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W5YI News :
February 12, 2012Amateur Radio Headlines of the Week

Ham radio in the news

A quick summary of what is happening in amateur radio

Click on headline to read full story

     New Rules for 5 MHz (60 Meters) To Go Into Effect March 5 - On November 18, the FCC released a Report and Order (R&O), defining new rules for the 60 meter (5 MHz) band. These rules are in response to a Petition for Rulemaking (PRM) filed by the ARRL more than five years ago and a June 2010 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). In the February 3 edition of the Federal Register, the FCC announced that these new rules will go into effect on March 5, 2012.

In summarizing the new rules, the FCC explained that the new rules amend the current rules to facilitate more efficient and effective use by the Amateur Radio Service of five channels in the 5330.5-5406.4 kHz band (the 60 meter band): "Specifically, and consistent with our proposals in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding, the Commission replaces one of the channels with a less encumbered one, increases the maximum authorized power amateur stations may transmit in this band and authorizes amateur stations to transmit three additional emission designators. The Commission also adopts an additional operational rule that prohibits the use of automatically controlled digital stations and makes editorial revisions to the relevant portions of the Table of Frequency Allocations and our service rules."

The Amateur Radio Service in the United States has a secondary allocation on 60 meters. Only those amateurs who hold General, Advanced or Amateur Extra class licenses may operate on this band. Amateur stations must not cause harmful interference to -- and must accept interference from -- stations authorized by any administration in the fixed service, as well as mobile (except aeronautical mobile) stations authorized by the administrations of other countries.

     Hams Active in Philippine Earthquake Relief - Emergency Net on 7.095 Mhz - A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck the central Philippines on Monday, February 6, killing at least 43 people. Many more are still missing. Hams are active in providing communications into and out of the quake zone.

According to Jim Linton, VK3PC, Chairman of the International Amateur Radio Union's Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee, emergency frequencies have been established on 144.740 and 7.095 MHz. He says the country's Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HEROs) group has established a command center on a Philippine Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessel and is forwarding traffic between the quake area and the cities of Cebu and Manila, the national capital.

     Last BPL Company Using Ham Bands Shuts Down - The only remaining broadband over power lines (BPL) provider in the U.S. using frequencies that include amateur radio bands, has gone out of business. According to the ARRL Letter, IBEC - which had been the subject of ARRL interference complaints to the FCC - announced on its website that losses from last spring's tornadoes in Alabama had left it with "no other option than to close our doors and cease operations." The company had used BPL to provide internet service to rural areas.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said that while the League regrets the loss of jobs resulting from IBEC's closure, "in the long run, the rural areas that IBEC was trying to serve will be better served by broadband technologies that are superior to BPL and do not pollute the radio spectrum." ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, added, "Now that IBEC is out of the game, no other (BPL) system in the country uses the amateur bands in their deployments."

     WorldRadio Founder Armond Noble, N6WR, Silent Key - Armond Noble, N6WR, founder and publisher of WorldRadio magazine for 37 years, died February 1 in Sacramento, California after a short illness. Noble, publisher of Sacramento-based International Travel News magazine, was hospitalized about two months ago, according to Editor David Tykol.

WorldRadio was published monthly from July 1971 until the end of 2008, when Noble sold the magazine to Hicksville, New York-based CQ Communications, Inc. With its February 2009 edition, it was renamed WorldRadio Online and became the first online-only major amateur radio publication.

Noble had a long and distinguished career in communications. From 1953 to 1955 he served in the U.S. Army with a VHF radio relay unit. He went on to positions at commercial radio and TV stations around the United States, including: KTWO-TV and KATI in Casper, Wyoming; KOOK-TV, Billings, Montana; KTVB, Boise, Idaho; KERO-TV, Bakersfield, California, WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and KCRA Radio in Sacramento.

During the Vietnam War, Noble was a reporter-photographer for TIME magazine and the Milwaukee Journal. He also served in the TIME-LIFE bureau in Sacramento.

Noble had a long and distinguished career in communications. From 1953 to 1955 he served in the U.S. Army with a VHF radio relay unit. He went on to positions at commercial radio and TV stations around the United States, including: KTWO-TV and KATI in Casper, Wyoming; KOOK-TV, Billings, Montana; KTVB, Boise, Idaho; KERO-TV, Bakersfield, California, WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and KCRA Radio in Sacramento.

     New communication exhibit helps kids Get the Message - Kristen Morris and her daughters; Lucy - 9, and Charlotte - 3 , use one of the 15 smartphones showing that Morse code could be faster than text messaging.

But that's the conclusion of a new exhibit devoted to communication at the Glazer Children's Museum. "Get the Message" has 15 hands-on stations for kids to explore different forms of communication, from totem poles to sign language.

The instant messaging station uses a video clip from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno pitting two guys text messaging against two guys using Morse code. Contrary to an audience member's prediction, the Morse code team is the first to convey the message: "I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance." The men in vintage news-editor uniforms cheer the 170-year-old technology.

