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: 1 hour 37 min ago
Microsoft, which transitioned to its new browser Edge several years ago, is now advising enterprise users to avoid its legacy browser, Internet Explorer (IE). Microsoft Worldwide Lead for Application Compatibility Chris Jackson said this week that IE isn’t really a browser but a “compatibility solution” to deal with legacy sites. Microsoft no longer supports IE with new web standards, which is at the core of the problem. In a new blog post, Jackson said that, for some organizations, using Internet Explorer as the default for all situations “is the ‘easy button,’ because, well, most of your sites were designed for Internet Explorer, so…just…always use it, ok?” Jackson said this sort of thinking “seems like a deliberate decision to take on some ‘technical debt,’” as he put it. He said that as the IE standards mode supported more and more standards, “we decided not to just update the mode we called standards mode, because, when we did, we risked breaking applications written for an older interpretation of the standards. So, with Internet Explorer 8, we added IE8 standards, but also kept IE7 standards.” “That meant, for sites in the internet zone, it would default to IE8 standards, but, for sites in the local intranet [emphasis added] zone, it would default to IE7 standards.” Jackson said companies’ “habit” of paying for extended support for legacy software “needs to stop in the case of IE.” He suggests using IE only selectively for internal sites that require it, pointing to tools that help customers make the transition and limit the use of IE to only where it’s needed.
National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) scientists have updated the world magnetic model (WMM) mid-cycle, as Earth's northern magnetic pole has begun shifting quickly away from the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia, an NCEI report said this week. The new WMM more accurately represents the change of the magnetic field since 2015. The alteration could have an impact on government, industry, and consumer electronics. "Due to unplanned variations in the Arctic region, scientists have released a new model to more accurately represent the change of the magnetic field," the report said, noting that updated versions of the WMM are typically released every 5 years. This update comes about 1 year early. "This out-of-cycle update before next year's official release of WMM 2020 will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole," said NCEI, which is part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "Organizations such as NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, US Forest Service, and many more use this technology. The military uses the WMM for undersea and aircraft navigation, parachute deployment, and more." Other governmental entities use the technology for surveying and mapping, satellite/antenna tracking, and air traffic management. Smartphone and consumer electronics companies also rely on the WMM to provide consumers with accurate compass apps, maps, and GPS services.
Chile recently became the third country to sign the Amendment of the Inter-American Convention on the use of an International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP). Once the Amendment is in effect, Chile and other Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) signatories may offer reciprocal Amateur Radio privileges to Amateur Radio licensees from European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) member countries that have implemented CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01 (CEPT Radio Amateur License). The Inter-American Convention says CEPT-country licensees shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges enjoyed by holders of the IARP, provided, however, that CEPT accords all holders of the IARP the same rights and privileges enjoyed by holders of the CEPT Amateur Radio license. The Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly approved the treaty last June; CITEL comes under the OAS umbrella. In addition to Chile, the Dominican Republic and Argentina have signed. IARPs are not be valid for operation in the territory of the issuing country and are valid for 1 year. A Class-1 IARP allows the use of all frequency bands allocated to the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services and specified by the country where the amateur station is to be operated, per Recommendation ITU-R M.1544. A Class-2 IARP permits utilization of all frequency bands allocated to the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services above 30 MHz and specified by the country where the amateur station is to be operated. US radio amateurs already enjoy both IARP and CEPT reciprocity.
There's a different kind of pirate radio situation unfolding in Corner Brook. Someone is stealing the licence plates of amateur radio operators there, right off their vehicles. "It's sort of uneasy because it's something we enjoy doing," said Kody Gardner, who lost his plate over the weekend. In Newfoundland and Labrador, amateur radio operators can get licence plates starting with "VO1," followed by a call sign.
The website, Electronics Notes provides a huge amount of reference material for engineers, students and hobbyists. Within this there is a huge amount of material for radio amateurs on subjects like amateur radio itself as well as radio receiver technology, RF design, antennas, radio propagation and a whole lot more. To complement this, Electronics Notes has opened a ham radio store. In association with Amazon, this offers some really excellent bargains which do not appear with many other amateur radio stores. It is surprising what you can find - there is a much bigger choice than you might think, and the prices are often really good as well. Currently we are set up so that the links automatically link to the UK or USA, so you can enjoy local shopping within these countries. We are soon hoping to be available in Canada and possibly other countries as well. Check out the link and browse though our ham radio store: https://www.electronics-notes.com/hamstore
Alexanderson Alternator transmissions on Christmas Eve 2018 from Sweden's SAQ drew more than 340 listener reports from 28 countries, including seven reports from the US. “Many visitors had come to the transmission hall to enjoy coffee, cake, and Swedish ginger snaps as they were watching the activities with starting and running the old radio transmitter SAQ,” the report from Sweden said this week. “The ‘old lady’ was in a very good mood, and we had a flawless startup and transmission. The conditions were very good with the dry and cold weather, and the signal was strong.” The nearly century-old electromechanical Alexanderson Alternator at SAQ transmits on CW at 17.2 kHz on special occasions. Amateur Radio station SK6SAQ was also active on Christmas Eve on 75, 40, and 20 meters, with two stations on the air from the SAQ site in Grimeton, Sweden.
