Calling CQ

Issue 103 | August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast around 10 p.m. local time on Friday as a Category 4 storm — among the strongest to strike the United States in decades. Flooding will remain a major problem for days to come. Amateur Radio prepared for the event days in advance. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) suspended operations for Hurricane Harvey after 51.5 continuous hours of activation. More details about ham radio’s response to the event will develop over the coming week. This article from the Smithsonian suggests the amateur service is keeping a close eye on this storm given that “ham radio underwent a resurgence in the United States after Hurricane Katrina”.

Results from the Solar Eclipse QSO Party are being processed:

After eight short hours, the Solar Eclipse QSO Party has come to a close. Particpation was quite good. Although the final numbers are not yet in, preliminary reports show that over 670,000 spots were detected by the RBN, and over 542,000 spots were reported to PSKReporter during the SEQP. These numbers will increase as data is processed. SEQP participants are requested to submit their logs and RBN data (spots.txt) to HamSCI. A PDF Certificate of Participation will be provided on log submission.

A report from the Bouvet Island 3Y0Z team indicates an expectation of additional costs that puts the effort over $100,000 short of its goal. Affecting the budget is the decision to “add a second Operating shelter (OP B) and a third sleeping shelter (Sleep C). This will allow us to have more room to place our 14 one-KW stations (12 HF and 2 EME) and to separate the operating modes. This will make our 14–16 estimated days of 24/7 operating more comfortable and less challenging. The bottom line is we have a small percentage increase in costs, but the on-island benefits are well worth the extra expense”. If you can help, donations may be made on the Web site.

The Dateline DX Association announced significant progress in their plans to operate in 2018 from KH1, Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge, the 4th most wanted entity in the DXCC program. A charter agreement with a ship has been executed, the Nai’a out of Fiji with an anticipated arrival at the refuge during the 3rd week of June, 2018. The team intends to be at the refuge a total of 12 days with 10 days of operations. Visit the main site for more details on the operation and how you can help.

Having received FCC certification, Elecraft is now taking orders for their KPA1500 Full Legal Limit Amplifier. The introductory price of the amplifier, including internal ATU, is $5,995US. Regular orders will be billed at time of shipment. However, you might consider one of the suggested deposit levels on the order page. Deposits are fully refundable at any time. Deposit Preorders will be shipped in the order received, followed by non-deposit orders. Production is ramping up now with expected first deliveries to begin in October.

all time new one (slang) - A country, operator, zone, grid square or other entity which the station has never worked and/or confirmed a contact. Abbreviated as ATNO. Example: “Worked Indonesia last night for an all time new one” - from THE Amateur Radio Dictionary

Ten More Clicks


The future of amateur radio…

By now you’ve probably read this, and if not, one of your radio friends will no doubt forward it to you soon. Suffice it to say that I’ve been around long enough to have heard these same arguments raised more than a few times. You probably have too. It’s not that the author of this article is wrong, but it feels like a case of beginning with a belief and then working backwards into an article that confirms it.

There is no dispute that the number of licensed amateurs is indeed growing. What is lost in the statistics is that there is a lot of uncertainty about how many of those licensed amateurs actually participate in or care about the avocation to any meaningful degree.

This is the argument that while our numbers increase, few are making use of radio. The premise isn’t wrong, but it misses the point that amateur radio is incredibly diverse in the many ways we practice the art and skill of radio. It’s a notion that licensees must be active for some percentage of time despite the fact that no two hams will agree on a definition of “active” or for how much of the “time”.

There are two hams in my community who have been licensed since the 1950’s. Neither of these maintain a station in their homes. So far as I can tell, these two only operate other people’s equipment during Field Day. They are passionate about Field Day and often take the lead in organizing the event. Do we count these two as “active” hams or not?

I can tell you what they would say if you asked them…

Until we can ALL agree on a definition of ACTIVE, I don’t see how anyone could ever conclude that not enough hams are actively engaging in the hobby. Besides, there really are only three reasons to grow the amateur service:

  1. We need to prove that we are a large voting block to maintain the spectrum we occupy.
  2. We need growth to maintain a healthy amateur radio market.
  3. We need continuous growth so we will always have someone else to communicate with.

On the first count, I don’t suppose the government cares how many of us are “active” but they probably do recognize that nearly a million voters comprises a large voting block so it seems we’re good here with more numbers even if activity is trailing off.

On the second point, I fail to see how anyone can argue that the amateur radio market isn’t alive, growing, and vibrant. How many tens of thousands IC–7300’s did ICOM sell in it’s first year? How many new hobby radio ventures emerge each year?

As for the third point, are you kidding me? There are plenty of hams to talk with, assuming you’re only interest in the hobby isn’t some arcane, rarely used mode. Spark gap enthusiasts might have a thin logbook and someday CW might one day become as rare as AM on the bands. But the end of popularity for one mode isn’t an indication that the hobby is dying.

If there are a lot more amateurs than there were thirty or so years ago, why is there no surge in traffic on the ham bands, no increase in club memberships, no higher attendance at hamfests, and no participation swell in on-air contests to correspond with the greater number of licensees? Going only by the raw number of issued licenses, the future of amateur radio should be highly visible and self-sustaining.

Sorry, but this makes me wonder if the author is actually engaged in the hobby.

30,000 at Dayton, 18,000 at Friedricshafen, Huntsville, Texas, California, and a BRAND NEW BIG SHOW in Michigan later this year. And don’t forget how NPOTA delighted and engaged thousands of hams for an entire year. The recent Heard Island DXpedition was one of the most popular and most expensive operations ever and next year’s Bouvet Island might be even bigger. Well-attended DX and Contesting conventions are conducted annually on both coasts as well as in the flyover country in between.

Of course we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and we should always be willing to go the extra mile to introduce “fresh blood” to the hobby. But when things are going so well for our fraternity we should be willing to admit it, enjoy it, and quit looking for a boogeyman hiding in every shadow.

Ham radio should be enjoyed, not fretted over. If you’re losing sleep over the future of amateur radio, you aren’t doing it right…

Make it a GREAT week!

73, Jeff