EVARC Events/Announcements

August 21, 2016
Vol 16, No 32




EVARC Upcoming Events/Announcements
For Fun: A Little CW Trivia
Test Sessions
From the ARRL Letter - August 18, 2016
     Amateur Radio Volunteers Respond to Louisiana Flooding Catastrophe
     ARRL Encourages Comprehensive Noise Floor Study
     Comments in FCC "Symbol Rate" Rule Making Proposal Due by October 11
     FEMA Teaming with Amateur Radio Clubs to Present Preparedness Information
     Now Free of HAARP, US Air Force Still Wants to Tinker with the Ionosphere
     BIRDS CubeSat Constellation to Launch in 2017
In Brief
Education and Training
Closing Items



EVARC Upcoming Events/Announcements


Next meeting of the Elkhorn Valley Amateur Radio Club
Date:  Saturday, September 10, 2016
Time:  08:30 AM
LocationTo Be Announced

Minutes from the July 2016 meeting are available and can be read on the EVARC Web page

Visitors and guests are always welcome to the meeting.

For more Information see the EVARC Web Page



Boy Scout Communication Merit Badge

The club will be assisting the Boy Scouts with the Boy Scout Communication Merit Badge on November 5, 2016, in Wayne NE.  If you can help with this effort contact Fred, KØFJW


Midwest Division / Nebraska Section News

The Midwest Division ARRL Newsletter for August 2016 is available on the EVARC Web site.

The Nebraska Sections news from June, 2016 has been posted.





For fun: A Little CW Trivia

Ever wonder about the source of SOS and what CQD meant?  An article in The Telegraph Office Magazine has the history.  You can read all about it here


Test Sessions within 100 miles of Norfolk, NE

For more testing locations see the ARRL Testing Web page

     Sponsor: Southwest Iowa ARC
     Date: Aug 30 2016 
     Time: 6:30 PM (Walk-ins allowed) 
     Contact: Gregory S. Ross
                    (712) 566-2698
     Email: Greg.Ross@BHMI.COM
     Location: American Red Cross
                    705 N 16th St
                    Council Bluffs	IA	51501-0105
     Sponsor: Lincoln ARC
     Date: Sep 01 2016 
     Time: 6:30 PM (Walk-ins allowed) 
     Contact: Christopher W. Evens
                    (402) 613-3484
     Email: webmaster@cvctrailblazers.org
     Location: Northside Cafe
                    2701 N 48th St.
                    Lincoln	NE	68504-1425
     Sponsor: Siouxland ARA
     Date: Sep 02 2016 
     Time: 7:00 PM (Walk-ins allowed) 
     Contact: Gary L. Johnson
                    (712) 898-7631
     Email: garywy0v@msn.com
     Location: American Red Cross
                    4200 War Eagle Dr
                    Phone call is preferred
                    Sioux City	IA	51109-1700
     Sponsor: Amt Radio Assoc Nebraska
     Date: Sep 21 2016 
     Time: 6:00 PM (Walk-ins allowed) 
     Contact: Allen D. Harpham
                    (402) 462-4619
     Email: aharpham@wd0dxd.com
     Location: Central Community College
                    Easy Hwy 6
                    Room 108
                    Hastings	NE	68901-9999
     Sponsor: AksarbenARC/Omaha Area VE Team
     Date: Sep 27 2016 
     Time: 6:30 PM (Walk-ins allowed) 
     Contact: Gregory S. Ross
                    (712) 566-2698
     Email: Greg.Ross@BHMI.COM
     Location: American Red Cross
                    2912 S 80th Avenue
                    Near 84th and Center
                    Lower Level West Side
                    Omaha	NE	68124-3250


l Hamfests/Conventions


AK-SAR-BEN Amateur Radio Club Flea-Esta
     Start Date: 09/10/2016
     End Date: 09/10/2016
     Location: Sarpy County Fairgrounds 4-H Building
                    100 Main Street
                    Springfield, NE 68059
     Website: http://www.aksarbenarc.org
     Sponsor: Ak-Sar-Ben Amateur Radio Club
     Type: ARRL Hamfest
     Talk-In: 146.940
     Public Contact: Dave Rice	, N0JSB	
                              8002 Crown Point Avenue 
                              Omaha, NE 68134
     Phone: 402-571-8915
     Email: davegr@netzero.net

