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 51 min ago

ARRL Board of Directors’ Committee Seeks Input for Proposed ARES Strategic Plan

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 15:57
Following up on an ARRL Board of Directors directive at its July meeting, the Public Service Enhancement Working Group (PSEWG) has contacted all ARRL Section Managers (SMs) and Section Emergency Coordinators (SECs) seeking comments and suggestions regarding the proposed ARES Strategic Plan (attached below), via an online form. The deadline is October 31, in order to give the PSEWG sufficient time to review the comments and suggestions, formulate any necessary revisions, and submit the revised document to the Board for consideration at its January meeting. Created in 1935, ARES has undergone very few changes over the years, while the agencies ARES serves have undergone many. The PSEWG evaluated the ARES program for 2 years and drafted several proposed enhancements aimed at updating the program. The ARES Strategic Plan introduces changes and a platform for future growth. For many, this will represent a major paradigm shift; for others, it will formalize many of the requirements they have employed routinely for several years.

Texas Volunteer Examiner Setting Sights on Next 1,000 Exam Sessions

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 15:57
In July, Franz Laugermann, K3FL, of Houston, achieved a milestone that no other VEC has before by taking part as a Volunteer Examiner in his 1,000th exam session. And, he told ARRL, he’s far from finished. “As long as I can be here, I’m gonna go on doing this,” he said, adding that he’s set his sights on 2,000 sessions. “It’s so rewarding to help other people through this.” He estimated that he’s helped about 5,000 people get their Amateur Radio licenses. At one recent session, a 10-year-old boy who passed the exam became the fourth generation in his family to get licensed through Laugermann, who also had conducted the testing sessions at which the boy’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather earned their ham tickets. Laugermann became an ARRL-accredited Volunteer Examiner (VE) in 1991. His wife Barbara, KA5QES, has been a VE nearly as long as her husband. Both are ARRL members.

SAQ in Sweden Receives More than 300 Reports on Alexanderson Day, July 1

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 15:57
SAQ, the old Alexanderson alternator transmitter at the World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station in Sweden, received 321 listener reports in response to its three 17.2 kHz transmissions on Alexanderson Day, July 1. A video of the transmissions is available on YouTube. SAQ said five reports indicated that SAQ was not heard. A summary of listener reports and a map of listener reports have been posted. Amateur Radio Station SK6SAQ was active on CW and SSB during the event. This summer’s transmissions were the first Alexanderson Day transmissions since 2016. Last July, the event was cancelled due to ongoing maintenance work.

Short-Wave Radio Reports May Offer Best Evidence of Amelia Earhart’s Fate

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 15:22
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes it has the key to unlock the decades-old mystery of what happened to famed aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in their planned circumnavigation of the globe in 1937. TIGHAR’s The Earhart Project analyzed dozens of radio transmissions received by radio amateurs and other short-wave listeners during the frantic search to locate Earhart’s plane when she did not make her scheduled arrival at Howland Island. Many theories have sprung up over the years to explain the mysterious disappearance, but a TIGHAR research paper entitled The Post-Loss Radio Signals, published in July by The Earhart Project, maintains that “the patterns and relationships emerging from the data show that TIGHAR has answered the 81-year-old question: ‘What really happened to Amelia Earhart?’” The Earhart Project “is testing the hypothesis that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed, and eventually died, on Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati,” its website says.

HAARP’s WSPR Research Campaign Yields Hundreds of Reports on 40 and 80 Meters

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
Just-completed research at the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) transmitters in Gakona, Alaska, successfully took advantage of the WSPR digital protocol and the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network (WSPRnet) on July 30 through August 1. University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Space Physics Group researcher and HAARP Chief Scientist Chris Fallen, KL3WX, told ARRL that the research — HAARP’s fourth research campaign under management of the University of Alaska Fairbanks — went well. “My ‘citizen science’ experiments were funded by the National Science Foundation and were conducted for approximately 30 minutes at the end of each campaign day,” Fallen told ARRL. “They consisted of 2-minute transmissions using the WSPR digital mode in the 40- and 80-meter bands, with a 2-minute off period between transmissions.” He said HAARP transmitted in full-carrier, double-sideband AM because it does not have SSB capability. HAARP operated under its Part 5 Experimental license, WI2XFX, with Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC to transmit on amateur bands.

