ARRL November Sweepstakes Offers Two Weekends of Fun

The ARRL November Sweepstakes (SS) weekends again loom large on the amateur radio contest horizon. The CW weekend is November 2 – 4 — this weekend — while the phone weekend is November 16 – 18. Both events begin on Saturday at 2100 UTC and conclude on Monday at 0259 UTC. An Operating Guide that relates some of the history and evolution of these North American contests is available. SS offers operating categories for every preference. The goal for many seasoned SS operators is to complete a “clean sweep” by working all 83 ARRL and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) sections. Sunday drivers may just want to dabble. Others enjoy trying to make a clean sweep by working one station in each section. Most SS operators, though, simply try to run up the contact and multiplier counts, staying in the chair for the full 24 (out of 30) allowable hours.Some multipliers are much rarer than others, although these can shift from one event to the next. Stations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been absent in recent years after hurricanes devastated those areas. Northern Territories (NT) is often the most difficult, and for a while, it looked as though the NT mainstay, VY1AAA (at the Yukon Territory station of J. Allen, VY1JA), might not be on the air this month. Allen has stepped away from amateur radio, and his station was supposed to have been dismantled already. But circumstances changed, the VY1JA station is still intact, and Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, says he’ll be making the NT mult available to the SS multitude.

“100% I will be on with guns blazing, CW and SSB,” Hull told ARRL this week. “The big ‘if’ was getting J’s Alpha 9500 back in working order, and that happened last Friday. After that, we are done. So, a sweep will be possible.”

Hull will operate VY1AAA remotely from New Hampshire. He said that for the CW event this weekend, he’ll either stay very low in the band — the bottom 5 kHz — or operate above 40 kHz to avoid QRM. And while he’s a snappy CW operator, he promises to slow down for anyone.

“The trick will be finding my own Section,” Hull added. “Let’s see if the propagation gods are with us. I hope so, for this swan song.”

Once the VY1JA station is finally dismantled, VY1AAA will also be off the air, unless Hull is able to secure another station. Hull told ARRL earlier this year that he’s been searching for several months for another Northern Territories station that would be willing to host remote operation.

Allen cited long-term health issues and hearing loss for his decision to retire from ham radio, and his familiar VY1JA call sign will retire with him.

“The VY1AAA team is greatly saddened by this turn of events,” Hull said. “Hams around the world will surely miss J and the VY1AAA team on the bands. J has been an incredible friend and mentor.” Over the past 4 years, VY1AAA has logged more than 35,000 contacts, and QSL requests will continue to be honored, Hull said.

Operators with limited time to get on the air may want to raise the excitement level by “running” — i.e, calling CQ — a lot of stations or by operating later in the contest, when the SS regulars will be on the lookout for call signs they have not yet encountered.

For both the CW and phone events, stations exchange a sequential serial number (no leading zeros needed), an operating category (precedence), call sign, the last two digits of the year of first license for either operator or station (check), and ARRL/RAC Section.

Many areas of the US change from daylight saving time to standard time at 2 AM local time on November 3 by moving clocks back 1 hour. UTC is not affected. — Thanks to Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, and The ARRL Contest Update

Don’t Forget

Jamboree on the Air 2019

Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, is the largest Scouting event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community. This jamboree requires no travel, other than to a nearby amateur radio operator’s ham shack. Many times you can find the hams will come to you by setting up a station at your Scout camporee, at the park down the block, or perhaps at a ham shack already set up at your council’s camp.

Tell Me More

Scouts of any age can participate, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers, including girls. Once at the ham radio station, the communication typically involves talking on a microphone and listening on the station speakers. However, many forms of specialized communication may also be taking place, such as video communication, digital communication (much like sending a message on your smartphone but transmitted by radio), or communication through a satellite relay or an earth-based relay (called a repeater). The exchanges include such information as name, location (called QTH in ham speak), Scout rank, age, and hobbies. The stations you’ll be communicating with can be across town, across the country, or even around the world! The World Scout Bureau reported that the 2017 JOTA-JOTI had over 1.5 million Scout participants from more than 160 countries.

