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?

joplin-tornado-destruction-lr_original

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 to:www.nist.gov/el/building_materials/resilience/disreswksp.cfm. Registration closes on March 31, 2014.

More information on the disaster resilience framework can be found at www.nist.gov/el/building_materials/resilience/framework.cfm.

*The Climate Action Plan (www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf)directs 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… http://ow.ly/2EzTJR 

 

n1pce's avatarJohn Ryan @n1pce
Homebrew Buddipole with Modifications: youtu.be/Z6ATX2Z9ews 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 ke9v.net/articles/dayto…

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 antenna-theory.com/tutorial/smith…

 

make's avatarMAKE @make
Inkjet-printed circuits being shown at #sxsw. More to come. pic.twitter.com/ohLNzedwSk

 

hamrad88's avatarTom Stiles @hamrad88
TRRS #0252 – Books for Shortwave Listeners: youtu.be/rBFLkHP8RiU?a via @YouTube

More on the W8P special event

Rotary InternationalAs I reported earlier, I operated a special event station, W8P, from the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum the weekend of February 26-27. The special event commemorated the founding of the Rotary Club on February 23, 1905, and was designed to also spread the word about Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. 

One of the incredibly cool things about Rotary is that it is an international organization. There are 34,000 Rotary Clubs all around the world, and many Rotarians (as we call ourselves) are radio amateurs. There’s even an international group of Rotarians who enjoy amateur radio call Rotarians on Amateur Radio, or ROAR.

ROAR members all over the world participated in this special operating event. Here are their reports as relayed by Bill, VK4ZD:

  • From Dan, KB6NU (W8P): W8P made 80 contacts in about four hours of operation, all but one or two in the continental U.S. My goal was not to make as many contacts as possible, but to engage as many hams as I could about the End Polio Now campaign. I think I was successful in doing that. I recommended to those that were interested that they visit the endpolionow.org website and tried to answer their questions about polio as best I could.
  • From Jean-Pierre (F1CFA): It was the French Contest, but it was possible to make QSO with a foreign station…American, Japanese, etc…On 18, 21, 28 MHz !!!!
  • From Coco, YO9BC (YO9POLIO): In Roumania the only ROTARY Club having radio amateurs among its members is ROTARY Club Ploiesti (Prahova, District 2241). There are three members of ROTARY Ploiesti who are also ROAR members: Mr. Malanca Mihai, YO9BPX; Mr Rosca George, YO9BGR; and Mr. Duque Vincent, YO9BC. On 22 and 23 February, we contributed to the event two stations: the Ploiesti radio club station, YO9KAG, with five operators under the supervision of Malanca Mihai, and YO9BC, with Rosca George as operator. AIl authorized bands where worked, including 10m, 15m, 20m, 40m, and 80m, using phone (SSB), CW, and digital modes. We made 1,680 contacts on all continents. Special QSL cards were mailed to all correspondents.
  • From Pertti, EA7GSU: I kept busy in the morning and the afternoon calling CQ POLIO on 20m and 10m. Got 31 contacts with two W’s,one VU and one LU included.
  • From Wally, VK6YS (VI6POLIO): We made a total of 296 contacts, and logged 46 different countries, with over 1350 lookups on my QRZ.com page. Interestingly quite a number had already had a look at the page before making contact and then once they read the page decided they want to be on the contact list. Overall a very enjoyable weekend albeit my daughters wedding did slow me down a bit on the Sunday. Apart from all that, it was most interesting talking to people around the world about polio and the state of polio eradication in the world.
    What I found disturbingly, was that a number of VK calls I spoke to were quite ignorant of the threat of polio and saw it as a dead disease that we don’t even need to think about any more.
        In fact one VK2 suggested that the effort should be put into ridding the world of HIV as he saw that there is a real issue rather than polio.!!! I did explain to him that there were great differences between the two diseases and in particular when you look at the numbers affected particularly children. But it was interesting to have a few comments at such a level of ignorance.
        On the other hand, I spoke to 3 VU stations who were completely full bottle on polio and eradication and were so proud to tell me that India was declared polio free three years ago. They also thanked Rotary International for the work done in assisting.
    Many of the Europeans I spoke to on 10 m were well aware of polio in the world in the current status of the eradication progress. Thank you so much for the work done to get this event on the road. I did enjoy it immensely.
  • From Lee Moyle, VK3GK (VI3POLIO): A fun Sunday spent operating VI3POLIO from the home QTH. I managed to work about 640 contacts often with DX-pedition style pileups. VI3POLIO had 3 operators, and I believe the two Peters, vk3kcd and vk3fspr  had a good result too. Looking forward to next years event. 73 VK3GK
  • From Noel, VK2IWT (VI2POLIO): I had a fantastic time talking to those that I did.
  • From Diane, VK4KYL (VI4POLIO): THe QRZ pages for each of the “polio” websites garnered a lot of attention. Another fantastic Radio weekend for Rotary’s 109th Birthday spreading the word on Rotary & Polio Plus: we contacted some 905 Radio Hams and we had people commenting on what great work Rotary does and a number were going to check out their local Rotary Club. Our radio activity webpages got over 3100 hits.  The operators were myself (Diane VK4KYL, Alizah VK4FOXE and Bill VK4ZD).

