Amateur radio in the news: reaching out to kids, ILLW, Lancaster Count Fair

 

The Owensboro ARC hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts.

The Owensboro ARC hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts.

Owensboro ARC reaches out to younger audience. The Owensboro Amateur Radio Club  hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts. “We are trying to get younger folks interested,” Walt Shipman, KI4OYH, said Thursday. “It’s where it starts.”

I like this idea! It might be something we can do down at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum….Dan

Lighthouse to go international. Radio operators from around the world will be including the Oak Orchard Lighthouse (NY) in International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend, Aug. 17 and 18. It is the first time the lighthouse is participating in the event fully.

Keeping an eye on the sky. If you go to the Lancaster County (NE) Super Fair, you’ll probably see guys in golf carts and green jackets offering rides to those in need. Those guys are members of the Lincoln Amateur Radio Club. Members of the club are also trained storm spotters — many involved in the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and they know exactly what to do if severe weather hits.

 

Amateur radio in the news: SkyWarn, making vacuum tubes again, Friedrichshafen

Chris, KE5ZRT, is president of the Panhandle ARC and a SkyWarn storm spotter

Chris, KE5ZRT, is president of the Panhandle ARC and a SkyWarn storm spotter

Volunteer storm spotters essential to Weather Service. The haunting companions to tornadoes and major thunderstorms make children cry, grown men run into basements and auto dealership owners cringe. But some people embrace the danger and even seek it out for entertainment. Among this group are Skywarn storm spotters, volunteers who work with the National Weather Service to track and report storms from the front lines.

Making tubes again. Western Electric has been resurrected, and its headquarters are in Rossville, GA. A once-vacant bank building was adorned about three weeks ago with distinctive red-lettered “Western Electric” signs on its east and west sides. The Rossville operation will make vacuum tubes mainly for use in high-end audio components. “It’s a lost art,” company president Charles G. Whitener Jr. said.

Ham radio — a pastime not just in the past. With today’s advanced wireless technology, amateur radio might have become obsolete. Yet, it hasn’t. Did you know the first “chat room” was invented by ham radio operators? They communicated across the continents during wartime, and played chess all hours of the day and night. And amateur radio invented social networking. Amateurs are viewed as public servants and a national resource. It doesn’t look like these guys are going away anytime soon.

Ham operators’ paradise at Friedrichshafen’s flea market. Over a week ago I attended the Ham Radio show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. This is the biggest ham radio show in Europe and has the usual big-convention mix of commercial exhibitors, national society exhibits, conference-style forums, and… a flea market.

Operating notes: public service, helping people have fun with amateur radio

Bicycle TourThis past weekend was a big weekend here at KB6NU. On Saturday, I and more than a dozen of my ham radio brethren provided communications for the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society’s One Helluva Ride. There were close to 2,000 riders, and our efforts helped keeped the ride running smoothly.

Of course, it helped that the weather was just perfect. It was sunny and the high temperature for the day was in the low 80s. That helped keep the number of flat tires and exhausted riders to a minimum.

Even so, kudos to Jeff, W8SGZ, the ARROW organizer for the event. He did a great job of organizing the event.

An old friend on the repeater
Yesterday, while walking down to the museum,  I happened to catch an old friend, Chuck, K8HBI, on the ARROW repeater. I hadn’t heard Chuck on the air for quite a while, and I didn’t recognize him at first, partly because he’d changed callsigns. K8HBI used to be his father’s callsign. Chuck was K9HBI.

I don’t know if his father has passed or just let his license expire (although I suspect the former), but Chuck now has his dad’s callsign. Since I talked with him last, Chuck has retired, and now has more time for amateur radio. I was happy to offer my assistance in getting him back on the air.

As we were talking, Chuck happened to mention that his daughter had gotten a tattoo with both callsigns in honor of her father and grandfather. I suggested to Chuck that now his daughter should get her license and then the K9HBI callsign.

New friends
At the museum, I met what I hope will be a new friend – eleven year-old Alex. His mother had e-mailed me, saying that her son had expressed some interest in amateur radio and could they come down to the museum to see our station. Of course, I replied!

Alex and his mother stayed for over an hour. He asked me to make a CW contact, and he seemed at least somewhat interested in learning the code. We also made a phone contact, and he had fun chatting with Bob, N2AF, in New Jersey.

As they were about to leave, his mother leaned over and said to me, “Thanks so much. He rarely sits still for so long. He really must be interested in amateur radio.”

