CQ Newsroom

Impact on Ham Radio of Federal Government Shutdown

As this is written in mid-January, the federal government is partially shut down due to a funding dispute between the President and Congress. The FCC is among the agencies affected.
We hope that, by the time you read this, an agreement has been reached to reopen all federal agencies. However, the impact on hams will likely extend beyond the shutdown. Here's a snapshot of how the shutdown affected government agencies and services typically used by hams, including any expected post-shutdown effects.

Federal Communications Commission
The FCC shut down all but essential functions (such as spectrum auctions) as of January 3. The Universal Licensing System (ULS) and Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) websites continued to be accessible; however, there was no staff support behind them. Amateur license processing was shut down, including new licenses, upgrades, vanity call requests, renewals and administrative changes (such as a change of address). There will be a backlog in all of these functions once the government reopens, so hams filing license-related applications can expect processing delays. If similar situations in the past are used for guidance, licenses due to expire during the shutdown period will remain valid as long as a renewal application has been filed in a timely manner. All other applications will be processed in the order received once the staff is back at work. Deadlines on comments or reply comments on open rulemaking proceedings will likely be extended bv the number of days during which the FCC was shut down (although we are not aware of any amateur-related proceedings currently in comment or reply-comment periods).
Notice posted on the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS) web page: Lapse in Government FundingEffective: January 3, 2019 2:00 pmSystem: Universal Licensing System (ULS)Due to a lapse in funding, the operations of the Federal Communications Commission will be limited with no system support. We regret any inconvenience. 
NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center
The Department of Commerce was also affected by the shutdown. Its many agencies include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the umbrella agency for the National Weather Service and the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The National Weather Service and its Storm Prediction Center remained operational because they are essential to protection of life and property (even though workers were not being paid during the shutdown). The SWPC web page also said it was remaining open, but not all data was available.

National Institute of Standards and Technology / WWV
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is also part of the Commerce Department and was similarly affected by the shutdown. Radio stations WWV and WWVH remained on the air, but the WWV web page had no current information available. (Sidenote: To the best of our knowledge, the future status of WWV, WWVB and WWVH remains uncertain. The Commerce Department eliminated their funding in its latest budget request, but as far as we know, Congress has not taken final action on the department's budget.)
NASA All NASA operations were shut down except for those necessary to maintain safety aboard the International Space Station. It is unclear at this point how amateur satellites scheduled for launch aboard NASA rockets will be affected. If a launch is part of an ISS resupply mission, it will presumably move ahead on schedule. Other launches may be delayed as a result of the shutdown. Check the status pages for individual satellites for updates.

FCC Back to Full Strength (But Closed at Press Time)

The Federal Communications Commission once again has five members, with the Senate confirmation Brendan Carr was confirmed by
the Senate to a full term as an
FCC Commissioner, along with
Geoffrey Starks (FCC photo)of Brendan Carr for a full five-year term (he'd been filling a vacated seat since 2017) and of Geoffrey Starks, who is replacing former Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. They join Chairman Ajit Pai and fellow Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel.
Starks moves up from a staff position as Assistant Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. The Senate also confirmed Kelvin Droegemeier as director of the White House office of Science and Technology Policy. (Tnx K3ZJ)
At press time in mid-January, the FCC remained essentially closed due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

ARRL to FCC: Incorporate Parity Act Provisions into Part 97

The ARRL has filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC requesting the inclusion of provisions of the Amateur Radio Parity Act in its rules for the Amateur Radio Service. The bill is intended to protect the rights of amateurs to put up antennas and operate from homes that are covered by restrictive covenants or homeowner association rules, many of which prohibit outdoor antennas and/or any amateur radio operation. The Parity Act bill was passed by the House of Representatives but not by the Senate, and died at the end of the 2017-18 session of Congress. 
According to the ARRL Letter, the specific proposal is to add a new rule prohibiting the enactment or enforcement of any private land use restriction that fails to permit amateur radio operation, fails to permit installation of an effective outdoor antenna or does not meet the "minimum practicable restriction" standard that already applies to state and local laws and ordinances. The final language of the Parity Act bill - which the League wants incorporated into the FCC rules - was controversial because some antenna law experts felt it might cause more harm than good, requiring all amateurs living with private land use restrictions to request permission to put up any antenna, including those not currently required to do so.
The FCC had not taken any action on the petition prior to the federal government shutdown in early January.

Partial Refunds Available for Bouvet Donations

Leaders of the aborted 3Y0Z DXpedition to Bouvet Island last February are offering partial refunds of donations made to help cover trip expenses. The expedition was cancelled at the last minute due to weather conditions. The ARRL Letter reports that, after covering all expenses incurred, the group is offering to refund 48% of all contributions. However, they'd rather donors "pay it forward" to help fund future DXpeditions. 
Donors have five options: 1) Get a refund check; 2) Donate your refund to the 3Y0Z team to help members recover some of their personal expenses; 3) Donate the refund to the Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF) or 4) the International DX Association (INDEXA) to help fund future DXpeditions; or 5) the default option, if no instructions are received, a four-way split between the 3Y0Z team, the NCDXF, INDEXA and GDXF, the German DX Foundation. 
Donors should contact team co-leader Bob Allphin, K4UEE, with instructions.

Initial Qualification Rules Announced for WRTC-2022

The first qualifying event for the 2022 World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC 2022) will be held this month - the ARRL International DX CW contest - and the WRTC organizing committee has launched its official website and posted the initial qualification rules.

