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Georgia ARES Convention
Georgia Geritol Net Lunch
The Georgia Geritol Net, which meets on 3995 every morning will have a lunch in Jackson, Georgia on December 8th. The meeting place will be Buckner's Family Restaurant at 11:30 AM. Let K4GK know if you plan to attend.
FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith Says Amateur Enforcement Will Be Aggressive
FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith told a standing-room-only audience at the ARRL Pacific Division Convention (Pacificon) in October that, despite FCC cutbacks, Amateur Radio enforcement will not be compromised. Smith spoke for nearly an hour and a half on a variety of FCC issues related to Amateur Radio, and the entire presentation is available on YouTube, thanks to Bob Miller, WB6KWT, and his son Robert, KA7JKP, who recorded the forum. Smith said that with the FCC set to shut down 11 field offices across the country in January, the Enforcement Bureau has reorganized into three US regions, and she does not anticipate any significant issues for the Amateur Service as a result.
The amateur community will go forward, she said, noting that amateurs have an incredible ability to self-police. In light of the field office closings, she has been working with ARRL to revamp the Official Observer (OO) program.
We are going to redo the entire program, she told the Pacificon forum. Given that the field office cutbacks have left the FCC short staffed, the OO program will step into the gap, with OOs serving as the first line of defense in Amateur Radio enforcement, she explained. Working more closely with the OOs, Smith said, will get information on problems to the field staff more quickly, so they can follow up.
Smith praised the OOs for contributing their time and effort to monitor the bands and to alert licensees both to problematic and positive behavior on the air.
She also said the FCC is more aggressively policing the Amateur Radio bands.
Higher Bands Will Pick Up this Fall, Data Suggest Smaller Solar Cycles Lie Ahead
Propagation guru Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, says that, while conditions on 12 and 10 meters will pick up as they always do in the fall, F2 propagation on those bands will decline thereafter, with only sporadic E during the summer months as a possible saving grace. On the other hand, the lower bands 160, 80, and 40 meters should be good going forward, and 20 and 17 meters will be the mainstays of daylight HF propagation. Luetzelschwab offered these observations during an August 23 World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF)-sponsored webinar Solar Topics Where Were Headed. He said data suggest that Solar Cycle 24, the current solar cycle, will bottom out in 2020, and he advised that radio amateurs may need to lower their expectations on the higher bands (and 6 meters) looking beyond that.
I think the only conclusion we can make with some confidence is that we are headed for some small cycles, he told his audience. He cited various evidence related to the Suns polar fields which appear to be decreasing in strength, A index trends, and cosmic ray data to support his assertion. Luetzelschwab cautioned, however, that past performance does not necessarily predict future performance.
There seems to be a good correlation between how long a solar minimum is and the next solar cycle, said Luetzelschwab. The longer you spend at solar minimum, the smaller the next cycle.
He observed that hams active since the 1950s and 1960s have experienced short inter-cycle solar minimums of approximately 2 years, until the one between Solar Cycle 23 and Solar Cycle 24, which lasted about 4 years. He also allowed that the science is not fully understood, and that some things appearing to be patterns may just be coincidences.
On the other hand, he said, it looks like the downward trend of disappearing sunspots has leveled off, suggesting that Solar Cycle 25 may see a lower smoothed sunspot number as opposed to zero or near-zero sunspots.
Counting those sunspots can be a subjective business. Thats a tough job, he said of the task, noting that it appears observer bias also has been a factor over the years, affecting historical sunspot data. We now have new corrected data that are believed to be more accurate.
Luetzelschwabs article The New Sunspot Numbers, appearing in the October issue of QST, discusses the new sunspot numbers.
Luetzelschwab cited historical sunspot cycle data going back centuries including the Maunder Minimum of zero and near-zero sunspots between the years 1645 and 1715 and a later, less-drastic Dalton Minimum. He pointed out that over the last 11,000 years, 19 notable grand maximums including Solar Cycle 19 and the cycles around it and 27 notable grand minimums were recorded. Were likely to have more of both grand maximums and grand minimums in the future, he predicted. The current system of numbering sunspot cycles begins with Solar Cycle 1 in the mid-18th century.
We dont fully understand the process inside the Sun that makes solar cycles, Luetzelschwab said. Thus, you should exercise caution with statements seen in the news.
Maybe a Solar Minimum Can Be Too Deep for 160 Meters
Propagation observer Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, recently offered some deep thoughts on the Top Band Reflector. As he explained, while less geomagnetic field activity heading into winter bodes favorable 160-meter propagation, more galactic cosmic rays entering our atmosphere could become a factor.
The Suns magnetic field is weakening, probably to the lowest levels in our lifetimes, Luetzelschwab said. With a weak solar magnetic field, more galactic cosmic rays will be able to get into Earths atmosphere. We are now seeing unprecedented high neutron counts (neutrons are one of the byproducts of cosmic rays). Since galactic cosmic rays are mostly very energetic protons, they can get down to low atmospheric altitudes, causing collisional ionization in the D region and lower E region.
He said a cursory estimate using cosmic ray ionization rates confirms greater ionization in the lower atmosphere, and 160 meters is not too tolerant of more absorption.
Many of us think that solar min is solar min is solar min, Luetzelschwab said in his post, but maybe a solar minimum can be too deep for 160 meters. He said a good question to ask in the early 2020s may be, How was 160 meters?
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