NASA on the Air Event Kicks off on December 11th

Saturn_5

The Amateur Radio clubs at various National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centers around the US have invited the Amateur Radio community to join the NASA On The Air (NOTA) special event. NOTA gets under way in mid December 2017 and continues through December 2018. In addition to being the agency’s 60th anniversary, 2018 will mark 50 years since NASA orbited the first human around the moon, and 20 years since the first elements of the International Space Station (ISS) were launched into low-Earth orbit.

Starting on Monday, December 11, 2017 (UTC), Amateur Radio club stations at various NASA centers and facilities will be on the air with special event operations to celebrate these monumental achievements, as well as current milestones. Some clubs will offer commemorative QSL cards, and a special certificate will be available indicating the number of NASA club stations worked on various bands and modes.

Lunar_Lander

“We plan to have a web-based system for you to check your points total and download a printable certificate at the end of the event in December 2018,” the NASA announcement said. “Points will be awarded for each center worked on each band and mode (phone, CW, digital, and ‘space’ modes — satellites, meteor scatter, EME, ISS APRS).” That would, of course, include contacts with any of the Amateur Radio stations on the ISS.

Key anniversaries during NOTA include the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17 on December 11, 2017, which kicks off the event; NASA’s founding on July 29, 1958; the 20th anniversary of the ISS first element launch on November 20, 1998; the 20th anniversary of the ISS Node 1 Launch on December 4, 1998, and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 — launched on December 21, 1968, and returned on December 27 — marking the end of the event.

Ham radio clubs at various NASA facilities will sponsor their own special events to commemorate and celebrate specific events.

Atlantis

“We hope to be on the air for casual contacts and contests as well. All contacts with NASA club stations will count toward your total,” the announcement said. “QSL cards can be requested from each club you work and details will be on the individual QRZ.com profile page for each club call sign.”

The following call signs will be on the air:

  • NA6MF – Ames Research Center, CA
  • NA6SA – Armstrong Flight Research Center, CA
  • NA8SA – Glenn Research Center, OH
  • WA3NAN – Goddard Space Flight Center, MD
  • NA1SS – International Space Station, Earth Orbit
  • W6VIO – Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CA
  • W5RRR – Johnson Space Center, TX
  • N1KSC – Kennedy Space Center, FL
  • KG4NJA – Langley Research Center, VA
  • NN4SA – Marshall Space Flight Center, AL
  • TBD – Stennis Space Center, MS
  • W4WFF – Wallops Flight Facility, VA
  • N5BL – White Sands Complex, NM

 

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RAC Canada 150 Award

RAC150_600

We are now entering the final month of the Canada 150 Celebrations and the last few weeks to work the RAC special event stations and other special call signs.

The RAC Canada 150 Award is a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday since Confederation in 1867. The Award is issued for contacting RAC stations between July 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.

As of December 11th, these stations are scheduled be active throughout the month:

VA2RAC – André Perron, VE2ZT, will operate every weekend until the end of December on various band from 80m to 6m.

VE1RAC – Bob Schofield, VE1RSM, Fred Archibald, VE1FA, Helen Archibald, VA1YL and Scott Nichols, VE1OP, will activate VE1RAC for the rest of 2017.

VA3RAC  Rob Noakes, VE3PCP, will operate VA3RAC from Friday, December 8 until Sunday, December 10.

VE4RAC – Cary Rubenfeld, VE4EA, assisted by other Winnipeg Amateurs, will be operating as VE4RAC from time to time until the end of the year.

VE5RAC – Bj Madsen, VE5FX, is operating as VE5RAC on 20m SSB during the year.

VE6RAC – David Gervais, VE6KD, will operate from December 4 to December 10 and Gord Kosmenko, VE6SV, from December 11 until December 31.

