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FCC Proposes Fees for HAMS

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In case you have not already heard, the FCC is looking to re-instate fees for Amateur radio licensees. The HAMS would pay a $50 fee for each amateur radio license application if the FCC adopts rules it proposed this week. Included in the FCC’s fee proposal are applications for new licenses, renewal and upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees.

The FCC proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”

“[A]pplications for personal licenses are mostly automated and do not have individualized staff costs for data input or review,” the FCC said in its NPRM. “For these automated processes — new/major modifications, renewal, and minor modifications — we propose a nominal application fee of $50 due to automating the processes, routine ULS maintenance, and limited instances where staff input is required.”

The same $50 fee would apply to all Amateur Service applications, including those for vanity call signs. “Although there is currently no fee for vanity call signs in the Amateur Radio Service, we find that such applications impose similar costs in aggregate on Commission resources as new applications and therefore propose a $50 fee,” the FCC said.

The FCC is not proposing to charge for administrative updates, such as mailing address changes for amateur applications, and amateur radio will remain exempt from annual regulatory fees. “For administrative updates [and] modifications, which also are highly automated, we find that it is in the public interest to encourage licensees to update their [own] information without a charge,” the FCC said.

The FCC also proposes to assess a $50 fee for individuals who want a printed copy of their license. “The Commission has proposed to eliminate these services — but to the extent the Commission does not do so, we propose a fee of $50 to cover the costs of these services,” the FCC said.

Deadlines for comments and reply comments will be determined once the NPRM appears in the Federal Register. Interested parties may file comments by using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), posting to MD Docket No. 20-270. This docket is already open to accept comments, even though deadlines have not yet been set.

If you ain’t crazy about forking over $50 to renew your license, feel free to submit your input to the NPRM, or if you are an ARRL member, fire off a note to your Section Manager and let him/her know you don’t like it. Or, maybe even if you do like it.

Kevin N1KL

Sources: FCC Website, ARRL News bulletin

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,General Ham Radio News and have No Comments

Jamboree-on-the-Air

Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, is the largest Scouting event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community.

Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) and Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) will be held this year on October 16, 17, and 18. Register online as an individual or as a group.

JOTA details are available on the K2BSA website. The website menu will direct users to additional supporting information. K2BSA’s Jim Wilson, K5ND, says many locations are already offering virtual radio merit badge classes “and no doubt will be using similar approaches for Jamboree on the Air.” 

This year’s event will of course, need to follow all locally required COVID19 precautions. As a former Pack and Troop Committee Chairman, I recall conducting several JOTA events from remote Scout Camp locations as well as from my own ham shack. The boys were thrilled when they heard stations from all over the country, and world reply to our CQ. So if you have time that weekend, feel free to tune around and make a few JOTA participants happy.

Kevin N1KL

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,General Ham Radio News and have No Comments

Ham In Space !

Radio Amateur Takes Part in Historic First Commercial Human Spaceflight to ISS

Bob Behnken, KE5GGX, was one of two NASA astronauts who recently made spaceflight history. Behnken and Doug Hurley were the first astronauts since the 1970s to make a water landing, after their Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico. On May 30, the pair made history as the first live crew to be launched into space in a commercial vehicle, for a stay on the International Space Station (ISS), marking the return of human spaceflight to US soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

Bob Behnken KE5GGX (left)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine proclaimed that the US was entering a new era of human spaceflight, noting that NASA was no longer the only option for US space travel. “We are going to be a customer,” he said. NASA has contracted with two companies — SpaceX and Boeing — to ferry astronaut crews to and from the ISS.

While part of the space station crew for 2 months, Behnken and Astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, the sole American on board when their Endeavour capsule docked, carried out four spacewalks to install new batteries on the ISS.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle was designed for short-term missions, and Behnken and Hurley’s mission had only been expected to last a week. As a result, Behnken did not receive Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) training on the radio gear in the Russian sector. NASA subsequently decided to monitor the mission and make a decision on how long the Crew Dragon would stay. Cassidy fielded all ARISS school contacts.

