CQ Newsroom

WB2ITX Takes Helm as ARRL CEO; Looks to Broaden League's Appeal

Howard Michel, WB2ITX, began work as the ARRL's new Chief Executive Officer in mid-October, the third new CEO since the retirement of Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, in 2016. Michel, who previously worked in the robotics and artificial intelligence industries, also served as volunteer president and CEO of IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 

According to the ARRL Letter, Michel believes the League needs to embrace new technologies in amateur radio, such as FT8, but "in a way that those who don't adopt the new technology won't feel abandoned." He also called for the ARRL to seek partnerships with other like-minded organizations and to find new ways of reaching out to younger hams.

ARRL Executive Committee: Too Much Silence from the FCC

ARRL staff members didn't have much news from the FCC to present to the League's Executive Committee at its October meeting. At that time, reports the ARRL Letter, there had still been no clarification from the Commission staff on an Enforcement Bureau memo that appeared to tell hams they could not use certain imported transceivers - even on the amateur bands - unless those radios operated exclusively on amateur frequencies. 

Plus, there had been no FCC action on either the League's "symbol rate" petition, filed in 2016, or its Technician Enhancement proposal from earlier this year, which hasn't yet been put on public notice for comment. 

The League is also waiting for the FCC to sign off on a new Memorandum of Understanding on the Amateur Auxiliary as part of its plan to replace the Official Observer program with new Volunteer Monitors.

The committee also reviewed two proposed rewrites of the ARRL's controversial "code of conduct" for directors and vice directors, voting to kick the ball downfield and submit both drafts to the full board of directors at its January meeting.

U.S. Ham is First Woman Elected to ITU Leadership Role

Doreen Bodgan-Martin, KD2JTX, Director of the ITU
Telecommunication Development Bureau (ITU Photo)Doreen Bogdan-Martin, KD2JTX, has been elected to head the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU's) Telecommunication Development Bureau. According to the ITU, Ms. Bogdan-Martin is the first woman elected to a top leadership position in the UN agency's 153-year history (The ITU predates the United Nations - ed.). 

Bogdan-Martin has been involved with ITU at various levels for more than 20 years, according to the ARRL, which notes that she also launched an international program to bring more women into technology and directed the first ITU global youth summit. She was elected at the ITU's 20th Plenitotentiary Conference in Dubai on November 1. 

The delegates also re-elected Houlin Zhao of China as Secretary-General and the U.K.'s Malcolm Johnson as Deputy Secretary-General.

Senator Lauds Hams in Post-Hurricane Tweet

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
(US Senate photo)
Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker - a longtime supporter of amateur radio - used his Twitter feed in October to point out the ways in which hams helped with disaster response efforts in Florida after Hurricane Michael. 

According to the ARRL Letter, Wicker tweeted that hams are trained volunteers who "help maintain critical communication to areas with no electricity, phone, or internet service."

Hamvention to Host ARRL National Convention; Hit by E-Mail Scam

The 2019 Dayton Hamvention® will also be the year's ARRL National Convention, sharing a joint theme of "Mentoring the Next Generation" of hams. The ARRL Letter reports that a special track of presentations will be put together stressing the mentorship theme. The 2019 Hamvention will be held on May 17-19 at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio.
On a separate topic, some Dayton 2018 exhibitors received e-mails in late October, offering to sell them lists of all attendees at the show. Hamvention officials tell CQ that the e-mail is a scam and should be ignored, noting that they never sell or rent attendee lists.

Ham Astronaut and Cosmonaut Safe After Aborted Launch

US Astronaut Nick Hague,
KG5TMV (NASA photo) A booster failure soon after the launch of a Soyuz space capsule en route to the International Space Station on October 11 prompted an emergency launch abort and "ballistic" landing of the capsule, according to NASA and other sources. American astronaut Nick Hague, KG5TMV - making his first flight into space - and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin landed safely in Kazakhstan. A ballistic landing is one which is powered only by gravity, with no ability to slow the descent or change course. 

Both NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, are investigating the launch failure.

Tower Marking Rules Narrowed to Exclude Most Ham Towers

The recently-passed Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act includes language that significantly narrows the number of "short" radio towers that need to be painted and lit to protect aircraft. The ARRL Letter reports that marking requirements imposed on towers in rural areas between 50 and 200 feet in height are now restricted to meteorological evaluation towers (METs) and those along the glide slope for an airport or heliport. 

The initial regulations had been imposed following several crashes of crop-dusting planes after encountering newly-installed METs. These weather towers are often installed on a temporary basis, so pilots may not be aware of them. Hams were joined in opposing the broader rules by the National Association of Broadcasters, which argued that they would impose unnecessary burdens on small radio stations with towers less than 200 feet tall.

Weather Forces Early Shutdown of VP6D DXpedition

Worsening weather forced the organizers of October's DXpedition to Ducie Island to end the operation ahead of schedule, to make sure the team members and their equipment would be able to be safely transported off the island to their transport ship, the M/V Braveheart. The ARRL reports that VP6D went QRT on October 31, with over 121,000 contacts in the log, more than half on CW and the rest split almost evenly between single sideband and digital modes.

Norwegian Solo DXpeditioner Detained in Chad, Then Sent Home

Chad is a landlocked country in central Africa
(Map courtesy CIA World Factbook)An apparent communication breakdown between the Republic of Chad's telecommunication regulator and its security police led to a shutdown of the TT8KO DXpedition after only one day and two weeks of house arrest in his hotel for solo operator Kenneth Opskar, LA7GIA. According to multiple sources, Opskar had all of his paperwork in order and put TT8KO on the air from his hotel in N'Djamena on October 9th, only to be shut down 24 hours later by the police. 