When Is It?

Jamboree-on-the-Air is held the third weekend in October. There are no official hours, so you have the whole weekend to make JOTA contacts. The event officially starts Friday evening during the JOTA Jump Start and runs through Sunday evening.

How Can I Participate as a Scout?

Contact your local Scout council and see what may already be planned in your area. You can also contact a local ham radio operator or a local amateur radio club. You can find a searchable database of clubs at www.arrl.org/find-a-club . This website is operated by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio, which is cooperating closely with the BSA on JOTA and many other activities.

Your local club may be able to direct you to its planned JOTA activities. These can include ham stations set up at camporees or other events. Or, if there are no planned activities, you can either work with them to get something set up or arrange to visit a local radio operator’s ham shack at a scheduled time to participate in JOTA.

How Can I Participate as an Amateur Radio Operator?

Contact your local Scout council and see what may already be planned in your area and how you can help. You can find your council using the Council locator.

If nothing is currently planned, or if current plans aren’t reaching your area, you can work with the council or a local unit (pack, troop, crew) to set up a JOTA station or arrange for visits to your ham shack. You can also participate just by making QSOs with the many JOTA stations that will be on the air. A good resource to find a local Scout unit is the Be-A-Scout website at .

Anna Brummer, N2FER, Feted on her 105th Birthday

When she turned 80, Anna Brummer, N2FER, of Fort Edward, New York, predicted she would live to be 100. On September 27, she topped her own forecast by 5 years, as she celebrated her birthday at the Fort Hudson Nursing Center, surrounded by family and friends. The only thing she wanted was a drink of Scotch whiskey, and the nursing home obliged, along with a slice of cake. Unit Manager Donna Hopkins told Post Star newspaper reporter Gretta Hochsprung that she didn’t attempt to put 105 candles on Brummer’s cake because it would have been a fire hazard. Brummer told Hochsprung that the secret to longevity is being nice to people.

“Keeps you young when everything’s going smooth,” she told the reporter.

Anna Brummer was a latecomer to Amateur Radio. In 1984, her son Richard, K2JQ (ex-K2REB), got his mom and his dad, Edwin, interested in Amateur Radio, and Anna obtained her Technician license when she was 69 years old. Edwin Brummer, who died in 1996, was N2FEQ, and held a Tech Plus ticket. They were married for 56 years.

Anna Brummer was born in the Bronx and went on to work as a sales clerk at Kresge’s, making $12 a week. When Kresge’s folded, she became a school cafeteria worker in Massapequa on Long Island.

Richard Brummer, who described his mother as “very loving,” said she definitely has a will to live.

No official records are kept, but Anna Brummer is among a small circle of centenarian radio amateurs in the US and may be the oldest woman now holding a license. Cliff Kayhart, W4KKP, of South Carolina, appears to be the oldest active US radio amateur at 107. Arlene “Buddy” Clay, KL7OT, lived to be 103.

LO-94 Lunar-Orbiting Satellite Crashes Into Moon, But Not Before “Photographing” HF Radio Spectrum

Space.com and amateur radio science/technology blogger Daniel Estévez, EA4GPZ/M0HXM, are reporting that the lunar-orbiting LO-94 satellite has been intentionally crashed into the far side of the moon by its controllers. The reports indicate that the crash was long-planned as the satellite had completed its primary mission and exceeded its life expectancy, and controllers did not want to leave it in orbit as space debris.

The satellite, built by China’s Harbin Institute of Technology, achieved many firsts. It was the first lunar-orbiting amateur satellite; amateurs on Earth were able to command it to shoot and send back photos from the dark side of the Moon; it recorded a total solar eclipse back on Earth and served as the platform for the first-ever repeater QSO made from lunar orbit (see July 9, 2019 CQ Newsroom post).

