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Amateur Radio Parity Act Set for House Energy and Commerce Committee Markup

The Amateur Radio Parity Act (H.R. 1301) is among five bills that the US House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled for a “full committee” markup on June 22 and 23. The panel, chaired by Rep Fred Upton (R-MI), will consider H.R. 1301 and an “Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 1301.” Earlier this month, the ARRL and the Community Associations Institute (CAI) — the national association of homeowners associations (HOAs) announced that they had reached consensus on the bill’s provisions. The committee is scheduled to convene at 5 PM on June 22 for opening statements only; it will get down to work Thursday morning. Committee members have been asked to submit any amendments they may have for any of the bills scheduled for consideration at least 2 hours before they are offered during the markup. Committee sessions will be streamed live.

According to ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, the substitute bill would guarantee that a radio amateur living in a deed-restricted community — including condominium or townhouse communities — could install and maintain an “effective outdoor antenna.” He said the agreement was achieved without disrupting 30 years of zoning case law that has interpreted the PRB-1 federal preemption and protected radio amateurs from overregulation by zoning authorities. The bill incorporates the basic tenets of PRB-1.  (ARRL, Jun 23, 2016)

The History of the ARRL Field Day

Amateur Radio operators have been transmitting from “the field” ever since radio has been around. In 1933, the American Radio Relay League – the National Association for Amateur Radio – formalized this activity for a weekend each June, called Field Day. For the duration of Field Day, over thousands of “hams” across the United States, Canada, and many other countries take their radio gear out of their homes and set up temporary stations almost anywhere imaginable: public parks, beaches, mountaintops, baseball diamonds, atop parking garages, and yes, even in fields. We do so as part of a local club, or with just a friend or two or their family, or individually. In 2015, over 1.2 million radio contacts were made between Amateur Radio operators during the Field Day weekend. Some stats for the 2015 Field Day are:

Total Participants 36,369  
Total QSO’s (contacts by radio)     1,299,207     (an increase of 1.1% over 2014)
QSO’s by Phone (voice) 668,241        (roughly 51.45%)
QSO’s by CW (Morse code) 578,545      (roughly 44.5%)
Digital QSO’s 52,421        (roughly 4.045%)


Information source: ARRL QST Magazine, December 2015


Pretty Impressive numbers, even when we recall that propagation ‘gods’ were not especially nice to us that weekend. Over all the number of logs submitted for Field Day 2015 appears to be an all time record. Rol Anders K3RA wrote an article QST in December 1999 titled 'Field Day - A mirror of Amateur Radio History' that reviews filed day by year all the way back to its start in 1933 and can be found here.  Its refreshing that one of the single most popular ‘events’ for amateur radio operators, and for, many the start of our interest in the hobby is – Field Day!

ARRL and Community Associations Institute Find Common Ground on Parity Act Language

ARRL and the Community Associations Institute (CAI) — the national association of homeowners associations (HOAs) — have reached consensus on provisions of the Amateur Radio Parity Act, H.R. 1301. ARRL and CAI have worked intensively since February to reach agreement on substitute language for the bill in an effort to move it through the US House Energy and Commerce Committee and to overcome objections to the companion US Senate bill, S. 1685.

Read full story at:


