ARISS SSTV Special Event

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On the weekend of August 3-4, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) conducted a special event commemorating the life of Owen Garriott, W5LFL, who was the first astronaut to utilize amateur radio in space. Many of us were fortunate enough to make contact with him as the Space Shuttle(s) he orbited around the globe.

The crew aboard the ISS transmitted a series of photos using Slow-Scan-Television (SSTV) on their standard ham radio downlink frequency.  One of our founding members, Frank Krizan KR1ZAN, was able to capture 5 good photos and 3 partials (keep in mind that the ISS is only visible about 10 minutes each pass and each SSTV photo takes 2 minutes to transmit). A number of photos he received were also duplicates of previous ones.

The ARISS Team has provided a place to upload the photos for posterity. Click here to view the images. In the Call Sign block, enter the call KR1ZAN, and you’ll see the 5 photos that Frank received.

2019 Maine QSO Party is September 28-29

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The 7th annual Maine QSO Party will take place the weekend of September 28-29, from 1200 UTC on the 28th, through 1200 UTC on the 29th. Last year’s overall winner was Joe Blinick K1JB, of Portland.

The contest is designed to encourage Maine stations to expand their knowledge of DX propagation on the HF and MF bands, and improve their operating skills, and station capability by participating a competition in which W/VE, and DX stations have the incentive to work Maine.

The contest takes place on the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands, and allows for phone and CW for modes.

For an exchange, stations in Maine send signal report and county, while stations outside of Maine, but within either the United States or Canada, send signal report and state/province. DX stations send signal report and “DX.”

For scoring, contacts with stations in Maine are worth 2 points. Contacts with stations outside Maine are worth 1 point. Multipliers are the same for all participants: Use Maine counties (16), States (50), Canadian Provinces (14), and DXCC entities as multipliers. You may work any station once on each of the two modes, on each of the six contest bands.

The Maine QSO Party is a fun contest that offers categories for operators of all skill levels and station capability. Also similar to DX contests like the Canada Day contest or YODX, its open to all contacts as long as the proper information is exchanged. Stations outside of Maine are not required to work only Maine stations for credit, as is the case with most QSO parties. This being said, its important that as many Maine stations as possible are active, and it would be really nice to have participation from all 16 counties. So far, the competition has seen most Maine participation from the more populated southern counties. Help get the word out and share this on contest blogs and social sites!

For more information, including complete rules, click here.

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2019 ILLW at Rockland Breakwater Light

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Eric Emery KC1HJK attaches a mast to a railing to mount the 40m SOTA Beams dipole

On Saturday, August 17th, the WS1SM team activated Rockland Breakwater Light, in Rockland Harbor, ME, for International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW). Club members operated from 10am-5pm, using call sign WS1SM.

2019 marked the ninth year that WSSM has participated in ILLW, which sees over 500 light houses and lightships activated in over 40 countries. The international event helps promote the preservation of lighthouses and lightships, and at the same time gives the community an opportunity to experience Amateur Radio first hand.

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Tim KB1HNZ, Pete KC1DFO, and Brad KC1JMH about to take on the breakwater

The morning started out with breakfast at Moody’s Diner, in Waldoboro, before the team met up at the parking lot for the lighthouse. Ahead of them was task of carrying the radio equipment across the 7/8-mile long breakwater. This wasn’t easy, as one of the heavisest items, a marine battery, had to be brought out in a cart that wasn’t well suited to the rough surface of the rocks that made up the breakwater. It required two to three people at any given time to help it along. Once at the lighthouse, however, the setting was a beautiful place to spend the day on the radio.

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L-R: CJ W1CJC, Tim KB1HNZ, and Pete KC1DFO setting up antennas

The WS1SM team operated 2 stations full time from the front porch of the lighthouse, which overlooks the breakwater, including a Yaesu FT-857d with a 40m dipole, and an Icom IC-706 MKIIG connected to a BuddiPole (for 6-20m) antenna. Both stations operated on battery power, with solar assistance. 40 meter conditions were excellent and contacts were plenty there. Band conditions were a little more difficult on 20 meters, but it improved later in the day to even include a few DX contacts.

