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

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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.

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

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FCC Extends Waiver Permitting Use of PACTOR 4 for Hurricane Relief Efforts

The FCC has extended by 1 week an emergency waiver request from ARRL to permit radio amateurs actively engaged in Hurricane Dorian response and relief efforts to use the PACTOR 4 digital protocol on HF.

“We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest,” the FCC said in an Order released September 6. “Hurricane Dorian has caused — and is likely to continue to cause — substantial damage in the southeast United States, and communications services will be disrupted. Thus, to accommodate Amateur Radio operators assisting in the recovery efforts, we grant ARRL’s waiver request until September 13, 2019. The waiver is limited to Amateur Radio operators using PACTOR 4 emissions in the continental United States who are directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications.”

The FCC said the waiver grant was without prejudice to the resolution of the pending rulemaking proceeding, WT Docket 16-239, initiated by ARRL. The rule making proceeding stemmed from

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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

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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

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US Jamboree on the Air Station Registration System Now Available

A new registration system has been established for US stations planning to participate in the 2019 Scouting’s Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) in October. JOTA Coordinator Jim Wilson, K5ND, said the new system will enable JOTA organizers to directly publish station information to facilitate contacts and more readily provide information to those who have registered.

“It will also help us collect information after the event,” Wilson added. “We’ve implemented this US sign up system to make sure we capture all station information and so that we can publish it in a timely manner to support the event.”

JOTA is Scouting’s largest event in the world, and the 2019 event takes place October 18 – 20.

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

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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,

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