Friday, April 11, 2014

May 31 Deadline for Young Ham of the Year Nominations

Nominations for the Newsline Young Ham of the Year award - which CQ co-sponsors - are due by May 31. Now in its 28th year, the YHOTY program recognizes the achievements of radio amateurs age 18 or younger living in the US, its possessions or Canada. Qualifying candidates must have made a significant contribution to amateur radio or - through the use of amateur radio - to their communities or to the nation. 

Official nominating forms may be downloaded from <> or requested by mail (with a self-addressed stamped envelope) from Amateur Radio Newsline, Inc., Young Ham of the Year Award, 28197 Robin Ave., Santa Clarita, CA 91350.

The Very Strange Case of W9NTP and the FBI

Don Miller, W9NTP, is well-known in amateur radio as a pioneer in slow-scan TV techniques and a leader in promoting the use of the mode. Back in 1972, he was recognized for his efforts as Dayton's Radio Amateur of the Year. Don has also traveled extensively and in the course of his travels over the past eight decades, has amassed a huge collection of artifacts from all over the world. These artifacts, which had been stored at Don's home in Waldron, Indiana, are now in the hands of the FBI, which seized the entire collection in early April, trying to determine if any of the materials had been obtained or imported illegally. 
Several Indiana newspapers and TV stations showed photos of a massive FBI presence outside Miller's home, with tents set up around his property and a variety of vehicles. An FBI spokesman told CBS that neither the total number of items in Miller's collection nor their monetary value had been determined, but said "the cultural value of these artifacts is immeasurable."

The FBI is cataloging each item and trying to determine where and when each one was obtained, which is important because some may have been collected before various laws and treaties regarding cultural artifacts took effect. As of our deadline, Miller had not been charged with any offense, and he told CBS he was cooperating with the FBI but maintained that he "absolutely" had rightful ownership of everything in his collection.

ARRL Calls for Quicker, More Visible FCC Enforcement

Responding to an FCC request for comments on improving how the Commission functions (GN Docket 14-25), the ARRL has called for more timely and visible enforcement of the FCC's rules, especially regarding the amateur service. 

According to the ARRL Letter, changes in FCC procedures over the past five years restricting the public release of information about enforcement actions has resulted in "a widespread, albeit inaccurate, public perception that there is no active enforcement in our service." That perception, said the League, has resulted in "unacceptable increases in rule violations" because people think they won't be held accountable.

QRM Costs Ham His License Plus $1,000

A few FCC enforcement actions have been announced recently, including a consent decree in which a Florida ham agreed to pay a $1,000 "voluntary donation" and gave up his license in return for terminating an enforcement action which could have cost him $25,000 in fines. 

The ARRL Letter reports that Terry Van Volkenburg, KC5RF, had been charged by the FCC with making unlicensed transmissions on a public safety frequency that interfered with the jail radio system of the Brevard County, Florida, Sheriff's Office.

In a separate action, Oklahoma ham Orloff Haines, KF5IXX, is facing a possible $12,000 fine for allegedly interfering with communications on CB channel 19. According to the ARRL Letter, Haines, an Extra Class licensee, admitted to transmitting a continuous carrier on channel 19, reportedly because area CBers were harassing his wife. Haines had the usual 30 days to pay the fine or make a written request to have it reduced or cancelled.

AMSAT VP Tony Monteiro, AA2TX, SK

AMSAT's Vice President of Engineering, Tony Monteiro, AA2TX, passed away on March 26 at age 55 after battling cancer. His many contributions to amateur satellite technology included designing the software for the Software-Defined Transponder (SDX) that was used on ARISSAT-1 in 2011. 
AMSAT announced the appointment of Jerry Buxton, NJ0Y, to succeed Monteiro as Vice President of Engineering; and Steve Coy, K8UD, a board alternate, has assumed Tony's seat on the AMSAT Board of Directors.

