Senator Lauds Hams in Post-Hurricane Tweet

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker – a longtime supporter of amateur radio – used his Twitter feed in October to point out the ways in which hams helped with disaster response efforts in Florida after Hurricane Michael.

According to the ARRL Letter, Wicker tweeted that hams are trained volunteers who “help maintain critical communication to areas with no electricity, phone, or internet service.”

WB2ITX Takes Helm at ARRL

Howard Michel, WB2ITX, began work as the ARRL’s new Chief Executive Officer in mid-October, the third new CEO since the retirement of Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, in 2016. Michel, who previously worked in the robotics and artificial intelligence industries, also served as volunteer president and CEO of IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Continue reading WB2ITX Takes Helm at ARRL

Time Change

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is used to save energy and make better use of daylight. It was first used in 1908 in

What Is Daylight Saving Time?

DST is a seasonal time change measure where clocks are set ahead of standard time during part of the year, usually by 1 hour. As DST starts, the Sun rises and sets later, on the clock, than the day before.

Continue reading Time Change

FCC Fines Amateur Radio Licensee $25,000 for Operating Unlicensed FM Station

In an FCC Enforcement Bureau case going back to early 2015, a Paterson, New Jersey, Amateur Radio licensee has been penalized in the amount of $25,000 for allegedly continuing to operate an unlicensed FM radio station. The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 to Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, a General class licensee. The fine followed an April 2018 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture(NAL) issued to Tulloch for alleged “willful and repeated violation” of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating an unlicensed FM radio station on 90.9 MHz in Paterson. Tulloch did not respond to the NAL, the FCC indicated.

“Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listener,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

Continue reading FCC Fines Amateur Radio Licensee $25,000 for Operating Unlicensed FM Station

Correction: Practice Contest for ARRL RTTY Roundup Participants Planning to Use FT8

A 1-hour “practice contest” will be held next week on Thursday, October 25, 0200 – 0300 UTC (Wednesday, October 24, in North American time zones). Use dial frequency 7.078 kHz, moving up in 2 kHz increments if interference is too great. The date was incorrect in this week’s edition of The ARRL Letter.

To participate you must use WSJT-X version 2.0.0-rc3. Installation packages for Windows, Linux, and macOS are near the bottom of the page. This version is “Release Candidate 3,” a beta-test version. A full release of WSJT-X 2.0 is targeted for release on December 10. There’s also a revised Quick-Start Guide to WSJT-X 2.0-rc3. FT8 co-developer Joe Taylor, K1JT, advises reading the entire document before using WSJT-X 2.0. (Changes in RC3 relative to RC2 are described starting on page 7.)

Cycle 25? Not Quite Yet…

There’s been some hopeful excitement among sunspot watchers that a group of sunspots observed in late August with reverse magnetic polarity to most of the solar cycle 24 sunspots might signal the start of cycle 25. However, the ARRL Letter says the Royal Observatory of Belgium’s Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence has splashed cold water on that theory (the water vaporized instantly, of course!).

Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of sunspot groups 2720
and 2719 last summer. The white areas indicate a positive
magnetic field while the black areas are negative. Normally,
they are opposite of each other on different sides of the solar
equator (in the center of the photo), but group 2720 was
reversed. This is sometimes a sign of a new solar cycle.
However, the Royal Observatory of Belgium says these
sunspots were too close to the equator to indicate the start
of cycle 25. (NASA SDO Image)

The center noted that while the magnetic polarity of sunspots typically reverses with a change of cycle, spots from a new cycle also need to originate in the mid-solar latitudes, “typically 20° to 40° from the equator.” The sunspots in this group were observed at only about 8° solar latitude. The center says every sunspot cycle has several dozen reverse polarity sunspots that are identified with the current cycle despite being magnetically “upside-down.”

US Ham-Astronaut, Russian Cosmonaut Safe in Wake of Soyuz Launch Failure

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft crew launch to the International Space Station (ISS) suffered an emergency booster failure shortly after lift-off from Kazakhstan on October 11, but the crew is safe. On board the Soyuz MS-10 were US Astronaut Nick Hague, KG5TMV, and Russian Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was in attendance at the launch in order to discuss with Russian space agency Roscosmos a mysterious hole that had apparently been drilled through the side of the last Soyuz vehicle. That spacecraft had successfully carried cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, and astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT, and Alexander Gerst, KF5ONO, to the ISS last spring. In a statement, Bridenstine promised “a thorough investigation” into the cause of the October 11 aborted launch.

Continue reading US Ham-Astronaut, Russian Cosmonaut Safe in Wake of Soyuz Launch Failure

Scouting’s Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) Looking Forward to Successful 2018 Event

Some 450 sites in the US are among nearly 3,000 locations around the world that will host Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) or Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) stations over the October 19 – 21 weekend.

“It looks [like it will] exceed last year’s registration number by next weekend,” JOTA Coordinator Jim Wilson, K5ND, said.

One site that will be activated for JOTA is the Voice of America (VOA) Museum in West Chester, Ohio, which hosts the West Chester Amateur Radio Association’s club station WC8VOA. WCARA member Jocelyn Brault, KD8VRX, grew up in Canada, where, as a 12-year-old, he took part in a JOTA event, making a friend in France and becoming pen pals. Years later, he became a Scout leader and a radio amateur. The station in the VOA station has been hosting JOTA for the past 5 years and allows anyone in Scouting to participate from the museum.

Continue reading Scouting’s Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) Looking Forward to Successful 2018 Event

FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Overhauls Marking Requirements for Short Rural Towers

Thanks to ARRL efforts on Capitol Hill, language in the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, just signed by President Donald Trump, resolves the issue of problematic or preclusive rules affecting some rural Amateur Radio towers. The previous FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 had instructed the FAA to enact tower-marking requirements, similar to those in some state statutes, aimed at improving aircraft safety in the vicinity of meteorological evaluation towers (METs). These towers are typically between 50 and 200 feet and set up in rural areas, often on short notice.

In the wake of fatal crop-dusting aircraft collisions with METs, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had recommended that states institute laws, sometimes called “crop duster” statutes, requiring marking and registration of METs. While some state crop-duster laws exempted ham radio towers, federal regulations dating to the 1996 FAA Reauthorization Act did not, and ARRL had expressed its concerns since.

Continue reading FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Overhauls Marking Requirements for Short Rural Towers

“Last Man Standing” Debuts on Fox With High Ratings

“Last Man Standing,” the TV comedy that includes amateur radio as a backdrop and occasional story line and was canceled by ABC last year despite healthy ratings, returned to the air on the Fox network in September with a huge ratings boost in comparison with its previous season premiere on ABC.

According to producer John Amodeo, AA6JA, the current (season 7) premiere on Fox had a 56% higher rating than its season 6 premiere last year and its highest-ever rating for a Friday night broadcast. Amodeo also says the TCFTV ratings report indicated that the September 28 telecast was Fox’s most-watched Friday entertainment show in nearly 18 years and the network’s most-watched comedy in nearly seven years. Fox picked up the show (which it has always produced) following viewer outcry over ABC’s decision not to renew it.