Particpants included Eric Emery KC1HJK, CJ Carlsson W1CJC, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, Brad Brown, Jr. KC1JMH, and Peter Warren KC1DFO.

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Tim KB1HNZ operates 40 meters

“This year’s ILLW has been a lot of fun,” said Tim Watson KB1HNZ. “It was fun working all the other lighthouses on the bands and also demonstrating ham radio to the public. We even met some other hams in person, who stopped by to say hi.”

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Lifting the cart over the cracks in the breakwater on the way back

Brad Brown KC1JMH said afterwards, “We’d really like to thank the folks from Massachusetts who helped us carry the cart back,” referring to a gentleman and his two grandsons who saw Brad, Tim, CJ, and Pete struggling with it and helped carry it to the mainland. “The extra help meant a lot at the end of a long day.” Earlier, Eric KC1HJK, brought the battery back on his kayak, so it was a little easier than it could’ve been.

Click here to see more photos from this and previous lighthouse events.

2019 Field Day at Wassamki Springs Campground

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SCARBOROUGH, ME – On the weekend of June 22-23, the WS1SM team participated in their 9th ARRL Field Day from Wassamki Springs Campground, in Scarborough. With over 30 participants and guests, including visitors from Cumberland County EMA, public service representatives, and Scarborough State Representatives Shawn Babine and Chris Cuazzo, the activities were many.

On the air, we operated as 3A (which is a club station, on battery power, using 3 transmitters), maintaining a continuous presence on the bands on CW, SSB, and digital. We also had a Get on the Air (GOTA) station operating as N5QYQ during most of the event, allowing beginners and new hams to operate HF as well.

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Anne KC1KWH, Ara AA1FB, Ben KC1HBL, Sean W1MSA, Gregg KM4PKE, and Pete KC1DFO work on installing a 40m rotatable dipole.

Setup began late Friday morning when a number of club members helped setup Rick Fickett’s (K1OT) CW operating trailer. The trailer is an all-in-one ham shack, which includes a 40-foot tower with 40m monobander and support for wire antennas. The radio used is an Elecraft K3 with built in tuner, and is complete with digital logging. Later Friday afternoon, the SSB station was setup, which includes a Spiderbeam tribander (for 10, 15, and 20m), and a rotatable dipole for 40m. The radios, and Icom IC-7300 and Yaesu FT-950, were setup in the Cumberland County EMA’s utility trailer. On Saturday morning, Charlie Shepard’s (W1CPS) 6 meter station was setup, which includes a 5 element yagi atop a 40-foot mast and an Icom IC-7000, and we were ready to get on the air!

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Rick Fickett K1OT, in the office

Although cloudy on Saturday, the weather was pleasant and remained that way until late in the day when a storm blew through. The winds were severe enough to shake the tower on the CW trailer and there were some crashes of thunder that caused us to shut down operations, but it only lasted for a few minutes. 40 meters was steady throughout most of Field Day, and 20m opened up nicely late Saturday afternoon and early Sunday. Rick K1OT, Joe K1JB, Greg K1ME, and others had some good runs going on CW on both 40m and 20m throughout the event, and Brad KC1JMH, Eric KC1HJK, Greg KM4PKE, Pete KC1DFO, Sean W1MSA, and Ben KC1HBL all had good runs on 40m SSB at various times. Stefania K1GJY and Waylon KC1HJN did the same on 20m SSB.

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Charlie Shepard W1CPS operates 6m SSB

Eric KC1HJK served as the safety officer for 2019, and he did a great job posting informational signs for the public and making everyone aware of the whereabouts of safety equipment such as the fire extinguisher and first aid items.

Frank KR1ZAN helped us copy the W1AW Field Day message from his home QTH, which was super helpful because many of us were setting up antennas during the broadcast.

Tim KB1HNZ sent radiograms to the Section Manager and various others by way of the Digital Traffic Network via our Packet station on VHF. Late Sunday, he and Eric were also successful at making a satellite QSO via AO92.

