KC4AAA on the air from the South Pole

In the Amateur Radio Enthusiast LinkedIn group, Joe, W5FJG says:

KC4AAA – Amundsen – Scott South Pole station has begun digital operations. We are up on JT65, PSK-31 and RTTY. We have completed testing and have worked a hand full of stations. We tend to operate now, from 0200 to 0300UTC, as it seems to be the best time for propagation into North America. I have been up around 1500 UTC, working into Europe. Look me up on QRZ and follow KC4AAA on Facebook. We intend to give more info on operating times and freqs. We also operate CW.

DX Advisory Committee wants to put the screws to remote operation

In July, the DX Advisory Committee Report recommended several rules changes for the DXCC program. Among them, was a recommendation that rule I.9 be changed such that a QSO is acceptable for DXCC credit only when the remote station and the operator’s home station location are no more than 200 km apart.

As with any rule change, this precipitated a lot of comment in the amateur radio community. A thread on the eHam.Net forum got quite a few comments. N7NG had a nice blog post on this controversy.

Perhaps the most strident post on this topic was written by WW1X. He called these recommendations “uninformed, misguided, and detrimental to the future of our hobby.” Detrimental to the future of our hobby? Seriously?

Of course, WW1X has a vested interest in this debate. He’s the lead developer for RemoteHamRadio.Com (RHR), a company that charges other hams to use the “super stations” that they’ve set up around the world.

Note that the DX Advisory Committee is not saying that amateur radio operators should not use and enjoy these remote stations. All they’re saying is that the QSOs made with them, unless they are located less than 200 km from an amateur’s home station, are not eligible for DXCC credit. I’m sure that if you asked any of the members of the committee they would agree with WW1X that the remote stations serve a very useful purpose for amateurs who are not able to set up their own home stations.

WW1X prattles on about how “DXCC is not a contest. It’s not a competition. There are no winners or losers. It’s a personal achievement award, plain and simple.” This is just silly. Of course it’s a competition. As N7NG rightly points out if it’s not a competition, why publish the DXCC Honor Roll?

What I think is detrimental to the hobby are hams who use RemoteHamRadio.Com to simply add to their DXCC scores. I see no sense in doing so, and furthermore, where’s the personal achievement? Anyone who can afford to pay what they charge—and it’s not a small sum of money—can work the rarest DX with one of those stations.

A friend of mine, Mark, W8MP, is an RHR customer. He loves being able to work DX from his home in a development where no outside antennas are allowed. He does this for the pure love of talking to other hams in far-away places. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think he’s trying to pad his DXCC score, and even if he did, I’m sure that doing so is a very low priority for him.

If you ask me, that’s what RHR should be all about. Instead of complaining about the DXCC rules that might affect their bottom line, they should be taking the high road and talking up how their service promotes the “continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.” If your not sure where that came from, have a look at Part 97.1(e) of the FCC rules that govern amateur radio.

Operating Notes: Fun down at WA2HOM

The bands have been pretty good lately. I was down at WA2HOM this morning from 10am to noon and really had a blast.

When I first got there, I tuned around a bit on 20m. 20m sounded to be in pretty good shape, so I decided to see if 15m was open. I pointed the beam at Europe, tuned around a bit, and was disappointed not to be hearing much. Nevertheless, I set up on 21035 kHz and started calling CQ. In short order, I worked R1DX (who had a true 599 signal), OH8MBN, and IZ5RKC.

After that, I QSYed back down to 20m and started looking for stations working the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend operating event. Since the band was in such good shape, I worked lighthouses/lightships all over the country, including:

  • W1SYE, Newport, RI. Goat Island Lighthouse
  • K2VN, Long Island, NY. Horton Point Lighthouse
  • K6PV, near Los Angeles, CA. Point Vicente Lighthouse
  • W3LRS, Lewes, DE. Overfalls Lightship
  • W6A, San Pedro, CA. Point Fermin Lighthouse

The QSO with K6PV was fun because as it turned out, Bob, the operator there, is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and we had a nice chat about Ann Arbor, our QTH and the home of U-M. Also, as it turned out, Bob’s own call is W6HIP, which fits nicely into my collection of QSL cards from stations whose call signs spell words. I’ll be sending off two cards to him, one from WA2HOM and one from KB6NU, tomorrow.

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.

Operating Notes: SKN, LOTW, 10m

Here are a few comments on my latest operations:

Bunnel #9

I used a Bunnel #9 key like this one on Straight Key Night.

