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“Black Swan 18” Exercise to Test US Government/Amateur Radio Interoperability on 60 Meters

Black Swan 18” is a communications exercise aiming to test how well responders, emergency management agencies, and non-government organizations (NGOs) activate, operate, and complete communication missions, specifically in terms of the volume, accuracy, and speed of radio traffic. The scenario for the October 4 – 10 Black Swan 18 will be a series of winter storms and associated events. ARRL Field Organization teams have been invited to adapt this activity as the basis of their annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET). Operational periods by participating organizations should not exceed 48 hours.

“In a high-impact disaster, response will need to include many organizations bringing their unique expertise and resources to bear in a coordinated fashion,” the Black Swan 18 announcement explains. “Black Swan 18 will test this ability to operate across geography and among complementary organizations. Cooperating forces include the Ohio Military Reserve (2nd Battalion), the ARRL Ohio and Iowa sections, and Air Force MARS.”

For this exercise, communication between US government radio stations and Amateur Radio stations is authorized on the five channels at 5 MHz where the Amateur Service has secondary status. Exercise communications must yield to real-world emergency communications. Interoperability will remain in effect for the duration of the exercise.

The exercise will run in three stages:

1. “Build-Up” is October 4 – 5, when organizations involved in preparation for large events or response to localized emergencies may wish to participate.

2. “Intense Action” is October 6 – 7, when most organizations will be establishing operating stations and handling radio traffic in support of emergency preparation, response, and recovery. Organizations that cannot participate during the “Intense Action” timeframe may run their own exercises in any 48-hour window during the scenario.

3. “Recovery” is October 8 – 10, when organizations preparing for and engaged in recovery operations may wish to participate.

Localized severe weather events and effects may cause activation in the week before or the week after the scheduled timeframe.

Ohio Military Reserve will provide exercise controllers on SHARES stations NNO5HA, NNO5HD, and NNO5HG. This activation has been approved by the FEMA Spectrum Manager. 

New Beta Version WSJT-X 2.0 Boasts Major Changes

Hot off the press from the ARRL Letter!

As promised, the WSJT-X Development Group has announced a new "candidate release," WSJT-X 2.0 rc1. This beta version of the popular digital mode suite incorporates many new FT8 and MSK144 features that will be of particular interest to the Amateur Radio contesting community. It includes all FT8 DXpedition Mode changes already developed in WSJT-X 1.9.1.

"Enhancements to the FT8 decoder ensure that in most situations decoding sensitivity is slightly better than for the old protocol. Symbol rates and occupied bandwidths are the same as before, and false-decode rates are significantly lower," the user notes explain. "The decoding threshold for MSK144 is a fraction of a decibel higher than before, owing to the slightly larger message payload and higher code rate." WSJT-X 2.0 introduces no significant changes to the JT4, JT9, JT65, QRA64, ISCAT, Echo, or FreqCal protocols.

The new features are summarized on the WSJT-X website and in the Quick-Start Guide to WSJT-X 2.0. Contest-related changes include:

  • Support for standard ARRL Field Day exchanges, such as 6A SNJ.
  • Better support for North American VHF contests, with improved handling of grids and /r rover call sign designators.
  • Six-character locators and call sign suffix support for portable operators, focused on EU VHF contesting.
  • Support for standard contest exchanges in the ARRL RTTY Roundup, such as 579 MA or 559 0071.
  • Support for call signs of up to 11 alphanumeric characters, to accommodate non-standard and compound call signs.

Support for new exchanges should expand the ability of contesters to use FT8 and other WSJT-X protocols during contests that allow digital contacts and where the exchange is a traditional signal report and state/province/country.

According to the release notes, WSJT-X 2.0 also offers "significantly better sensitivity" (about 1 dB) for the WSPR decoder. In addition, color highlighting of decoded messages provides worked-before status for call signs, grid locators, and DXCC entities on a by-band basis. Color highlighting can also identify stations that have -- or have not -- uploaded their logs to "Logbook of The World" (LoTW) within the past year.

