Here’s the latest Amateur/Ham Radio News from HQ ARRL.
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Content supplied by HQ ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT, 06111.
Accessed on 07 May 2020, 2105 UTC, Post 1430.
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May 7, 2020
Editor: Rick Lindquist, WW1ME
COVID-19 Impact & News
Find the latest news and information on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to ARRL members and our global amateur radio community.
FCC Providing Flexibility to Volunteer Examiners in Developing Remote Testing Methods
In response to questions from the amateur radio community, the FCC has clarified that nothing in its rules prohibits remote amateur radio testing, and no prior approval is needed to conduct remote exam sessions.
“The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place,” the FCC said in an April 30 news release. “We recognize that some volunteer examiner coordinators may not have the immediate capacity for widespread
In a tweet the next day, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the announcement “Good news for aspiring amateur radio operators.”
The FCC opened the door to remotely administered examinations in a June 5, 2014, FCC Report and Order, noting that, since the VE system was established, “remote testing methods have been developed, including audio and video links, either hard-wired to a site or available through internet or satellite technologies, which would allow a VE team to observe an examinee from afar.” The FCC ruled that allowing VEs and VECs the option of administering examinations remotely was warranted. The FCC declined to incorporate any specific requirements or conditions for remote testing into the rules, and made it clear that VECs and VEs were not required to offer remote testing.
ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said she’s gratified to see that the FCC appreciates the need for remote testing. “Many of our VEs and VE teams have been employing remotely proctored exam sessions with both video and in-person components, and following social-distancing protocols, where necessary,” she said. “Some ARRL VE teams have shown great promise in administering exams remotely.” Somma also said that as states begin to lift restrictions, the possibility exists to restart in-person amateur radio exam opportunities.
“We urge our VE teams to keep up to date so they can make informed decisions based on local community guidelines, as each community is unique,” she said. “Our volunteers should use their best judgement when deciding whether or not to begin conducting in-person exam sessions. It is important to us that you feel confident when choosing your course of action, because the health and safety of our VEs and the examinees is the top priority. VE teams that choose to conduct in-person sessions should restart consistent with local restrictions and guidelines.”
To find amateur radio license exam sessions in your area, visit the ARRL website. Candidates should verify with their VE teams that the exam session is being held and if any special procedures are required to attend.
Socially Distanced In-Person Exam Sessions Held in US and Norway
With some states starting to relax restrictions on events and activities, the Grant County, Oregon, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) held an in-person exam session on April 26 in the town of John Day that adhered to social distancing recommendations.
Exam organizers held the gathering to within Oregon’s 10-person limit for gatherings, keeping everyone 6 feet apart and requiring all participants to wear face masks. The exam session was held outdoors under a car port.
“We had an exceptionally successful test session with candidates passing exams at every amateur radio level,” said Ed Ellesson, AF7YX, the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Liaison for the Grant County Amateur Radio Club. Grant County Emergency Coordinator Steve Fletcher, K7AA, noted that many clubs had canceled their planned sessions due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Grant County decided to approach the problem by obeying all the restrictions but still holding the exam,” he said. “As a result, we had people come here from all over the state.”
In Oklahoma, the Mid-Del Amateur Radio Club, W5MWC, administered an open-air exam session on April 25 that held to social distancing guidelines. Over the course of the 3-hour session, 16 candidates tested, and all were successful. One candidate passed all three exam elements to come away with his Amateur Extra-class license.
Another open-air amateur exam session took place recently in Norway. The LA3F radio amateur club, south of Oslo, had just completed its annual course for prospective radio amateurs, and three candidates were ready to take their exam when Norway began shutting down activities and gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Not to be deterred, International Amateur Radio Union Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, arranged with Norwegian regulatory authorities to hold an outdoor exam session compatible with social distancing and other safety guidelines in place. Garpestad met with the three candidates in the forest outside a local scout cottage, and, with candidates seated at tables at least 5 meters (about 16 feet) apart, he administered the exam. With the temperature at around 10 °C (about 50 °F), everyone dressed warmly. Garpestad reported that all three candidates passed, and LA5EUA, LB8QI, and LB8RI were welcomed to the world of amateur radio. — Thanks to Steve Fletcher, K7AA, and Don Beattie, G3BJ, via IARU Region 1
NASA CubeSat Array to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms
A new NASA mission making use of a half-dozen CubeSats will study how the sun generates and releases giant space weather storms — known as solar particle storms — into planetary space.
“Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the moon and Mars by providing better information on how the sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through,” NASA said of the new Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment
(SunRISE) project. The mission will involve an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope. NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build, and launch SunRISE as early as mid-2023.
NASA chose SunRISE in August 2017 as one of two Mission of Opportunity proposals to conduct an 11-month mission concept study. In February 2019, the agency approved a continued formulation study of the mission for an additional year. SunRISE is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
“We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets,” said Nicola Fox, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division. “The more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts.”
The six solar-powered CubeSats will simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emissions (0.1 – 25 MHz) from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network. The constellation of CubeSats would fly within 6 miles of each other. The CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation. The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map — for the first time — the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the sun out into interplanetary space.
ARRL Podcasts Schedule
The latest episode of the Eclectic Tech podcast (Episode 7) debuts Thursday, with a discussion of HF aeronautical radio, the NCDXF beacon
May/June Issue of ARRL’s On the Air Magazine Now Available
The May/June digital edition of ARRL’s On the Air magazine is now
…and much more!
