Welcome to “The ARRL Letter” updated from Big Island ARRL News.
Top Story: Dayton Hamvention cancels 2020 event because of coronavirus concerns.
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio News summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.
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Accessed on 19 March 2020, 2215 UTC, Post 1357.
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March 19, 2020
Dayton Hamvention Cancels 2020 Show
For the first time in its 68-year history, Dayton Hamvention® will not take place this year, due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Hamvention Executive Committee has been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked very closely with our local and state health departments. It is with a very heavy heart the Hamvention Executive Committee has decided to cancel Hamvention for this year,” Hamvention General Chair Jack Gerbs, WB8SCT, said in announcing the cancellation on March 15. “This decision is extremely difficult for us, but with around 2 months until the Great Gathering we felt this action necessary. More specific details regarding the closure will soon be posted. Thank you for your understanding in this time of international crisis.”
The Dayton Hamvention cancellation comes less than a week after the International DX Convention in Visalia, California, called off this year’s show. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) sponsors Hamvention.
Since 2017, Hamvention has been held each May at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. The international gathering attracted more than 32,000 visitors in 2019.
Hamvention’s announcement has caused the cancellation of other associated events. These include Contest University, the Contest Dinner, and the Top Band Dinner. The QRP Amateur Radio Club International’s “Four Days in May” event has also been cancelled. Presumably, the DX Dinner, sponsored by the SouthWest Ohio DX Association (SWODXA) and AMSAT Academy have also been called off, although no formal announcements have been made.
ARRL Suspending Tours and Guest Visits to Headquarters, W1AW
As part of efforts under way to help protect the health and safety of ARRL Headquarters employees and volunteers from the impacts of the
Out of an abundance of caution, this suspension will be in effect until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to our members and their guests who had been planning to visit us in Newington, Connecticut. We feel, however, that this is a necessary precaution and is in keeping with the guidance being provided by federal and local health professionals. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we all endeavor to deal with this difficult public health situation.
FCC Levies $18,000 Fine on Louisiana Amateur Radio Licensee
In an enforcement case prompted by complaints filed in 2017, the FCC has imposed an $18,000 forfeiture on Jerry W. Materne, KC5CSG, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, for intentional interference and failure to identify. The FCC had proposed the fine in a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) in the case in July 2018, and, based on Materne’s response to the NAL, the agency affirmed the fine in a March 12 Forfeiture Order (FO).
As the FCC recounted in the FO, an FCC agent “observed Materne
Materne disputed the FCC’s findings, arguing that the NAL should be canceled because the agent “was mistaken in his determination that the source of the interference was Materne’s station” as his radio was not capable of operating on the repeater frequency in question, the FCC said in the NO. Materne also asserted that he is unable to pay the fine and suggested in his response that the FCC should be able to access his financial information.
The FCC countered that the radio the agent observed in Materne’s possession was capable of operating on the frequency in question. “We therefore are unpersuaded…that the proposed forfeiture should be canceled because, he alleges, he was not the party causing interference to the repeater and the radio in his possession could not operate on the frequency in question,” the FCC said in affirming the findings of the NAL. “We are also unpersuaded by Materne’s argument that he lacks the ability to pay the full $18,000 forfeiture.” The FCC said Materne failed to provide the FCC with proof of inability to pay, as required by the NAL.
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ARRL Calls for Continued Coexistence in 3.4 and 5.9 GHz Bands
In comments filed on March 9, ARRL said that while the FCC has not proposed to alter the secondary amateur allocation at 5.850 – 5.925 GHz, changes the FCC has proposed for other users “will constrain current and future amateur operations” in that band, if the proposals are adopted. The Amateur Radio Service shares the 5.850 – 5.925 GHz band on a secondary basis with Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) systems. Amateur radio also shares the 5.850 – 5.875 GHz segment with industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) applications. ARRL’s comments were in response to a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in WT Docket 19-138, in which the
“This proceeding is of concern to radio amateurs across the country, because many of the operations carried out in this band are similar to those conducted in the 3.4 GHz band, from which the Commission, in a companion proceeding, is proposing to evict radio amateur operations,” ARRL said.
ARRL urged the FCC “to consider holistically” its various spectrum reallocation proposals for mid-range spectrum, including the 5.9 GHz and 3.4 GHz proceedings as well as proposals in another proceeding that would affect 5.925 – 7.125 GHz. Those proposals would dedicate up to 1.2 GHz of spectrum for various types of unlicensed devices.
“The spectrum must be managed carefully and additional shared spectrum considered in order not to severely curtail amateur networks that often are used in public service applications when similar capabilities are not available to public service providers,” ARRL said in its remarks.
ARRL noted the widespread use of 5.9 GHz in particular for amateur mesh and amateur television networks and links that radio amateurs have engineered into the band on a non-interference secondary basis, often for public service purposes. “For decades, these radio amateur uses have coexisted successfully with the primary users of the 5.9 GHz band without harmful interference,” ARRL pointed out.