Political Intrigue Plays Out on Ham Bands

The political dispute between Russia and Ukraine is impacting the HF amateur bands, according to Newsline. The International Amateur Radio Union's Monitoring System newsletter reported recently that Ukraine's foreign intelligence service has been transmitting numbers and encrypted messages every Wednesday at 1010 UTC on 14.280 MHz, using full-carrier AM. In addition, the newsletter reported the Russian Air Force has been transmitting FSK signals on 7.018 MHz, which were also heard on harmonics of 14.036 and 28.072 MHz.

ARRL: Crimea is Not a New DXCC Entity

Crimea - NOT a new DXCC entity. (Map courtesy
CIA World Factbook)
The ARRL reminds amateurs that regardless of whether it is administered by Ukraine or Russia, Crimea is not and never has been a separate DXCC entity. 

In an announcement on April 10, Awards Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, reported that the ARRL Awards Committee had determined that the country status of Crimean stations would depend on how they identify their location and on which country had issued the call sign in use. "A QSL with a call sign issued by … Ukraine and showing the entity name as Ukraine counts as Ukraine," wrote Moore, while a QSL with a call sign issued Russia and showing the entity name as Russia counts as Russia. "A QSL that satisfies neither condition," he added, "does not count for either entity.

Voice of Russia Goes Silent on Shortwave

After months of conflicting reports, the Voice of Russia permanently ended its shortwave broadcasts at the end of March.

The station - formerly Radio Moscow - was a major propaganda tool of the former Soviet Union during the Cold War and was usually among the first stations tuned in by new shortwave listeners, as its powerhouse signals were hard to miss.

As with most other government broadcasters abandoning shortwave, the Voice of Russia cited budgetary problems as the reason for its decision to terminate shortwave broadcasts.

Transatlantic VLF Signals

Transmissions by U.S. amateurs involved in experimental very low frequency (VLF) operation have been monitored by amateurs in Europe. The ARRL Letter reports that transmissions by hams operating under the WH2XBA experimental license on frequencies of approximately 74 kHz and 29.5 kHz were received in both the UK and in Germany. The transmissions use very slow speed Morse code, with each "dit" lasting two minutes and each "dah" lasting six minutes (not exactly a mode for quickly transmitting large amounts of information - ed.).
The Letter also reports that the software being used to detect these signals is also being used by U.S. Navy personnel assisting in the search for missing Malaysian Flight 370 to listen for "black box" pings transmitted at 37.5 kHz.

Lithuanian President Sends Greetings via Amateur Radio Satellite

Lithuanian President Dalia
Grybauskaite (Courtesy
Government of Lithuania)

The President of Lithuania used amateur radio in March to transmit a message to that country's first satellite - LituanicaSAT-1 - which includes an amateur radio voice transponder and was deployed from the International Space Station at that end of February. 

The ARRL Letter reported that President Dalia Grybauskaite used a handheld radio and the call sign LY5N to transmit her message, "Greetings to all Lithuanians around the world," up to the satellite, which stored it on a memory chip and retransmitted it on March 22.

According to the Letter, Grybauskaite may be the first head of state to send a message via an amateur radio satellite.

New Ham Call Signs OKd for Vienna International Center

The UN's Vienna International Center
(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
The Vienna International Radio Club, which operates 4U1VIC at the United Nations' Vienna International Center, has announced the release of two new call signs - C7A and 4Y1A - to be used from the center on various occasions. 

According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, the C7A-C7Z call sign block is allocated to the World Meteorological Organization, while 4YA-4YZ is allocated to the International Civil Aviation Organization. The calls will be used in connection with special events, such as World Meteorological Day or International Civil Aviation Day. For DXCC purposes, the calls will count as Austria, not the UN, according to the report.

Colvin Award Grant Goes to WRTC-14 Organizers

The group hosting this summer's World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) competition in New England is the latest recipient of a Colvin Award grant. WRTC2014, Inc., reported that the grant consisted of "a significant financial contribution," but did not specify its amount. 

