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FCC/ULS Going Paperless

9/9/19

The FCC is seeking comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that is part of an overall plan to transition completely to electronic filing, licenses, authorizations, and correspondence. The notice proposes to make all filings to the Universal Licensing System (ULS) completely electronic, expand electronic filing and correspondence elements for related systems, and require applicants to provide an email address on the FCC Forms related to these systems. Although much of the FCC’s ULS filings are already electronic, the changes suggested in the NPRM (in WT Docket No. 19-212) would require all Amateur Radio Service applications to be filed electronically. Under current rules, Amateur Radio applications may still be filed manually, with the exception of those filed by Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs).

Federal Communications Commission

“Given the drastic changes that have occurred with regard to the ubiquity of the internet and increased personal computer access, we find it unlikely that electronic filing remains infeasible or cost-prohibitive for the previously exempted types of filers, or that they lack resources to file electronically,” the FCC said in the NPRM, which was released on September 6. “We therefore propose to eliminate Section 1.913’s exemptions to mandatory electronic filing.”

The FCC said that while the vast majority of ULS applications today are submitted electronically, some are still manually filed, largely from exempted filers, such as radio amateurs. Last year, the FCC received some 5,000 manually filed applications out of a total of some 425,000 applications. Among other aspects, the FCC is seeking comment on whether its underlying assumptions about the ease of electronic filing for previously exempted filers are valid.

This NPRM also seeks comment on additional rule changes that would further expand the use of electronic filing and electronic service.

“Together, these proposals will facilitate the remaining steps to transition these systems from paper to electronic, reducing regulatory burdens and environmental waste, and making interaction with these systems more accessible and efficient for those who rely on them,” the FCC said.

Source: ARRL News Bulletin

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HAMS Prepare for Dorian

8/29/19

Amateur Radio resources organized this week as Hurricane Dorian threatened Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and worked its way through the Caribbean. A change in direction spared Puerto Rico — still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 — from taking a direct hit; the Virgin Islands suffered downed trees and widespread power outages. As of August 29, Dorian was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds near 85 MPH with higher gusts. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Dorian was expected to become a major hurricane on Friday and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend, reaching Category 3 or 4 by September 1. Heavy rainfall generated by Dorian could cause flash flooding, the NHC said.

Hurricane Dorian

“The risk of devastating hurricane-force winds along the Florida east coast and peninsula late this weekend and early next week continues to increase,” the NHC said on August 29.

“We are standing by in a ready-to-respond state, once a more definitive track is known,” Southern Florida Section Manager Barry Porter, KB1PA, told ARRL Headquarters on August 29. “We will be holding a tri-Section conference call tonight to firm up any plans.” Porter said Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and Red Cross were in preparation mode.

The predicted track of Hurricane Dorian as of 0900 UTC on August 29. [NOAA graphic]

On Wednesday, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), activated for about 9 hours on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz, working in conjunction with WX4NHC at the NHC in Miami to provide “ground truth” weather data to forecasters. The VoIP Hurricane Net also activated.

The HWN has continued to closely monitor Dorian’s progress. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the HWN tentatively plans reactivate on August 30 at 2100 UTC.

The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team is also monitoring the situation closely. ARRL officials are in regular communication with partner agencies, particularly FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, ARRL HQ remains in close contact with Field Organization officials in the affected region, where some ARRL Ham Aid equipment was previously positioned.

W1AW, which had already planned to be in operation for the Hiram Percy Maxim 150th Birthday special event this weekend, will remain ready to assist with emergency communications.

Source: ARRL News

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HAM Radio is aboard !!

Amateur Radio is aboard during attempt to become oldest circumnavigator

02/18/2019

Jeanne Socrates, VE0JS/KC2IOV, is used to solitude. The lone 76-year-old yachtswoman passed the southern tip of Africa — some 300 miles to the north — on Valentine’s Day as she forged on toward Australia and New Zealand in her 38-foot sailing vessel Nereida. While underway, Socrates keeps in touch with a community of friends via Amateur Radio — although she had to yield to the ARRL International DX CW activity over the weekend — and she’s sticking to a schedule of 7.160 MHz at 0230 UTC daily. Socrates reported making contact with some ham radio friends on the US west coast on February 17. She’s been blogging her progress.