AMSAT has now granted OSCAR status to 100 Amateur Radio satellites. The latest, Es’hail-2/P4A — now Qatar-OSCAR 100 (QO-100) —launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in November. It carries the first geosynchronous Amateur Radio payload. Es’hail-2/P4A was developed jointly by the Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS) and Es’hailSat (the Qatar Satellite Company), with AMSAT-DL as the technical lead. Now at its final position of 25.9° E and with the narrow and wideband transponders having been successfully tested in December, the transponders are expected to be opened for general use this month. “May the 100th OSCAR satellite be the guide star to future Amateur Radio satellites and payloads to geostationary orbit and beyond,” invoked Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, AMSAT Director of VP Operations and OSCAR Number Administrator. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service
Setup is under way in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Brunei, located on the Island of Borneo and surrounded by Malaysia, for the V84SAA DXpedition. Eighteen operators under the leadership of Krassy Petkov, K1LZ, will fire up on February 7 and continue until February 18. Operation will concentrate on the low bands. “Many of the team have already landed in Brunei, and the tent is set up on the beach for the CW team,” top band expert Jeff Briggs, K1ZM/VY2ZM, reported just prior to his planned departure from the US. Briggs explained in a February 4 update that two operating sites — one for CW and the other for SSB — will be set up some 25 kilometers apart. “The CW stations will be set up on Seri Kenangan beach, with an ocean shot to North America and Europe,” he said, adding that he anticipates the first real night will be February 8, as the team may not be fully set up on 160 meters on the first day, and “there is a lot on our plate.” After that, Briggs said he plans to be at the radio nightly, and he’s hoping manmade noise remains minimal to nonexistent.
From the early morning of January 27, radio amateurs in Cuba’s capital of Havana were keeping an eye on the weather. An extratropical low-pressure system in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico associated with a cold front approaching from the west was preceded by a line of pre-frontal storms, generating severe weather conditions that deteriorated considerably during the evening and night hours. Completely unexpected was an F4 tornado that caused considerable damage in Havana. While hurricanes and tropical storms are fairly regular occurrences, the tornado was reported to be the first ever to hit Havana. “Once again, Amateur Radio operators proved how they could handle emergency traffic during the severe weather event, when the 2G and 3G mobile cellular phone systems collapsed due to damage and the excessive traffic generated by the event,” Radio Havana’s Arnie Coro, CO2KK, reported on his DXers Unlimited, Weekend Edition program. “Using the Havana Metropolitan Area main repeater on 145.190, stations with handheld FM transceiver[s] could keep in touch from even the most difficult places in the affected areas comprising the municipalities of Regla, San Miguel del Padrón, Habana del Este, and 10 de Octubre.” According to media reports, the storm, with winds approaching 260 MPH, left at least six dead and more than 200 injured; damage to homes and buildings was substantial. The severe weather also took out electrical power lines and utility poles in various areas, leaving much of Havana in darkness and disrupting wired and wireless telephone systems.
We'd like to apologize for delays in updating the RSS feed over the past few weeks. The normal software that is used to publish news articles is unavailable and we have to update using raw code on Notepad. Hopefully we will be updating the news feed more frequently over the next few weeks as circumstances allow. We thank everyone for their continued support.
It’s a story as old as time: you need to swap between your custom license plates, but you can’t find a screwdriver and you’re already running late for a big meeting at the Business Factory. You called AAA to see if they could come out and do it for you, but as luck would have it something must be wrong with your phone because the line was disconnected as soon as you explained the situation. As if life in the First World couldn’t get any more difficult. Luckily, a company called Reviver Auto has come up with a thoroughly modern solution to this age old problem. Assuming you live in Arizona, California, and Michigan and are willing to pay $800 USD (plus a small monthly service fee), you can join the Rplate revolution! Less a license plate and more of a “cool-looking, multi-functional digital display and connected vehicle platform”, the Rplate will ensure you never again find yourself stuck on the side of the road with an unfashionable license plate.
