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 25 sec ago

US Coast Guard Warns of LED Lighting Interference to Marine Radios, AIS Reception

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 15:12
The US Coast Guard says it’s received reports from crews, ship owners, inspectors, and other mariners regarding poor reception on VHF radiotelephone, digital selective calling (DSC), and automatic identification systems (AIS) when in the vicinity of LED lighting systems. This could include interior and exterior lighting, navigation lights, searchlights, and floodlights found on vessels of all sizes. “Radio frequency interference caused by these LED lamps [was] found to create potential safety hazards,” the Coast Guard said in an August 15 Marine Safety Alert. “For example, the maritime rescue coordination center in one port was unable to contact a ship involved in a traffic separation scheme incident by VHF radio. That ship also experienced very poor AIS reception. Other ships in different ports have experienced degradation of the VHF receivers, including AIS, caused by their LED navigation lights. LED lighting installed near VHF antennas has also shown to compound the reception.” ARRL has determined a wide range of interference-causing potential from consumer lighting devices.

Consent Decree Settles FCC Noncompliant Drone Transmitters Marketing Case

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:52
The FCC Enforcement Bureau has entered into a Consent Decree with Horizon Hobby, LLC to resolve a case involving the marketing and sale of noncompliant audio/video (A/V) transmitters intended for use on drones. The Consent Decree was attached to an FCC Order released on August 16. The Enforcement Bureau said the transmitters violated the FCC’s equipment marketing and Amateur Radio rules. “These laws ensure that radio frequency devices comply with the Commission’s technical requirements and do not interfere with authorized communications,” the Enforcement Bureau said. “Because the noncompliant A/V transmitters could operate in bands that are reserved for important operations, including Federal Aviation Administration Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, they must not be marketed or operated by anyone. Moreover, entities that rely on amateur frequencies in operating compliant A/V transmitters must have an amateur license and otherwise comply with all applicable laws for such operation.” In the Consent Decree, Horizon Hobby concedes that it marketed A/V transmitters that did not comply with FCC equipment marketing rules. The company has agreed to implement a compliance plan and to pay a $35,000 civil penalty.

VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition Gear on its Way to Transport Vessel

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:52
The equipment to be used for the VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition later this year is on its way to the M/V Braveheart in New Zealand. The Braveheart, captained by Nigel Jolly, K6NRJ, will transport the DXpedition team and their equipment to Ducie Island. Elecraft radios in the shipment are the same ones used by the successful Baker Island KH1/KH7Z DXpedition. Consolidated on five pallets, the shipment weighs more than a ton and a half and will fly via Hong Kong for delivery. “It’s been a busy several weeks to get all the equipment consolidated, integrated, tested, and packed for shipment,” a DXpedition news release said. “The next major milestone will be in October when team members begin their journey to meet the Braveheart in French Polynesia. The DXpedition has been nearly 16 months in the planning and coordination. Ducie is the 19th most-wanted DXCC entity, according to Club Log.” The Perseverance DX Group (PDXG) is sponsoring the DXpedition, set for October 20 – November 3. — Thanks to the VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition

Chinese Amateur Radio Satellites Receive OSCAR Designations

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:52
AMSAT has announced that it has granted OSCAR designators for the Chinese DSLWP-A and DSLWP-B microsatellites, successfully launched on May 18 into a lunar transfer orbit by a CZ-4C launch vehicle. DSLWP-A is Lunar-OSCAR 93 (LO-93), and DSLWP-B is Lunar- OSCAR 94 (LO-94). Telemetry signals were received from both satellites soon after launch, although DSLWP-A was lost the following day. On May 25, DSLWP-B was successfully placed into lunar orbit and has continued transmitting GMSK and JT4G telemetry, including SSDV digital images, and a short message relay service. More than 40 Amateur Radio operators around the world have successfully received signals from the satellite. AMSAT granted the designations upon request of the Harbin Institute of Technology, which built the spacecraft. “We congratulate the owners and operators of LO-93 and LO-94, thank them for their contribution to the amateur satellite community, and wish them continued success on this and future projects,” an AMSAT bulletin said. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service via Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, AMSAT VP Operations/OSCAR Number Administrator

