Calling CQ

Issue 98 | July 24, 2017

I jumped into the FT8 fray this weekend for the first time. There’s an incredible amount of activity and it all moves very quickly. But given that the software does all the work, that’s one of its charms. It’s a brief exchange of data, just enough to make it a valid contact and nothing more. The new mode hasn’t made it to the ADIF specification yet so you won’t see it listed in LoTW (yet) but don’t let that stop you from uploading. New modes were anticipated - see this on how to handle them.

Take a virtual tour of Friedrichshafen 2017 with this very large photo album from F6BLP.

50Mhz is reporting that XuDa, BG5TOX will be active on 6M from Pingtan Island, IOTA AS–138, Grid Locator OL95 on July 29 and 30, 2017. Activity will be on SSB/JT65/MSK144/FT8/PSK/RTTY.

Mike, KI1U will be QRV as KI1U/VE9 from Grand Manan Island, IOTA NA–014, from July 23 to 30. Activity will be on 40 to 10 meters using CW and various digital modes, including possibly the new mode FT8, as well as possible activity on the FM satellites. QSL to his home call.

The U.S. Air Force will no longer permit amateur radio student satellites from the U.S. Naval Academy to be carried to orbit aboard Defense Department rockets, according to Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, the developer of APRS and a senior research engineer in the academy’s department of aerospace engineering.

Why Bother Getting an Amateur Radio License?

Downloading SSTV images from the ISS is always fun when it happens. The last few days have been an active period as ARISS commemorates its 20th anniversary. Transmissions featured 12 images from past and present ARISS activities. Take a look here for a description of these anniversary images.

Sean Kutzko, KX9X has submitted his resignation to the ARRL effective August 4th. He has worked at League Headquarters for ten years, his latest role being that of ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager. An enthusiastic and active radio amateur, he can frequently be found in contests and operating from the field - often chasing satellites. In other words, he’s going to be a tough act to follow. Good luck in your future endeavors Sean!

Ten More Clicks


Trends either fizzle or they take hold. When they take hold, they often foment disruption. Changes. Sometimes big changes. Often these result as an unintended consequence.

For instance, when declining solar activity is taking place, there’s a noticeable shift in interest to the lower bands where the doldrums sometimes enhance these frequencies.

And consider how many radio amateurs now live in antenna restricted areas. These have taken to portable field ops in surprisingly big numbers with the market result being more field ready available gear and accessories.

It’s no coincidence that when the amateur radio satellite AO–40 failed on orbit, the major manufacturers all stopped producing equipment with features for satellite operators. That’s still true to this very day - nearly 20 years later.

You might not consider this a big deal, but don’t you suppose an antenna manufacturer will take into consideration trends like the longer term band conditions and the operating changes this causes among the general ham population - when considering bringing to market a brand new 10 meter Yagi antenna?

Do you think DXpedition teams take these conditions and resulting trends into consideration as they plan their next adventure?

Of course they do!

Now let’s consider the trend to digital operation on HF. While it was once a small niche, better software and the aforementioned band conditions and antenna restrictions have helped make the digital modes a better all-round alternative to more traditional modes of operation. Those numbers are impressive and continue to grow with some claiming that digital now makes up nearly half of all non-contest HF activity.

Given that the digital modes, especially the weak signal variants, are so good at digging a miniscule grain of RF out of an unforgiving aether, maybe we will see a trend to receivers with less impressive specifications? For the last few decades the forward march of technology in amateur radio has been toward “world-class” receivers. This was generally given to mean “contest” radios with amazing third-order numbers and impossibly sharp side-channel rejection.

The manufacturers have given the market what we asked for, but all that performance comes at considerable cost. What will happen when “most” HF enthusiasts have migrated exclusively to digital operation and have no need for all that world-class performance in order to conquer the planet?

Manufacturers might be thinking about that too…

Make it a GREAT week!

73, Jeff