Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bencher Product Line Sold to Vibroplex

The Bencher BY paddle series is
part of the comapny's complete
amateur radio product line that has
been sold to Vibroplex.
(Photo from Bencher website)
Bencher, Inc. of Antioch, Illinois, has announced the sale of the Bencher Amateur Radio product lines to Vibroplex, LLC of Knoxville, Tennessee. This sale ends Bencher’s presence in the amateur radio field.

The product lines sold include the Bencher BY series of Iambic Paddles (the world’s best selling iambic paddle, with over 150,000 sold), as well as the ST series of single lever paddles, the Bencher Hex Paddle, the N2DAN Mercury Paddle, and the Bencher RJ series Hand Keys. Also included in the sale are the HK-1 Universal Hook-up kit and the YA-1 Low Pass Filter.

Vibroplex has agreed to honor the manufacturer’s warranties of all covered products, and to offer parts and support for these products as well. Vibroplex will continue to offer the Bencher products through existing marketing channels.Vibroplex may be contacted at http://www.vibroplex.com, or at (865) 309-5073.

K3LR, W5KUB, G3RJV, Orlando ARC, Receive Dayton Honors

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has announced the winners of its 2015 Hamvention Awards.

Noted contester Tim Duffy, K3LR, has been named Radio Amateur of the Year in recognition of his work as founder of Contest University, as well as moderating the Dayton antenna forum every year since 1984.

This year's Special Achievement Award goes to Tom Medlin, W5KUB, in recognition of his 14 years of providing live streaming video on the Internet of various amateur radio events and activities, including the Dayton Hamvention.

The 2015 Technical Excellence Award winner is the Rev. George Dobbs, G3RJV. Dobbs is a leading authority on low-power ham radio operating, founder of the G-QRP Club, longtime editor of its journal, SPRAT, and QRP columnist for multiple British radio magazines.

Finally, the Orlando Amateur Radio Club was named as Club of the Year, in recognition of its wide variety of activities, including sponsorship of the annual Orlando Hamcation hamfest.

All award winners will be honored at this year's Dayton Hamvention, May 15-17, in Dayon, Ohio.

U.S. Ham Licensing Numbers at All-Time High


The ARRL-VEC reports that the ham radio population in the United States hit an all-time high of 726,725 as of the end of 2014, and has continued growing to more than 727,000 in the first two months of 2015. According to the ARRL Letter, ARRL-VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said the number of licensed amateurs in the United States has grown by more than 8 percent in the past decade. In addition, she said, there were 33,000 new licensees in 2014, an increase of 15% over 2013. Plus, Somma added, the ARRL-VEC conducted a record 7216 license exam sessions last year, crossing the 7000 threshold for the first time.

HR 1301 New Bill Number for Amateur Radio Parity Act


Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is the
prime sponsor of HR 1301, which
would extend FCC limit on amateur
antenna installations to include
private land use agreements.
(U.S. Congress photo)
A bill to require the FCC to extend the “reasonable accommodation” requirements of its rules regarding amateur radio antennas and support structures to private land use contracts has been re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 1301, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015, is identical to a previous bill that died at the end of the last Congressional session.

Introduced by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) with bi-partisan support from a dozen co-sponsors, the bill would include homeowner association rules and deed restrictions (commonly known as CC&Rs) under the protections currently granted to amateurs from overly-restrictive state and local zoning laws and ordinances. Those protections include requirements that any restrictions on amateur antennas and support structures must “reasonably accommodate” amateur operation and must represent the “minimum practicable” restrictions to accomplish the regulatory authority’s legitimate purposes.

The ARRL encourages all amateurs to urge their representatives in Congress to support and/or co-sponsor the new bill.

“Totally Remote” Multi-Op Contesting


A team of contesters believes it may have broken new ground with a remote multi-op effort in February’s ARRL DX Contest CW weekend. A half-dozen different hams operated contest station K4VV in northern Virginia (using the call sign K3TN) from several different locations scattered from Maryland to Florida. According to the ARRL Letter, members of the group each activated the contest station from their homes in Virginia and North Carolina, while one started the competition from his home in Maryland and finished the weekend at his condo in Florida. It was pointed out that, due to a snowstorm, the K4VV station was inaccessible during the contest weekend.

