Gulf Coast States Brace for Hurricane Nate; Hurricane Watch Net May Activate

Now a Category 1 storm, Hurricane Nate is continuing to move rapidly over the central Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported early today. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) is closely monitoring and has announced plans for a possible net activation later today on 14.265 MHz (and/or 7.268 MHz). The net now is at Alert Level 3, standby mode.

As of 0900 UTC, Hurricane Nate was some 345 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with maximum sustained winds of 80 MPH. The hurricane is moving north-northwest at a brisk 22 MPH.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Grand Isle Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border, and for metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The NHC said hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours and urged that “preparations to protect life and property be rushed to completion.”

In addition to high winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall are likely to accompany Hurricane Nate.

Amateur Radio Net Active for Tropical Storm Nate, the Latest Atlantic Storm Threat

[UPDATED 2017-10-05 @ 1742 UTC] Tropical Storm Nate is now threatening to dump “flooding rains” over portions of Central America, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm’s center is now moving across northeastern Nicaragua. The storm has caused heavy rain and flooding in Central America.

An Amateur Radio emergency net has been activated in Costa Rica. Amateurs not involved in the storm emergency are asked to give a wide berth. The frequencies that may be used are 3.752 MHz, 7.242 MHz, and 14.302 MHz. The 40-meter frequency is identified as the main HF band for traffic.

Continue reading Amateur Radio Net Active for Tropical Storm Nate, the Latest Atlantic Storm Threat

US Senate Confirms FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for a Second Term


In a mostly party-line vote, the US Senate on October 2 confirmed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for a second term on the Commission. Pai would have had to leave the FCC at the end of the year, had he not been reconfirmed.

President Donald Trump nominated Pai for a new term in January; his previous term as a commissioner had expired on July 1, 2016, and his new term is retroactive to that date. FCC rules permitted him to remain until the end of 2016.

The final tally was 52-41, although he picked up votes from four Democratic senators.

“I am deeply grateful to the US Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate,” Pai said in a statement. “Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent. With today’s vote, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance these critical priorities in the time to come.”

Pai has primarily drawn fire for his opposition to so-called “net neutrality” rules. All five members of the FCC must be confirmed by the Senate, but the president chooses which will serve as the chairman.

The Doctor Will See You Now!

“Soldering and Unsoldering” is the topic of the latest (September 28) episode of the “ARRL The Doctor is In” podcast. Listen…and learn!

Sponsored by DX Engineering, “ARRL The Doctor is In” is an informative discussion of all things technical. Listen on your computer, tablet, or smartphone — whenever and wherever you like!

Every 2 weeks, your host, QST Editor-in-Chief Steve Ford, WB8IMY, and the Doctor himself, Joel Hallas, W1ZR, will discuss a broad range of technical topics. You can also e-mail your questions to doctor@arrl.org, and the Doctor may answer them in a future podcast.

Continue reading The Doctor Will See You Now!

Applicants Must Use FCC Form 605 with “Felony Question,” Starting on September 7

In an August 7 Public Notice, the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) announced formally that FCC Form 605, Quick-Form Application for Authorization in the Ship, Aircraft, Amateur, Restricted and Commercial Operator, and General Mobile Radio Services, now will ask whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony. The FCC said this revision is “consistent with application forms for other Commission services.” The new FCC Form 605 must be used on and after September 7, 2017; the current Form 605 will become obsolete and no longer will be accepted. The change applies to both paper and electronic applications.

“This information enables the Commission to determine whether an applicant is eligible under Section 308(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to hold a station license,” the WTB said in explaining the need for a revised Form 605. “In assessing character qualifications, the Commission considers felony convictions… [and] any conviction provides an indication of an applicant’s or licensee’s propensity to obey the law.”

Continue reading Applicants Must Use FCC Form 605 with “Felony Question,” Starting on September 7

Past QCWA General Manager, Former ARRL Staffer Jim LaPorta, N1CC, SK

James “Jim” LaPorta, N1CC, of Frankston, Texas, died on September 20. He was 76. He was an ARRL and Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) Life Member. LaPorta served as QCWA General Manager from March until December 2012.

First licensed in 1956 as KN6SXX, LaPorta joined the US Army after high school and then went to work for the Army as a civilian in 1968 in Texas. While in Texas, he served a president of the Dallas Amateur Radio Club (1970-1972) and was a member of the Richardson Wireless Klub. He also presented ham radio classes, and one of his students was Jim Haynie, W5JBP (SK), who later served as ARRL President.

Attending college full time in the evenings, LaPorta formed the Amateur Radio Society at the University of Texas at Dallas. He graduated in 1977, while working for the US Veterans Administration as its campus representative.

In 1978 and 1979, LaPorta served on the ARRL Headquarters staff. Later he was the Training Supervisor for Product Information at General DataComm for 3 years, before starting a 17-year career with Motorola. After retirement, he was an independent insurance representative.

Continue reading Past QCWA General Manager, Former ARRL Staffer Jim LaPorta, N1CC, SK

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: The past week was a good one for HF propagation. Average daily sunspot numbers doubled from the previous week, rising from 13.6 to 27, while average daily solar flux rose from 72.6 to 84.3. Average daily geomagnetic numbers were lower, with average planetary A index declining from 21.1 to 9.9 and average daily mid-latitude A index from 17.1 to 7.6. Last Friday was the autumnal equinox, so we should see a seasonal improvement in HF conditions.

