Thursday, June 22, 2017

Go Low During Field Day

CQ MF/LF Operating Editor John Langridge, KB5NJD, reports that he and several other FCC Part 5 experimental stations will be operating demonstration stations on 630 and 2200 meters during Field Day weekend. Hams are encouraged to tune their receivers down below the AM broadcast band to listen for these stations.

Updated June 22, 2017 @ 1212z


Additional information on monitoring these stations and turning your reception into Field Day bonus points may be found on John's website at http://njdtechnologies.net/field-day-2017-details/.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Will "FirstNet" Make Ham Radio EmComm Obsolete?


The federal government is in the early stages of building a nationwide, hardened, wireless network expressly for use of first responders in emergencies and disasters. According to the ARRL Letter, the First Responder Network (FirstNet) is being developed by an independent authority within the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which parallels the FCC for federal government spectrum users. The network will initially focus on providing data and video, with "mission-critical voice communications" at least a decade away.

According to Ralph Haller, N4RH, chairman of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and former amateur radio chief at the FCC, the full implementation of FirstNet "will likely be as significant as when public safety first began using radio." He also predicted that it will diminish ham radio's role as a backup for public safety systems because fewer of them will fail in emergencies and disasters. However, Haller said there should be an ongoing role for amateurs as "eyes and ears on the ground" during emergencies and particularly during the recover phase of disasters. He advised amateur radio emergency groups to speed up their adoption of digital modes and DATV (digital amateur television) and to continue working closely with public safety organizations. "Be sure," he said, that these organizations "never forget how valuable the amateurs are!"

Fake News? ARRL's Misleading Headline on Future of Sunspot Cycles


"Our Sun's 11-Year Magnetic Cycle Destined to Disappear," read the headline on an item in the June 1 edition of the ARRL Letter, leading to an initial response of alarm amid a weak Cycle 24 and talk of a possible "Maunder minimum" with virtually no sunspots in the near future. But rather than a new prediction of doom and gloom for sunspot-hungry hams, the article actually held out new hope for future solar cycles. 
 
In a new paper in the journal Solar Physics, titled "Magnetic Evolution and the Disappearance of Sun-like Activity Cycles," solar scientists Travis Metcalfe and Jennifer van Saders reinterpret earlier data to conclude that while we are in the beginning of a "transitional phase" that may lead to longer cycles, they will not disappear altogether for at least 800 million years! Hardly a cause for concern for anyone reading this in 2017…

Midway, Kure, Restored to DXCC List


We reported last month that the ARRL had decided to delete Midway and Kure Islands in the Pacific
from the DXCC list due to administrative changes in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument that technically made both islands part of Hawaii. The deletion was retroactive to August 2016, when those changes took place. Now, without mentioning the resulting uproar in the DXing community, the ARRL has reversed course and reinstated both islands as separate DX entities. "After further review," the ARRL Letter sort of explained, "it has been found that the deletion of these two entities is not supported by the changes that were made to the relevant administrations."

Ham Aviator Retracing Amelia Earhart's Round-the-World Route


Eighty years ago, pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific while attempting a round-the-world flight. To commemorate the anniversary, pilot and radio amateur Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN, is making his own circumnavigation attempt following Earhart's original flight plan. He took off from Miami on June 1 and expected his solo trip to take about two months, according to the ARRL Letter. 

Planned round-the-world flight route of Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN,
tracking Amelia Earhart's circumnavigation attempt
of 1937. (Map from projectamealiaearhart.org website)
 Lloyd will be active on the ham bands as his schedule permits. Listen for him operating SSB on 14.210, 14.346, 18.117.5 or 7.130 MHz, as well as digital ALE (automatic link establishment) on HFLink frequencies. You can also follow his progress at <http://projectameliaearhart.org/>.

Ham Radio on Northwest Passage Journey


A 150-day voyage from Toronto to Victoria, British Columbia, via the Northwest Passage may be tracked via ham radio WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter) signals. The trip, named Canada C3, is part of that nation's celebration this year of its 150th anniversary. 

