NASA TV Features NA1SS Aboard the Space Station

A video released on November 23, 2011 features ISS Expedition 25 commander Col. Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, oeprating NA1SS aboard the space station. This is a really great video. Not only do you get a view of the ham radio station in action, you also get a mini-tour of the space station.

One the things I found amusing about the first part of the video is that you can see Wheelock floating around while he’s explaining how he works the pileups. When he actually does start operating, you can hear how many calls they get up there. They really have be good operators to pull the stations out of all the QRM.

FCC’s Spectrum Dashboard

Many hams feel that they “own” the ham bands. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. In the UHF and microwave regions, we share those bands with other services.

Don’t believe me? Try out the FCC Spectrum Dashboard. According to this website,

The Spectrum Dashboard allows new ways for citizens to search spectrum in the United States. Use the dashboard to find out how spectrum is being used, who owns spectrum licenses around the country, and what spectrum is available in your county.

It covers the frequency range 225 MHz – 3.7 GHz, which are the frequencies generally deemed the best for wireless broadband service, and therefore, the frequencies most sought after right now.

You can do all kinds of searches, including:

  • search by frequency band,
  • search by service,
  • search by location, and
  • browse through the spectrum.

I just did a search for frequencies used by the amateur radio service and discovered that we share the 420 – 450 MHz band with the following services:

  • Industrial/Business Radio Service
  • Public Safety Radio Service
  • Radiolocation Service

This is a great tool for any ham interested in spectrum issues.

Ears to Our World

Thanks to Paul, KW1L, for suggesting this……..Dan

BBC’s Digital Planet reports on the organization, Ears to Our World, which brings wind-up short wave radios to some of the most inhospitable parts of the world. As the report notes, there are many remote places that have no Internet access and that shortwave radio is still a way to link them to the rest of the world.

Three Kids Wrangled on Saturday

Ovide, K8EV, our “kid wrangler,” did his thing yesterday and we were able to get three kids on the air. Seven-year-old Jack was our first kid communicator; he spoke to K9IRO. Peter was our second, and Brian our third.  A good time was had by all.

We were very fortunate in that band conditions on 40m were very good. All three stations we talked to were 57 – 59, and no one had to strain to hear one another.

Tower Update
We’re making progress slowly, but surely on the tower project. Over the course of last week, I mounted all the lightning arrestors to the mounting plate that goes in the NEMA box. On Friday, Jack, Dave, and I lowered the tower and mounted the rotor plate and rotor. We mounted the thrust bearing, too, but after inspection, John decided that it needed some kind of cap to prevent water from pooling in it.

National Weather Service Honors Ham Radio Operators Dec 4

This is an edited version of a press release from the ARRL……Dan

Newington, CT Nov 17, 2010 — The National Weather Service’s annual SKYWARN Recognition event will take place Saturday, December 4. Cosponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) and ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, SKYWARN Recognition Day is the National Weather Service’s way of expressing its appreciation to Amateur Radio operators for their commitment to keep communities safe.

While the 2010 hurricane season has been fairly quiet in the US, amateur radio operators are also deeply involved with the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). The HWN, which organized in 1965, began as an informal group of amateurs that has developed into a formal relationship with the National Hurricane Center in Miami via its Amateur Radio station WX4NHC. Ham radio operators and volunteers at Miami work together when hurricanes threaten, providing real-time weather data and damage reports to the Hurricane Center’s forecasters.

Over 100 National Weather Service regional offices will be participating in this year’s event to recognize the community service of ham radio people.

For full information see the NOAA website.

Frequently Asked Questions about SKYWARN Recognition Day

What is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world. Information regarding SRD is updated at http://hamradio.noaa.gov.

Why are the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League cosponsoring the event?
The NWS and the ARRL both recognize the importance that amateur radio provides during severe weather. Many NWS offices acquire real time weather information from amateur radio operators in the field. These operators, for example, may report the position of a tornado, the height of flood waters, or damaging wind speeds during hurricanes. All of this information is critical to the mission of the NWS which is to preserve life and property. The special event celebrates this special contribution by amateur radio operators.