Source: ARRL News

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,General Ham Radio News and have No Comments

GERATOL NEWS

Greetings fellow GERATOLers. We hope you are all well, and enjoying the summer as best you can, given the current environment.

We have a few items of interest for our net members:

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First, we would like to welcome a new registration member to our website: Bill – W6ST, who hails from AZ. Bill has been a licensed ham operator for 50 years, so we hope he can join us on the air this fall. Especially for those of you looking to complete your 50/50 Award. Bill, that award is available for everyone on the net to work toward, and the requirements include working all 50 states, and also to work 50 operators, like yourself, who have been licensed for 50 years or more, hence the 50/50 aspect. Some of the guys have finished that challenging award, but I am sure there are several more who are looking to wrap it up in the coming GERATOL 2020/2021 Season. At any rate, welcome aboard, and we hope to hear you on this fall.

Second, our Awards Manager Dave, KJ8V has posted some sad news on the website, listing a few of our fellow GERATOLers as Silent Keys: Dave writes:K3TX Dave PA #990, WU6I Dave CA #1078 call reissued and Fred N9TA IN # 2031. RIP Guys you will be missed – Dave, KJ8V

Third, it won’t be very long, and before you know it, October 1st will be upon us, and the net will once again be in session. So if you have any antenna work remaining (As do I) let’s take advantage of the warm weather to make those changes/improvements, or in my case full replacements done before the net starts off. Thanks to fellow GERATOLer – Steve, N9SC G#2370, for kicking me in the butt, and getting me to purchase a new antenna as well as using his “Pressurized Launcher” to get the antenna rope up and over a huge pine tree !!

Finally, I’ve been speaking to our Awards Manager Dave, KJ8V about a new award for the coming season to whet the appetite of old and new net attendees, and he confirmed with me last time we spoke, that he and Sandy, KJ8W are brewing up a good one. I won’t let the cat out of the bag, but rest assured it should be fun, and if only one net member works toward this new award, it will reflect more activity than last year’s “dud” known as “The GERATOL INVITATIONAL AWARD” Hey, you can’t say I didn’t try….win some and lose some. At least everyone seemed to enjoy the 50/50 Award chase !!!

All the best, and take a minute to place a “Comment” on this POST, to welcome Bill aboard, or to make any comments about this POST.

Regards, Kevin N1KL Website Administrator

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,GERATOL NET NEWS and have Comments (2)

MARYLAND

As a Worked All States net, we are continuing to share several fun facts about those “states” we are attempting to work, as we strive toward completion of the Unbelievable Operating Achievement Award, or any of the other awards and/or endorsements.

This week, we focus on the “Old Line State”. Maryland was the 7 th state in the USA; it became a state on April 28,1788.

Official seal of Maryland

The state motto is Fatti maschii, parole femine, which is Italian for “Manly deeds, womanly words”. Maryland is the only state with a motto in Italian.

The state bird is the Baltimore Oriole. The state flower is the Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). The state reptile is the diamondback terrapin. The state crustacean is the blue crab.

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State Bird – Baltimore Oriole

Maryland has many places important to the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War. One of these places is Fort McHenry, which defended against the British Empire during the War of 1812. Another place is the Antietam National Battlefield, where the Battle of Antietam took place in 1862 during the American Civil War.

Founded by English Catholic settlers who wanted a place where they could freely practice Catholicism, Maryland was the seventh state to join the US. Maryland is known as the “Old Line State,” named after the Maryland Line, a regiment that fought in the American Revolution. Maryland surrounds most of the Chesapeake Bay, and the state is known for its Crabs and Crab Cakes.

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State Crustacean

Maryland is sometimes called “America in Miniature”. It has a wide topography that ranges from gently rolling hills to pine groves, to sandy dunes, and marshlands near the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland is home to lakes, rivers, and the Atlantic ocean. 400 types of birds, 90 species of mammals, 93 species of reptiles and amphibians, and hundreds of freshwater and marine fish inhabit the borders of Maryland.

Have fun tracking down MD during the upcoming season, and should you work someone from that state, you are now armed with some fun facts about the Old Line State.

