Radio amateurs in Cuba are scrutinizing and debating the details of new Amateur Radio regulations for the island nation. The Cuban Ministry of Communications adopted the new regulatory scheme on February 28. International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 (IARU-R2) posted the new Amateur Radio Service regulations (in Spanish) as a PDF.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) reports it has met a major milestone and now is “one giant step” closer to flying its new interoperable radio system to the International Space Station. Eventual plans call for installing a new JVC Kenwood TM-D710GA-based radio system on the station as part of an overall approach that will allow greater interoperability between the Columbus module and the Russian Service Module.
ARRL is recommending that Amateur Radio be specifically excluded from a California statute prohibiting the use of “wireless communication devices” while driving. ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Marty Woll, N6VI, is taking point on the effort to revise the statute, known by its legislative bill number AB 1785. It was signed into law last September, and it took effect on January 1, amending §23123.5 of the state’s Vehicle Code.
Sacramento Valley ARES Section Emergency Coordinator Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, reports that Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers are now actively involved in supporting communication for the evacuation and sheltering of nearly 200,000 people living below the damaged Oroville Dam in rural California. The dam, on the Feather River east of Oroville, is the tallest in the US. Following a period of heavy rain, a section of the earthfill-embankment dam’s spillway eroded, and authorities issued an evacuation order for residents living below the dam, in case it should fail. Crews have been attempting to fill the eroded area with rock transported by helicopter.
The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Gakona, Alaska, will soon undertake its first scientific research campaigns since the facility was taken over by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Geophysical Institute 18 months ago. Among the investigators is UAF Researcher Chris Fallen, KL3WX, who will be working under a National Science Foundation grant, “RAPID: Spatiotemporal Evolution of Radio-Induced Aurora.” Fallen says the HAARP transmissions will take place within the facility’s transmitter tuning range of 2.7 to 10 MHz and should be audible outside of Alaska and may even produce visible effects within the state.
The International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Monitoring System (IARUMS) newsletter reports a mysterious “foghorn” — a Chinese over-the-horizon (OTH) burst radar — is operating in Amateur Radio bands.
“We observed the mysterious foghorn on 7, 10, and 14 MHz,” the newsletter recounted. “This is a Chinese OTH radar, which is often jumping, and sounding like a foghorn.” The signal is frequency modulation on pulse (FMOP) with 66.66 sweeps-per-second bursts.
The ARRL Board of Directors has unanimously adopted five legislative objectives for the 115th US Congress. The Board took the action when it met in Connecticut January 20-21. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, chaired the session.
The first objective is to seek early congressional passage of the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, H.R. 555 and of any Senate companion bill that might be introduced. H.R. 555 cleared the House on January 23. The Board was told that specific instructions to the FCC on implementation of the bill would be included in the report language from Congress.
Just 10 days after being introduced, the 2017 Amateur Radio Parity Act legislation, H.R. 555, passed the U.S. House of Representatives this week on unanimous consent under a suspension of House rules. The bill’s language is identical to that of the 2015 measure, H.R. 1301, which won House approval late last summer after attracting 126 co-sponsors, but failed to clear the U.S. Senate last fall as the 114th Congress wound down. The new bill, again sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), was introduced on January 13 with initial co-sponsorship by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), who chairs the influential House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Several CubeSats carrying Amateur Radio payloads were placed into orbit on January 16 from the International Space Station (ISS). Six CubeSats delivered to the ISS in December were deployed from the Kibo airlock using the new JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD).
The FCC has turned down two petitions filed in 2016, each seeking similar changes in the Part 97 Amateur Service rules. James Edwin Whedbee, N0ECN, of Gladstone, Missouri, had asked the Commission to amend the rules to reduce the number of Amateur Radio operator classes to Technician, General, and Amateur Extra by merging remaining Novice class licensees into the Technician class and all Advanced class licensees into the Amateur Extra class. In a somewhat related petition, Jeffrey H. Siegell, WB2YRL, of Burke, Virginia, had requested that the FCC grant Advanced class license holders Morse code operating privileges equivalent to those enjoyed by Amateur Extra class licensees.