ARRL Executive Committee meets Saturday, 3/29

The ARRL Executive Committee is meeting this Saturday. I received the agenda for the meeting yesterday. They will be addressing a lot of interesting issues, including:

  • RM-11715; Mimosa Networks, Inc. Petition for Rule Making, proposing Part 90 Mobile allocation in the 10.0-10.5 GHz band; impact on Amateur secondary allocation at 10.0- 10.5 GHz (Development of policy for response to Petition; comment date April 11, 2014).
  • RF Lighting Device Complaint to FCC (Complaint Filed with FCC March 12, 2014; consideration of further strategies to address Part 15 and Part 18 RF devices, especially RF Lighting devices; partnering with AM Broadcast advocates).
  • WT Dockets 12-283 and 09-209; RM-11625 and RM-11629; Amendment of the Amateur Service Rules Governing Qualifying Examination Systems and Other Matters; Amateur Use of Narrowband TDMA Part 90 equipment in the Amateur Service; Examination Session Remote Proctoring (ARRL comments filed December 21, 2012; second temporary waiver request for TDMA emission granted).
  • ARRL Petition for Rule Making to Amend Parts 2 and 97 to Create a New MF Allocation for the Amateur Service at 472-479 kHz. (Status of 472-479 kHz Petition filed November 29, 2012); and ET Docket 12-338, Amendment of Parts 1, 2, 15, 74, 78, 87, 90 & 97 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding Implementation of the Final Acts of the World Radiocommunication Conference (Geneva 2007), Other Allocation Issues, and Related Rule Updates; 135.7-137.8 kHz and 1900-2000 kHz primary allocation.
  • ET Docket 13-84; Reexamination of RF exposure regulations. (FCC proposal to subject the Amateur Service to a “general exemption” table for conducting a routine environmental review of a proposed new or modified station configuration; exemption criteria as the preemptive standard as against more stringent state or local criteria.) 


As you can see, there’s a lot going on. Contact your division director if you have a comment or question about any of these issues.


Just a couple more QSL Cards for my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words.



From my Twitter feed: Edinburgh Morse, hams hear old spacecraft,

G7AGI's avatarDavid De Silva @G7AGI
I’ve just discovered @edinburghmorse. Looking forward to seeing the new web site go live.

exploreplanets's avatarPlanetary Society @exploreplanets
Amateur radio enthusiasts were able to detect the carrier signal of a decades-old NASA spacecraft:…

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9vObject of Interest: Aereo’s Tiny Antennas… via @NewYorker

M0PZT's avatarCharlie – M0PZT @M0PZT
Blog updated: What Makes A Real Ham? #hamradio

My new (to me) key

Last Saturday, I added to my collection of Morse Code instruments. I bought a modified Vibroplex Standard from a guy who was selling it from an SK estate sale.

Whoever owned this key took all the parts off a Vibroplex Standard paddle and mounted them on this slab of steel.

Whoever owned this key took all the parts off a Vibroplex Standard paddle and mounted them on this hunk of steel.

It’s amusing for a couple of reasons:

  • Whoever owned it before I did, took all the parts off the original base and mounted them on a hunk of steel. Presumably, this made the base more stable.
  • You can’t really see it in this picture, but the guy who did it, didn’t center the mechanism very well. You have to screw in the contact on the right side much more than you do the contact on the left.
  • When the guy modified the paddle, he must have lost the trunion screw that the left paddle arm pivots on. Instead of buying a new one, he simply used a screw he had around the shack. I didn’t notice this until I purchased it. Oh well.

Fortunately, Vibroplex still sells this part, as they do with the overwhelming majority of parts for their keys, and I’ve already placed an order for one. I just hope that the guy didn’t rethread the hole to make that machine screw fit.

How does it play? Well, like a Vibroplex. I’ve been using the key for the past couple of days, and while I still prefer my Begali Simplex, I do like this key.

10 GHz: Use it or lose it

I’ve often said that I wish there was more commercial gear for 10 GHz or that there was more of a reason to actually use 10 GHz. I realize, of course, that this is easy for me to say, and that if I was more serious about it, I’d just go ahead and get on the band.

What brings this up is that a company called Mimosa Networks has filed a petition for rulemaking to allow them to use the 10.0 – 10.5 GHz band for wireless networking. While the petition does note the amateur use of of this band, and says that their use of it won’t interfere with our use of it, who knows what will happen once the flood of wireless users start.

Public comments are now being accepted on this petition. Go here to read the comments already submitted and to submit your own. The Mimosa website also has an interesting Web page on their petition.

Amateur radio in the news: SuitSat, Poway (CA), radio and aviation

Gravity becomes a reality: Watch the terrifying moment an ‘astronaut’ spins out of the ISS (…but don’t worry, there’s no one inside the suit). As the International Space Station spins around the Earth, a door unexpectedly opens and a figure in a Russian spacesuit is thrown out. It looks like something from the film ‘Gravity’, but the chilling scene happened in real life less than a decade ago. Back in 2006, Nasa astronauts launched one of their ‘colleagues’ from the International Space Station to orbit Earth seven times before burning up in the atmosphere. Fortunately, their colleague was an out-dated empty spacesuit dubbed SuitSat-1 redesigned to be one of the most bizarre satellites ever launched. The makeshift satellite was thrown from the space station by crew members Bill McArthur and Valery Tulare as they began a six-hour spacewalk.