VE7RAC – Fred Orsetti, VE7IO, has organized the following volunteers to operate the VE7RAC call sign for the rest of the year: Doug Pichette, VA7DP, Gabor Horvath, VE7JH, Al McNeil, VA7QQ, John Mackay, VE7RB, Al Ross, VE7WJ, Jim Smith, VE7FO, Rebecca Kimoto, VA7BEC, Koji Kimoto, VA7KO, Brian Summers, VE7JKZ, John White, VA7JW, John Schouten, VE7TI and Fred Orsetti, VE7IO.  A schedule is provided below.

VE8RAC – Gerry St Amand, VE8GER, operated from his cabin near Inuvik in the Northwest Territories until December 8.

VE9RAC – Jean-Paul Leblanc, VE9BK and Marcel Leblanc, VE9ML will be activating VE9RAC for the rest of the year. Andy McLellan, VE9DX, is also operating as VE9RAC on digital modes only.

VO1RAC – Boyd Snow, VO1DI, RAC NL Section Manager, has organized several RAC members across Newfoundland to activate VO1RAC as follows:  Ken Tucker, VO1KVT, from December 3-9; Dave Parsons, VO1COD, from December 10-16; Chris Hillier, VO1IDX, from December 17-23; and Boyd Snow, VO1DI, from December 24-31.

VO2RAC – Nazaire Simon, VO2NS, from Labrador City and Chris Allingham, VE3FU/VO2AC, who will be operating a remote station in Goose Bay from Ontario, will be operating as VO2RAC for the rest of the year.

VY0RAC – Mike Shouldice, VY0CF, will operate VY0RAC until December 31.

VY1RAC – Allen Wootton, VY1KX, will operate VY1RAC until December 8 and David Musselwhite, VY1XY, will operate from December 17 to December 23 and in the RAC Canada Winter Contest on December 30. A schedule is provided below.

VY2RAC –  Greg McCormick, VY2MP, Ron Huybers, VY2HR and Ken McCormick, VY2RU, will continue to activate VY2RAC through the end of 2017.

RAC150certificate_600

In addition, there are efforts to have all 14 RAC stations active for the RAC Canada Winter Contest, on December 30th.

Click here for more information about the RAC Canada 150 Award.

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017

SRD_2017 Waylon McDonald KC1HJN (background) operates the HF station, while Eric Emery KC1HJK operates the VHF station at NWS Gray, ME

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, December 2nd, the WX1GYX team participated in SKYWARN Recognition Day from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, ME. Activities started at 8pm on Friday evening (0000Z Saturday), and continued for 24 hours.

Now in its 19th year, SKYWARN Recognition Day is a popular on-air activity that was developed by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017 was a fun event and perhaps our best so far! WX1GYX made 315 QSOs in total, on 4 different bands, including 44 different states, and 29 different NWS Offices/SKYWARN Clubs!

Operators included: K1GJY, KB1HNZ, KC1HJK, KC1HJN, & N1KTA

Among the 5 operators, there were three returning and two newly licensed hams, who were participating for the first time.

Thanks to everyone who got on the air during SRD, and also to those who contributed throughout the year!

Electronics Course in Kennebunk

In early 2018, the New England Radio Discussion Society will sponsor a free, basic course on electricity and electronics for Radio Amateurs and interested community members.  Course attendees will meet at the New School in Kennebunk every two weeks in the evenings for two-hour sessions with 45-minute review discussions on alternate weeks.

Alex Mendelsohn will conduct classroom sessions with adjuncts providing presentations to enhance course material. For more information and scheduling, contact Alex at alexmm@roadrunner.com or 967-8812.

Youth CW Academy Pilot Program

by Rob Brownstein, K6RB

The Youth CW Academy program has been brewing for about two years, now, and it is finally ready to be launched. CWops is sponsoring a CW Academy program aimed squarely at young people. The pilot program will begin in January 2018.

For the last 50 years, ham radio has been ageing. The average age of a licensed operator is now above 60 years old. In contrast, back in 1960, the average age was just below 30. The ARRL points to the increased number of licensees, these days, but the real question is how many remain committed to radio? The HF bands are notable for the decline in daytime activity with the exception of DXpedition pileups and contests.