On the way home, I met another new friend on the ARROW repeater. After giving out a call, Fred, WA8LJL, came back to me. Fred’s not a newbie, but he said that he has been off the air for a while. He just purchased a new handheld and was in the process of programming its channels when he heard my call. I was his first contact in many years.

All of this was very enjoyable for me. While I certainly do enjoy the technology, I enjoy helping other people get into the hobby and get more out of the hobby even more.

Please be careful when using generators

From the 7/10/13 issue of NIST Tech Beat….Dan

Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators indoors or close to open windows, doors, or vents, resulting in more than 500 deaths since 2005. And each year, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas. Fatality is highest among people 65 and older.

A new computer modeling study* by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers scrutinizes the deadly relationship between CO emissions and occupant exposure. They conducted simulations of 87 types of dwellings representative of the U.S. housing stock with a generator operating within a room in the house, its basement, or attached garage.

The study considered two scenarios of portable-generator operation: continuous operation for 18 hours and operation with some type of control technology that causes the generator to shut off periodically, or so-called “burst” releases.

Regardless of housing type or location, generators that release as little as 27 grams of CO per hour continuously for 18 hours cause 80 percent of the modeled cases to result in an exposure predicted to reach dangerous levels. In comparison, current commercially available generators that were tested by NIST in a previous study emitted CO at a rate of 500 to 4,000 grams per hour.**

For generators characterized by burst releases of CO, the NIST team found that CO emissions of more than 139 grams resulted in dangerous levels of exposure.

The findings, reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, could help in setting limits on CO emissions from portable generators.

*A.K. Persily, Y. Wang, B.J. Polidoro and S J. Emmerich, Residential Carbon Monoxide Exposure due to Indoor Generator Operation: Effects of Source Location and Emission Rate (NIST Technical Note 1782), June 2013. Downloadable from:www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=912394.
**S.J. Emmerich, A.K. Persily and L. Wang, Modeling and Measuring the Effects of Portable Gasoline Powered Generator Exhaust on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Level (NIST Technical Note 1781), Feb 2013.

I’m jumping on the anti-encryption bandwagon (maybe)

A recent Petition for Rule Making (RM-11699) seeks to permit the encryption of certain amateur communications during emergency operations or related training exercises. This change, should it be approved, would amend §97.113, which currently prohibits “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.”

On the face of it, it seems like a reasonable proposal. The petition asks that the rule be changed to allow encryption of certain information when passing messages that may contain sensitive information. Indeed, the petition says that such encryption may be required under the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The ARRL is against this petition. They say that the petition’s reasons for allowing encryption is completely unfounded. They say that radio amateurs, “are not ‘covered entities’ under HIPAA, which applies only to health care providers, health plans and health care clearinghouses.”

KE9V and others say that allowing encryption is a bad idea because it will hinder our ability to self-police amateur radio. KE9V also notes that allowing encryption would allow some to claim that amateur radio could be used for terrorist and other nefarious activities, and that could lead to a shutdown of amateur radio.

I think he’s got a point there. Why give those who would shut down amateur radio the ammo to do so?

KE9V goes on to say that it’s time for a wholesale reevaluation of our role in emergency communications. Amen, brother. It seems to me that as time goes on, what the “served agencies” need and want are becoming more and more different from what amateur radio is prepared to provide.

Amateur radio in the news: Hurricanes, North Korea, advanced communications

hurricane_symbol_blueHam radio still part of hurricane center arsenal. Amid the high-tech computers, satellite dishes and sophisticated equipment at the National Hurricane Center is a HAM radio operator station, somewhat hidden in a back office. It might seem like it’s akin to placing a teletype on a space shuttle. But when hurricanes form, the amateur radio station cranks up and receives weather information from HAM operators in the affected areas. Their observations help the forecasters in Miami-Dade County better judge a storm’s strength or position and issue more precise warnings.

ARRRRGHHHH. Someone please tell this reporter that “ham” is not capitalized!!

Ham radio operators hope to put North Korea on the air. A group of amateur radio operators are hoping to get permission from the North Korean government for a month-long trip to the country during which they’ll set up a ham radio operation. If they manage to pull off the plan, they’ll have succeeded where few have before. North Korea has no amateur radio operators and government-sanctioned transmissions by foreigners in the country are extremely rare. This makes North Korea the rarest country for contacts in the amateur radio world.

Can you imagine what a pileup this operation–if they can get permission–is going to generate?? 

NIST and NTIA announce plans for new advanced communications center. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced plans to establish a national Center for Advanced Communications in Boulder, Colo. The new center will implement a key provision of a memorandum President Obama issued earlier today on “Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation.”

This sounds like something that the ARRL should keep an eye on.

