ARRL Reps Meet with Congressional Reps

Members of the ARRL Ad Hoc Legislative Advisory Committee met in September with several members of Congress to “reacquaint the lawmakers with Amateur Radio’s most-pressing issues,” request their continuing support and “seek their input on the best ways to achieve ARRL’s objectives in Congress,” according to the ARRL Letter.

The committee had previously made a comprehensive review of perceived deficiencies in the Amateur Radio Parity Act, a bill aimed at reducing limitations on amateur radio operation in private land use regulations, and discussed its proposed changes with the members of Congress. At press time, there had been no updates on the results of those meetings.

The Latest Episode of ARRL Audio News is Available

Listen to the new episode of ARRL Audio News on your iOS or Android podcast app, or online at Audio News is also retransmitted on a number of FM repeaters. Click here and then scroll down to see the list.

ARRL West Gulf Division Candidate Interviews

Ham Radio 2.0

This was recorded from a Facebook livestream by Ham Radio 2.0 on Sept 28, 2019, between the 2 candidates running for West Gulf Division Director. Thanks to Mike, N5VCX for arranging this meeting.

N5AUS’ Election Page:

W5MJ’s Election Page:

 Click this link for the video of the interview


So Now What? Podcast

“Demystifying the Language of Morse Code” will be the focus of the new (September 19) episode of the So Now What? podcast for Amateur Radio newcomers.If you’re a newly licensed Amateur Radio operator, chances are you have lots of questions. This biweekly podcast has answers! So Now What? offers insights from those who’ve been just where you are now. New episodes will be posted every other Thursday, alternating new-episode weeks with the ARRL The Doctor is In podcast.

So Now What? is sponsored by LDG Electronics, a family owned and operated business with laboratories in southern Maryland that offers a wide array of antenna tuners and other Amateur Radio products.

ARRL Communications Content Producer Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, and ARRL Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, co-host the podcast. Presented as a lively conversation, with Patnode representing newer hams and Carcia the veteran operators, the podcast will explore questions that newer hams may have and the issues that keep participants from staying active in the hobby. Some episodes will feature guests to answer questions on specific topic areas.

Listeners can find So Now What? on Apple iTunes, Blubrry, Stitcher (free registration required, or browse the site as a guest) and through the free Stitcher app for iOS, Kindle, or Android devices. Episodes will be archived on the ARRL website.

ARRL Renews Request for FCC to Replace Symbol Rate with Bandwidth Limit

In ex parte comments filed on September 17 in WT Docket 16-239, ARRL renewed its request that the FCC delete symbol-rate limits for data transmissions in the Amateur Service rules. As it did in its initial filing, ARRL asked the FCC to couple the removal of the symbol rate limits with the adoption of a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit. In response to a 2013 ARRL Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11708), the FCC proposed deleting the symbol-rate limits but declined to replace them with the 2.8 kHz bandwidth that ARRL wanted.

“This proceeding addresses an update to the Commission’s rules that is needed because a limitation in the rules unintentionally is inhibiting US amateurs from employing the latest improvements to some of the digital modes,” ARRL said in its remarks. “Data signals commonly used for daily communications as well as in disaster situations have bandwidths in the range of 2.5 kHz and must co-exist with other modes that use bandwidths as narrow as 50 Hz.”

ARRL said the 1980s-era symbol-rate limits now inhibit the use of some efficient data modes. “The symbol rate limit uniquely prevents radio Amateurs in the United States from experimenting and innovating with a class of modern digital communication techniques that already are widely used in other countries,” ARRL told the FCC. “The limit also impairs the ability of Amateurs to improve support that they offer in times of disaster.”

Repealing the symbol-rate limit would “allow shortened transmission times for the same amount of data without increasing the bandwidth occupied by the signal,” ARRL contended. “Other Amateurs would benefit by the resulting reduction in potential interference.”

ARRL’s remarks also addressed issues raised by other parties. “Discussion by commenters in this proceeding delve into subjects well beyond its scope,” ARRL said, noting that it had attempted to broker consensus among “some of the most active commenters” with an eye toward exploring possible areas of agreement for the FCC’s consideration. ARRL noted that the parties to the ARRL-arranged talks declined to forward to the FCC “joint recommendations on which conditional agreement had been reached.”