Jean Socrates and her array of marine radio gear

The retired math teacher and UK native also is no stranger to circumnavigating the globe, having already become the oldest woman to complete a solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world voyage. Ham radio served as her link to terra firma during her earlier adventures. Since 2013, she’s made two additional attempts to become the oldest person to circumnavigate Earth, the goal she’s now attempting to achieve. She departed Victoria, British Columbia, last October.

Two earlier attempts were cut short when her vessel was damaged in rough seas. Then, she suffered serious injuries in a fall last year.

Socrates is working around a damaged mainsail. “We seem to be having many more days of light wind giving slow speed, than stronger wind giving good speed — need a wind of well over 15 knots and, preferably, for us to be headed downwind. Any upwind travel immediately gives poor boat speed — that’s when the damaged mainsail is badly missed,” she recounted in a recent blog entry. She’s been using the vessel’s trisail — typically used for high-wind conditions — because the Nereida’s mainsail repair was showing signs that it might not hold up in the wind. Socrates said she’ll continue to work on the mainsail as time permits. — Thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News for some information

Source: ARRL News

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HAM Population Grows

Amateur Radio Operator Population Growth

02/14/2019

The US Amateur Radio population once again grew by about 1%, based upon 2017 and 2018 year-end FCC database statistics provided by Joe Speroni, AH0A. The 755,430 total licensees represent nearly 7,300 more ticket holders than those that were in the database at the end of 2017. Nearly 51% of the Amateur Radio population in the US — 384,145 — hold a Technician license. Generals are second with 175,949, and Amateur Extras number 147,369. Advanced and Novice licensee populations continue to decline, with 39,607 Advanced and 8,360 Novices, as the FCC no longer issues Advanced or Novice licenses. A more significant statistic is 31,576 new FCC licenses last year, although that’s 620 fewer than came aboard in 2017.

“New amateur licenses granted by FCC are down 2% over last year,” noted ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, “but this is the fifth year in a row the total has been greater than 31,000. I predict that the number of new licensees will be more than 30,000 at the end of this year as well, and I’m optimistic this trend will continue.”

Upgrades also are down slightly, compared to last year — 9,456 in 2018 versus 9,576 in 2017, she added. “For the fifth year in a row, we have conducted more than 7,000 Amateur Radio exam sessions in a year — an important milestone for the ARRL VEC,” Somma recounted. “Our program continues to provide outstanding service to the ARRL, its members, and the entire Amateur Radio community.”

ARRL VEC filed a total 30,393 license application forms last year, compared to 31,014 in 2017. That includes new, upgrade, modification, renewal, and club station filings. At 7,035 in 2018, the number of exam sessions conducted by ARRL VEC marginally trailed the 7,075 held in 2017. ARRL VEC served 34,493 exam applicants in 2018, compared to 35,352 in 2017. Exam elements administered by ARRL decreased from 47,152 last year to 45,817 this year, Somma said. Nearly 1,800 new Volunteer Examiners (VEs) have been added to the ARRL VEC program.

Source: ARRL News

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Ham Radio/Better Engineers

Can learning ham radio make for better engineers and software developers ?

When a group of Navy engineers and software developers took time away from their day jobs in December, they spent the time pursuing a task long considered passe: they became licensed amateur radio operators.

Some 23 employees from Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) took a week-long class in amateur radio at Point Mugu, California culminating with an FCC amateur radio license test. All passed and are certified at the “technician” level for amateur radio operation.

Now, Navy officials say the move may make the workers better at their jobs. The staff gained an understanding of radio frequency (RF) propagation that’s essential to what they do, said Brian Hill, electromagnetic maneuver warfare experimentation lead and collaborative electronic warfare supervisor at NAWCWD.


Retired Senior Chief Information System Technician Lee Moburg, a wireless amateur radio (HAM) operator, manned the HAM radio at Naval Hospital Bremerton during a 2016 exercise. Some Navy leaders are turning to ham radios to improve understanding of electronic warfare. (Douglas H Stutz/ U.S. Navy)

Hill, who earned his amateur radio license in high school, noticed that while most of his department’s recent hires had degrees in computer science, many had little background in RF theory or operation.

“You can explain antenna patterns and concepts like omni-directional vs directional using Smith charts, but it’s helpful to add a demonstration to really convey the concept,” Hill said. “You can explain modulation as a concept, but for a demo… let them listen to how modulated digital signals with audio frequencies sound… For those who never knew the joy of hearing a 2400 bps modem connect over a telephone line, it was a new concept!” These concepts are central to electromagnetic maneuver warfare.

