ARRL Honors Those Lost on 9-11
ARRL honors the memories of those who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, including these radio amateurs:
Steven A. “Steve” Jacobson, N2SJ, 53, of New York City (WTC); William V. “Bill” Steckman, WA2ACW, 56, of West Hempstead, New York (WTC); Michael G. Jacobs, AA1GO, 54, an ARRL member from Danbury, Connecticut (WTC); Lt. Robert D. “Bob” Cirri, Sr., KA2OTD, 39, an ARRL member from Nutley, New Jersey and Port Authority police officer who was helping to evacuate workers from the building when it collapsed; William R. “Bill” Ruth, W3HRD, 57, of Mt. Airy, Maryland (Pentagon); Gerard J. “Rod” Coppola, KA2KET, 46, of New York City (WTC); and Winston A. Grant, KA2DRF, 59, of West Hempstead, New York (WTC). An assembly of articles, stories, and messages from the November 2001 issue of QST magazine is available at tinyurl.com/ARRL-QST-9-11.
NASA Studies VLF Affects with V.I.P.E.R
NASA launched a sounding rocket back in May of 2021 with the unique mission of studying the affects of VLF on the Van Allen Radiation Belt. The data collected with the Vlf trans-Ionospheric Propagation Experimental Rocket, or VIPER will be combined with existing data models to provide a more accurate picture of the affects of the VLF radiation at higher altitudes and on the ground. VLF or Very Low Frequency radio waves are naturally occurring as well as manmade. They are usually trapped in the earth’s atmosphere during the day but at night they escape and propagate along the Earth’s magnetic field lines, and end up interacting with the high energy electrons trapped in the Van Allen Radiation Belts. The altitudes of these belts range from 14,300 miles to 23,500 miles. More Info
ARRL Endorses Program to Pay FCC Fees for Young Applicants
The ARRL Board of Directors is endorsing a program to cover the proposed FCC $35 license fee for candidates 18 years and younger. The “Youth Licensing Grant Program” was approved during the July meeting in Hartford, CT. Program applicants would also pay a reduced exam session fee of only $5 to the ARRL VEC. “The Board believes that the recruitment and training of young amateur radio operators is a necessary and proper mission of the ARRL…” More Info
FCC Granted Temporary Increase in Data Transmission for Ida
The FCC has granted an ARRL emergency request for a temporary waiver intended to facilitate relief communications in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The waiver was orally granted on Saturday, August 28, and immediately permitted amateur data transmissions related to Hurricane Ida traffic to employ a higher symbol rate for data transmissions than the current limit of 300 baud. Pursuant to ARRL’s request and similar to written waivers granted by the FCC in earlier years, to qualify, a protocol or mode exceeding the 300 baud symbol rate limit must (1) be publicly documented, (2) use no more bandwidth than the currently permissible slower protocols (generally accepted to be the bandwidth of an SSB signal, or 2.8 kHz), and (3) be used solely for communications related to Hurricane Ida. ARRL is hopeful that the FCC will grant a longer-term waiver this week to enable planning and communications for any additional hurricanes this season. More info
Meanwhile in the Radio Telescope World
Astronomers have captured the highest resolution images of distant galaxies using a network of 70,000 1 meter high antennas across 9 European countries. The signals from the LOFAR system are digitized and sent to a central processing unit. The accomplishment is a technical tour de force and was led by Dr Leah Morabito from Durham University, UK. The images are giving new insight into the workings of galaxies and the super massive black holes at the center of them. More Info
FCC Application Fees Delayed until 2022
The FCC confirmed in a recent virtual meeting with VECs that the fees announced earlier this year will most likely not got into affect until 2022. They sited software, procedure, and certain process changes that had not been implemented yet. The new time frame is early 2022. More Info
ARRL Provided Free RF Exposure Calculator
Under the new FCC rules, some amateurs need to perform routine station evaluations to ensure that their stations comply with the RF exposure rules. Although amateurs can make measurements of their stations, evaluations can also be done by calculation. To make this easy for amateurs, ARRL now provides an RF exposure calculator on its RF Exposure page. While there is no requirement to send the results to the FCC, you can print out the results and keep them in your station records.