The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: We haven’t seen a sunspot since Thursday, April 30, when the daily sunspot number was 35 — a relatively high sunspot number. In fact, the daily sunspot number has not been that high since March 21, 2019, when it hit 49. Prior to that, we’d need to look back to June 22, 2018, when the daily sunspot number was 41. This, and the fact that last week’s sunspots showed new Solar Cycle 25 polarity, gives me reason for optimism. I expect solar activity to increase, and with it HF propagation.
The average daily sunspot number for last week was 5, down from 8.7 the previous 7 days. The average daily solar flux rose from 69.2 to
Predicted solar flux over the next 45 days is 70 from May 7 until June 20. The predicted planetary A index is 5 on May 7 – 11; 8 on May 12; 5 on May 13 – 17; 10 and 8 on May 18 – 19; 5 on May 20 – 23; 8 on May 24 – 27; 5 on May 28 – 30; 8, 10, and 8 on May 31 – June 2; 5 on June 3 – 13; 10 and 8 on June 14 – 15, and 5 on June 16 – 20.
So, there you have it: A nice steady solar flux above the 60s for the next month and a half, and stable geomagnetic conditions too.
In this week’s bulletin, expect a report from Jon Jones, N0JK, concerning his 6-meter MSK144 mode contacts during the recent meteor shower.
Sunspot numbers for April 30 through May 6 were 35, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, for a mean of 5. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 69.8, 70.2, 69.2, 68.7, 69.3, 69.3, and 69.8, with a mean of 69.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 2, 6, 5, 5, 6, 6, and 6, with a mean of 5.1. Middle latitude A index was 1, 5, 3, 5, 8, 7, and 6, with a mean of 5.
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
IARU Region 2 Online Emergency Communication Workshops Under Way
International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 (IARU R2) virtual emergency communication workshops got under way on April 29, when the first of the programs in English and Spanish, “What is Winlink and its Importance during Emergency Communications,” was presented in Spanish. Workshop presenter Alfonso Tamez, XE2O, of the Mexican Federation of Radio Amateurs, offered insights into the
Signups for the workshops have been brisk, with more than 180 participants from at least 18 IARU Region 2 countries registered. A question-and-answer session followed the formal April 29 presentation, conducted using the Zoom web-conferencing platform as well as through IARU Region 2’s YouTube Workshops channel. The workshops are free of charge.
Workshop participants expressed their satisfaction as well as a desire to continue with more workshops as soon as possible. An English-language presentation of the same workshop took place on May 6. Signing up for future workshops must be done online and not via email.
The IARU-R2 Executive Committee appointed Augusto Gabaldoni, OA4DOH, as workshops coordinator to set up processes for the initial group of workshop sessions and to develop and manage ongoing workshops for radio amateurs in IARU-R2.
Here is the schedule for the remaining workshops:
Contact Gabaldoni with requests for future workshop topics, volunteer speakers, or other comments or suggestions.
Russian DOSAAF-85 (RS-44) Amateur Radio Satellite Transponder Now Active
The amateur radio linear transponder (SSB/CW) on the Russian DOSAAF-85 (RS-44) has been activated. Dmitry Pashkov, R4UAB, explains that RS-85 is a small scientific satellite built by specialists at Information Satellite Systems and students at Siberian State Aerospace University (SibSAU). The satellite’s name commemorates the 85th anniversary of the Voluntary Society for the Assistance to the
This is the third satellite created by the specialists of ISS-Reshetnev and is based on the Yubileyniy platform, which features a hexagonal prism structure with body-mounted solar cells. It was launched into orbit last December 26 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome and is in an elliptical orbit with a perigee of 1,175 kilometers (729 miles), an apogee of 1,511 kilometers (937 miles), and an inclination of 82.5°. Transmitter power is 5 W, and the beacon is on 435.605 MHz (identifying as RS-44).
Top Band Stalwart Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, SK
A fixture on 160 meters, Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, of Christiansted, Virgin Islands, died on April 29. An ARRL member, he was 84. Licensed in 1954 as W0VXO, Schoenbohm became KV4FZ after relocating to the US Virgin Islands to further his career as a sales representative for broadcast equipment manufacturers on the international market, primarily in Latin America.
A regular participant in 160-meter contests, Schoenbohm — especially during his early years in the Virgin Islands — provided many DXers with a new DXCC entity, as that band opened up to routine operation in the wake of government restrictions to protect the LORAN navigation system in that region of the spectrum. Schoenbohm was among the first top-band operators to earn DXCC on 160 meters, and his signal frequently served as a beacon from the Caribbean during
Schoenbohm ran afoul of the FCC in 1994, when the Commission designated his license renewal application for a hearing following a 1992 felony conviction on federal fraud charges. The FCC subsequently denied his renewal in 1998, the US Appeals Court upheld the decision in 2000, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case later that same year. He applied for a new license in 2001, and an FCC Administrative Law Judge cleared the way for Schoenbohm’s return to ham radio.
Schoenbohm was active in Republican Party politics, representing the US Virgin Islands at the Republican National Convention from 1980 until 2012, and serving as a member of the Platform Committee in 2008 and 2012.
Getting It Right!
The number of participants was not correctly stated in the news article “Frequency Measuring Test Results Posted,” in the April 30 edition of The ARRL Letter. The article should have reflected that 140 individuals took part, and 98 of them submitted readings for both the 80- and 40-meter frequencies to better than 1 ppm.
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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Aloha es 73 de Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)
Public Information Coordinator
Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section
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