“We need to be able to have awareness of all threats and opportunities from [zero frequency] to light within an integrated system,” Hill said. “Our adversaries are looking at the entire spectrum to use against us, and we need to do the same. Having awareness of how the atmosphere changes from daylight to night and how that affects propagation of [high frequency] is important.”

This can be critical for young developers/engineers whose experience is typically limited to the UHF/EHF-based systems now in vogue across communications, guidance and ISR technologies.

When Ian Mann, the division’s target design engineering branch head, heard about Hill’s class, he wanted his team to attend as well. Having earned his own license, when he previously worked at drone-maker Aerovironment, Mann knew the course could help inspire ideas among engineers.

“When I talked to Brian and found out his small class was already on a waiting list, I knew we needed to make the class bigger,” he said. “Many of our engineers know their specializations, but rarely does an aeronautical engineer think about how he changes the polarization of the C2 antenna when the airplane banks for a turn. They are not just moving the airplane but the antenna too. This has already started conversations and I hope many more continue.”

Taught by a local amateur radio instructor, students enjoyed the course, he said.

“It was worth the effort and people are already asking to go to the next class offering,” Mann said.

“We are looking at doing a fox hunt soon,” Hill said. “The team will design a directional antenna, actually build it in class, and then use their antennas to find a hidden RF beacon somewhere on base.”

Similar plans for developers to get hands-on experience performing basic electronic warfare support functions are in the works as are potential cross-disciplinary classes in additive manufacturing.

Article by Eric Tegler on Electronic Warfare News in C4ISRNET

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Ham Radio’s Enduring Appeal

A CBC Story by Paul Colbourne · for CBC N.L. · Posted: Jan 27, 2019 7:00 AM

It’s not just a hobby. In a crisis, amateur operators provide a lifeline !!

Larry Horlick (VO1FOG) still marvels when he thinks about what happens when he turns on his ham radio.

“I’m taking my voice and that radio is converting it into an electrical signal and the amount of electrical energy that he is receiving is so minuscule,” said Horlick, a Coley’s Point resident who is one of a group of radio enthusiasts in Conception Bay North.

Amateur radio was around for nearly a century before the internet, and to this day is the only form of communication that does not depend on a network.

Larry in his station at VO1FOG

Even in a world of smartphones, Facebook and texting, ham radio still holds a mystique for many people. More than two million people around the world still use the technology. Of the estimated 40,000 users in Canada, as many as 1,500 live in Newfoundland and Labrador.

An amateur radio user can connect with anyone practically around the world. The only countries that do not allow amateur radio operators are North Korea and Yemen.

The legacy, and appeal, of Marconi

If amateur radio has a prophet, it surely would be Guglielmo Marconi, the communications pioneer who in proved — in St. John’s — that radio waves follow the curvature of the Earth by bouncing off the ionosphere.

No longer did telegraph wires or “ground waves” bind communication. Now it was possible to talk to anyone in the world who also had a transmitter and receiver.

“When other hams discover you are from Newfoundland, they want to know about Signal Hill,” said Horlick, referring to the place where Marconi received a wireless transmission in December 1901. Carbonear ham radio operator David Parsons agreed the allure is strong with colleagues. “A friend of mine visited me last year and that is one of the things he had to do — go to Signal Hill and see where it all started,” Parsons said.

Right in the middle of the action

Geographically, Newfoundland is in the centre of a lot of amateur radio activity, because it happens to be between Europe and the rest of North America.

“We’re centrally located — you’ve got everything all around us here,” Parsons said, pointing to a screen to see which parts of the world are likely to be reachable. “It’s a really good spot for radio.”

For many enthusiasts, amateur radio is a hobby.  They log their daily “QSOs,” or contacts. While talking to other people around the world, they exchange weather, call signs or other information.

There are contests on who can make the most contacts over a certain amount of time. Some even talk to astronauts on the International Space Station.


Amateur radio operators like Parsons have made contacts around the world, including this station in Norway, LA4UOA

However, this hobby has a serious side as well.  In the event of natural disasters or other emergencies — when more conventional forms of communication go down — amateur radio operators are called on to help.