According to the ARRL Letter, the committee is trying to make the event accessible for more teams from more places, noting that "WRTC is now for everybody," not just big guns. The selection areas will be geographically smaller to provide more chances to qualify for all contesters on all continents, and team leaders will select operating partners from the top ten applicants who did not qualify as team leaders. WRTC 2022 will be held in Bologna, Italy, the birthplace of Guglielmo Marconi. The official website (English version) is at <http://wrtc2022.it/en/>.

2019 YOTA Camp to be in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Federation of Radio Amateurs will be hosting this summer's ninth annual Youngsters On The Air (YOTA) camp in August. Young hams between the ages of 15 and 25 will be eligible to attend. 

 According to the South African Radio League (which hosted the 2018 camp), individual member societies of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) will select their representatives. The program is sponsored by IARU Region 1, which represents Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but campers have attended from around the world.

New General Class Exam Questions Released

The question pool from which General Class amateur radio license exams will be composed starting this coming July has been released. According to the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, the new Element 3 question pool will be used from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2023. Questions (including one corrected diagram) may be downloaded at <https://tinyurl.com/y7pwoyzm> in .docx, .pdf or .txt format (with a .jpg option for the corrected diagram).

Satellite Roundup

Es'hail-2, also known as Phase 4A, is the first
amateur radio satellite in geosynchronous
orbit (Photo courtesy Es'hailsat)The first geosynchronous amateur radio satellite successfully orbited was undergoing in-orbit testing in early January. AMSAT-DL, Germany's amateur satellite organization, was conducting the transponder tests on the Phase 4-A, or Es'hail-2, satellite. Owned by the Qatar Satellite Company, Es'hail 2 has been moved to its permanent orbital position over Africa at 25.5º east longitude.  According to AMSAT-UK, the satellite is expected to provide continuous access to hams from Brazil to Thailand.
If you think packet radio is dead, don't look up. A new packet system has been delivered to the International Space Station, where it was awaiting installation at press time. According to the ARRL Letter, the original packet system aboard the space station relayed nearly 89,000 messages, or roughly 250 per day, in the first half of 2017 before failing in July of that year. The original system had been in regular use for some 17 years. Timing of the new installation will depend on crew availability.
Two amateur satellites carrying D-STAR payloads were launched in late December aboard a Russian Soyuz flight. As of press time, beacon transmissions had been successfully received from both D-STAR-ONE-Sparrow and D-STAR-ONE-iSAT.  A third hams satellite was deployed on the same launch, this one carrying a packet digipeater on 70 centimeters.
Finally in satellite news, the AMSAT News Service reports that a Polish student satellite - PW-Sat2 - with a downlink-only transmitter of 435 MHz, deployed a student-built deorbiting sail it was intended to test. Video of the deployment is available on YouTube at <https://tinyurl.com/y8hfunqa>.

HamSci Slates 2019 Workshop for Cleveland in March

The 2019 Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation program, or HamSci, has scheduled its 2019 workshop on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 22 and 23. The theme for this year's workshop is "Ionospheric Effects and Sensing," which a HamSci announcement says will include discussions of sporadic-E, traveling ionospheric disturbances, and response to solar flares and geomagnetic storms. For more information, visit <http://hamsci.org>.

One Billion QSOs…

ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) online contact confirmation system now holds more than one billion contact records. According to the ARRL Letter, QSO number 1,000,000,000 was uploaded by the Sahara DX Club, 7X3WPL, for a December 28, 2016 contact with IW1DQS on 20 meter single-sideband. IW1DQS had previously uploaded his log so the entry resulted in a match and confirmed QSO. 

LoTW has been serving ARRL members and DX hams for more than 15 years. Confirmed QSOs on the system may be used for all ARRL awards as well as CQ's WPX and WAZ awards.

Anniversary Awards and Activities Announced

WWV will celebrate a century of broadcasting later this year; AMSAT is celebrating its 50th anniversary of its founding, and the U.S. Islands Award program turns 25 in 2019. All three have special events and activities planned.
The Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club, in conjunction with the WWV Centennial Celebration, is planning a 5-day special event operation between September 28 and October 2, with four HF stations operating simultaneously. Operators will be needed. An application form will be posted on the "operators" page of the <www.WWV100.com> website as of February 15.
The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, better known as AMSAT, was founded in 1969. To mark its 50th anniversary, the organization is offering three anniversary awards, the Satellite Communications Achievement Award, the Satellite Friends of 50 Award, and AMSAT on HF 50th Anniversary Award. Details are on the AMSAT website at <https://tinyurl.com/y8hnplt6>, and we will take a closer look in March CQ's Awards column.
Finally, "OTA" fans will want to learn about the special 25th anniversary award being offered by the US Islands Awards Program throughout 2019. According to the ARRL, chasers will need to contact and confirm 25 U.S. islands during the year, while activators will need to qualify or activate 25 islands. At least 15 of those contacts or activations must be new islands. See <usislands.org> for details.

Marine Lieutenant Charged in Ham's Murder

Amateur Radio Newsline reports that California authorities have charged a U.S. Marine officer with murder in the 2018 death of Henry Allen Strange, WA6RXZ, of Murietta, California. Strange's body was found in June in a shallow grave in Joshua Tree National Park. 

First Lieutenant Curtis Lee Krueger has been charged with murder. Kreuger and his girlfriend reportedly had been arrested in connection with Strange's death in August, but released after prosecutors declined to prosecute. Krueger was arrested again in December following the discovery of new information, according to the Newsline report.