Andy’s Ham Radio Linux Software Update, Version 24e

linux penguin logoAndy Stewart, KB1OIQ, writes on the PART of Westford mailing list:

I have just released version 24e of the “Andy’s Ham Radio Linux” software collection.  This is the 20th release since I started this work in 2011.  There are quite a few new pieces of software, as well as all of the other programs to which you’ve become accustomed.

To learn more: https://sourceforge.net/projects/kb1oiq-andysham/

Have fun and 73!

ARRL Responds to Story of Radio Amateur Told to Remove His Antenna

From ARRL Web:

09/02/2021 – ARRL has responded to an Orlando, Florida, news story on August 23, 2021 by WFTV Channel 9 alleging a radio amateur was told to remove his antenna by the management of his subdivision following a complaint made by a neighbor.

“The news story appears to stem from a 2-year-old complaint from a neighbor who believed her insulin pump had malfunctioned due to the radio amateur’s operations ‘a few doors down,’” said ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI. “The story is lacking any details or timeline, so I contacted the radio amateur involved for information, and volunteered ARRL’s assistance.”

Hare explained that medical devices such as insulin pumps are regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) purposes and are expected to be capable of operating in all the RF environments likely to be encountered by consumers. FDA published guidance for its staff and industry defines EMC with respect to electrically powered medical devices “as the ability of a device to function safely and effectively in its intended electromagnetic environment, including immunity to electromagnetic disturbance (interference).” FDA review of EMC information submitted with a device for approval “is based on the risk associated with EMC malfunction or degradation of the device under review, as well as the use of appropriate FDA-recognized standards or appropriate consensus standards.”

Hare noted there is an FDA recall for the model number of the insulin pump in question, in approximately the same time frame. “But with so few details, there is no way of knowing whether that recall applies to the serial number used or whether the exact unit has the mechanical defect indicated in the recall notice that could cause the malfunction,” explained Hare.

It also became apparent that there is no actual evidence connecting the amateur’s transmissions to operation of the insulin pump. Hare was told that the amateur agreed to run tests to establish whether there was a cause and effect, but the neighbor declined. 

Hare commented, “While there are no requirements for a radio amateur to stop transmitting due to alleged interference to a non-radio device, the preferred path with any complaint is for neighbors to work together.”

 

New England Sci-Tech QRV on WSPR

New England Sci Tech logoDerek Rowell, AK1WI, writes in the Sci-Tech ARS newsletter:

As promised last week, I have installed one of the New England Sci-Tech (NEST) WSPR (“Weak Signal Propagation Reporter”) beacons in the Radio Room and have had it running since on 80m, 40m, 20m, and 15m using the OCF dipole during periods when the room has been idle. My plan is to build filters for the other bands that are covered by the OCF (17m, 12m, 10m), one per day, and have them available later this week.

The results so far have been excellent. On separate days both 20m and 40m have had over 300 unique spots over a 24 hour period. (For those unfamiliar with WSPR jargon a “spot” is a report of a beacon being heard, and a “unique spot” is the first report from an individual reporting station) We were heard from Central Europe, South America, Antarctica, across the US, and down through the South Pacific.
 
The map shows the 306 unique spots on 40m over 24 hours on July 30. The results from 20m look very similar. We are still collecting initial data on 80m and 15m.
 
Last year we distributed 21 kits for the WSPR beacon and had two kit building sessions at NEST before Covid shut us down. Right now I am out of parts and cannot supply additional kits. However, if there is interest, I am willing to gear up and hold additional in-person building sessions at NEST. The parts cost is approximately $50 for the complete kit. This is a kit that can be assembled by first-time kit builders with no soldering experience, and takes about one morning to build the PCB and another shorter session to build a filter for a particular band and do some on-air testing.
 
After the this week’s meeting I’ll be available in the Sci-Tech ARS Radio Room to demonstrate the unit and discuss what’s involved in building it. For those attending by Zoom, I’ll set up a groups.io discussion (with hashtag #WSPR) where interested folks can chat about the project.
 

Derek, AK1WI 

World Map showing New England Sci-Tech WSPR spots

W1IS & KC1DSQ Write Another Antenna Article

PART of Westford President George Allison, K1IG, writes on the PART mailing list:

The dynamic duo of PART member Bob, W1IS, and Bob, KC1DSQ, have another article published in CQ Magazine. In the May 2021 issue is their article titled “A New Design of a 40-6 Meter Off-Center-Fed Dipole,” that describes a dipole antenna covering the 40, 20, 15, 10, and 6-meter bands. 

Reminder: The two Bobs wrote an antenna article that was published in the June issue of QST, and voting is still open for the cover plaque award. ARRL members can vote for their favorite article.  