ARRL Seeks Input on HF Band Plan Changes


The ARRL is looking for member comments on a variety of proposals aimed at limiting the frequencies on which wideband digital modes are permitted and expanding the HF operating privileges available to Novices and Technicians. Some of the proposed changes would affect only the voluntary band plans that informally structure the HF amateur allocations. Others – such as expanding the CW/data/RTTY subband on 80 meters or granting RTTY/data privileges to Techs and Novices on 80 and 15 meters – would involve petitioning the FCC for rule changes. Details of the proposed changes and a form for submitting comments may be found on the ARRL website at < www.arrl.org >. Member comments are due by April 19.

Proposal to Cut FCC Enforcement Resources


The ARRL reports that it has obtained an internal FCC memo in which the Enforcement Bureau lays out plans to ask the full Commission to close two-thirds of its field offices and to cut in half the current number of field agents. In their place, the bureau is proposing the formation of flexible “Tiger Team” strike forces that could be deployed as needed to deal with enforcement issues.

ARRL CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, was troubled by the plan, noting that enforcement already appears to be a low priority at the FCC and that reducing its “geographic footprint and number of field agents” is the wrong path to follow.

RadioShack Makes Deal to Sell More Than Half its Stores


Working under the reorganization rules of Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws, RadioShack reportedly has reached an agreement with General Wireless, Inc. to purchase as many as 2400 its 4000+ company-owned stores. Many others will be closed. 

According to the ARRL Letter, General Wireless – which is affiliated with RadioShack creditor Standard General – has reached an agreement in principle with to open “store within a store” Sprint wireless retail locations in up to 1750 of its newly acquired RadioShack stores.

There is no indication of whether these stores would continue to operate under the RadioShack name or if they would continue to sell electronic components and other products favored by hobbyists.

ARRL to MITRE: Don’t Mess With HF Ham Bands



MITRE Corporation headquarters
(from mitre.org)
The MITRE Corporation has an FCC experimental license to test wideband communication techniques on a variety of HF frequencies between 2.5 and 16 MHz. 

The ARRL Letter reports that ARRL Chief Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has sent the company a letter asking that it either structure its tests to avoid HF amateur bands or, at minimum, to provide advance notice of times and frequencies of planned transmissions. 

The ARRL’s concern, according to the Letter, is that “with the operating parameters proposed, it will be impossible to conduct your tests … within the Amateur Radio allocations and … avoid harmful interference.” A further concern is that due to the nature of the transmissions, “amateur licensees will have no way to determine the source of the interference or know to whom they might complain.” At press time, there had been no response from MITRE.

German Hams Become Shortwave Broadcasters


(From www.channel292.de)
A group of hams in Germany has received a license to operate a shortwave broadcast station on the 49-meter band frequency abandoned two years ago by that country’s premier international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. “Channel 292” is now broadcasting around ten hours a day, generally from about 0700-1700 UTC, on 6070 kHz, using a 10-kilowatt transmitter built partially from parts of the old 500-kW Deutsche Welle transmitter and a dipole antenna. The station’s signal covers much of western Europe, but has also been heard in Russia and North America, according to the ARRL Letter.


Privately owned by a group of German hams, the station has a business relationship with Germany’s national ham radio organization, the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club, and is also known as DARC Radio. The DARC produces a weekly ham-oriented magazine show in German. The ARRL Letter reports that the Radio Society of Great Britain has expressed interest in contributing English-language segments.

Other programming on the station is leased, with programs airing in a variety of languages. Reception reports will be QSLed via the DARC outgoing QSL bureau. For more information, visit http://www.channel292.de.

Space and Satellite Roundup


A series of spacewalks in late
February caused delays in a scheduled
ARISS contact and space station
SSTV transmissions. (NASA photo)
Imagine having your “sked” delayed by a spacewalk! That’s exactly what happened to a school group in Florida that was scheduled to have an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact on February 25. A series of spacewalks in late February to prepare the station to dock with commercial U.S. rockets also resulted in a cutback of planned slow-scan TV transmissions from the station. According to the ARRL Letter, all ham transmissions are suspended for during spacewalks for crew safety.

Speaking of ARISS, the program is now accepting applications for school contacts in the first half of 2016, with a focus on educational organizations with the potential to draw large numbers of participants and integrate the contact into a well-developed educational plan. The application deadline is April 15.

AMSAT-NA’s Fox-1A satellite is ready for launch, having passed its Mission Readiness Review in late February. Integration with the launch vehicle was scheduled for March 25, with
a tentative launch from California in late August of this year.