According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, the organizers allowed a team of hams led by Barrie Crampton, VE3BSB, to install a WSPR beacon on board the vessel, as part of a package of science experiments and research projects being carried out as the ship makes its way through the Arctic along the world's longest coastline. A live tracking link, provided by QRP-labs, may be found online at <http://www.qrp-labs.com/c3.html>.

Two Ham-Related TV Shows Cancelled



Tim Allen's character  in "Last Man
Standing" was a ham as well as an
outdoors store manager.
(Courtesy Last Man Standing)
The ABC comedy, "Last Man Standing," starring Tim Allen as an outdoor store manager with a ham station in his office and his basement, was cancelled by the network at the end of its sixth season. According to "TV By the Numbers," the program maintained consistently good ratings and no explanation was offered by ABC for its decision. Executive Producer John Amodeo, NN6JA, says the program will continue to air in syndication, but it is unlikely that there will be any new episodes shot.

In addition, the ARRL Letter reports that "Frequency," the TV spinoff of the 2000 movie of the same name, was cancelled by the CW Network after its first season.

Milestones: N5FG, N3NL, ex-K1MAN Silent Keys



Former CQ Worked All Zones Award Manager Floyd Gerald, N5FG, became a Silent Key in May. He had been in poor health after suffering a heart attack last year. Floyd was also co-founder of the Magnolia DX Association, the largest DX club in his native Mississippi. 

Low-power FM broadcast advocate Nickolaus "Nick" Leggett, N3NL, passed away in late April. An inventor with multiple patents to his credit, Leggett was best-known as on3e of the leading proponents of establishing the Low Power FM broadcast service for local microstation broadcasting, according to RadioWorld. He also teamed up with Don Schellhardt, KI4PMG, to battle for reform of amateur radio antenna rules; and was a frequent commenter on a wide variety of amateur radio-related petitions considered by the FCC. 

Glenn Baxter, ex-K1MAN, a perennial thorn in the FCC's side, passed away in early May. Baxter fought with the FCC for years over complaints of malicious interference, broadcasting on the amateur bands and using amateur radio for business purposes, frequently taking his arguments into federal court in his home state of Maine. According to the ARRL Letter, the FCC in 2014 dismissed Baxter's long-standing license renewal application on the grounds of his failure to pay a $10,000 fine which was affirmed by the U.S. District Court.

Milestones: Hams Honored for Various Activities


Case Western Reserve University has honored Professor David Kazdan, AD8Y, with the Wittke Teaching award for excellence in undergraduate teaching for his Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship (SAGES) course, Shrinking the World.
David Kazdan, AD8Y
(Case Western Reserve University news release)

According to the ARRL Letter, the goal of the wide-ranging course is to build students' "understanding (of) human culture and behavior, scientific knowledge, and methods of research." All students in the course must also earn an amateur radio license and operate the school's club station, W8EDU.

Mark Abramowicz, NT3V, a correspondent for "Amateur Radio Newsline" and a professional broadcast journalist in Philadelphia, has received National Eagle Scout Association's "Outstanding Eagle Scout Award." According to Newsline, Abramowicz earned his Eagle rank in Boy Scouts in 1973, and has remained active in scouting throughout his adult life. Mark is also chairman of the selection committee for the Bill Pasternak Memorial Young Ham of the Year Award, of which CQ is a co-sponsor.

Michael Foale, KB5UAC, and Ellen Ochoa, ex-KB5TZZ,
at their induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
(NASA photo)
Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa, formerly KB5TZZ, and former astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, were both inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in May. Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to fly in space, and Foale is the only American astronaut to have flown on both the Russian Mir space station and the International Space Station. While on the ISS, according to the ARRL Letter, Foale set up the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station Phase 2 station in the Russian service module.

Young Hams From Europe, Africa and Asia to Gather in England


Eighty young amateurs from 30 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia will spend a week together in suburban London next month at the annual IARU Region 1 Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) event. According to the Radio Society of Great Britain, which is sponsoring this year's gathering, activities will include a special event station, a contact with the International Space Station, kit-building, antenna building, a hidden transmitter hunt and a Summits on the Air activation. 

