CQ Newsroom

2019 Hamvention Award Winners Announced

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has announced the winners of the 2019 Hamvention® Awards, considered among the most prestigious recognitions in amateur radio.
  Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, Dayton's 2019 Amateur of the Year
(Photo courtesy W2NAF)
This year's Amateur of the Year is HamSCI founder and coordinator Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF. HamSCI – Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation – is a program designed to build long-term relationships between amateur radio operators, acting as citizen scientists, and professional researchers in the fields of propagation and space science. The hams can provide hundreds or thousands of data collection points while the scientists can use that data to learn more about phenomena related to radio wave propagation. Frissell also organized the 2017 Solar Eclipse QSO Party.
Dayton's Technical Achievement award this year goes to telegraph key designer and manufacturer Piero Begali, I2RTF. The Special Technical Achiemevent
Award Winner Piero Begali,
I2RTF (I2RTF photo)Special Achievement Award
winner Chris Janssen,
(DL1MGB photo)Achievement award will recognize the efforts of Chris Janssen, DL1MGB/KO2WW, for his work as president of the 2018 World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC2018) in Germany. And the 2019 Club of the Year is New Hampshire's Nashua Area Radio Society, a club of more than 200 members with a prime focus on mentoring and youth outreach to bring more people into amateur radio and help them get on the air.

The Nashua Area Radio Society is this year's Dayton
Hamvention Club of the Year (NARS photo)The awards will be presented at a special banquet during this year's Dayton Hamvention on May 18.

Nominations Open for 2019 Young Ham of the Year Award

Nominations are open for the 2019 Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, Memorial Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award (YHOTY). CQ is a proud corporate sponsor of this award. Nominees must be age 18 or younger and live in the United States or Canada. They must be making a significant contribution to amateur radio and/or using amateur radio to make a significant contribution to their communities (e.g., simply being licensed at age 2 won't cut it). 

This year, for the first time, only e-mailed nominations will be accepted. The nomination deadline is May 31, 2019. For complete information and nominating forms, visit <https://www.arnewsline.org/2019yhotyform>.

WWV Funding Restored, Centennial Preparations Continue

The WWV/WWVB transmitter site in Colorado will host
special event station WW0WWV as part of the WWV
centennial celebrations this fall. (NIST photo)Congress has restored full funding for WWV, WWVB and WWVH, despite a budget proposal from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to shut down the three standard time and frequency radio stations. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 included some $725 million for NIST's Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS), the budget category that includes the stations' funding, according to NIST Public Affairs Director Gail Porter. The conference report accompanying the budget bill notes that "(t)he agreement rejects the proposed terminations and reductions for all STRS programs" and includes "not less than fiscal year 2018 funding" for several services, including "Time and Fundamental Measurement Dissemination."
With the shutdown threat ended, preparations continue for marking WWV's centennial this fall. According to the ARRL Letter, the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club will be operating a special event station from the WWV transmitter site from September 28 through October 2, using the callsign WW0WWV.
WWV and WWVH are also making timeslots available from April 20 to May 3 for the Department of Defense to request reception reports of communication during its "Northcom Vital Connection Wisconsin" exercise. The announcements will be broadcast at 10 minutes after each hour on WWV and 50 minutes after the hour on WWVH. It will reportedly serve as a pilot for future broadcasts of similar exercises. (Tnx WA2KBZ)

"RF Seismograph" May Give Advance Notice of Earthquakes

The VE7DXW RF seismograph (from AB4OJ.com website)A ham in British Columbia has developed an "RF Seismograph" that detects changes in noise and activity levels on the HF spectrum resulting from earthquakes. According to the ARRL Letter, Alex Schwarz, VE7DXW, reports that the device has not only monitored band changes associated with earthquakes as they happen, but in some cases has begun tracking increased noise levels up to an hour before a quake. He says electric field lines associated with earthquakes result in increased RF noise levels. Schwarz is continuing to conduct research and analyze links between earthquakes and HF noise level changes.

Ham Population Ticks Upward as High Numbers of New Licenses Continue

The number of licensed amateurs in the United States increased by about 1% from 2017 to 2018, according to FCC statistics collected by Joe Speroni, AH0A, reaching a total of 755,430 at the end of the year. This number includes both additions of new amateurs - more than 31,000 for the fifth year in a row, according to the ARRL VEC - and reductions due to non-renewed licenses and deaths. 

In addition, QRZnow.com reports that the Radio Amateurs of Canada says that country's ham population grew by nearly 7000 in 2018, including more than 1750 new licensees, the largest number of new hams in Canada in four years.

