Amateur radio in the news: London ARC, Skywarn

 

London ARC members activate the Blackfriars Bridge for Bridges on the Air.

London ARC members activate the Blackfriars Bridge for Bridges on the Air.

London hams bridge communciations gap. Since 1920, members of the London Amateur Radio Club (LARC) have filled the airwaves with banter both about the hobby itself, and about emergency preparedness. On July 19, a handful of LARC members put their talents on display at the Blackfriars Bridge in London.

SKYWARN WARRIORS: Local ham radio buffs work front lines for National Weather Service. The National Weather Service has radar, satellites, Doppler, and double Doppler. But even with all of that high technology, it still needs boots on the ground to know how the weather is affecting people. So when the power is out, many of its 6,500 Skywarn weather watchers in southern New England go the traditional route, using ham radio to file reports.

Hospital has SPARC of security. Beaumont is ready for any kind of natural disaster: the city and the San Gorgonio Pass Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) have partnered to provide ham radio operations at City Hall in the event of a disaster that could interrupt communications between cities and residents. The service is now in place in the Emergency Services Department office at the civic center. Rick Cook, emergency services coordinator, said he is very pleased to be working with the amateur radio club.

Next year, let’s do a “maker” Field Day

A couple of minutes ago, I got an e-mail from John, KD8MKE, who wrote:

I had this crazy idea that you could use a quad copter to hold up a dipole antenna AND power the quad from the ground (to save the battery weight).  Ed pointed out that the cable would weigh quite a bit, which is a good point.  Modern quads are remarkably steady when they are in loiter mode.

I wondered if you had heard of someone doing something like this at a Field day?  Seems like it would be handy if you didn’t have a tree or other structure to use as a peak.

I replied:

I haven’t heard about the use of copters for actually supporting the antennas, but there has been talk about using them for getting ropes into trees.

In the past, people have used balloons to support vertical antennas. With a vertical, you’d need only support the wire itself, not the feedline. A 160m vertical would be about 133 ft. long. How far up can these things go? How long do you think they would stay in the air?

I thought about this for a bit, and it occurred to me that next year we should do a Maker Field Day. The idea would be to incorporate as many “maker” projects as we can think of into it. Copters are a big maker thing, so that certainly qualifies. Another idea that I had for a maker ham radio project is to use 3D printing to make a “cootie key” or a paddle.

What are some others?

From my Twitter feed: Antennas!

gw1jfv's avatarRichard GW1JFV @gw1jfv
Mr Cebik (W4RNL sk) Top 5 backyard multi-band wire antennas via N8SDR n8sdr.sopmcincy.org/images/Antenna…

 

MW0IAN's avatarIan @MW0IAN
The versatile endfed VK3YE home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/gatew… #hamradio

 

Tydraig's avatarCarl MW0TBB – KC2ZIL @Tydraig
FMW Magnetic loop antenna by M0AJJ compared to the Alex Loop by PY1AHD. tydraig.com/antenna%20magn… #hamr

ARRL needs to improve their support for clubs

Often, when you hear ARRL officials speak, they extol the virtues of amateur radio clubs, saying things like, “Clubs are the lifeblood of amateur radio.” For example, Dale Williams, WA8EFK, in response to my e-mail congratulating him on his appointment as the new ARRL Great Lakes Division director, said that his “plans are to push to keep things local, club-related, and bottom-up driven.”

Of course, that kind of set me off. When it comes to club support, the ARRL is more talk than action.

One example of this lack of support is that there hasn’t been an issue of the ARRL Club News newsletter for years. Even so, if you log into the ARRL website and look at your e-mail subscriptions page, you’ll see that it says that it’s supposed to be a monthly newsletter.

I’ll also note that the ARRL CEO Harold Kramer, WJ1B,left this particular newsletter off the list of available newsletters in his June QST column. I don’t know who at HQ is responsible for producing this newsletter, but the fact that there hasn’t been one for so long speaks volumes to me.

arrow-logo-150wAnother example is the club commission program. Under this program, clubs get a $15 commission when they sign up a new member. That’s not bad, but the commission falls to only $2 for renewing members. According to a former treasurer of ARROW, my club here in Ann Arbor, MI, $2 just wasn’t enough to make it worth his while to process renewals.