This is the seventh annual YOTA summer gathering, which takes place in a different country each year. Participants are all age 25 or younger. This year's event will be held at Gilwell Park outside London, the headquarters of UK scouting. The group will include two amateurs from Japan. In addition, the ARRL Letter reports that the YASME Foundation has provided grants to cover the expenses of two young amateurs each from Ethiopia, Tunisia and Kosovo. YOTA UK 2017 is scheduled for August 5-12.

India Bans Online Transceiver Sales


The government of India has shut down online sales of wireless transmitting equipment in response to security concerns, according to the ARRL Letter. This is the latest development in a story that first surfaced last fall, when amateurs in West Bengal began monitoring "highly suspicious" coded transmissions on 2 meters from a region along the border with Bangladesh. India's Intelligence Bureau took an immediate interest in the matter and asked hams to continue monitoring. Now, the Mumbai Mirror newspaper reports that the country's telecommunications ministry has ordered e-commerce websites, including Amazon and eBay, to immediately stop selling transmitting gear online to customers in India.

Maritime Mobile Service Net Helps Coordinate Rescue


A series of radio relays helped bring aid to a sport fishing vessel that was taking on water in Mexico's Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). 

The ARRL Letter reports that the captain of the sailing ship Ubiquity - Brian Stipak, KF7QCX - monitored a VHF marine distress call from the fishing vessel Free Spirit, saying the boat was taking on water, that its source could not be located and that the four people on board were abandoning ship. When Stipak couldn't raise authorities on the VHF marine channels, he tuned to the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 MHz. He was able to relay the ship's information and last known position to the net control station, who in turn notified the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego, which notified the Mexican Navy. 

Ultimately, Stipak learned that the Free Sprit's crew had found and stopped the leak but still needed assistance. The boat was towed to shore and all aboard were safe.

Arrghh! Irish Broadcast Museum Looking for Radio Pirates



Officials at the Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame are looking for information and materials for either a gallery or entire museum devoted to pirate broadcasting. Newsline reports that a then-unlicensed radio station broadcasting from Dublin in 1916 played a key role in the "Easter Rising," in which Ireland broke away from Great Britain. A meeting was scheduled in early June among museum officials, broadcasters, former pirate radio employees and radio enthusiasts to discuss what the proposed museum should collect and display. If you have information or artifacts that might be of interest, e-mail <irishbroadcastinghalloffame@gmail.com>.

California Ham Cited by FCC for Pirate Broadcasting


Speaking of radio pirates … the FCC has cited Lyle Hilden, KD6LUL, of Vista, California, for allegedly
operating an unlicensed FM broadcast station. According to the ARRL Letter, the FCC's Notice of Violation said agents had traced signals to Hilden's residence whose field strength "greatly exceeded … the maximum permitted" on an FM broadcast frequency without a broadcast license. Hilden was given 20 days to present his side of the story to the FCC along with providing "all relevant surrounding facts and circumstances."
 
In a separate matter, the FCC has gone to federal court to try to collect a fine imposed two years ago on a ham in western Pennsylvania. According to court documents, the FCC in 2015 fined Brian Crow, K3VR, of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania $11,500 for allegedly causing deliberate interference on 14.313 MHz. Apparently, the fine remains unpaid and the Commission decided to take the matter to federal court to force payment.

German Hams Get 4 Meters … But Only for the Summer


Germany's telecommunications regulator has opened the 4-meter band to amateur use, but only on a test basis. According to Newsline, the frequencies between 70.150 and 70.180 MHz are available to hams through August 31, 2017, with significant restrictions on power, bandwidth and antenna polarization. The 4-meter band has long been available to amateurs in some European countries, but in Germany has been used primarily by the military and the national railway. Hams must operate on a non-interference basis. A similar test period occurred in 2015.
 
The band has never been available in the United States because of conflicts with analog television broadcast frequencies. Even thought TV broadcasting has now gone digital and moved to higher frequencies, the FCC has so far refused to consider petitions for a U.S. amateur allocation on 70 MHz.

