Amateur Radio Newsline Report #2018, July 1, 2016

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Amateur Radio Newsline Report Number 2018 with a release date of Friday, July 1, 2016 to follow in 5-4-3-2-1.

The following is a QST.  Wildfires and floods imperil public safety and challenge the amateur community. An Ohio ham takes one college assignment to new heights. Germany hosts its 41st global amateur expo. And Radio Caroline is back on the air.....well, sort of. All this and more in Amateur Radio Newsline Report Number 2018 coming your way right now.





PAUL/ANCHOR: This week's report begins with the weather, all kinds of extreme weather. There's the blazing heat, raging fire and elsewhere, torrential flooding that can call radio amateurs into emergency action or preparedness and, in some cases, even cancel plans for a long-awaited Field Day. Our two reports are from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Kanawha County, West Virginia. We hear first from Amateur Radio Newsline's Kent Peterson, KC0DGY, who's been following the wildfires out west.

KENT: We've all heard the horror stories about field day miseries.  Things like the tent blew over or that lightning made us disconnect our antennas for five hours, but what about when a raging wild fire forced evacuations from a site?  Well that happened to the Albuquerque DX Association.  Bob Norton N5EPA explains.

BOB: There were just way too many uncertainties. Too much was still happening. The evacuation orders were lifted only on Thursday before Field Day. So when most field Days start setting up on Friday that's not a whole lot of a window.

KENT: A raging wildfire was burning about 20 miles from Albuquerque.

BOB: It's probably an unbelievably rare situation. It's the first time ever there was a threat to a Torrance County Park. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime threat.

KENT: Norton explained what plans their association had in store for this year's Field Day.

BOB: We intended to have a stand-alone CW station, a stand-alone side band station as well as a VHF station, Kind of too optimistic for this year.

KENT: But the wildfire was bearing down on the Cedro Peak group campground.

BOB: A couple days after the fire started, they closed that entire ranger district down so we looked at the alternate site. But back at Torrance County Park, with the wildfire going, if we were to use the park and the fire jumped the lines, they had concerns with evacuations. With the wildfire going on, we didn't feel comfortable with using the park. We could be a bigger problem for them. We didn't have a third contingency location planned out, so we reluctantly passed on conducting our own Field Day.

KENT: With some help from Mother Nature, firefighters were able to get the upper hand on the blaze.

BOB: It's heavily wooded where they had the fire line. They were about to stop the fire at the main state highway. There were some residents that lost homes. If the fire had continued going northeast it would have headed into a very heavily populated area. Fortunately on Wednesday and Thursday just before Field Day, there were some fairly decent afternoon thunderstorms which parked right over the fire burn area and that made all the difference of turning around that fire.

KENT: In the end, all wasn't lost on this Field Day.

BOB: We had invites from other area clubs. Others just chose to say home and operate a little Field Day from the home station. Which is what I did. Because in the end, I was happy to still have a home. The fire line for me was only four and a half miles and that was just too close for comfort.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm Kent Peterson KC0DGY.



PAUL/ANCHOR: Meanwhile, in flood-ravaged West Virginia, hams awaited word of an emergency activation, but at press time, there was still no need. We hear from Newsline's Jim Damron, N8TMW.

JIM: Severe storms on June 23 caused unprecedented flooding in West Virginia, resulting in 24 deaths with homes, businesses - entire towns - being destroyed. Gov. Earl Ray Tomlin declared a state of emergency in 44 of West Virginia's 55 counties. The President made a federal disaster declaration in eight West Virginia counties. Amateur radio operators have been ready and willing to assist but so far communications channels remain open. ARRL West Virginia Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Stephenson WV8JS explains:

JIM STEPHENSON: Even with the amazing amount of flooding that has happened in the state, the wired telephone systems and the cellphone systems have remained mostly operational�even in these areas where the severe flooding was.  So we have had and still have no communications emergency in WV and for that reason the ARES/RACES groups within the state have not been activated or called out to do anything with emergency communications.