Kevin N1KL

posted by Kevin in GERATOL NET NEWS and have No Comments

WELCOME New Subscribers

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Welcome and Thanks for Registering

Let’s extend a hearty “WELCOME” to our latest GERATOL Net Website Subscribers:

Jim – N8JG Jim hails from Michigan, and will be in demand for his “Initial Call” sign on the net.

Chuck – AA0RI Chuck represents the great state of Arizona, and is an avid CW operator !!

Larry – WA2CNV Larry brings New York on to the net, and with that 2×3 call sign, will help those working on Endorsement # 17 !!

Welcome aboard guys, we hope you can join us this Fall on 3.668 at 0100Z starting October 1st Zulu time !!

Regards, Kevin N1KL Website Administrator

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,GERATOL NET NEWS and have Comments (2)

MASSACHUSETTS

As a Worked All States net, we are continuing to share several fun facts about those “states” we are attempting to work, as we strive toward completion of the Unbelievable Operating Achievement Award, or any of the other awards and/or endorsements.

This week, we focus on the sixth state to ratify the constitution, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MA ratified the constitution on February 6th, 1788.

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Massachusetts State Flag

Massachusetts, along with Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, are called “Commonwealths”. Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good.

One interesting fact about the state of Massachusetts, is that Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820, when it voted to secede from Massachusetts to become a separate state. On March 15, 1820. Smart move on their part !! I can say that, I live in MA.

Other interesting and fun facts about MA include:
Both volleyball and basketball were invented in Western, MA. In fact, today the Basketball Hall of Fame resides in the city of Springfield, and the Volleyball Hall of Fame is in Holyoke, both in Western MA.

Basketball Hall of Fame
Basketball Hall of Fame
International Volleyball Hall of Fame Logo Vector
Volleyball Hall of Fame

Other fun facts:
The Chocolate Chip Cookie didn’t exist prior to 1938, when it was invented by the owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts.

There’s a Native American lake named Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. It means “you fish on your side, I fish on my side, and no one fishes in the middle”. It’s located in Webster, MA and we just call it, Webster Lake.

Paul Revere actually shouted “The Regulars are coming out”, not “The British are coming”, since Massachusetts colonists still considered themselves British citizens at the time.

A 216-year old business in Dalton, Massachusetts called Crane & Co. produces almost all of the paper used for U.S. currency, as well as banknotes for many foreign countries.

Boston built the first subway system in the United States in 1897. It probably ran better then as well. I’ve had the misfortune of taking the “T” before and after sporting events in Boston. They are still looking for “Charlie on the MTA” !!

Hope you enjoyed the fun facts about Massachusetts. Can anyone guess which state will be the next we discuss ?

Kevin N1KL

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,General Ham Radio News and have Comment (1)

BASIC AWARD & ENDORSEMENT TOOLS

Tools for tracking progress toward BASIC Award, as well as forms to submit your application

A reminder to those chasing the BASIC AWARD, or the Unbelievable Operating Achievement Award, as well as all the GERATOL Endorsements, there are several tools available on the website for tracking your state totals and endorsements, as well as blank copies of the Award Application form.

One of the tools available is the Excel spreadsheet, which allows you to enter a state as you work it, by putting in the word “YES” in the Worked Column, along with the station call sign worked, in the “CALL” section. The spreadsheet then automatically calculates your totals. This can serve as a “quick check” for those working on their basic. Below is an example of the spreadsheet, before any contacts are entered:

Once you begin making contacts, simply put a YES in the state worked, along with the call sign of the station you worked: See below example:

By putting the word YES in worked column, and adding the station worked, the spreadsheet will automatically calculate the number of states you worked, and how many you still need to work. As the example shows, two states were worked and op needs 48 more.

Of course, once you have worked, logged and obtained QSL cards toward your basic, you must submit the application form and proof of QSL to our awards manager, Dave – KJ8V. Below is an example of the form:

Form may be downloaded off our website

Tools for tracking your GERATOL Endorsements

(Just a reminder, to use GNEC, you MUST first download WinEQF logging software, and log your GERATOL QSO’s with WinEQF.)

