FCC Turns Down Petition to Amend Amateur Radio Identification Rules

The FCC has denied a Petition for Rule Making to amend Part 97 station identification rules to better accommodate and simplify station identification during emergency nets, drills, or activations. ARRL member Robert A. Dukish, KK8DX, of Canfield, Ohio, had sought a change to Section 97.119(a) of the rules to allow a single point of transmission for station ID on those occasions. He proposed permitting a net control station or other designated participant to announce the call signs of every station taking part in the net or exercise, when tactical call signs often are in use, at 10-minute intervals, using automatic CW identification.In turning down Dukish’s petition, Scot Stone, the Deputy Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Mobility Division, said commenters overwhelmingly opposed the proposal.

“They argue that the current rule strikes the appropriate balance between the need to identify the source of transmissions and ease of communication,” Stone wrote. “Commenters state that, in their years of experience with amateur emergency communications, the station identification requirement has not proven to be a burden or obstacle, and that the current procedure actually contributes to efficient operations by providing a clear indication that a communication has ended and the channel is available.”

Stone said some commenters asserted that Dukish’s proposed procedure would be unworkable and cause confusion, while others characterized his proposal as a solution in search of a problem.

“The purpose of the station identification requirement is to make the source of transmissions clearly known to those receiving those transmissions,” Stone wrote. “Separating the call sign from each transmission would defeat this purpose.” Moreover, he said there’s no evidence that the current station ID requirements have hindered Amateur Radio emergency communications.

Dukish had filed his petition in December 2018, and the FCC invited comments on it in February 2019.

ARRL Creates New Online Groups for Members to Communicate with Leadership

ARRL’s Committee on Communication with ARRL Members has opened new online forums where all radio amateurs — ARRL members and non-members alike — can discuss issues and topics in two-way conversation with ARRL leadership. The new groups are aimed at enhancing communication among ARRL leadership, staff, members, and prospective members, in a manner that enables timely updates and collegial discussion.This project was based on the success over the past several years of the ARRL-LoTW (Logbook of The World) Group in responding to Amateur Radio operators’ questions and generating discussion on ways to improve that program. “The LoTW initiative has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of online Groups as a means of achieving the desired interaction,” ARRL said in announcing the new groups.

ARRL has added three online groups:

  • ARRL-Contesting — moderated by ARRL Contest Advisory Committee Chairman Dennis Egan, W1UE.
  • ARRL-Awards — moderated by ARRL Radiosport and Field Services Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ.
  • ARRL-IARU — moderated by IARU Secretary Dave Sumner, K1ZZ.

The existing ARRL-LOTW group, which has about 4,750 members, remains hosted by Groups.io but has moved.

Everyone who subscribes to an ARRL Group is also automatically subscribed to the “ARRL Groups” group. This administrative feature will allow ARRL to convey routine announcements relevant to subscribers of all ARRL groups.

ARRL IT Manager Michael Keane, K1MK, worked with Groups.io to set up the new groups. Since these new groups are hosted on a Groups.io platform, those wishing to subscribe must use a Groups.io username and password, if they have one, or create a Groups.io account if they don’t.

In the months ahead, the Committee envisions creating more online groups to support two-way communication focusing on areas of additional interest to radio amateurs, including ARRL activities, services, initiatives, and policies.

ARRL currently hosts members-only online forums that include Awards and Contesting. While these forums will continue to operate, participants will be encouraged to post new threads in the appropriate new groups.

Participants will be expected to adhere to some basic ground rules:

  • All questions are welcome, no matter how many times they have already been asked and answered, or how obvious the answers might be in the documentation.
  • Neither personal attacks nor foul language will be tolerated. Violators will immediately be placed on “moderated” status, meaning their subsequent posts will require Moderator approval until the Moderator’s trust has been regained.
  • Individuals posting are reminded that these forums are open to everyone, including prospective hams and operators who are not ARRL members but may be thinking about joining. Civility and courtesy are expected, even when you may take issue with a post or thread topic.

The Committee on Communication with Members believes that providing more opportunities for two-way discussion between ARRL leadership and the broader Amateur Radio community will assist the organization in truly serving the needs of this community.