JIM DAMRON: Earlier this week, WV8JS and Kanawha County ARRL Emergency Coordinator Jason Means W8KTM helped install an HF and VHF amateur radio station in the National Guard Charleston be ready to provide any emergency communications which may be needed in coming days.  

JIM STEPHENSON: They want a failsafe system and of course, we all know that the only failsafe system that we know about is amateur radio.

JIM DAMRON: The National Guard has hundreds of its members deployed throughout the flood-stricken areas, providing flood relief and communications. I also talked with Phil Groves N8SFO�ARRL WV Section Manager, who has been on the front lines.

PHIL GROVES: Some of the local ARES groups we had them on standby for any help needed and some of us delivered food and some other essentials�stuff like that to help out.  Just hope that people will reach out any way they can and help out any way they can. We need to help our neighbor.

JIM DAMRON: Phil also advised me that as far as he knows, no Field Day activities were canceled in WV due to the flooding.  In fact, here in flood-ravaged Kanawha County, the Kanawha Amateur Radio Club was able to proceed with their planned Field Day.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I�m Jim Damron N8TMW reporting from Charleston, West Virginia.



PAUL/ANCHOR: We should note that the wildfire crisis and amateur response hasn't just been limited this season to the American west. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus recently had one of its most dramatic struggles in a long time. Amateur Radio Newsline's John Williams, VK4JJW, has those details.

JOHN: The largest forest fires to ever strike the Solea region on the Island of Cyprus are finally over, and the Cyprus Amateur Radio Society has cleared the area's two VHF repeaters for general use again. Cyprus hams employed both club repeaters as well as APRS, with support also provided by stations from the capital city of Nicosia. Firefighters worked on the ground, as well as a team of international aircraft, battling the blazes in high wind conditions and in soaring temperatures.

The deadly pine forest fires were historic for that region, considered to be the largest part of the Mediterranean island. The raging fires also resulted in what is believed to be the first firefighter deaths in the line of duty in at least a decade, claiming two lives.

With the four-day emergency over, Nestor, 5B4AHZ, president of the Cyprus Amateur Radio Society, declared the repeaters returned to general use on the club website on Saturday 25 June.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm John Williams, VK4JJW.




PAUL/ANCHOR: When Pope Francis arrives in Poland toward the end of this month, it will mark his first visit to that country. He will be there for World Youth Days, a biannual event created by Pope John Paul II that draws young Catholics from all corners of the world.

The youth-oriented program isn't the only high profile activity taking place in Krakow, however: Amateur radio's special event station H-F-ZERO-F will be on the air in that city to coincide with the Pope's visit and will operate from July 25 to July 31st. QSL cards should be sent to SP9BRP.

Pope Francis' visit comes 10 years after Pope Benedict's four-day trip to Poland in May 2006.




Time for you to identify your station. We are the Amateur Radio Newsline, heard on bulletin stations around the world, including WA9RDF, the Mid-State Amateur Radio Club repeater on Sundays at 7 p.m. local time.


PAUL/ANCHOR: In the U.S., we have Dayton, but in Europe the big gathering for the past four decades has been in Germany. We hear more from Teemu Salminen, OH7T, who was there for Amateur Radio Newsline:

TEEMU's REPORT: While radio amateurs had their Field Day in the States, in Europe, in Germany, in Friedrichshafen, there was a ham radio expo with over 17,000 visitors from around the world. During the three days, 198 companies and associations from the 36 countries presented their services and products related to radio and telegraphy in ham radio. The many visitors were from the United States, Japan, Taiwan, China, Australia and India and were all represented there. It opened, for its 41st year, with the new motto: "Amateur Radio - on land, on water and in the air." For Amateur Radio Newsline, this is Teemu Salminen, OH7T, in Friedrichshafen, Germany.



