Friday, September 12, 2014

Rules for CQ WW DX Contest Translated into 14 Languages


CQ World Wide DX Contest Manager Randy Thompson, K5ZD, has announced that the rules for the competition have been translated in 14 languages. You can access them at < http://www.cqww.com/rules.htm >.
The rules now appear in:

  • Arabic
  • Bulgarian
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
  • Turkish

Thursday, September 11, 2014

'Most Wanted' DXpeditions Planned

Navassa National Wildlife Refuge
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Plans are beginning to fall into place for DXpeditions within the next year or so to two of the top-10 entities on the DX magazine "most-wanted" list.The KP1-5 Project announced in late August that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had agreed to allow an amateur radio operation from the Navassa National Wildlife Refuge sometime between late 2014 and early 2016, in coordination with the service's workflow. Navassa (KP1) is #2 on the DX magazine list. The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking proposals from individuals and groups that have previously applied for a Special Use Permit. For more information, visit < http://kp1-5.com >.An expedition to Heard Island (VKO) is being planned for late 2015 and/or early 2016, summertime in the southern hemisphere. According to Newsline, the team will be headed up by noted DXpeditioner Martti Laine, OH2BH, and CQ magazine DX Editor Wayne Mills, N7NG, under the aegis of Cordell Expeditions, a non-profit research organization led by Robert Schmieder, KK6EK. Heard Island holds the #6 position on the DX magazine most-wanted list. Updates will be posted at < http://vk0ek.org >.

GAREC Focuses on Technology

The application of advanced technology in amateur radio emergency communications was the focus of this year's Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC) conference, held this past August in conjunction with the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama. According to The ARRL Letter, participants came from all over the world. Presentations covered a wide variety of topics including the ways in which new technologies were put to use in amateur radio response to recent disasters, such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The 2015 GAREC conference will be held next June in Tampere, Finland. 





Hams Make Good Impression on Tribal Emergency Management Leaders 

Some 400 Native American emergency managers were introduced to amateur radio at the National Tribal Emergency Management Conference, held in August in Washington State. The largest gathering of its kind to date, the program included demonstrations of HF and Mesh Network amateur communications, as well as several ham radio-related presentations. According to The ARRL Letter, many of the tribal emergency management leaders who attended the conference expressed interest "in building an amateur radio component into their emergency/disaster preparedness plans." The report encouraged ARES/RACES groups to "welcome tribal communities … and to ensure interoperability with the tribal EOC as part of their operation plan(s)." 

Quite a Crowd: Webinar Held on HR 4969

The ARRL's Atlantic Division sponsored a webinar in August on H.R. 4969, "The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014." The ARRL Letter reported that some 900 people signed up for the online event and that about half that number actually attended. H.R. 4969 would extend the FCC's "reasonable accommodation" requirements for amateur antenna structures to include private land use agreements (such as CC&Rs) as well as state and local laws and regulations. The purpose of the webinar was to explain details of the proposed legislation and how participants could help build support for its passage. 

Astronaut, Ham, Steven Nagel, SK

Astronaut Steven Nagel, N5RAW (SK)
(Courtesy of NASA)
Astronaut Steven Nagel, N5RAW, who commanded the first all-ham space shuttle mission in 1991, became a Silent Key in August at age 67. He was married to fellow astronaut and ham Linda Godwin, N5RAX. Nagel was a member of the Astronaut Corps from 1979 to 1995, but continued working for NASA until he retired in 2011 and took a teaching position at the University of Missouri at Columbia. According to The ARRL Letter, he flew on four shuttle missions and logged more than 700 hours in space. One of his last public appearances was at an ARRL division convention in Missouri last year. 
Nikola Tesla
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Musk Pledges $1 Million to Tesla Museum

Billionaire and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk has reportedly pledged a $1 million donation to help build a museum and science center dedicated to Nikola Tesla at the site of the scientist's laboratory in Long Island, New York (see "TeslaGRAM - A Multinational Special Event for a Nearly Forgotten Laboratory, February 2012 CQ).
Musk is also the founder of SpaceX, one of the first private space launch agencies. According to Newsline, the donation came about after cartoonist Matt Inman, who spearheaded the fundraising effort to buy Tesla's former lab in Shoreham, New York, did a cartoon review of a Tesla automobile and included what he called "a teensy request" to Musk for additional help with the museum project. Within hours, Musk reportedly sent Inman a post on Twitter saying he would be happy to help, but did not at the time indicate the scope of that help.

Two California Communities Embrace Amateur Radio

The city council of Poway, California, has adopted a new ordinance permitting amateur radio operators to erect towers up to 65 feet tall with only a building permit and a "courtesy notice" to neighbors. According to The ARRL Letter, the League has been working with Poway's amateur community for "a very long time" on this matter. The council originally planned to require a "special minor use permit" for any tower over 35 feet tall, but communications lawyer Felix Tinkov was able to persuade the council that the 65-foot rule best met the FCC's requirement to "reasonably accommodate" amateur radio operation.

On a smaller scale, a retirement community in Redlands, California, is actively promoting amateur radio among its residents, with Newsline reporting that more than a dozen of them have recently earned their ham licenses. It doesn't hurt that Plymouth Village's executive director, Keith Kasin, is AI6BX. He is promoting amateur radio as part of the community's emergency response plan and hopes to eventually get at least 30 of the village's 300 residents licensed.

