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 59 min ago

via the ARRL: South African Radio Amateurs Poised to Support Communication as Wildfires Rage

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:45
An intense heat wave and gale-force winds in the Western Cape region of South Africa have resulted in devastating runaway fires, threatening the towns of George and Karatara in the Southern Cape area since October 24. An Amateur Radio Joint Operational Center (JOC) was established on October 29, and radio amateurs were put on standby when parts of George experienced telephone and power outages in the Knysna area. Several new fires were also reported due to lightning. At one point, those living in the affected areas were ordered to prepare for evacuation, although that order was later rescinded. Radio amateurs in the Southern Cape have been asked to make their stations available to support emergency communication, should commercial systems fail. Johan Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, who administers the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), reports that the Amateur Radio JOC is currently active on the AREDN Mossel Bay Mesh Network, Echolink, AllStar, Twitter, and Zello. The Amateur Radio JOC will remain active until all fires are brought under control. The death toll as a result of fires in the Southern Cape area now stands at 7, and more than 800 have been evacuated. Disaster relief operations continue. — Thanks to John Terblanche, ZS1I A

via the ARRL: Well-Known Contester, “Antenna Farmer” Paul Bittner, W0AIH, SK

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:45
The Reverend Paul Bittner, W0AIH, of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, died doing what he loved on October 31, when a tower-climbing mishap claimed his life at his well-known antenna farm. The ARRL Life Member and Maxim Society member was 84. A member of the CQ Contesting Hall of Fame and retired Lutheran pastor, Bittner was a well-known and respected figure within the Amateur Radio community and a prolific contester and DXer. His call sign was nearly always present in most major operating events, and even in a few lesser-known contests, and news of his tragic death and condolences and accolades quickly spread among those who knew him best. “No one was more generous, loving, and encouraging to others than the Reverend Paul Bittner,” said Mike Lonneke, W4AAW, in a post to the Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC). “He called me last week to chat about what he and Mary were up to, like getting material together for their always long and hilarious Christmas newsletter. He also knocked me out with the latest of his funny experiences in his ‘Rent-a-Rev’ sideline.” Bittner officiated at the June 2 wedding of two well-known midwestern contesters.

via HACKADAY: FT8: Saving Ham Radio or Killing It?

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:35
It is popular to blame new technology for killing things. The Internet killed newspapers. Video killed the radio star. Is FT8, a new digital technology, poised to kill off ham radio? The community seems evenly divided. In an online poll, 52% of people responding says FT8 is damaging ham radio.  But ham operator [K5SDR] has an excellent blog post about how he thinks FT8 is going to save ham radio instead. If you already have an opinion, you have probably already raced down to the comments to share your thoughts. I’ll be honest, I think what we are seeing is a transformation of ham radio and like most transformations, it is probably both killing parts of ham radio and saving others. But if you are still here, let’s talk a little bit about what’s going on in ham radio right now and how it relates to the FT8 question. Oddly enough, our story starts with the strange lack of sunspots that we’ve been experiencing lately.”

via the ARRL: Weather Forecast Forces Early Shutdown of VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:30
The VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition announced just after 1600 UTC on October 31 that, “due to an expected worsening in landing conditions,” it would cease operations. VP6D now is off the air. The final contact count was 121,136. Most contacts — 67,686 — were on CW, with 28,736 on SSB and 24,714 on digital modes. The plan had been to continue operating until November 1 at 1500 UTC. “It’s been raining all night, with 20+ knot winds,” a news bulletin from the team said. “The ship is about 300 meters off shore, the forecast indicates continuing 20+ knot winds, 2 – 3 meter seas.” “We are collecting all the logs and will send to the EU QSL management team (hopefully before we leave); they will remove FT8 dupes and refresh the server before turning on OQRS.” According to DXA, KB7QFE appears to have scored the final contact with VP6D.”

via the ARRL: FCC Fines Amateur Radio Licensee $25,000 for Operating Unlicensed FM Station

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:25
In an FCC Enforcement Bureau case going back to early 2015, a Paterson, New Jersey, Amateur Radio licensee has been penalized in the amount of $25,000 for allegedly continuing to operate an unlicensed FM radio station. The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 to Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, a General class licensee. The fine followed an April 2018 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture(NAL) issued to Tulloch for alleged “willful and repeated violation” of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating an unlicensed FM radio station on 90.9 MHz in Paterson. Tulloch did not respond to the NAL, the FCC indicated. “Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listener,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

via the ARRL: ARISS Plan Under Consideration for NASA’s Deep Space Gateway Program

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 12:25
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International delegates were pleased to learn last week that an ARISS plan is under consideration by NASA’s Deep Space Gateway (DSG) program. NASA Gateway Utilization Manager John Guidi, ex-KF4YUI, informed those attending the annual ARISS International in-person meeting, held in College Park, Maryland, that ARISS is the only noncommercial entity whose ideas are under study by the program. The ARISS plan focuses on Amateur Radio communication, including optical communication channels, as well as equipment development, team cooperation, education, and public outreach. “Naturally, because the NASA Deep Space Gateway program is so new and has yet to be fleshed out, ARISS needs to follow NASA’s lead in being open to how the DSG program flows,” ARRL ARISS-US Delegate Rosalie White, K1STO, explained. “ARISS’s first moves need to be loose enough that the plan, development, and execution can go in ways that dovetail with what is needed.” The Deep Space Gateway would be a small outpost orbiting the moon that would act as a “spaceport for human and robotic exploration to the moon and beyond,” NASA has said. Crewed by four people, it would provide an operational platform for further exploring the lunar surface and a hub to deeper space destinations. NASA hopes to have the completed Gateway in lunar orbit as early as 2024.

