Jamboree On The Air 2015 Stations Urged to Register, Report

As of October 1, more than 350 US stations had signed up to take part in the 2015 Jamboree On The Air (JOTA). The 58th annual event takes place October 16-18, and JOTA organizers are urging all who plan to participate to register, so they can provide a list of participating stations and their locations. A list of US-registered stations is available on the K2BSA website. JOTA is aimed at fostering Scout-to-Scout communication across borders and is the largest Scouting event in the world. Last year worldwide Scouting participation included 1.1 million Boy Scouts and another 200,000 Girl Guides/Girl Scouts. In the US 13,326 Scouts and visitors took part in JOTA 2014. The Boy Scouts also encourage participating stations to submit JOTA reports and photos following this month’s event.

“We need your report to demonstrate the success of JOTA to those in Scouting and Amateur Radio,” said Jim Wilson, K5ND, the national JOTA organizer. He asked participating JOTA stations to note down the number of Scouts participating, Amateur Radio licensees, and radios on the air, as well as the total number of contacts and states and countries contacted.

“We would also like to see your best photos and hear some stories about your event,” Wilson said.

The K2BSA call sign will be in use for JOTA from every US call district as well as from KH6 and KL7. Wilson suggested that JOTA groups consider obtaining 1 × 1 special event call signs for their operations.

From the National Weather Service

Coastal residents of Mexico and southwestern US are watching the development of a second hurricane in the Eastern Pacific. Tropical Storm Blanca formed today east of Cat 4 Hurricane Andres. TS Blanca will be a major hurricane in the coming hours and track northwest along the coast of Mexico. Let’s keep our radio equipment ready to help. June 1 is the grand opening of Hurricane Season.

USNO Joint Typhoon Warning Center: http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/
National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?epac

From the ARRL Letter june 4, 2015

Texas, Oklahoma Ham Volunteers Stand Down Following Spate of Severe Weather

Severe storms and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma that extended beyond the Memorial Day holiday weekend kept ARES and SKYWARN volunteers busy or on alert through the rest of May, which now is being crowned as the wettest month on record in both states. Texas received more than 8.8 inches of rainfall during May, while Oklahoma got a whopping 14.4 inches. Wichita Falls, Texas, saw 17 inches of rain

Flooding on the North Canadian River below the Lake Overholser Dam in Oklahoma City.

during May, while Oklahoma City got nearly 19.5 inches. The resulting flooding and property damage — with some severe wind incidents thrown in — caused numerous ARES callouts and SKYWARN net activations.

In Oklahoma, Section Emergency Coordinator Mark Conklin, N7XYO, said Amateur Radio volunteers provided communication for several American Red Cross damage assessment teams in the wake of flooding in Comanche County and elsewhere. “ARES-OK volunteers in action this month have provided 436 hours of service,” Conklin reported on May 31. “Teams were deployed to the Bridge Creek community and Comanche and Leflore counties. In addition, Conklin added, nearly every storm complex that rolled through Oklahoma spawned numerous SKYWARN nets with volunteers providing “many hours of service.”

ARES teams in his state stood down on June 2.

Flooding at Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas.

South Texas Section Emergency Coordinator Frank Aguilar, N5SSH, said all districts in his Section had stood down by June 1. “Weather events are over, and the forecast does not show rain for the next week or two, which means search and rescue and clean-up will be the main focus,” he said. A summary of activity showed that ARES volunteers assisted in local emergency operations centers and the Red Cross. In addition, he noted, SKYWARN nets were called up in vulnerable counties, and other ARES teams remained on standby in case they were needed.

ARRL South Texas Section Manager Lee Cooper, W5LHC, called the spate of heavy rainfall, tornadoes, and flooding over some two-thirds of his state “pretty much unprecedented” for the region. “The main event is over,” Cooper said this week. “We are looking at a approximately 10-day period of dry sunny weather in South Texas and do not anticipate any additional activations.”

This spring’s torrential rains stood in stark contrast to the severe drought the region had experienced over the past few years. May’s heavy rains have been linked to a burgeoning El Niño in the Pacific.

While fair weather returned to the region this week, forecasters fear the now rain-saturated ground could make things worse during the hurricane season, which began on June 1.


WX4NHC Reports It’s Ready for Hurricane Season

WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, reports that it has stood the test and is ready for the 2015 Hurricane Season, which began on June 1 and will continue through November. WX4NHC conducted its Annual Station Test on May 30, at the end of Hurricane Preparedness Week. This marked the 35th year of volunteer public service by the WX4NHC Group at the NHC. WX4NHC Amateur Radio Asst. Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, said the station was tested on many frequencies and modes, including digital modes, and that all radio equipment and antennas performed well.

“The WX4NHC test event is also good practice for Amateur Radio operators worldwide, but especially in hurricane prone areas, to test their station’s ability to contact WX4NHC, should they need to during a hurricane,” Ripoll said. “It was also a good opportunity for NWS Office staff to become aware of the unique capabilities of Amateur Radio during severe weather and disaster communications, when conventional communication modes fail.”