True, young people have many distractions in their daily lives – school, social media, smartphones, games – so for years the appeal of ham radio among the youth has been waning. Teenagers, today, are not wowed by wireless communications the way we baby boomers were wowed. Nearly all of them have a wireless transceiver in a pocket. So, 2 meter handi-talkies, repeaters and the like have little long-lasting appeal. And, frankly, neither does HF phone or RTTY.

We have found that a reasonable number of teens and sub-teens, however, are attracted to CW. It shares many of the qualities of texting, which is something a lot of them do, routinely. So, the time appears ripe to entice young folks to ham radio by virtue of its Morse Code heritage rather than the now jaded magic of wireless technology. Does it really matter why they may flock to HF CW? The truth is if we can get a sizable number of kids on the air, on HF, using CW, we have a shot at rejuvenating a hobby that would otherwise be unlikely to exist in 25 years.

So, here’s our chance to embellish CWops’ already noteworthy CW mentoring efforts by launching a program expressly for young people between the ages of 11 and 19.

The Plan

In the short term, Youth CW Academy will borrow from our very successful CW Academy Level 1 program and offer a Level 1 for kids. The syllabus will be essentially the same but the makeup of the groups will be different. Here, in addition to grouping by time zone the students will also be grouped by age zones. There will be three such zones: 11-13, 14-16, 17-19. Ideally, no student will be in a group with someone more than two years younger or older. From the beginning, they will be encouraged to work in teams. The goal will be to impart CW skills and build groups of young ham friends. The pilot programs will be exclusive to already-licensed applicants – especially no-code technician licensees. Later manifestations will be also include unlicensed applicants who will learn CW skills and license-test knowledge, simultaneously.

For the first pilot program – Jan-Feb 2018 – we will try to establish up to five groups of five students, 25 students in total. There will be enough advisors, for now, to handle that many groups. We will repeat the pilot program, again, in April and May 2018. Then, over the summer, we will roll out (hopefully) a full-blown program that includes both licensed and unlicensed applicants. In addition, the full-blown program will include an equipment loaner program so that graduates will be able to get on the air right after graduating. For students who already have equipment, we will just mentor them to get them up to speed. For those who cannot afford equipment, we will offer a loaner program that includes donated HF radios and club-provided portable HF antennas.

Moving Forward

We will begin accepting applicants from 15 November through 15 December. The application should be emailed during that period. Applications should be emailed to: k6rb58@gmail.com and the header Youth CWA should be used for easy spotting. The information should include the following:

First and last name
Call sign and license type (e.g. tech, general, extra)
Age
Time zone (EST, CST, MST or PST)
Email address
Telephone number

For now, applicants will be restricted to North America (US/Canada). When we begin adding license-test preparation, non-licensed applicants will be restricted to US applicants while we expand the test-preparation program.

How You Can Help

If you know some young licensees between the ages of 11 and 19, let them know about the Youth CWA program, and encourage them to apply. If you are interested in advising a YCWA group, let me know (k6rb58@gmail.com). If you are interested in mentoring graduates to help them get up to speed on the air (helping to set up stations and antennas), let me know that, too.

We hope to begin a loaner program by Sep-Oct 2018. Toward that end, anyone who has a working HF rig capable of CW operation, preferably 100 watts power, please let me know that, too. I am planning to establish a non-profit entity for rig donations that will allow for a modest tax write-off for your donated gear.

Please email me with any questions you may have about the pilot program.

NH Two-Level Simulated Emergency Test

Saturday, November 4, 2017 (8AM-1PM)

Goals:

1. Test message handling skills
2. Real time Weather Reports to the NWS in Gray Maine
3. Welfare messages from hospitals and shelters
4. Operation of the Section HF Traffic and Coordination net and local VHF nets

Exercise Scenario:

The scenario this year will be based on a hurricane similar to the 1938 storm (see detailed track below) that created widespread damage to interior New Hampshire . This year’s exercise will have two parts; to provide the National Weather Service in Gray Maine with current weather conditions from operator locations and to simulate welfare messages from operators at hospital and shelter locations. Nets to be utilized; HF Section, local VHF nets, NTS and Winlink.