In the summer of 2017, for example, damage to  fibre optic cables meant that internet and phone services failed in much of Atlantic Canada.
Parsons and other amateur operators helped keep communications open. They were on alert to help ambulances and other emergency personnel locate people in distress or to just relay information from one station to another. The incident proved that a communications system that gets taken for granted can be vulnerable.

“The internet, the world wide web, is just that. It’s a web of interconnected signals that are transmitted by satellite,” said Parsons, adding that the chance of failure becomes greater as the world becomes more interconnected with Wi-Fi, satellites and cellular towers.

Parsons and Horlick both belong to BARK — the Baccalieu Amateur Radio Klub — which operates in the Conception Bay north area. The club holds an annual field day every year where about a dozen local operators use only generated power to make contact with hundreds of other operators worldwide.

The Society of Newfoundland Amateur Radio — or SORNA — is another organization that is trying to recruit new members through education and community outreach.

Becoming an amateur radio operator, though, it is not as simple as buying the equipment. After all, a ham radio is capable of operating in the commercial radio spectrum, where ships and air traffic controls operate. Operators require a licence, and the licensing process is a verification of your skill.  

“You really got to know what you are doing, so you do not interfere with their operations,” said Horlick. “That could be very dangerous.”

Source: CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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ARRL Audio News

ARRL Audio News

Listen to the new episode of ARRL Audio News on your iOS or Android podcast app, or online at http://www.blubrry.com/arrlaudionews/. Audio News is also retransmitted on a number of FM repeaters. Click here and then scroll down to see the list.

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QRP-ARCI Four Days in May

12/17/2018

Registration  is now open for the QRP Amateur Radio Club International “Four Days in May” (FDIM), Thursday – Sunday, May 16 – 19, at the Holiday Inn, Fairborn, Ohio. The annual FDIM event for QRP enthusiasts and builders takes place in conjunction with Hamvention®. Registration begins the evening of Wednesday, May 15.

Most of Thursday will be taken up with seminars, “meet the speakers” opportunities, and an open room for casual show and tell. Most of Friday and Saturday are open to attend the Hamvention and visit the QRP-ARCI Toy Store.

Friday evening activities typically include “show and tell,” vendor displays, and a homebrew contest. Saturday evening features social activities and a banquet, while Sunday is open for Hamvention. Attendees are invited to display their QRP-related projects at FDIM. One evening will feature vendors offering QRP-related products, with some offering FDIM discounts. Dress is casual for all events.

Reservations and special room rates for FDIM will be available after January 1 through the QRP-ARCI website. For more information, contact FDIM 2019 Chair Norm Schklar, WA4ZXV. 

Source: ARRL Website

Kevin N1KL Site Administrator

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Santa’s Radio Club Special Event Set for Dec. 1 – 8

11/28/2018
The annual Santa’s Radio Club Special Event from 200 kilometers above the Arctic Circle will be on the air December 1 – 8 as OH9S — OH9Santa. Activity will be mainly on 160 – 6 meters using all modes, including FT8. QSL via Club Log’s OQRS (preferred) or LoTW.

Contacts will be automatically confirmed via the bureau. Operating from Finnish Lapland, OH9S will not employ any remote stations and will let propagation decide when and where contacts are possible.


“Yes, we know it is not easy to contact us while we are mostly operating from above the Arctic Circle, but that’s part of the game!” the announcement said. “This is the most northernmost Santa station in Finland.” Multiple stations will be on the air.
Due to anticipated poor radio conditions, OH9S will focus activity on FT8.

Tis the season gang, and this may be a fun challenge to try and work the SANTA station during the Christmas season.   Good luck,  and if anyone works them,  put a post up on the website to let us know !!

Regards, Kevin N1KL

Source: ARRL Website

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New US Submarine Forces Commander is Radio Amateur

08/13/2018

US Navy Vice Admiral Charles A. “Chas” Richard, W4HFZ, assumed command of US submarine forces during a change-of-command ceremony on August 4, held aboard the submarine USS Washington (SSN-787). He assumed command from Vice Admiral Joseph Tofalo. An ARRL Life Member, Richard, 58, is well-known in the AMSAT and APRS communities. He had been serving as the deputy commander of US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Vice Admiral Charles A. “Chas” Richard, W4HFZ

A radio amateur since 1974, Richard said on his qrz.com profile that he is active on 6 and 2 meters, as well as on HF when the VHF bands are closed. He also enjoys digital satellite operations. Richard has been on active US Navy duty since 1982

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