The European Space Agency is offering a ride to deep space for as many as six small cubesats and is hosting a competition to select those projects that will be accepted. The AMSAT News Service says the small satellites will be launched in 2020 along with Asteroid Impact Mission. The judges are looking for projects that will “produce meaningful scientific return” from deep space.

Finally, NASA is making available a collection of soundbites from space that are suitable for use as ringtones. Among the available files, according to the ARRL Letter, is one of the Juno spacecraft sending “HI” in Morse code during a flyby of Earth in 2013.

NCDXF Grants $50k to DXpedition Group



The Intrepid-DX Group is the recipient of a $50,000 donation from the Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF), in support of its planned DXpedition early next year to South Sandwich Island (VP8S) and South Georgia Island (VP8G) .

The group anticipates that the 10-day visit to the two islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean will cost more than $400,000. They are British overseas territories and very high on most DXers’ most-wanted lists.

U.S. to Propose More Sharing of 10 GHz at WRC-15


The U.S. government is working on its proposals and positions for this year’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15). Among them is a proposal to add 600 MHz to the spectrum currently available to the Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EESS) in the vicinity of 10 GHz, also known as “X-band.” Amateur radio currently has a secondary allocation from 10.0-10.5 GHz, with a specified segment for the Amateur Satellite Service between 10.45 and 10.5 GHz. The ARRL Letter says the proposal would consider amateur satellites already in service at the time of the change to have co-equal status with the scientific satellites, but that any launched after that time would have secondary status. The ARRL has been involved in the discussions and is monitoring them closely.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nominating Period Open for 2015 Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award

Amateur Radio Newsline is seeking nominations for its 2015 Young Ham of the Year Award. CQ is a long-time corporate co-sponsor of the award.
 
 For consideration, a nominee must have used amateur radio in some way that has benefited his or her community or encouraged technological development directly or indirectly related to communications.

Nominees must be 19 years of age or younger, and reside in the United States including Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, and Puerto Rico or any of the Canadian provinces.. The individual must also hold a currently valid United States or Canadian amateur radio license.

This award is not a contest. The person selected as "Young Ham of the Year" is judged on his or her overall accomplishments and contributions. Any prizes awarded are secondary in nature.

For example, a youngster whose only claim to fame is that of being licensed as an extra at age 5 would not necessarily be judged as having made a significant contribution to the Amateur Radio Service. On the other hand, a 14 or 15 year-old Technician running a Net during a major disaster or whose experimentation has advanced the state of the art in science, technology or electronic communications would definitely be given consideration.

The deadline for submitting an application is May 30th 2015 and the decision of the judging committee is final. To obtain an application, send a self addressed, stamped envelope to:
 
2015 Young Ham of the Year Award 
c/o Amateur Radio Newsline
28197 Robin Ave. 
Santa Clarita, CA 91350. 
 
You may also download a form in Microsoft Word format by going to  www.arnewsline.org/yhoty/ and clicking on the word "here". Basic instructions on what documentation is required and how to file are included on the nominating form.

Presentation of the 2015 Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award will take place the weekend of August 15 ­ 16 at the Huntsville Hamfest in Huntsville, Alabama.

(Tnx ARNewsline)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bye-Bye Paper Ham License


Waiting to receive your ham license in the mail is now a thing of the past, unless you have specifically requested it. As of February 17, the FCC stopped routinely issuing paper license documents to amateur licensees, noting that inclusion in the Commission's online database has for several years been the official record of a ham's authorization to operate. 

Licensees may print out official copies - as well as unofficial "reference copies" - of their licenses via the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS) database, or may request the issuance of a paper document. 

According to the ARRL Letter, the ARRL had asked that new licensees continue to receive paper licenses, along with instructions on how to set up their ULS accounts for future license renewals and upgrades. But the FCC declined, saying applicants or licensees who include e-mail addresses with their applications will receive an official electronic authorization via e-mail. The Commission says the change will save it over $300,000 a year.

BBC Unplugs Millions

The BBC in early February abruptly dropped all of its Windows Media and AAC/AAC+ encoded internet radio streams in favor a limited number of streams only compatible with devices that can handle new codecs (HDS/HLS) from Adobe and Apple. Short term lower quality MP3 feeds have been substituted for some of the lost streams. 