via HACKADAY: Rewinding Live Radio

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:52
Even though it’s now a forgotten afterthought in the history of broadcasting technology, we often forget how innovative the TiVo was. All this set-top box did was connect a hard drive to a cable box, but the power was incredible: you could pause live TV. You could record shows. You could rewind TV. It was an incredible capability, that no one had ever seen before. Of course, between Amazon and Netflix and YouTube, no one watches TV anymore, and all those platforms have a pause button, but the TiVO was awesome. There is one bit of broadcasting that still exists. Radio. For his Hackaday Prize entry, [MagicWolfi] is bringing the set-top box to radio. He’s invented the Radio Rewind Button, and it does exactly what you would expect: it rewinds live radio a few minutes. To have a pause or rewind button on a TV or radio, the only real requirement is a bunch of memory. The TiVO did this with a hard drive, and [MagicWolfi] is doing this with 256 MB of SDRAM. That means he needs to access a ton of RAM, and for that he’s turning to the Digilent ARTY S7 board. Yes, it’s an FPGA, but actually a fairly simple solution to the problem.

via the ARRL: FCC Grants Temporary Waiver for Hurricane Lane Relief Efforts

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
The FCC has granted FEMA, working in conjunction with ARRL, a request to waive current Amateur Radio rules to permit data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently permitted to facilitate hurricane relief communications between the continental US and the islands of Hawaii, in response to Hurricane Lane. This temporary waiver is limited to Amateur Radio operators in Hawaii using PACTOR 4 emissions, and to those radio amateurs in the continental US who are directly involved with hurricane relief communications involving Hawaii, the Commission said. The waiver petition was a cooperative effort of FEMA and ARRL and represents the strong working relationship the two organizations established following their efforts with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. ARRL expresses its appreciation to FEMA officials Ted Okada, K4HNL, and Dave Adsit, KG4BIR, for their efforts on this petition. The FCC’s approval of a temporary waiver of section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s rules to permit use of PACTOR 4 for amateur communications between the United States mainland and Hawaii related to Hurricane Lane relief is effective through Tuesday, August 28. A formal order addressing the request for a 30-day waiver will be released next week, according to FCC officials.

Proposed WWV cuts ignored by Congress

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
In February, NIST proposed drastic cuts to its FY2019 budget, including shutdown of time-and-frequency stations WWV, WWVB and WWVH. This has raised concerns on social media, echoed by the ARRL. However, the U.S. Congress, which appropriates all funds for the Federal budget, has so far turned a deaf ear to the proposal. Though it is early in the annual budget process, both the House and Senate seem inclined to increase NIST's funding for cybersecurity, limit NIST's big construction budget to one year, and otherwise make only minor changes in the agency's funding. Measurement dissemination by the WWV stations falls under "Laboratory Programs," part of the awkwardly named Scientific and Technical Research and Services division. Multi-agency appropriations bills reported out of committee to the floor of each chamber, H.R. 5952 and S. 3072,call for no changes in lab program funding. A separate NIST reauthorization bill, H.R. 6229, calls for increases to expand lab programs into new area. For several years, Congress has passed budget bills months after the October 1 start of the government's fiscal year. This year looks to be no exception. So far, though, Congress has shown little appetite for cuts to any science or technology program.

via HACKADAY: What Will You Do If WWVB Goes Silent?

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
Buried on page 25 of the 2019 budget proposal for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the heading “Fundamental Measurement, Quantum Science, and Measurement Dissemination”, there’s a short entry that has caused plenty of debate and even a fair deal of anger among those in the amateur radio scene: NIST will discontinue the dissemination of the U.S. time and frequency via the NIST radio stations in Hawaii and Ft. Collins, CO. These radio stations transmit signals that are used to synchronize consumer electronic products like wall clocks, clock radios, and wristwatches, and may be used in other applications like appliances, cameras, and irrigation controllers. The NIST stations in Hawaii and Colorado are the home of WWV, WWVH, and WWVB. The oldest of these stations, WWV, has been broadcasting in some form or another since 1920; making it the longest continually operating radio station in the United States. Yet in order to save approximately $6.3 million, these time and frequency standard stations are potentially on the chopping block.