To be fair, it’s not all bad news. The ARRL website does have a page with information on how to set up and run an active club (http://www.arrl.org/affiliated-club-resources). The ARRL also has a club liability insurance program is a decent deal for clubs, but that program probably doesn’t require much effort on the ARRL’s part. The ARRL is also supposed to refer new hams to clubs, but I’m not sure exactly how they do that, and I don’t think ARROW’s gained any new members from this recently.

Let me ask you. Is your club getting the support it needs from the ARRL? If so, I’d like to hear about what you think they’re doing right. If not, I’d like to know what you think they should be doing to help your club.

—————-

This is a version of my July newsletter column. So, if you think you seen this before, you may have. Sorry, Dan

 

From my Twitter feed: SDR, SWL, kits

sdrsharp's avatarsdrsharp @sdrsharp
You want more and better rtl-sdr tools? Consider helping this initiative from Kyle Keen indiegogo.com/projects/a-mon…

 

UlisK3LU's avatarUlis K3LU @UlisK3LU
Western radio broadcasters tuning out (excellent article on the demise of #shortwave broadcasters) via Straits Times shar.es/LgFv9

 

wa1gov's avatar#hamradiopic.twitter.com/oaBaj00Ady

Next one-day Tech class, Saturday, September 27, 2014

My next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 221 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor, MI. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class, but the fee will be waived for anyone under the age of 18. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you would like to take this class, send a check or money order to reserve your spot to:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
1325 Orkney Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

You can also pay by sending money via PayPal to cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

Prospective students should download the study guide IMMEDIATELY. Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before coming to class. Studying beforehand greatly increase the chances that you’ll pass the test.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me.

Get an FRN!

Richard, KD7BBC, recently posted this to the HamRadioHelpGroup Yahoo Group:

It consistently surprises me how many people aren’t aware that instead of giving the VE team your SSN you can get an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and give it to them.

To try to help combat this, I have written up a blog post with images to help people get an FRN number.

http://blog.hamstudy.org/2014/07/fcc-registration-numbers/

I *strongly* recommend that anyone planning to take an exam get an FRN before going to the exam session; it’s not that you can’t trust the VE team, it’s more that it’s not a good idea to have that kind of personal information floating around anywhere, and likely the VE team would rather not have to deal with it either.

I agree with him. Before you take the Tech test, get an FRN and give that to the VE team.

Two hams busted for 14.313 MHz activities

FCC LogoIf you operate 20m phone at all, you probably avoid 14.313 MHz. I know I do. Now, two hams, Michael Guernsey, KZ8O and Brian Crow, K3VR, have been busted by the FCC for their activities on that frequency. The Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) citing KZ8O reads:

  • Causing Intentional Interference to Licensed Communications
    • The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that Mr. Guernsey violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Rules. Section 333 of the Act states that “[n]o person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under the Act or operated by the United States Government.” The legislative history for Section 333 of the Act identifies willful and malicious interference as “intentional jamming, deliberate transmission on top of the transmissions of authorized users already using specific frequencies in order to obstruct their communications, repeated interruptions, and the use and transmission of whistles, tapes, records, or other types of noisemaking devices to interfere with the communications or radio signals of other stations.” Section 97.101(d) of the Rules states that “[n]o amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal.”
    • On March 7, 2014, agents from the Detroit Office located the source of interference to frequency 14.313 MHz to the address of record for Mr. Guernsey’s amateur station KZ8O. The agents heard Mr. Guernsey intentionally interfering with other amateur licensees by transmitting a prerecorded song and various animal noises. These transmissions were a deliberate act to monopolize the frequency and prevent other amateur radio operators from conducting legitimate communications. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Mr. Guernsey apparently willfully violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Rules by intentionally interfering with other licensed amateur radio communications.
  • Failure to Transmit a Call Sign Identification
    • The evidence in this case also is sufficient to establish that Mr. Guernsey violated Section 97.119(a) of the Rules. Section 97.119(a) of the Rules states that “[e]ach amateur station . . . must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions.” On March 7, 2014, agents from the Detroit Office monitored frequency 14.313 MHz for approximately 40 minutes and heard transmissions by Mr. Guernsey in which he failed to transmit his assigned call sign. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Mr. Guernsey apparently willfully violated Section 97.119(a) of the Rules by failing to transmit his assigned call sign.

The Notice of Apparent Liability for K3VR reads about the same.

The pace of Amateur Radio Service enforcement activities seems to have picked up in 2014. After only two enforcement actions in 2013, there have been six already in 2014.

