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: 46 min 59 sec ago

Hamvention Forum Videos Now Searchable on YouTube

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 20:44
Videos of some Hamvention 2018 forums are available in the YouTube Dayton Hamvention 2018 videos playlist. Among those available are the TAPR Forum, the SDR Forum, and the HamSCI Forum. — Thanks to George Byrkit, K9TRV

via the ARRL: MARS Urging Members to Use Computers that are Isolated from the Internet

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 20:44
US Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) Headquarters is recommending that MARS members “migrate to stand-alone computer systems for [MARS] radio operations,” subject to the availability of a dedicated computer. “These computer systems (or their associated local area networks) should be ‘air-gapped’ from the internet,” Army MARS Headquarters Operations Officer David McGinnis, K7UXO, said in a message to members. “Although not a requirement for membership at this time, we will continue make this a condition of certain parts of our exercises.” McGinnis pointed to remarks by Cisco researchers in a recent Ars Technica article about VPNFilter malware: “Hackers possibly working for an advanced nation have infected more than 500,000 home and small-office routers around the world with malware that can be used to collect communications, launch attacks on others, and permanently destroy the devices with a single command.”

Missouri tornado chaser wants his ashes launched into a twister

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 17:35
Jim "Mad Dog" Sellars, by his own account, lived quite a life in Springfield, Mo., as an ice cream dipper, butcher, reserve policeman who once protected Elvis Presley, a telephone lineman, a twice-divorced dad with "exes" he felt lucky to have loved and as a 6-foot-7 power-hitting softball player. But perhaps most notably, for 30 years, before his massive heart and lungs went bad and confined him to bed, he was a man with an uncanny ability to read radar and chase down more than 100 tornadoes in a lifetime, while helping others to do the same. "He had a Ford pickup truck," said Sellars' older brother John, the director of Springfield's History Museum on the Square. "If he knew (a tornado) was going to set up somewhere, in Oklahoma, or Alabama, he would load up with a couple of people and go chase." Given such a whirlwind life, it was hardly surprising that Sellars, who died Tuesday in Springfield at age 64, would declare in the last line of his self-written obituary that he planned to go out in the same fashion.

'I'm a nerd, I know what I'm doing' (Minnesota)

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 17:24
A Rochester man could face fines if he doesn’t submit plans for a building permit and ask for a zoning variance for his amateur radio tower. City officials say Dan Knutson hasn’t submitted plans for a building permit nor provided specifications for the about 58-foot tower holding multiple radio antennas on the roof of his home. Knutson contends the tower is structurally sound. It’s secured with aircraft cables and guy wires to control its fall should it collapse — which Knutson said would only happen if wind speeds were more than 100 miles per hour. “Everything’s better than it needs to be,” Knutson said. “I’m a nerd, I know what I’m doing.” However, Knutson hasn’t submitted anything to the city to verify the claim, said Randy Johnson, director of building safety. “We haven’t started our process in this department (regarding the tower) because he hasn’t submitted anything,” Johnson said.

Ham kids build, learn tech skills (Ohio)

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 17:16
Hamvention kids walked away from the fairgrounds May 18 with their own wireless Tesla speakers and digital clocks — built with their own hands. The amateur radio convention’s Youth Tech area, sponsored by Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), provided a space for youth ages 9-18 to build their own technology kits. “The idea here is to teach kids skills such as soddering, which has been pretty much lost by recent generations — kids don’t grow up knowing how to do that anymore,” Jeff Ullery, Chairman of the Youth Tech Committee, said. “So it teaches them skills on how to soder and at the same time they get to build some kits that teach different principles.”

via HACKADAY: Dual SDR Receives Two Bands at Once

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
There was a time when experimenting with software defined radio (SDR) was exotic. But thanks to cheap USB-based hardware, this technology is now accessible to anyone. While it is fun to play with the little $20 USB sticks, you’ll eventually want to move up to something better and there are a lot of great options. One of these is SDRPlay, and they recently released a new piece of hardware — RSPduo — that incorporates dual tuners. We’ve talked about using the SDRPlay before as an upgrade from the cheap dongles. The new device can tune either a single 10 MHz band over the range of 1 kHz to 2 GHz, or you can select two 2 MHz bands. This opens up a lot of applications where you need to pick up signals in different areas of the spectrum (e.g., monitoring both sides of a cross-band repeater). You may wonder how you can take advantage of the two tuners with software. There’s an online review that covers how the software works with the dual tuners. You can also see a video from [SevenFortyOne] that shows the radio in use. In addition to dual band receive, a unit like this could be useful in building systems for cognitive radio, diversity reception, reducing noise, and radio location. You can find a spec sheet for the device which shows it has a 14-bit converter and several antenna, filter, and reference clock options.