When is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
This year SKYWARN Recognition Day begins at 0000 UTC on December 4, 2010. It will last 24 hours.
How many NWS stations are participating in the event?
It is estimated that around 100 NWS stations will participate this year.

Is this a contest or what?
No, this is not a contest, so no scoring will be computed. This is simply a group of stations transmitting from NWS offices during the same time. Similar event occurs every year on the amateur radio calendar. For example, hams operate from lighthouses across the world during one weekend and from naval ships/submarines during another.

QST magazine usually lists Special Event stations in a compiled list every month. Will our station be listed there?
If you want your individual station to be listed in the Special Event section of QST magazine, you must submit your information following the ARRL submission policies. You can go to www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html for complete information on how to do this. Remember, though, the deadline to get this information to QST is fast approaching.

We would like to publicize the event in the media. Can we do it?
You bet.

Is there a national point of contact?
Yes, there are three points-of-contact. Contact either:
Matt Mehle (Matthew.Mehle@noaa.gov) Dave Floyd (David.L.Floyd@noaa.gov) Scott Mentzer (Scott.Mentzer@noaa.gov)

Is this an annual event?
Yes. This is the 12th consecutive year that the event has been held.

SkyWarn Recognition Day, 12/4/10

This is an edited version of a press release from the ARRL……Dan

Newington, CT Nov 17, 2010 — The National Weather Service’s annual SKYWARN Recognition event will take place Saturday, December 4. Cosponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) and ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, SKYWARN Recognition Day is the National Weather Service’s way of expressing its appreciation to Amateur Radio operators for their commitment to keep communities safe.

While the 2010 hurricane season has been fairly quiet in the US, amateur radio operators are also deeply involved with the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). The HWN, which organized in 1965, began as an informal group of amateurs that has developed into a formal relationship with the National Hurricane Center in Miami via its Amateur Radio station WX4NHC. Ham radio operators and volunteers at Miami work together when hurricanes threaten, providing real-time weather data and damage reports to the Hurricane Center’s forecasters.

Over 100 National Weather Service regional offices will be participating in this year’s event to recognize the community service of ham radio people.

For full information see the NOAA website.

Frequently Asked Questions about SKYWARN Recognition Day

What is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world. Information regarding SRD is updated at http://hamradio.noaa.gov.

Why are the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League cosponsoring the event?
The NWS and the ARRL both recognize the importance that amateur radio provides during severe weather. Many NWS offices acquire real time weather information from amateur radio operators in the field. These operators, for example, may report the position of a tornado, the height of flood waters, or damaging wind speeds during hurricanes. All of this information is critical to the mission of the NWS which is to preserve life and property. The special event celebrates this special contribution by amateur radio operators.

When is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
This year SKYWARN Recognition Day begins at 0000 UTC on December 4, 2010. It will last 24 hours.
How many NWS stations are participating in the event?
It is estimated that around 100 NWS stations will participate this year.

Is this a contest or what?
No, this is not a contest, so no scoring will be computed. This is simply a group of stations transmitting from NWS offices during the same time. Similar event occurs every year on the amateur radio calendar. For example, hams operate from lighthouses across the world during one weekend and from naval ships/submarines during another.

QST magazine usually lists Special Event stations in a compiled list every month. Will our station be listed there?
If you want your individual station to be listed in the Special Event section of QST magazine, you must submit your information following the ARRL submission policies. You can go to www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html for complete information on how to do this. Remember, though, the deadline to get this information to QST is fast approaching.

We would like to publicize the event in the media. Can we do it?
You bet.

Is there a national point of contact?
Yes, there are three points-of-contact. Contact either:
Matt Mehle (Matthew.Mehle@noaa.gov) Dave Floyd (David.L.Floyd@noaa.gov) Scott Mentzer (Scott.Mentzer@noaa.gov)

Is this an annual event?
Yes. This is the 12th consecutive year that the event has been held.