Over-the-Horizon Radar Returns

Receive antennas for the original "Russian Woodpecker"
over-the-horizon radar installation in Ukraine. (Photo by
Ingmar Runge via Wikipedia.com under Creative Commons
license)Over-the-horizon radar is making a return to the HF spectrum, causing interference on several amateur bands. The International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring System reports that Russian, Chinese and British radars have been heard in recent months on the 80, 60, 40 and 15-meter bands. German monitors reported that a Russian radar system has made 60 meters virtually useless there.
Meanwhile, CNN Travel reports that the receive site for the original over-the-horizon radar system - widely known as the Russian woodpecker back in the 1970s - has become a tourist attraction in Ukraine. The site is located near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and was abandoned after the meltdown there. The area around the antenna site has been reopened to visitors. (There is much more to this story; we will try to provide details in May CQ. - ed.)

Milestones: Carole, Riley and Queen Mary

Carole Perry, WB2MGP, receives the first Carole Perry
Educator of the Year award from the Orlando Amateur
Radio Club at the 2019 Orlando Hamcation. (Photo
courtesy WB2MGP)The Orlando Hamcation® has introduced the Carole Perry Educator of the Year award to recognize teachers who promote the use of amateur radio by young people. Carole, WB2MGP, heads up the Radio Club of America's Youth Initiative program and leads youth forums at various hamfests each year, including the Dayton Hamvention® (31 years and counting) and the Hamcation. She was the first recipient of the Orlando award, presented at the 2019 Hamcation in February.
Former FCC amateur radio enforcer Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, will coordinate the development and implementation of ARRL's new Volunteeer Monitors program, a joint ARRL/FCC effort that will replace the Official Observer program. The ARRL Letter reports that Hollingsworth resigned as Atlantic Division Vice Director in order to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
The Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach (California) are celebrating the 40th anniversary this month of a permanent amateur radio presence on the Queen Mary museum ship. W6RO began operations from the ship's radio room on April 22, 1979 and was the first of what the ARRL Letter says are now more than 100 ham stations operating from museum ships around the world.

Milestones: Several Prominent Amateurs Become Silent Keys

The amateur radio community has lost several prominent members in recent months, including Don Tyrrell, W8AD, of Alpha Delta; British QRP enthusiast Rev. George Dobbs, G3RJV, who was founder and secretary of the G-QRP Club and editor of its magazine, SPRAT; Indian amateur R. Jayaraman, VU2JN, an engineering professor and Director of Technical Education for the state of Kerala, and first recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Amateur Radio Society of India; former Young Ladies Radio League president Carol Hall, WD8DQG; and former National Traffic System Eastern Area staff chair Bill Thompson, W2MTA.

US Navy Looks to Ham Radio for Electronics Training

Two hams in the Naval Air Warfare Center are experimenting with using amateur radio licensing classes as part of their training programs for basic electronics and RF. Brian Hill, KF4CAM, is the center's lead instructor for electromagnetic maneuver warfare experimentation. He told the ARRL Letter that many of the center's new hires had computer science degrees but no experience or training in RF propagation, an essential element of their work.  So he decided to try a Technician licensing course as a more hands-on approach than sitting through hours of PowerPoint presentations. 

Hill started with funding for only 10 students, but Target Design Engineering Branch Head Ian Mann, KI6YVO, saw the benefits and got additional funding. Target Systems Division Head Milton Gabaldon sat in on the classes and now has a ham license as well. A total of 23 workers passed their Tech exams, with several qualifying for higher class licenses as well. Hill hopes to continue the program in the future.

OSCAR-100 Open for General Use - and You Can Listen In

(AMSAT-UK image)Qatar OSCAR-100, the first geostationary amateur radio satellite, is in full operation with multimode capabilities including single sideband, CW, FreeDV, RTTY and digital amateur television. Its orbit over the Indian Ocean makes it available 24 hours a day to hams in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe.

 Hams outside the satellite's "footprint" or who don't have equipment to monitor its 10-GHz downlink frequencies (uplink is on 2.4 GHz) may listen in through a software defined radio connected to the internet. The WebSDR is operated by the British Amateur Television Club and may be accessed at <https://eshail.batc.org.uk>.

FCC Updates CORES, Encourages Pre-Exam Registration

Anyone holding an FCC amateur (or marine) license must also have an FCC Registration Number, or FRN, which you get by signing up via CORES, the Commission Registration System. The FCC is encouraging all prospective licensees to get an FRN before taking the license exam. 

The CORES website was updated on March 1 and there are new procedures for signing up. The FCC has produced a how-to video on using the new system. It's available online at <https://youtu.be/7a4doKEPN5M>. (Tnx WW2I)

FCC Sets New Rules for "Unintentional Radiators"

Electronic devices that emit radio frequency energy but are not used for communication are known as "unintentional radiators" and are capable of causing considerable RF interference. 

According to Newsline, the FCC is now requiring certification that these devices meet RFI standards and is reminding retailers as well as manufacturers that it is now enforcing "Supplier's Declaration of Conformity" procedures and requiring certification in certain cases. The list of unintentional radiators is long and includes such items as computer peripherals, switching power supplies and LED light bulbs.

ARRL Podcast Asks New Hams, "So Now What?"