via the ARRL: Montana ARES Group Activated in Advance of Anticipated Flooding

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
The Billings, Montana, Director of Emergency Services has activated the Yellowstone County Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) group (YARES) to support radio communication for sand bagging stations and for possible river-level spotters over the next 5 days. The call came in advance of an anticipated significant flood event — “possibly the largest ever recorded,” Yellowstone County ARES Emergency Coordinator Ron Glass, WN7Y, told ARRL. The call from County DES Brad Shoemaker came last evening, Glass told his team of volunteers, stressing, “This is not a drill.” Glass said the request from the County called for staffing five sandbag centers from 9 AM until 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday, “helping to coordinate logistics and supplies to get tens of thousands of sandbags into the hands of citizens and communities to prepare for the historic flooding to hit the area.” The flooding is expected to strike on Memorial Day and continue through Wednesday, May 30. ARES resources may be shifted to serve as river-level-Spotters along the Yellowstone River and its tributaries.

via HACKADAY: How Hertha Aryton Enabled the Titanic to Call SOS

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
[Kathy] recently posted an interesting video about the connection of an electronics pioneer named [Hertha Ayrton] to the arc transmitter. The story starts with the observation of the arc lamp — which we learned was a typo of arch lamp. [Hertha] was born into poverty, but — very odd for the day — obtained a science education. That’s probably a whole story in of itself. During her schooling, she fell in love with her professor [William Ayrton] and they wed. [Hertha] took over her husband’s research into arcs and made impressive results in understanding the physics of an arc. The key finding was that in some cases increasing the voltage would decrease the current. This implied that the arc had negative resistance. There’s a lot more to the story involving one of [William’s] graduate students and a man named [Poulsen] who made the arc transmitter more reliable. We’ll let you watch the video to find out more.

Via the RSGB: Two satellites launched on lunar mission

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
A formation of two satellites was launched on Monday on a lunar orbit mission. The 47kg microsatellites each carry two SDR VHF/UHF transceivers to provide command, telemetry, image transmission and a GMSK-JT4 repeater. The project is led by Harbin Institute of Technology and has low frequency radio astronomy, amateur radio and educational goals. More information and further links at

Post-Launch Signals Received as Amateur Radio Heads to Moon

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
China has launched two microsatellites into a lunar transfer orbit. They launched as secondary payloads with the Quequiao relay satellite on May 20, in conjunction with the Chang’e 4 mission to the far side of the moon. Once in lunar orbit, DSLWP-A1 and DSLWP-A2 (DSLWP = Discovering the Sky at Longest Wavelengths Pathfinder) — also known as Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2 — will test low-frequency radio astronomy and space-based interferometry. They carry Amateur Radio and educational payloads, but not a transponder. The Chang’e 4 mission will be the first-ever attempt at a soft landing on the far side of the moon. Following deployment, signals from the DSLWP satellites were received by radio amateurs in Brazil, Chile, and the US, as well as by many others around the world. Harbin Institute of Technology (BY2HIT) developed and built the DSLWP spacecraft and is overseeing that mission. The two microsats eventually will enter a 300 × 9,000 kilometer elliptical orbit. Each satellite carries VHF/UHF SDR transceivers for beacon, telemetry, telecommand, and digital image downlink, plus a GMSK-JT4 repeater. Onboard transmitting power is about 2 W. The astronomy objectives of the two spacecraft are to observe the sky at the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum — 1 MHz to 30 MHz — with the aim of learning about energetic phenomena from galactic sources, using the moon to shield them from earthbound radio signals.

