Calling CQ

Issue 93 | June 12, 2017

THE MAGIC BAND came to life in recent days with amazing openings being reported almost everywhere you look. And it’s not just 6 meters, 10 has seen some activity too. These openings have been like an oasis in the desert for parched HF operators suffering the solar blues. Keep listening on 6 as the E season is just getting underway…

Sporadic E or Es is an unusual form of radio propagation using characteristics of the Earth’s ionosphere. Whereas most forms of skywave propagation use the normal and cyclic ionization properties of the ionosphere’s F region to refract (or “bend”) radio signals back toward the Earth’s surface, sporadic E propagation bounces signals off smaller “clouds” of unusually ionized atmospheric gas in the lower E region. This occasionally allows for long-distance communication at VHF frequencies not usually well-suited to such communication.

Have you ever noticed those audio and video public service announcements created by the ARRL in support of Field Day? They’re intended to be used by local clubs to acquire air time from their local radio or TV stations to help publicize their FD operation. It’s a great idea and the PSA’s are very well done, but there’s a problem. They aren’t being used. At least that’s the consensus in Newington and I hear these could be discontinued if they aren’t going to be used. Drop me a note if your club uses them and I’ll pass it along. Otherwise, this resource is likely to disappear.

WRTC 2018 is pleased to announce that Ham Radio Outlet will support the World Radiosport Team Championship in Germany as a Silver Sponsor. HRO was founded in 1971 by Bob Ferrero, W6RJ (now sk). The succesful family owned business has 15 sales locations throughout the United States. Its formidable presence on the Internet making it the largest Ham Radio dealership in the world. Bob W6RJ, was one of the early commercial sponsors of the WRTC idea. Following this tradition his son Robert W6KR, has signed the sponsorship agreement to support WRTC 2018 in Germany as a Silver Sponsor. Robert pointed out “We are very excited to help promote such a fantastic event for ham radio!”

Rich, KY6R has resumed blogging with a special focus on the low bands. His new online property, The Top Band Chordal Hopper, follows on his previous work as “The Armchair DX-er” as well as his personal involvement with the 2016 VK0EK Heard Island DX-pedition.

Could there be a new DXCC country on the horizon? N6PSE says “maybe”.

The Hidden Stories Lingering in RadioShack’s Bankruptcy Auction

RadioShack’s recent troubles might best be reflected by the recent auction of its corporate history—an auction that is actually full of interesting gadgets. For many reasons, largely related to a shifting business model incompatible with modern tech needs, a whole generation of people saw RadioShack as less a store for tinkerers and more a place to buy commodity tech products. It was a business model that fell out of sync with the enthusiast community that once championed its products, and the twice-bankrupt RadioShack has been paying the price for that pivot ever since.

Good vibrations from Xenia continue to be felt with this from the ICOM blog - Dayton Hamvention® 2017 — Change for the Better. (Did you know ICOM had a blog?)

Each year on July 1, the anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, Radio Amateurs of Canada sponsors the RAC Canada Day Contest. Amateurs all over the world are invited to Canada’s Birthday Party on the air and this year is very special as Canada is celebrating its 150th Birthday.

Ten Clicks


AMSAT’s prime directive is to keep amateur radio in space.

In the beginning, that coalesced around the idea of building and launching satellites carrying ham radio payloads. But as humans moved into space, the mission expanded to include orbiting outposts. Like SAREX on the space shuttle followed by ARISS on the International Space Station. Thanks to these efforts, ham radio occupies a home on this planet and in the space above it.

But the failure of the P3D satellite project more than 15 years ago caused AMSAT to lose more than a decade in time and treasure and created hardships that now challenge the long term viability of the organization. And once again it has arrived at another critical juncture.

AMSAT-NA President Barry Baines, WD4ASW is stepping down later this year from the position he has held since 2008. Baines has been a stabilizing force, and one of the primary reasons that AMSAT returned to space in the aftermath of P3D.

While a capable replacement will be elected, the financial health of AMSAT remains questionable no matter who is in charge. I find these difficulties unacceptable, as should radio amateurs everywhere and something must be done about it for one reason:


The future is about space and humans are going to go - with or without amateur radio.

A healthy AMSAT will attract the best and brightest to our avocation. To those who constantly harp about our need to inject younger blood into ham radio listen carefully - THIS IS HOW WE WILL DO IT. There is no other “best” method for attracting young converts. No amount of teaching kids to tap out their names in Morse code is going to do what a thriving AMSAT organization can do for our hobby.

AMSAT is led by a small group and we should all want them to be focused like a laser beam on KEEPING HAM RADIO IN SPACE - and not constantly fretting about how to pay the utility bills on their small office or how to make payroll for their only, part-time employee.

When you support AMSAT you’re supporting the future of amateur radio whether you’re interested in satellites and space communications or not. The entire fraternity needs to resolve this issue so we can get on with all the amazing things that await us on earth and far above it.

Make it a GREAT week!

73, Jeff