Category Archives: Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio Volunteers Active in Latest Round of California Wildfires

The massive and barely contained Thomas Fire in Southern California has consumed more than 230,500 acres, and the emergency has caused residents in fire-threatened areas to evacuate. Amateur Radio volunteers remain active supporting communication for American Red Cross shelters in Ventura County. More evacuations are likely, although the need for Amateur Radio assistance remains dynamic. Cal Fire said today (December 11) that evacuation operations will occur ahead of westward fire growth, speeded by low humidity and gusty Santa Ana winds, which will push the fire further into Santa Barbara, County. One of several fires that have broken out across Southern California, the Thomas Fire is far and away the largest.

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New Digital Modes Changing Complexion of Bands and Perhaps of Ham Radio

The wave of software-based digital modes over the past several years has altered the atmosphere of the HF bands. Some suggest the popularity of modes that make it possible to contact stations neither operator can even hear has resulted in fewer CW and SSB signals on bands like 6 meters and 160 meters. Traditional modes require far more interaction and effort on the part of the operator; the newer digital modes not so much. The recent advent of the still-beta “quick” FT8 mode, developed by Steve Franke, K9AN, and Joe Taylor, K1JT — the “F” and the “T” in the mode’s moniker — has brought this to a head. Some now wonder if FT8 marks the end of an era and the start of a new, more minimalist age.

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AB-1222 Signed by Governor Brown

Governor Brown approved AB-1222, Vehicles: electronic wireless communications devices, on September 26, 2017.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

Section 23123.5 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

23123.5.

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.

(b) This section shall not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in the vehicle.
(c) A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted pursuant to paragraph (12) of subdivision (b) of Section 26708 or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.
(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.
(d) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.
(e) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.
(f) For the purposes of this section, “electronic wireless communications device” includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, or a pager.

Advisory: Requests for Information from the Public and the Press

Many individuals have loved ones in Puerto Rico and they are understandably hopeful that Amateur Radio operators can relay messages to them. As a result, some are contacting amateurs with requests to pass message traffic to the island.

At the same time, individual amateurs and clubs have reported that local press representatives have contacted them to request information about Amateur Radio involvement in Puerto Rico. This is likely to increase as word spreads in the national media about our activities.

For inquiries from the public, ARRL advises that these individuals should be informed that amateurs traveling to the island to support the American Red Cross effort will be tasked with handling outbound traffic only. With that in mind, members of the public should access the American Red Cross Safe and Well System online at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php. Status information from friends and relatives in Puerto Rico will be entered into the system as it arrives from amateurs stationed there.

For press inquiries, please ask reporters to contact ARRL directly at newsmedia@arrl.org.  A system has been established at ARRL Headquarters to respond to press inquiries in a timely and accurate manner.

Caribbean Emergency Weather Net Activates; FEMA Announces Interoperability Nets

Jeff Austin, 9Y4J, Emergency Coordinator Advisory Group, IARU Region 2, Area E, reports that the Caribbean Emergency Weather Net (CEWN), activated at 1030 UTC on 3.815 MHz. The net will use 3.815 and/or 7.188 MHz as propagation dictates. The CEWN will provide 24-hour coverage during the passage of Hurricane Maria and in the storm’s immediate wake, in case there is a need to pass health-and-welfare traffic.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will activate 60-meter interoperability nets on September 19 for Hurricane Maria. These and will remain active until the storm has passed and the need for these nets no longer exists.

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FCC Opens 630- and 2200-Meter Bands; Stations Must Notify UTC Before Operating

The FCC has announced that the Office of Management and Budget has approved, for 3 years, the information-collection requirement of the Commission’s March 29 Report and Order (R&O) that spelled out Amateur Radio service rules for the two new bands — 630 meters and 2200 meters. Notice of the action appears in today’s edition of the Federal Register. Before using either band, stations must notify the Utilities Technology Council (UTC), formerly the Utilities Telecom Council, that they plan to do so, and if UTC does not respond within 30 days, they may commence operation.

Last March 27, the FCC adopted the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) implementation Report and Order (ET Docket 15-99), amending its Amateur Radio rules to — in the FCC’s words — “provide for frequency-sharing requirements in the 135.7-137.8 kHz (2200-meter) and 472-479 kHz (630-meter) bands.”

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Not All “Intruders” on Ham Bands are Illegal — But a Lot of Them Are

The monthly newsletter of the International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 Monitoring Service (IARUMS) typically makes for some interesting reading. While the reports that come from more than two dozen contributors in Europe and Africa can be a bit visually dense, the content conveys the impression that that there are myriad intruders on the Amateur Radio bands. However, not all of them are illegal, as IARUMS points out, but a lot of the signals heard are not supposed to be where they were monitored. The individual reports can be a bit humorous too.

“Get the grub, and I’ll talk to you later this evening,” was a snippet of a conversation between two fishermen — identified as Mick and Jack — that an Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) monitor overheard on 3.570 MHz and reported to the IARUMS. The IRTS said the chatter was accompanied on both sides by “loud motor noise,” and, if that were not sufficient detail, it pointed out that both men had Galway accents. Intruding signals from fishing crews throughout IARU Region 1 are commonplace.

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AB 1222 Heads to Governor’s Desk

AB1222 was enrolled and presented to the Governor at 3 p.m. on September 7, 2017.
An act to amend Section 23123.5 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.



LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1222, Quirk. Vehicles: electronic wireless communications devices.
Existing law makes it a crime to drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device, as specified. Existing law defines an electronic wireless communications device as including, but not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, a specialized mobile radio device, a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, a pager, or a two-way messaging device.
This bill would remove a specialized mobile radio device and a two-way messaging device from the list of devices specifically included as an electronic wireless communications device.

DIGEST KEY

Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: no  

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FCC Technological Advisory Council Investigating Technical Regulations

The FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC) is looking into FCC technical regulations to determine if reforms or changes might be in order. Greg Lapin, N9GL, represents ARRL on the TAC and chairs the ARRL RF Safety Committee. The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) announced the TAC public inquiry (ET Docket 17-215), which seeks comments by October 30 regarding technical regulations and the process for adopting and updating them.

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