Arizona Club Takes Advantage of Low Bands to Support 100-Mile Endurance Run

The Coconino Amateur Radio Club (CARC) provided safety and coordination communications for the 100-mile Stagecoach Line Run over the September 21 – 22 weekend. This endurance run from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon takes place every September. The 31-hour event pushes runners to the limit. The Stagecoach Line Run also tests Amateur Radio’s capabilities and requires planning and commitment. Because of the geographical coverage required, the club’s Amateur Radio support even took advantage of 160 meters, not a band typically associated with public service communication.“Because we are in a solar minimum, a combination of bands and communication methods were required in order to track and maintain contact with the numerous stations,” said Dan Shearer, N7YIQ, the club’s Public Information Officer. “What worked well at 3 o’clock in the afternoon was not going to work at 2 in the morning.” The club’s communication infrastructure required a combination of HF and VHF/UHF equipment that included setting up portable repeaters and stations powered by generators and other power sources.

“When you add in the cold weather of the high desert in September and the possibility of rain and snow, this becomes a test of what Amateur Radio may be called upon to do to support a disaster somewhere in the nation,” Shearer said.

CARC members invested more than 300 hours of their time in planning and supporting the race, helped by a few additional volunteers from Glendale and Prescott. Nineteen club members staffed eight sites, where volunteers set up camps and kept vigil through the night to track and make sure runners were accounted for throughout the race.

In addition to tracking runners into and out of each aid station, net control entered these times into an online spreadsheet as they progressed through the race, allowing runners to be located easily in case they did not make it to the next checkpoint.

During the event, CARC members helped locate two missing runners and helped save the life of another who developed severe asthma. Medical care and treatment during these types of extreme events poses a significant challenge, as EMS responses are delayed. “Much of the area between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon is US Forest Service land, and travel through these areas by vehicles is slow,” Shearer explained. Severe emergencies can only be handled by aircraft, if conditions permit.”

During the race, 75 meters worked well during the day, but 160 meters was put into play after dark. Cross-band repeaters were placed at remote sites to allow access to existing repeaters. Although VHF and UHF were used, these links at times became unusable, and alternate forms and bands were required to maintain contact.

The Coconino Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL-affiliated club with about 50 members. It has a large ARES component that trains regularly and conducts SKYWARN and ARES® nets weekly.

Pitcairn Island DXpedition Offers Tips on Working VP6R on FT8

The contact count for the VP6R Pitcairn Island DXpedition was approaching 50,000 as of October 24. Stormy weather put a bit of a damper on things, however.

“Late yesterday, we were hit with a tropical storm with torrential rain and gale force-plus winds,” DXpedition leader Glenn Johnson, W0GJ, reported on Thursday. “We had several antennas come down, but they are repairable and will be back up when it is safe to go outside.”

Johnson said VP6R has experienced great band conditions from 160 to 10 meters. “We had a very successful night on 60 meters (5.357 MHz) 2 days ago and will be on again. We are using FT8 in fox/hound (F/H) mode.” VP6R has been working a lot of FT8 on all bands except 160 and Johnson said the digital protocol has been putting a lot of new and unique call signs into the log. VP6R anticipates using FT8 on 160 starting on Tuesday, October 29, on 1.836 MHz.

“Most DXpeditions, including VP6R, are using fox/hound mode,” Johnson noted. “If you are not in F/H mode when you call us, it will be impossible to make contact. Make sure the radio tab has split selected and that you have selected ‘hound’ mode on the advanced tab,” he stressed. “If the hound is using the wrong software version, it does not respond properly to the fox. The message formats are not compatible. The fox will call the hound three times, and then they are dropped.

Johnson said operators seeking to snag VP6R on FT8 must be using WSJT-X version 2.1.0 in F/H mode and in split mode in the software (not the radio). Transmit frequency must be above 1,000 Hz.

“When conditions are good and everyone has FT8 set up properly, we have seen peak rates over 1,000 contacts/hour and often sustained rates of 400 contacts/hour from a single station,” Johnson said. “And, yes, it is possible for one person to operate two stations at once. We do it often.”

Johnson reported two successful schedules with Dorothy Grant Elementary School (K6DGE) in Fontana, California. “It has been fun to chat with the kids and answer questions,” he said. “We love their enthusiasm.”