Exercise Plan:

The exercise will utilize repeaters until 10:30a at which time simplex operation will commence due to simulated damage of repeater facilities. ARES groups should move to their local simplex frequency as listed on Attachment A on the NH State Communication plan.

Each ARES group should designate a station to upload weather reports via Winlink if that ability exists. The Winlink address for the NWS in Gray , Me. is wx1gyx@winlink.org. If Winlink is not available, messages should be brought to the NH Section net at 3945+-.

The SEOC or its designee will receive welfare messages through the Section Net. If hospital or shelter stations are Winlink capable they can send the welfare test message direct to the SEOC using the k1pjs@winlink.org

The SEOC will be operational and managed by the NH SEOC team. All weather reports from individual stations unable to be sent to the NWS by Winlink will be sent to the SEOC or its designee for upload to the NWS via the 75 or 40 meter circuit.

Weather reports, in Radiogram form, should contain the following if available; Temperature, Wind Direction and Speed, Barometric Pressure with tendency and precipitation if any has fallen on the day of the SET.


Weather report example: (In the preamble include your street and town in block 5)

NR 1      TEST       K1PJS   15    GLADSTONE CONCORD NH   NOV 4

NWS
GRAY MAINE
TEMPERATURE 71 X WIND SE/10
BAROMETER 29R92 AND FALLING
PRECIPITATION R15 INCHES SINCE MIDNIGHT

K1PJS

TEST


Welfare test messages, in Radiogram form, can include the hospital or shelter you are operating from, the number of ARES operators present and capacity of the shelter if applicable.

Welfare message example: (In the preamble include the hospital or shelter in block 5)

NR 5   TEST   KB1RIJ  10   CONCORD HOSPITAL   NOV 4

SEOC
ARES SET PARTICIPATION FROM CONCORD
HOSPITAL X 5 OPERATORS PRESENT
KB1RIJ

TEST

All stations are encouraged to operate on battery or generator power from 10:30am until exercise termination. Remember to begin and end all transmissions with “This is a test”

The SET will begin 8a and conclude at 1p unless sooner as directed by the SEOC.


Precipitating disaster and exercise review:

Large category 5 hurricane with the eye path traveling up the Connecticut river valley (like the 1938 hurricane) causing widespread damage to interior NH.

Local stations should provide current weather conditions such as the temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and any precipitation to be sent to the NWS in Gray.

To simulate welfare messages from hospitals or shelters, provide the number of operators in your ARES group and location of the hospital or shelter you are operating from. Include the capacity of the shelter if applicable.

Friday night, November 3rd, we will hold an Alert Roster drill to test the call tree.

All operators should review their local and NH ARES Communication plans.

When playing a role, think about it as though it were real and act accordingly. Don’t forget to begin and end each message and tactical exchange with “This is a drill.”

Please address any questions to the Section Manager peter@k1pjs.com


WS1EC/WX1GYX Plan:

We plan to have ops at both the CCEMA and NWS Gray stations to support New Hampshire in their SET exercise. The primary objectives will be to establish communications with the NH SEC, and county liaisons via HF on 3945 +/- kHz LSB for voice communications, and to connect to Winlink HF on occasion throughout the exercise to exchange messages and facilitate the collection of weather reports.

We will use this as a training exercise to test message handling skills and to get more experience using digital communications (Winlink and NBEMS). If anyone is interested in participating at either location, please let me know of your availability at: kb1hnz@yahoo.com

We will use the following frequencies during the exercise:

146.595 SKYWARN Primary Simplex (WS1EC Secondary)
146.655 (- / 100) Mt. Washington repeater (for coordination, if necessary)
3945 +/- kHz NH Section HF Traffic and Coordination Net
145.510 DMR Simplex

2017 WS1EC Maine SET Outline

Maine Simulated Emergency Test – Saturday, October 28th

Time: 8AM-6PM

General Scenario

The exercise time-frame is one day after a major state-wide ice storm. The event has interrupted much of the normal communications across the state – land-line telephone, cell phone, and internet. Electrical power is also out in many areas. Physical damage is primarily related to downed trees, towers, and utility poles, with some damage to homes and other buildings. Shelters have been opened, but many people are staying in their homes without any means of “normal” communications. Demand for outbound 3rd party Health & Welfare communications services is high and medical needs & emergencies in the community are a concern.