via HACKADAY: Disaster Area Communications With Cloud Gateways

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
2017, in case you don’t remember, was a terrible year for the Caribbean and Gulf coast. Hurricane Maria tore Puerto Rico apart, Harvey flooded Houston, Irma destroyed the Florida Keys, and we still haven’t heard anything from Saint Martin. There is, obviously, a problem to be solved here, and that problem is communications. Amateur radio only gets you so far, but for their Hackaday Prize entry, [Inventive Prototypes] is building an emergency communication system that anyone can use. It only needs a clear view of the sky, and you can use it to send SMS messages. It’s the PR-Holonet, and it’s something that’s already desperately needed. The basis for the PR-Holonet is built around an Iridium satellite modem. To date, satellite communication is the best way to get a message out to the world without any infrastructure. It’ll work in the middle of the Sahara, the depths of the Amazon, and conveniently anywhere that was just hit by a category five hurricane. Along with the Iridium modem, [Inventive Prototypes] is using standard, off-the-shelf equipment to turn that connection to a satellite network into something any smartphone can use. That means pulling out a Raspberry Pi, of course. But building a project for areas that were recently ravaged by hurricanes is no easy task. The enclosure it the key here, and [Inventive Prototypes] is using some great water-resistant, dust-proof junction boxes, solar panels, and a whole bunch of batteries to keep everything humming along. It’s a great project and something that was desperately needed a year ago.

ARRL White Paper Provides Context for Recommended Governance Changes

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
ARRL has released a “white paper” that provides some context to explain proposed alterations to the Articles Of Association and By Laws that the Executive Committee (EC) of the Board of Directors recommended for full Board passage at its April 21 meeting. Study continues of the so-called “Code of Conduct” for Board members, known officially as the ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors, with changes to be recommended for later Board consideration. At its January meeting, the Board pledged to provide the membership with the rationale and purpose behind proposed changes to the Articles and By Laws that it had adopted last July. In April the EC recommended minor revisions to two new amendments to ARRL’s Articles of Association and one change to its By-Laws for Board approval at its July 2018 meeting. In all, four changes are being proposed. One proposed change involves the wording of the Articles that address indemnification and personal liability of ARRL Directors, Vice Directors, and officers. Although the Board had adopted new Articles 15 and 16 at its July 2017 meeting, ARRL’s Connecticut counsel recommended two revisions, requiring Board approval, to make the wording of those changed sections consistent with Connecticut state statutes.

Hamvention 2018 - Sunday Roundup

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
As with most Dayton Hamventions, Saturday was the big day. The crowds were large with streams of people moving from building to building. The rain showers persisted, accompanied by an afternoon thunderstorm, but the wet episodes were relatively brief. Most attendees had come prepared with everything from umbrellas to rain ponchos. Hamvention’s attempts to mitigate last year’s mud issues in the flea market area seemed to help, although the relentless rain proved to be a challenge. As a result, the indoor exhibits appeared to receive the lion’s share of the traffic. Perhaps because of the continued rain, the forums were also well attended. The RTTY contesting forum, for example, was almost standing room only for the presentation by ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Ned Stearns, AA7A, about FT8 as a possible replacement for RTTY in contest applications.

Hamvention 2018 - Saturday Roundup

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
As with most Dayton Hamventions, Saturday was the big day. The crowds were large with streams of people moving from building to building. The rain showers persisted, accompanied by an afternoon thunderstorm, but the wet episodes were relatively brief. Most attendees had come prepared with everything from umbrellas to rain ponchos. Hamvention’s attempts to mitigate last year’s mud issues in the flea market area seemed to help, although the relentless rain proved to be a challenge. As a result, the indoor exhibits appeared to receive the lion’s share of the traffic. Perhaps because of the continued rain, the forums were also well attended. The RTTY contesting forum, for example, was almost standing room only for the presentation by ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Ned Stearns, AA7A, about FT8 as a possible replacement for RTTY in contest applications.