SKN. I worked SKN this year, making eight contacts overall. I used my Bunnel #9 key the whole time. I was going to pull out the J37 with leg clamp, but then remembered how much it hurt, so passed on it.

The eight contacts include a couple of Europeans on 10m: F6HLQ and IZ0CHC. I’m not sure that they were really working SKN, but I’m going to count them. F6HLQ was using a straight key for sure.

My first contact was K1PUB, a station whose callsign spells a word. This is not the first time that I’ve worked him, but it doesn’t look like I requested a QSL from him the previous two times.

New LOTW stats. Prompted by a Tweet by @jilly, who gave her LOTW stats, I decided to upload my QSOs. I hadn’t uploaded them since 11/18/13, and had nearly 300 to upload. The upload and QSL processing went very fast.

I now have 14, 234 QSOs records and 2,735 QSL records for a QSL percentage of 19.2%. My overall DXCC count is 132, with 130 on CW. The band that I’m closest to working 100 countries on is 30m, where I have 98 countries confirmed. I’m thinking that once I hit 100 on 30m, I’ll apply for the DXCC award.

10 meters. 10m has been in great shape lately. The band was in good shape for the 10m contest a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday morning it was gangbusters to Europe, too.

Later in the day, it was open to South America. I copied an LU calling CQ, but unfortunately he couldn’t hear me. A little later, I worked CX1JJ, a very good YL operator in Uruguay.

Operating Notes: traffic, bees, Ernst Krenkel

One of the students in my last Tech class, has taken up traffic handling. This evening, he forwarded a piece of traffic to me:

Message Number 1058
Routine
HXG
Station or Origin: KD8RCR
Check 25
Place of Origin: Midland Mi
Date: Nov 26th

IF HF CAPABLE PLEASE JOIN
US ON MACS NET 10AM
AND MITN NET 7PM BOTH
ON 3952 KHZ X WE
NEED YOUR PARTICIPATION X
73
Ryan KB8RCR

Somewhere along the way, “KB” got changed to “KD” or vice versa, but it was cool to get it.

The bee’s knees
Last night, I worked Curt, N5CW, on 40m CW. This wasn’t the first time that I’d contacted Curt, but it was the first time that he mentioned that he kept bees. He isn’t the first ham radio operator/beekeeper that I’ve worked. A couple of weeks ago, I worked KC4URI, who also keeps bees, and a while back, W3BEE. I’ve now worked more beekeepers (3) than I have barbers (2).

Ernst Krenkel
RAEMThis evening, I worked RD110RAEM, a special event station commemorating the 110th anniversary of the Arctic explorer and amateur radio operator, Ernst Krenkel, RAEM (1903-1971). He was a famous polar explorer, Hero of the Soviet Union, chairman of the USSR Radiosport Federation (1959-1971), and the first chairman of Central Radio Club of the USSR. There’s even an Ernst Krenkel Museum of Radio and Radio Amateurs in Moscow.

According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, there will be 23 special event stations operating throughout the month of December commemorating Krenkel, including 20 in Russia and three in the Ukraine. On Sunday, December 29, the 42nd RAEM International CW HF Contest will take place.

From my Twitter Feed: Antarctica, tech writing, FUNcube, end-fed half-wave

 There’s so much good stuff on my Twitter feed this afternoon, I couldn’t limit myself to just three Tweets…Dan

DX_World's avatarDX World @DX_World
VK0GB – Casey Base, Antarctica: Gerry, VK0GB (G3WIP) is located at Casey Base, Antarctica until February 2014…. bit.ly/1beTklH

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
Tech paper writing tips: A dark and stormy night | EDN edn.com/electronics-bl… via @EDNcom

 

FakeScience's avatarFake Science @FakeScience
Someone forgot to put “Saltine” on this copy of the Periodic Table.

 

2e0sql's avatarPeter Goodhall @2e0sql
Amsat-UK have released a handbook for the FUNcube-1 satellite, the launch date is rapidly approaching 13 days to go! wp.me/p3TuHs-kE

MW0IAN's avatarIan @MW0IAN
The versatile end-fed wire VK3YE home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/gatew… #hamr

Amateur radio in the news: oldest social media, convention, FCC shutdown

Ham radio operators stay true to social media’s low-tech roots. Long ago, before Facebook, Twitter and email, ham radio operators were the original social media geeks. And they’re still out there, in greater numbers than ever, chatting and messaging each other all over the world without an Internet connection or even a telephone line.

Amateur radio club hosts convention. The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club hosted the 2013 ARRL Southwestern Division Convention in September at the Marriott Hotel in Buellton. The conference brought together amateur radio enthusiasts from all of Southern California and Arizona to share and learn from the experts on specific topics of concern. The conference stressed two areas of interest: emergency preparedness and attracting young students to the art of Amateur Radio.