The Colvin Award is funded by an endowment established by the late Lloyd Colvin, W6KG, to support amateur radio projects that promote international goodwill in the field of DX. It is administered by the ARRL. WRTC is a quadrennial competition among the world's top contesters, held during the IARU HF Championship contest in July. For more information, see <> and <>.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Katie Allen, WY7KRA, Named CQ Communications Sales and Marketing Manager

(Hicksville, NY -- March 28, 2014) – Katie Allen, WY7KRA, has been appointed Sales and Marketing Manager for CQ Communications, Inc., effective immediately, it was announced today by company President and Publisher Richard Ross, K2MGA. Katie will be responsible for advertising sales for CQ Amateur Radio magazine (including the CQ Plus digital supplement), as well as marketing efforts for all CQ Communications products.

An active DXer and contester who recently earned her Extra Class license, Katie entered the world of amateur radio as the ARRL's Membership Manager in the 2000s, earning her first ham license under the guidance of other League staff members. She then sparked an effort to revitalize the ARRL staff radio club and station, W1HQ, both of which had fallen into inactivity, and helped move ham radio into the world of multimedia by producing and posting various operating videos on You Tube. She currently lives in Sundance, Wyoming with her husband, Dwayne, WY7FD.

"I love ham radio and the ham industry and I'm beyond thrilled to be back in it," says Katie. "I know there are challenges ahead, but my successes over the years have been with new projects or revitalizations ... so perhaps I've come home again to my area of specialty."

"Katie's enthusiasm for amateur radio and everything relating to it, along with her track record marketing our hobby to newcomers and her experience in multimedia and social networking, put her in an ideal position to help manufacturers and retailers best match up their products with our readers," notes CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA. Ross adds that "the introduction of CQ Plus has expanded CQ's audience beyond its traditional base of active hams to the broader hobby radio community. Katie's ability to connect with both groups, and to reach out via new media, will help add to our advertisers' ability to do the same."

CQ Communications, Inc., based in Hicksville, New York, publishes CQ Amateur Radio, including the CQ Plus digital supplement, in addition to CQ books, videos and related products. It also sponsors a comprehensive series of operating awards and the world's most popular on-air contests. Its flagship magazine, CQ Amateur Radio, is currently in its 70th year of continuous publication, now in both print and digital formats.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dayton Simultaneously Honors, Snubs, ARRL

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association honored two long-time leaders of the ARRL with its annual Hamvention® awards, but pointedly snubbed the organization itself in its announcement.
Larry Price, W4RA, ARRL President from 1984 to 1992 and president of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) from 1999 to 2009, is the recipient of the 2014 Amateur of the Year Award. This year's Special Achievement Award goes to ARRL CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ. Yet neither man's affiliation with the League is cited in the DARA announcement.

Price is recognized for his "significant and direct impact on the development of amateur radio throughout the world" in his role as IARU President, and Sumner is cited for his work as a member of the "IARU observer team" as well as his ongoing "efforts in crafting broadband over power lines (BPL) regulations in conjunction with the FCC to reduce (harmful BPL) emissions." The fact that he has led the ARRL for the past three decades is completely ignored.

Also honored this year are FLDIGI developer David Freese, Jr., W1HKJ, with the Technical Achievement Award, and the Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society in suburban Atlanta with the Club of the Year Award. All awards will be presented at the Dayton Hamvention® on May 16-18.

"HamTV" on the Air From ISS

One of the early digital ATV images downlinked from the
International Space Station as commissioning of the new
HamTV system got under way in March. (NASA photo)

The "HamTV" digital amateur television (DATV) transmitter aboard the International Space Station was installed on March 6, and initial transmissions on March 8 were successfully received on the ground and streamed over the Internet by the British Amateur Television Club (BATC). According to the AMSAT News Service, the project has been ten years in the making and its main mission is to allow space station crew members to include live video as well as audio in their contacts with school groups through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program.