Sturdy Repeater Returns to the Air

Sturdy Memorial Hospital ARCRay Cord, K2TGX, writes on the Sturdy Memorial Hospital ARC mailing list:

Just to let you know that the K1SMH 147.195 Sturdy Memorial Hospital repeater has returned to the air as of about 1330 today [March 28, 2021] thanks to the efforts of: Pierre Guimond, N1EZT; John Bellissimo, KA1EWN; Steve, N1LEO and Bill, WB1DJM. Bill rebuilt the Super StationMaster that the repeater is now using while the damaged JAG 4 element folded dipole array was rebuilt from the damage it received in the tower fold-over. We lost about five feet in elevation and we are on a different antenna so you may notice some difference in coverage on the fringes.

It is good to get it back on the air and hope to hear activity soon. If I missed anyone who helped in this endeavor, please accept our thanks.

73,
Ray K2TGX
Secretary/Treasurer
SMHARC

Topsfield Repeater Refurbished and QRV

Warren Rothberg, W4WR/1 (ex-WB1HBB) writes:

The Pocahontas Radio Club (an informal group of old and new friends) and the owners and trustees (N1HSY and N1HOW) are pleased to announce that the Topsfield MA repeater (147.285 PL 100.0) has been completely rebuilt with a new tower, new antenna, new hardline, new weatherproof repeater enclosure and refurbished or replaced electronics. The “Pokeys” hold a ragchew net 7 days a week at 0830 EDT and all are welcome to join in at any time to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. Special thanks to Doug, N1LHP, and his many friends for their tireless work.

[Warren is a former Section Manager of New Hampshire, and a former New England Division Vice Director.]

RF Exposure Rules Presentation Video Recording

screen grab from RF Exposure PresentationMany amateurs have requested a recording of the RF Exposure Rules presentation featuring Eastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN on May 4, 2021.  ARRL Laboratory Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI also participated in the call, fielding questions from the audience.

The presentation can be viewed at: <https://youtu.be/7dSieKF3rm0>. 

[See also: Additional RF Exposure Rules Presentation, May 4, 2021]

Additional RF Exposure Rules Presentation, May 4, 2021

Dan Brown, W1DANEastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, will hold another presentation addressing the new FCC RF exposure rules on May 4 at 7:30 PM using the ARRL GoToWebinar platform. 

His April 27 talk was a hugely successful–a maximum number of 100 connections for the call was reached just as the discussion started. The GoToWebinar has a much higher limit and should accommodate all who are interested.  ARRL Laboratory Manger Ed Hare, W1RFI, will serve as Technical Moderator on the call.

To sign up for the presentation, visit:

Tech Support: (833) 851-8340
 

RF Exposure Rules Discussion Video Posted to Internet

Dan Brown, W1DANThe April 27, 2021 RF Exposure Rules Zoom Discussion by Eastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, has been posted to the Eastern MA ARRL website at: <https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_qIGZhHyMrha-axJt87Dcu0UZuJO0t8F>. 

The discussion was a huge hit. The maximum number of 100 connections for the call was reached just as the discussion started; many late arrivals were disappointed to be turned away, but W1DAN plans to hold at least one additional online discussion before the May 3 deadline using a larger “Zoom room.” 

Watch this space for details. 

AK1WI: “Adventures in Home Brew SDR Design” at New England Sci-Tech ARS, April 27, 2021

AK1WI homebrew SDR radioAK1WI will present “Adventures in Home Brew SDR Design” at the New England Sci-Tech Amateur Radio Society on April 27, 2021 at 7:00 PM. 

In this talk, Derek will describe his multi-year project to develop the hardware and software for a stand-alone SDR system using the “Teensy” family of microcontrollers from PJRC.  In particular, it uses the Teensy Audio Library structure, hence its name “AudioSDR.”   The software is now freely available from GitHub.

Derek will describe the origins of the project from a graduate course he was teaching in 2010, and how it was not initially intended for ham radio, but rather as an exercise in applied DSP (digital signal processing).   He will describe in very broad terms the structure and operation of the system.    Math will be kept at a minimum. 

The talk will also cover the associated hardware for the RF front-end and the LCD display, as well as how the system is controlled, and the software structure for the Teensy Audio Library coding.   We will look at (extremely) over-simplified seudo-code to demonstrate concepts of real-time software.  We will write such code for an SDR version of the humble crystal-set – the simplest of all radios.

Derek will also discuss current developments and future enhancements for AudioSDR, including the addition of a transmit function to make it a true transceiver. 

If feasible we will have a demonstration of the operation, or at a minimum, pre-recorded sound clips of the output.

New FCC RF Exposure Rules Discussion via Zoom, April 27, 2021

FCC logoEastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, writes:

QST!

The new FCC RF exposure rules become effective May 3, but do not fret! I will explain what we should do. Please forward this invite to anyone you may think is interested.