“The issues discussed with the parties are outside the scope of this Docket and would require a further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking before final consideration,” ARRL observed. “Some of the same issues also are raised in petitions for rulemaking on which the Commission has sought comment. Given the policy as well as factual disagreements evidenced in the record, we understand that the Commission may decide to consider some of these issues.”

One of those issues involves automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS). Commenters’ concerns focused on interference that could occur with a move away from symbol-rate criteria. ACDS with signals wider than 500 Hz and below 29.7 MHz are confined to specific subbands. ARRL recommended that the FCC consider rule changes that would have all ACDS stations and digital stations with bandwidths greater than 500 Hz share identified subbands.

ARRL said if additional signals are added to the ACDS subbands, as recommended, that it would strongly support expanding the HF ACDS subbands. But, ARRL added, “changing the subband boundaries requires study and careful consideration of trade-offs, because any changes will affect multiple user interests.” ARRL referred subband reformulation issues to its HF Band Planning Committee for study and recommendations.

Some commenters also raised the issue of obscure and encrypted messages. ARRL pointed out in its ex parte remarks that it remains opposed to encryption in the amateur bands, but disagreed “with commenters who argue that the digital modes being used by radio amateurs around the world are per se ‘obscured’ or ‘encrypted.’”

ARRL noted that FCC rules permit the use of “new and innovative digital modes” without prior approval, if specified conditions are met. Digital techniques must use approved codes with publicly documented technical characteristics, and their purpose must be to facilitate communication and not to obscure content.

“Some commenters allege that specific messages violate the Commission’s rules governing encryption, third-party messages, pecuniary interests, objectionable language, or commercial carriage,” ARRL noted, and they have called for open-source decoding software to aid in enforcing the applicable rules. “We observe that recently there have been laudable efforts at self-policing,” ARRL said. “Unresolved complaints are appropriately handled as enforcement matters rather than as rulemaking matters.”

ARRL concluded, “It is vital that the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service facilitate continuation of its experimental traditions and purposes. Using the Amateur spectrum ‘sandbox’ for innovation and development of new ideas and technologies is of significant public benefit.”

John Stratton N5AUS visit and September Club Meeting next Monday 16 Sept

This is an invitation to the Midland Amateur Radio Club’s September Club Meeting and visit by John Stratton N5AUS, acting Director of the West Gulf Division of the ARRL on 16 September.  The doors will open at 7:00 pm and the meeting will start at 7:30 pm.  There will be several door prizes, including a Baofeng UV-9R, the higher power version of the UV-5R.  A 2500mAh battery, speaker mic,  and software interface with cable are included.

I know that for many of you this is a long trip; however, I want to extend the invitation as it is a great opportunity.

Mr. Stratton will give us a first person update on the ARRL Board of Directors focus on topics facing modern Amateur Radio.  It will be a good opportunity to put him on the hot seat with your concerns and questions.  John has been a regular attendee of the St Patrick’s Day Hamfest and gives an informative presentation during the Section/Division Forum. If possible make plans to attend and bring a fellow ham with you. 73 and have fun,

David KF5WDJ


Hurricane Watch Net Suspends Operation, May Reactivate on Saturday

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) suspended operation temporarily at 1600 UTC today (September 6), after a 139-hour marathon activation that began last Saturday. The net may reactivate if weather conditions dictate.

“The hurricane has been moving just offshore of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said. “This morning, Hurricane Dorian made US landfall at 1235 UTC over Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.” By the time, Dorian had been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds near 90 MPH.

As of 1700 UTC, Dorian was moving away from the North Carolina coast and out into open waters of the Atlantic. The storm was located about 95 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, with maximum sustained winds holding at 90 mph. Hurricane Dorian was moving to the northeast at 17 MPH.

According to the National Hurricane Center:

“Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds will continue along portions of the North Carolina coast, portions of southeast Virginia, and southern Chesapeake Bay for the next several hours.

“Areas of flash flooding, some of which may be significant and life-threatening, will continue into early afternoon across portions of northeastern North Carolina into far southeast Virginia.

“Dangerous storm surge impacts are likely in portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, southwestern Newfoundland and eastern Nova Scotia this weekend. Hurricane-force winds are also likely in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and possibly in Newfoundland Saturday and Sunday.”