Amateur Radio in the News; CERT, RFI, “magic band”

San Ramon CERTCERT volutneers, amateur radio operators ‘leap’ into action
The San Ramon Valley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program along with local amateur radio operators participated in a mock communications drill on Saturday. Volunteers placed hundreds of stuffed “CERT green” frogs placed throughout the community to help simulate victims of a major disaster.

Florida resident cited for ham interference
In an unusual case, the FCC cited Ruben Lopez of Pomona Park, Fla. for harmful interference with amateur radio frequencies. He has 30 days to respond to the Enforcement Bureau or risk being fined up to $16,000 for each violation and having his equipment seized. In this case, the subject of the interference is a well pump, according to the agency.

Sweet sound of ham radio
Timaru (New Zealand) radio enthusiast George Boorer is thrilled with the national switchover to digital television. It means after 40 years he can head back out to his “radio shack” and tap into the six-metre international amateur band, otherwise known as “the magic band”.

 

From the NIST Tech Beat: emcomm, generators

Here are a couple of items that may be of interest to amateur radio operators from the April 17 issue of the NIST Tech Beat:

tb20130417-nytest_originalNIST Tests in New York City Suggest How to Improve Emergency Radio Communications
Radio communications can be unreliable in underground tunnels and other large, complicated structures, posing a safety hazard for emergency responders. New tests of wireless emergency safety equipment by NIST have defined the challenges more precisely and suggest how emergency communications might be improved.

Prototype Generators Emit Much Less Carbon Monoxide, NIST Finds
Portable electric generators retrofitted with off-the-shelf hardware by the University of Alabama emitted significantly lower levels of carbon monoxide, according to the results of tests conducted by NIST for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Amateur radio in the news: Purdue club

Geoffrey Stewart, son of Andy Stewart of Chelmsford, operates his ham radio. His call sign is KB1USE. COURTESY PHOTO

Ham radio: the original social network
Andy Stewart and his friends could be considered revolutionary. “The jokes that I hear are that ham radio was the original social network,” he said.

Purdue’s ham radio club turns 100.
During open house, members can spend their time however they want. Most of the time, members learn more about ham radio, make new contacts from around the world and fix radios. One time, a few members even made a credit card scanner just for fun.

Volunteers vital to Weather Service during severe storms
With the forecast calling for possible severe weather Thursday, the National Weather Service expects to call on its team of weather spotters. They include Roane County ham radio operator Phil Newman. For 16 years, Newman has communicated to fellow operators around the region and the world….

W8P Spreads the Word about End Polio Now

Rotary InternationalOn Saturday and Sunday, February 23-24, 2013, Ann Arbor, MI, USA amateur radio operators gathered at WA2HOM, the amateur radio station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. They were there to operate special event station W8P to commemorate the founding of the Rotary Club on February 23, 1905 and spread the word about Rotary International’s End Polio Now Campaign.

Operating the station on Saturday were:

  • Dan, KB6NU
  • Jack, N8PMG
  • Jameson, KD8PIJ
  • Dinesh, AB3DC
  • Mark, W8MP

Since the museum is only open from 1500Z – 2200Z, we were only able to operate for seven hours on Saturday. We spent all of our time on 20m phone, with our beam pointed southwest, concentrating on working mostly U.S. stations. We had originally intended to operate on 14.287 MHz, but quickly had to change frequencies, as that portion of the band was occupied by participants in the Mississippi QSO party. Before moving, though, we were able to contact Pertti, EA7GSU, who was operating the event in Spain.

We finally ended up on 14.227 MHz and made a total of 110 contacts on Saturday. This included 29 states and four DX contacts.

On Sunday, we only operated for a couple of hours and made another 27 contacts. While we made fewer contacts on Sunday, the contacts that we did make were more poignant than the ones on Saturday.

My first contact on Sunday was with a gentleman who was spending the winter in Florida, but whose hometown was Standish, Michigan. He told me that his mother had polio, and in the late 1930s and early 1940s, they would put her on a bus for Ann Arbor, where she would receive treatments. While there’s no way to be sure, I think that this ham’s mother was taking part in some of the research leading to the Salk vaccine in 1955. That research took place right here at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

I also talked to hams that had direct experience with polio. One was a polio survivor himself. Another’s wife was a polio survivor. A third was a physician who had been to Africa and had treated polio victims there.

It was a real treat to combine two activities that I enjoy so much–amateur radio and Rotary–and it felt good to know that in some small way I was furthering the work of the End Polio Now campaign. I hope that next year we will once again operate this special event and get even more Rotarians and amateur radio operators to participate.