Here’s the latest Amateur Radio News compiled by “The ARRL Letter.”
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio News summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Accessed on 21 October 2021, 2240 UTC.
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October 21, 2021
Editor: Rick Lindquist, WW1ME
Enjoy Two Weekends of Fun During the ARRL November Sweepstakes
The ARRL November Sweepstakes (SS) weekends loom large on the amateur radio contest horizon. The CW weekend is November 6 – 8, while the phone weekend is November 20 – 22. Both events begin on Saturday at 2100 UTC and conclude on Monday at 0259 UTC.
The SS offers operating categories for every preference. The goal for many seasoned SS operators is to complete a “clean sweep” by contacting all 84 ARRL and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) Sections. Canada’s Prince Edward Island province joined the list last
The competition can be fierce, and the pileups can be huge. In 2020, ARRL received 1,445 logs for the CW event and 2,046 for the phone event.
Some Sections are harder to contact than others. Northern Territories (NT) is always a challenge, but there’s a slim chance that snagging NT could be easier this year.
Gerry Hull, W1VE (also VE1RM), is hoping to operate as VY1AAA for both weekends, using “J” Allen’s, VY1JA, Yukon Territory station remotely from the US. Now in his mid-70s, Allen essentially retired from ham radio a few years ago due to health issues, but he’s bounced back this year with renewed enthusiasm and working to get a station and antennas ready for Hull to operate. At this point, he’s sorting through a backyard scrap pile that includes tower sections he had up in the past. He wants to get 80 – 100 feet assembled and clamped to a sturdy utility pole. Hull says Allen is committed to the task.
“VY1JA is now in re-construction,” Allen says on his QRZ.com profile. “There is only a small chance that it will be done and on the air for SS CW this year. If so, signals may be weaker than in the past, with only a 100 W Omni VII and wire antennas. Plans for building an amp failed, and antenna work has taken far longer than expected.”
Hull said if Allen does manage to erect the antenna support tower, VY1AAA will have inverted V antennas for 20 and 40 meters, which Hull considers “the money bands from Yukon on CW.”
“So, hoping for good weather and good health for J, and then we might have VY1AAA on for the masses for SS CW,” he said. Hull said if the CW weekend is successful, he’ll consider also operating in the phone event.
Other difficult Sections to contact include Delaware, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Pacific, and North Dakota. (Alaska, Hawaii and other US territories in the ARRL Pacific Section, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands count as W/VE stations, not as DX, for the SS.)
Contesters, especially the less experienced, often want to know how to handle duplicate contacts (dupes). It’s almost a given that this will happen in SS. While some operators still set up a “hot key” to send “WKD B4” on CW when encountering a dupe, current best practice is to work the apparent dupe, log it, and move on. While dupes don’t earn any points, they also don’t mean you’ll incur a NIL (not-in-log) penalty if the apparent dupe did not log the initial contact for one reason or another.
Most areas of the US change from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time at 2 AM local time on November 7, by moving clocks back 1 hour. UTC is not affected.
Logs are due within 7 days after the event is over. Certificates will be awarded in the top operator CW and Phone scores in each category in each ARRL/RAC Section and Division, and plaques will be awarded to the Overall and Division winners. Icom America is the principal awards sponsor.
An operating guide that relates some of the history and evolution of these North American contests is available under “Operating Guidelines” on the ARRL November Sweepstakes page.
ARDC Grants to Fund Amateur Radio Project Expansions
A $35,550 grant will enable SBARC to construct an amateur radio station at the new Chrisman California Islands Center (CCIC) in downtown Carpinteria, California, at the invitation of the Santa Cruz
The station will be prominently located near the CCIC main entrance. An interactive display will provide an overview of amateur radio communications and the role that amateur radio has played in the history of the islands.
When the station is not staffed, visitors can interact with it using a custom touchscreen that controls an interactive presentation on
An ARRL-Affiliated club, SBARC already maintains open repeaters, data systems, and a club station in Santa Barbara County under the K6TZ call sign.
Oregon HamWAN has received an ARDC grant of $88,000 to expand its digital communications network. The project aims to enhance amateur radio digital and emergency communications capabilities between Portland and Salem, Oregon.
The nonprofit plans to expand its digital communications network by deploying 12 network backbone distribution sites between the two cities. Eventually, the sites will connect to the Puget Sound Data Ring, which currently extends from Seattle to Vancouver, Washington. The network would allow emergency management personnel to communicate in the event of a disaster, such as a major earthquake, that disrupts telecommunications systems. In such cases, amateur radio operators will be able to quickly set up network nodes where they are needed to provide emergency communication via the Oregon HamWAN digital network. “This will be a game changer for emergency
“Deciding to fund [the] Oregon HamWAN project was an easy decision,” said ARDC Grants Advisory Committee Chair John Hays, K7VE. “It is a well-organized and well-staffed project that uses multiple amateur radio technologies, such as the 44Net IP address space, 5 GHz radios, and proven software methodologies. It will provide a strong backbone network in Oregon and help preserve our microwave bands.”
ARDC is a California-based private foundation that supports innovative amateur radio projects. The foundation makes grants for projects and organizations that follow amateur radio’s practice and tradition of technical experimentation in both amateur radio and digital communication science.
ARRL Podcasts Schedule
Hams Support Chicago Marathon
A team of 135 radio amateurs from four states supported medical teams volunteering for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 10. The Chicago Marathon is the third largest marathon in the world. This marked the 13th year that amateur radio volunteers have partnered with the marathon medical team to help coordinate
The largely flat marathon course has 20 aid stations on its 26.2-mile course, each with a medical tent. Hams are deployed at each medical tent to support communication for the medical teams.
