OSCAR News - December, 2ØØ8
The next OSCAR meeting is 13-Dec @ 9:00 AM, the second Saturday of the month. Meetings are held at the Happy Chef at US-14 West and I-35.
The December OSCAR meeting is the traditional election of new officers. Dale WBØPKG and Tom NØUW have offered to continue as President and Secretary (respectively). Paul WØFEI indicated his desire not to continue as Treasurer.
OSCAR dues are based on a calendar year and can be renewed for $10 through any officer.
The next SKYWARN meeting is 16-Dec @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.
OSCAR will support the Albert Lea Technician Class by sponsoring a VE session on Tuesday, 02-Dec. Tests will be administered by Willis KAØKEL, Paul WØFEI, Deuel NSØL, and Tom NØUW. Contatc Tom NØUW if you are interested in helping out in future sessions as a VE.
OSCAR will also host a VE Session as part of the Technician Class (below) on 05-Mar.
The dates have been set for the OSCAR Technician class. Following the format used last year, we will have session on Tue/Thu, beginning 10-Feb. The VE exam is scheduled for Thu, 05-Mar. Classes are free, the instruction book will be approximately $25, and the Exam Fee is $15 for 2009. Dale WBØPKG and Tom NØUW will be the primary instructors, but always appreciate guest lecturers.
SKYWARN Recognition Day
From Multiple Sources
The 10th annual SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) special event will take place Saturday, December 6, 2008, from 0000 UTC to 2400 UTC . SKYWARN Recognition Day is a way to recognize the commitment made by Amateur Radio operators in helping keep their communities safe. During the 24-hour special event, Amateur Radio operators visit their local National Weather Service (NWS) office and work as a team to contact other hams across the world. Last year contacts were made in all 50 states and 40
countries during the 24 hour event. To learn more, check out
The ARRL VEC announced that as of January 1, 2009, the fee to take an ARRL Volunteer Examiner (VE)-administered Amateur Radio license exam will increase by $1, from $14 to $15. This is the first time since in four years that the examination fee has been adjusted.
OSCAR Web Site
Remember www.angelfire.com/ego2/oscar? Mark WAØF was responsible for setting up the orignal Angelfire web site back in April, 2003. Since www.oscarmn.org went live back in August 2007, the Angelfire URL remained active. Most of the pages were replaced with redirects to the current site. The Angelfire account was recently deleted. Going back to Angelfire allowed the editor to appreciate the contribution of Dave KCØUVY to make the current site possible.
Willis KAØKEL authored an article on the History of OSCAR some time ago. An
update was started and posted to provide a brief record of the club activities from 2002. Suggestions and contributions are appreciated.
The ARRL released the Field Day scores. The official total for OSCAR is 3,508 points based on 959 QSOs. OSCAR submitted 959 QSOs, so nothing was dropped. Plans are being developed for next year.
The editor attended the 2009 Citizen Corp Conference. One of the booths in the vendor area was Project Lifesaver. This initiative was apparantly established in 1999 as a thechnology to track individuals with Alzheimer's Disease or like illnesses. At risk individuals are fitted with a wrist band containing a transmitter. Using frequencies in the 174MHZ-215MHz range, the transmitters can be tracked using handheld antennas, not unlike those used for 2-meter fox hunts. It appears a couple of facilities in the Metro area may be using the devices. Those fox hunting skills could be useful in tracking lost individuals if this sytem is adopted locally.
From PC World
Three of the biggest laptop computer makers are once again recalling certain batteries because of a risk they may overheat and catch fire. Around 100,000 batteries are being by HP, Toshiba, and Dell. Consumers who believe they have batteries that have been recalled should stop using the batteries and check with their PC vendor. More information can also be found at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
40-meters in Alaska (Part 2)
From AR Newsline
The November OSCAR Newsletter included a story on 40 meters in Alaska. The American Radio Relay
League asked the FCC to delete the 7.1 to 7.3 MHz amateur service segment from the 7.1 to 7.6 MHz allocation that it had approved to Digital Aurora Radio Technologies. The FCC quickly limited the station's license to 7.3 to 7.6 MHz if it wanted to try 40 meter operations. The suggestion is ARRL objection gave the agency a chance to correct a clerical error made in the original license grant. According to several sources, the reach of the 7 MHz Digital Aurora Radio Technologies frequency assignment down to 7.1 MHz was never an issue in the Digital Radio Mondiale broadcasting community. The Digital Aurora Radio Technologies antenna system bandwidth as specified in its filing to the FCC shows that it had the capability to operate down to 7.1 MHz. In an oversight, that became authorized as the lower band edge for the experimental grant until the ARRL petitioned the FCC to change it.
Those Seven Dirty Words
From AR Newsline
Some may remember George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words. Newer Technicians may remember question T3C08 from the question pool. The Supreme Court reviewed broadcast indecency standards for the first time in 30 years. In considering the policy that subjects broadcasters to fines for airing a single expletive blurted out on a live television show. The case is being closely watched by almost all radio service users. In the past the FCC has used standards created in any one given service as a basis of regulatory action in others. And even in ham radio circles the use of words deemed patently offensive has in years past
have lead to charges being brought against alleged users of such language.