Looking Up: Space and Satellite Roundup

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space;
everything else is opinion. - Democritus
Ham Balloons Circling the Globe: As of late August, three small balloons carrying tiny amateur radio beacon transmitters were circling the Earth and sending out signals on 70 centimeters. The ARRL Letter says the foil envelope balloons were all launched from the United Kingdom by Leo Bodnar, MØXER. They each carry solar powered 10-milliwatt transmitters operating on 434.500 MHz and alternating between APRS and Contestia 64/1000, both digital modes. The transmitters weigh only 11 grams (0.4 ounces) each.

Two ham satellites headed for deep space. A Japanese satellite carrying an amateur radio transponder and beacons is scheduled for launch in December to a deep-space orbit between Venus and Mars, while a Chinese satellite with a ham-band transmitter aboard is reportedly heading for a lunar flyby.The ARRL Letter reports that the payload on the Chinese satellite, currently named 4M-LXS, will transmit the JT65 digital mode on 145.990 MHz while the spacecraft travels to the moon, completes at least one orbit and then returns to Earth. Hams will be able to monitor the signals using free WSJT software. The launch, scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, is part of China's plans to eventually send a lander to the moon to collect samples and return them to Earth.The Japanese satellite will be launched with a satellite headed for a rendezvous with an asteroid. Hayabusa-2 is scheduled to make a 6-year round trip to asteroid 1999 JU3, according to the ARRL. The satellite carrying the ham station - Shin'en 2 - will head for an elliptical orbit in deep space between Venus and Mars that is in line with the Earth's equatorial plane. The satellite will carry a Mode J amateur transponder (2 meters up, 70 centimeters down) as well as CW and WSJT beacons. It is anticipated that hams will need EME-capable stations to work the satellite when it is close to the Moon and "to test the limits of their communication capabilities." At greater distances, it is unlikely that two-way contacts by hams will be possible.

CubeSat Challenge - 50x50x5: In an effort "to promote a spacecraft nation and develop innovative technology partnerships," NASA has issued a challenge to universities and aerospace companies to build and launch 50 CubeSat satellites from all 50 states within 5 years. According to the AMSAT News Service, the program is part of the White House Maker Initiative and will initially focus on the 21 states that have not yet built satellites, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Proposals must be submitted electronically by November 25 and payload selections will be announced next February 6. NASA notes that selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity and that it will not provide funding for developing these satellites. For more information, visit <http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative.html>.

SSTV on the Air Again from ISS: The slow-scan television (SSTV) experiment aboard the International Space Station was activated in early September, with photos transmitted showing the life and work of space pioneer Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. The experiment is being coordinated by Russian crew members in honor of what would have been Gagrin's 80th birthday this year. The signal is downlinked on 145.800 MHz FM, according to Southgate Amateur Radio News.

South American Satellite News: Something old, something new… LUSAT-OSCAR-19, one of the oldest amateur satellites still in Earth orbit, seems to be holding a charge in its batteries again. The satellite, launched nearly a quarter-century ago, began transmitting again in daylight a couple of years ago, according to the AMSAT News Service. But in August, hams suddenly began hearing signals from the spacecraft even after it passed into darkness, indicating that its Ni-Cd batteries were once again holding a small charge. The satellite was launched in January 1990. Among active amateur satellites, only OSCARs 7 and 11 are older.

From the International Space Station: Peru's first satellite - Chasqui-1 - was hand-launched from the International Space Station during a spacewalk in mid-August. It carries an amateur radio beacon (437.025 MHz, transmitting 1200 BPS packet or 9600 BPS GMSK) as a secondary payload. As of the date of this posting, there had not been any reports of hearing the beacon.

Foxy Crowdfunding Effort: AMSAT is turning to crowdfunding to raise money for next year's anticipated launch of the Fox-1C satellite. The amateur satellite group is trying to raise $25,000 through the FundRazr site before October 9. For details, visit <https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6pz92>. AMSAT's overall fundraising goal for Fox-1C is $125,000.



The L-O-N-G Waves: 630-Meter News

Canadian hams will be able to participate this year in the Maritime Radio Historical Society's annual special event on 630 meters, with the opening of 472-479 kHz to VE hams this past May. The ARRL Letter reports that the special event will take place on October 31 - November 1, and will include coast stations KPH and KSM operating on 500 kHz. U.S. hams may participate by conducting cross-band QSOs. VO1NA in Newfoundland, along with VE7SL and VE7BDQ in British Columbia, will be transmitting on 630 meters (477.7, 473.0 and 474.0 kHz, respectively), while listening for responses on 80 and 40 meters.And in case you think DX is not possible at these frequencies, consider this: The ARRL Letter reports that in late August, VK2DDI in Australia was able to monitor WSPR transmissions on 475 kHz sent out by KB5NJD in Texas, operating under an FCC experimental license as WG2XIQ. The path is over 8,700 miles long.
Chris Smith, W4HMV
(Courtesy of ARRL)

Nevada Ham Named to FEMA Advisory Council

Chris Smith, W4HMV, of Sparks, Nevada, is among a dozen people newly appointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Advisory Council by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ. Smith is the Chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management/Homeland Security and is responsible for coordinating statewide emergency planning efforts, according to the division website. In addition, he is the Governor's Homeland Security Advisor. According to FEMA, the National Advisory Council provides recommendations to the Administrator on a variety of emergency management issues. (Read: CQ Interview with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the October issue of CQ.)


U.S. Panel: Shortwave Broadcasting 'Marginal' . . . but Wait!

