The Question Pool Committee of the NCVEC is currently working on revisions to the Amateur Extra exam question pool for FCC Amateur Extra license exams to be issued starting July 1, 2016.
From the ARRL: AO-85 Commissioned and Turned Over to AMSAT-NA Operations
Fox-1A (AO-85) has been formally commissioned and turned over to
AMSAT Operations, which now is responsible for the scheduling and
modes. Fox-1A is AMSAT-NA’s first CubeSat.
“Many new techniques are incorporated, and lessons will be learned,
as with any new ‘product,”‘ said AMSAT Vice President-Engineering
Jerry Buxton, N0JY. “We will incorporate changes from what we learn
in each launch, to the extent possible, in subsequent Fox-1
CubeSats. To our members, we want to say that the Fox Team is very
proud and pleased that our first CubeSat is very successful and
hopefully will be for some time.”
The Fox-1 Project is a series of CubeSats. A total of five will be
built and flown. Launches already have been scheduled for three
more, and a new NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative proposal will be
submitted for the fifth launch.
Of the four NASA-sponsored CubeSats on the October 8 Educational
Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) on October 8 that put AO-85 and 12
other spacecraft into orbit, one (ARC1) never functioned, and a
second, BisonSat, was lost after a few weeks of operation.
The Fox Team notes that an apparent lack of receiver sensitivity and
difficulty in turning or holding on the repeater with the 67 Hz
CTCSS tone are probably the most notable observations about AO-85.
“We have determined a probable cause for the sensitivity issue, and
while that can’t be fixed on AO-85 we are taking steps to prevent
similar issues on the rest of the Fox-1 CubeSats,” Buxton assured.
“The tone-detection threshold, along with the receive sensitivity
issue, makes it hard to bring up the repeater. This is being
addressed by adjusting the values for a valid tone detection in the
other Fox-1 CubeSats, now that we have on-orbit information about
temperatures and power budget.” The November/December edition of
AMSAT Journal will include full details on these technical issues.
AMSAT has provided guidelines for using AO-85.
* Uplink power should be on the order of a minimum 200 W EIRP for full
quieting at lower antenna elevations. Your mileage may vary.
Successful contacts have been made using an Arrow-style antenna.
* Polarity is important. The satellite antennas are linear. If you
are using linearly polarized antennas, you will need to adjust
throughout the pass. Full-duplex operation facilitates these
adjustments while transmitting and is highly recommended.
* The downlink is very strong and should be heard well with almost
any antenna and is 5 kHz deviation. AMSAT said that users may
perceive that the audio is low. “This is an effect of the filtering
below 300 Hz, which provides for the data-under-voice (DUV)
telemetry, coupled with any noise on the uplink signal resulting
from lack of full quieting or being off frequency,” Buxton
explained. “That makes for less fidelity than a typical receiver in
terms of audio frequencies passed.”
* The satellite’s downlink frequency varies with temperature. Due to
the wide range of temperatures the satellite is exposed to during
eclipse, the transmitter can be anywhere from around 500 Hz low at
10 degrees C to near 2 kHz low at 40 degrees C. The uplink frequency
has been generally agreed to be about 435.170 MHz, although the
automatic frequency control (AFC) makes that hard to pin down while
also helping with off-frequency uplink signals.
“It is important to remember that science is the reason behind the
Fox-1 satellites,” AMSAT said. “Not only does science help with the
launch cost, it provides a great amount of educational value both
from the science payload and in amateur radio itself. The DUV
telemetry is an excellent way to provide the science without
sacrificing the use of the satellite for communication, which would
be the case if higher speed downlinks were needed. DUV provides
constant science as long as the repeater is in use, which in turn
provides more downlink data for the science – a mutually beneficial
I received the below message from John-WA1ESO that he needs help with the CF bicycle tour on September 19th. I have helped out with this detail for three years in a row. It is a fun event and a good way to help the club out as well. If you can help, send John a email.
Joe K N1IXC
SEMARA’s own public service event, the CF bicycle tour for September 19th, could use a couple more hams with 2-meter capability. The event is based at Westport Vineyards and will have hams stationed between Westport, Tiverton and Little Compton.
TNX & 73
wa1eso [at] juno [dot] com
Brett Smith, AB1RL, Public Service Coordinator for the Boston Amateur Radio Club (BARC) is looking for volunteers for two upcoming public service events. If interested in helping out for either event, email ab1rl [at] brettcsmith [dot] org or call (859) 466-5915.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer. Fall will be here faster than you know it, and with it come more public service opportunities for hams. There are a couple I wanted to let you know about.