As a reminder to those returning to the net, and the GERATOL Website, but especially for new folks joining the net, the GERATOL website was not designed to track your individual endorsements and awards.   The site does however, provide links to files in the menu bar, which allow you to download and begin using for your individual tracking purposes. 

For example, using GNEC with the logging files from WinEqf affords a very useful tool for tracking the progress of your individual endorsements.  Below is a typical screen shot of how progress is tracked using Frosty’s GNEC program in conjunction with WinEqf for endorsement status. 

The green color button denotes you are greater than three requirements from being completed.  Yellow only two requirements short and the orange color reflects you only need one more requirement to complete the award and maroon reflects completion.   Here are some examples of the various buttons:

GREEN BUTTON Example: Endorsement #24 requires one to work all 50 with “K” 2×2 Call signs. In this case the op has 14 left to work

Example of progress toward Endorsement # 24

YELLOW BUTTON example: Endorsement #2 requires one to work all fifty states with “N” 1×2 Call signs. In this example, the op needs two more to complete the endorsement. (See below example)

Two more needed to complete Endorsement # 2

ORANGE BUTTON example:  Endorsement #15, you must work all fifty states with “W” 2×1 calls.

In this example, the op needs only to work the state of HI with a “W” 2×1 call.

Only 1 more needed to complete Endorsement # 15

Another neat feature of GNEC, is the ability for you to print your progress reports for each of the endorsements you are tracking.  As the example above points out, simply hit the PRINT button, after running your status check, and voila.  A nice printed summary of where you stand, which states you need. 

Yet another great tool made available by W0FP, is the GLIST program.   As with GNEC, the GLIST is available on our website, by simply downloading the latest version.   There are detailed instructions on the site, where the files are located, on how to set these tools up. 

Example of a GLIST report, using N1KL Call Sign

As you can see it reflects the GERATOL number, call sign, name, D #, along with other pertinent information endorsement seekers may be looking to obtain.  You not only can sort it by GERATOL number, but by “D” number, Call sign, etc.   See below example:   

GLIST SORT PANEL

Just a reminder, the use of GNEC begins with downloading and using the logging software, WinEqf.   That software is also available on the website for you to download and begin using.  The key is to get your logging software as up to date as possible.  This will insure maximizing the uses of GNEC and GLIST

To do this, if you have not been using WinEqf to log your GERATOL contacts, you may need to import those from whatever logging software you are currently using, or input them manually into WinEqf.  Either way, it’s well worth the effort, for tracking progress against your GERATOL endorsements.

All the files in question, WinEqf, GNEC and GLIST, Basic Tracking Spreadsheet, may be found on our website by opening the website, looking at the main menu bar at the top of the site, and clicking on where it says “Files”   See below:

Click on FILES to get all the goodies referenced

Once you have clicked on the “FILES” section, shown above. The dropdown menu then shown will list three items, including:  Additional Aids and Forms for the GERATOL Net

Click on Additional Aids and Forms for the GERATOL Net and you will see the following shown below:

Begin by downloading the Win-EQF software.  Set up the software as directed, and begin logging your GERATOL QSO’s.   You can then download GNEC, following the instructions put out by Frosty, W0FP and begin updating GNEC, once you have contacts logged into WinEQF.

Below is a typical WinEqf log page, once properly set up and in use:

Also, remember you need to “marry” your WinEqf logging software to GNEC.  Simply follow the instructions set out by Frosty, W0FP when attempting to do this. Those are found under the instructions, when you download GNEC

Regarding other awards, such as Vet Salute, Director’s Award, 50/50, etc.  There are instructions on the site under the AWARD portion of the menu bar, for how to track and submit your QSO’s for those awards.   Have fun, and good hunting.   Kevin – N1KL

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posted by Kevin in GERATOL NET NEWS and have Comments (2)

SOLAR CYCLE 25

Frank Donovan, W3LPL, notes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has published its official updated prediction of Solar Cycle 25 in new, interactive Solar Cycle Progression graphs. The updated prediction is based on the results of NOAA’s Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel.

“SWPC forecasts a solar maximum between 105 and 125, with the peak occurring between November 2024 and March 2026,” Donovan said. “There is broad consensus that solar minimum is ongoing this year — or may have already occurred — and that Cycle 25 will have no major change in the level of solar activity compared to Cycle 24.”