"Get the Message" caters to children ages 5 and up - - slightly older than the Clifford the Big Red Dog exhibit it replaced. It exposes visitors to the various ways we send and receive information and messages on a daily basis, starting with the simplest human facial expressions.

     NASA Selects AMSAT Fox Satellite to Join Program - Project ELaNa, NASA's "Educational Launch of NanoSat" managed by the Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center, announced on February 10 that the AMSAT Fox-1 CubeSat has been selected to join the program.

NASA will work with AMSAT in a collaborative agreement where NASA will cover the integration and launch costs of satellites deemed to have merit in support of their strategic and educational goals.

AMSAT teamed with the ARRL to write and deliver the 159 page educational proposal to NASA. Letters documenting the importance of AMSAT's satellites in the education programs at the ARRL and also at the Clay Center for Science and Technology at the Dexter and Southfield schools in Brookline, MA, were important parts of the proposal.

AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW said, "The ELaNA Launch opportunity marks AMSAT's return to space after the conclusion of the successful ARISSat-1/KEDR flight. We need to get the flight Fox-1, along with an operational flight backup satellite, built, integrated, tested, and delivered. Our ability to provide a spacecraft and get it launched is dependent upon the active support of our donors who wish to see Fox-1 fly."

     World Record Balloon Attempt - A group of Amateur Radio operators hopes to establish a world distance record for an unmanned, helium-filled balloon. The BLT-28 balloon will launch from Katy, Texas, on a journey that will take it across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and then on to Nanjing, China. The South Texas Balloon Launch Team plans to release the balloon at 3 PM CST (2100 UTC) Saturday, February 11.

During the trans-Atlantic crossing, when out of range of shore based stations, the balloon's APRS beacon will operate on the International Space Station (ISS) packet digipeater frequency of 145.825 MHz.

The balloon payload package weighs only about 5 ounces and contains a high altitude GPS tracking system and a 144 MHz FM APRS Amateur Radio transmitter. To conserve weight and battery life, no camera equipment will be on board. The maximum altitude is expected to be above 19 miles, with horizontal speeds between 100 and 150 miles per hour

     The 2012 ARRL International DX CW Contest Takes to the Air Next Weekend - CW DXing and contesting take center stage the weekend of February 18-19, as the 2012 ARRL International DX CW Contest takes to the airwaves. "After years of lackluster conditions on 15 and 10 meters, 2011 finally saw the propagation gods giving us a break," said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X.

"Since September 2011, the high bands have been in excellent shape, with worldwide openings on 15 and 10 meters becoming an almost-daily occurrence. As a result, activity has spiked in almost every major contest, with hundreds more logs being submitted. If conditions hold -- and I don't see why they wouldn't -- we're in for another high-band treat in another week or so."

If you've never operated the CW contest, now is the time to start. "You can work a lot of DX with 100 W and a simple dipole or vertical antenna," Kutzko explained. "If your CW is a little rusty, this event is a great way to get your CW skills back up to snuff -- and get some new DX countries into your bag. If you live in one of the rarer states -- such as Delaware, North Dakota, West Virginia or Wyoming -- DX stations from all around the world will be looking for you. This is your opportunity to ‘be the rare one!'"

Stations in the US and Canada work only DX stations (Alaska and Hawaii are considered DX for this contest), while DX stations work only the US and Canada. DX stations will be trying to make contacts with as many US states and Canadian provinces as they can. The contest exchange is simple: US and Canadian stations send a signal report and their state or province, while DX stations send a signal report and the amount of power they are transmitting with.

     Nobel Laureate Joe Taylor, K1JT, Addresses Plenary Session at WRC-12, Receives ITU Gold Medal - On Friday, February 3, delegates and attendees at the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) had the pleasure of listening to Joe Taylor, K1JT, share his vision of the future of radiocommunication. Taylor -- an ARRL Member -- won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1993 for the discovery of a binary pulsar, a discovery which has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation. After the speech, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, presented Taylor with the ITU Gold Medal in recognition of Dr Taylor's outstanding contribution to the research in the field of radiocommunication.

Dr Touré introduced Dr Taylor to the Plenary. In his introduction, he told the audience that Amateur Radio led to Taylor's career as a radio astronomer, and ultimately to his winning the Nobel Prize: "I'm told that an early interest in Amateur Radio led Joe Taylor to an exciting career in radio astronomy, which then earned him the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics. I share his interest in Amateur Radio with passion, but will that lead me to a Nobel Prize? I'm working on it!"

Dr Taylor began his seven minute speech by thanking the WRC-12 delegates for the job they were doing at the Conference. "I understand that you have come to Geneva from more than 150 of the ITU's Member States," he said. "You are here to do an important job, an essential one, for nearly all of humanity in today's world. You are charged to do your upmost to accommodate the wide variety of competing interests of all users of the radio frequency spectrum and its available orbits for Earth satellites. This is surely not an easy task.

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