One of LO-94’s final accomplishments, reported on the HamSci reflector, was to take a spectral “photograph” of RF energy emanating from Earth on the MF/HF spectrum. The graph published by Chinese media showed peaks just below the AM broadcast band and at roughly 9, 12 and 17 MHz. Propagation expert Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, added notations to the chart for the HF amateur and shortwave broadcast bands, plus WWV/WWVH, showing that most of the peaks match up with the major shortwave broadcast bands. It was noted by one member of the HamSci group that it would have been interesting to see what the graph looked like if the readings were made during a major DX contest weekend. Carl’s chart is posted below.

Washington Amateur Radio Club Volunteers Track Interfering Signals

Volunteers from the Skagit Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Club (SARECC) in Anacortes, Washington, recently assisted the US Coast Guard in tracking the source of interference on VHF Marine Channel 5A (156.250 MHz). This channel serves the commercial Vessel Traffic Service north of Bush Point on Whidbey Island, as well as in some Canadian waters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The service offers monitoring and navigational assistance for ships in the region.

The club reports that the channel was unusable for 30 hours, forcing all traffic to other channels. SARECC volunteers promptly tracked down the source of the offending signal — a fishing vessel at the Squalicum Harbor fuel dock — and traffic on channel 5A was able to resume. Last fall, club volunteers were also able to pin down an interference problem for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. — Thanks to Richard Rodriguez, WB6NAH

NOAA: Prepare for Above-Normal Hurricane Activity

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra- tion’s (NOAA’s) Climate Prediction Center has issued a revised forecast for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, suggesting that it might be more active than originally predicted. NOAA says the El Niño pattern in the Pacific – which typically suppresses hurricane activity in the Atlantic – has ended and more named storms are now likely.

The new forecast predicts there will be 10-17 named storms, of which about half may become hurricanes, including 2-4 major hurricanes (with sustained winds greater than 110 miles per hour). Hurricane season runs through November 30, with August, September and October typically being the most active months. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, be sure that both your personal and ham radio preparedness kits are ready as needed.

ARRL “Symbol Rate” Mediation Efforts Fail

The ARRL reports it was not successful in its attempt to find common ground between proponents of Automatically Controlled Digital Stations (ACDS) on HF – primarily users of the Winlink radio e-mail protocol – and amateurs who want the frequencies available to those stations limited to prevent possible interference. The FCC is currently considering a Notice of Proposed Rule Making on the matter and the ARRL had asked for a 2-month delay in the proceeding so it could try to find consensus between the opposing viewpoints. A series of in-person meetings and teleconferences followed, but despite reaching agreement on some of the issues, neither group was willing to make a submission to the FCC based on their areas of consensus.

According to the ARRL Letter, League Washington Counsel David Siddall, K3ZJ, both groups had an “all-or-nothing approach” that precluded them from moving forward, even on areas in which they found common ground. It will now be up to the FCC to sort it all out and make a decision.

FT4 Released as “Finished Protocol” for Digital Contesting

The latest “general availability” package of the WSJT-X digital mode suite – version 2.1.0 – was ARRL Letter also reports that the new package includes other bug fixes and general improvements, including an upgrade to FT8 waveform generation, improved user interface, rig control and contest logging features. As with other major updates to WSJT, users are strongly encouraged to install the new version and stop using previous ones, including “release candidate” versions. The new version of WSJT-X may be downloaded from <https://tinyurl.com/y2tg2fwp>, along with the user guide in several languages.

On a related note, the ARRL reports that Logbook of the World has been updated to permit FT4 contacts to count for it Digital Worked All States award. According to the ARRL Letter, “(n)o additional endorsements are under consideration at this time.”released in mid-July and includes the new FT4 mode as “a finished protocol for HF contesting,” according to the WSJT Development Group. The 

LoTW Now Accepting FT4 Contacts

The latest TQSL update (Config.xml version 11.8), released on May 22, includes FT4 as a submode of MFSK. It also adds AISAT-1 and PO-101 in the satellite category.

As of May 23, 1,048,281,611 contact records have been entered into the system, resulting in 200,387,247 contact confirmations. LoTW has 118,328 users.