Ham Radio Podcasts

Portage County Amateur Radio Service, Inc. (PCARS) The RADIOGRAM June 2016
Jeff, K8JTK
Ohio ARRL Section Technical Coordinator
I’ve wanted to do this article for some time but kept putting it off due to more relevant and timely topics. Ham Radio Podcasts. With Dayton quickly approaching, you’re likely to see many of these hosts at Hamvention. If you’re not, you may have seen them in the past and wondered “what’s a podcast?”
The word “podcast” is a mashup between the words “IPod” and “broadcast.” There is some debate on this because the word predated the IPod portable media player. Some say ‘POD’ means “portable on demand.” Either way, they are both accurate. “Net cast” is an Internet broadcast and synonymous with podcast but typically don’t make content available offline.
A podcast is a digital media file offering audio and/or video content. PDFs or eBooks (books in electronic form) can be considered podcasts too. In general, podcast refers to audio or video. The content can be whatever the creator wants each file to contain. Most are a series of episodes covering a topic of interest. Some follow a news magazine format discussing recent news and developments. Others could be clips from a longer radio show including interviews or bits made available for download. Podcasts often serve niche interests where it might not be popular as a broadcast radio show to the general public. The same content targeted toward special interests or hobbyists would do very well.
The creator or distributor maintains a list of episodes known as a “web feed” which provides users with updates. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is used to publish frequently updated information. The RSS rippling signal icon with headphones or microphone signifies a podcast feed. An app known as a “podcatcher” monitors the web feed for new content. The app then notifies the user or downloads the episode automatically. Once the file is downloaded, it’s available offline where you don’t need to be connected to the Internet. In this way someone can download a number of episodes and listen to them at a remote camping site with no Internet. This is different than YouTube or Netflix where a connection to the internet is required to view content on demand.
The first podcast was believed to be released around 2003. This technology really became popular with the growth of the internet and portable media devices like the IPod. Podcasts cover a vast range of topics including: movies, news, science, comedy, interviews, storytelling, health, love, self-improvement, music, food, business, sports, pop culture, and farming. The list… goes on. There really is something for everyone. Podcast technology is considered disruptive because the radio business spends a lot to provide content to wide-ranging audiences. Podcasts have shown that preconceptions of audiences, production, and consumption are no longer traditional. Sure some podcasts are produced in studios with professional equipment. The majority are recorded using similar pieces of gear found in your ham shack: professional microphone, mixer, computer, internet connection to bring in guests, and maybe a video camera or webcam thrown in there too. Anyone can do it!
On the flip side, since anyone can do it, episodes depend on schedules of the host(s). Some release on a weekly schedule, some monthly, others “as time permits.” Some podcasters have been around awhile. While others try it out and decide it’s too much effort.
I consume podcasts using my phone. If you do the same, know the limits of your phone’s data plan and use Wi-Fi when possible. Video files in particular can be very large depending on quality (hundreds of megabytes to a gigabyte). Podcatcher apps are available on every platform. Check the ‘app store’ for your device.
PocketCasts is my favorite. It’s available on Apple and Android devices for about $4. I think it’s the nicest looking app and it’s easy to discover podcasts. Stitcher is another popular app, and free. Apple ITunes, Google Play, and TuneIn have podcast directories. Poddirectory (poddirectory.com) is great for desktop users. Also devices like the Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV allow for viewing on a TV.
Podcasts are free. Many are supported through sponsors. In the same way that podcasts are targeted for special interests, the ads typically are too. Some ask for support and donations in lieu of advertisements. Others don’t ask for any support. If you find any podcast useful or you regularly listen, show your support for the work they are doing by throwing them a couple bucks or visiting their sponsors. It does cost money for equipment, bandwidth, storage, projects demonstrated, and services needed to bring you a wonderful podcast.
