Welcome to the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information from “The ARRL Letter.”
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June 4, 2020
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.
Spring 2020 Section Manager Election Results Announced
Three incumbent ARRL Section Managers were returned to office, while one challenger outpolled an incumbent Section Manager (SM) in contested elections this spring. Section Manager ballots were counted on Monday, June 1, at ARRL Headquarters. Three other incumbent Section Managers were unopposed and will continue with new terms of office, while one candidate was declared elected as the only nominee for the volunteer position.
In Illinois, incumbent SM Ron Morgan, AD9I, edged out a win over two
In Maine, challenger Robert Gould, N1WJO, of Casco, topped incumbent SM Bill Crowley, K1NIT, of Farmingdale, 196 votes to 179 votes. Crowley has served as Maine’s Section Manager since 2014.
In Indiana, incumbent SM Jimmy Merry, KC9RPX, was re-elected with 515 votes to 384 for his challenger Brian Jenks, W9BGJ, of Fort Wayne. Merry, of Ellettsville, has been Section Manager since July 2018.
In Oregon, David Kidd, KA7OZO, was re-elected over challenger Kevin Fox, KU0L, of Damascus, 728 votes to 386 votes. Kidd, of Oregon City, has been Section Manager since 2018.
Bill Ashby, AA6FC, of San Jose, California, was the only nominee for the Santa Clara Valley Section Manager position. He will succeed Brandon Bianchi, NI6C, who decided not to run for a new term after serving since 2012.
Several sitting Section Managers were the only nominees in their respective sections and were declared re-elected. Kevin Bess, KK4BFN (Northern Florida); Paul Gayet, AA1SU (Vermont), and Patrick Moretti, KA1RB (Wisconsin).
Dan Grady, N2SRK, Appointed as New Rocky Mountain Division Vice Director
ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, has appointed Dan Grady, N2SRK, of Aurora, Colorado, as the new Rocky Mountain Division Vice Director. Grady will succeed Robert Wareham, N0ESQ, who has stepped down from that post to accept appointment as Colorado Section Manager (SM), taking the reins from SM Jack Ciaccia, WM0G, who resigned effective on June 1 to relocate.
Grady credited Ryan and the Division’s Section Managers for keeping the Division healthy and strong. “I am humbled and honored to be working with Division Director Jeff Ryan as well as the Section Managers throughout Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah,” he said. “I am equally excited to be working for and serving ARRL members in this leadership role. To join the ranks of these exceptional people is an honor, and I can assure our membership that the Rocky Mountain Division will continue to set many amazing standards for the amateur radio community in the years to come.”
A native of southern New Jersey, Grady was licensed in 1992, after a middle-school technology teacher inspired his curiosity about ham radio. He served in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Office of Emergency Management communication support teams in southern New Jersey and in the Philadelphia areas in the 1990s. After relocating to Colorado in 2014, he helped to found and now serves as president of the Parker Radio Association — a 150-member ARRL-affiliated club.
Grady enjoys chasing DX on HF and contesting, as well as digital modes. He is a vice president and executive team member for a sheet metal manufacturing, fabrication, and wholesale company headquartered in Denver and is a state chapter board member for a national sheet metal contractor association.
ARRL Podcasts Schedule
WSJT-X Version 2.2.0 is Now in General Release
WSJT-X version 2.2.0 is now in general availability release, after a short period in beta (or release candidate) status. WSJT-X version 2.2 offers 10 different protocols or modes — FT4, FT8, JT4, JT9, JT65, QRA64, ISCAT, MSK144, WSPR, and Echo. The first six are designed for reliable contacts under weak-signal conditions, and they use nearly identical message structure and source encoding. JT65 and QRA64 were designed for EME (“moonbounce”) on VHF/UHF bands, but have also proven very effective for worldwide very low-power communication on HF bands.
Taylor noted that even with their shorter transmit-receive sequences, FT4 and FT8 are considered “slow modes,” because their message frames are sent only once per transmission. “All fast modes in WSJT-X send their message frames repeatedly, as many times as will fit into the [transmit] sequence length,” he explained.
Compared with FT8, FT4 is 3.5 dB less sensitive and requires 1.6 times the bandwidth, but it offers the potential for twice the contact rate.