PAUL/ANCHOR: College students who love what they're studying often take their assignments higher than they need to go. One Ohio undergrad, a radio amateur, took his sky-high. We hear from Newsline's Stephen Kinford, N8WB.

STEPHEN: For Brandon Nilsson, KD8ZEI, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Akron, what started as one project for his Independent Study project morphed into a Field Day launch of another. In his school assignment, Brandon chose a Morse Code beacon weather balloon because, well, what ham can resist incorporating amateur radio into their schoolwork? He programmed an Arduino microprocessor that allowed the onboard transmitter to send, in CW, the words "W8UPD Weather Balloon," bearing the call sign of the university's amateur radio club, of which he is president. First mission accomplished!

Then came Field Day, and Brandon had even bigger plans: He wanted to launch another weather balloon, this one carrying a cross-band repeater, which he fashioned out of two Baofeng HTs. He programmed a raspberry Pi to take photographs every 30 seconds and save them to an SD card. Then as Field Day launched, so did the balloon.

Brandon told Amateur Radio Newsline QUOTE "I figured Field Day would be the best day of the year to launch since the repeater would have the most likely chance of being used with all the activity." ENDQUOTE

It worked. He told us his farthest contacts were 15 miles north of Detroit, Michigan, into Ontario and also into Warren, Pennsylvania. As for the balloon, it eventually made contact too - with the earth - and was located on the ground in Sugar Creek, Ohio.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm Stephen Kinford, N8WB, in Wadsworth, Ohio.



PAUL/ANCHOR: The summer of 2016 is going to be a memorable summer for three young hams. They're bound for the Caribbean, but they're likely to be more focused on SWR than sun and surf. Here's Amateur Radio Newsline's Heather Embee, KB3TZD, with their story.

HEATHER: The unspoiled Dutch Caribbean island of Saba (SAY-BAH) boasts mountain rainforests, sailing and a chance to watch the antics of flying fish. Oh yes, it's a terrific spot to launch your career as a DXer too. It turns out that one trio of DXers headed to that island soon will be using the callsign Papa-Japan-Six-Youth -- for good reason. Youth, it turns out, is the operative word here: these three are young and enthusiastic kids. They were chosen for the 2016 Dave Kalter Memorial Youth DX Adventure, and they'll set out in August to operate at the island station of Jeff Jolie, PJ6/NM1Y.

The young hams are Morgan Croucher, KD8ZLK; Ruth Willet, KM4LAO, and Faith Hannah Lea, AE4FH. They will work from the island from August 2 through August 9.

The DX adventure is named to honor Dave Kalter, KB8OCP, who was a founder of Youth DX Adventure in October 2009 and a member of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, one of the trip's many sponsors. Kalter became a Silent Key in 2013.

The youngsters will be accompanied by Joe Binkley, KD8YPY; Sharon Willet, KM4TVU, and James Lea, WX4TV. Previous youth trips have included Curacao and Costa Rica.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm Heather Embee, KB3TZD.



PAUL/ANCHOR: In another part of the Caribbean, a group of amateurs has been busy testing equipment they recently got from Australia. They expect all of it to play a key role in their emergency preparedness plans. Amateur Radio Newsline's Jason Daniels, VK2LAW, tells us more.

JASON: The Rainbow Radio League, formed in the Caribbean in 1995 to help St. Vincent and the Grenadines fulfill their emergency communications needs, has entered into a two-year pact with Australia's Barrett Communications, which is providing HF equipment toward that end. The Perth, Western Australia-based company manufactures and supplies commercial VHF and HF radio products, from transceivers and power supplies to mobile antennas.

The nonprofit league will install, operate and maintain the equipment, which comprises new as well as demonstration products. It hopes that these additions will improve the league's work as a first responder in crisis situations.

Everything is presently being tested in the legacy mode, paired with different antennas and in different configurations to ascertain what conditions allow the radios to work their best. The equipment is expected to provide a big boost to the all-volunteer league, which operates two VHF repeaters but has had an incomplete network on HF SSB domestically.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm Jason Daniels, VK2LAW.