Those participating in WSJT-X beta tests are expected to report their experiences to the developers and upgrade to the general availability release when it becomes available. Visit the WSJT-X web page for more information.

Theme for World Amateur Radio Day: April 18, 2019

Theme for World Amateur Radio Day: April 18, 2019  “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society”

For immediate release:

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has announced that the theme for World Amateur Radio Day, April 18, 2019, will be “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society”.

The Administrative Council (AC) of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) held its annual in-person meeting on September 8 and 9, 2018 in Seoul, Republic of Korea, immediately prior to the IARU Region 3 Conference. The AC is responsible for the policy and management of the IARU and consists of the three IARU international officers and two representatives from each of the three IARU regional organizations.

After consideration of several possible alternatives the theme for World Amateur Radio Day, April 18, 2019, was confirmed as “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society”.

Attending the meeting were IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA; Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR; Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ; regional representatives Don Beattie, G3BJ, Hans Blondeel Timmerman, PB2T, Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM, Ramón Santoyo, XE1KK, Gopal Madhavan, VU2GMN, and Peter Young, VK3MV. Present as observers were regional executive committee members Jay Bellows, K0QB, Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP, and Don Wallace, ZL2TLL.

The next in-person meeting of the AC is scheduled to be held immediately prior to the IARU Region 2 Conference in Lima, Peru at the end of September 2019. Virtual AC meetings will be held by teleconference as required.

For more information visit: https://wp.rac.ca/iaru-administrative-council-meeting-focuses-on-wrc-19-preparation-and-succession-planning/

KB6NU Ham Radio Blog and 3D printed parts for ham radio

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is a prolific writer, blogger, podcaster, and all-around interesting guy! I follow his blog and have listened to him on the ICQ Ham Radio Podcast.  Recently he blogged about 3D printed parts for ham radio and I thought I would share this with KARC members because there is some really interesting stuff going on in the maker space. One of the commenters stated that he has over fifty 3D printed pieces in his ham Go Box!

Have a look at the column (linked below) and learn what ham's are doing with 3D printers.


VA7SPA Silent Key 1935-2018

KARC member Stratton "Paul" Angrave, VA7SPA, passed away on July 21, 2018.

Paul is survived by his loving wife Jan of 41 years, his brother Joe Gagnier, several nieces, nephews and cousins.  Paul was an active volunteer with the Provincial Emergency Radio Communication Service, becoming a volunteer at the Central PREOC in 2004.  Paul was an valued member of the club, and he will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to the BC Lupus Association or a charity of your choice.

Lowering the tower and beam at VE7WWW

A team of KARC members and friends lowered the tower and beam of SK Bill Foster, VE7WWW on the morning of July 26.  Myles spent a couple evenings setting up the falling derrick system, and his friend Rolf helped build the base anchor for the falling derrick.  Myles also honed his slingshot skills shooting weighted lines through the tower legs to allow him to get a series of support ropes hooked to the falling derrick, and two guy ropes to help the team stabilize the tower while lowering.

Myles (VE7FSR), Dave (VE7LTW), Vern (VE7VGO), Rolf and Don worked together to lower the tower, using the winch on Myles' Jeep to control the tower on the way down.  Everything went smoothly and the tower was quickly lowered towards the back yard, the beam was removed, and the tower was detached from the tilt-base and placed in the back yard.

See below for more pictures of the tower before and after, including some pictures of the tilt-base and falling derrick assembly. Thank you to the team for coming out to help, 73!


Good old-fashioned antenna raising party!

On Saturday, July 14, the KARC crew got together to help club member Charles (Chuck) Hays, VE7PJR, install his "home-brewed" 43 foot vertical HF antenna.  Chuck built the antenna from aluminum irrigation pipe, and constructed his own mount and base insulator.  He is using an LDG RT-600 remote tuner and has installed 4,000 feet of copper ground radials (feel free to count them in the photo below!).

The new antenna should give Chuck an excellent signal, and be a great companion to his HF receiving loop. I can only imagine the bandwidth you get with a radiator that big!