New in WSJT-X version 2.2.0: FT8 decoding is now spread over three intervals, the first starting at 11.8 seconds into a receive sequence and typically yielding around 85% of the possible decodes. This means users see most decodes much sooner than with previous versions. A second processing step starts at 13.5 seconds, and a third at 14.7 seconds.
“Overall decoding yield on crowded bands is improved by 10% or more,” Taylor said.
Other changes: Signal-to-noise (SNR) estimates no longer saturate at +20 dB, and large signals in the passband no longer cause the SNR of weaker signals to be biased low. Times written to the ALL.TXT cumulative journal file are now correct, even when decoding occurs after the T/R sequence boundary.
KN6EQU Balloon Wins Cross-Country Educational Challenge Race
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) partner ISS-Above inventor Liam Kennedy, KN6EQU, of Pasadena, California, has been declared the winner of a mid-altitude cross-continent educational challenge balloon race. His balloon was one of four launched on June 1 from the west coast with the goal of being the first to reach the Eastern Time Zone.
Coming in second was the balloon of Ted Tagami, KK6UUQ, from ARISS partner Magnitude.io.
It all began when educator Joanne Michael, KM6BWB — a science coach at the Wiseburn Unified School District in Los Angeles — challenged another ARISS partner group to a mid-altitude, cross-continent balloon race. Michael has led her students in several balloon launch attempts from the Los Angeles area. Given the disruption caused to schools by the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael wanted to shake things up a bit and give students worldwide a unique distance-learning treat that could safely be accomplished during the pandemic. She challenged Tagami, and he accepted. On May 31, a fourth team joined in the competition: Steve Potter, K7HAK, and Trevor Macduff of Washington.
Tagami launched his balloon from Oakland, California. Kennedy got wind of the idea and also came on board, launching from Pasadena, California. Michael set her balloon aloft in Los Angeles, while Potter and Macduff’s balloon lifted off from southern Washington.
ARISS, Magnitude.io, and ISS-Above are ISS National Lab Space Station Explorer (SSE) partners that work to inspire, engage, and educate students in science technology engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEM) topics and to pursue careers in those fields.
The story caught fire on social media, inspiring one teacher to figure out how to initiate a launch from her school. “Let’s get planning and get
Students can still track each balloon’s location, altitude, and temperature, which are fed automatically via the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS). The call signs are KM6BWB-9, KK6UUQ-8, KN6EQU-2, and K7HAK-11.
ARISS said the race initiative gave students the opportunity to tally and track the states each balloon traveled through and plot altitude versus temperature (and other parameters). Also, by researching weather patterns, students could make assumptions from their own data. This could include speed variations due to weather. They could also predict each balloon’s flight path and when each might cross the finish line.
For more information on the balloon launch, lesson plans, and the livestream video link, visit the ARISS Mid-Altitude Balloon Race page.
The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Two new sunspots emerged this week, with a 1-day gap on Tuesday with no sunspots. Average daily sunspot numbers rose from 0 last week to 3.3 this week, May 28 – June 3.
Predicted solar flux over the next 45 days is 70 on June 4 – 20; 71 on June 21 – July 4; 70 on July 5 – 17, and 71 on July 18.
Predicted planetary A index is 5 on June 4 – July 18. That’s right: Quiet with an A index of 5 on every single day over the next six and a half weeks.
Sunspot numbers for May 28 – June 3 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 11, 0, and 12, with a mean of 3.3. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 67.5, 69.6, 70, 70.8, 69.2, 70.4, and 70, with a mean of 69.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 3, 14, 4, 6, 7, and 4, with a mean of 4. Middle latitude A index was 2, 4, 13, 4, 7, 7, and 3, with a mean of 5.7.
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
Six Meters Recently Running Hot
In recent days, 6 meters has been living up to its nickname — “the magic band.” On May 30 at around 1200 UTC, Rich Zwirko, K1HTV, in Virginia, worked Nicolas Sinieokoff, TT8SN, in Chad, who answered his CQ on FT8. After the quick exchange, K1HTV alerted several local 6-meter DXers, who were also able to snag the rare contact. TT8SN was able to work into the US mid-Atlantic and Arkansas as well as West Virginia on FT8 before switching to CW at about 1300 UTC and then alternating between the two modes over the next hour. Yves Collet, 6W1TA, in Senegal also showed up on the band, and K1HTV and other stations were able to put him in the log as well.