FM Mode Approved for CB Radio
63 years after the introduction of Class D 27 MHz AM CB Radio the FCC has agreed to permit FM to be used on all 40 channels of the Citizen Band radio service. More Info
Solar Cycle 25 Revised Prediction
NASA heliophysicists have released a revised prediction for Solar Cycle 25. The report generated by Ricky Egeland, a solar physicist working in the NASA Space Radiation Analysis Group, now calls for the peak of Solar Cycle 25 to top out at a value of 195 ±17 based upon the new scale for calculating smoothed sunspot number (SSN). For reference Solar Cycle 21 peaked at an SSN of 233 (new scale) while Solar Cycle 23 peaked at an SSN of 180 (new scale). If this prediction holds up ham radio will see excellent world-wide F-layer conditions on 10 meters for several years around the time of the solar maximum. Conditions on 6 meters should be good in the equinox periods before and after solar max with consistent openings on medium haul polar routes. Six-meter routes traversing the equator should experience consistent openings ±9 months from solar max. More Info
Iceland Kiwi SDR Relocated
The Icelandic National Radio Association (IRA) reported the Kiwi SDR radio bla.utvarp.com has been relocated. The radio which covers 160m to 10m and had been stored since last April was relocated and activated as of July 30. It is now located on a mountain in the southwest of Iceland and uses a 70m long wire antenna. There are hundreds of Kiwi SDR radios located throughout the world and allow users to access them via the internet. This gives operators another tool to check current propagation since you can log in and listen to these SDR’s remotely.
FCC Investigating 40m Jamming From Cuba
Recent reports of “jamming” on the lower portion of the 40 meter band have drawn the attention of the FCC which has opened an investigation. FCC spokesperson told Motherboard, “The FCC is committed to supporting the free flow of information and ensuring that the internet remains open for everyone. We are assessing these reports in conjunction with our field agents and communicating with the Department of State as this issue develops.” The jamming appears to be coming from Cuba and seems to have started shortly after the antigovernmental protests began but cannot be confirmed that the Cuban government is responsible for the signals. More info
FCC Approves 8m experimental station
In June of 2021, the FCC in the USA issued the experimental call sign WL2XUP to conduct tests on the 40 MHz band. The owner of the call, Lin Holcomb (NI4Y) reports that the station is now on air. The license allows for operation between 40.660 MHz to 40.700 MHz with a maximum output of 400-watts ERP. The license was issued on the 17th of June 2021 and it lasts until the 1st of July 2023. As of mid July 2021, WL2XUP is intermittently transmitting WSPR on 40.662 MHz (1500Hz). It transmits for 2 minutes out of every 10 with an output power of 20-watts ERP into an omni-directional antenna. For FT8 skeds and tests, an ERP of 100-watts can be used. It is hoped in time to upgrade to a log-periodic antenna pointing at Europe. More info Even more info
New ARRL Emergency Communications and Field Services Committee
In the July 2021 ARRL meeting, the board of directors has approved new by-laws creating the Emergency Communications and Field Services Committee (EC-FSC). Its primary purpose is to develop and recommend new or modified board policy and programs for emergency communications through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) and National Traffic System™ (NTS™) entities. Some of its other duties will include enhanced support of Section Managers, increased focus on ARRL affiliated clubs (that’s us), and guidance to the CEO for recruitment and retention of ARRL members. More info
Solar Cycle 25 is in full swing
Tad Cook (K7RA) reports an increase in solar sun spot activity. New sunspots emerged on July 14, 16, 17, 19 and 20, and two new ones appeared on July 21. This image from July 22 shows our sun is peppered with spots. Average daily sunspot numbers for reporting week of July 15-21 were 48.9 which is more then double the previous weeks number of 21.3. Average daily solar flux jumped from 72.9 to 81.3. There have been quite a few reports of sporadic-E activity and 10m openings all the way to Europe. More info
FCC Considering FM on CB and Packet Radio on GMRS/FRS
The FCC is reconsidering several proposals to the part 95 personal radio services. Included in WT Docket 10-119, Motorola has requested automatic location data and text messaging data services on GMRS and FRS radio. This service would be similar to APRS and allow location coordinates and text messaging to be transmitted over those frequencies. Cobra has also requested FM modulation as an optional modulation mode for all 40 channels of CB radio. Power limit would be 4 watts with a +/- 2KHz deviation and all CB radios would still be required to include standard AM modulation.