Helping with the installation was Adam (VA7AQD), Dianne, Dave (VE7LTW), Vern (VE7VGO), Myles (VE7FSR) and Rolf. Chuck had done all the hard work ahead of time (laying out the radials must have been fun on that hillside slope!) and the crew just had to tie off the guy ropes and lift the antenna (aka pipe) onto the base insulator.  The process went well and the crew was soon back to Chuck's kitchen for welcome cookies, burgers, and cold drinks.

Have a look below at some more photos from the event.

The Doctor Will See You Now!

"Taking Amateur Radio on Vacation" is the topic of the latest (June 21) 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 email 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.

RAC Canada Day Contest 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC July 1, 2018

Each year on July 1, the anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, Radio Amateurs of Canada sponsors the Canada Day Contest and Amateurs all over the world are invited to Canada’s Birthday Party on the air.

Contest Period: 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC July 1, 2018.

Bands and Modes: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6 and 2 metres, CW and phone (SSB, FM, AM, etc.)

Suggested frequencies: CW – 25 kHz up from the band edge and for SSB – 1850, 3775, 7075, 7225, 14175, 21250, 28500 kHz. Check for CW activity on the half-hour.

Exchange: Stations in Canada send RS(T) and province or territory. VEØs and stations outside Canada send RS(T) and a serial number.

QSOs: Contacts with stations in Canada or VEØs are worth 10 points. Contacts with stations outside Canada are worth 2 points. Contacts with RAC official stations are worth 20 points. RAC official stations are: VA2RAC, VA3RAC, VE1RAC, VE4RAC, VE5RAC, VE6RAC, VE7RAC, VE8RAC, VE9RAC, VO1RAC, VO2RAC, VY0RAC, VY1RAC and VY2RAC. You may work any station once on each of the two modes, on each of the eight contest bands.

It is prohibited to make CW contacts in the conventional phone sub-bands and phone contacts in the conventional CW sub-bands. Contacts or soliciting QSOs through a repeater during the contest period is not allowed.

Multipliers: Thirteen in total, Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. Each multiplier may be counted once on each mode on each of the eight contest bands. The multipliers, with their postal abbreviations and prefixes are: Nova Scotia [NS] (VE1, VA1, CY9, CYØ); Quebec [QC] (VE2, VA2); Ontario [ON] (VE3, VA3); Manitoba [MB] (VE4, VA4); Saskatchewan [SK] (VE5, VA5); Alberta [AB] (VE6, VA6); British Columbia [BC] (VE7, VA7); Northwest Territories [NT] (VE8); New Brunswick [NB] (VE9); Newfoundland and Labrador [NL] (VO1, VO2); Nunavut [NU] (VYØ); Yukon [YT] (VY1); and Prince Edward Island [PE] (VY2). Certain special Canadian prefixes in use at the time of the contest may also apply; however there may be no more than 13 multipliers on each band/mode. Please use the multiplier abbreviations, in square brackets, noted above.

Final Score: The total QSO from all bands multiplied by the total number of multipliers from all bands.

More pictures from the 2018 Bill Foster Memorial Field Day

Adam uploaded a couple more photos from Field Day this past weekend, and I took a screen capture of our final scores from the N1MM+ contest logging program (we also managed to work N1MM on RTTY on Sunday!). We also had a fabulous potluck supper on Saturday night, but we were all so busy enjoying the goodies that we forgot to take any pictures.  Thank you to everyone that brought all the awesome food for the potluck and the goodies that kept us fed during the contest!










We used the projector at the PREOC as a second monitor on Adam's station. This gave us a really big view of what was happening on FT8!











Adam was pretty intense on Saturday night!  He was really trying to make those contacts on FT8!











Quentin and Myles calling CQ on Saturday night before I wiped out the front end of Adam's radio. Next year we need to put a little more space between the antennas, buy some band-pass filters, use a front-end saver, or all of the above!  Lesson learned!

73, and see you all next year at Field Day!


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