sessions in a year — an important milestone for the ARRL VEC,” Somma recounted. “Our program continues to provide outstanding service to the ARRL, its members, and the entire Amateur Radio community.”

US Amateur Radio Population Grows Slightly in 2018

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:25
The US Amateur Radio population once again grew by about 1%, based upon 2017 and 2018 year-end FCC database statistics provided by Joe Speroni, AH0A. The 755,430 total licensees represent nearly 7,300 more ticket holders than those that were in the database at the end of 2017. Nearly 51% of the Amateur Radio population in the US — 384,145 — hold a Technician license. Generals are second with 175,949, and Amateur Extras number 147,369. Advanced and Novice licensee populations continue to decline, with 39,607 Advanced and 8,360 Novices, as the FCC no longer issues Advanced or Novice licenses. A more significant statistic is 31,576 new FCC licenses last year, although that’s 620 fewer than came aboard in 2017. “New amateur licenses granted by FCC are down 2% over last year,” noted ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, “but this is the fifth year in a row the total has been greater than 31,000. I predict that the number of new licensees will be more than 30,000 at the end of this year as well, and I’m optimistic this trend will continue.” Upgrades also are down slightly, compared to last year — 9,456 in 2018 versus 9,576 in 2017, she added. “For the fifth year in a row, we have conducted more than 7,000 Amateur Radio exam sessions in a year — an important milestone for the ARRL VEC,” Somma recounted. “Our program continues to provide outstanding service to the ARRL, its members, and the entire Amateur Radio community.”

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