Exercise Goals (Statewide)

  • Utilization of the statewide HF net for the passage of SITREPS, Weather Reports, and Welfare messages by voice.
  • Use of flmsg standard and custom forms with Winlink Express (statewide) and NBEMS (local ares). These may be sent to MEMA (N1WJO) or any group using Winlink or NBEMS. Messages to the SEC may be sent to the Knox EMA (KX1EMA) using Winlink.
  • Use of Winlink to send Welfare radiograms to KB1TCE (Serving as a target station).
  • Closed loop communications between agencies: agency to agency, with replies usinh ICS-213 format.
  • Test proficiency with composing / transmitting formal traffic, including ICS and Radiogram formats. Use of proper phonetics and prowords for all voice communications. Brevity is important for all communications, voice or digital, to avoid tying up circuits.
  • Community involvement is encouraged.

Our Goals

During last year’s SET we were able to establish communications with each of the FEMA shelters throughout Cumberland County. This provided valuable data that will be useful in determining what communications equipment is required for a deployment to one or many of these shelters. For the first hour or two of the 2017 SET, we will attempt to activate these shelters again, and compare results. This is primarily an FM Simplex test, which will take place on 146.580. Operators at each location will establish contact with the CCEMA Bunker (WS1EC), and National Weather Service Gray (WX1GYX) from each shelter location. The information exchanged will include signal report, and weather report from each location.

If operators have the ability to use multiple power levels, it is recommended to try it at 5 Watts, Medium, and High Power, and report changes in signal strength for each level. If not, just mention what power level you are using, and what type of antenna/radio combination. For those who have DMR capabilities, you’re also encouraged to attempt contact between the shelter location and both CCEMA and NWS using DMR Simplex on 145.510.

Below is a list of the shelters in Cumberland County

  • Brunswick High School
  • Falmouth High School
  • Gorham Middle School
  • Gray-New Gloucester High School
  • Greely Middle School
  • Lakes Region High School
  • Portland Expo Building
  • Scarborough High School
  • South Portland High School
  • South Portland Community Center
  • Westbrook High School
  • Windham High School

Volunteers are still needed at some of the shelter locations and to help out at the CCEMA Bunker!

The second part of the exercise will be to establish contact with MEMA on the HF net, and to compose messages (or forward them) to the following stations using Winlink: N1WJO (MEMA), KX1EMA (SEC), KB1TCE (Target Station, for forwarding of health & welfare or routine traffic).

If we have time after this is, we will try to establish further communications between counties via 2m Simplex, (including NBEMS), HF, or Winlink.


Frequencies:

  • Statewide HF (SSB): 3940 Night / 7262 Day
  • Digital Modes (NBEMS) HF: 3583 Night
  • WSSM-ECT Primary Simplex: 146.580
  • WSSM-ECT Secondary / SKYWARN Simplex: 146.595
  • DMR Simplex: 145.510
  • See the Maine ARES Frequencies Chart for County Simplex Channels

Winlink Addresses:

  • Knox County to KX1EMA (Also SEC)
  • Lincoln County to K1LX
  • Waldo County to W1EMA
  • MEMA to N1WJO
  • Piscataquis County to KB1WEA
  • Hancock County to AB1PZ
  • York County to W1WDW
  • Cumberland County to WS1EC
  • Oxford County to W1OCA
  • Androscoggin County to W1NPP
  • Washington County to N1EP
  • Aroostook County to KB1WGN (Also NWS Caribou)