VP6R expects to shut down temporarily at around 2200 UTC on Friday, October 25, to get ready to participate in the CQ World Wide SSB contest in the multi-multi category. After the contest VP6R will return to DXpedition mode until October 31

The Lastest Episode of ARRL Audio News is Now Available

10/25/2019

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

Dorian Sets New Record for Hurricane Watch Net

Hurricane Dorian, which sat nearly stationary over the Bahamas for several days – causing massive destruction there – before moving toward the U.S. east coast, resulted in a new record for hours activated during a single storm by the Hurricane Watch Net. According to the ARRL Letter, the net’s volunteers were activated for 159 hours, 139 of them continuously, eclipsing the previous record of 151 hours last year for Hurricane Matthew.
Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, noted that during the activation, net members collected and forwarded countless surface reports to the National Hurricane Center. After devastating the Bahamas, Dorian made a second landfall in North Carolina, then clipped the New England states and Maritime Canada before finally heading out to sea.

Another hurricane – Lorenzo – posed no threat to the western Atlantic but was threatening the Azores as of the last week in September. As a result, amateurs there asked AMSAT to keep the AO-92 satellite in U/V operation (435 MHz up, 145 MHz down) for potential emergency traffic. According to the AMSAT News Service, the satellite had been scheduled to switch to a 1296-MHz uplink during that time, but AMSAT said emergency use is always a priority.

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 .

Get out and Vote!!

By now you should have received your green ballot and envelope. Please
return your ballot in the green envelope. If more than one family
member received a ballot, please submit them in their separate
envelopes.

If you have not received your ballot, please contact the undersigned or
ARRL directly. ARRL will send you a ballot by first class mail.

Historically there has been a very low voter turn-out.

Please vote!

73,

Dale
W5WI

Confusion in California Over Viral Internet Post

Hams in California are being urged not to write angry letters to state legislators or other officials in response to a viral internet post claiming that “California declares ham radio no longer a benefit.” The post resulted from a letter sent by CalFire, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, to the owner of a repeater located at one of its tower sites. The letter states that the repeater may no longer be housed there free of charge and, if it is to remain, will be subject to several thousand dollars in fees plus annual rent.

From what we have been able to learn as of press time, this letter was sent to only one repeater owner whose equipment is located in a CalFire facility. Authoritative sources in the California emergency communications community say the letter does not represent a change in policy or in the state emergency management agency’s inclusion of amateur radio in its communications plans. CQ will continue to follow this story and bring you more details in upcoming issues.

Mail Delivery Problem Affecting Delivery of Board Election Ballots in West Gulf Division

ARRL has become aware of a mail delivery problem affecting the ARRL Board of Director election ballots sent to members in part of the West Gulf Division. Recent flooding has affected some US Postal Service distribution centers in the Houston region of the state, damaging some sorting machines. This is delaying delivery to many members in that area. They are processing mail out, but there are delays in processing out bulk mail, which include the ballots. We are aware that ballots are being processed as part of their work flow, but they cannot give us a definitive date of when they will all be out for delivery.All ballots were mailed from Hartford on Monday, September 30, as required by the Articles of Association/By-Laws. Ballots to most of the West Gulf Division were delivered in the usual time frame, which is generally 10 to 14 days.

We have received numerous requests for replacement ballots. We also have member notifications sent after making the replacement ballot request to inform us the ballot had arrived. We ask ARRL members to be patient.

If you still do not receive your ballot by Monday October 21, 2019, please send a request for a new ballot. The ARRL HQ will process replacement requests on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, via first-class mail and daily as later requests come in. That will allow 3+ weeks (24 days) for the replacement to be delivered to you and allowing for their return to ARRL’s accounting firm of CohnReznick LLP by the noon on Friday, November 15, 2019, deadline.

There is no deadline for requesting a replacement ballot. Also, there is no deadline for you to have received your ballot in order to be eligible to vote. Please note that all replacement requests need to be in writing (email is okay) but must directly come from the ARRL member. Third-party requests cannot be processed.

If you have already requested a replacement ballot but still haven’t received the original ballot by October 21, you will need reconfirm your need for a replacement by email. If your original ballot is received before that time, we also ask you confirm that, so that your request can be closed.

We thank you for your patience in this unusual situation. If you have any questions, please contact ARRL Assistant Secretary Dan Henderson, N1ND, telephone (860) 594-0236. — Thanks to Dan Henderson, N1ND, Assistant Secretary, ARRL