That's the name of a new ARRL podcast aimed at new hams which debuted in early March. According to the ARRL Letter, the program focuses on answering questions and helping new amateurs get the most out of the hobby. A new episode will be posted every other week, alternating with the League's existing "The Doctor is In" podcast. "So NOW What?" is sponsored by LDG Electronics.

IARU Warns of Interference Risk from Wireless Power Transfer

If your smartphone has a charging pad instead of a cable and wall cube, then you're using wireless power transfer. The technology is also growing for charging household appliances, power tools and, soon, electric vehicles. The ARRL Letterreports on a study conducted by Region 1 of the International Amateur Radio Union (which covers Europe, Africa and the Middle East) on the impact of widespread use of WPT-EV, or wireless power transfer for electric vehicles.

 It concludes that current ITU and CEPT (European) interference standards are inadequate and will result in "a widespread and serious impact on radio communications operating in the vicinity" of WPT systems, "given the planned density of WPT-Electric Vehicle Systems." The report has been submitted to the appropriate working groups of both the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) for further study.

Traveling on April 6? Bring a Map … and a Watch

Artist's conception of the constellation of Global Positioning
System satellites orbiting the Earth (NASA image)The US Department of Homeland Security says there could be glitches in Global Positioning System, or GPS, when the on-board clocks of the satellite constellation "roll over" from week 1023 to week 0. 

According to the ARRL Letter, some units may misinterpret the rollover, shifting the date back to January 1, 1980 or another date. This may eliminate tiny changes that have been made since 1980 to timekeeping standards, which may in turn affect location accuracy. DHS has guidelines on dealing with potential issues at <https://tinyurl.com/y6wt84c6>.

ARRL Media Award Presented on Live TV

The ARRL's 2017 Bill Leonard Professional Media Award was won by The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore and Jen Carfagno for their AMHQ interview that September with former ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, about amateur radio response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 

The award was presented this past February by ARRL Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, live on the AMHQ program. According to the ARRL Letter, the presentation included a clip of the original interview as well as a live interview with Sarratt. The award includes a $250 cash prize, which The Weather Channel donated to the American Red Cross.

Can They DO That? (Well, not legally…)

From the "hey, wait a minute" department comes this report from CoinDesk, an online media outlet covering the virtual currency industry. According to the March 4 report, two bitcoin developers who also hold ham licenses successfully transmitted a bitcoin lightning payment via amateur radio. The payment was sent to developer and Bloomberg columnist Elaine Ou, KM6NCF, in California by Rodolfo Novak, VE3NAK, co-founder of CoinKite, a bitcoin hardware startup, in Ontario. After successfully receiving the payment, Ou reportedly tweeted that "Bitcoin is making ham radio cool again!"
The idea is to have an RF backup in the event of cyberattacks on bitcoin transactions over the internet. There's just one problem: in the US (and most likely in Canada as well), using ham radio to complete financial transactions is blatantly illegal. FCC rules define amateur radio as a "noncommercial radio service" used by "duly authorized persons … solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest," and section 97.113 of the rules specifically prohibit "(c)ommunications in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest…"

Assisted vs. Unassisted … in Yacht Racing, not Contesting

One of the ongoing honesty issues in amateur radio contesting is the submission of logs claiming unassisted operation while, in fact, the operator is benefiting from various types of on-air assistance, such as spotting networks. Apparently, there's a similar issue in yacht racing, and ham radio is right in the middle of it.

Participants in the Golden Globe yacht race - a non-stop round-the-world race using 1960s technology - according to Newsline, are allowed to use amateur radio if they're appropriately licensed, but may not request or use any form of outside assistance. According to Newsline, one skipper was recently sanctioned for requesting weather routing assistance from another ham. The conversation was recorded and provided to race headquarters. The skipper told the committee that he didn't realize the information involved routing and was allowed to continue the non-stop round-the-world race with a 72-hour penalty. He finished in third place despite the penalty. For more race info, see <https://goldengloberace.com/>.

Climb the Highest Mountain...

Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina and Chile is the highest peak
in the western hemisphere. It was activated for the Summits
On The Air (SOTA) program for the first time in February.
(Photo by Bjorn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikimedia Commons)A Polish ham visiting Argentina has successfully activated the highest mountain peak in the western hemisphere for the Summits on the Air, or SOTA, program. 

According to Newsline, Tom Rudzinski, SQ9FVE, an experienced mountain climber, took nearly two weeks to climb Mount Aconcagua, a mountain in the Andes that rises to more than 6900 meters (22,638 feet) above sea level, including several stops to become acclimatized to the increasing altitude. The mountain straddles the border between Argentina and Chile, but the summit is in Argentina. 

Rudzinski got on the air from the summit as LU/SQ9FVE at 1747 UTC on February 16 and made five contacts, all on 2-meter FM, with a group of Argentinean SOTA "chasers."