Amateur Radio Transponders on Planned Chinese Satellites to Include HF

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 16:00
China’s Amateur Radio Satellite organization, CAMSAT, has released some details of three new Amateur Radio satellites that could be launched as early as September. Two of the satellites, CAS-5A and CAS-6, will carry transponders, and one of them will have HF capability. CAS-5A is a 6U CubeSat. It will an HF/HF (21/29 MHz) mode linear transponder; an HF/UHF (21/435 MHz) mode linear transponder; an HF CW telemetry beacon; VHF/UHF mode linear transponder; a VHF/UHF mode FM transponder; a UHF CW telemetry beacon, and UHF AX.25 4,000/9,600-baud GMSK Telemetry. Transponders will have 30 kHz passbands, except for the H/U unit, which will be 15 kHz.

5 reasons Hamvention is one of the most unique events on Dayton’s calendar (Ohio)

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 19:14
An event that has become a Dayton tradition is in full force this weekend. Dayton Hamvention 2018 is happening at the Greene County Fairgrounds through Sunday. The event is in its seventh decade, draws thousands and provides an economic boost to the Dayton area. Here are five things to know that make Hamvention special and unique:

Weathering the storm: on-the-ground reporting key (Michigan)

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 19:12
While no storm chasing is necessary, Upper Peninsula residents form an important part of weather monitoring and storm response. “We’re not expecting people to get out and chase storms, wait for them to come to you,” said Matt Zika, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, Neganuee. When the weather is active, real time information helps meteorologists make better warning decisions and helps verify weather reports, Zika explained at the annual Spring Weather Presentation and Storm Spotter Training. An involved population helps keep people informed and is a big piece of the overall warning puzzle, keeping people safe. Despite advances in weather monitoring like Doppler radar and satellites, the technology has limitations making on the ground reports necessary. For example, the radar is often blocked from picking up lake effect in the Copper Country. The distance from the station also is a contributing factor as a higher level is being scanned often overshooting the low lying lake effect formations.

Women are in radio, too (Ohio)

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 19:08
Ham radio isn’t just for men. And the Young Ladies Radio League (YLRL) will tell you just that. “This organization provides a network and support in a hobby that has been dominated by men,” Anne Manna, WB1ARU, from Massachusetts, said. Manna is the secretary of the YLRL. The YLRL was founded in 1939 and, as Manna says, supports women in amateur radio around the world. “Women are getting involved in all aspects of the field — technology, robotics, digital media, building, friendships, contests — just like the men,” she said. “We have girls as young as 9-10 and as old as 100.” Manna’s husband first introduced her to ham radio, and soon after they married she earned her license and joined YLRL. “I knew a lot of nice people in it and it sounded like fun,” she said. Since then, ham radio has brought her all over the world. “I’ve traveled to places I never would have gone or would have thought to visit — and it’s because of ham radio,” she said, listing Europe, Australia and Iceland as a few examples of places she’s gone to meet friends or attend conventions. YLRL hosts its own convention every few years, puts out a newsletter and offers scholarships. Attending Hamvention for the last 10 years, Manna ended up in Greene County this year and said she’s encouraging women to get involved. “I like this organization because it introduces women to other women and then they don’t feel so alone,” she said.

Hamvention brings thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts to the Miami Valley (Ohio)

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 19:04
Hamvention brings thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts to the Miami Valley each year, and it's set to kick off for 2018 on Friday. Every year, more than 30,000 people come to town for the event, which found it's new home at the Greene County Fairgrounds after previously being at Hara Arena. Organizers said they've worked out the issues they found in year one and are ready for the crowds. "We had some growing pains," Dayton Hamvention General Chair Rom Cramer said. "Not too bad, I don't think people were too upset. We did have mud, we did have some parking issues, but I think we have that all corrected now." The Greene County Sheriff has been working to correct last year's traffic congestion, and roads have been created in the parking area, so mud should not be an issue. The event begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, and runs through Sunday.

Hamvention 2018: International event boosts local economy; precautions in place for weather (Ohio)

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 18:54
Tens of thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts from across the nation and the world will converge on Xenia and the Greene County Fairgrounds this weekend for Dayton Hamvention 2018. This is the second year for the fairgrounds to be the site of the annual event, which opens Friday morning and runs through Sunday. With an estimated impact to the local economy of $19 million, about 30,000 people attended the event last year. More people, and a bigger economic impact, are expected this year, according to Ron Cramer, Dayton Hamvention chairman.