For a complete listing of Hamfests go to the ARRL Hamfest Search page



From the August 18, 2016 ARRL Letter


Amateur Radio Volunteers Respond to Louisiana Flooding Catastrophe

Amateur Radio volunteers this week responded to help, after flooding of historic proportions struck parts of Louisiana and Mississippi over the weekend in the wake of torrential rainfall. States of emergency were declared in both states, the federal government has declared Louisiana a major disaster area, and the Louisiana Emergency Operations Center was at full activation. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, visited the stricken region on August 16. Louisiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) activated, and Section Emergency Coordinator Adam Tamplain, KD5LEH, put out a call for volunteers to support communication at Red Cross shelters in the hard-hit Livingston Parish and Baton Rouge area. On August 16, the Red Cross was still requesting shelter operators. Although some residents were being allowed to return home at mid-week, about 4000 people remain in shelters.

"While we have had an increase in response from the Southeastern area, it's still not quite enough," Tamplain said on Tuesday. "Alabama ARES is attempting to put together a team for us. We have seen support from Southwest Mississippi as well. We had Operators at Red Cross New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge today." Tamplain said a dozen or so operators were staffing eight shelters; nearly 30 remained open at mid-week. He asked additional volunteers to check in at Red Cross Headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Services, Operations, and Logistics Brad Kieserman called the Louisiana flooding the worst natural disaster to strike the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Area waterways have reached record flood levels, affecting some 135,000 households and displacing thousands of residents. More than a dozen have died. Roads, including parts of Interstates 10 and 12, had to be closed, and some highways remain impassable. Most conventional telecommunication systems have remained operational.

"Significant river flooding persists this week across portions of southern Louisiana," FEMA said in its August 18 Daily Operations Briefing. "Major flooding will continue along portions of the Amite, Vermilion, Mermentau, and Calcasieu rivers." FEMA said flood conditions were "likely to persist into next week."

Noting the "desperate need" for ham radio volunteers in Louisiana, ARES volunteers in Mississippi have been asked to provide assistance. Prospective Mississippi should not self-deploy to Louisiana, but coordinate through Mississippi Section Manager Malcolm Keown, W5XX.

Primary operating frequencies are 444.950 MHz (107.2 Hz), 146.940 MHz (107.2 Hz), and 146.790 MHz (107.2 Hz). Louisiana ARES HF Frequencies now designated for use are 7.255 MHz and 3.873 MHz LSB. Digital operation is on 3.595 MHz. These should be kept clear of non-emergency traffic.



ARRL Encourages Comprehensive Noise Floor Study

In anticipation of an FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC) investigation into changes and trends to the radio spectrum noise floor to determine if there is an increasing noise problem, ARRL asserted that such a study is long overdue. The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) announced plans for the TAC study in mid-June and invited comments and answers to questions that the TAC posed concerning the methodologies for such a study. The League’s comments also praised the TAC — an advisory group to the FCC — for tackling the issue and expressed the hope that the noise study might, for the first time, provide a useful, objective basis for spectrum overlays and other future allocation decisions. ARRL allowed that while a noise floor problem exists, “The magnitude of this problem and the extent of it in the 21st century is virtually unknown.”

“The TAC and the leadership in this study initiative are to be congratulated for finally undertaking what has been universally determined to be necessary for well more than 2 decades,” the ARRL said. “The Commission should not have made spectrum management decisions without this noise information, and it is unfortunate that the initiative has been delayed this long.”

The ARRL said that its members can be of use in gathering data for the TAC noise study, but advised that any urgency in initiating the study “be tempered by the prerequisite need to develop a standardized and valid methodology for conducting the study,” in order to “obtain quantitative data regarding the noise floor in various environments and trends over time,” ARRL said.