This is not the first time amateur television pictures have been transmitted from orbit. Back in 1985, Tony England, W0ORE, the second astronaut to operate from space, transmitted slow-scan TV pictures on his 2-meter downlink from the shuttle Challenger.

Here are some links for additional information and photos, courtesy of the AMSAT News Service:
Webstream of the TV transmissions
HamTV overview by Gaston Bertels ON4WF
ARISS-EU HamTV Bulletins

RadioShack to Close 1100 Stores

Chances are there's a RadioShack store near you. But there's now about a one in five chance that there won't be one there much longer. The struggling electronics chain announced plans in early March "to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores," as it released financial reports showing it suffering a $400 million net loss in 2013, with nearly half of that coming in the fourth quarter alone.

Hams have long relied on the chain as a source for components, and in the past, for ham gear, shortwave receivers and scanners as well. In recent years, RadioShack has put a greater focus on mobile phones and accessories, a market that has softened recently, as new purchases have given way to replacements and upgrades. One recent bright spot for hams has been a new focus on kits and building, in response to the growth of the maker movement.

New Head of FCC Enforcement Bureau; ARRL to Seek More Amateur Enforcement

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has named Travis LeBlanc - a former Justice Department attorney - as acting
Chief of the Commission's Enforcement Bureau. According to an FCC announcement, LeBlanc is returning to Washington from California, where he has been a top deputy and senior advisor to the state's Attorney General, specializing in technology regulation, telecommunications, high-tech crime and cyber-security, among other subjects.

The ARRL is planning to use the arrival of new leadership at both the Enforcement Bureau and the Commission to try to bring top-level attention to bear on a perceived lack of enforcement in the Amateur Service in recent years. In an open letter to ARRL members in the Hudson Division, Division Director and ARRL Executive Committee member Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, noted that Chairman Wheeler, in announcing LeBlanc's appointment, said that "the credibility of the Commission's rules depends on its enforcement activities," said the League is planning to meet with FCC staff and commissioners to discuss enforcement issues and asked members to supply him with specific reports of rules violations that have been reported to the FCC but have not been addressed. Lisenco noted that the change in leadership provides "a golden opportunity to … attempt to change the current regulatory environment from being virtually non-existent to one that supports us."

FEMA Head to Speak at ARRL Centennial Banquet

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate,
KK4INZ. (FEMA photo)
The ARRL has announced that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate will be the keynote speaker at the ARRL Centennial Banquet this summer in Hartford, Connecticut. The banquet will be part of the League's Centennial Convention being held from July 17-19.
Fugate is a licensed amateur - KK4INZ - and has been FEMA Administrator since 2009. He has previously praised the role played by amateur radio operators in responding to emergencies and disasters.

CQ Names New Ad Manager, Adjusts Schedule

CQ Communications has named Dave Chartock of New York City as the new Advertising Manager of CQ magazine. In addition, Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA, announced that the March and April issues of the magazine have been combined - for this year only - as part of efforts to get print distribution back on schedule after delays in mailing the January and February print issues. This will count as only one issue on readers' subscription terms. The January issue is in the mail now, with February to follow very soon, and the combined March/April issue will mail in early April. The magazine should be back on its regular schedule as of the May issue.

(CQ apologizes for these delays and appreciates our readers' patience. The digital editions of the January and February issues may be accessed via the CQ web page at <>- ed.)

Former Ham Magazine Editors W1RW, WZ8C, are Silent Keys

The amateur radio journalism community lost two prominent members in late February and early March.

On February 23, former QST Editor and ARRL General Manager John Huntoon, W1RW, passed away at age 97. Huntoon joined the ARRL staff in 1939, prior to the outbreak of World War II, left to serve in the Coast Guard and returned after the war. He represented the League at various international conferences in the 1940s and '50s, became Assistant General Manager in 1956 and General Manager - then the League's top staff position - in 1961. He retired from that position, whose responsibilities included being QST editor, in 1975.