The plans to drop WMA were announced in an obscure blog six months ago but the AAC decision was not. No over-the-air announcements were made in advance. The result was that many users were suddenly unable to stream the BBC and did not know why. Support for “on-demand” feeds is expected to end later in the month. Limited support for podcasts, probably in MP3, will go forward for an interim period before all MP3 support will also end. 

BBC managers posting to one of their blogs have said this is a cost-saving measure and an attempt to adopt state of the art technology. Users haven’t been mollified and hundreds of critical comments have been posted on the BBC web site. Some users have filed complaints with British regulators over the unexpected changes. 

The changes have cut off users of most standalone internet radio devices (including very recent high end stereo receivers and Sonos devices) in favor of codecs that work on some but not all smartphones and most PCs with current version browsers and operating systems. Aggregation services such as TuneIn, vTuner, and Reciva have been scrambling to substitute the low quality and apparently unreliable MP3 feeds the BBC is offering instead. Most devices for the visually impaired have been rendered useless by the change as well. 

Hardware manufacturers are also scrambling but many are unable or find it prohibitively expensive to make changes to their hardware already sold or in the pipeline. Most users won’t know how to apply the firmware fixes even where available. For retailers, if the product can’t stream the world’s largest public broadcaster, it has to be a big negative on sales in many parts of the world.

(Tnx CQ Contributing Editor Rob de Santos, K8RKD)

ARRL Broadens DXCC Criteria for Remote Operation


The ARRL board of directors has eliminated the long-standing DXCC award rule that remotely-operated stations must be in the same DXCC entity (country) as the operator. 

The ARRL Letter reports that the change "acknowledges the reality of the technology enabling remote operation" and says it is now up to the operator to make sure he or she is "applying that technology ethically and responsibly."

CQ recently addressed remote operating with a different approach, creating a second track of award categories for remote operation.

ARRL to Allow Self-Spotting in VHF Contests



 
The ARRL board of directors also made some changes at its January meeting in the rules for League-sponsored VHF and UHF contests. Specifically, according to the ARRL Letter, the board decided to allow the use of assistance in all categories, to permit self-spotting in all categories and to allow single operators to transmit on more than one band simultaneously.

Hamvention to Remain at Hara Arena




The Dayton Hamvention® will remain at Hara Arena for the foreseeable future, despite local news reports (circulated widely in amateur circles) about the facility's financial woes. 

According to the ARRL Letter, 2015 Hamvention General Chairman Jim Tiderman, N8IDS, said both the Hamvention and the Dayton Amateur Radio Association "have absolute confidence" that the arena's owners will succeed in "guiding their corporation through the steps in the plans in place to keep Hara operating for years to come," adding, "we simply stand by them and repeat, 'the show will go on.' " 

In December, a Dayton TV station reported that the arena owners were facing financial problems and had laid off several full-time staff members in order to reduce expenses.

AuxComm Returns to Dayton



The Dayton Hamvention® reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will again offer its Auxiliary Communications (AuxComm) course in Dayton just before this year's Hamvention.

 The course, offered by DHS's Office of Emergency Communications, "trains qualified amateur ration operators to assist their local, county and state governments with emergency backup communications," according to an announcement from the Dayton Amateur Radio Association. More than 1000 amateurs have already completed the course. 

It will be offered from May 12-14, with a registration limit of 50 students. Details are available on the Hamvention website at < www.hamvention.org >.

End of the Line for RadioShack?



RadioShack has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which allows it to continue operating while reorganizing and working out arrangements with creditors. The chain also announced plans to close over 1700 stores, and to sell many others to cellphone carrier Sprint. 

There had been no indication at press time as to whether the stores that remain open will continue to operate under the RadioShack name or whether they will continue to sell electronic components and other items of interest to do-it-yourselfers, including hams.

Could Your Car's Radar Displace a Ham Band?



Vehicular radar systems that help with parking and collision prevention are becoming more and more common, increasing the need for spectrum on which to operate. The FCC, which already has allocated 76-77 GHz to the radar systems, is now looking at the entire 76-81 GHz band, which is currently a shared-use ham band, with amateur radio having a primary allocation at 77.5-78 GHz. 

The FCC action is in response to a petition for rulemaking by Robert Bosch LLC. Bosch said in its filing that it had met several times with ARRL technical staff and, according to the ARRL Letter, "is unconvinced … that there is any 'significant incompatibility' " between current amateur operations on the band and its short-range radar system. 