NTSC in America Fades to Black
On July 14 the end of an era occurred, the last few NTSC 525 line analog television transmitters went off the air. This marked the end of over 7 decades of American analog television transmission. Most television broadcasters switched over to digital television in 2009 but these “FrankenFM” stations had there FM audio stream at the bottom of the radio band providing an option to listen to TV on the radio. The latest version of digital TV, ATSC 3.0 better known as NextGen TV is just over the horizon and it offers higher resolutions combined with better compression. It also offers a narrow band option which would provide room for these stations to still offer their analog FM audio carrier. More info
1st X-Class Solar Flare of Cycle 25
On July 3rd our local star experienced an X1.5 solar flare. This caused an R-3 level radio blackout on the sun side of the planet for about an hour. This is the first X class solar flare since September 2017. In many cases, X level flares are followed by coronal mass ejections (CME) causing lingering affects on radio propagation for days but in this case, the flare was on the western edge of the visible part of the sun so the CME will have little affect on us down here. More Info
Square Kilometer Array Observatory to Span Two Continents
The Square Kilometer Observatory Array (SKOA) is an international project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. Current plans are to have sites hosted at South Africa’s Karoo region and Western Australia’s Murchison Shire. This will give the array over a square kilometer (one million square meters) of radio collecting area. The final array will consist of thousands of dishes and up to a million low frequency antennas. This global effort includes around 100 organizations across 20 different countries and will consist of two supercomputers each 25% faster then the fastest computer in 2019 as well as a global network with speeds of about 100,000 times faster then the projected global average broadband speed in 2022. More info
Slow-Scan TV Event from ISS
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has announced a slow scan TV event from June 21-26. The transmission will be on 145.80MHz FM and use PD120 SSTB mode. The images are focusing on amateur radio on the Space Shuttle, MIR, and the ISS. More Info
Interactive LightCube Satellite Set to Launch in 2022
Nasa has selected LightCube as one of 13 research satellites to be launched as auxiliary payloads in 2022. This opportunity is provided through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) Amateur Radio signals will be used to trigger flashes of light from space that will be visible to the naked eye on earth. The frequencies have not been assigned yet but the way it will work is an operator will transmit a number code to the satellite to trigger the light pulses. More info
WSJT-X Version 2.4.0-rc Released
A new version of WSJT-X has been released which supports the new digital mode Q65. This mode was specifically designed for two-way QSO’s similar to FT8 over difficult propagation paths. According to the WSJT-X user guide, Q65 is the best performing digital mode over paths with Doppler spread of more then a few Hz. Refer to the user guide for more information.
ISS Station To Remain In Cross Band Repeater Mode For FD
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has decided to keep its ARISS InterOperable Radio System (IORS) in crossband repeater mode until after ARRL Field Day ends. The IORS ham station is located in the Columbus Module of the International Space Station. More Info
HamSCI Seeks Eclipse Festival Participants
Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation or HamSCI is looking for operators to make recordings of the time standard stations during the 2021 solar eclipse across the artic circle. The group plans to use the data to investigate the superimposed effects of auroral particle precipitation and the eclipse on HF Doppler shift. Participants would use an HF radio connected to a computer running open source software to collect the data. The test will run from June 7-12. More Info
$1.6 Million Raised to Save the MIT Radome
The radome containing an 18ft wide microwave dish sitting on top of the 277ft tall Cecil and Ida Green Building was recently slated for removal as part of roof renovations. However, the student led MIT Radio Society (W1MX) with help from faculty and MIT alumni managed to secure a $1.6 million grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) to save the dome. The dome was built in 1966 and has been used in the past for weather radar research but more recently the Radio Society has been using it for experiments in Earth-Moon-Earth or “Moonbounce” communications. With this grant, this dish will continue to provide unique opportunities for academic study and research. More Info
Plywood Satellite ?