Nancy Kott, WZ8C, became a Silent Key March 2 at age 58, following years of medical problems. Nancy was the last editor of the print edition of WorldRadio magazine and the first editor of WorldRadio Online, shepherding the magazine through its transition to a digital-only format. She was also a strong advocate of Morse code, heading the U.S. chapter of the FISTS CW Club until her passing. All of these activities were in addition to her "day job" as a field representative for U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CQ offers its condolences to the families and friends of both John and Nancy.

ARRL Seeks Input on Digital Modes

The ARRL is asking members for "cogent input and thoughtful feedback" on matters relating to digital mode operation on the HF amateur bands. According to the ARRL Letter, the input - due by March 31 - will be used by the board of directors' HF Band Planning Committee to try to craft new band plans that will best allow these modes to "compatibly coexist with each other." Comments and suggestions should be e-mailed to <>.

West Virginia Tower Collapse Kills 3, Cripples Repeater Network

Two radio towers in north central West Virginia collapsed on February 1 while undergoing maintenance work, killing three people, injuring two others and taking three amateur radio repeaters off the air. The ARRL Letter reports that the workers were repairing structural supports on a 300-foot tower when the structure apparently gave way, taking down a second, shorter, tower as it fell. Two of the workers on the tower were killed, along with an emergency responder on the ground, who was hit by falling debris. Two other workers were hurt.

The collapse also destroyed the antennas for three amateur radio repeaters owned by the Stonewall Jackson Amateur Radio Association. The repeaters were part of the "HamTalk" linked repeater system, and were a major part of the North Central West Virginia emergency communications network, helping the Harrison County Office of Emergency Management, FEMA and the American Red Cross. The towers also held several commercial antennas. No word yet on when they will be rebuilt.

Ham Radio to be Highlighted at Preparedness Summit

The ARRL reports that the importance of amateur radio in emergency response will be highlighted by a special event station in the exhibit hall of the Preparedness Summit, the nation's largest public health preparedness conference, being held in Atlanta from April 1-4. Special event station N4P will be on the air on April 2 and 3. The conference is sponsored by the National Association for County and City Health Officials, which also offered amateur radio licensing webinars in February and March, and will offer license exams at the conference on April 3.

GAREC Comes (Back) to Huntsville

The 2014 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Conference (GAREC), sponsored by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), returns to the United States this year. Newsline reports that the conference will take place on August 14 and 15 at the Embassy Suites hotel in Huntsville, Alabama, which is adjacent to the Von Braun Convention Center, where the Huntsville Hamfest will be held on August 16 and 17. This is the second time that GAREC has been held in conjunction with the Huntsville Hamfest, the first having been in 2007.

A Dozen New Ham Satellites in Orbit

ArduSat is a crowd-funded satellite project that allows
donors to have their own experiments sent into space.

Five cubesats operating in the ham bands were hand-launched from the International Space Station in late February, and another seven were aboard a rocket launched from Japan on February 27. The five cubesats deployed from the ISS included Lithuania's first-ever satellites - LituanicaSAT-1 <> and Litsat-1 <> - as well as a second crowd-funded satellite built around an Arduino processor board, ArduSat-2 <>.

Artist's conception of the STARS-II mother/daughter
satellite pair. They will be connected by a tether.
(STARS-II website illustration)
The seven Japanese satellites include STARS-II, a mother-daughter satellite pair, which will be connected by a Kevlar® tether. Part of the experiment will be to use the tether to gather electrons from space plasma and deliver them to the daughter ship, thus producing an electric current without the need for solar panels. Both companion satellites are equipped with cameras, and will transmit photos back to earth via amateur radio frequencies. The daughter ship's photos are supposed to include shots of the mother satellite as the two orbit the Earth together. More info is available at <>.