3 Ham Satellites Among 28 Cubesats Launched from ISS in May



Twenty-eight QB50 cubesats were deployed in May
from the International Space Station. Another group
is awaiting lauch on an Indian rocket. (qb50.eu website)
A "constellation" of student-built satellites designed to study the lower thermosphere 125 to 236 miles above the Earth has been released into orbit from the International Space Station. The ARRL Letter reports that 28 cubesats - part of the QB50 program - were released from the ISS between May 16 and 25. Eight more are scheduled for future launch aboard an Indian rocket.

All of the cubesats lanuched so far  have downlinks in the 70-centimeter amateur band and three include additional ham radio features as well. LilacSat-1 includes a VHF/UHF analog FM-to-Codec-2 digital voice transponder, as well as an APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) digipeater and a camera which transmits images using 9600-baud BPSK; X-CubeSat and SpaceCube both have FM voice transponders with uplinks on 2 meters and downlinks on 70 centimeters.

Updated ARRL Band Charts Now Available


At the same time that it is issuing reminders to U.S. amateurs that the newly-approved 630- and
New US Amateur Band Chart
(Courtesy ARRL)
2200-meter bands are not yet available for use in the U.S., the ARRL has released an updated frequency chart that includes both bands.  It may be downloaded in several versions - 8.5x11-inch color, grayscale and black-and-white, and 11x17" color - from <http://www.arrl.org/graphical-frequency-allocations>. But remember - 630 an 2200 meters are still off-limits in the U.S. unless you have a Part 5 experimental license from the FCC.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jerry Rosalius, WB9Z, and Bill Moore, NC1L (SK) Inducted into CQ DX Hall of Fame

    
 
      (Xenia, OH - May 19, 2017) - CQ magazine today announced the induction of two new members to the CQ DX Hall of Fame, which honors those DXers who not only excel in personal performance but who also "give back" to the hobby in outstanding ways. CQ DX Editor Bob Schenck, N2OO, presented Hall of Fame plaques at an induction ceremony held at the annual Dayton DX dinner on May 19.
 
The 2017 inductees to the CQ DX Hall of Fame are:
 
Bill Moore, NC1L (SK) - the ARRL's DXCC Manager for over 20 years. A public face of the program at hamfests around the world, Bill was also a major contributor behind the scenes, leading the transition from DXCC paper records to a computer database, then years later, guiding a major upgrade to the system that is in use today. Bill was severely injured in an auto accident in 2014 and became a Silent Key last year.
 
Jerry Rosalius, WB9Z - an accomplished DXer and DXpeditioner, he has "worked them all" with the exception of North Korea, and participated in multiple major DXpeditions, including seven that were named as "DXpedition of the Year" by the Southwest Ohio DX Association. He is a frequent speaker at club meetings and hamfests and regularly makes his home station available for training new contesters.
The CQ DX Hall of Fame was established in 1967 to recognize those amateurs who have made major contributions to DXing and DXpeditioning. This year's inductions bring the total number of members of the CQ DX Hall of Fame to 71.
 

Dave Robbins, K1TTT, and Bob Wilson, N6TV, Inducted into CQ Contest Hall of Fame

 
 
     (Xenia, OH - May 20, 2017) - CQ magazine today announced the induction of two new members to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame, which honors those contesters who not only excel in personal performance but who also "give back" to the hobby in outstanding ways. CQ Contesting Editor David Siddall, K3ZJ, presented Hall of Fame plaques at an induction ceremony held at the annual Dayton contest dinner on May 20.
 
The 2017 inductees to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame are:
Dave Robbins, K1TTT, is the builder and owner of a contest superstation in western Massachusetts. Soon after assembling his first contest station, Dave wrote in the introduction to his book, Building a Superstation, "I realized I was not a 48-hour iron pants operator and decided to start doing multi-ops from here..." Over the past 30+ years, Dave has hosted legions of operators at his multi-multi station, some veterans, some newcomers, and willingly shared his knowledge and experiences, both in his building book and his annual Contest Cookbooks, distributed to members of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC), of which Dave is a past president. You can see webcams of his current station and much more information at <www.k1ttt.net>.
Bob Wilson, N6TV, is an accomplished contester and contest DXpeditioner, but his achievements behind the scenes are as significant as those he's made on the air. A regular speaker at Contest University and the International DX Convention's Contest Academy, Bob has developed new techniques and technologies to enhance logging and score-keeping software and to advance SO2R (Single Operator, 2 Radios) operating, along with the efficiency of software defined radios, CW Skimmer, the Reverse Beacon Network and more.
The CQ Contest Hall of Fame was established in 1986 to recognize those amateurs who have made major contributions to the art of radio contesting. This year's inductions bring the total number of members of the CQ Contest Hall of Fame to 69.