New US Submarine Forces Commander is Radio Amateur

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
US Navy Vice Admiral Charles A. “Chas” Richard, W4HFZ, assumed command of US submarine forces during a change-of-command ceremony on August 4, held aboard the submarine USS Washington (SSN-787). He assumed command from Vice Admiral Joseph Tofalo. An ARRL Life Member, Richard, 58, is well-known in the AMSAT and APRS communities. He had been serving as the deputy commander of US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. A radio amateur since 1974, Richard said on his qrz.com profile that he is active on 6 and 2 meters, as well as on HF when the VHF bands are closed. He also enjoys digital satellite operations. Richard has been on active US Navy duty since 1982.

New FCC Part 95 Personal Radio Services Rules Published in The Federal Register

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
Reorganized and updated FCC Personal Radio Services (PRS) Part 95 rules have been published in The Federal Register. Among other things, the PRS covers the Family Radio Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), and the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS). The revised rules allot additional FRS channels and increase the power on certain FRS channels from 0.5 W to 2 W. FRS channels are in the 462.5625 – 462.7250 MHz range. Effective September 30, 2019, it will be illegal to manufacture or import handheld portable radio equipment capable of operating under FRS rules and under other licensed or licensed-by-rule services. The FCC no longer will certify FRS devices that incorporate capabilities of GMRS capabilities or of other services. Existing GMRS/FRS combination radios that operate at power levels of less than 2 W ERP will be reclassified as FRS devices; existing GMRS/FRS radios that operate above that power level will be reclassified as GMRS devices, requiring an individual license. Radios that can transmit on GMRS repeater input channels will continue to be licensed individually and not by rule. Once the new rules are effective, CBers will be allowed to contact stations outside of the FCC-imposed — but widely disregarded — 155.3-mile distance limit.

Storm Takes Down Antennas at Memorial Ham Station on Swedish-Norwegian Border

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
The SJ9WL-LG5LG Morokulien memorial station on the border of Sweden and Norway is off the air after a large tree, brought down during a severe storm on August 10, caused extensive damage to the station’s antennas. According to one report, the station’s 100-foot tower was broken into pieces after the tree fell across three tower guys. That pulled the support structure toward the station building, but a third set of guys on the other side of the tower held and kept it from damaging the structure. The tower has been up for at least a decade. “This is a unique place, because the radio shack is exactly on the border, and the users are obliged to use the call signs alternatively — one day SJ9WL and the next day LG5LG,” Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF, told ARRL. Kotowski has operated from the station in the past, and a photo he shot at Morkulien appeared on the cover of the October 1996 issue of QST. “This was a memorial station devoted to SM5WL and LA5LG,” Kotowski explained. “They both promoted Amateur Radio and supported disabled hams. Swedish and Norwegian hams took over the abandoned border checkpoint house 50 years ago and made a joint club station there.” He said the area is now devoted to recreation and includes a peace monument. With funds from station rentals, the association Amateur Radio in Morokulien (ARIM) maintains and manages the station, which may be the only one located on an international border in what ARIM calls a “ham state.” The station is designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities. The name Morokulien is a combination of the words for fun — moro in Norwegian, and kul in Swedish — plus a suffix indicating “in one place.”

Weather and Tides Could Hamper Second Market Reef Youth Team Landing

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
A second group of young operators will attempt a landing at Market Reef on August 18 for a week of operating from the Youth on the Air station, OJ0C, at the remote lighthouse outpost. They hope to take part in the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend (ILLW) event. The Market Reef lighthouse is located so low that waves can roll over the entire DXCC entity. With no jetty, landing can be hazardous. Martti Laine, OH2BH, reports the first youth team enjoyed “outstanding success” in July, making 4,634 contacts with 89 DXCC entities. The second group will include Pieter, ON3DI; Florian, OE3FTA; Horia, YO3IMD, and Elias, OH2EP. The weather is also expected to be a challenge, with winds predicted to approach the 10 meters per second limit. The Finnish Lighthouse Society and the Amateur Radio League of Finland (SRAL), in conjunction with OH-DX-Foundation (OHDXF) and DX University (DXU), are organizing the first-ever International Youth At Sea (IYAS) cultural exchange radio activity, with support from the Yasme Foundation.

Norway gets 1kW on 6m and other bands

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
On 8 August 2018, Norway got an updated amateur licence, allowing all Norwegian amateurs access to 50 to 52MHz with a power of 1kW. Other new privileges include permission for non-amateurs to operate an amateur station, under supervision of a licenced amateur, for training and educational purposes. On higher bands, amateurs received permission to use 1kW for EME and meteor scatter on 69.9 to 70.5MHz, 144 to 146MHz, 432 to 438MHz and 1240 to 1300MHz, all without any additional regulatory application.