Dan
W1DAN
EMA-ARRL Technical Coordinator

Dan Brown is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: RF Exposure
Time: Apr 27, 2021 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/98941600273?pwd=TDc2Mjd4NldWdjBtdzlwY0JGRjhkZz09

Meeting ID: 989 4160 0273
Passcode: 134832
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,98941600273#,,,,*134832# US (New York)
+13017158592,,98941600273#,,,,*134832# US (Washington DC)

Dial by your location
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

Meeting ID: 989 4160 0273
Passcode: 134832
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/abXuYdDvqm

Tape Measure Antenna Build at Bristol County RA, May 1, 2021

Fall River ARC bannerThe Bristol County Repeater Association  / Fall River ARC will conduct a tape measure antenna build party on May 1, 2021 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at the South Swansea Baptist Church in Swansea.  The club asks for $20.00 to cover materials. They will supply the tape measures, 1/2″ PVC pipe and fittings, clamps, and a connection for your radio.

For more information visit the club web site at <https://bcra.club/bcrawprel/2021/04/06/fox-hunting-antenna-build/>.

Update on MIT Radome Project, March 2021

From the MIT Radio Society website:

Our perseverance is beginning to pay off! After much discussion and collaboration with MIT Facilities and various contractor groups involved in the Green Building renovations project, we have completed an initial design and project cost for the renewal of our Large Radome.

MIT has informed us that, if we raise $1.9 million before May 1st, 2021, the restoration of the radome can be included in the Green Building renovation project. While this is an enormous challenge, we believe it is not insurmountable.

We have already raised a part of this in the process of our overall station renovation fundraising drive, and there is additional interest in this project across MIT — from Physics’ J-Lab, to AeroAstro’s Small Sat Center and STAR Lab.

If we can raise this, we can ensure that this historic radome can continue to serve the MIT Radio Society and the MIT community overall. With your support, we can safeguard this treasure. [Full story] [See also: MIT Radio Society Update: Station Renewal and COVID Response]

Request for Assistance: Two Meter Interference, Hudson MA

Bob Glorioso, W1IS, writes on NE Mass Fox Hunters list on Mar 11, 2021 at 6:06 AM:

W. Middlesex ARES uses 147.435 MHz with 110.9 Hz tone simplex for our net and emergency calling frequency.   When the local Fire Dept. moved to a new building and left the tower in the center of town for Fire and Police repeaters, we were stuck with a 2M antenna at 90 ft but no place for a rig.  We worked with Fire Chief Landry and shared the expense of putting a new antenna and remote base in the equipment shack at the base of the tower that has automatic power back-up.  Its input is on 70 cm..

Interference from a strong intermittent broadband signal started on 147.439 MHz late last year. It is dead full quieting into our remote base on 147.435 and wipes out direct calls on 147.435 around town. The base only comes on when someone with the right tone triggers it but, if the noise comes on, many of the handheld stations around town are wiped out.  I found it was strong near the Intel plant in Hudson by driving around when it was on.  Early in January it went off and, unfortunately, came back on yesterday right after our monthly net.  I heard it today coming back from getting our Covid shots at Gillett when we got to Hopkinton on 495.

Any assistance locating and silencing this noise will be appreciated.

Thanks & 73,
Bob W1IS
EC Stow

WØMXX Experimenting With Weather Balloons

Shoebox containing W0MXX balloon payloadfrom WickedLocal.com:

Ten-year-old amateur radio operator Max Kendall is having a blast with his latest weather balloon project. The Medway youth has been constructing a balloon payload around a Raspberry Pi computer and camera. The microcomputer he’s programming will collect atmospheric data, and convert the temperature values to the Fahrenheit scale “because I have a better feel for Fahrenheit than Celsius.”

A fourth-grader at the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School in Franklin, Max spends many hours of his free time preparing for a spring launch of his very own weather balloon. He launched his first weather balloon from a field in Agawam, predicting it would eventually land many miles to the east in or near Halifax. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get the balloon airborne using party balloon helium purchased at Target, the apparatus went aloft but soon afterward, the tracker stopped sending signals. Max suspects it went too far out of his limited range  or “may have frozen as it drifted higher” despite the disposable hand warmer he placed in the box with it.
 
Max has founded the Medway Balloon Society, a club for youths and families who meet online and “share messages, files, chats, text messages and voice and video calls.” When the club has enough local members, he plans to hold in-person meetings and launches. Max’s mother, Jennifer Kendall, says Max is working with the Medway Public Library’s Makerspace coordinator, Diane Busa, to find interested individuals and families to participate.
 
“He would just love to have more people in the area to collaborate with him on weather balloons.” She adds, “there is just so much to love about them–the engineering and coding needed in building them, the thrill of the launch, and the adrenaline rushing when you attempt to recover them after the launch.”
 