The WISA Woodsat project, being sponsored by plywood supplier WISA in an unconventional PR initiative, is poised to place a wooden satellite into orbit by the end of the year. The idea is to test the suitability of treated wood as a low-cost and widely available material for space applications. Once in orbit, Woodsat will be able to extend a selfie stick to capture photographs of the wooden box. The satellite would then downlink its telemetry and images from two cameras using amateur radio frequencies. More Info
Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) requesting more bandwidth between 3-12 MHz
The WIA Spectrum Strategy Committee is requesting more amateur radio spectrum in the 3-12 MHz range citing increasing global usage of the HF bands. Australian HAM’s currently experience frequent congestion during times of increased ionospheric propagation from legitimate and unauthorized transmissions. The increase in frequency allocation would provide what the WIA is calling “Frequency Agility” to maintain communications during these times of high congestion. The WIA is seeking to align the Australian bands with the international allocations over the next 5 years. Maybe this will mean more DX contacts from Australia! More info
Ham Census wants to hear from you
HAMCENSUS.org is inviting all HAM’s from around the world to participate in a survey to better inform club leaders, associations, manufactures, and regulators on a variety of topics such as operating preferences, operating gear, views on regulations, and the future of Amateur Radio. The site admin, Cemil Alyanak (K3MRI), said, “We all want the Amateur Radio community to grow organically and collaboratively and for that we need to know what operators are thinking. The survey is free but requires you to complete all 6 sections to view the survey results. hamcensus.org
Bill Introduced to Establish National Amateur Radio Operators Day
U.S. Representative Debbie Lesko has re-introduced a bill into congress to establish April 18th, 2022 as National Amateur Radio Operators Day. She noted that the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) designates April 18th as World Amateur Radio Day. Representative Lesko said in a news release, “Amateur radio is a vital part of our nation’s communications infrastructure.” More can be found at ARRL.org.
FCC Auto-Registration Feature for Exam Applicants to be Discontinued
Auto registration in the FCC Commission Registration System (CORES) will be discontinued on May 20, 2021. Applicants will have to use their FCC Registration Number (FRN) instead of a Social Security Number for all license transactions. Electronic batch filed applications that do not include a candidate’s FRN will be rejected. More info can be found here.
Amateur Radio Credited with Rescue of Back-Country Hiker in Tennessee
A back-country hiker in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was rescued with assistance from HAM operators. Tim Luttrell (KA9EBJ) was a member of a hiking team and put out a call for assistance via the local W4KEV linked repeater when one of the team members experienced a medical emergency. David Manuel (W5DJR) responded to the call and obtained more information then called 911. The hikers were in an area with no cellular service. The Park Service contacted David who was able to relay information to the hikers via radio. The injured hiker was hospitalized and required surgery. Later it was learned that a second hiker was close to hypothermia. Click here for more information.
FCC rule changes for RF exposure standards
In 2019, the FCC changed the rules governing RF exposure standards. These changes go into effect May 3, 2021. The actual exposure limits have not changed, but the rules concerning station exemptions have changed. Any stations that are no longer exempt have until May 3, 2023 to complete an RF exposure evaluation and comply with any restrictions. More info can be found on the ARRL Website. Here is a link to the new FCC Report and Order document.
5 Year $9.3 Million Grant to HAARP Station
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has given the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the Geophysical Institute a 5 year, $9.3 million grant to establish a new research observatory at the High frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP) facility. Among other things, it will be observing the upper atmosphere and geo spatial environment. HAARP station chief engineer Steve Floyd W4YHD said Amateur Radio will benefit from a better understanding of the ionosphere, space weather, and propagation predictions. More information here.
SpaceX Encodes Rocket Ship Telemetry
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has started encrypting the telemetry data from their space craft after several “amateur radio tinkerers” were able to tap into the telemetry signal and download some plain text data as well as photo’s from the starship. Details can be found here as well as a YouTube video.