The FCC, however, notes that it had previously suspended amateur operation at 76-77 GHz to prevent interference with radar systems and wants to be sure that any rules affecting amateur use of the full band are applied "in a comprehensive and consistent manner." It is looking for input on possible alternative spectrum in the same frequency ranges for amateur use. The proceeding is ET Docket 15-26.

Fox-1A Scheduled for August Launch



AMSAT reports that the first in its upcoming series of "Fox-1" satellites has been scheduled for launch in late August, sharing a ride from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with a satellite being orbited by the National Reconnaissance Office. Fox-1A will have an FM transponder with uplink on 70 centimeters and downlink on 2 meters. 

Additional Fox-1 series launches are tentatively scheduled for later this year and 2016. The first two launches are part of a NASA-funded program, but the Fox-1C launch is being paid for by AMSAT, which is currently raising funds to cover those costs. More information is available on < www.amsat.org > and on the FundRazr crowdfunding site.

Like a Ham in Mud?



Four satellites carrying amateur radio transponders
were launched together from California on Jan. 31.
(NASA Photo)
Four NASA satellites carrying ham radio transponders were launched on January 31 from California, along with NASA's "Soil Moisture Active Passive," or SMAP, satellite. SMAP is designed to map the amount of moisture in surface soil (a.k.a. mud) around the globe. According to the ARRL, its synthetic aperture radar will operate at 1.26 GHz, within the 23-centimeter ham band (ham radio is secondary on the band). 

The four other satellites all are studying various aspects of space weather and operate on 437 MHz, within the 70-centimeter amateur band. Hams will be able to monitor their telemetry but there is no indication that any of them include transponders for two-way amateur communication.

QRP Ham Radio Balloon Nearly Makes it Around the World


Launch of a picoballoon
(Courtesy Amateur Radio Victoria website)

A foil "party balloon" carrying a tiny amateur radio transmitter flew from Melbourne, Australia across the Pacific Ocean to South America, then across the Atlantic and southern Africa before landing off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. 

The ARRL Letter reports that the balloon carried a 25-milliwatt transmitter, sending out telemetry via the WSPR and JT9 digital modes on 20 and 30 meters during its 20-day flight. It was launched December 27 by Andy Nguyen, VK3YT, in hopes that it might make it all the way around the world, and was tracked by many hams as it traveled eastward.

ARRL, QRZ Logbook, to Share QSO Data


The ARRL and QRZ.com have begun sharing contact data between the League's Logbook of the World (LoTW) system and QRZ Logbook, the callsign-info site's online log system. But it's only one-way, at least for now. The ARRL Letter reports that QRZ Logbook users are now able to download their LoTW contacts into the QRZ system, along with their confirmation status. 

There is no reciprocal upload of QRZ Logbook contacts to LoTW, and as yet, no major award programs accept QRZ Logbook listings for award credit.

PRB-1 Law Now on Books in Michigan


(Courtesy USGS National Atlas)
Michigan in January became the 31st state to codify the FCC's limited pre-emption of amateur antenna restrictions (commonly known as PRB-1) into state law, according to ARRL Michigan Section Manager Larry Camp, WB8R. Including the FCC's requirements for "minimum practicable regulation" and "reasonable accommodation" of amateur antennas in state law is helpful to hams because state, county and local governments are directly regulated by state laws, and any questions about state vs. federal jurisdiction are eliminated.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IOTA OC-045 (Tutuila Is.) Activation January 12-19

DX/IOTA News...

Afono Village on Tutuila Island. (National Park Service
photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Zorro, JH1AJT, will be active as KH8Z, from Tutuila Island (IOTA OC-045) in American Samoa between 12 – 19 January 2015, after his business trip to KH6. 
 
His activity will be mainly SSB on 10 – 40m bands, 600W using verticals; holiday style operation. QSL via JH1AJT direct or JA Buro. 
 
Tnx JA1TRC

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tune in Christmas at the bottom of the world... SWLing opportunity on Christmas Eve

Tune in Christmas at the bottom of the world... the following is from Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF/KC4, currently in Antarctica:

Each year, the residents of McMurdo Station, Antarctica celebrate Christmas by singing Christmas Carols to the remote, Antarctic field camps on the HF radio. This year, we are asking ham radio operators around the world to listen in and e-mail short wave listening reports telling us how far away the carols are heard. 