Shutdown upends ham radio buffs’ Wake Isle trip marking massacre. For anyone questioning the reach of the federal government shutdown, consider Wake Island. Not much more than military-plane refueling and classified operations occur on the unincorporated U.S. territory, a coral atoll located between Hawaii and Guam, about 6,700 miles (10,780 kilometers) from the legislative standoff in Washington. That was about to change this week with the arrival of a dozen ham-radio operators who thought they’d won approval for a two-week commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the World War II massacre of almost 100 U.S. civilian contractors on Wake Island by the Japanese on Oct. 7, 1943. Instead, after months of preparation, the trip is on ice because of a paperwork delay the group attributes to the partial federal shutdown, which started Oct. 1 as Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a stopgap spending measure.

WA2HOM Report – 10/6/13

Last week, we purchased a new (to us, anyway) rig for our station at WA2HOM—an Icom IC-756PROIII. After using it a bit on Thursday evening, and for a couple of hours on Saturday and a couple more today, I must say that I’m enjoying this radio.

WA2HOM

I spent my four hours mainly working the CA QSO Party. I tallied 106 QSOs and scored just over 10,000 points. I also happened upon G100RSGB calling CQ on 21.375 MHz, and had a delightful conversation with Roger, who was operating from the Rolls Royce engineering center near Nottingham. That will be a nice QSL card to add to our collection.

Ovide, K8EV, is as well. He e-mailed me yesterday:

I had a terrific radio session Saturday morning. Though band conditions were unsettled, and noise was high on 20m, I was able to adjust our new (to us) IC-756PROIII’s noise reduction (NR) circuit to turn marginal signals into a quality contacts. The audio from the transceiver is outstanding. It’s clear even in a large, noisy room.

The sound of the new radio attracted visitors to the shack at regular intervals. Two hams and two mothers wandered by, one with a cute first grader who has the distinction of being the first kid operator on our new transceiver. Denis, my friend in New Mexico, was the radio docent.

The second mom, who lives in farm country in Santa Clara Valley CA and has been trying to decide whether to home-school her child, had an extended conversation with Denis on the topic. Denis, it turns out, is an excellent resource, having home-schooled two boys, one of whom went to Oxford University to get a Ph.D. in mathematics! The mom, who is visiting her husband’s family in Dexter, was delighted to find unexpected help on an issue she has been struggling with on a visit to the Hands On Museum.

There are a few accessories that we still need to purchase, including a CI-V cable to connect the rig to the computer and a cable to connect the rig to the Signalink interface. So far, though, it looks like we’ve made a good purchase.

ZM90DX to commemorate Kiwi contribution to amateur radio

This from VK4ZD:

kiwi-dx-groupAfter World War 1 and with the banishment of radio amateurs to the supposedly “useless shorter wavelengths” an amazing period of radio exploration took place.  Amateurs all over the globe soon learnt that far from being useless these wavelengths seem to allow communication over long distances.  Amateurs in ZL were at the forefront of this activity with the first ZL to VK QSO in April 1923, and then world record distance QSOs between ZL and Argentina in May 1924, ZL and California in September 1924, ZL and Connecticut on the US east coast just weeks later, and the ultimate Z4AA Frank Bell’s QSO with Cecil Goyder G2SZ in London on 18 October 1924.

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the record breaking activities of these early pioneers of Amateur Radio, ZM90DX will be on the air between 1 October 2013 and 31 October 2014 on all bands 1.8 MHz to 1.2 GHz and beyond in all modes.  Activated by the Kiwi DX Group, an informal group of DXers and contest enthusiasts, ZM90DX will be used around New Zealand and a special commemorative QSL card will be available as well as an award program for contacts with ZL during this period.

Not only will ZM90DX be active at expected times and on expected bands, but in the spirit of those early pioneers the ZM90DX operators will also be calling CQ on bands and in directions one may not necessarily expect with the intention of exploring the boundaries of radio propagation.

This will be an unparalleled opportunity for Amateurs all over the world to work ZL while celebrating the exploits of those early trail blazers whose work paved the way for radio communications as we know it today.

Further details can be found on http://www.zm90dx.com/.

Note: “Please remember this is a ZL based activity NOT ZL9 Campbell & Auckland Islands.” ENSURE your logging software logs ZM90DX correctly as ZL and NOT ZL9, Auckland / Campbell Islands. To update the Country File for your logging software please visit: http://www.country-files.com/