A Cogent Comment

On the TenTec Omni VII mailing list, a discussion was recently started about updates that are currently in the works for some of the TenTec transceivers. These include firmware updates for the new Eagle and the Orion 565, a real-time panoramic display for the Orion and the Omni VII, and the possibility of increasing the transmit bandwidth of the Omni VII to 6 kHz, so that SSB operators could run extended single sideband (ESSB).

A discussion followed on whether or not ESSB should be allowed. Those arguing that it shouldn’t be pointed to Part 97, paragraph 307:

Emission standards.
(a) No amateur station transmission shall occupy more bandwidth than necessary for the information rate and emission type being transmitted, in accordance with good amateur practice.

This was debated back and forth, but the most cogent comment came from Richards, K8JHR. He said,

Operators could spend less time trying to sound good, and more time trying to say something significant or meaningful. Our mantra should be “Do you understand…” not “How’s my audio…”

Amen, brother.

The Perennial Debate: Is Ham Radio Dying?

If you’ve been around ham radio for even a year or two, you’ve no doubt heard or participated in the debate as to whether or not ham radio is dying.  The question is as perennial as the grass.

Recently, this was a topic of discussion on the ARRL PR mailing list. Allen, W1AGP, the ARRL’s Media & PR Manager, generated this chart to show that ham radio is NOT dying:

Ham Radio is Not DyingThis chart is fairy dramatic, until you not the values on the y axis.  Even so, the good news is that the number of licensees is quickly approaching 700,000, and should surpass that number shortly.

Upon seeing this chart, Jerry, N9TU, did a little statistical analysis of his own, producing this chart, which shows the distribution of licensees in his zip code.

From this data, he deduces, “If this is an average sampling of deceased members, expired members and club licenses there are roughly 90,000 fewer licensees than shown in the data nationwide. I have no clue of the error rate involved with my data. Your results may vary.” My guess is that his zip code is probably pretty typical, and that his analysis is essentially correct.

There’s also the question of activity. Previously, I’ve guessed that nearly half of all licensees are inactive, and that if we could figure out a way to activate those hams, then we’d really be able to say that our hobby is not dying. It’s something worth thinking about, but there’s certainly no easy answer to this problem.  As  Yogi Berra is purported to have said, “If people don’t want to come out to the ball park, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.”

Overall, though, I think the numbers are headed in the right direction. Let’s all keep up the good work.

W1AW Winter 2010 Sked in Chart Form

Thanks to Karl, W4KRL, for producing this chart. He posted it to one of the gazillion ham radio mailing lists to which I’m subscribed. He writes:

I hope to brush up on my code by listening to W1AW but I find the new schedule confusing. I prepared a chart organized by day, time, and mode. Hope you find it useful.

W1AW Winter 2010 Sked

download PDF file

Build a TX for the 1929 QSO Party

This from VE7SL via the qrp-l mailing list:

If any of you were thinking about putting something together for the Antique Wireless Association’s 1929-style QSO party, there is still time to throw together a little Hartley or TNT!

The 1929 QSO party runs Dec 05/06 and Dec 10/11 (2300z-2300z). This is the contest where entrants are required to use a tube and tx circuit design that was only available in 1929 or earlier (210, 245, 27….there’s a bunch of them, mostly triodes). No xtals are allowed …..self-excited oscillators only! Your transmitter doesn’t have to look pretty either! Most of the activity is on 80m (3550-3580) but there are always a handfull of brave soles venturing way up to 40m (7040-7060) as well.

There has been a significant rule change this year that allows the ’29 member stations to work non-’29ers for points (previously these QSO’s could not be scored) so even if you don’t put a transmitter together, please join in the fun and listen to the chirps and buzzes of what the bands once sounded like….and then call them!

For inspiration, I have posted a gallery of eligible transmitters. The AWA has a ‘quick-build’ plan on their website, and a page on replica vintage transmitters.

Hope to hear you in the contest.

73 / Steve