Listen on 7995 kHz USB on 24 December 2014 2300z (December 25 1200 New Zealand Time) and e-mail reports to w2naf@arrl.net.

For a Christmas in Antarctica SWL QSL card, please send an SASE to my Blacksburg address (see qrz.com). Special cards will be made for this event.

Please share this information with as many hams as possible. It would be really interesting to know how far we are heard. I believe we will be running about 1000 W for this.
Merry Christmas!

73,
Nathaniel, KC4/W2NAF

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hitchin' a Ride. . .
Interplanetary satellite Shin’en 2
A Japanese space mission to visit an asteroid launched in early December included two hitch-hikers, amateur radio satellites Shin'en 2 (JG6YIG) and ARTSAT2:DESPATCH (JQ1ZNN), the two latest ham satellites to venture beyond Earth orbit (a recent Chinese moon mission also carried a downlink-only ham satellite). According to the ARRL Letter, the two satellites will have an elliptical deep-space orbit around the sun, between Venus and Mars. The satellites should remain in Earth's equatorial plane and their orbit will take them between 65 million and 121 million miles from the Sun.

Shin'en 2 carries a CW beacon and a telemetry transmitter, as well as a digital store-and-forward transponder with an uplink on 2 meters and a downlink on 70 centimeters. ARTSAT2:DESPATCH carries a sculpture built by a 3D printer as well as a 7-watt transmitter sending out CW on 437 MHz. The satellite carried only batteries and no solar panel, so its estimated operating time was only about one week. One of the first reception reports, according to the AMSAT News Service, came from Michal Zawada, SQ5KTM, who reported monitoring both satellites two days after launch from a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers, or 683,500 miles, from Earth.


A third satellite, called SpinSat, was launched November 28 from the International Space Station. Built by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, its prime mission is to test new nicro-thruster technology. But it also carries an amateur packet radio store-and-forward system on 437.230 MHz. It was expected to operate for approximately six months.
'Frequency' Set to Be Adapted for TV
The Hollywood Reporter says NBC has signed on for a pilot of an adaptation of the 2000 Dennis Quaid movie, "Frequency," as a possible new series. Many hams will recall this movie, since it was built around the stars' use of ham radio to do something most of us cannot -- talk across time. There was no timetable given for possible airing, or any indication of whether any of the movie's cast members might return for a TV version.

If "Frequency" does get the green light to become a series, it would be the second current prime-time series to feature amateur radio, along with the occasional but much more realistic portrayals of the hobby on ABC's "Last Man Standing."
IARU Calls for All-Out Effort on 60 Meters
The International Amateur Radio Union is encouraging all member societies to seek support from their respective governments for a worldwide amateur allocation on 60 meters (5 MHz). Currently, the U.S. and several other countries allow amateurs secondary use of the band. In the U.S., it is the only channelized ham band. The next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), later this year, is slated to take up a proposal for a worldwide secondary amateur allocation on 5 MHz. The ARRL Letter reports that IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, sent a letter to all member organizations saying that getting a band at 60 meters is "one of the main goals at WRC-15 for the Amateur Radio Service." The IARU is made up of national amateur radio associations from around the world.


NJ Ham Group Enters 'Innovation Competition'

The 721st Mechanized Contest Battalion, a group of young hams from New Jersey, has entered its Emergency Antenna Platform System (E-APS) in the Boca Bearings Innovation Competition, which offers prizes for innovative projects using any sort of bearings. The E-APS is a robotic device that can carry an antenna up virtually any parking lot light pole and use is as an ad-hoc tower. Applications for emergency communications and other portable operations are obvious. The group has demonstrated the system at Dayton, the New York Maker Faire and the ARRL Centennial Convention. To learn more, visit < http://bit.ly/1umbAkK >.
Ham Radio Included in Updated National Emergency Communications Plan
The latest update to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Emergency Communications Plan, or NECP, specifically includes amateur radio as a resource for supporting or sustaining communications in an emergency or disaster. According to the ARRL Letter, the new plan says amateur radio operators "can be important conduits for relaying information to response agencies and personnel when other forms of communications have failed or have been disrupted." It also urged the inclusion of amateur radio representatives on statewide interoperability planning or steering committees. The 2014 update is the first since the plan was originally rolled out in 2008.


