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FCC Proposes Fees for HAMS

Image result for fcc logo

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

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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

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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

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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.

Image result for massachusetts state flag
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)

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

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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

GEORGIA

As previously posted, over the next few months, we will be featuring information about our 50 States.

As a Worked All States net, it may be interesting to refresh our memories about the states we hear and/or work on the net. This week we will focus on the state of Georgia, the fourth state to ratify the constitution.

GEORGIA

Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe on Feb. 12, 1733. It was the thirteenth of the 13 original colonies. Georgia became a state on Jan. 2, 1788. Georgia has had 5 capitals:

  • Savannah (1777-1785)
  • Augusta (1786-1789)
  • Louisville (1789-1807)
  • Milledgeville (1807-1867)
  • Atlanta (1868-present
Georgia State Seal
Georgia State Seal
  • State Flower – Cherokee Rose
  • Crop – Peanuts
  • State Song – “Georgia On My Mind”
  • Nicknames – Peach State, Empire State of the South
  • Tree – Live Oak
  • State HAM – AI4IL
  • Georgia is home to the oldest state park in the nation
  • Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River
  • Georgia was the 4th state to join the Union in 1776 and the 5th to join the Confederacy in 1861
  • Wesleyan College in Macon was the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women

Coca-Cola was invented in May 1886 by Dr. John S. Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. The name “Coca-Cola” was suggested by Dr. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson. He penned the name Coca-Cola in the flowing script that is famous today. Coca-Cola was first sold at a soda fountain in Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta by Willis Venable.

Known as the sweetest onion in the world, the Vidalia onion can only be grown in the fields around Vidalia and Glennville, GA

These are just a few of the interesting facts about Georgia. Have fun working GA as you pursue your W.A.S. or any of the GERATOL Awards and endorsements, that require you contact the Peach State.

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

DELAWARE

As previously posted, we will be featuring information about our 50 States. As a Worked All States net, it may be interesting to some, to refresh their memories about the states we hear and/or work on the net. We start the series off with Delaware, often referred to as the “FIRST” state.

Delaware is known as the first state in the United States because it was the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution that formed the U.S. government. Prior to this unification, the 13 colonies were all under British rule.

DELAWARE

Delaware’s history, however, stretches back much father than its position as the first state. The first Europeans to settle the region were the Dutch, in 1631. They set up a trading post in the area, within a year, however, the original settlers were dead from conflicts with local Indian tribes. In 1638, the Swedes successfully established Fort Christina, the first permanent settlement in Delaware. The Dutch settled in the Delaware Valley again in 1651, establishing New Castle and eventually capturing Fort Christina. After changing hands a few more times, the settlement came under permanent English control in 1674.

DE State Flag

Delaware shares a semi-circular border with Pennsylvania. The border was drawn at the time of the original land grants to William Penn from King Charles II and the Duke of York.

The Lady Bug is Delaware’s official state bug.

The Blue Hen chicken is the official state bird. The hens were noted for their fighting ability. Delaware is sometimes referred to as the Blue Hen State.

DE State Bird and Flower

The peach blossom is Delaware’s official state flower and has prompted Delaware’s nickname as the peach state.

Delaware nicknames include:

The First State; The Small Wonder; Blue Hen State; The Diamond State

So when working a Delaware station, you can dazzle them with your knowledge of their state. Have fun.

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

Worked All States !!

Our net history, which may be found on the website as chronicled by Ed Corey, K7OC #1875 reflects the roots of the GERATOL Net. It is of course, primarily a Worked All States net. Check out Ed’s Historical Summary under the HOME button on the tool bar.

As we know, thousands of proud GERATOLers have successfully completed their WAS by working and confirming QSO’s with all 50 states in the Extra Class portion of the 80 Meter band. I wonder how many of us are aware of the history behind those 50 states we worked or are attempting to work. Over the next several months, we will share some interesting facts about our 50 states.

See the source image
Typical Worked All States Tracking Map

Above is a typical blank map, depicting the 50 states, and used by many operators over the years, as they colored in the states they worked, then confirmed. It is a quick way to determine which states are worked, confirmed or still needed.

Regarding the fifty states, the first state to ratify , and then be admitted to the union was Delaware in 1787 and of course, the last being Hawaii in 1959. A span of 172 years. Hard to believe, especially for the younger folks who don’t recall the addition of HI and AK, who were both admitted in 1959. There are four states that are officially listed as a “Commonwealth” vs a State. Those are: Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Of course prior to our constitution, we had the original 13 colonies.Seeking independence from England and the British Crown, thirteen American colonies declared themselves sovereign and independent states. Their official flag is shown below. The original 13 consisted of: VA, MA, NH, MD, CT, DE, N.C., S.C., N.J., N.Y., PA, GA and R.I.

Flag of Original Thirteen Colonies

We will launch the information regarding our 50 States in the not too distant future. We hope you will enjoy the information, and don’t be bashful about submitting information, corrections, etc. by posting a “comment” to the upcoming POSTS.

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

Women On The Radio

WOMEN ON THE RADIO – A ‘FIRST’ WITH A PURPOSE

Listen for a special team of YLs from around the world this month. They’re not just on the air to collect QSL cards, as Jeremy Boot G4NJH explains.

“An international team of YLs is working together through the month of November to put the first “Women on the Radio” Award in the logbooks – as many logbooks as possible. The award and the inaugural event behind it are the creations of Angeles EC1YL who is the founder of the international group Women on the Radio, in cooperation with Erica IZ-ZERO-EIK (IZ0EIK), the editor of QTC magazine which is produced by the Italian Radio Amateurs Union.”

Image result for clip art of women ham radio ops
Women Radio Ops During WWII

The significance of this event being run through November is also to publicize the United Nation’s ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’ on November the 25th.

Hams, especially YLs, are encouraged to compete for this award by gathering at least 60 points through contacts with any of the 13 members of the team. They include YLs in the UK, the Philippines, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Chile and the United States.

They are calling “CQ CQ Women on the Radio Award.” For additional details visit w-o-t-r-a dot home dot blog (wotra.home.blog)

Source: Amateur Radio Newsline – Jeremy Boot G4NJH.

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