For content and podcast creators, gain lots of exposure for your work. Post new episodes and show notes on places where likeminded people hang out (www.QRZ.com). Even though ITunes is a terrible experience all around, nearly all podcatcher applications get their directories from ITunes. Get listed there so all the podcatcher apps pick up the show!
Below is a list of ham radio podcasts I’ve found. It includes the ARRL! I’m sure this list is not complete because I’m constantly finding new ham radio podcasts. This list mainly came from headline posts on QRZ.com or I discovered them in my podcatcher app.
100 Watts and a Wire (100wattsandawire.com) – Experiences of a new ham operator hosted by Christian K0STH.
Amateur Logic and Ham College (amateurlogic.tv) – Ham Radio and technology show hosted by George W5JDX, Tommy N5ZNO, and Peter VK3PB. They do a second podcast covering theory, history, and topics that appear on the Technician exam.
Amateur Radio Newsline (arnewsline.org) – News for Radio Amateurs. You’re probably heard this newscast on a local repeater.
ARRL Audio News (arrl.org/arrl-audio-news) – News of the week from the ARRL hosted by Sean KX9X.
Everything Hamradio (www.everythinghamradio.com) – Ham radio topics hosted by Curtis K5CLM.
Ham Nation (twit.tv/hn) – Ham Radio topics covered by Bob K9EID, Gordon WB6NOA, George W5JDX, Don AE5DW, Amanda K1DDN, Val NV9L, and Dale K0HYD. I host the D-STAR After Show Net for this podcast.
Ham Radio Now (hamradionow.tv) – Covers ham radio topics, forums, and seminars with Gary KN4AQ.
Ham Talk Live (hamtalklive.com) – Call-in ham radio show with Neil WB9VPG.
HamRadio 360 (hamradio360.com) – Ham Radio topics hosted by Cale K4CDN.
ICQ Podcast (icqpodcast.com) – Talk-radio style podcast.
Linux in the Ham Shack (lhspodcast.info) – Covers Linux, Open Source, music, and food for the shack hosted by Russ K5TUX (get it?) and his YL Cheryl.
PARP [Practical Amateur Radio Podcast] (myamateurradio.com) – Operating with Jerry KD0BIK.
· QSO Radio Show (www.qsoradioshow.com) – Ham Radio talk show on WTWW shortwave hosted by Ted Randall WB8PUM.
QSO Today (qsotoday.com) – Interviews with Eric 4Z1UG.
SolderSmoke (www.soldersmoke.com) – Radio-electronic homebrewers.
TX Factor (txfactor.co.uk) – Professionally produced programs dedicated to ham radio.
Net casts (typically online only):
DX Engineering Interviews (youtube.com/user/DXEngineering) – Tim K3LR interviews guests.
Ham Sandwich (thehamsandwich1.blogspot.fi) – “Off beat” show about Amateur Radio with Steve KD0PXX and Greg OH2FFY.
Ham Sunday (www.youtube.com/user/adafruit –then search “Ham Sunday”) – “Lady Ada” Limor AC2SN of Ada Fruit learning ham radio.
K6UDA (www.youtube.com/user/bondobob) – Bob K6UDA, the Elmer with an attitude. This one can be NSFW (not safe for work).
W5KUB (www.w5kub.com) – Tom W5KUB, you know him as the guy who documents his trip to Dayton Hamvention using the “Helmet cam.” He hosts roundtable events on Tuesday nights.
YHAMRADIO (w5mhg.com/yhamradio) – Interviews “Y” hams got into ham radio with Mark W5MHG.

Element 4 Extra Class question pool

On July 1, 2016 a new Element 4 Extra Class question pool will take effect for examinations. VECs and VEs will have new test designs available for use at exam sessions effective that date.

The newly revised pool released in January 2016 (updated and re-released March 5, 2016) by the Question Pool Committee (QPC) of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) must be in use starting July 1st. There are 12 graphics required for this pool and 713 questions in this pool, up slightly from 702 in the previous pool. Question E9H03 was deleted from the pool and should not appear on exams. The balance of E9H section was not renumbered, leaving 10 questions. To view all three questions pools, visit the NCVEC web site at www.ncvec.org/ .

With the Extra Class exam questions changing July 1st, new test designs must be used effective that day. Previous ARRL VEC supplied Extra class exam booklets versions (2012 series) and computer generated Extra class exams created from the 2012 question pool are only valid until midnight June 30, 2016. At that time VE Team leaders will destroy the old versions of the Extra Class exams.

The question pools review is part of a regular process and each question pool is reviewed and updated on a four year rotation. No question pools are scheduled to be updated or released in 2017. Useful information pertaining to the pools can be viewed on the ARRL Web at www.arrl.org/question-pools .


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