“Because of the flexibility, knowledge, and dedication of many individual radio amateurs, we can continue to operate and even grow, so long as both the 3.4 and 5.9 GHz bands remain available for amateur radio purposes on a secondary basis,” ARRL said. “Additional sharing opportunities also should be made available where doing so would not interfere with primary operations and would employ otherwise unused spectrum for public benefit purposes,” ARRL added, referencing a pending 3.1 – 3.3 GHz spectrum review by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which manages spectrum used by the federal government.
The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: On Wednesday, Spaceweather.com reported a new emerging Solar Cycle 25 sunspot in the sun’s northern hemisphere, but it was not yet numbered. Last week, we reported sunspots on just 2 days, March 8 and 9.
Average daily sunspot numbers over the March 12 – 18 reporting week declined from 3.6 to zero, and daily solar flux values dipped from 70.2 to 70.1. Geomagnetic averages were quiet but higher, with planetary A index changing from 4.4 to 5.9 and middle latitude A index from 3.6 to 4.1.
Predicted planetary A index is 8 on March 19; 5 on March 20 – 26; 12 and 8 on March 27 – 28; 5 on March 29 – April 5; 10 and 8 on April 6 – 7; 5 on April 8 – 13; 8, 12, and 8 on April 14 – 16; 5 on April 17 – 22; 12 and 8 on April 23 – 24, and 5 on April 25 – May 2.
We have been looking forward to the vernal equinox, which occurs at 0350 UTC on March 20 — and now perhaps with a new emerging sunspot. This is a favorable time for HF propagation, with both the northern and southern hemispheres receiving an equal amount of solar radiation. Space.com has some of the finer details on the beginning of spring 2020.
Sunspot numbers for March 12 – 18 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, with a mean of 0. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 69.9, 68.8, 68.1, 70.2, 69.8, 71.6, and 72, with a mean of 70.1. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 7, 3, 5, 7, 6, and 6, with a mean of 5.9. Middle latitude A index was 7, 6, 2, 3, 3, 4, and 4, with a mean of 4.1.
A comprehensive K7RA Solar Update is posted Fridays on the ARRL website. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service, read “What the Numbers Mean…,” and check out K9LA’s Propagation Page.
Share your reports and observations.
Just Ahead in Radiosport
Coronavirus May Impact Amateur Radio License Testing
ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, anticipates that the number of new and upgraded radio amateurs will take a dip in March as VE teams cancel exam sessions due to coronavirus social distancing guidelines. She cited FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS) figures showing that new ham licenses granted for the first half of March totaled 1,298, while another 296 licensees upgraded. Those numbers are down from the 1,697 new
“Some sessions are still going on, because they don’t have bans in place yet. Also, some teams that only test one or two candidates every month may be able to continue, since that is well below the number of people that most authorities are advising should gather,” Somma said. She anticipates a surge will come after bans on larger gatherings are lifted, because examinees are eager to take the exams they have been studying hard for.
Somma cautioned that, while March 2020 license numbers appear to be trending downward, it’s not possible to reliably predict how an entire month will play out by extrapolating partial-month numbers. “March is the beginning of the busy part of the year, but depending on how the weekends fall and when licensing classes end, a month may peak at different points or be busy the whole way through,” she said. More than 764,000 US amateur radio licensees are in the FCC database.
ARRL VEC’s March VE E-Newsletter assured Volunteer Examiners that their health and safety are top priority and that the ARRL VEC is taking the coronavirus outbreak very seriously. “We understand that with the rapidly changing updates on restrictions and canceled or postponed public events, our VE teams are in different locations and should do what is best for them and their communities,” Somma said. “We urge you to stay informed, so you can make informed decisions based on your local community’s guidelines, as each community is unique. Then use your best judgement when deciding whether or not to conduct, postpone, or cancel an exam session.”
Somma directed ARRL VEC VEs and teams to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website or to local health departments for the latest information.
Errata to 2020 – 2024 Amateur Extra-Class Question Pool Released
In the syllabus at the top of the pool:
In sub-element 3:
The Amateur Extra-class question pool will be updated to reflect these changes. Submit feedback or questions to the Question Pool Committee.
Georgia Institute of Technology CubeSat to Feature Amateur Radio Robot Operation
The Glenn Lightsey Research Group’s Space Systems Design Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology is sponsoring a 1U CubeSat mission that will include a digital robot. The primary function of the
Georgia Tech will use this mission as an opportunity for undergraduates to get involved in all facets of a space mission, from design to implementation and support. GT-1 will test a prototype deployable antenna and solar panels, which can be used for future missions derived from the same baseline design, and with inclusion of additional experimental equipment. It will operate with AX.25 protocol telemetry. In partnership with the W4AQL Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club, the satellite will also host a digital contact robot payload, inspired by the earlier Russian RS-12 and RS-13 satellites of the early 1990s. GT-1 will collect contact information from stations that contact the robot as it orbits.
Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions
Note: Many conventions and hamfests have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Check the calendar of canceled events on the ARRL website.
Find conventions and hamfests in your area.
Free of charge to ARRL members…
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