FCC and OSHA Release Communications Tower Best Practices Guide

The FCC and OSHA have announced the release of a free publication, Communications Tower Best Practices Guide. While aimed more at those who tend commercial communication towers, the guide offers guidance applicable to the Amateur Radio community and contractors working on Amateur Radio antenna support structures. The FCC said the guide was a result of two tower safety workshops.

“Recognizing the risks that tower employees face, OSHA and the FCC held a workshop on communication tower employee safety on October 14, 2014,” the new guide explains. “During this workshop, industry stakeholders, along with employee safety advocates and the families of communication tower employees who had been killed on the job, gathered to discuss issues affecting the safety of communication tower employees.”

A second workshop followed in February 2016, during which a panel of industry stakeholders and advocates discussed best practices that could reduce injuries and fatalities among tower workers. “This document is a collection of the best practices gathered from those workshops and from the discussions that continued beyond those events,” the guide says.

Among other points, the guide emphasizes that all tower workers need “to have and use proper safety equipment at all times,” and that, “no work should be done if proper safety equipment is unavailable or if the safety equipment available is not functioning properly.”

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E51LYC Pukapuka Story

From DX News

E51LYC operated from Pukapuka Atoll between May 12 and 23.
Located about 1200 km north of Rarotonga, in the North Cook Islands, this remote atoll counts toward the IOTA group OC-098, which was confirmed by only 8% of the IOTA members prior to this operation. Last activation of OC-098 was in Jan 1995, more than 22 years ago. The atoll has three dry islets and a sandbank. The landing strip is on Motu Ko, which is uninhabited. The radio activity took place from the south side of Wale, close to the Pukapuka administration offices.

The propagation conditions were best during the first 3 days, May 12 to 14, when I was able to log about 3,400 QSOs. During the remainder of my stay I logged another 2,200, for a total of 5612 QSOs with 79 DXCC in 6 continents. More than 76% of these contacts were in CW, while the rest in SSB, using all bands from 40 to 10m. More than 47% of all QSOs were on 20 m, with a relatively similar number on each of 40, 30, 17, and 15 m.

One of the difficult paths was to Europe. During several days, 20 m band appeared reliable, providing some propagation between approximately 5 and 8:30 UTC to various areas of the old continent. While I did operate both CW and SSB at first, I settled for the former mode, because it seemed easier for my signals to be replied to. Every day I looked for possible openings to Europe between 12 and 16 UTC on various bands. While I was able to copy lightly some activity on the bands from 40 all the way to 17m during this period of time, I was only able to log the EU stations during this period of time towards the end of my stay, on May 21 and 22, but only on 40 and 30 m.

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2017 ARRL Foundation Scholarship Awards Announced

The ARRL Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2017 scholarship awards. There were 88 awards this year, totaling $120,650.

The ARRL Foundation General Fund Scholarship, $2,000 each

Garner Fleming, KK4CLY, Mebane, NC

Valerie Lehmann, KC3HPJ, Derwood, MD

Sarah A. Olson, KF5GTB, Eufaula, OK

Zachary M. Thompson, KM4BLG, Asheville, NC

Lindsay A. Westerfield, KD5UVL, Lexington, KY

The ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Scholarship, $500

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Canada C3 Sesquicentennial Voyage May be Tracked via WSPR Beacon

An Amateur Radio WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network) beacon has been installed and activated onboard the Canada C3 vessel. The ship departed Toronto, Ontario, on June 1 on a 150-day expedition to Victoria, British Columbia, via the Northwest Passage as part of the Canadian Sesquicentennial celebration. Sponsors are calling it an “epic journey to celebrate Canada and connect Canadians.” According to Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), Canada C3 organizers permitted a group of enthusiasts under the leadership of Barrie Crampton, VE3BSB, to install the WSPR beacon on the C3 vessel.

“This provides a unique opportunity to track the vessel on its 150-day sailing voyage around the Canadian coast — the longest coastline in the world,” an RAC bulletin said. The WSPR beacon identifies as CG3EXP (this page also includes WSPR Amateur Radio frequencies). A live tracking link, generated by QRP Labs, the supplier of the tracking hardware, has been activated, hosted by Jeff Milne, VE3EFF. It generates a series of dots — one for each Maidenhead grid square the vessel traverses.

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Ham-Com 2017

Friday, June 9th & Saturday, June 10th

Irving Convention Center

500 West Las Colinas Blvd., Irving, TX 75039

Irving Convention Center is located approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Dallas. DFW International Airport is approximately 10 miles away and Dallas Love Field is approximately 9 miles away. Irving Convention Center is served by DART bus and rail service to and from downtown Dallas. Covered and open parking is available.


Convention Area
Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Saturday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Indoor Swap Meet
Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Saturday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Commercial Exhibitors
Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday is for SETUP only!

Swap Meet & Vendor

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Atlantic Hurricane Season Starts Today

June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which continues through November 30. In an average season, based on data from 1981 to 2010, 12 named tropical cyclones should be expected, with 6 of these reaching hurricane intensity, and 3 developing into major hurricanes.