ARRL said the focus of the TAC noise “study should be an accurate determination of what noise levels exist in as wide a range of indoor and outdoor environments as possible. It should, to the extent possible, determine what types of noise are being found: Broadband, non-specific noise; broad noise spectral peaks; broadband digital noise; and noise occurring on discrete frequencies.”

“We also hope that these comments will serve as a stimulus for the Commission to re-evaluate its ‘hands-off’ policy with respect to the most recalcitrant and unhelpful operators of incidental and unintentional radiators which are causing long-term interference problems, such as electric utilities,” ARRL concluded. “The unwillingness of the Commission to issue meaningful sanctions has led to the virtual absence of any incentive to comply with the Commission’s Part 15 non-interference obligations.”

ARRL pointed out that the FCC had requested that the TAC study the noise floor in 1999 and propose new approaches to spectrum management based on emerging and future technologies. “The TAC concluded that it would be impossible for the Commission to engage in effective spectrum management until it ‘develop[s] a more complete understanding of the current state of the radio noise environment,’” ARRL recounted, noting that TAC urged the Commission to immediately undertake a multi-part noise floor study and cautioned it against implementing new spectrum management techniques or initiatives without first concluding extensive studies.

“Yet, 16 years later, no such study has been conducted,” ARRL said. “Now, and for the past several decades, new noise sources are being developed and have been developed and the proliferation of electronic devices continues as fast as the technology and the regulatory processes will allow.” While many individual sources of RF noise may be consistent with FCC rules, in some cases they may negatively impact the overall electromagnetic noise environment, ARRL said.

“Because the Commission’s resources are woefully inadequate to address RF noise through widespread enforcement of Part 15 and Part 18 rules governing RF emitters after the devices are deployed, the only reasonable means of dealing with them is to enact and enforce, ex ante, appropriate rules for RF emitters that are based on actual knowledge of the noise floor and trends over time,” ARRL said. “The growing number of interference complaints indicates that any increase in noise levels will result in harmful interference, so these rules may need to require a decrease in the permitted limits for emission to balance the aggregate noise potential of a growing number of noise emitting devices.”

The League’s comments include a bibliography, “Articles Relating to the Description, Impact and Study of Man-Made Noise,” compiled by ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI.



Comments in FCC "Symbol Rate" Rule Making Proposal Due by October 11

The FCC will accept public comments in response to a July FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in WT Docket 16-239 -- the "Symbol Rate" proceeding -- until October 11. Reply comments -- ie, comments on comments already filed -- are due by November 10. The NPRM now has been published in The Federal Register, thus opening the respective 60-day and 30-day comment/reply comment windows.

In response to a 2013 ARRL Petition for Rule Making (RM-11708), the FCC proposed to revise the Amateur Service Part 97 rules to eliminate current baud rate limitations for data emissions, consistent with ARRL's Petition, but it declined to propose a bandwidth limitation for data emissions in the MF and HF bands to replace the baud rate limitations.

ARRL had asked the FCC to change the Part 97 rules to delete the symbol rate limits in Section 97.307(f) and replace them with a maximum bandwidth for data emissions of 2.8 kHz on amateur frequencies below 29.7 MHz.

Interested parties may comment via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing Service (EFCS), as well as by mail.



FEMA Teaming with Amateur Radio Clubs to Present Preparedness Information

September is National Preparedness Month. As part of its focus on educating and getting prepared, FEMA is offering a "Family Emergency Communications Plan," which helps families work out their communication strategies in the event of an emergency. ARRL is partnering with FEMA to offer this material to interested Amateur Radio clubs that are willing to present it in their localities during National Preparedness Month.

While the FEMA presentation focuses on the Family Communications Plan and doesn't specifically mention ham radio, the material offers Amateur Radio clubs a great opportunity to raise their visibility in their communities.