Paraguay, Bosnia-Herzegovina Authorize Access to New 60-Meter Allocations

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
Paraguay telecoms regulator CONATEL has authorized Amateur Radio use of a 60-meter secondary allocation, 5351.5 – 5366.5 kHz, with a maximum power of 25 W EIRP. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Communications Regulatory Agency RAK has also authorized Amateur Radio use of 5351.5 – 5366.5 kHz. — Thanks to Paul Gaskell, G4MWO and The 5 MHz Newsletter via ZP4KFX, CONATEL, and W8GEX; The Daily DX

Radio Antenna Mismatching: VSWR Explained

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
If you have ever operated any sort of transmitting equipment, you’ve probably heard about matching an antenna to the transmitter and using the right co-ax cable. Having everything match — for example, at 50 or 75 ohms — allows the most power to get to the antenna and out into the airwaves. Even for receiving this is important, but you generally don’t hear about it as much for receivers. But here’s a question: if a 100-watt transmitter feeds a mismatched antenna and only delivers 50 watts, where did the other 50 watts go? [ElectronicsNotes] has a multi-part blog entry that explains what happens on a mismatched transmission line, including an in-depth look at voltage standing wave ratio or VSWR. We liked the very clean graphics showing how different load mismatches affect the transmission line. We also liked how he tackled return loss and reflection coefficient. There was a time when driving a ham radio transmitter into a bad load could damage the radio. But if the radio can survive it, the effect isn’t as bad as you might think. The post points out that feedline loss is often more significant. However, the problem with modern radios is that when they detect high VSWR, they will often reduce power drastically to prevent damage. That is often the cause of poor performance more so than the actual loss of power through the VSWR mechanism. On the other hand, it is better than burning up final transistors the way older radios did.

Ham-Astronauts among First Nine Astronauts Scheduled to Fly on Commercial Spacecraft

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
Three radio amateurs are among the initial nine NASA astronauts scheduled to fly on commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station. Others in the group are studying for their ham licensing exams in order to take part in Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school radio contacts, or because they have expressed interest in supporting ARISS events. The women and men chosen will be the first to fly the SpaceX Crew Dragon or Boeing CST-100 Starliner. SpaceX plans to fly a two-person crew — Robert Behnken, KE5GGX, and Doug Hurley — in Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. Boeing aims to launch a CST-100 Starliner capsule on an Atlas V vehicle from Cape Canaveral. It would carry a three-person crew — Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson, and Nicole Aunapa Mann, who attended an ARISS introductory talk at Johnson Space Center (JSC) and voiced interest in doing ARISS contacts in the future. At this point, however, her crew training will be stepped up to a more intense level.

UN Amateur Radio Club’s 4U1UN Makes Major Moves toward Getting Back on the Air

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:37
United Nations Amateur Radio Club President James Sarte, K2QI, said on August 16 that their club station, 4U1UN, is several steps closer to getting back on the air after a long absence. “Dmitri Zhikharev, RA9USU, along with Adrian Ciuperca, KO8SCA, have been working with me behind the scenes to get the station operational again,” Sarte said. Generous donations from Zhikharev, Ed Kritsky, NT2X, and others, he said, enabled the station to obtain a rack-mounted K3, ACOM 2000 linear, and associated network-enabled control hardware. Another K3 to act as a remote head came from the estate of Tony Japha, N2UN, via his widow (4U1UN will operate from a remote operating position on UN grounds). “Finally, Adrian has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes networking and legwork with his counterparts to help get things done from within the United Nations,” Sarte recounted.

Baker Island Top Band Operator Offers Observations

Sat, 08/04/2018 - 00:46
Trying to work stations on 160 meters from Baker Island during the KH1/KH7Z DXpedition was fraught with challenges, and the WSJT-X FT8 digital protocol proved to be one answer to making contacts from the rare DXCC entity under tough, summertime conditions. DXpedition team member George Wallner, AA7JV, recently offered some observations about the experience that may be helpful to North American Top Banders. Wallner said the team was expecting easy conditions for Japan, which was closer, and difficult conditions for North America. “We got the opposite. The band would open to North America soon after our sunset — around 1800 local time — with very little noise. North American callers were initially weak but easy copy. Noise would start rising about 2 hours after sunset,” Wallner said in a July 12 post on the Topband reflector. “Fortunately, that was about the time the gray line was reaching the east coast, which brought up the signals well above the noise. Some east coast signals were quite loud.”