New Study Casts Further Doubt on Health Risks from Weak Magnetic Fields
For nearly 40 years, there have been fears among some segments of the public that there was somehow a tie-in between the magnetic fields created by cell phones, power transmission lines and radio transmitters and diseases such as leukemia. The FCC has even issued strict guidelines limiting exposure to RF fields, even though there has never been a conclusive study showing a cause-and-effect relationship, and no mechanism connecting magnetic fields and human illness has ever been found.

Now, a new study by England's Manchester Institute of Biotechnology - published in December's Journal of the Royal Society - has apparently ruled out one of the prime candidates. The website MedicalXpress.com reports that the team from Manchester studied the effects of weak magnetic fields, or WMFs, on flavoproteins, a class of proteins responsible for a variety of vital functions in the body. Their research showed "no detectable impact" of WMFs on flavoprotein functioning. One of the paper's authors said that while more work needs to be done on other possible links, "this study definitely takes us nearer to the point where we can say that power lines, mobile phones and other similar devices are likely to be safe for humans." (TNX WA5VJB)
Dr. Bob Heil, K9EID
Industry News: Call Him Dr. Heil; DX Engineering Buys Bencher & Butternut Antennas
The University of Missouri-St. Louis granted an honorary Doctor of Music and Technology to Bob Heil, K9EID, during its December 20th commencement ceremony. Heil was recognized for his contributions to the world of broadcast, live and studio sound, and innovations amateur radio, according to a news release. Bob also spoke at the commencement. (We hope the university was using a Heil mic!)

DX Engineering has purchased Bencher's Skyhawk and Skylark Antenna lines as well as the Butternut Antenna line. It will continue manufacturing all models and will carry all the service, repair, and replacement parts required to keep these antennas in good operating condition.


DX News: Activity From Iran; 1x1s from the Cook Islands
The Rockall DX Group says it has permission to operate a DXpedition from Iran's Kish Island. The EP6T operation is scheduled for this month, although dates were not certain as we went to press. Updates should be available from < http://www.Rockall.be >.
Resident hams in the Cook Islands will be using special E50x 1x1 call signs throughout 2015 to commemorate the island group's 50th anniversary of self-governance. According to a report on Southgate Amateur Radio News, there are only seven resident licensed hams in the 15-island nation, most of whom prefer rag-chewing to rapid-fire DX-style contacts and are not trained in handling pileups. Visiting hams will receive standard E51xxx calls.
MARS, ARES, Team Up in Interoperability Exercise

Two arms of MARS - the Military Auxiliary Radio System - and the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) were involved in a nationwide communications interoperability exercise held last October. The ARRL Letter reports that Army and Air Force MARS merged their normally-separate long-distance radio networks during the course of the 48-hour exercise, which simulated a disruption to the nation's communications infrastructure. In addition, MARS members were tasked with using amateur frequencies and their amateur call signs to make contact with ARES leaders or members in as many U.S. counties as possible. Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, said preliminary results showed that MARS-ARES linkups were successfully made in approximately half of the nation's 3077 counties. The exercise was sponsored by the Department of Defense.
CEPT Considers License Exam Accommodations for Disabled

The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) will be considering a recommendation from its Electronic Communications Committee to urge member nations to provide more accommodations for people with disabilities taking amateur radio license exams. Newsline reports that the committee adopted the recommendation in October, at the urging of Region I of the International Amateur Radio Union. Recommendations include added flexibility in testing locations and/or additional time to complete exams, and providing visually-impaired candidates with Braille exams that do not include diagrams. There are no details yet on when the full CEPT may take up the recommendation and/or how the new procedures might be implemented when and if approved. 
EXChat: New Digital Texting App