PERPLEXITIES: PART I
A special committee on the future of shortwave broadcasting by the U.S. government has issued a somewhat contradictory report to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees operations of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. According to The ARRL Letter, the panel concluded that shortwave broadcasting is "a medium of marginal and continuously declining impact in most markets," as target audiences continue shifting toward AM/FM radio, TV and the internet as information sources. 
The committee also concluded that "shortwave use does not increase during times of crisis," according to the Letter. But at the same time, noting the current unrest in Ukraine and surrounding areas, it recommended that "shortwave broadcasts in Russian to Russia and the Caucasus be continued at current levels," at least for the coming fiscal year. [Additional information on the BBG committee report will be published in the October issue of CQ Plus, the CQ digital edition supplement.]

FCC Hikes Vanity Fees; Considers Elimination
PERPLEXITIES, PART II

The FCC has raised the fee for applying for a new or renewed vanity call sign by a little more than $5, but disclosed that it is also considering eliminating the fee altogether in the future. The current $16.10 fee will rise to $21.40 for the fiscal year that begins October 1. In its Report and Order, the FCC said it did not have enough information "at this time" on the potential impact of removing the vanity call fee, but said it would revisit the issue in the future. 

'Archie' Comic Artist Stan Goldberg SK

Stan Goldberg
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Comic book artist Stan Goldberg was never a ham, but he helped introduce amateur radio to a generation of young people in the 1980s and 90s as one of the two artists who drew the "Archie's Ham Radio Adventure" comic book. Well-known in the comic book industry, he worked for Marvel and DC Comics as well as Archie Comics. CQ was part of the amateur radio industry group, along with the ARRL, that developed and distributed the "Archie's Ham Radio Adventure" comic. The ARRL Letter reported that Goldberg died in late August at age 83 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Friday, August 8, 2014

ARRL/FEMA Sign New Agreement;
Fugate Lauds Radio Amateurs

The ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) signed an updated Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the League's centennial convention in Connecticut in July. The agreement, which outlines ways in which the ARRL and FEMA will cooperate in areas of emergency and disaster communications, was signed by ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who is also KK4INZ.
"When the power is out and telecommunications are down," Fugate said at the ceremony, "the Amateur Radio community can serve as a vital resource in support of emergency responders and survivors during a disaster." 
Craig Fugate, KK4INZ
Fugate was also the keynote speaker at the ARRL's centennial banquet, where he spotlighted amateur radio's ability to provide communications when standard means fail or are overloaded. He said that he always stresses to emergency managers that they need to have a way to communicate without using the "public switched network" on which virtually all telephone and internet traffic relies.

[CQ will feature an interview with Fugate in its 2014 "Emergency Communications Special" issue next month.]


ARRL Board Reaffirms Commitment to
Emergency Communications


Responding to criticism from members about the ARRL's plans to de-emphasize the use of the term "emergency communications" in favor of "public service communications," and inspired by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate's speech at the League's centennial banquet, the ARRL board of directors passed a resolution "on behalf of the membership" in which it reaffirmed "its commitment and desire to further improve and enhance Amateur Radio’s participation and standing in emergency communications for the benefit of the nation’s emergency response agencies and the American public." The resolution also cited the FCC rules which recognize amateur radio's value "particularly with respect to providing emergency communications" and Fugate's reference to the "emergency communications capabilities" of amateur radio.
ARRL May Seek HF Data Privileges for Technicians
Among other actions taken by the ARRL board of directors at its July meeting, it tasked its executive committee with looking into the possibility of seeking "limited RTTY/data privileges for Technician licensees on 80, 40, and 15 meters," according to a summary in the ARRL Letter. Techs currently have only CW (Morse code) privileges on those bands.
K1JT: Amateur Radio Will Thrive in Future
Joe Taylor, K1JT
(Internet screen grab, <http://www.ARRL.org>)
Nobel Laureate and ham radio software pioneer Joe Taylor, K1JT, told a attendees at the ARRL Centennial Convention in July that ham radio will continue to thrive in the future, even as radio technology becomes more digital. According to the ARRL Letter, Taylor also told a forum on weak-signal DXing that amateur radio "will continue to benefit from a healthy cross-fertilization between amateurs and professionals." He pointed out that it was hams 100 years ago who proved that the shortwave bands could support long-distance communications when scientists of the time were certain they could not, and encouraged hams to continue to make whatever contributions they can to the art and science of radio and to the public good. Taylor is a retired professor at Princeton University and the author of the WSJT suite of ham radio software that has revolutionized weak-signal communication both on VHF and HF.
First Remote License Exam Session Held at South Pole
Amundsen-South Pole Station, Antarctica
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
The day after new FCC rules permitting the remote administration of amateur radio license exams went into effect, the ARRL-VEC administered several exam elements to a half-dozen candidates at the U.S. Amundsen-South Pole Station in Antarctica. 
With one volunteer examiner on-site and two others at the other end of a video link to ARRL headquarters in Connecticut, the ARRL Letter reports that the exam session went off without a hitch and that all candidates earned either new or upgraded licenses, including one who went straight from unlicensed to Amateur Extra.
Two previous remote exam sessions had been held at the South Pole station, but required special FCC permission.
NOAA: Expect Below-Normal Hurricane Season
At the halfway mark in the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center issued an updated forecast showing a greater chance for a below-normal hurricane season than originally predicted. The new forecast predicts a 70% chance of a below normal season, 25% chance of near-normal and 5% chance of above normal. The earlier predictions, made in May before the start of the hurricane season on June 1, had been 50%, 40% and 10%, respectively.
The center said that overall atmospheric and oceanic conditions are not favorable for storm development. However, it noted that even in a below-normal season, individual storms may still be extremely dangerous if they make landfall.
Names in the News:

DXCC Manager Seriously Injured; Two 'Radio-Active' NASA Astronauts Retire; WA1ZMS Receives Brendan Medal

Bill Moore, NC1L
(Courtesy of ARRL)
ARRL DXCC and Awards Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, was seriously injured in an automobile accident on July 3.
The ARRL Letter reports that Moore suffered a broken neck and other injuries and is paralyzed from the chest down.
It says he is stable and recuperating at a rehabilitation facility but it is not known whether he will make a full recovery.
Cards and get-well wishes are encouraged, and may be sent to Bill at 92 Reservoir Rd., Newington, CT 06111.
DXCC and award questions should be directed to one of the e-mail addresses on the DXCC contacts web page.
NASA Astronauts Andy Thomas, VK5MIR/ex-KD5CHF, and Dave Leestma, K5WQC, have retired from the agency, according to the ARRL Letter. Thomas has been an astronaut since 1993, flew on three shuttle missions and spent time on both the Mir space station and its successor, the International Space Station. He was active on ham radio during both of his space station stays. Leestma has been an astronaut since 1980, flew on three shuttle missions and most recently was NASA's Director of Flight Crew Operations. In 1992, he completed the Worked All Continents award from orbit.
Brian Justin, WA1ZMS
(Internet screen grab <http://bit.ly/V4FJuD>)
Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, has been awarded the first triennial Brendan Medal by the Irish Radio Transmitters Society, in recognition of his contributions to promoting propagation studies on possible transatlantic contacts on 2 meters.
The IRTS has long offered a trophy for making the first two-way transatlantic contact on 144 MHz.
That goal has not yet been achieved, although one-way reception of transatlantic signals was confirmed this summer.




Facebook OKs Use of Ham Calls as Nicknames
Newsline reports that Facebook recently agreed to allow licensed amateur radio operators to use their call signs as their "alternate name" or nickname on Facebook profiles. A ham on the Facebook staff saw a petition asking that it be permitted, wrote the code for it and then got it approved. According to the report, you may add your call to your Facebook profile by going to "settings," clicking on "edit your name" and then selecting "alternate name" in the middle of the page.
HAARP Closing Delayed
Plans to close and dismantle the U.S. Air Force's High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, better known as HAARP, have been put on hold while discussions continue on finding another government agency or university to possibly take it over. But the ARRL Letter reports that it's uncertain how much equipment may still be at the facility when and if an agreement is reached. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski reportedly brokered the delay in the shut-down process, but the Air Force is continuing to remove what it calls "government property not essential to operations." University of Alaska-Fairbanks Professor Chris Fallen, KL3WX, whose school is interested in taking over the facility, says that appears to include "anything not bolted to the floor" and says that critical research instruments have already been removed from the site.
AMSAT Raising Funds for Possible
Fox-1C Launch Next Year
AMSAT says it has teamed up with Spaceflight, Inc., for a possible launch of its Fox-1C satellite in the third quarter of 2015. The satellite will carry an FM repeater system and other hardware.
The AMSAT News Service says a fund-raising campaign has been launched to solicit donations of at least $125,000 by next July to cover costs of building, testing and launching the satellite.
Visit the AMSAT website at <www.amsat.org> for details on making donations.
Maritime Mobile Service Net Helps with
Two Land-Based Emergencies
The main purpose of the Maritime Mobile Service Network, which meets daily on 14.300 MHz, is to provide assistance to mariners. But sometimes, according to the ARRL Letter, it responds to emergencies on land as well, and did so twice in recent months. In mid-June, the net received a call for help from a trucker-ham in rural Texas who witnessed a serious accident but was out of range of both cell phones and VHF/UHF amateur repeaters. Then in July, the net was asked to call for help in the aftermath of a truck accident in Nevada, which occurred in a canyon, precluding the use of CB as well as cell phones and ham repeaters. In both cases, appropriate authorities were notified.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Become a CQ Monitoring Station!

For an enlarged view, please click on the image.
CQ Plus, the online supplement of CQ available to digital edition subscribers, has retooled and rebooted the CQ Monitoring Station program and opened the gate for new members to its 1,400+ strong monitoring community.

It is a carry-over of the popular Pop'Comm Monitoring Station program, launched on January 1, 2012 and affiliated with the late Popular Communications magazine.

Members are assigned a CQ Monitoring Station identification sign and authorized to download and fill in a handsome certificate to hang on the listening post wall.

If you are a shortwave listener, VHF / UHF scanner monitor, FM or digital TV DXer, please consider becoming a CQ Monitoring Station. It's absolutely free and is reported on monthly in CQ Plus' Monitoring column.

The program is modeled on the fabulous WPE Short-Wave Monitor program founded at Popular Electronics magazine by the late Tom Kneitel, WPC4A, who would go on to become founding editor of Pop'Comm.

For details on how to become a CQ Monitoring Station, visit: <http://www.CQPlusCQMS.blogspot.com> or simply CLICK HERE.

We look forward to having you as a member of our growing community.