In summary the huge numbers of Hams who looked up information on our QRZ web pages shows the high level of interest this activity has generated over the weekend in question.

QSL cards will depict the Sydney Opera House as illustrated on the VI4POLIO QRZ web page.

Operating notes: A productive day down at the museum

WA2HOM QSLI wasn’t able to get down to WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum on Saturday, but I did make it on Sunday. It was a very productive—and fun—day.

I arrived at the museum at about 1:15 pm, and when I got up to the shack, there was a guy looking over the station. I asked if he had any questions, and we had a nice chat about what we do at the museum. He told me that he’d always wanted to get an amateur radio license, but for whatever reason, had never gotten around to it. I handed him one of my Getting Into Amateur (Ham) Radio flyers, and got a real good feeling that I gave him the push he needed to get over the hump.

Next, I tuned to 15m CW, and, in short order, found both W1AW/7 (WA) and W1AW/0 (KS). They both had strong signals, and I worked them on my second or third call.

Two new “countries”
Tuning down the band, I happened upon EA9UG in Ceuta. According to Wikipedia, Ceuta is an “autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a western border with Morocco.” It is a DXCC entity. There are less than 100 amateur radio operators in Ceuta/Melilla. Not only was this a new country for us at the museum, I worked and EA9 myself from home just a few days before.

After that contact, an Italian ham, now living in the U.S. dropped in for a visit. He’s lived here for several months now, but hasn’t yet operated from here, as he was unsure of what he could do and what he couldn’t do. I assured him that the U.S. and Italy had a reciprocal operating agreement and that he should feel free to operate here. I also pointed him at the W8SRC Repeater Guide.

Finally, just before leaving, I thought I should make at least one contact in the ARRL DX SSB Contest. I switched up to the phone portion of the band, swung the beam south, and heard FY5FY calling CQ. French Guiana just happened to be a new one for us. I’m not sure what our count is, but we have to be getting close to 100 countries by now. I guess that my next task will be to get the log uploaded to LOTW and then see where we’re at.

I really love interacting with the museum visitors and encouraging them to either get their tickets or have more fun with ham radio if they do have one. Throw in all the great contacts that I made, and you can see how I had such a great day down at the museum.

From my Twitter feed: clear-top boxes, SDR, HSMM

LA3ZA's avatarSverre Holm, LA3ZA @LA3ZA
Show off your project in a clear top tin la3za.blogspot.com/2014/02/show-o…

roteno's avatarVictor Laynez @roteno
Fun little radio housing. pic.twitter.com/QtmCw2smuW

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
Using SDR to Read Your Smart Meter – [BeMasher] was dissatisfied with the cost of other solutions to read his smar… ow.ly/2EcLiT

kc5fm's avatarkc5fm @kc5fm
An Old Buzzard’s Guide to Getting Started with HSMM-Mesh bit.ly/1eL1cQg #ARRL #hamradio

ARRL Board Requests Member Comments About Digital Modes

ARRLSB QST @ ARL $ARLB007
ARLB007 ARRL Board Requests Member Comments About Digital Modes

ZCZC AG07
QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 7  ARLB007
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  March 3, 2014

To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB007
ARLB007 ARRL Board Requests Member Comments About Digital Modes

At the January 2014 ARRL Board of Directors meeting, a resolution was passed which asked for member feedback and input pertaining to the increasing popularity of data modes. The information gathered by  this investigation is to be used by the HF Band Planning Committee of the Board as a means to suggest ways to use our spectrum efficiently so that these data modes may “compatibly coexist with each other.”  As per the resolution, the ARRL Board of Directors is now reaching out to the membership and requesting cogent input and thoughtful feedback on matters specific to digital mode operation on the HF bands.

The feedback may include, but is not limited to, the recent proposal the ARRL made to the FCC, RM 11708, regarding the elimination of the symbol rate restrictions currently in effect.  A FAQ on RM 11708 can be found on the web at, http://www.arrl.org/rm-11708-faq .

The Board of Directors believes that member input in the decision making process is both valuable and important as well as fostering a more transparent organization.  It is to this end that we open this dialogue.

Comments must be received no later than March 31, 2014 to be included in the Committee’s report to the Board at the July 2014 ARRL Board of Directors meeting. Please e-mail your comments to: HF-Digital-Bandplanning@arrl.org

Concerned members may also contact their Division Director by mail, telephone or in person with any relevant information.