The Jimmy Fund Walk on Sunday, September 27. This is an all-day walk along the Boston Marathon route to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Hams provide communications for each medical tent along the route and the sweep vehicles that serve them.
To help out, please write me back with your call sign, phone number(s), available equipment, and t-shirt size. Please also let me know if you have any constraints on your schedule that day—if you can’t start before, or must finish by, a particular time.
The BAA Half-Marathon on Sunday, October 11. This is the BAA’s annual half-marathon along the Emerald Necklace in Boston. Volunteers will need to park at the Roxbury Community College before 6:00 AM to report to their assignments, and will finish in the early afternoon.
To help out, please register as a volunteer on the BAA site. When asked for an assignment preference, make sure you select Ham Radios. You don’t need to join any group.
If you have questions about either event, please feel free to contact me at ab1rl [at] brettcsmith [dot] org, or phone (859) 466 5915. I look forward to hearing you on the air soon!
Brett Smith, AB1RL
Public Service Coordinator, Boston Amateur Radio Club
On June 11, 2015, the amateur radio community lost a well-known media voice, when Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF passed away following a period of illness. Bill was co-founder (with Jim Hendershot, WA6VQP) of Amateur Radio Newsline™ (formerly The Westlink Report) way back in 1976. He was also the originator of the Young Ham of the Year Award. Bill primarily remained behind the scenes, however he was sometimes heard as a reporter on Newsline itself, which airs Sundays at 8:00 PM on the 147.000 repeater. As SEMARA extends its sympathy to Bill’s family, please take a moment to view this video tribute to Bill on the Amateur Radio Newsline™ site.
After an 8 month absence, the SEMARA Repeater Committee has restored 220 MHz service via our brand new BridgeCom Systems ComLink™ BCR-220 repeater! The new repeater went live at 9:05 PM on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Like our 2-meter and 900 MHz repeaters, this repeater resides at our 180-foot tower site and its antenna (temporarily a Comet CX-333 shared with our 2m APRS station) is also atop the tower. Full technical specifications can be found on our repeaters section.
This new unit replaces our old Hi-Pro repeater and uses our existing Bird Technologies/TX RX Systems duplexer that was purchased new by SEMARA in November 2010. Maggiore Electronic Labs which manufactured our old repeater went out of business in the Summer of 2012. Due to a frequency drift problem, it had been off the air since October 2014. At the July 2015 SEMARA business meeting, a motion passed to purchase the new repeater and to sell the old one. There may be an interested local buyer, however if they decide to pass on it, we will place the old unit for auction on eBay.
The new 224.800 MHz repeater runs 30 watts output power as apposed to old one which was 20 watts. The temporary measure of the repeater’s outgoing CTCSS (PL tone) being different to stop desense (the transmitter feeding back into the receiver) is no longer necessary. There is a small amount of desense that still exists due to the sub-par antenna arrangement, however it appears to be mild in our initial tests. The new repeater is running 67.0 Hz for both transmit and receive. If you had set your radio up for a split tone, you will need to reprogram your radio for 67.0 Hz on both encode and decode. For the time being, the new repeater is running on its internal controller, which provides a basic CW ID and a short tail without a courtesy tone.
Future plans on the “to-do list” include interfacing the repeater to our brand new S-COM 7330 controller. This is the same 3-port full-duplex controller we currently use on our 2-meter and 900 MHz repeaters. A completed PiRLP node (IRLP and EchoLink node 4215/W1AEC-L) and UHF Motorola GM300 link radio are ready to be interfaced to this new controller as well. When that happens, we plan to have this 220 MHz repeater full-time linked into the Quahog Repeater Network (QRN) via the link radio to the North Providence hub.
The repeater committee also recommends that the club approve the purchase of a dedicated 220 MHz repeater antenna to be added to the top of our tower. This would be the Sinclair Technologies model SD214 four bay offset dipole. The offset pattern should be east/west to add slightly more gain over the South Coast and less south to the ocean. We should request for it to be black anodized with a lightning spike. This commercial antenna will greatly improve the coverage and will resolve the desense issue that remains. The existing Comet tri-band antenna that is temporarily being used should also remain. It will continue to be used for our 2-meter APRS station and future UHF link radio, plus serve as a auxiliary antenna system for our 2-meter and 220 MHz repeaters should our primaries fail.