- Richard Fisher, KCQ6CQ
Editor, CQ Plus


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WRTC-14 Winners



The results of the 2014 World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC-14) were announced today. The top medal winners are:


Gold: K1A - Ops: N6MJ/KL9A
Silver: W1L - Ops: OM3BH/OM3GI
Bronze: W1P - Ops: DJ5MW/DL1IAO



For additional details, see N2GA's "Contesting" column in the September issue of CQ.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Co-Sponsors Sought for House Bill on CC&Rs

The ARRL is urging hams to contact their local representatives in Congress to request their support for - and ideally, co-sponsorship of - HR 4969, a bill that would require the FCC to extend so-called "PRB-1" protections to private land use regulations. For nearly 30 years, the FCC has required that local governments "reasonably accommodate" amateur radio operations. But it has consistently refused to apply that requirement to homeowner association rules and/or restrictive covenants, also known as CC&Rs, without a specific mandate from Congress. This bill, if passed, would provide that mandate, giving the FCC four months to change Part 97 rules to include private land use regulations.
According to the ARRL Letter, the bill was introduced jointly by Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Joe Courtney (D-CT). It was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where it would first be considered by the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who is also W7EQI.

Changes to Licensing Rules Effective July 21

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
New rules regarding former hams wishing to be relicensed, and remote administration of license exams, took effect on July 21, a month after publication of the FCC's rulemaking decision in the Federal Register. Under the new rules, former hams who held General, Advanced or Extra Class licenses and who want to return to the hobby will need only to pass the Element 2 Technician exam. Once they have done that, their expired license will provide them with credit for whichever additional test elements they had previously passed. The rule changes also authorize remote administration of amateur license exams, with details to be left to Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs), and give final approval to the use by hams of certain type of Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) digital modes. These had already been permitted under a blanket waiver issued while the rule change was pending.

FCC Seeks 35 Percent Increase in Vanity Fee

The FCC is proposing an increase of nearly 35 percent  in the fee for issuing or renewing a vanity callsign during the upcoming fiscal year. According to the ARRL Letter, the current fee is $16.10 for a 10-year license term; under the proposal for Fiscal Year 2015, it would increase to $21.60. The $5.50 hike is one of the largest in many years. The FCC was expected to make a final decision on its FY'15 fees in early August, with the new fees taking effect about a month later.

No Young Ham of the Year in 2014

For the first time in its 28-year history, Newsline's Young Ham of the Year judging committee declined to name a winner this year, citing the small number of nominations received. (The committee, on which CQ Editor W2VU serves, also felt that the nominations received did not have sufficient supporting documentation to permit well-informed decision-making.CQ is a corporate co-sponsor of the Young Ham of the Year Award, along with Yaesu and Heil Sound.

Dayton Records Slight Uptick in Attendance, Number of Vendors

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association says 24,873 people attended the Dayton Hamvention® this past May. That's up just over 300 people from 2013's 24,542. In addition, according to pcboard.ca, which tracks vendors at the show, the number of unique indoor vendors at the 2014 show was 260, up 15 from 2013.

FCC Closes the Book on K1MAN

Internet screen grab
< http://www.QRZ.com/db/K1MAN >
The long and winding road surrounding the renewal of Glenn Baxter's amateur license has come to an end after nearly a decade. Baxter, who held K1MAN, was a frequent thorn in the side of the FCC, which had cited him multiple times for a variety of alleged rule violations, including transmissions in which he had a financial interest, causing interference to other stations and failing to exercise control of his station.
His license expired in October, 2005, according to the ARRL Letter, but the FCC deferred action on his renewal application, eventually designating it for a hearing (in 2011), and fining him $10,000 for rules violations. Baxter did not pay that fine, and that became the basis for the FCC's June 23 decision to deny his license renewal, exercising its "Red Light Rule," which states that it may dismiss a license application if the applicant has an unpaid debt to the Commission.

Special Prefixes in Spain to Honor New King

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The government of Spain has authorized its hams to use one of three special prefixes to mark the decision in June by King Juan Carlos, EAØJC, to abdicate in favor of his son, now King Felipe VI. According to the ARRL Letter, between June 18 and September 18, hams with EA prefixes in their calls may use the AMØ# prefix (e.g., EA9CD would be AMØ9CD); calls beginning with EB may be identified as ANØ# (e.g., EB7DX would be ANØ7DX) and those with EC calls may substitute AOØ# (you get the idea). (It's a boon for WPX enthusiasts, but may just be confusing for the rest of us!)

Satellites Map Changes in Earth's Magnetic Field

Internet screen grab < http://bit.ly/1mH5v2r  >
A new fleet of satellites launched late last year by the European Space Agency has begun mapping changes in our planet's magnetic field, which protects Earth from some of the sun's most dangerous radiation. Newsline reports that the first set of high-resolution results from the "Swarm" satellites, covering a six-month period, shows a general weakening of the magnetic field, particularly over the western hemisphere (although it has strengthened over the Indian Ocean), and that it is generally moving northward.
Of course, six months worth of data is not sufficient to draw any conclusions about whether we are seeing a long-term decline in the strength of the Earth's magnetic field or whether we are just beginning to be able to measure normal fluctuations in field strength and density.

ARRL Centennial Station QSLs to be Routed Through Bureaus

The ARRL is asking the individuals and groups that operate its incoming QSL bureaus to deliver confirmations later this year from commemorative stations active for the League's centennial celebrations. This includes W1AW/x operations around the country, W100AW and ARRL headquarters staff station W1HQ. According to an e-mail sent to the bureaus by Membership Services Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, hams who want to receive their "AW" cards "via the bureau" would need to sign up on a special web page on the ARRL website.