Announcing: 2017 Inductees, CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame

    (Xenia, Ohio - May 19, 2017) - The CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame has 18 new members for 2017, CQ magazine announced today. This brings to 310 the total number of members inducted since the hall's establishment in 2001.
The CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame honors those individuals, whether licensed hams or not, who have made significant contributions to amateur radio; and those amateurs who have made significant contributions either to amateur radio, to their professional careers or to some other aspect of life on our planet.
The 2017 inductees (listed alphabetically) are:
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, HS1A (SK)
  • John Brosnahan, W0UN (SK) - President of Alpha Power, NOAA physicist and instrumental in design and construction of the HAARP facility in Alaska.
  • Garrett Brown, W3AFF - Inventor of the Steadicam, which earned him both Oscar and Emmy awards for filmmaking technology
  • Britton Chance, W2IBK (SK) - Pioneer in magnetic imaging; MIT professor, team leader in MIT Radiation Lab developing WWII radar; US Olympic gold medalist (sailing, 1952)
  • John Crockett, W3KH - Repeater coordination pioneer; developed Southeastern Repeater Assn (SERA) Universal Coordination System; managed SCHEART system of linked repeaters in hospitals; VP Engineering for SC Educational TV network
  • Julius T. Freeman, KB2OFY (SK) - Tuskegee Airman and Congressional Gold Medal recipient; frequent speaker at schools and civic organizations
  • Limor Fried, AC2SN - Founder of Adafruit Industries, major supplier of open-source electronics to the Maker community; honored by President Obama in 2016 as a "Champion of Change" and by the Internet of Things Institute as one of the 25 most influential women in the IoT industry
  • Robin Haighton, VE3FRH (SK) - Founding member of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), former president of AMSAT-NA
  • David Honess, M6DNT - Developed AstroPi project, which sent two Raspberry Pi computers to the International Space Station as platforms for students on Earth to write and run their own computer code in space; honored for this work with the Sir Arthur Clarke Award, presented by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation and the British Interplanetary Society
  • Linda Ross Hufft (SK) – Co-founder of Optoelectronics and leader in the amateur radio industry in the 1980s and ‘90s. Built company from small specialty operation to a leader in the digital frequency counter industry
  • Pete Kemp, KZ1Z (SK) - Author and educator, directly responsible for licensing over 700 new hams
  • Kristen McIntyre, K6WX - Apple software engineer and inventor (her name is on 22 granted or pending patents), promoter of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects for girls through various talks and YouTube presentations
  • Pat McPherson, WW9E (SK) - Founder and longtime coordinator of SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network)
  • Andy Nguyen, VK3YT - Pico-ballooner, pioneered round-the-world microballoon flights carrying amateur radio
  • Tim Peake, KG5BVI - UK astronaut very active in ARISS program during time on International Space Station; coordinated ISS end of the AstroPi project (see David Honess, above)
  • Mike Santana, WB6TEB (SK) - Two-way radio engineer, designed Clegg FM-76 220-MHz transceiver and President line of CB rigs, favorites for conversion to 10 meters
  • Allan Steinfeld, W2TN, ex-KL7HIR (SK) - Longtime Race Director of the New York City Marathon, considered one of the fathers of the modern running movement
  • Gerald Youngblood, K5SDR - Pioneer of software defined radio (SDR) and founder of FlexRadio
Two new members each are also being inducted into the CQ DX and Contest Halls of Fame at the respective Dayton DX and Contest dinners. Their names will be announced separately.
-30-

Monday, May 1, 2017

Optimism About FCC Enforcement


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (FCC photo)
ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, told the League's Executive Committee in March that he feels the FCC may provide more effective enforcement on the ham bands in the future. Imlay said the Commission's new chairman, Ajit Pai, is very interested in improved enforcement and that Michael Carowitz, the new Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, is said to be "amateur friendly." According to the ARRL Letter,  Imlay told the committee he "foresees a potential window of opportunity for improved spectrum enforcement work, as well as the opportunity to build a stronger working relationship with the FCC on all issues."