As Donovan explained, for many years the SWPC’s solar cycle predictions have used the Royal Observatory of Belgium’s International Sunspot Number. SWPC’s official solar cycle prediction now uses the SWPC sunspot number. The International Sunspot Number is typically about one-third lower than the SWPC sunspot number.

View of the W3LPL antenna farm

“While this is SWPC’s official Cycle 25 prediction, it’s important to note there is still divergence among various forecasting methods and members of the space weather forecasting community,” Donovan said. “Most forecasts and forecasters agree that the Cycle 25 is likely to be within ±20% of Cycle 24 and is likely to occur between 2024 and 2027.”

Source: QRZNOW.COM

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,General Ham Radio News and have No Comments

New TQSL Updates

For those of you who utilize LoTW, the ARRL has announced that several improvements have been made to TQSL, which should improve the overall accuracy of LoTW database. As a casual CW contester, I have noticed a large increase in DX stations now using and uploading to LoTW. If you are chasing DXCC or other awards, it’s a great way to log QSO’s against what you may need, during a contest, and then receive confirmations rather quickly.

New TQSL Updates Announced

04/16/2020

The recently released TQSL version 2.5.2 application for uploading logs to Logbook of The World (LoTW) tightens requirements for data consistency, with the goal of improving the integrity of the LoTW database. Starting with TQSL version 2.5.2, discrepancies in submitted logs now are flagged, especially when it comes to the Amateur Data Interchange Format (ADIF) files frequently uploaded to LoTW. This has prompted questions and concerns, however, when the system fails to accept a user’s uploaded contact or log.

ADIF exists precisely to help ensure the accuracy of “data interchange” among amateur radio applications — different logging programs, for example. TQSL uses ADIF file data for cross-checks that help to keep inaccurate or incomplete information from contaminating the LoTW database, and that’s where some user issues have arisen. For example, the OPERATOR field, which should be a call sign, sometimes shows up as a name. Occasionally, operators have reversed their ITU and CQ zones. Another issue is in the MY_STATE field, which should show a US Postal Service two-letter state abbreviation. Anything else is a problem.

“The value of the checks added to TQSL is that it lets operators know when the data they’re handling in their computer-based logs is correct,” said TQSL Developer Rick Murphy, K1MU. “Just as most hams would not knowingly send out a QSL card with the wrong details, it’s important to make sure that when a ham submits a log to LoTW that the content of that log accurately captures the details. It also prevents operators from uploading logs that contain incorrect information.”

Some help is on the way. Murphy soon will release TQSL version 2.5.3, which, among other things, skips over the OPERATOR field check. “We have found that some of the checking performed for TQSL 2.5.2 was incomplete in some cases — for example, allowing incorrect zone information to pass, and overly strict in other cases — for example, the STATION_OWNER tag,” Murphy said. “We’ve taken feedback from users and made great strides in improving the way logs are checked to ensure that checking is more complete while not raising false alarms.”

The problem is not always with the user. The initial implementation of cross-checks in TQSL 2.5.2 revealed that not all logging applications conform to the ADIF standard, which is maintained and voted on by the 22-member ADIF group, which includes ARRL. TQSL 2.5.2 has offered support for operations from several locations, as well as the ability to detect uploads that contain incorrect location data, and the field used for checking location has been in the ADIF standard since 2004.

Some commenters have suggested that ARRL has not defined the ADIF fields appropriately, but this represents a misunderstanding of how the ADIF standard is developed and maintained. Logging applications are obliged to follow the standard, if they generate files that claim to be ADIF compatible.

“Operators have a right to insist that the logging applications they use conform to the standards agreed upon by the ADIF collective,” said Greg Widin, K0GW, the chair of the ARRL LoTW Committee. “Those who find that their logger is out of conformance should demand an update, or, if the logger is unsupported or the developer is unwilling to update, should investigate switching to an application that is a cooperative member of the universe of amateur radio logging applications.”

Source: ARRL News

posted by Kevin in From the Administrator,General Ham Radio News and have No Comments