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has forecast that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below normal, but, it added, “that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.”

For the 2015 hurricane season, NOAA has predicted a 70 percent likelihood of anywhere from six to 11 named storms (winds of 39 MPH or higher), of which three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74 MPH or higher). That forecast included up to two “major hurricanes” (Category 3, 4, or 5) with winds of 111 MPH or greater.

“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook,” NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said. “As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities.”

Ripoll said WX4NHC logged contacts during the test with some emergency communication notables. These included FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, on EchoLink and on the Florida UHF SARnet, plus a 20 meter contact with FEMA Chief Technical Officer Ted Okada, K4HNL. WX4NHC also worked ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, and Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV.

“Mike, Bobby, Craig, and Ted all understand very well how Amateur Radio can help their communities during and after severe weather and other natural disasters,” Ripoll said. “We expressed our thanks to all of them for their strong support of the Amateur Radio volunteers and WX4NHC.” Ripoll also expressed appreciation to SKYWARN volunteers.

“You may never know, but your efforts may someday save someone’s life,” he added.

WX4NHC during the 2015 Station Test: (L-R) Julio Ripoll, WD4R; Lloyd Kurtzman, N4LJK; Jan Lederman, K9JCL, and John McHugh, K4AG.

During the 8-hour test, contacts were made and surface reports received from many stations throughout the US and Canada, as well as in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, Ripoll said. He noted that more than 40 D-STAR/D-RATS surface weather reports were received at WX4NHC. John Davis, WB4QDX, coordinated the D-Star/D-RATS net and reporting, Ripoll said.

“We are excited of the potential that D-STAR/D-RATS modes can produce hurricane surface reports in a similar format that is used at WX4NHC,” he said. “These reports may someday fill a very important gap in surface data during a hurricane that we could not receive on other modes.”

WX4NHC also took part in the Florida State Hurricane Exercise on the UHF SARnet, making contacts throughout Florida and with stations in emergency operations centers. SARnet currently has 25 UHF repeaters connected statewide, including one on the NHC campus.



Ham Nation on TWit.tv The Ham Radio Video News


Ham Radio Video

If you like ham radio videos try Ham Nation. Bob Heil (K9EID, Heil Sound) has put together a great team of talent to make video news and information about ham radio. With the support of Leo Laporte (W6TWT) at TWit.tv they have made a wonderful ham video site.

From TWit.tv/wiki Ham Nation

Ham Nation is the TWIT show about ham radio. Bob Heil, with various co-hosts and guests, will cover the excitement and importance of ham radio – from tossing an antenna wire in a tree allowing you to talk to the world, to the importance of ham radio operators in time of disasters. Ham Nation premiered on May 24, 2011. The show currently airs live on Wednesday at 6:00pm PT/9:00pm ET with the on demand download available within 24 hours.


FCC Eliminating Vanity Call Sign Fee

The FCC is dropping the regulatory fee to apply for an Amateur Radio vanity call sign. The change will not go into effect, however, until required congressional notice has been given. This will take at least 90 days. As the Commission explained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Report and Order, and Order (MD Docket 14-92 and others), released May 21, it’s a matter of simple economics.

“The Commission spends more resources on processing the regulatory fees and issuing refunds than the amount of the regulatory fee payment,” the FCC said. “As our costs now exceed the regulatory fee, we are eliminating this regulatory fee category.” The current vanity call sign regulatory fee is $21.40, the highest in several years. The FCC reported there were 11,500 “payment units” in FY 2014 and estimated that it would collect nearly $246,100.

In its 2014 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding the assessment and collection of regulatory fees for FY 2014, the FCC had sought comment on eliminating several smaller regulatory fee categories, such as those for vanity call signs and GMRS. It concluded in the subsequent Report and Order (R&O) last summer, however, that it did not have “adequate support to determine whether the cost of recovery and burden on small entities outweighed the collected revenue or whether eliminating the fee would adversely affect the licensing process.”

The FCC said it has since had an opportunity to obtain and analyze support concerning the collection of the regulatory fees for Amateur Vanity and GMRS, which the FCC said comprise, on average, more than 20,000 licenses that are newly obtained or renewed, every 10 and 5 years, respectively.

“The Commission often receives multiple applications for the same vanity call sign, but only one applicant can be issued that call sign,” the FCC explained. “In such cases, the Commission issues refunds for all the remaining applicants. In addition to staff and computer time to process payments and issue refunds, there is an additional expense to issue checks for the applicants who cannot be refunded electronically.”

The Commission said that after it provides the required congressional notification, Amateur Radio vanity program applicants “will no longer be financially burdened with such payments, and the Commission will no longer incur these administrative costs that exceed the fee payments. The revenue that the Commission would otherwise collect from these regulatory fee categories will be proportionally assessed on other wireless fee categories.”

The FCC said it would not issue refunds to licensees who paid the regulatory fee prior to its elimination.