N4MC Map of Ham Radio Dudes

I had previously reported the existence of a web site that provides a Google map of ham radio licensees. Since then, I have heard complaints that the database being used was a tad bit out of date and expired callsigns were showing up on the map.

I just noticed that the VanityHQ.com web site also has a ham mapping feature….and it seems to work quite well. Just go to the VanityHQ.com site and click on “N4MC’s Ham Locator”, which is on the left side of the page.

The main purpose of VanityHQ is to help hams navigate their way to getting a Vanity Callsign. That is, you get to choose the call letters, assuming they are legitimate but unassigned. This is not a trivial task and N4MC has done a great service to the ham community via VanityHQ. There are a number of other useful tools on the web site (including the mapping tool), so go check it out.

73, Bob K0NR

Message from Bill McArthur KC5ACR to Ham Community

Here’s a note from Bill McArthur KC5ACR, thanking the ham community for their support. He needs to thank us? After hearing Bill chat with school kids and lots of hams, I conclude that he is one fine ham. Thanks to you, Bill!

73, Bob K0NR

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 085.03
March 26, 2006
BID: $ANS-085.03

To the Amateur Radio Community,

As Expedition 12 draws to a close onboard the International
Space Station, a note of gratitude is due.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the world-wide
amateur radio community for your participation in this great
adventure. Clearly, one of the benefits for Amateur Radio
is bridging the distances between us. Through your parti-
cipation, you helped realize the potential for the human
exploration of space to do exactly that. Thanks to you,
over the past six months, the International Space Station
has been more international than ever before. Together,
we achieved many significant milestones from space, DXCC,
WAC, WAS, and most importantly, 35 school contacts
(as of March 21).

Special thanks go to Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, without whose
tireless efforts to coordinate our activities onboard none
of this could have been achieved. Kenneth provided invaluable
technical advice, as well as raising the bar as each goal was
achieved. I would also like to thank the ISS Fan Club for
your enthusiastic support of ARISS. And personal thanks
to Cor – PD0RKC in The Netherlands, Alain – IZ6BYY in Italy,
Keith – ZS6TW in S. Africa, and Patrick – WD9EWK in Arizona
for enlisting the participation of the stations we needed
to meet the goals for Expedition 12.

It is with no small degree of sadness to realize that soon
I will no longer be able to float to the aft part of the
station, dial up our frequency pair and call “CQ”, knowing
that a host of friends are waiting to talk. Good luck to
you all. Thank you, again, for your participation in this
greatest of all human endeavors. I look forward to listening
as you continue your enthusiastic support of the International
Space Station and, one day, human colonies on the Moon and Mars.

73 de NA1SS
Bill McArthur, KC5ACR
Commander, Expedition 12
International Space Station

Shuttle Launch Delayed Until July

Discovery won’t launch until at least July.
– Bob K0NR

RELEASE: 06-092

NASA Announces New Window For Next Space Shuttle Mission

NASA announced today July 1 to 19, 2006, is the new launch planning window for Space Shuttle Discovery’s mission (STS-121). The window gives the agency time to do additional engineering work and analysis to ensure a safe flight for Discovery and its crew.

Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale made the announcement during a news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The decision to target July followed a two-day meeting on the external fuel tank’s engine cutoff (ECO) sensors. The sensors indicate whether the tank still has fuel during liftoff. During testing, one of the four ECO sensors had a slightly different reading than is expected. Shuttle officials have decided they will remove and replace all four liquid hydrogen sensors.

“We’ve been saying for months that our engineering work would determine when we fly our next mission. Targeting July is the right choice in order to make smart decisions,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations.

Complete article here

Hello: How to Market Amateur Radio

The ARRL has launched the Hello publicity campaign for amateur radio. The major theme is being able to communicate with distant people via radio. A 4-page pamphlet is available in pdf format, written for the general public.

From the ARRL web site:

NEWINGTON, CT, Mar 15, 2006–The first components of the ARRL’s “Hello” Amateur Radio public relations campaign now are available. “This campaign will give hams the tools they need to reach out in their communities to non-hams and influence their perception of Amateur Radio,” says ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, who conceived the campaign and is its principal Headquarters contact. The “Hello” campaign is aimed at recasting Amateur Radio in the light of the 21st century and focus on its universal appeal. At the same time, it will mark the 100th anniversary of what many historians consider the first voice radio broadcast in 1906 by Reginald Fessenden.

The ARRL has done a good job of putting together a professional marketing campaign. The Hello Radio web site and brochure are well done and deliver on the message of having fun with radio. The one thing that the site doesn’t really emphasize is the emergency communications angle for ham radio. There is a pdf file that discusses ARES, but its format and message is lacking. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Asia, I would expect this to be a major message for a ham radio marketing program. I suspect that this will improve over time as the program rolls out.

On the other hand, there are several public service announcements on the ARRL site that tell the emergency service story quite well. Listen to the audio PSAs by clicking here: Ham Radio Works, Hello Radio, and Hurricane Katrina.

Oh, and don’t forget to get your Hello Radio bumper sticker from the ARRL store.

73, Bob K0NR

NCAR Says Here Comes the Sunspots!

BOULDER—The next sunspot cycle will be 30-50% stronger than the last one and begin as much as a year late, according to a breakthrough forecast using a computer model of solar dynamics developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Predicting the Sun’s cycles accurately, years in advance, will help societies plan for active bouts of solar storms, which can slow satellite orbits, disrupt communications, and bring down power systems.

The coming sunspot cycle is Cycle 24, which will start in late 2007 or early 2008 and peak in 2012. OK, bring it on!!!! -73 Bob K0NR

Space Shuttle Coming Back with STS-121

With all of the attention on NA1SS contacts and SuitSat-1, I have not been paying too much attention to the space shuttle program. Let’s face it, after the second round of stuff falling off the external fuel tank thereby grounding the shuttle, it is easy to lose enthusiasm for the program. When will it become operational? Well, NASA says it is aiming for “Return to Flight” with the launch of Discovery STS-121 as early as May 2006.

The STS-121 crew has been named and does include a number of licensed radio amateurs. Of course, that does not necessarily translate to actual contacts from the ISS. The enthusiasm of Bill McArthur for achieving WAS and WAC is quite unique and may be difficult to match. Astronaut Bill Reiter with ham call sign DF4TR is a member of the STS-121 crew and will remain on ISS after the shuttle returns to earth.

The current ISS Expedition 12 crew is Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev. The NASA web site says that the Expedition 12 crew will return to earth on April 8th, being replaced by the Expedition 13 crew of Pavel Vinogradov and Jeffrey Williams. Neither Vinogradov nor Williams shows up on the astronaut ham list as having their ham radio license. Of course, that is always subject to change.

Anyway, let’s hope we get the shuttle back in the air safely and move ahead with the ISS program. Some ham radio activity would be cool, too.

73, Bob K0NR