Arctic Legends RI0B Roving IOTA DXpedition Set for August 25 – 26

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
The Arctic Legends RI0B IOTA DXpedition from Arkhangelsk, Russia, to the islands of the Kara Sea is planned for August 25 – 26, but dates are subject to change due to the long route and complex weather conditions. The RI0B call sign was last used for the 2001 Lost Islands expedition led by Victoria Koryukina, RA0BM, which was organized to activate rare islands in the Kara Sea. The vehicle for the 2018 Arctic Legends expedition will be a helicopter.

via the ARRL: Concern Rising within Amateur Radio Community over WWV-WWVH Shut Down Proposal

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
ARRL members and Amateur Radio clubs are expressing increased concern over the inclusion of WWV and WWVH on a list of proposed cuts in the White House’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. The proposed cuts also would include the Atomic Clock signal from WWVB used to synchronize specially equipped clocks and watches. Online petitions soliciting signatures include one established by Tom Kelly II, W7NSS, of Portland, Oregon, who would like to see funding for the stations maintained. At this point, the budget item is only a proposal, not a final decision. That would be up to the Congress to decide. ARRL is among those worried over the possible loss of WWV, WWVH, and WWVB and is suggesting that members of the Amateur Radio community who value the stations for their precise time and frequency signals and other information sign Kelly's petition and/or contact their members of Congress promptly, explaining how the stations are important to them, beyond government and military use.

Earthquake Hits Venezuela, Net Active on 7.088 MHz

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
[UPDATED 2018-08-22 @1423 UTC] A magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit northern Venezuela August 21 at 21:32 UTC, some 12 miles north-northwest of Yaguaraparo. The YV5RNE National Emergency Network of the Radio Club Venezolano was activated on 7.088 MHz, and a clear frequency has been requested. The US Coast and Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake occurred at a depth of 76.5 miles. It was felt as far away as Caracas, some 300 miles to the west but caused no casualties or major damage because of its depth. Buildings in Caracas were evacuated after the powerful earthquake hit, sending shock waves as far west as Bogotá, Colombia, and as far east as Trinidad and Tobago. Jose Rafael Gomez, YV1GEC, who lives on Isla de Margarita, reported that the earthquake felt strong but said there had been no interruption of electric power or gas service. Roberto Rey, HK3CW, President of La Liga Colombiana de Radio Amadores, said the temblor was “very prolonged” in Bogotá. — Thanks to IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, for some information

via the RSGB: Petition launched to save WWV

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
US National Institute of Standards and Technology station WWV and sister transmitting stations are among the oldest radio stations in the United States, having been in continuous operation since May 1920. WWV has transmitted the official US Time for nearly 100 years. The US government has been planning to close the NIST Radio Stations WWV, WWVB, and WWVH in 2019. An online petition has been set up at tinyurl.com/GB2RS-0824-A to change that, though at the time of writing the only about 7% of the necessary signatures had been gathered to oblige a response from the White House.

ARRL Headquarters Monitoring Progress of Hurricane Lane, Radio Gear Available to Deploy

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
[UPDATED: 2018-08-24 @ 1434 UTC]: ARRL Headquarters is in monitoring mode, as powerful Hurricane Lane — now a Category 3 storm — approaches Hawaii, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said on Wednesday, and Ham Aid Amateur Radio equipment is available for deployment. The storm already is causing catastrophic flooding on the Big Island of Hawaii. Corey said the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) has a team on standby to assist with communication between Hawaii and the mainland, if needed. Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Center in Miami also is standing by to assist with communication between the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and the National Hurricane Center. The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) International SATERN SSB Net will activate Friday, August 24, at 1800 UTC, in response to Hurricane Lane. The primary frequency is 14.265 MHz, with 14.312 MHz as a backup.

Kerala, India, Flooding: Radio Amateurs Assist Rescue Operations

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 14:12
Radio amateurs in the flood-stricken Indian state of Kerala are helping with rescue operations there, in part by tracing stranded people through their last mobile phone locations and sharing information with officials. Most telecommunication services in Kerala remain down. Accounts vary, but some 120 hams — and perhaps as many as 300 — have been working 24/7 to support official rescue operations. “Kerala has been hit by the worst flooding and landslides in 100 years, with six districts and neighboring areas submerged in 7 to 15 feet of water that has spilled over from nearby rivers,” Suwil Wilson, VU2IT, told ARRL. “One million people are in relief camps, and more than 300 people are dead. Power and mobile communication in the affected areas are cut off.” Wilson said he coordinated the statewide response, which has been managed by individuals without the involvement of any ham radio organization in India.

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