Radio Propagation Forecast
From AR Newsline
Tom Giella, KN4LF, reports that as of Friday October 31st that he resumed publishing his
radiowave propagation forecast once again.
Technician Class OnLine
From AR Newsline
The Arlington Radio Public Service Club placed Technician Class Amateur Radio License Course material on their web site. The study materials are available, with some limitations, to other organizations without charge provided that prior permission is obtained and appropriate copyright notice and acknowledgement are included.
SSTV From Space
From Cosmic Log
An innovative space transmission system built by volunteers has started sending down pictures from the International Space Station (ISS) to the whole wide world via amateur radio. Thanks to SpaceCam1, anyone with a police scanner or a suitable radio rig, plus a computer and the appropriate software, should be able to receive pictures from orbit. The
SpaceCam1 slow-scan television system, which combines a couple of hardware gizmos plus the signal-coding software on one of the station's laptop computers, has been three years in the making.
On the space station, the original image can come from something as simple as a Webcam, hooked up to an onboard laptop. Down on the planet, you can tune your scanner or radio receiver to 145.800 mHz on the 2-meter band, pick up the signal, have it converted automatically on your own computer ... and voila! you've made contact. (Here's a technical how-to with links to shareware sources ... or you can do a Web search for software.)
This project is currently being operated intermittently during the crew’s free time. After testing is complete, the system will have the capability of sending several hundred images per day from the ISS Amateur Radio VHF link. With a direct onboard camera feed pointed out the window or in the cabin, each picture sent down could be of unique content. Anyone can receive picture signals from the ISS. See the MAREX-MG Web page or
ARISS web site for details about receiving and tracking the ISS.
700 MHz 'D' Block
From AR Newsline
The Federal Communications Commission has adopted a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. One that proposes licensing the D Block spectrum at 700 MHz as part of a revised public and private partnership. The primary goal is to promote the deployment of such a broadband network that provides maximum coverage to first responders across the country. The FCC says that like in its first attempt the spectrum for this interoperable emergency communications system will be put up for auction and a Public Safety Broadband Licensee should remain a non-profit entity. The NPRM includes such specifics as eligible users of the public safety broadband spectrum must be providers of public safety services as defined under federal law.
DTV and White Space
From PC World
When the television broadcast spectrum turns digital in February, a massive amount of unused "white space" will open up. Now that the FCC has approved the use of broadband devices to function within this white space, a multitude of new opportunities for consumers and manufacturers awaken. Companies looking to invest in wireless broadband services could provide an increased number of Internet service providers. The newly released wireless broadband can penetrate through walls and have a much longer range than the Wi-Fi. As data download speeds intensify, VoIP may become a more valid alternative to cellular phone signals.
From CGC Communicator
A survey by ABI Research indicates that over-the-air TV viewing habits will be as follows after the DTV switch:
* about 70% of viewers will use a converter box,
* about 20% of viewers will let their NTSC sets go dark, and
* about 10% of viewers will switch to cable or satellite.
There is no indication that the survey asked how many people would simply go out and buy a DTV set.
DTV Transition Investigation
From Multiple Sources
You've seen the DTV PSAs indicating your analog TV will continue to work if it is connected to cable. The federal appeals court upheld the FCC's decision to require cable systems to make the digital signals of local broadcast must-carry stations viewable to all subscribers, including analog subscribers. The FCC has opened an investigation into the pricing policies of major cable operators. The FCC wrote to numerous cable operators questioning the companies' practice of moving analog channels into digital tiers to free up bandwidth for other uses, such as high-definition channels. Analog customers would have to get a digital set-top box from the operator or buy the digital TV tier to watch those channels. The agency also will look into whether they are confusing customers by linking the shift of the analog channel to the digital tier to the unrelated transition to digital broadcasts. Most cable customers are analog customers, and those who do not wish to upgrade to digital cannot watch the channels that are moved to the digital tier.
From AR Newsline
The removal of all analog television from channel 2 will be celebrated with an on the air 6 meter operating event. The noise floor on 6 meters is expected to drop markedly when all of the 100 kilowatt analog channel 2 transmitters go away. This means that here to for unreadable signals may just come out of the noise like never before. WB5ITT says that he currently has representatives from three analog channel 2 stations on board the event and is looking for others to join in the party.
IBM and BPL
From Multiple SOurces
IBM wants to bring high speed Internet to rural areas of the nation using BPL technology. IBM and International Broadband
Electric Communications are working with over a dozen electric cooperatives in seven states. IBM will provide the data technology while International Broadband Electric Communications will manage the networks.
From Design News
Remember SuitSat? This article
discusses the application of an 8-bit microcontroller to an unmanned space suit. It provides one of the more unusual examples of the uses for these ubiquitous embedded computing devices. The SuitSat transmitted information that was heard around the world.
The ARRL released a new self-study course on digital technology for emergency communications. The course intends to help amateurs take advantage of emerging modes such as Packet Radio APRS, Winlink 2000, IRLP, EchoLink and WIRES-II, D-STAR, APCO25, HF sound card modes and Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). The ARRL Digital Technology for Emergency Communications Course is available from the ARRL for only $49.95.