FCC allows partial credit for expired licenses

ARRLFCC LogoYou may have heard that the FCC has approved a rules change with regard to expired licenses. Yesterday, the ARRL sent out an e-mail for VEs explaining how this is supposed to work:

Information regarding FCC Rule changes

The FCC has revised the Amateur Service Part 97 rules to grant partial written examination element credit to holders of expired General, Advanced and Extra licenses. The new rules become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register, which is Monday July 21, 2014.

Expired license holders will not automatically receive credit on that day and may not operate as a new licensee.
The FCC requires former licensees — those falling outside the 2-year grace period — to pass Element 2 (Technician) in order to be relicensed.

To take advantage of the new rule, holders of expired licenses must attend an exam session. There they would present a photo ID and their expired license proof, pay the $15 exam session processing fee and take the Technician exam.

If an applicant held a General or Advanced license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) written exam only. If an applicant held an Extra license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) and Extra (Element 4) written exams. At VE exam sessions it is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of holding valid expired license credit. Acceptable forms of proof can be found on the Exam Element Credit web page at http://www.arrl.org/exam-element-credit.

If sufficient proof is not presented, the candidate has the option of taking the Tech exam and earning just a new Tech license and then attending another exam session at a later date when they have the proper documentation.
As always, the candidate will have to show a photo ID, present the proof, pay the $15 exam session processing fee and fill out all forms to receive the paper upgrade. The upgrade is not automatic and may NOT be sent directly to the FCC or to the VEC by the candidate.

Expired licensees will not automatically get their old call sign back. FCC will issue a new sequentially issued call sign. If they desire to obtain their old call sign they may try to do so through the FCC vanity call sign program. However, someone else may have already obtained their old call sign as a vanity call sign and therefore it would not be available.

Operating Notes: (Un)Clubs, certificates, W100AW

Over the weekend, I made a few QSOs of note:

WB2KQG. 20m wasn’t in great shape when I called CQ on 20m CW on Saturday from the museum, but I managed to raise Vinny, WB2KQG. When I called up his QRZ.Com page, I found the banner below and a link to a site with a description of the Radio League of America, an early competitor of the ARRL. Were it still around, the RLA would be celebrating its centennial in 2015, and to commemorate that, Vinny is offering a certificate. To get the 8.5 x 11-in. certificate, send an SASE to Vinny. I’ll be getting one of these certificates for myself.

 radioleague

AC2EU. On Jim, AC2EU’s QRZ.Com page, he notes that he is a former coordinator of the QSY Society, and notes, “The society is a bit different than other clubs in that it focuses on discussions of the Amateur Radio hobby at every meeting.” I didn’t get a chance to talk to Jim about how his club is different, but I did visit their website. Here’s how they describe themselves:

The QSY Society was formed in 1996 by a group of hams who felt there was a legitimate need for an alternative to the conventional ham radio club.  These plankowners observed that formal structure, business discussions, and the focus on the more traditional aspects of emergency operations and public service often left precious little time for good old fashioned social interaction and sharing.

The purpose of QSY Society is to create an environment in which persons with an interest in ham radio – whether licensed or not – can come together to explore the many facets of amateur radio in an informal and friendly environment where there are “no dumb questions” and “no smart answers.”

That’s as good a description of an “un-club” as I’ve seen, and I think that I would enjoy being a member of the QSY Society.

KK4UVW. When I first heard Chris, KK4UVW, calling CQ, I almost didn’t reply. His sending was slow, but he had a good fist. Then, I looked him up on QRZ.Com, and knew I had to reply. Even if the picture on QRZ.Com is an older one, he’s still quite young, and we should encourage young people to be active in amateur radio, and the more experienced CW ops should encourage those who are just getting started or are less experienced.

W100AW. On Sunday afternoon, I worked W100AW. This was the first time that I’d even heard this station. To get a QSL card, you have to sign up for it on the ARRL website. When you do that, you’re also signing up to get cards from all the W1AW/x stations you’ve worked, too. Seems to me that it would be a lot cheaper to allow me to sign up only for a W100AW card, but hey, I don’t make those decisions. The ARRL will be sending the cards through the QSL bureaus, so you’ll have to have a current account at the appropriate bureau.

Note that in each case—except for W100AW—what made the contact was the information posted on QRZ.Com. Having a computer in the shack has made my operating that much more interesting. So, please post some info there if you haven’t already and tell us about you. You never know who you’ll inspire or how it will make your QSOs better.