Graves said that during the net’s marathon activation, net members collected and forwarded countless surface reports to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Dorian has one last forecast landfall in Nova Scotia.

Environment Canada has announced:

“A Hurricane Watch is in effect for all of Nova Scotia. Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for southeastern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Magdalen Islands, and western Newfoundland.

“According to the latest forecast guidance, the most likely track projection brings Hurricane Dorian south of the Maritimes on Saturday, pushing through eastern Nova Scotia Saturday night, and then over the eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence waters or western Newfoundland by Sunday morning.

“Severe winds and torrential rain will have major impacts for southeastern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Western Newfoundland, and the Quebec Lower North Shore. Large waves are expected for the Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and for eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Storm surge, combined with large waves and pounding surf, may give flooding for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and the Magdalen Islands.”

“We have tentative plans to activate Saturday morning at 1500 UTC and remain active until perhaps as early as 0900 UTC on Sunday, or until we’ve lost all propagation to the affected area,” Graves said. “Once this occurs, we will suspend all operations for Hurricane Dorian. This plan is subject to change as required.”

International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 (the Americas) Emergency Coordinator Doug Mercer, VO1DM, advised radio amateurs to prepare their homes for high winds and rain and, when able, to monitor local repeaters. He directed Canadian radio amateurs to the IARU Emergency Centre of Activity Frequencies.

144 – 146 MHz Removed from French Proposal for Additional Aeronautical Applications

The 144 – 146 MHz Amateur Radio segment has been removed from a French proposal to study spectrum additional for Aeronautical Mobile Service (AMS) applications. France had included the band, which comprises the entire 2 meter band in ITU Region 1, for consideration as a European Conference of Telecommunications and Postal Administrations (CEPT) position for World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19). Heading into a just-ended CEPT Conference Preparatory Group (CPG) meeting in Turkey this past week, France was holding firm on the proposal to have AMS share 144 – 146 MHz with Amateur Radio. The CPG meeting considered CEPT ECC positions on this and other issues for WRC-19.

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) had called the French proposal for 144 – 146 MHz “unsound” and contended that sharing of the current amateur allocation with AMS radio systems would not be possible “without a significant likelihood of mutual interference.”

The French spectrum study proposal would have had to gain approval from at least 10 CEPT countries at the CPG meeting — with not more than 6 opposing — to appear on the agendas of WRC-19 and WRC-23, where a final decision would be made.

Also at the CEPT meeting, at the insistence of the European Commission, a WRC-23 agenda item was considered necessary to address world-wide protection of Regional Navigational Satellite Systems (RNSS) from amateur emissions in the 23 centimeter band, 1240 – 1300 MHz. Delegates agreed to a draft WRC Resolution that stresses the importance of the band to the Amateur Service and explicitly excludes the removal of existing allocations as part of the proposed agenda item. The issue stems from reported incidents of interference to the Galileo GPS E6 signal on 1278.750 MHz.

Other Amateur Radio-related issues addressed at the CEPT CPG included:

  • Agreement to a European Common Proposal (ECP) on allocating 50 – 52 MHz to the Amateur Service in Region 1 (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East) on a secondary basis, with a footnote listing those countries where the Amateur Service will have a primary allocation in the band 50 – 50.5 MHz (WRC-19 Agenda Item 1.1).
  • Agreement to an ECP on spectrum to be considered for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), which does not now include the primary Amateur Radio band at 47 – 47.2 GHz (WRC Agenda Item 1.13).
  • Agreement to an ECP that retains the current regulatory position in the 5725 – 5850 MHz band that includes secondary Amateur Radio and Amateur Satellite allocations (WRC Agenda Item 1.16).
  • No change to an already agreed upon CEPT position on wireless power transmission (WRC Agenda item 9.1.6). This calls for no change in the Radio Regulations to address the question of operating frequency for wireless power transmission for electric vehicle charging (WPT-EV), but leaves open the question of spurious emissions from WPT-EV.

IARU Region 1 President Don Beattie, G3BJ, said that the IARU team at Ankara — the only representatives of the Amateur Service at the meeting — had presented clear and convincing arguments for Amateur Radio positions and that he was pleased that regulators had recognized the strength of the amateur case. He expressed his thanks to everyone who contributed to the outcome at CPG.