There are two main communication nets: a medical net and a logistics net, and nine repeaters support these nets. Most of the repeaters belong to local clubs, but five temporary repeaters are also deployed.
In addition to passing urgent medical and health-and-welfare traffic, ham radio volunteers also provide situational awareness for race organizers, such as updating the number of individuals under care at each medical tent. Hams at each medical tent are also responsible for changing the event alert flag, which informs runners of course conditions so they can adjust their pace. This year, the flags were changed to red because of the humidity and an increased potential for serious heat-related injuries.
Most communication is done via FM repeaters. If a runner develops a problem, spotters alert a rapid-response medical team, each with a ham volunteer to handle communication. In serious situations, hams can call into the Forward Command post to dispatch medical assistance. Ten ham volunteers in Forward Command serve as net controls, traffic handlers, logging specialists, and expediters.
The event provides plenty of personal challenges. Many ham volunteers report to their duty stations very early in the morning to conduct roll calls at 6 AM, and many remain on course until the event ends at around 4 PM. The hams and the medical teams must adjust to the weather as well. Hams also serve the aid stations where race volunteers dispense water and Gatorade. In the event of an emergency, hams shadow the aid station captain to facilitate communication with Forward Command.
Even in an era of ubiquitous cell phones, ham radio remains able to provide an independent resource that can back up all other communication.
Read an expanded version in this week’s edition of The ARES Letter. — Thanks to Rob Orr, K9RST, via The ARES Letter
ARRL Learning Network Webinars
More webinars are coming soon. Check the website for updated information.
ARRL members may register for upcoming presentations and view previously recorded Learning Network webinars. ARRL-affiliated radio clubs may also use the recordings as presentations for club meetings, mentoring new and current hams, and discussing amateur radio topics.
Golden Globe Sailing Race Entrants Banned from Using Amateur Radio
The use of amateur radio by participants in the 2022 – 23 Golden Globe Race (GGR) — an around-the-world sailing competition — has been banned. Race organizers put the restriction in place because of unlicensed use of amateur radio equipment in the 2018 – 19 event, Yachting Monthly reported. In the 2018 – 19 race, Estonian skipper Uku Randmaa, ES1UKU, was penalized after seeking weather routing
The race rules say, “Entrants are free to speak to media, family, friends, and sponsors by radio at any time during the event, but must not be given any form of weather routing.” But in the next sentence, the rules allow competitors to “communicate freely (by radio or by hailing) with other competitors, or other mariners on vessels at sea, requesting or giving any verbal information/advice whatsoever, even if this is considered weather routing.”
The GGR rules that were spelled out in the Notice of Race require at least a 125 W marine MF/HF radio transceiver with a frequency range of at least 1.6 to 29.9 MHz, “fitted in a 100% watertight enclosure (able to be sealed in any storm) with permanently installed antenna and [ground] and an emergency antenna when the regular antenna depends upon the permanent Backstay.”
The rules make clear that, “Any proven breach of International radio telecommunication regulations, such as transmitting on illegal maritime frequencies, may result in a time penalty. Ham Radio transmissions are specifically banned.”
According to Yachting Monthly, the change has caused concern within the race community, “with some of the 2018 entrants highlighting difficulties in picking up Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) frequencies in the Southern Ocean due to the shrinking of the broadcasting network as more mariners rely on satellite communication.”
“This is a retro race with skippers restricted to using a sextant [a navigation instrument used to measure altitudes of celestial bodies], paper charts, and wind-up chronometers, just as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston used in the first Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 50 years ago,” Race Chairman Don McIntyre has explained.
In the 2018 race, some GGR skippers who operated on ham radio frequencies using bogus call signs were asked to stop operating.
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The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Solar activity declined last week, and October 17 saw no sunspots at all. Most days this week had the minimum non-zero sunspot number, which is 11, indicating a single sunspot group containing a single sunspot.
The average daily sunspot number declined from 23.7 to 11.3, and average daily solar flux dropped by 7 points from 85.6 to 78.6.
Geomagnetic indicators were quiet, with average planetary A index
Despite the lower activity, I did notice some 10- and 12-meter openings here at my location in Seattle.
Predicted solar flux appears lower too, with values at 76 on October 21 – 22; 80 on October 23 – 25; 82 on October 26 – 28; 88 on October 29 – 30; 85 on October 31 – November 11; 80 on November 12 – 20; 85, 90, 95, and 90 on November 21 – 24; 88 on November 25 – 26, and 85 through the end of November.
Predicted planetary A index is 10 and 8 on October 21 – 22; 5 on October 23 – November 1; 8 on November 2; 5 on November 3 – 5; 12, 10, and 8 on November 6 – 8; 5 on November 9 – 13; 12 on November 14 – 15; 8 on November 16 – 18; 5 on November 19 – 20; 10 on November 21, and 5 on November 22 – 28.
Sunspot numbers for October 14 – 20 were 24, 11, 11, 0, 11, 11, and 11, with a mean of 11.3. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 83.4, 84, 77.6, 77.4, 75.9, 76, and 75.9, with a mean of 78.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 6, 6, 10, 10, 14, and 6, with a mean of 8.4. Middle latitude A index was 6, 4, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 5, with a mean of 5.4.
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 the Propagation Page of Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA.
Share your reports and observations.
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