“This outlook is a general guide to the expected overall activity during the upcoming hurricane season,” the National Weather Service (NWS) Climate Prediction Center says. “It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not predict levels of activity for any particular location.”

The official NOAA 2017 Atlantic hurricane season outlook indicates a 45% probability of an above-normal season, a 35% probability of a near-normal season, and a 20% probability of a below-normal season. This outlook calls for between 11 and 17 named storms. This already includes the pre-season Tropical Storm Arlene, which occurred in April. Of these named storms, between five and nine of them could reach hurricane intensity, with between two and four of these becoming major hurricanes — Category 3 or above.

Here are the names for 2017 Atlantic Storms: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center points out that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is produced in collaboration with hurricane experts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Hurricane Research Division (HRD). The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.


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Our Sun’s 11-Year Magnetic Cycle Destined to Disappear

The Sun’s 11-year magnetic cycle appears to be ending, but that won’t happen anytime soon. In a paper submitted on May 26 to the journal Solar Physics, two solar scientists are reinterpreting earlier evidence to hypothesize that the Sun’s rotation rate and magnetic field are in a transitional phase that could lead to lengthening solar cycles, with the cycle ultimately disappearing altogether between 800 million and 2.4 billion years from now. Travis S. Metcalfe and Jennifer van Saders propose the scenario in their paper “Magnetic Evolution and the Disappearance of Sun-like Activity Cycles.”

“After decades of effort, the solar activity cycle is exceptionally well characterized, but it remains poorly understood,” the authors say in the paper’s abstract. “Pioneering work at the Mount Wilson Observatory demonstrated that other Sun-like stars also show regular activity cycles and suggested two possible relationships between the rotation rate and the length of the cycle. Neither of these relationships correctly describe the properties of the Sun, a peculiarity that demands explanation.”

The authors cite stellar evidence for the shutdown of “magnetic braking” in stars similar to our Sun. “The new picture of rotational and magnetic evolution provides a framework for understanding some observational features of stellar activity cycles that have until now been mysterious,” they said.

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A New QST QuickStats Poll Has Been Posted

A new QST QuickStats survey is now available for your viewing and voting pleasure. Check the
QuickStats page at http://www.arrl.org/quickstats and enjoy…

● Will you be participating in the ARRL September VHF Contest, September 9 through 11?

● Do you plan to try our new bands at 630 and 2,200 meters in the near future?

● How has the 6-meter Sporadic E season been so far?

● How often do you operate on 60 meters?
Visit the QuickStats page and be sure to bookmark it in your browser.

Buildout of Nationwide First Responder Broadband Network Could Drive ARES Changes

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) — a nationwide wireless broadband network for first responders — could change the complexion of how the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) functions to support communication for responders during disasters and emergencies. As an independent authority within the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), FirstNet’s mission is to build out, deploy, and operate an interoperable nationwide broadband network dedicated to first responders. Ralph Haller, N4RH, the chairman of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), told ARRL that the advent of FirstNet “will likely be as significant as when public safety first began using radio.”

“The nationwide network will be hardened, so that it will be more likely that many of today’s public safety systems remain operational in emergencies,” Haller said, pointing out that Amateur Radio should not expect to have access to FirstNet. He cautioned, “The endurance of Amateur Radio systems in disasters has been a big selling point in the past for incorporating amateur operators in emergency plans, but perhaps not so much in the future.”

NPSTC is a federation of organizations that work toward improving public safety communication and interoperability, and ARRL has a seat on NPSTC’s Governing Board. Haller predicted that Amateur Radio’s role in emergencies will not disappear. “There is no substitute for eyes and ears on the ground in an emergency,” he said, adding that radio amateurs “can and should continue to play an important part” in supporting emergency communication.

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The K7RA Solar Update

At 2336 UTC on June 1, the Australian Space Weather Forecast Centre issued a Geomagnetic Disturbance Warning for June 2.

“The solar wind is expected to be influenced by a High-Speed Solar Wind Stream over the next 1 or 2 days. The source of this stream is a small coronal hole centered over the equator. Geomagnetic activity may reach active levels.” June 2 geomagnetic conditions are expected to be unsettled to active.

A new video from Dr. Tamitha Skov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjzyWDhTHlU

Average daily sunspot number for the recent reporting week (May 25-31) was down from 31.7 to 15.6, compared to the previous seven days. There were no sunspots on Tuesday, May 30, but on May 31 sunspot region 2661 appeared, and the sunspot number was 11, the lowest non-zero sunspot number possible, due to the arcane method for counting sunspots. 10 is assigned for every sunspot group, and 1 for each spot within that group. So, a sunspot number of 11 means there was one sunspot region or group, with only one sunspot.

At 0112 UTC on June 2, SpaceWeather.com issued this alert regarding sunspot 2661: “ACTIVE SUNSPOT: On June 1st, a small but surprisingly active sunspot rotated over the sun’s eastern limb. In less than 24 hours, it has unleashed nearly a dozen C-class solar flares and hurled a pair of CMEs into space–an impressive display of fireworks. So far, none of the explosions have targeted Earth, but this could change in the days ahead as the active region rotates toward our planet. Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.”

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