PAUL/ANCHOR: If you don't remember Radio Caroline, one of many popular off-shore broadcasters from decades ago, here's a chance to sample what the experience was like, amateur-radio style. Newsline's Jeremy Boot, G4NJH, tells us more:

JEREMY: What happens when a group of hams is waiting for their ship to come in? In this case, what happens can result in a great tribute and some radio nostalgia. That's what's taking shape next month with Special Event station GB5RC, where the "R" and "C" stand for Radio Caroline. Those who remember the era will recall Radio Caroline as the highly popular offshore broadcast operation, complete with superstar DJs, who revolutionized listening in the UK for about five decades.

That ship, by the way, has already come in: It is the MV Ross Revenge, the site of the original Caroline broadcasts. It will be moored in the River Blackwater in Essex. The Martello Tower Group, based in Essex, is operating two stations aboard the craft from 5 August through 8 August.

This time around, though, there won't be any disc jockeys nor any spinning records. But amateurs will be spinning the VFOs on their rigs on most of the HF bands between 40 and  10 meters, including possible operation on 17 and 12. Both stations will operate at the same time and there will be a commemorative QSL card.

It's not such a far stretch for amateur radio to play such a key role in celebrating broadcast radio:

Hams, after all, were very involved in many of the technical aspects of keeping Radio Caroline up and running in the '60s and '70s.

Of course, the Caroline broadcasts on board the MV Ross Revenge stopped in 1991. But the tributes go on and on.

For Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm Jeremy Boot, G4NJH, in Nottingham, the UK.




PAUL/ANCHOR: We close this week's newscast on a personal note, as we take a moment to remember a Silent Key, Margaret Rapp, WD9HEE, of Vincennes, Indiana. Margie, a member of the Old Post Amateur Radio Society, died at her home on April 21 after several years of health issues. She was the mother of Amateur Radio Newsline's Neil Rapp, WB9VPG, and the wife of Del Rapp, WB9UKG. Inspired by her amateur radio son and husband, Margie got her license in 1977, the year after her husband and son received their tickets. She grew to became a strong proponent of YLs on the air and was an active participant in the YL International Sideband System on 40 meters.

In a recent podcast of his show, HamTalk live, Neil talked about his mother and her love of a good ragchew on the local repeaters. He said she once even helped a team track down a bootlegger's signal while she was on the radio.

Margie was a retired beautician and telephone operator and, according to her son Neil, QUOTE "a friendly voice to those passing through or needing help." ENDQUOTE

If people did not know her by her voice, they surely knew her by her callsign phonetics, WD9HEE, for "Happy Easter Egg." Margie Rapp was 82.

The Rapp family asks that memorial contributions be sent to the ARRL General scholarship fund.

We here at Amateur Radio Newsline extend our sympathies to Neil and his family.


NEWSCAST CLOSE: With this newscast, Amateur Radio Newsline marks 39 years - the beginning of its 40th year - of keeping the global amateur community informed. We're proud of the legacy entrusted to us by the late Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, and we're grateful to all of you for your listenership, contributions and news tips. This week we especially thank Alan Labs; the ARRL; Barrett Communications; CQ Magazine; Ham Talk Live; Hap Holly and the Rain Report; the IARU; Irish Radio Transmitter Society; Martello Tower Group; Ohio-Penn DX Bulletin;; Radio Resource International; Southgate Amateur Radio News; Ted Randall's QSO Radio Show; Wireless Institute of Australia; WTWW Shortwave; and you our listeners, that's all from the Amateur Radio Newsline. Please send emails to our address at More information is available at Amateur Radio Newsline's only official website located at

For now, with Caryn Eve Murray, KD2GUT, at the news desk in New York, and our news team worldwide, I'm Paul Braun, WD9GCO in Valparaiso, Indiana saying 73 and as always we thank you for listening.

Amateur Radio Newsline(tm) is Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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