Mike Fandell N5QYQ and Steve McGrath AA1HF ran the Get on the Air (GOTA) station, which was located at the Wassamki Ham Shack. Many guests stopped by throughout Field Day, and lots of new folks had a chance to get on the air and experience HF. Thanks to Mike and Steve for making it so much fun for everyone!

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From L-R: Rep. Shawn Babine, Rep. Chris Cuazzo, Mike Fandell N5QYQ, Peter Hatem KC1HBM, and Ann McBride KC1KWH

Josh Brown KC1KTX got on the air at both the SSB and the GOTA stations, having QSOs at both, and was also the grill master during the cookout Saturday night!

Anne McBride KC1KWH got on the air and made lots of HF contacts at the GOTA station, as did Delia Brown, Daniel Fransiscus KC1DUN, Waylon McDonald KC1HJN, and Dave Wood KB1FGF.

Pete Donovan K1SK did a great job with the media publicity. Portions of our press release were published in the Portland Press Herald in the days leading up to Field Day.

Peter Hatem KC1HBM invited Scarborough State Representatives Shawn Babine and Chris Cuazzo to attend the event, and not only did they both make an appearance, but they stayed a while as Peter showed them around the various stations, including the GOTA station.

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Josh Brown KC1KTX operates 40m SSB

Special thanks also to Dave Feeney WN1F, and everyone at Cumberland County EMA for their support, and to the Hillock Family for allowing us to operate from Wassamki Springs Campground for the 9th consecutive year!

We finished up with nearly 1,700 QSOs and maximum bonus points! It was a massive effort. Thanks to eveyone for helping to make our 2019 Field Day such a success!

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The 20/15/10 meter Spiderbeam and CCEMA trailer

Click here to view photos of this year’s and previous Field Days.

Special Event Celebrates 100 Years of WWV

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology Radio Station WWV will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary in October 2019. The oldest continuously operating radio station in the world deserves a
grand celebration.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club (NCARC) have reached an agreement and are working together to organize the event.

NIST will focus on the plans for Tuesday, October 1, when they will host a recognition ceremony and an open house at the radio station north of Fort Collins.

NCARC will operate a special event amateur radio station, call sign WW0WWV, on the WWV property starting September 28, and going 24-hours a day through October 2. The goal is to make as many U.S. and world-wide contacts during the 120-hour period as possible, using multiple bands and multiple modes on at least 4 simultaneous transmitters. The effort will require hundreds of volunteer operators.

Information on the Special Events Station visit: http://wwv100.com

https://www.nist.gov/news-events/events/2019/10/nist-radio-station-wwv-100-year-anniversary

Remembering D-Day, 75 Years On

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

In the early morning of June 6th, 1944, many Americans heard initial reports of The Invasion – what would become known as D-Day, on American radio networks. The allied invasion of Europe was shrouded in such secrecy that even the press of the day had significant doubts as to the veracity of the reports, which were heard by shortwave listeners of German radio broadcasts aimed at foreign audiences. In the days before, Roosevelt’s Office of War Information, or OWI, increasingly warned of the possibility of intentional false reports of an invasion by the Germans, in order to cause a premature response by the Resistance. Many reporters thought that this was what they were hearing.

Click here to listen to Bob Trout anchor Columbia Broadcasting System’s early morning coverage of the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion on D-Day. Most fascinating, and in contrast to modern media’s delivery of news events, is CBS’ careful, scrupulously-vetted accounts of the Normandy landings.

Operations began several hours before, on the evening of June 5th. Minesweepers cleared the way for ships, and over a thousand bombers left before dawn to attack coastal defenses. Over 1,200 aircraft departed England just before midnight to drop three airborne divisions (U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne, and British 6th Airborne) behind enemy lines several hours before the beach landings. Their objectives ranged from securing positions on the Cotentin Peninsula, to capturing intact bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, which would be necessary to advance troops and equipment. The Free French 4th SAS battalion was also assigned objectives, in Brittany.

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News reaches home. Click here to listen to part 2 of CBS’ broadcast on the morning of June 6, as Bob Trout walks listeners through the newsroom, reading bulletins off teletype machines. “FLASH,” he says, taking a moment to describe the rarity of that word in news circles. “LONDON – Eisenhower’s headquarters announces Allies land in France…” Finally, there was allied confirmation that the invasion was underway.