via the ARRL: FCC Cites Baofeng Importer for Illegally Marketing Unauthorized RF Devices

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 22:44
The FCC has issued a Citation and Order (Citation) to Amcrest Industries, LLC (formerly Foscam Digital Technologies, LLC), an importer and marketer of popular and inexpensive Baofeng hand-held transceivers, alleging that the company violated FCC rules and the Communications Act by illegally marketing unauthorized RF devices. The FCC asserts that Amcrest marketed Baofeng model UV-5R-series FM hand-held radios capable of transmitting on “restricted frequencies.” The Baofeng models UV-5R and UV-5R V2+ were granted an FCC equipment authorization in 2012 to operate under Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Service (Land Mobile) rules. “Under § 2.803 of the Commission’s rules, an entity may not market a device that is capable of operating outside the scope of its equipment authorization,” the FCC Citation said. “RF devices that have been authorized under Part 90 rules, such as the model as issue, must operate within the technical parameters established in those rules.” The FCC also maintained that the UV-5R 2+ is capable of operating at 1 W or 4 W, while the Part 90 Equipment Authorization limits the power output to 1.78 W.

via HACKADAY: Ancient Teletype Revived in Labor of Retrocomputing Love

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 22:44
Readers with not too many years under their belts may recall a time when the classic background sound effect for radio and television news programs included a staccato mechanical beat, presumably made by the bank of teletype machines somewhere in the studio, clattering out breaking stories onto rolls of yellow paper. It was certainly true that teletypes were an important part of the many communications networks that were strung together over the 20th century, but these noisy, greasy beasts had their day and are now largely museum pieces. Which is exactly where the ancient Model 19 Teletype machine that [CuriousMarc] and company are restoring is destined. Their ongoing video series, six parts long as of this writing, documents in painstaking detail how this unit worked and how they are bringing it back to its 1930s glory. Teletypes were made to work over telephone lines with very limited bandwidth, and the hacks that went into transmitting text messages with a simple 5-bit encoding scheme are fascinating. The series covers the physical restoration of the machine, obviously well-loved during its long service with the US Navy. Of particular interest is the massive power supply with its Thyratron tubes and their mysterious blue glow.

ARISS Packet Radio System Expected to be Back Late this Year

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 22:44
The currently silent packet radio system on the International Space Station could be back on the air by year’s end. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) hardware team members have located an original duplicate of the packet module that had been in use on the International Space Station (ISS) before failing more than a year ago after 17 years of service. With a new battery installed, the unit was tested and found to be functioning. The ARISS packet system in the space station’s Columbus module, operating on 145.825 MHz, quit last July after first experiencing some problems. All necessary paperwork has been completed to manifest the packet module on the Progress 71P spacecraft launch now set for Halloween, with docking on November 2. “Installation date will depend on the crew’s busy schedule, but ARISS hopes packet can be online again by the end of November 2018,” ARISS said this week in a news release. ARISS said it’s heard from “many hams” who have been asking when the packet system will be back on the air.

via HACKADAY: Old LED Light Bulbs Give Up Filaments for Spider Web Clock

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 22:44
We love it when something common gets put to a new and unusual use, especially when it’s one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” situations. This digital clock with a suspended display is just such a thing. The common items in this case were “filaments” from LED light bulbs, those meant to mimic the look of clear-glass incandescent light bulbs. [Andypugh] had been looking at them with interest for a while, and realized they were perfect as the segments for a large digital clock. The frame of the clock was formed from bent brass U-channel and mounted to an oak base via turned stanchions. The seven-segment displays were laid out in the frame and the common anodes of the LED filaments were connected together, with the cathode for each connected to a very fine wire. Each wire was directed through a random hole in the frame and channeled down into the base, to be hooked to one of the four DS8880 VFD driver chips. The anode wires form a lacy filigree behind the segments, which catch the light and make then look a little like a spider’s web. It looks great, but nicht für der gefingerpoken – the frame is at 80 VDC to drive the LED segments. The clock is synced to the UK atomic clock with a 60-kHz radio link.

via the RSGB: Access to 71MHz driving innovation

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 22:44
UK amateurs continue to make remarkable progress with innovative technology in the experimental 71MHz band. The BATC forum reports contacts of reduced bandwidth digital amateur TV of between 59 and 87km, using the latest high efficiency video coding. This follows the initial short range contacts when simplified NoV access to 70.5-71.5 MHz was introduced by Ofcom and the RSGB in June. See rsgb.org/nov for info.

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