The Young Amateurs Radio Club (YARC) Youth Contesting Program (YCP) wants to match groups of enthusiastic young contesters with “Big Gun” stations to gain operating experience during the CQ World Wide WPX SSB Contest over the March 30 – 31 weekend. The YCP is a weekend initiative for groups of young Amateur Radio contesters in the US and Canada. “It will hopefully enable a new dimension of the hobby to young hams who have contested a little before and set a new precedent for the welcoming of a new generation of radiosport aficionados,” explained YARC Board Member Sterling Mann, N0SSC. The 27-year-old electrical engineer, who helps manage YARC programs and outreach, described the initiative as “intentionally flexible, lightly organized, and low-cost.” “It works like this — we will attempt to pair a small group (up to four) of young contesters interested in operating with a ‘Big Gun’ station owner interested in hosting the youth group,” continued Mann, an ARRL member active in the College Amateur Radio Initiative. “The contesters will operate from the station, and the host has the option to help the youth improve their skills, provide advice, and even operate alongside. We will try to keep it such that young hams will only require a relatively short drive (ideally no more than 5 hours) to keep travel costs low.”
The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator said today that the FCC has begun processing Amateur Radio applications for the first time since early January, when it shut down because of the lapse in funding. “The FCC worked through its backlog very quickly, and started processing our files about noon today,” Assistant ARRL VEC Manager Amanda Grimaldi, N1NHL, said on Wednesday. “We’re slowly submitting the files we have in queue — we don’t want to bombard them! Assuming there are no hiccups, everyone should see their applications processed by the close of business on Thursday.” The ARRL VEC had piled up some 2,700 pending Amateur Radio applications, many of them from 425 ARRL VEC examination sessions that took place during the shutdown or immediately prior to it. These do not include files that the other 13 VECs may have ready to upload to the FCC.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is discontinuing its high seas and storm warnings transmitted via National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) WWV/WWVH time and frequency-standard HF transmissions, starting January 31 at 1800 UTC. The NWS warnings are aimed at the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific. “This service is being terminated because weather information in the current broadcast format does not support frequent-enough updates for changes in marine weather and cannot provide enough detail in the allotted window required by mariners to avoid hazardous weather,” NWS said in announcing the discontinuation. “Additionally, alternative technologies and numerous media outlets that provide weather information in various formats have overtaken the need for providing weather information through the NIST frequency signals.” The NWS said other sources of marine weather information, high seas alerts, and detailed forecasts are available over satellite, telephone, the internet, marine fax, radio fax, and VHF radio. The NWS, US Coast Guard, and US Navy provide multiple dissemination methods for storm positioning, high sea areas, observations, forecasts, outlooks, and warnings for both coastal and oceanic marine zones near the US, all through a variety of technologies, including NAVTEX and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
The third annual AM Rally is just ahead. The event, which aims to encourage the use of AM on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, and 6 meters, gets under way at 0000 UTC on Saturday, February 2 (Friday, February 1, in US time zones) and continues until 0700 UTC on Monday, February 4. The AM Rally is open to any radio amateurs running full-carrier amplitude modulation using any type of radio equipment — modern, vintage, tube, solid-state, software-defined, military, boat anchor, broadcast, homebrew, or commercial. Numerous transceivers in use today offer AM capability. A lot of hams enjoy restoring and using vintage Amateur Radio equipment. The event website has complete AM Rally details, contact information, award categories, logging, and tips on how to get the most out of your station equipment in AM mode. Contact Clark Burgard, N1BCG, for more information. The event is sponsored by Radio Engineering Associates (REA), in cooperation with ARRL, which supports all modes of Amateur Radio operation. W1AW will play a leading role in the event, as it has for the past 2 years.
[UPDATED: 2019-01-29 @ 2115 UTC] In the wake of the more-than-month-long partial government shutdown, the FCC said today that it would be tackling the backlog of applications already in the queue over the course of a couple days. The FCC had earlier indicated that it would resume processing Amateur Radio applications starting today. Subsequently, the Commission requested that Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs) give the agency time to work through its already-pending backlog, before they submit any additional new files. Information released before the shutdown said the FCC would take the first day it was open, which was Monday, January 28, to get idle systems up and running again. “The FCC has resumed all operations since the partial funding lapse has ended,” the FCC said via Twitter on Monday. The ARRL VEC now is awaiting word that it can transmit the some 2,300 pending Amateur Radio applications it has in the queue, many of them from 325 ARRL VEC examination sessions that took place during the shutdown or immediately prior to it. These do not include files that the other 13 VECs may be waiting to upload to the Universal Licensing System (ULS). ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said the ARRL VEC won’t send all its pending files until it’s sure the system is working properly.