On Tuesdays, we plan to setup an automatic scheduler setpoint to separate the repeater from QRN and participate in “220 Tuesdays”. Via IRLP, it will link to the New England Reflector 912 Channel 4 (reflector 9124, the NEAR-220 channel) for the day, where it will be linked with other participating 220 repeaters including the MMRA‘s five 220 repeaters that link through their “HUB2”. 220 Tuesdays is a similar promotion as “900 Thursdays”, which you can also participate on via SEMARA’s 900 repeater. Both 220 Tuesdays and 900 Thursdays are New England-wide promotions to gain awareness and generate activity on the 220 MHz and 900 MHz bands respectively.
Richard J. Cabral, W1RJC
SEMARA Repeater Committee
The 13 Colonies Special Event Station K2H will operate from Tuesday, June 30, 9:00 AM Eastern (1300 UTC) until Sunday Night, July 5th, 24:00 (Midnight) Eastern (0400 UTC July 6th).
Plus two sister stations: WM3PEN and GB13COL.
WM3PEN will operate from Philadelphia, PA, where independence was declared. The 13 Colonies certificate adds a Liberty Bell for a contact. WM3PEN will be on D-STAR each evening from 7-11 PM Eastern Time.
GB13COL will operate from Durham, England and will offer SSB, CW & Digital modes for the event. A Uniion Jack will be added for a contact.
K2H/W1AEC would like to operate both the first and last hours of the event period. We will be operation using a spreadsheet so their will be only one Massachusetts K2H station on the air at the same time using the same band, mode, and hour slot. That’s the easy way to be maximally present.
Any SE Mass station interested in joining K2H/W1AEC, just contact radioevents [at] semara [dot] org.
Kids Day is Sunday, June 21! Sponsored by the ARRL and The Boring (Oregon) Amateur Radio Club, Kids Day is a fantastic way to introduce young people to the magic of Amateur Radio by getting them on the air! Kids Day shares the same date as Father’s Day.
Date: Sunday, June 21, 1800-2359 UTC. Operate as much or as little as you like.
Suggested exchange: Call “CQ Kids Day.” Exchange name, age, location, and favorite color. It’s okay to work the same station again, if an operator has changed.
Suggested frequencies: 28.350 to 28.400 MHz; 24.960 to 24.980 MHz; 21.360 to 21.400 MHz; 18.140 to 18.145 MHz; 14.270 to 14.300 MHz; 7.270 to 7.290 MHz, and 3.740 to 3.940 MHz, as well 2 meter repeaters (with the permission of the repeater’s sponsor).
Control operators: Observe third-party rules when making contacts with stations outside the US.
Participating with your child or grandchild would be a fabulous way to celebrate the special bond between generations. But no matter if you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, family friend, or neighbor, Kids Day is a great opportunity to open the doors of your station and let the youngsters take the “Big Chair.” Let them find stations they hear or work on a map, color in a map of states worked, or help them to build something.
To attract attention call “CQ Kids Day.” The suggested exchange is name, age, location, and favorite color. There is no limit on operating time, and stations may work each other more than once if the operator has changed. Repeater contacts (with permission of the repeater’s sponsor) are okay too, and satellite contacts may provide a real thrill.
All participants are encouraged to post stories and photos to the Kids Day Soapbox page and are eligible to receive a colorful certificate. You can download the free certificate, customized with the youngsters’ names, after filling out the Kids Day Survey found on the same page as the certificate generator. Alternatively, you can send a 9 × 12 SASE to Kids Day Certificate Request, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
WX4NHC, at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, conducts its annual station test on May 30, 2015, 1400 until 2200 UTC (10:00am – 6:00pm EDT). This tests the station equipment, antennas, and computers in preparation for the 2015 hurricane season, June 1 through November 30.
The event provides practice for ham radio operators and National Weather Service (NWS) staff to become familiar with the kinds of Amateur Radio communications available during times of severe weather.
WX4NHC will make brief contacts on various bands and modes, exchanging signal reports and basic weather information, such as “sunny” or “rain,” with any and all stations. WX4NHC will try to stay on the Hurricane Watch Net frequency of 14.325 MHz and announce when they QSY. Locate WX4NHC by using a spotting network, such as DX Summit.
WX4NHC also will be on the VoIP Hurricane Net (VoIP-WX) from 2100 until 2200 UTC and on IRLP node 9219 and EchoLink WX-TALK Conference node 7203.
QSL cards are available via WD4R with an SASE. Do not send cards directly to the National Hurricane Center.