A webinar with FEMA Region 1 Preparedness Liaison Sara Varela will take place on Tuesday, August 23, at 8 PM EDT (Wednesday, August 24, at 0000 UTC), to offer background and training for any club wishing to present FEMA's Family Emergency Communications Plan material in September. Registration is requested.

Presentation of the FEMA material to local communities should take approximately 1 hour. It will include a PowerPoint presentation and links to worksheets that families can discuss and fill out together.

Clubs are free to offer additional presentations on their activities following the program covering the FEMA material.



Now Free of HAARP, US Air Force Still Wants to Tinker with the Ionosphere

A lot of radio amateurs bemoaning the recent spate of poor HF conditions would love to have a way to improve propagation — perhaps without even having to rely on the whims of the Sun. The US Department of Defense is thinking along the same lines. An August 9 article in New Scientist reports that the US Air Force is exploring a plan to bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere with ionized gas dispersed from CubeSats. According to the New Scientist article by David Hambling, the Air Force hopes to improve long-distance radio communication by “detonating plasma bombs” in the upper atmosphere, and the military branch has contracted with corporate and university researchers to figure out how to make this a reality.

The US Air Force is no stranger to ionospheric tinkering, having just last year transferred the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) facility to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), which hopes to restart it next year. HAARP’s super-power RF in the high-frequency spectrum has been used stimulate the ionosphere and create a plasma cloud that could support HF radio propagation; it also has been used to study how the ionosphere functions.

The trick with using CubeSats to disperse ionizing gas above Earth is coming up with a plasma generator small enough to fit within a CubeSat and controlling how the plasma will disperse. New Scientist said General Sciences of Souderton, Pennsylvania, and Enig Associates of Bethesda, Maryland, are working with scientists at Drexel University and at the University of Maryland, respectively, on separate methods to produce plasma.

An August 9 article in Philly Voice by Michael Tannenbaum said the nearly $150,000 contract with General Sciences and Drexel University proposes to develop a plasma gas generation device “based on the use of highly exothermic condensed phase reactions yielding temperatures considerably higher than the boiling points of candidate metal elements with residual energy to maximize their vapor yield and, with high probability to enter associative ionization (chemi-ionization) reactions with atmospheric oxygen,” the research Abstract explains. The Abstract says researchers also will explore hardware development for controlled-release options. The benefit, according to the Abstract? “New ways of communication will become available to [the Department of Defense] with significant benefits to the defense of the country.”

For its part, Enig Associates has announced that its collaboration with the University of Maryland will lead to “an innovative and novel electrical approach, using in-house designed explosive-driven flux compression generators to convert explosive chemical energy into electromagnetic energy with very high current output and superb energy conversion efficiency.” The researchers will aim to design “an integrated generator device whose form factor fits inside an air-launched vehicle or sounding rocket.”

The New Scientist article said the better approach will be selected for a second phase, which will involve testing plasma generators in vacuum chambers and exploratory space flights.



BIRDS CubeSat Constellation to Launch in 2017

AMSAT-UK reports that four CubeSats will comprise the BIRDS (Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds) constellation, which is set to deploy from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017. The 1U CubeSats — BIRD-B, BIRD-J, BIRD-G, and BIRD-M — have identical designs, will use the same Amateur Radio frequencies, and will be deployed as a group. The main mission of the 2-year project is to use the constellation to carry out radio communication experiments via a network of UHF/VHF Amateur Radio ground stations around the world.

Four faculty members — including Yasuhiro Tokunaga, JG6YBW — and 15 students at Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) are coordinating the experiment, with participation from student engineering teams at universities in Bangladesh, Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria, Thailand, and Taiwan. Project literature and news releases describe the BIRDS project as a five-satellite constellation, but the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) reports frequency coordination requests for only four.

The challenges will be to distinguish each CubeSat from its companion spacecraft transmitting on the same frequency, hand over operation of a satellite from one ground station to another, and assemble the satellite data — such as housekeeping telemetry, music and Earth images — obtained at different ground stations.