Halfway to the Brendan Trophy

Internet screen grab < http://bit.ly/1qRk99f  >
A group of Canadian hams has succeeded in bridging the Atlantic on 2 meters, the first step in its quest to win the Brendan Trophy, offered by the Irish Radio Transmitters Society for the first two-way transatlantic contact on 144 MHz. On July 6, an FSK441 transmission by the "Brendan Quest" team operating VC1T from Pouch Cove, Newfoundland was successfully decoded in England by G4SWX. Attempts to complete a two-way QSO were not successful, but the group believes the one-way reception should qualify it for the "Brendan Plate," one of three related awards offered by IRTS.
VC1T was transmitting 750 watts to a 43-element rope Yagi with a boom length of 30 meters (98-1/2 feet) with nearly 24 dB of forward gain. G4SWX's station is 3828 kilometers (2380 miles) from the VC1T transmitter site. (And you thought 2 meters was only good for local contacts!)
At the other end of the spectrum, VLF experimenter Dex McIntyre, W4DEX, successfully spanned the Atlantic in early June with signals transmitted on 8.971 kHz. According to the ARRL Letter, McIntyre's transmission was detected in England by shortwave listener Paul Nicholson, who was also the first to hear a transatlantic transmission on 137 kHz, as well as a transmission from New Zealand on the same frequency. (In case you're wondering, no FCC license is required for transmitting below 9 kHz.)
<http://bit.ly/1qRk99f>

FCC Cites Oregon Ham for QRM, Music, on 75 Meters

A ham in Sweet Home, Oregon, has received a not-so-sweet Notice of Violation from the FCC. The Commission alleges that Thomas Ryan, W7WL, maliciously interfered with other stations on 3908 kHz, transmitted music on the same frequency and failed to properly identify. He was given 20 days from the June 5 notice to respond. The FCC reserved the right to take further action, depending on the response received.

SKYWARN Pioneer N5ZCB SK

Alan Moller, N5ZCB (SK)
Internet screen grab < http://bit.ly/U6NQ9v >
One of the fathers of the National Weather Service's SKYWARN program became a Silent Key on June 19. Alan Moller, N5ZCB, was 64. According to the ARRL Letter, Moller and Chuck Doswell were the leading proponents of setting up a weather spotter network that became the prototype for SKYWARN. Moller was a Senior Forecaster at the Fort Worth, Texas forecast office of the National Weather Service. He was also a storm chaser and filmmaker. A local field weather observation program started by Moller and Doswell in 1972 laid the groundwork for today's SKYWARN program, which uses the services of nearly 300,000 trained volunteers across the nation - many of whom are hams - to supplement the weather service's radar and other forecasting tools.

Satellite Roundup

The skies are filling up with ham radio satellites again. Here's a quick rundown of recent launches and other activity, courtesy of the ARRL and the AMSAT News Service:
* UKube-1 - the UK Space Agency's first cubesat - was successfully launched from Kazakhstan on July 8 and its first signals were received soon after its deployment. UKcube-1 is "hosting" AMSAT-UK's "FUNcube-2," which includes an SSB/CW transponder and a CW beacon.
* A record-setting 37 satellites - including about a dozen which will operate on the ham bands - were launched from Russia on June 19 aboard a single rocket. Among the new "birds" is QB50p1 - now EO-79 - which carries FUNcube-3 (with a CW/SSB transponder aboard), QB50p2 - now EO-80 - which has an FM voice transponder, and the Russian-built TabletSat-Aurora, which includes an experimental D-STAR "parrot" repeater (which records and then retransmits uplinked signals).
* There were conflicting reports at press time about the status of efforts by a group of citizen scientists, including several hams, to regain control of and repurpose NASA's ISEE-3 satellite, which was later re-dubbed ICE, or International Cometary Explorer, which was launched in 1978. Attempts in early July to fire the satellite's thrusters and put it in line for a stable Earth orbit were not successful, and several news sites reported that the group was giving up its efforts. However, other sources, including the ISEE3 Reboot Project's Facebook page, said the group was not giving up and would try again to regain control of the satellite in early August.
* LO-78, Lithuania's first amateur satellite, will probably have re-entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up by the time you read this. In early July, the satellite's FM transponder was turned on for what was expected to be the final time. LO-78 was expected to re-enter the atmosphere around August 5.


Saturday, June 14, 2014



Ham-Com 2014: Scouts with Class, Distinction and Merit

Check out this instruction class of Scouts at Ham-Com 2014 in Plano, Texas, doing their duty to earn the Radio Merit Badge. The picture was taken by CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, on a photographic expedition at the convention. Please stop by the CQ booth, No. 113, and say hello. Click here to follow CQ on Facebook.


Ham-Com 2014: A CQ Staff

Harmonic Convergence

Carl and Vicky Luetzelschwab, K9LA and AE9YL, respectively.
CQ Plus Practical Propagation columnist Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, and his wife Vicky, AE9YL, traveled from their home base in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to attend Ham-Com 2014. Carl is among lots of CQ and CQ Plus writers attending the convention. Carl and Vicky sure get around. Click here to see their QSL card when they operated YK9A from Damascus, Syria in 2001.  

Ham-Com 2014: . . . And the Crowd

Went Wild!