“So the 6-meter E-skip season has begun,” Zwirko remarked. “Who knows what kind of magic the band will serve up?”
On May 28, Bill Steffey, NY9H, just south of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, reported working three European stations on FT8 at around 2200 UTC. “Six [meters] has been great this week,” Steve Fetter, WA8UEG, in eastern Pennsylvania, observed after working stations in the Caribbean and in Europe.
From Greenland, Bo Christensen, OX3LX, has been showing up on 6 meters on FT8 between 2230 and 0000 UTC. He’s been reported working into the mid-Atlantic stations with a good signal. Mark Murray, W2OR, in Florida, took advantage of an opening to Japan on the evening of May 22. Two Florida stations each worked 20 or more Japanese stations, and one was said to have had 40 stations in Japan. W2OR said it was “an incredible number for an opening that did not last.” On the previous evening, a similar opening occurred from Wisconsin and other parts of the upper midwest.
Jim Reisert, AD1C, reported that stations in Wisconsin and Minnesota were able to work Hawaii on 6 meters starting around 2300 UTC on May 24, using FT8. John Sweeney, K9EL, in Illinois, worked three Hawaiian stations from 2240 – 2250 UTC. He called it “the best 6-meter opening to Hawaii from W9 that I have seen.”
Kev Hewitt, ZB2GI, in Gibraltar, made his first 6-meter contact of the season, working K1TOL, in Maine. ZB2GI said the band sounded dead, except for K1TOL’s signal. Read more. — Compiled from reports in The Daily DX
IARU Region 2 Executive Committee Meets in Videoconference
The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 Executive Committee (EC) held its quarterly meeting on May 28 via videoconference. In addition to routine business, the panel was briefed by IARU R2 Workshops Coordinator Augusto Gabaldoni, OA4DOH. He reported that, as of the meeting date, nearly 400 have subscribed and more than 2,800 have viewed the first four workshops, either live on Zoom or on YouTube. Participants have been from almost every country in the Americas, as well as some from Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world. Feedback has been very positive, Gabaldoni said, both from participants and from Region 2 member-societies, with a common theme: “When are you doing another one?”
All IARU R2 workshops are free and open to anyone interested. They are available live on Zoom and on YouTube, where they are
High demand exists for additional workshops in both English and Spanish — especially for more advanced Winlink workshops, amateur satellites, digital operations, and other topics for additional future workshops. Gabaldoni told the EC he will be scheduling more sessions in the near future. These will be announced on the IARU Region 2 website under “Events,” with a new online registration system, courtesy of webmaster Christian Buenger, DL6KAC, whom Gabaldoni thanked for his quick response and support.
Other EC business included an amendment to the IARU R2 Standard Operating Procedures to formalize the approval process for changes to the Region 2 Band Plan between General Assemblies. In the past, changes could only be approved at a session of the General Assembly, which meets only every 3 years. When the next General Assembly meeting is more than 6 months in the future, the new process provides for the Band Planning Committee to recommend changes to the Executive Committee for consideration.
If the Executive Committee agrees with the changes, member-societies are informed and have 60 days to object, if they disagree. If only one objection is received, the changes are approved and will be incorporated into the R2 Band Plan and reported at the next General Assembly. — Thanks to IARU Region 2 Secretary George Gorsline, VE3YV
A May 30 nationwide American Red Cross communication exercise engaged participants across the country. The drill simulated the types of message traffic typical during a national disaster response, such as a hurricane or wildfire. Among those involved in the drill were members of the ARRL Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley Sections. More than 30 northern California radio amateurs took part, passing 35 voice messages via California Amateur Radio Linking Association (CARLA) repeaters, and 66 digital messages using both HF and VHF gateways to a simulated Red Cross operations center, and receiving 101 messages. In Puerto Rico, ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, fielded a well-appointed solar-powered station for HF, VHF, and UHF, as well as a laptop and external monitor. At both locations, participants received advance email messages to be transmitted, using flmsg, fldigi, and Winlink. The Red Cross said it would put some changes into effect immediately as a result of the drill.
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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