The video that accompanies the article shows SuitSat1 spinning away from the ISS.

The video that accompanies the article shows SuitSat1 spinning away from the ISS.

Ham radio: a hobby and public service. When the lights go dark, telephones are silenced and disaster is in the air, Charlie Ristorcelli is the guy you want to know. The 67-year-old Poway resident is a ham-radio enthusiast whose passion for that old-school but increasingly high tech form of communication provides him a with front-row seat, and potentially an important voice, in any catastrophe.

Expert: Radio, aviation complemented each other. Radio and aviation complemented each other’s growth and development, made possible in part by the financial backing of a well-known Saratoga figure. Clifton Park resident Jim Silva outlined this history during his recent presentation, “Flying the Beam: Early Air Navigation,” to the Schenectady Amateur Radio Association.

NIST’s April 7 workshop aims at improved disaster resilience

From NIST Tech Beat, March 11, 2014. Anyone going?


Tornado destruction, Joplin Mo.: a collapsed building once housing the backup generator for a hospital. Credit: NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md., will host the first of six workshops devoted to developing a comprehensive, community-based disaster resilience framework, a national initiative carried out under the President’s Climate Action Plan.* The workshop will be held at the NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, Md., on Monday, April 7, 2014.

Focusing on buildings and infrastructure lifelines such as communications and electric power, the planned framework will aid communities in efforts to protect people and property and to recover more rapidly from natural and man-made disasters. Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other recent disasters have highlighted the interconnected nature of buildings and infrastructure systems and their vulnerabilities.

The six workshops will focus on the roles that buildings and infrastructure systems play in ensuring community resilience. NIST will use workshop inputs as it drafts the disaster resilience framework. To be released for public comment in April 2015, the framework will establish overall performance goals; assess existing standards, codes, and practices; and identify gaps that must be addressed to bolster community resilience.

NIST seeks input from a broad array of stakeholders, including planners, designers, facility owners and users, government officials, utility owners, regulators, standards and model code developers, insurers, trade and professional associations, disaster response and recovery groups, and researchers.

All workshops will focus on resilience needs, which, in part, will reflect hazard risks common to geographic regions.

The NIST-hosted event will begin at 8 a.m. and is open to all interested parties. The registration fee for the inaugural workshop is $55. Space is limited. To learn more and to register, go Registration closes on March 31, 2014.

More information on the disaster resilience framework can be found at

*The Climate Action Plan ( NIST to “convene a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop a comprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for consistently safe buildings and infrastructure—products that can inform the development of private-sector standards and codes.” After completing the initial framework, NIST will convene the Disaster Resilience Standards Panel.

Dumbing it down fails

Computerworld just published an article, “12 predictions for the future of programming.” Future of programming prediction No. 10: Dumbing it down will fail is the one that caught my eye. It reads:

For the past 50 years, programmers have tried to make it easy for people to learn programming, and for 50 years they’ve succeeded — but only at teaching the most basic tasks. Ninety-five percent of the world may be able to figure out if-then-else structures, but that’s not the same thing as being a programmer.

I think that the same thing is true of amateur radio. We’ve dumbed down the Tech exam to allow more people to enter the hobby. I think that’s OK. We need a way to get people interested in amateur radio, and there is a place for operators who only want to do the very simple things like get an HT and talk through repeaters. “Real ham radio,” though, is about learning how circuits work and how to build your own antennas and, increasingly, how to program digital signal processing algorithms. That’s hard stuff, but there’s no way around that. We need to encourage people to acquire this knowledge and skills.

For me, this means is that while I’m OK with the Tech license being relatively easy to get, perhaps the General and Extra Class tickets should be harder to get. Maybe we should expect more from Generals and Extras. We should expect them to really know stuff.

I’m not saying that we should be hovering over them, ready to pounce on them the minute they say something stupid. It is still just a hobby, after all, and we can’t expect amateur radio licensees to be electronics engineers. We can, however, create an environment that values learning and encourages people to ask good questions so that they can get better at being radio amateurs.

I know that this is only a partly-baked idea, but I think we need to move in this direction. Not only that, it’s up to us old-timers (old farts?) to set the tone and lead the way. What do you think?

From my Twitter feed: bipolar transistors, homebrew Buddipole, Dayton survival

Planet Analog ?@PlanetAnalog 11m
Bipolar Transistor Circuit Design & Analysis, Part 1 – There are many applications for one or two transistors. Th… 


n1pce's avatarJohn Ryan @n1pce
Homebrew Buddipole with Modifications: via @YouTube

You don’t have to pay a lot for a Buddipole. By making one yourself, you can not only save money, but learn something in the process.

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
Dayton Survival Guide…

The Dayton Hamvention, still the largest gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts in the world, takes place May 16-18, 2014. While I disagree with Jeff’s statement, “There’s simply no way to facilitate that size of a crowd for three days in an ultra modern facility,” the rest is pretty much spot on.

From my Twitter feeds: Smith chart, inkjet PCBs, SW books

imabug's avatarimabug @imabug
Smith chart…


make's avatarMAKE @make
Inkjet-printed circuits being shown at #sxsw. More to come.


hamrad88's avatarTom Stiles @hamrad88
TRRS #0252 – Books for Shortwave Listeners: via @YouTube