If you're wondering where everyone is today, look no farther than Plano, Texas, site of the 2014 Ham-Com amateur radio convention. CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, snapped this panorama, showing the throngs of hams moving among the vendor exhibits. There is a flea market and many other shiny objects at the show, as well. If you have a chance, stop by the CQ booth, No. 113, where Rich and CQ Communications Sales and Marketing Director Katie Allen, WY7KRA, are holding down the fort. Click here to follow CQ on Facebook.

Gordo West, WB6NOA

Keith Pugh, W5IU

Ham-Com 2014: Two More Faces from the Red Carpet

Two more CQ luminaries making the scene at Ham-Com 2014 today in Plano, Texas are CQ Short Circuits columnist Gordon West, WB6NOA, left, and Keith Pugh, W5IU, CQ Plus Amateur Satellites columnist.  They are among the many radio amateurs from the CQ writing, editing and business staffs attending the show. If you're in the neighborhood, please look for the big red-and-white CQ logo. We're at Booth No. 113 in your programs. The team would love to say hello. Click here to follow CQ on Facebook.


CQ's Kent Britain, WA5VJB, with
granddaughter Renee @ Ham-Com.


Ham-Com 2014: Fun Across the Generations


Among the CQ writers converging on 2014 Ham-Com in Plano, Texas is Kent Britain, WA5VJB / G8EMY, CQ Antennas and CQ Plus VHF Antennas columnist -  adding "doting grandpa" to his dossier. Granddaughter Renee sweetens her visit to the convention with a Tootsie Roll at the CQ booth, No. 113. Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, and Sales and Marketing Director Katie Allen, WY7KRA, encourage you to stop by to say hello. They're doing their best to resist eating all the candy themselves.

Click here to visit CQ's Facebook page.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Live from Ham-Com: OMG - A Bubba Box


Click image for enlarged view.
CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, had a sighting of the rare Bubba Box in the Flea Market at Ham-Com in Plano, Texas today. He had the presence of mind to snap a picture. As you can see, the BB has the alert to "Call When Box is Free of FOD!!!" That's Foreign Object Damage. Also note the button to press for "Fire in the Wire." What's that? Click here to find out!  If you're at Ham-Com, please stop by the CQ booth, No. 113, and say hello to Rich and CQ Communications Sales and Marketing Director Katie Allen, WY7KRA. They're eager to meet you!

CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, and
CQ Communications Sales and Marketing Director Katie Allen, WY7KRA.

Dynamic CQ Duo @

Texas' Ham-Com 2014


CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, and CQ Communications Sales and Marketing Director Katie Allen, WY7KRA, are all smiles at the Plano (Texas) Centre for Ham-Com 2014 today and tomorrow, June 13-14.
They'd love you to stop by and say hello. Look for the red and white CQ logo at Booth 113.  Get the latest edition of CQ and renew or sign-up for a print and/or digital subscription. Rich and Katie will be very happy to help you. They report they're having a blast, and hope you are, too!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

FCC Opens Door for Return of 'Expired' Hams, Remote Exam Sessions

Acting on several long-pending rule-making proposals, the FCC in early June made it easier for former hams to regain their licenses, and for hams/prospective hams in remote areas to take license exams.
When the new rules take effect (likely in mid-July), ex-hams who held General, Advanced or Extra Class licenses will be given credit for Element 3 and/or Element 4 (as appropriate) … BUT they will still need to retake and pass the Element 2 Technician exam. This puts them on the same footing with people holding expired pre-1987 Technician licenses (which then required passing the Element 3 written exam).
In addition, the FCC gave the green light to Volunteer Examiner Coordinators - at their discretion - to offer remote exam sessions, with VE supervision via audio/video links. This should increase exam opportunities in hard-to-reach locations. The Commission also decided against its own proposal to reduce the minimum number of Volunteer Examiners at a test session from three to two, to grant lifetime credit for Certificates of Successful Completion of Examinations (CSCEs) and to change the license renewal grace period and the timetable for making expired call signs available to the vanity call system.
Finally, the FCC approved the ARRL's request to specifically permit certain TDMA (Time Domain Multiple Access) modes on amateur frequencies.

NASA/NOAA Agree that Solar 'Mini-Max' is Here

Members of the joint NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel are in agreement that we are currently at the peak of Solar Cycle 24, and that, according to NASA Science News, "it is not very impressive." In fact, says the report, "there are only a few Solar Maxima weaker than this one," and many researchers, it says, are calling this a "Mini-Max."
Nonetheless, the panel warned that significant solar events, "such as strong flares and significant geomagnetic storms," can be expected during the downward slope of any solar cycle, regardless of its strength.

WRTC Awards for the Rest of Us!

The main competition in this month's World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC 2014) is among the 59 teams from 38 countries who will be operating with special 1x1 call signs on the weekend of July 14-15. But recognizing that those teams need to work the rest of us, the WRTC organizing committee has put together a series of awards to encourage the general ham population to join in the fun.
Included are several levels of activity awards for contacting at least 30 of the 59 team stations, as well as an "Assistant Judge" award for hams who submit logs within six hours of the end of the contest to help in log-checking. For more information, visit <www.wrtc2014.org>. [Also see "Those Flying Finns…", Contesting, and "On the Cover" in this issue. - ed.]