A ham in New Zealand has developed a new "sentence-mode radio chat system that works like cell phone texting," according to the South African Radio League (SARL). ZL2AFP's "EXChat" is an extension of DominoEX, an MFSK chat mode for HF, particularly the lower HF bands, where noise and crowding often make digital mode communications difficult. The SARL report says the EXChat program "equips your computer with a one-sentence-at-a-time chat mode for operation on the HF bands (that you use) in the same way as you would SkypeT or cell phone texting. For more information or a free download, visit < http://bit.ly/1wdBWe6 >.
Probing the Mysteries of NVIS
Research in South Africa is focusing on the mechanisms behind Near Vertical Incidence Skywave, or NVIS, propagation. NVIS is most useful for short-range communications on the lower HF bands. According to Newsline, two South African stations 51 kilometers (32 miles) apart, ZS6KN and ZS6KTS, tracked their contacts over a period of several months in 2014. On one day in June, signals were good from 0500 to 1630 local time, after which they disappeared (ground wave signals would have remained more or less consistent). The pattern repeated in July but the signals were considerably weaker in August and September, late winter and early spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The findings also showed changes consistent with changes in sunrise and sunset, which suggests that NVIS may be influenced by changes in the D-layer of the ionosphere, which is energized only during daylight hours. There has not been enough data collected to make any meaningful conclusions, according to the report, which notes that the two hams are continuing their research.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bob Schenck, N2OO, Named CQ Magazine DX Editor




(Hicksville, NY December 3, 2014) – Veteran DXer, DXpeditioner and QSL manager Bob Schenck, N2OO, of Tuckerton, New Jersey, has been named CQ magazine's DX Editor, magazine Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, announced today. A 2008 inductee into the CQ DX Hall of Fame, Bob succeeds Wayne Mills, N7NG, who has stepped down to pursue other ham-related interests.

Licensed in 1965 as WN2RJJ, Bob's introduction to ham radio was the annual Novice Roundup contest, and he has been hooked on DXing and contesting ever since. A veteran of more than two dozen DXpeditions to over a dozen countries, he is currently part of the K1N team planning to activate Navassa Island in January, 2015. Bob is the team's QSL manager, another major part of his ham radio activities. He has served as a QSL manager for over 100 DX stations and another 100-plus DXpeditions for more than 35 years and is the founder of the QSL Managers Society, which serves as a single point of contact for stations seeking a QSL manager, works to preserve old DX and DXpedition logs, and promote a code of ethics among QSL managers.

Bob is also on the board of directors of the International DX Association (INDEXA), president of the South Jersey DX Association, a charter member of the Old Barney Amateur Radio Club (also in New Jersey) and trustee of a local repeater. He lives in Tuckerton, New Jersey, with his wife, Beth, KF2BQ, and is a father and grandfather.

"I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Bob," said CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. "His dedication to the DXing portion of our hobby is unparalleled, not only in terms of his on-air activities but of the all-important 'final courtesy' of QSLing as well."

"This will be a new challenge for me!" said Schenck. "I look forward to joining the CQ staff and working with my friends in the DX community as well!"

Schenck will begin writing the CQ DX column as of the magazine's January 2015 issue - CQ's 70th anniversary edition.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

John Bergman, KC5LK, Named CQ WAZ Award Manager




John Bergman, KC5LK, of Brandon, Mississippi, has been named the new CQ Worked all Zones Award Manager, effective January 1, 2015, it was announced today by CQ magazine Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. Bergman will succeed fellow Mississippian Floyd Gerald, N5FG, who has served the DXing community in the position for the past 11 years.

John has been licensed since 1978 (originally as KA5AFT), and holds an Advanced Class license. He has been heavily involved in DX and DXing for over 20 years, is a charter member of the 599 DX Association, former member of the Magnolia DX Association, and a member and past president of the Jackson Amateur Radio Club. He is also a volunteer examiner and a card checker for both ARRL and CQ awards. John also dedicated 10 years to working with the W5 incoming QSL Bureau.

He holds DXCC (338 current entities; 344 total); 5-Band DXCC with endorsements for 30, 17 and 12 meters; has 1680 band/entities in the DXCC Challenge, is a member of the DXCC Mixed and Phone Honor Rolls, and has 5-Band WAZ with 179 total zones to date.

"We wish Floyd well in his retirement from WAZ and thank him for his decade-plus of dedication to the DXing community," noted CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. "I am looking forward to working with John as he assumes the leadership of the most prestigious award program in all of amateur radio. WAZ is the second-oldest active award program in ham radio, and one of the most difficult to achieve. I am confident that John will do an excellent job of preserving its heritage while also promoting its future growth."

"I am very appreciative of Rich and CQ magazine giving me this opportunity to serve CQ and the DX community," said Bergman, "and will strive to continue the high standards of WAZ Awards program."

As of January 1, any correspondence relating to the CQ WAZ Award program should be directed to: John Bergman, KC5LK, P.O. Box 792, Brandon, MS 39043, USA; or via e-mail to <kc5lk@cq-amateur-radio.com>.