New Ham Station for Arecibo Observatory

The Arecibo Obseravatory - the world's largest radio-
telescope (Arecibo website photo)
Visitors to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico should soon be able to see and hear the Arecibo Observatory Amateur Radio Club's station, KP4AO, on the air. According to the ARRL Letter, a new station is being built in the exhibition hall of the observatory's visitor center, centered on a new FTdx-1200 transceiver donated by Yaesu. The station is due to be on the air by this summer.

CQ Mars … (Now Wait 20 Minutes)

A simulated Mars mission to be conducted on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawaii in late March and early April will involve ham radio. According to the ARRL, the HI-SEAS project will use amateur radio for communication with the outside world … including the same 20-minute delay one would have for real communications with Mars! For more information, including details on special event station K6B, see <>.

Cracker-Sized Satellites?

A "Sprite" nanosatellite - one of some 200 scheduled to be
launched from the KickSat satellite. (KickSat website photo)

A scheduled mid-March resupply mission to the International Space Station reportedly will include the "KickSat" cubesat, for eventual deployment. The ARRL reports that the Kickstarter-funded satellite is then supposed to release 200 tiny "sprite" satellites - each the size of a cracker! - that would become the smallest-ever satellites in Earth orbit.  According to the AMSAT News Service, each Sprite has a microcontroller, radio, and solar cells and is capable of carrying single-chip sensors, such as thermometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers. For more information, see <>.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Solar Cycle Peaks; Future Looks Spotless

(NASA Photo)
The sun's magnetic poles have reversed polarity, according to NASA, officially marking the peak of solar Cycle 24, the weakest cycle in a century.

Meanwhile, is quoting solar physicist Mark Giampapa of the National Solar Observatory in Arizona as saying he believes we "are heading into a Maunder Minimum," referring to a period from 1645 to 1715 in which there were few to no sunspots over several 11-year solar cycles. If that's the case, said Giampapa, we could be suffering from low sunspot counts into the 2080s.

US Ham Population Continues to Grow

With or without sunspots, the number of licensed hams in the United States continues to grow and set new records. 

According to the database maintained by Joe Speroni, AH0A, there were 717,201 licensed amateurs in the United States at the end of 2013, up more than 7,000 from the beginning of the year. 

According to the ARRL Letter, ARRL-VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, says the number of new licensees in 2013 increased by 7 percent over 2012, and that the number of club licenses in the FCC database is also at an all-time high.

More Countries Give Hams Access to 60 Meters

Cuba, Canada, Spain and the Czech Republic are the most recent countries authorizing amateur radio operation on the 5-MHz, or 60-meter, band.

The ARRL reports on its website and in the ARRL Letter that Cuba has granted secondary access to the band for hams, from 5418-5430 kHz, without the channels seen in the US and many other countries. Authorization will be on an individual basis.

Canada has opened the band to all of its hams on a non-interference basis, using the same channel plan as in the US. Spain has authorized six channels on 60 meters for ham use, but they do not match up with the frequencies authorized in the US and Canada, so plan to operate "split" for QSOs with Spanish hams.

Finally, the Czech Republic has authorized up to ten of its amateurs to use the band on an experimental basis during 2014.

The Russian "Woodpecker" Returns

The International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring System is reporting the return of over-the-horizon radar signals originating from Russia on the 20, 15 and 10-meter bands. Similar signals disrupted the ham bands during the Cold War and at the time were dubbed the Russian "woodpecker" because of the rat-a-tat-tat sound the signals make. According to Newsline, the report also cites ongoing interference from Russian taxicab drivers using FM on the low end of 10 meters.

Craigie Re-Elected ARRL President

Kay Craigie, N3KN, was elected to her third two-year term as ARRL president at the organization's annual meeting held in January in Connecticut. She is the League's first female president.

Also re-elected was First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR. Northwestern Division Director Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF, was elected second vice president. Jay Bellows, K0QB, was chosen as international affairs vice president and Rick Niswander, K7GM, was re-elected treasurer.