Army develops DC-20GHz Quantum Receiver
The Army has built a quantum based wide band radio frequency sensor capable of analyzing 0-20GHz signals. “The Rydberg sensor uses laser beams to create highly excited Rydberg atoms directly above a microwave circuit.” The circuit’s voltage is sensed by the Rydberg atoms which allows for the wide range of RF signals to be detected. Army researcher Dr. David Meyer said, “Quantum sensors…offer unparalleled sensitivity and accuracy to detect a wide range of mission-critical signals.” For more information click here
IARU Region 1 meeting on wireless power transfer for electric vehicles (WPT-EV)
As the political and economic push for more electric vehicles continues, many operators are becoming concerned about the RFI from the supporting infrastructure. Some of our HAM friends across the pond are working to address this issue before it becomes a major problem. On March 25th, at the request of the European Commission, the IARU region 1 met with automotive representatives to discuss developing emission standards for wireless vehicle charging stations. Both parties had a “frank exchange of views” about the RFI concerns and data from testing that had been done by WPT-EV developers. The European Commission determined that further joint tests should be arranged and all parties have agreed to work together to complete the testing. Another meeting will be scheduled after the testing has been completed. More details can be found here
2021 Carter Strong Swap-Fest in West Monroe, LA
The Louisiana Delta Radio Club is hosting the 2021 Carter Strong Swap-Fest in West Monroe, LA June 5th from 8am to 1pm. Admission is $5 per person. There will be a raffle with hourly prizes and a grand prize of a Yaesu FTM400 and FT7250. But most importantly they will have homemade jambalaya red beans and rice! More details can be found at https://kc5dr.com/?page_id=229
NCVEC Technician Question Pool
The NCVEC wants your suggestions for new or updated questions to add to the Technician question pool of July of 2022. Questions should be no longer then two 70-character lines with spaces. Each question should include 4 distractors (wrong answers) and one correct answer. Answers should not be longer then two 70-character lines. With your submission, include the resource information or FCC part 97 rule that supports the correct answer. Submit questions via email@example.com through June 30th. More info about the NCVEC can be found at NCVEC.org
70cm DOD Interference Issue
Amateur Radio operators near White Sands, NM are being asked to move their repeater control link frequencies to 430Mhz and above. This is due to possible interference with a new missile control system being tested at the White Sands Missile Range. “New Mexico Repeater Frequency Coordinator Bill Kauffman, W5YEJ, agreed to work with the control link operators to find new frequencies that will meet the needs of the link operators.” They have until May 31st to comply. As a note, the Amateur Radio Service is a secondary service on that band. Details at ARRL.org
MTC Sidewalk Sale Reminder
Main Trading Company in Paris, TX is planning another “Second Saturday Sidewalk Sale” April, 10th. This is not like the blow out sales of the past with large tents and vendors present but its more of a “tail-gating” event. However, they will have sales in the store and there will be door prizes. Call ahead if you wish to reserve a tail-gaiting spot otherwise just show up at 7am and enjoy visiting with fellow hams and supporting one of the last radio stores around. Visit their website for more info MTCradio.com
Delfi-N3XT Satellite “Woke Up”
On February 9th, 2021 the Delfi-N3XT CubeSat satellite which contained, among other things, a linear transponder, “woke up” and started transmitting again after being silent for 7 years. The satellite, which was launched in November of 2013 was last heard from in February 2014. It was part of an ongoing program by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands to develop very small satellites. Read more about it at https://www.tudelft.nl/en/2021/lr/delfi-n3xt-back-to-life-after-7-years-of-silence
WWVB Station Is Getting Upgraded
The NIST operated WWVB time signal radio station near Fort Collins, CO is being upgraded! This is good news as the historical and very useful radio station faced funding cancelations back in 2019. The upgrade process is expected to be completed by April 9th and may cause occasional outages due to reduced antenna availability and reduced transmission power. Find out more at https://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-frequency-division/time-distribution/radio-station-wwvb
Echolink released for Windows
After 14 years, Echolink has released a new Windows version. For those that may not know, Echolink is free software available to licensed Amateur Operators which uses the internet to communicate between operators around the globe. It also has the ability to link to local repeaters. This software is controversial due to it’s use of the internet and some folks consider it “cheating” but it is just one more fun and interesting aspect of our wonderful hobby. More info is available at https://secure.echolink.org
Comm Academy 2021
The Comm Academy (formerly known as The Communications Academy) is hosting it’s first online virtual training conference April 10th-11th. The Seattle based group has hosted annual in person conferences over the last 22 years but is now trying something new due to the pandemic. The theme for the conference is “Disasters here, there, and everywhere – are we ready?” It is described as “an interactive event, with participants able to converse with presenters and attendees.” The event is free but does require registration. Learn more at https://www.commacademy.org/home
QSO Today Virtual HAM Expo
Did you miss the live QSO Virtual HAM Expo last weekend? Well, don’t fret. The live event might be over but there is still a lot of great video content and information that is archived from the event. Go to https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/ and register to gain access.
Rains Area Amateur Radio Association will be having a Hamfest Apr 24th at the Rains County Fair Ground in Emory, Tx. They have around 50,000 sq. ft of covered area so wear your walking shoes. The event starts at 7 AM and admission will be $5. Visit their web site http://W5ENT.org for more details.
ARISS on ISS is fixed
After 6 weeks, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) HAM station located in the Columbus module of the ISS is operational again. A spacewalk on March 13th restored the coax antenna cabling to its original configuration. More details can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/ariss-ham-station-in-columbus-module-is-once-again-operational