It seems that the security police had not been informed by the country's telecomm regulator that it had authorized the operation, and the country's president was hosting an event at the same hotel during the planned activity. Opskar and his gear were placed under house arrest while bureaucratic and diplomatic maneuvering took place, both between the Chad government agencies and the governments of Norway and Chad. He was finally given permission to leave for home on October 24. During his one day on the air, Ken made 2135 QSOs, all on CW.

Milestones: Two Tower-Related Deaths Plus Some Good News

CQ Contest Hall of Fame member Rev. Paul Bittner, W0AIH, was killed October 31 in a fall from one of his many towers. Bittner, who was 84, was at the 60-foot level of his 180-foot tower when his safety rope broke, according to Newsline. He had been on the air from his Wisconsin superstation just days earlier during the CQ World Wide DX Contest SSB weekend, and had participated in last summer's World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) in Germany. Bittner was inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame in 2009.
In Tennessee, a professional tower climber installing a 70-foot tower for a local ham fell to his death when one of the guy wires gave way. According to the ARRL Letter, Ken Waddell was 30 years old and left behind a wife and five children. He was installing a tower for amateur Dale Darling, W9WBA, of Cookeville.
On the good news front, ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, has been re-elected to another term as Vice President for Standards of the IEEE's Electromagnetic Compatibility Society. The League says Hare's work for the society includes leading its standardization efforts and overseeing the work of various committees, in addition to making sure that amateur radio is represented in discussions and votes on establishing various standards.

YASME Foundation, RCA, Announce Awards

The YASME Foundationhas voted to make "a significant grant" to support upgrading amateur radio equipment and systems aboard the International Space Station and announced its annual Excellence Awards. According to the ARRL, award recipients include Brian Machesney, K1LI, Michelle Guenard and Fred Kleber, K9VV, for their work in maintaining ham radio communication networks on Dominica and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and Zorro Miyzawa, JH1AJT, for his efforts to promote amateur radio in developing countries.
The Radio Club of America announced that it will award its 2018 Armstrong Medal to contester and DXer Ted Rappaport, N9NB, and that the organization's Lee de Forest Award this year will go to inventor Nathan "Chip" Cohen, W1YW. Three other hams were among the recipients of additional RCA awards. All were scheduled to be presented at the club's annual awards banquet and technical symposium in New York City on November 17.

"Hello, America … Who's Out There?"

It wasn't a traditional "CQ," but then the so-called experts will tell you it's bad form to call CQ on 2-meter FM, so we'll give a pass to Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT, who got on 145.800 MHz from NA1SS on the International Space Station on October 6, looking for random contacts back on the ground. 

The ARRL Letter reports that Auñón-Chancellor decided to see who she could contact during a pass that went up the U.S. east coast. "Hello America," she called. "This is the International Space Station. Who's out there?" She found plenty of company … Auñón-Chancellor is expected to return to Earth in December. 

(Should you catch another random CQ from the ISS, be aware that NA1SS operates "split." The uplink frequency in 149.490 MHz in the Americas and Asia/Oceania; and 145.200 in Europe and Africa. - ed.)

Russian Military, Others, Intrude on Ham Bands

Russian radar stations, ships and fishing boats are apparently finding homes on the HF ham bands. According to the ARRL Letter, the International Amateur Radio Union's Region 1 Monitoring Service reports several intrusions during September, most apparently from Russian sources.

These include on over-the-horizon coastal radar system, two Russian ships in the Mediterranean sending digital traffic on 7110 kHz, and a military system near Moscow, all on 40 meters. In addition, Russian fishing boats were monitored on various frequencies in the 80, 40 and 20-meter bands.

Licensing Course Results in New Repeater for Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park
(National Park Service map)When the Dayton Amateur Radio Association's Michael Kalter, W8CI, and his wife, Linda, W8AAV, were asked to teach a licensing course in Gardiner, Montana, on the northern border of Yellowstone National Park, about three years ago, they were amazed to discover that it was virtually impossible to bring up any of the area's repeaters from inside the park. During the two-day class, Kalter told Newsline, he and Linda emphasized the importance of putting up a repeater to serve the northern part of the park.

This fall, Michael said he received an e-mail from one of the new hams in the group, informing him that they'd started the North Yellowstone Amateur Radio Club and that one of the first things the club did was install a repeater on 2 meters. It covers the entire distance along U.S. 89 from I-90 to the park entrance and beyond. 
If you're in the area, it's on 146.98 MHz with a CTCSS tone of 100 Hz. Kalter told CQ that he and Linda had only ignited the spark of interest, while the hams of NYARC should be recognized for doing the hard work of getting a repeater, getting it coordinated and getting it on the air.

FCC Slams NJ Ham With Big Fine for Unlicensed FM Broadcasting

It took more than three years, but the FCC on October 30 issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 assessing a $25,000 fine against Winston Tulloch, KC2ALN, of Paterson, New Jersey. 

According to the FCC, Tulloch was operating an unlicensed FM broadcast station on 90.9 MHz, transmitting from different locations each time Commission field agents came to investigate. They determined on a final visit in 2017 that the station was no longer on the air.

The FCC says Tulloch never responded to violation notices mailed to him and even posted on the door of one location. There is no indication of what impact, if any, this matter may have on Tulloch's ability to renew his amateur license when it expires in 2026.