K9LA Wins Technical Writing Award

CQ Plus columnist and CQ contributor Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, has been awarded the 2013 Bill Orr, W6SAI, Technical Writing Award by the ARRL Foundation.

He was honored specifically for his article, "The Sun and the Ionosphere," which appeared in the March, 2013 issue of QST. The late Bill Orr was a CQ columnist and author.

People in the News

(From 4U1UN website)

Two prominent hams became Silent Keys in December and January. The ARRL Letter reports that Max de Henseler, HB9RS, the founder and president emeritus of United Nations Radio Club, 4U1UN, passed away at age 80 on December 30. The club originally held the U.S. call sign of K2UN - which it still uses for operations outside the UN Headquarters complex - and de Henseler personally persuaded the Secretary General in 1978 to approve the use of the 4U1 prefix and to authorize the use of 4U1UN for the headquarters ham station (which has been off the air since 2010 due to renovation of the Secretariat building).

CQ DX Hall of Fame member and former WorldRadio columnist Jack Troster, W6ISQ, became a Silent Key on January 11, according to an announcement by Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF) President Rusty Epps, W6OAT. Troster was one of the co-founders of NCDXF in 1972. He was elected to the CQ DX Hall of Fame in 1988.

Ten-Tec CEO Jack Burchfield, K4JU, turned over responsibilities for the manufacturer's day-to-day operation to company president Jim Wharton, NO4A, as of January 1. According to the ARRL Letter, Wharton says Burchfield will remain CEO and the company's majority stock holder, but plans "to begin retiring and spending more time with his family."

Ham TV Commissioning on Space Station

The digital amateur television (DATV) transmitter aboard the International Space Station is due to be commissioned over a period of several weeks in February and March, according to the ARRL. Commissioning will be done in several stages by Astronaut Mike Hopkins, KF5LJG. Once active, the station will downlink digital video signals on 2.395 GHz, beginning with a 25-day continuous transmission of a blank video signal (with no camera attached). However, decoding the signal should result in the channel name "HAMTV" appearing on the screen. For updates and more information, visit the ARISS-Europe website at <>.

NASA Photo

Also on board the ISS are four amateur radio cubesats, which were delivered by a resupply rocket in early January. According to the AMSAT News Service, LituanicaSat-1, LitSat-1, ArduSat-2 and UAPSat-1 are all scheduled to be deployed from the space station in the coming months. LituanicaSat-1 carries an FM transponder and a packet digipeater (2-meter uplink; 70-centimeter downlink for both) and a 70-cm. CW beacon. LitSat-1 is believed to have a linear transponder for SSB/CW communications, with uplink on 70 centimeters and downlink on 2 meters. UAPSat carries a packet digipeater (2m up, 70 cm down) and ArduSat - an Arduino-based satellite - will be downlink-only, transmitting digital signals on 70 centimeters.

Yasme Foundation Honors Nine

Nine hams who, "through their own service, creativity, effort and dedication, have made a significant contribution to amateur radio," have been awarded the Yasme Excellence Award for 2013, according to the Yasme Foundation.

The new honorees are: Tom Roscoe, K8CX, for his "Hamgallery" history website; Lee Sawkins, VE7CC, for writing filtering software for the DX Cluster spotting network; low-band authority John Devoldere, ON4UN; a group of four hams who have helped make FCC database information readily available - Michael Carroll, N4MC; Eldon Lewis, K7LS; Dean Gibson, AE7Q, and Joe Speroni, AH0A; ham video producer Ken Claerbout, K4ZW and Ashraf Chaabani, 3V/KF5EYY, who is leading an effort to bring individual amateur licensing to Tunisia, and serving as a representative for amateur radio throughout northen Africa.

Each awardee receives a cash grant and an engraved crystal globe.For details, visit <>.

Repeater Owners May Now Submit Directory Updates Directly to ARRL

In a reversal of a long-standing policy, the ARRL says repeater owners may now submit updated information for their ARRL Repeater Directory listings directly to the ARRL. Past policy had required that updates come only from frequency coordinators.