Predicted solar flux is 91 on September 28-October 1; 88 on October 2-4; 90, 95, 90, 85, 76, 75, 74, and 73 on October 5-12; 72 on October 12-15; 71, 74, 73, 78, 80, 87; and 90 on October 16-22; 95 on October 23-November 2; 90, 85, 76, 75, 74, and 73 on November 3-8, and 72 on November 9-11.

Predicted planetary A index is 32, 26, 14, 12, and 6 on September 28-October 2; 5 on October 3-10; 25 on October 11-13; 20 and 15 on October 14-15; 8 on October 16-17; 5 on October 18-21; 16, 8, 20, 25, 20, 10, and 8 on October 22-28; 5 on October 29-November 6; 25 on November 7-9, and 20 and 15 on November 10-11.

Sunspot numbers for September 21-27, 2017 were 22, 22, 12, 22, 36, 40, and 35, with a mean of 13.6. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 73, 77.5, 81.2, 86.9, 89.9, 90.7, and 91, with a mean of 72.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 5, 5, 6, 5, 4, and 37, with a mean of 21.1. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 7, 5, 4, 5, 5, 3, and 24, with a mean of 17.1.

IARU Administrative Council Considers New Radio Spectrum Pollution Threat

The Administrative Council (AC) of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) believes high-power wireless power transfer (WPT) for electric vehicles has significant potential to interfere with radio communication. That assessment came as the AC met on September 15 and 16 in Landshut, Germany, immediately prior to the IARU Region 1 Conference, to review its priorities and positions with regard to the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19). Conference Agenda Item 9.1.6 would call for studies in advance of WRC-23 to assess the impact of WPT for electric vehicles on radiocommunication services and to study suitable harmonized frequency ranges to minimize its impact. The AC determined that addressing the threat requires an increased commitment of resources by potentially affected radiocommunication services, including Amateur Radio.

The WPT issue came up earlier this month at the meeting of CEPT WRC Project Team D, held in Vilnius, Lithuania, the week of September 11. At that gathering, IARU addressed the impact of spurious emissions from proposed high-power WPT systems for electric vehicles.

As the ITU explained in its August 2016 report, “Applications of wireless power transmission via radio frequency beam,” WPT technology is considered a game-changer. “We will be able to become free from lacking electric power when electric power will be supplied wirelessly,” the report said. WPT vehicle applications typically use frequencies in the LF and MF range.

Continue reading IARU Administrative Council Considers New Radio Spectrum Pollution Threat

JOTA 2017 Organizers Urge Scout Stations to Register Now

Scouting’s Jamboree on the Air/Jamboree on the Internet (JOTA/JOTI) event takes place over the October 20 – 22 weekend, and organizers are urging Scout stations planning to participate to register now. The world JOTA-JOTI Team has activated its online sign-up system. This year’s event will be the 60th Jamboree on the Air.

“Our number one message at this time is to register their station and get ready for JOTA,” JOTA Coordinator Jim Wilson, K5ND, told ARRL. “It’s time for Scout groups to bring together their open action items — ordering patches, printing handouts, gathering equipment, reminding staff members, verifying location, and getting the word out to the Scouts to be prepared for a fabulous experience talking with other Scouts across the country and hopefully around the world.”

Continue reading JOTA 2017 Organizers Urge Scout Stations to Register Now

Reports of Hurricane Devastation on Dominica Relayed by Amateur Radio, Picked up by Media


[This updates a report posted earlier.]
 In the immediate aftermath of then-Category 5 Hurricane Maria’s passage over Dominica on Monday, Frans van Santbrink, J69DS, on St. Lucia checked into the VoIP Hurricane Net to relay damage reports he’d gathered via repeater conversations with other hams there. The New York Times also reported and posted audio that Amateur Radio was a primary source to gather initial damage reports from the storm-ravaged Caribbean Island nation of some 70,000 residents. US-based Julian Antoine, J73JA, solicited reports via a VoIP connection with the J73MAN repeater on Dominica.

 

“All power lines are down, our telephone lines are down, Internet lines, everything is down,” came a reply to Antoine’s inquiry. “Roads are blocked with debris. No confirmed information on fatalities or injuries.”

What seems to be a subsequent responder reported, “Lots of flooding, water coming into windows and doors,” while another indicated that while he was “nice and dry now,” he had lost his roof and was at a shelter. “From what I’ve seen so far, it’s pretty bad,” another report stated. The same responder said he could see some landslides too, along with broken trees and utility poles. “It’s just damage all over,” concluded the report, apparently from J73CC.

VoIP Hurricane Net Operations Director Rob Macedo, KD1CY, told ARRL that he recorded the audio that the New York Times used on Tuesday while he was monitoring the J62DX-L link on EchoLink.

In his report to the VoIP Hurricane Net, van Santbrink recounted a damage account from Kerry Fevrier, J69YH, in Roseau, Dominica. “Trees down, river has flooded half the village, cars are all over, most houses have lost their roofs or are destroyed, the area between his house and the church is just flattened…in his words, ‘devastation is total,’” van Santbrink told the net.

He also heard from J73CI, who has lost his roof; J73WA on the northern end of the island, who lost his tower and was uncertain how he was going to weather the back end of the storm, and J73MH, who also lost his roof and was “just hunkering down and hoping for the best.” — Thanks to the VoIP Hurricane Net; New York Times