Ham radio in the news
A quick summary of what is happening in amateur radio
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• Hollywood movie features Morse Code, Homebrew Equipment - and Sea Monsters! -
The ARRL reports on the new movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. In the movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Sean Anderson (played by Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded distress signal that comes from a mysterious island where no island should exist. Sean decides to follow the signal with the unwilling assistance from his stepfather Hank (played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).
The movie opens in Dayton, Ohio with Sean on his motorcycle, being chased by police officers. Sean had been caught breaking in to a "satellite facility." When questioned by Hank, Sean confesses that he had received a coded message from his grandfather (played by Michael Caine), but his equipment was too weak to copy it; he decided to go somewhere where there were bigger antennas.
• 100 years since the Titanic - On April 15, 2012 it will be exactly 100 years since the Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank. It is not necessary to tell you the whole story once again; others did this at length, even with a movie.
You should also know that there were Flemish passengers on board and some of them did not survive this disaster.
As radio amateurs we pay special tribute to wireless operator Jack Philips who acquitted himself of his task until the very last gasp and continued broadcasting the distress signal "CQD" (predecessor of SOS) as long as he could. 704 people (including 7 Flemings) were rescued. 1504 people lost their life (including 14 Flemings). Jack Philips himself went down with the ship.
• ARRL Publishes New Guidelines for 60 Meters - Thanks to the FCC Report and Order issued November 18, 2011, amateurs will enjoy a number of new privileges on the 60 meter band beginning March 5, including a boost in effective radiated power from 50 to 100 W, as well as the ability to use CW and certain digital modes.
Late last year, the ARRL HF Band Planning committee surveyed 60 meter operators to gather opinions about how to best use the new privileges. On the subject of creating a specific band plan, the survey results indicated little consensus beyond the fact that 5403.5 kHz should retain its status as a de facto "DX channel." On the other hand, survey respondents made a number of suggestions for general operating practices.
Based on the survey results and subsequent research, the committee declined to propose a specific band plan for 60 meters at this time. The committee instead created a "Recommended Practices" document that is now available for downloading from the ARRL Web. The 60 Meter pages on the ARRL Web will also be updated to reflect the changes brought about by the Report and Order.
• Payroll Tax Bill Includes Provision for Amateur Radio Study: - A bill that passed both the House and the Senate on February 17 -- and signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday, February 22 -- includes a provision for a study of the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and disaster relief.
Section 6414 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 mandates the completion of the study, with a report of the findings to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. This study would "use the expertise of stakeholder entities and organizations" to recommend how to best use radio amateurs in emergency communications and disaster relief efforts, and how to best utilize the Amateur Radio Service in coordination with the federal government in these efforts. In addition, the study would also discuss the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations and recommend ways to remove such impediments.
The bill passed in the House by a vote of 293-132. In the Senate, it passed by a 60-36 vote.
• Fiscal 2013 budget seeks $347 million for FCC - President Barack Obama has requested nearly $347 million in his fiscal 2013 budget to fund the FCC — a reduction of nearly $7.5 million from last year's budget.
The budget, submitted to Congress Feb. 13, includes funding for the agency's efforts to hasten deployment of broadband Internet service, implement reforms to Universal Service Fund programs and invest in technical and engineering capabilities to identify RF interference.
The funding request, part of Obama's $3.8 trillion dollar budget, proposes giving the FCC authority to impose spectrum fees on users, such as broadcasters. Previous efforts to authorize the agency to collect spectrum fees have stalled in Congress.
• South Sudan assigned Z8 call block - The ARRL reports that the Republic of South Sudan has received the prefix block Z8A-Z8Z from the ITU.
After a wait of more than seven months after being accepted as a member of the United Nations, the Republic of South Sudan received its prefix block from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU): Z8. On July 14, 2011 -- after South Sudan's admittance to the UN -- the new country became a DXCC entity by way of Section II, 1(a) of the DXCC rules.
• 5 MHz on agenda for WRC 2015 - Thanks to the original Cuban proposal at the start of WRC12 and the very hard work done by Colin, G3PSM, Jon, WB3ERA and all the IARU team - there is now an official resolution for a 5 MHz Amateur Allocation on the Agenda for the next WRC in 2015.
• Amateur Radio Gets Secondary MF Allocation at WRC-12 - It's official -- delegates attending the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) have approved a new 7-kilohertz-wide secondary allocation between 472-479 kHz for the Amateur Radio Service. Agenda Item 1.23 had both its first and second readings in Plenary Session on Tuesday, February 14; to become part of the ITU's Radio Regulations, each Agenda Item must be read twice in Plenary Session. While the Final Acts will be signed on Friday, February 17 at the close of the Conference, the new allocation will not take effect until it is entered into the Radio Regulations. No date has been set for this, but it is unlikely to be earlier than January 1, 2013. In any case, no amateur can use the band until his or her national regulations are revised to implement the allocation.
"This is a fantastic achievement for the Amateur Radio Service," IARU President Tim Ellam. VE6SH, told the ARRL. "A new allocation for spectrum is always something that should be celebrated. The success on this issue is due to the hard work over the last four years from our IARU representatives, as well as the volunteers from the numerous IARU Member-Societies who have worked within the ITU process on behalf of their national administrations. This is excellent work from our team in Geneva, and from those who have assisted from their home countries."
• FCC Sets Date for Medical Devices on 70 cm - In November 2011, FCC Commissioners unanimously agreed to allocate spectrum and adopt service and technical rules for the utilization of new implanted medical devices that operate on 413-457 MHz (70 cm). These devices will be used on a secondary basis as part of the Medical Device Radiocommunication (MedRadio) Service in Part 95 of the FCC rules. In the Federal Register for Friday, January 27, the FCC announced that the effective date for these new rules is Monday, February 27. The new rules expand the existing MedRadio Service rules to permit the use of new wideband medical implant devices that employ neuromuscular microstimulation techniques to restore sensation, mobility, and other functions to paralyzed limbs and organs. These medical devices hold enormous promise to advance the state of medical care, lower health costs, and improve the quality of life for countless Americans. The rules will allow these new types of MedRadio devices to access 24 megahertz of spectrum in the 413419 MHz, 426432 MHz, 438444 MHz, and 451457 MHz bands on a secondary basis.