ARRL Publications Manager Steve Ford, WB8IMY, stressed to the ARRL Letter that this is not a substitute to sending updates to your local coordinator, but rather only a streamlined process for keeping the Repeater Directory up to date. "It also isn't a substitute for formal coordination of a new repeater," he added. "Only repeater coordinators can do that."

Antique Radio Classified Returns as Hybrid

Antique Radio Classified, which has not published in several months due to rising printing and postage costs, has returned as a hybrid digital-print publication. Publisher Jon Kummer, WA2OJK, says the magazine is being published monthly online, effective with the February issue; with each three months' worth of issues then combined into a single print issue that will be mailed to subscribers. For more information, see <>.

Update: Voice of Russia Remains on Shortwave

We previously reported that the Voice of Russia (formerly Radio Moscow) had ended all shortwave broadcasts as of January 1, 2014. In early January, the ARRL Letter reported that shortwave listener and blogger Tom Witherspoon, K4SWL, had heard directly from the broadcaster that "the Voice of Russia will stay on the air in 2014." However, it said there would be "considerable changes in our frequency schedule." Most of the station's transmissions are now aimed toward the Middle East and Asia.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Unrest in South Sudan Silences Ham Operators

Flag of South Sudan (CIA World Factbook)
The two licensed amateurs in South Sudan both report that they have taken their stations off the air and shipped their equipment out of the country "in order to avoid misunderstandings" with either side in the growing ethnic conflict that as of late December had claimed over a thousand lives. According to a report on the ARRL website, Massimo Stella, Z81B (also IZ0EGB), and Diya al Asadi, Z81D (YI1DZ), said they expect to be off the air "for a while." Stella was in Europe while al Asadi remained in South Sudan.

Both of them had been part of the Z81X operation from South Sudan in November, along with CQ DX Editor Wayne Mills, N7NG, who reports on that expedition and associated activities in his column in the February issue of CQ. (Please note that Wayne filed his column prior to the outbreak of violence in the country).

Radio Arcala Tower Collapses in Storm

The massive 330-foot tower supporting the 160- and 80-meter Yagis at Radio Arcala's OH8X contest station in Finland collapsed under high winds in an early December storm that left some 200,000 families in the country without power. The 3-element 160-meter beam was reportedly the world's largest amateur radio antenna.

According to the ARRL Letter, group spokesman Jarmo Jaakola, OH2BN, speculated that the automation designed to enable the array "to find its most comfortable position in high winds" may have locked up and caused the structure to corkscrew. Jaakola said the tower - featured on the cover of the November 2011 cover of CQ - collapsed "peacefully" and caused no damage to any people or surrounding structures. At press time, inspectors were still trying to determine the exact cause of the failure.

Communications Act Update Planned

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI),
Chairman of the House
Energy & Commerce
(House of Reps. Photo)

Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI, Chairman of the Communications
and Technology Subcommittee (House of Reps. Photo)
Citing the need for the law to keep pace with rapidly-changing communications technology, the two Congressmen in charge of telecommunications policy in the House of Representatives say they are planning a comprehensive review and update of the Communications Act. Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) - Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - and Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR) - Chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee - say the effort will take over a year. Walden said the Communications Act - first passed in 1934 and last updated in 1996 - is now "painfully out of date" and said the committee's goal is "to make sure this critical sector of our economy thrives because of the laws around it, not in spite of them." No timeline was given in the committee's announcement.

Listen for W100AW

The ARRL has been authorized by the FCC to use the special callsign W100AW during 2014, the League's centennial year. According to the ARRL Letter, the special call will be used in addition to W1AW, depending on the circumstance. 

Contacts made from the Maxim Memorial Station at ARRL Headquarters will use W100AW, as will those from regional conventions and during the IARU HF Championship this summer. However, regular bulletins and code practice transmissions will still use W1AW, as will stations operating in the "W1AW WAS" program from each of the 50 states.