In a related matter, the Letter reports that the ARRL has begun working on final language of a revised memorandum of understanding with the FCC on its Amateur Auxiliary program, which incorporates the ARRL's Official Observer program. A board committee is in the process of developing recommendations for the full board on revamping and revitalizing the OO/AA program.

FCC Proposes Massive Fine for Jamming NYC Police


Speaking of enforcement, the FCC has proposed fining a 20-year-old New York City man more than $400,000 for repeatedly making unauthorized transmissions and false alarm calls on city police frequencies. The ARRL Letter reports that the Commission issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) to Jay Peralta of Queens, New York, alleging that over the course of a year, he transmitted false bomb threats, false distress calls supposedly from NYPD officers, false claims of crimes involving firearms and threats against specific police officers. 

The proposed fine was announced personally by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, saying the action shows the FCC "will not tolerate unauthorized and illegal use of the radio spectrum." Peralta and two other men had been arrested last fall in connection with several robberies, although it is unclear if those cases are connected with the radio interference case.

League Committee Studying Survey Responses on Entry-Level License


The ARRL reports that response to its survey on potential changes to entry-level licensing were overwhelming, with some 8000 responses received rather than the 1500 it expected, according to the ARRL Letter. Last year, the League's board of directors created a committee to study possible changes to entice more people into amateur radio, with a focus on either revamping the Technician license or recommending creation of a new entry-level license.
 
Committee Chairman and ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI, said he originally thought a new license class might be the best approach but is now leaning toward re-examining both the privileges and the exam requirements for the Technician license. He is tentatively looking toward expanded HF digital privileges for Techs, along with aligning the exam questions with the operating privileges offered by the license. The committee plans to make its recommendations to the full ARRL board at its next meeting in July.

Midway and Kure Islands Deleted from DXCC List


The ARRL has deleted two Pacific islands from its list of "DX entities" that count toward the DXCC award and others that are based on the DXCC list. According to the ARRL, the decision is an unintended consequence of last year's expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to include the northwestern Hawaiian islands west of Ni'ihau, including Midway. That portion of the monument is now administered by the State of Hawaii. 

Until this change in status, Midway had separate administration – making it eligible for DXCC status – and Kure, previously under Hawaiian administration, was separated from the rest of the state by Midway, giving it separate DXCC status. With Midway now under Hawaiian administration, it no longer qualifies as a distinct entity, and Kure is no longer separated from the rest of Hawaii by a different DX entity. Both islands now count as part of Hawaii, with the change retroactive to August 26, 2016, the date the changes in governance took effect. Both islands are accessible only by permission.

FWS Seeks Comments on Allowing Baker Island DXpedition


Brown boobies are among 11 bird species that make their
homes on Baker Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is part of a
US National Wildlife Refuge. (US Fish & Wildlife Service photo)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is asking for public review and comment on a "Draft Compatibility Determination for Amateur Radio Operation" on Baker Island (KH4), a Pacific island some 1800 miles southwest of Honolulu. According to the ARRL Letter, "(a)mateur radio operation is an existing use at Baker Island NWR (National Wildlife Refuge); however, it is not a common use." 

The statement notes that operations there offer value "as a source of public information about wildlife resources and to bring public attention to the refuge." Baker Island is the fourth-most-wanted DX entity, according to ClubLog. The most recent operation there, in 2002, generated 96,000 contacts. 

Comments should be submitted via e-mail to Monument Superintendent Laura Beauregard and include "Baker Amateur Radio Comments" in the subject line. Beauregard's e-mail address is <laura_beauregard@fws.gov>.