CEPT is one of the six regional telecommunications organizations but viewed as the most influential. The issues now move to WRC-19 in Egypt this fall for final resolution. IARU will be represented at the international gathering, which gets under way in late October. — Thanks to IARU

Florida Division of Emergency Management Seeking Qualified Amateur Radio Volunteers

Florida’s Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has notified the state’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) groups that it’s soliciting in-state Amateur Radio volunteers to assist with emergency communication in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. The storm is predicted to make landfall on the southeastern Florida coast on Monday. Volunteers must registerwith the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Interested volunteers must have completed IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800 and have undergone a background check. There are no exceptions to these requirements. Radio amateurs should not self-deploy.

The ARRL Emergency Preparedness Department is sending two additional Ham Aid kits — one HF and one UHF-VHF — in response to a request from the West Central Florida Section ARES.

ARRL Headquarters remains in monitoring mode and has been in regular contact with ARRL’s partner agencies. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) has been closely watching the progress of Hurricane Dorian.

Over the past 24 hours, the hurricane’s forecast track has shifted slightly, which will take the storm over the northern Bahamas before it strikes southeastern Florida.

As of 1500 UTC, Dorian was some 480 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and about 660 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Maximum sustained winds were 110 MPH (making it a Category 2 hurricane) and moving to the northwest at 10 MPH.

“The new forecast track does not look good,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, observed. “The Bahamas are forecast for a direct hit late Sunday afternoon when Dorian is a Category 4 hurricane. Next stop is currently forecast to be near West Palm Beach as a strong Category 3 hurricane.” Graves said that after it makes landfall, Dorian is expected to turn to the northwest and move up Florida’s east coast.

“No matter the location of landfall, suffice it to say that unless something major changes, a huge area of Florida will be impacted by this storm,” Graves said.

The Hurricane Watch Net will activate on Saturday at 2100 UTC and remain in continuous operation on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz.

According to the National Hurricane Center:

Life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are likely in portions of the northwestern Bahamas, where a hurricane watch is in effect. Residents should execute their hurricane plans and heed advice from local emergency officials.
Life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the Florida east coast by early next week, but it is too soon to determine where the highest storm surge and winds will occur. Residents should have hurricane plans in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.
A prolonged period of storm surge, high winds, and rain is likely in portions of Florida into next week, including the possibility of hurricane-force winds over inland portions of the Florida peninsula.
Heavy rains are expected over portions of the Bahamas, Florida, and elsewhere in the southeastern United States this weekend and into the middle of next week.

Amateur Radio Resources Ready as Dorian Poised to Become a Major Hurricane

[UPDATED: 2019-08-29 @1945UTC] Amateur Radio resources organized this week as Hurricane Dorian threatened Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and worked its way through the Caribbean. A change in direction spared Puerto Rico — still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 — from taking a direct hit; the Virgin Islands suffered downed trees and widespread power outages. As of August 29, Dorian was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds near 85 MPH with higher gusts. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Dorian was expected to become a major hurricane on Friday and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend, reaching Category 3 or 4 by September 1. Heavy rainfall generated by Dorian could cause flash flooding, the NHC said.

“The risk of devastating hurricane-force winds along the Florida east coast and peninsula late this weekend and early next week continues to increase,” the NHC said on August 29.

“We are standing by in a ready-to-respond state, once a more definitive track is known,” Southern Florida Section Manager Barry Porter, KB1PA, told ARRL Headquarters on August 29. “We will be holding a tri-Section conference call tonight to firm up any plans.” Porter said Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and Red Cross were in preparation mode.

On Wednesday, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), activated for about 9 hours on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz, working in conjunction with WX4NHC at the NHC in Miami to provide “ground truth” weather data to forecasters. The VoIP Hurricane Net also activated.

The HWN has continued to closely monitor Dorian’s progress. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the HWN tentatively plans reactivate on August 30 at 2100 UTC.

The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team is also monitoring the situation closely. ARRL officials are in regular communication with partner agencies, particularly FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, ARRL HQ remains in close contact with Field Organization officials in the affected region, where some ARRL Ham Aid equipment was previously positioned.

W1AW, which had already planned to be in operation for the Hiram Percy Maxim 150th Birthday special event this weekend, will remain ready to assist with emergency communications.