In hopes of avoiding the same loss of contact with his second balloon that he experienced with his first,  Max studied online and earned an FCC General class amateur radio license.  His callsign is WØMXX. With his amateur radio privileges he hopes to track his second balloon and retrieve its data and images via ham radio. He’s currently studying to earn his Amateur Extra license.
 

Max is focusing on his next weather balloon. He thinks it will be ready for launch later this month, or in April. 

 
“The highest weather balloon went up 140,000 feet,” Max says. “My goal is 100,000 feet. That’s just about 63,000 feet short of the top of the earth’s stratosphere.”
 

For details about Max’s first weather balloon project, visit  https://maxkendall.wixsite.com/home/post/first-weather-balloon.

 

ARISS SuitSat-1 Experiment is the Star in this Haunting New Sci-Fi Video, “Decommissioned”

screenshot from the short sci-fi movie "Decommissioned"Most of you will remember SuitSat. In 2006, the ARISS team managed to acquire a Russian spacesuit with an expired expiration date that would have just been thrown overboard to burn up. ARISS designed and built an antenna and radio gear that was approved for installation into the suit and the whole shebang got deployed by a cosmonaut and Commander Bill McArthur, KC5ACR at the start of a spacewalk.
 
It transmitted a lot during its short life. After the ARISS engineers figured SuitSat-1’s orbit and spin characteristics, they knew the legs and arms would have to be filled with something, so they asked the crew to stuff dirty laundry inside. That’s just what they did.
 
Here’s a small part of what Rick Lindquist’s ARRL story said about SuitSat-1  (http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter?issue=2006-02-03):  
 

“The Amateur Radio community, students, scanner enthusiasts, space fans and others have been eagerly awaiting the launch of the most novel satellite ever to orbit Earth. SuitSat-1 will transmit its voice message “This is SuitSat-1 RS0RS!” in several languages plus telemetry and an SSTV image on an eight-minute cycle as it orbits Earth. The three batteries powering the satellite are expected to last about a week, and SuitSat-1 should re-enter Earth’s atmosphere after several weeks of circling the globe. and  SuitSat-1 has piqued the imagination of the news media over the past couple of weeks. In addition to articles in The New York Times, the Houston Chronicle and Associated Press, National Public Radio, Fox News, CNN, Readers Digest, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, MSNBC and others also produced broadcast or cable news reports. A magazine article is set to appear in Aviation Week and Space Technology.”

 
Well, SuitSat is back! It’s featured in an eerie, six-minute sci-fi short, “Decommissioned.” The  video can be viewed at

https://io9.gizmodo.com/an-astronaut-has-an-unwelcome-and-possibly-undead-visit-1846085578.

-Thanks, Rosalie White, K1STO, ARRL ARISS US Delegate

WK4 – Winlink Radio Soundcard Interface Workshop, August 13, 2020

Please plan to attend the Thursday, August  13 ARES Zoom session. 

9:00 PM AST / 9:00 PM EDT / 8:00 PM CT / 7:00 PM MDT / 6:00 PM PDT / 5:00 PM AKDT / 3:00 PM HST

Topic: WK4 – Winlink Radio Soundcard Interface 
Speaker:  Kevin Custer W3KKC

Thursday’s meeting will be OPEN for all to attend. Please feel free to invite others. Please note that we have a Zoom participate limitation of 500.  Let us know if you can’t get in so that we can send you the video link. 

  • This meeting will be recorded. By participating you consent to being recorded. 
  • Please change your display name to Your FirstName, CallSign and Location, e.g. Dan K7REX Idaho
  • Please stay muted until ready to speak. Your space bar works like a PTT for unmuting
  • To be fair to everyone, there will be a three minute limit for each person during Q & A
  • You may ask questions in chat; please stay on topic while using chat.  

[For Zoom conference details, email Tom Walsh, K1TW at k1tw@arrl.org or Phil Temples, K9HI, at k9hi@arrl.org.]

Power Line Noise Resource at National Grid

John Salmi, KB1MGI, writes on the PART of Westford mailing list:

I have had a S-9+ power line noise on my VHF beams on 2 meters and 6 meters along with my HF vertical antenna during the dry spells this spring and summer. When it rained the noise reduced or stopped all together. I traced it down to a pole 200 feet from my QTH.

I called National Grid a week or so ago about the issue. This morning a National Grid Senior Engineer from the Engineering Laboratory NE Lab & Testing services from Worcester stopped by.  The first thing he said was, I wish it did not rain this morning.
 
I invited him into the shack and there was no noise. He said he went to the pole in question and could not pick up the noise, either.
 
He was going to send out a crew to check the connections and replace fuses, etc. He said they run into these issues from hams and knows what causes the noise on the radios.
 
I got his card and will call him in two weeks to see if the noise is gone.