Operation Neptune, which targeted the Normandy coastline, commenced at 5:45am with naval bombardment, followed by the amphibious invasions of Utah Beach (U.S. 4th Infantry Division), Pointe du Hoc (2nd Ranger Battalion), Omaha Beach (U.S. 1st Infantry division, supplied by troops of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division), Gold Beach (British 1st Battalion and Hampshire Regiment), and Sword Beach (British 2nd Battalion and Shropshire Light Infantry). Some 132,000 men were transported by sea on D-Day, and a further 24,000 came by air.

Click here to listen to part 3 of CBS’ broadcast, which begins at about 5:00am Eastern War Time, when many Americans on the East Coast would’ve been waking up.

Although it was ultimately a success, not everything went according to plan. Rough seas and high winds made the landings at Gold and Juno difficult, causing delays, and aerial attacks failed to hit their intended targets, leaving many defenses in place. The landing at Omaha would be the most heavily defended. The U.S. 1st and 29th Infantry faced the German 352nd Infantry Division, rather than a single regiment, as expected. Strong currents forced landing craft to drift further east of their intended positions, and the men faced heavy fire from the cliffs above, leading to more casualties on Omaha than on all the other beaches combined.

At Point du Hoc, the plan was for 200 Army Rangers to scale the 98 ft. tall cliffs to destroy a gun battery there. While under heavy fire, they scaled the cliffs only to find the guns had already been removed. The surviving 90 men would eventually locate the guns about 600 yards further south, and disable them, but they would then have to fight to avoid capture for almost 2 days until relief came from the 743rd Tank Battalion.

Allied casualties on D-Day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Comparatively, the Germans lost 1,000 men. The invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah), linked with a front line 6-10 miles from the beaches. None of these objectives were achieved. The five bridgeheads were not connected until 6 days later, by which time the Allies held a front 60 miles long and 15 miles deep. Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until July 21st. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on June 6th, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

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Hard battles followed. The Allies would go on to capture Cherbourg on June 26th, which was especially important because it would provide a deep-water harbor, and Caen by July 21st. They would breakout from the beachhead in early August and push south from Vire towards Avranches. Patton’s 3rd Army would reach Alencon on August 11th and the Canadians, under Montgomery, closed in around German forces, trapping more than 50,000 of them, by August 21st. Operations continued in the British and Canadian sectors until the end of August.

Meanwhile, the French Resistance in Paris rose against the Germans on August 19th. French forces of the 2nd Armored Division under General Philippe Leclerc arrived from the west on August 24th, while the U.S. 4th Infantry Division pressed up from the south. Scattered fighting continued throughout the night, and by the morning of August 25th, Paris was liberated.

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion ever attempted, involving nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. They hastened the end of the war in Europe, drawing large forces away from the Eastern Front that might otherwise have slowed the Soviet advance. The opening of another front in western Europe was also a tremendous psychological blow for Germany’s military, who feared a repetition of the two-front war of World War I.

June 6th is always a solemn day to remember the struggles of those who defended our freedoms and values, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This year may be a little more poignant, however, being the 75th anniversary. I encourage anyone reading this to listen to the audio clips included, because even from hindsight and the knowledge of history at our disposal, we can experience those extraordinary events with a surprise and anticipation, similar to those who experienced them firsthand over seventy-five years ago.


Works Cited:

Canadian War Museum. 04 Jun 2019. D-Day and the Normandy Campaign: https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/operations/ddaynormandy_e.html

Wikipedia. 04 Jun 2019. Operation Overlord: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord

Internet Archive. 04 Jun 2019. Complete Broadcast Day – D-Day: https://archive.org/details/Complete_Broadcast_Day_D-Day/Complete_Broadcast_Day_440606_Part_001.mp3

The Telegraph. Newspaper. 03 Jun 2019. “British soldier taking part in D-Day celebrations drowns in France.” Photograph. Pegasus Bridge.

National WW2 Museum Archives. 03 Jun 2019. Photograph. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/d-day-allies-i