FCC Again Going After 14.313

Two hams who frequent the frequently-unruly activity on 14.313 MHz have been cited by the FCC for violations related to station identification, and four others were told they would face enforcement action if they did not comply with formal requests to stay off of certain repeaters.
FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith cited Larry King, KI8NGS, of Michigan for operating on 14.313 for at least 20 minutes without identifying (FCC direction-finding was used to identify his station); and Tennessee ham Daniel Churovich, N9RSY, was cited for repeatedly communicating with a station on 14.313 who failed to properly identify himself. Smith noted that it is also a rule violation to communicate with an unidentified station, as that station may not be a licensed amateur.
In addition, according to the ARRL Letter, four hams in three states were warned in late March that the Commission expected them to "abide by the request of the trustee and/or control operator" of specific repeaters (or any others) not to operate on them.

'Baofeng' Becoming 'Pofung'

Having trouble correctly pronouncing the names of various Chinese radio manufacturers? Well, at least one of them feels your pain and is taking great pains to help. Baofeng announced recently that it is "rebranding" its products as "Pofung" in international markets in order to help customers pronounce the name correctly. In a news release on its website, the company says "Baofeng" is "a literal Pinyin translation of our Chinese character name," but that it "may be difficult for a hobbyist across the ocean to pronounce." The new name, it says, is easier to pronounce "while maintaining the phonetic symbolism of our brand." The company's website, www.baofengradio.com, will not be changed. The company also encouraged consumers only to purchase its equipment from authorized distributors, including amazon.com, radioddity.com and baofengtech.com. [Tnx WA6ITF]

Spain's Ham King Stepping Down

Courtesy of DXCoffee.com
King Juan Carlos of Spain, known on the ham bands as EA0JC, announced in early June that he would be abdicating the throne, thus making his son, Crown Prince Felipe, the new king. The announcement came via the office of the President of the Government. In accordance with the country's constitution, Spain's parliament must pass a law implementing the change. No date had been given for the transition.
Juan Carlos assumed the throne in 1975 after the death of former dictator Francisco Franco, and helped guide the country successfully into democracy. He is 76. (Maybe we'll be hearing EA0JC on the ham bands more frequently! - ed.)

Russia Blocks U.S. Access to Space Station

American astronauts scheduled to head to the International Space Station have become "collateral damage" in the escalating tension between the United States and Russia over the political situation in Ukraine. The ARRL Letter reported that after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia as a result of its annexation of Crimea, Russia responded by saying it would no longer provide transportation to the space station for U.S. astronauts. The U.S. has relied on Russia to carry crew members back and forth since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. NASA astronaut Steve Swanson is currently the only American on board the space station.

International Ham Satellite Cooperation May Be Restored

The U.S. government is reportedly easing restrictions on sharing technology with other countries that has virtually stopped U.S.-based AMSAT-NA from taking part in any multinational amateur satellite projects for the past 15 years. Newsline reported at the end of May that the State Department will be reclassifying satellites and related components so that they are no longer considered weapons subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. Violations of those rules carried the threat of jail time or huge fines.

Satellite Roundup

There's quite a bit of news from the world of amateur satellites this month, so we're providing a quick summary here, courtesy of the AMSAT News Service and the ARRL Letter:
* The launch of AMSAT-NA's Fox-1 satellite has been delayed from this December to next summer, due to scheduling changes made by the U.S. Air Force, which is providing the launch.
* KickSat, the crowd-funded satellite that was supposed to deploy thousands of tiny "sprites," each with its own experiment and radio transmitter, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up without deploying what would have been the smallest satellites ever orbited. An unexpected reset of the satellite's master clock was blamed.
* "FUNcube-2," a joint project of AMSAT-UK and AMSAT-NL in the Netherlands, has been scheduled for a June 19 launch. FUNcube-1 has been highly successful in promoting science and technology - along with amateur radio - in UK schools.
* The Japanese SPROUT satellite was successfully launched in late May. It operates on the 70-centimeter ham band and includes a slow-scan TV transmitter, a digitalker and a digipeater.
* Lithuania's LituanicaSAT-1 has been designated as LituanicaSAT OSCAR-78, or LO-78. It carries an FM transponder with a 2-meter uplink and 70-centimter downlink.
* Several hams are key players in private efforts to keep an old NASA satellite up and running. ISEE-3 was launched 36 years ago, repurposed as the International Cometary Explorer and then retired. The group hopes to bring it back to its originals orbit where it could again study the effects of solar weather on the Earth's magnetic field.

Congressional Committee Affirms Support for MARS, Repeats Call for Unified Leadership

The House Armed Services Committee has again noted its support of MARS, the Military Auxiliary Radio System, but is again calling for reforms in its leadership on a national level. According to the ARRL Letter, the committee's endorsement came in a report accompanying the National Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2015. However, it noted that recommendations made two years ago regarding MARS had not yet been acted on by the Pentagon. A key recommendation was to ensure standardization of policies and procedures among the three MARS branches (Army, Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps) by appointing a single manager to oversee all three programs. The report also urged the Pentagon to integrate MARS more fully into Defense Department plans and activities in order to take full advantage of its capabilities.

ARRL Offers Free Exam Review Website

The ARRL has been publishing amateur radio license manuals for decades, and it is now expanding its license preparation efforts to the Internet. The ARRL Letter reports that the League is now offering free practice exams on its website, made up of questions from the actual license exam question pools. ARRL membership is not required.

IARU Officers Re-Elected


The leadership of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) will remain stable for another five years, with the re-election of President Timothy Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, and Vice-President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR. In addition, the ARRL Letter reported, IARU Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD, was re-appointed to his position by the ARRL in its capacity as IARU international secretariat. This is the second five-year term for both Ellam and Garpestad, providing continuity in the organization representing amateur radio interests to world bodies as the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) approaches next year.