Ham Aid Kits Positioned to Deploy as Typhoon Yutu Ravages Central Pacific Islands

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
In a little more than one day, the cyclone that became Super Typhoon Yutu grew from tropical storm to a Category 5 monster. Yutu is said to be the strongest storm on record to hit the Northern Mariana Islands, home to about 55,000 people. The storm made landfall on Wednesday evening (October 24), destroying homes, wreaking severe wind and storm-surge damage and flooding, and knocking out water, power, and telecommunications on the islands. Utilities could remain down for an extended period. Before reaching the islands, Yutu’s sustained winds were reported to be 175 MPH. The storm is now tracking northwest toward the Philippines and Taiwan. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said that four ARRL HF/VHF Ham Aid kits in Guam are available for use in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a US territory. Another seven kits are positioned in Hawaii. Corey said that radio amateurs in Guam and Hawaii are attempting to get in touch with hams who can assist on Saipan, part of the CNMI. Amateur Radio teams that had planned to operate in the CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest from Saipan this weekend have cancelled their trips.

via the ARRL: Detained Norwegian Radio Amateur Now Allowed to Leave Chad

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
A tense situation involving a Norwegian radio amateur that reached the diplomatic and foreign ministry level in the African Republic of Chad now has been resolved. Kenneth Opskar, LA7GIA, had only operated as TT8KO for about a day before security police shut down his station on October 10. At that point, he’d logged and uploaded 2,150 contacts and had installed all antennas except a 160-meter vertical. Opskar considered the incident a minor distraction, until he was told that he had to remain in Chad pending undetermined scrutiny of his station and activity. Now, after having been detained in Chad for more than a week, Opskar said on October 24 that he’s free to go. "I received the news that I can leave Chad immediately," Opskar told DX-World, which has been posting updates on a running basis. His solo DXpedition is over, however. “I am not allowed to transmit. All antennas are to be taken down today before sunset, because there is a presidential event at the hotel tomorrow, and he will be here,” Opskar said. "Hotel is now packed with VIPs, police, and military personnel. I am done with sightseeing, so my flight is booked for tomorrow."

via the ARRL: VP6D Ducie Island Operators Seeing Too Many Dupes

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
Operators at the VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition report the rain has stopped and tents and clothes are drying off, but say they’re seeing “far too many dupes” as they work their way through the pileups. “People are working us, and a few minutes later working us again,” an update said. “The ops are getting a bit frustrated.”  The advice from the DXpedition is to check the VP6D log before duping VP6D on the same band or mode. VP6D will be operating the CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest this weekend. “All stations are operational, all antennas are in good condition,” the update said. VP6D completed 6-meter moonbounce contacts with five stations, Earth-Moon-Earth enthusiast Lance Collister, W7GJ, has reported in a post to the Magic Band EME Group list. — Thanks to The Daily DX

via the ARRL: Dwayne Allen, WY7FD, Resigns as Rocky Mountain Division Director

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
In a letter to ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, on Friday, October 19th, Dwayne Allen, WY7FD, resigned as Director of the Rocky Mountain Division due to time constraints and competing duties with work and family. As such, the Secretary of the Corporation has declared the position vacant. In accordance with Article 7 of the Articles of Association, Vice Director Jeff Ryan, K0RM, will assume the Director position immediately.

VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition Reported “Progressing Well”

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 22:25
“Signals on this end are loud,” was the assessment as the VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition got under way over the weekend. “Pileups have been deep, energetic and generally well behaved. Thank you.” So far, the main priority has been setting up the CW camp and more antennas. “Over the next 2 to 3 days, we’ll complete the antenna work, including 30, 80, and 160,” a Team Ducie update said. “Because of the undergrowth, stringing radials is a challenge.” Currently erected are four-squares for 40 meters and vertical-dipole arrays for the high bands. SteppIR beams are scheduled to go up later today (October 22). DX Summit indicates activity on 160 through 15 meters, SSB, CW, and FT8, with US stations reporting success on Top Band. “We are progressing well,” the update said. The DXpedition in an update said that some callers are using the wrong version of FT8. The correct version is WSJT-X 1.9.1 in DX mode, in “hound” configuration. reporting success on Top Band. “We are progressing well,” the update said. A main camp and kitchen, tents for sleeping, and generators sites have been built and supplied. The SSB camp, located at the main camp, has four stations and has been handling all modes for the moment. The pending CW camp is about a 30-minute walk from the main camp.

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