Spratly DXpedition Delayed Until March 2018


Ownership of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea
is disputed among four countries. Hams nonetheless plan
to mount a DXpedition there. Layang Layang Island is part
of Sparrow Reef (circled) on this CIA World Factbook map.
A DXpedition to the hotly-contested Spratly Islands planned this December has been postponed until next March. 

The ARRL Letter's report did not include a reason for the delay in the planned 9M0W operation from Layang Layang Island, a part of Swallow Reef (IOTA AS-051). 

The Malaysian Navy has a presence on the reef (and Malaysia issued the license), but the Spratlys are at the center of South China Sea conflicts between Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, all of which claim ownership.

WRTC-18 Seeking Young Contesters


Organizers of the 2018 World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) are planning to include three teams of young contesters (under age 26 at the time of the competition) among the 42 teams that will compete for bragging rights in Germany next July. 

According to the ARRL Letter, there are no qualifying requirements for the youth teams; prospective members need only to apply to be considered. Applications for WRTC referees are also being accepted at this time. For more information, e-mail <contact@wrtc2018.de>.

ISS Packet Digipeater Back on 2 Meters


The arrival of a new 2-meter handheld transceiver at the International Space Station has allowed theresumption of packet radio digipeater operation on 145.825 MHz. The ARRL Letter reports that the packet station had moved to 70 centimeters after the very old Ericsson VHF handheld failed. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) voice contacts with schools were moved from the U.S. Columbus module to a Kenwood transceiver in the Russian Service Module. Installation of the new 2-meter HT has allowed digipeater operation to resume on VHF. It is unclear whether ARISS voice contacts have also moved back to the Columbus module.

 
On the subject of the ISS, current expedition Commander Peggy Whitson, ex-KC5ZTD, recently set a new record for time in space by any American astronaut, breaking the 534-day cumulative record previously set by Astronaut Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ. On a previous ISS mission, Whitson conducted numerous ham radio contacts with school groups under the ARISS program, but subsequently let her amateur license lapse.

ARRL Prohibits "Dueling CQs" in its Contests


The ARRL has made it clear that so-called "dueling CQs" on the same band by a single station are not permitted in its contests. Technically known as "in-band interleaved CQs," the practice involves calling CQ sequentially on two or more frequencies in the same band. There is never more than one signal from a given station on the band at the same time, but the practice effectively occupies multiple frequencies and violates the spirit if not the letter of the "one signal per band" rule. The ARRL Letter reports that the League decided to "clarify" its rules to specifically prohibit the practice, which is already against the rules in all CQ-sponsored contests.

Will 4U1UN Return to the Air?


The ARRL reports that representatives of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council Amateur Radio Club are negotiating with the world body's Department of Public Information in an effort to get amateur station 4U1UN permanently back on the air. 

QSL card from the most recent activation of the United
Nations Headquarters ARC, as 4U70UN in 2015 to mark
the world body's 70th anniversary (from 4U1UN website)

The station operated from the U.N. Secretariat building from 1978 until 2010, when it was taken off the air to accommodate extensive building renovations. All antennas were removed from the roof and equipment was put into storage. While the renovations have been completed, a combination of logistical issues and security concerns have stymied efforts to return the station to the air, except for a brief temporary operation in 2015 to mark the U.N.'s 70th anniversary. Several options are being considered to allow the station to resume operations while satisfying the administration's concerns.

PSK-31 for the Visually Impaired


The authors of Accessible Digipan are trying to raise
$10,000 via gofundme.com to support costs of
developing and updating the software. There is a link
from the main accessibledigipan.org webpage.
As a keyboard mode whose messages print out on a computer screen, hams with visual impairments have not been able to use PSK-31 and similar modes … until now. 

The ARRL Letter reports that a new app called "Accessible DigiPan" merges the popular digital mode software with the popular "JAWS" screen reader program. 

Two blind hams – Richard McDonald, KK6MRH, and Jim Snowbarger, WA0PSS – developed the app and are offering it for free to any amateur (although donations are encouraged). 

For more information or to download the app, visit <http://accessibledigipan.org/>.