Radio amateurs have been invited to join the network to assist in the data downlink and reconstruction of patchy satellite data into meaningful data. Orbit information and the operational plan of each satellite will be made available to the Amateur Radio community, along with software to decode the satellite data.

One unusual onboard mission is a digi-singer (SNG), aimed at broadcasting music from space to Earth. The SNG music-exchange mission will take music in MIDI format uploaded from Earth, process it onboard using a vocal synthesizer, and retransmit it back to Earth on UHF FM.

Amateur Radio stations that successfully decode the telemetry data, music, and Earth images will receive a QSL card from the BIRDS team. The reconstructed data will be posted.


  • The K7RA Solar Update - Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Conditions turned a little more favorable since last week, with both solar flux and sunspot numbers up, and geomagnetic indices substantially lower. Average daily sunspot numbers for the August 11-17 period were 73.9, compared to 52 for the previous 7 days. Average daily solar flux went from 87.9 to 89.2. The average daily planetary A index dropped from 14.6 to 16.9, and the average mid-latitude A index went from 13.7 to 7.4. Predicted solar flux for the near term is 85 on August 18-19; 80 on August 20; 75 on August 21-22; 80 on August 23-24; 75 on August 25-September 1; 80 and 85 on September 2-3, and 90 on September 4-14. Solar flux then pulls back to 75 for September 18-28. The predicted planetary A index is 8, 10, 14, 10, and 6 on August 18-22; 5 on August 23-24; 8 on August 25; 5 on August 26-28; 15, 25, and 18 on August 29-31; 15 on September 1-2; 12 on September 3-4; and 15 on September 5-6. The predicted planetary A index is 25 on September 26, indicating high geomagnetic activity. Sunspot numbers for August 11 through 17 were 82, 86, 73, 61, 70, 81, and 64, with a mean of 73.9. The 10.7 centimeter flux was 94.7, 94.8, 90.5, 87.2, 87.6, 86.5, and 82.9, with a mean of 87.9. Estimated planetary A indices were 9, 11, 5, 4, 4, 6, and 9, with a mean of 14.6. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 8, 11, 5, 4, 4, 8, and 12 with a mean of 13.7.  Send me your reports and observations!

  • The Doctor Will See You Now! -  "SWR" is the topic of the latest 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. Enjoy "ARRL The Doctor is In" on Apple iTunes, or by using your iPhone or iPad podcast app (just search for "ARRL The Doctor is In"). You can also listen online at Blubrry, or at Stitcher (free registration required, or browse the site as a guest) and through the free Stitcher app for iOS, Kindle, or Android devices. If you've never listened to a podcast before, download our beginner's guide. Just ahead: Software Defined Radio.


l Education and Training
  • ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration - The ARRL has many ways to continue your education in things Amateur Radio.  For more information go to the ARRL Training web page.

  • FEMA Online Training - FEMA has numerous Independent Study Program courses available for Ham Radio Operators and others interested in emergency support and are recommended by ARES.  For a list of courses check the FEMA ISP training web site.  Look for the 100, 200, and 700 series courses.

  • Weather Spotter Training - To be a certified Weather Spotter in the State of Nebraska, you must attend a weather spotter training session, take two on-line courses, and pass a written exam provided by your local Emergency Coordinator.  The on-line courses can be found on the ucar.edu web site.

  • Did you know you can practice code on-line? The ARRL posts their code practice files on the web. These audio files can be played on line or downloaded for later play back on your own computer. Practice files are available for 5, 7.5, 10, 13, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 Words per Minute. To find the files click the following link: http://www.arrl.org/code-practice-filesssssss



    The EVARC weekly net meets every Monday evening at 7:30 PM on the club 2 meter repeater (146.73 -). Check-in to the net to hear an update on activities of other club members,  announcements of local interest, and any late breaking information. Everyone is welcome to check in.


    The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information to local hams with items of interest.  It is compiled from local, regional, and national sources an includes national, regional, and local news items and events.  Created by Monty Wilson, NRØA. Contact  NRØA with comments or questions.