SCARS Weekly Newsletter, July 27, 2015

Ham Holiday 2015 . . .
ARRL Complains about Home Depot Ballasts . . .
Hawai’i QSO Party . . .
How to Become A VE . . .
D-Star Stuff . . .
Amateur Radio Newsline . . .
Ham College Episode 6 . . .
K7RA Solar Update . . .
Officers, and odd-links . . .
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles _…_._

Ham Holiday 2015

Ham Holiday has come and gone now. I’ll have more to say about it at a later time, but today I’ll just say that regarding the Testing which Peter and the SCARS VE Team manned, there were 6 new Techs, 4 who upgraded to General, and 2 Extras from the session. A good day in a very spartan location.

Good Job, Team!

But more later…

Don’t just skim this article! This MAY VERY WELL be the cause of some of your HF noise!!!

ARRL Complains to FCC About The Home Depot’s Marketing of RF Lighting Devices


The ARRL has filed a formal complaint with the FCC, alleging that The Home Depot home improvement chain has been illegally marketing certain RF-ballast lighting devices in violation of FCC Part 18 rules. Accompanying the League’s July 14 letter to FCC Enforcement Bureau Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Bruce Jacobs and Office of Engineering and Technology Laboratory Division Chief Rashmi Doshi was a 20-page report prepared by the ARRL Laboratory’s Mike Gruber, W1MG. His report outlines four instances in which The Home Depot sold non-consumer-rated RF lighting devices having far greater emission limits and intended for commercial use to consumers who specifically voiced an intention to use the devices in residential settings. In some cases, information included with devices sold to consumers indicated that they were for commercial use only, but not all products sold included such a notice.

“Clearly Home Depot’s marketing and sale of non-consumer ballasts is not adequate to ensure compliance with FCC Part 18 requirements,” Gruber’s report concluded. The ARRL asked the FCC to “investigate and commence and enforcement proceeding” regarding The Home Depot’s retail marketing and sale of RF lighting devices in the US.

In its letter, the League noted that it has received numerous complaints from the Amateur Radio community of “significant noise” in the bands between 1.8 and 30 MHz from so-called “grow light” ballasts and other RF lighting devices regulated under FCC Part 15 and Part 18 rules.

“These devices are easily capable of emitting RF noise sufficient to preclude Amateur Radio MF and HF communications (and as well, AM broadcast station reception) throughout entire communities and at distances of up to ½ mile from the device,” the ARRL said. According to the League, its investigations in several states revealed an alarming number of instances of retail sale of electronic lighting ballasts, in which non-consumer-rated ballasts were mixed in with consumer ballasts and other consumer products. Gruber’s report noted that the conducted emission limit for consumer-rated devices are 22 dB lower than their commercial counterparts for all amateur bands below 30 MHz.

“In most of the stores surveyed, unsuspecting consumers have no way of knowing the significance of consumer vs. non-consumer ballasts,” the League said. “In some cases, ‘commercial’ grade ballasts, with their associated non-consumer emission limits, appeared to be a heavier duty or superior product. The display signage typically used implies, therefore, that commercial ballasts are also a product upgrade for home use.” The ARRL said that store display signage typically did not mention or adequately address applicable FCC Part 18 requirements, as they pertain to interference in a residential environment.

The League said that in the four instances where actual purchases of RF lighting devices were made at The Home Depot retail outlets, purchasers “specifically asked about residential deployment of non-consumer RF lighting ballasts.” The ARRL said it’s apparent that The Home Depot — and, by inference, other similar retail stores — is “actively and knowingly engaged” in selling commercial RF lighting products to customers for use in residential environments.

“If this activity is left unchecked the Commission will continue to note a deterioration in ambient noise levels and preclusive interfering signals for both AM broadcasters and Amateur Radio licensees in the entirety of the high-frequency bands,” the League’s complaint said.

The ARRL asked the Commission to “take appropriate action” with respect to The Home Depot and other retail outlets marketing such RF lighting devices “without delay.”

A copy of the letter was sent to The Home Depot’s Atlanta, Georgia, Store Support Center.

via ARRL Complains to FCC About The Home Depot’s Marketing of RF Lighting Devices. [click to go there]

Hawai’i QSO Party

Tom, KH6AAA, forwarded this info. For those of you looking to pick up one of the less-accessible states, this will be your chance, and you may very well get the opportunity to talk to a new Boy Scout Amateur Radio Operator to boot!

All went well for Troop 316 on Saturday the 25th of July.  Eight scouts got their Radio Merit Badges.  They were accompanied by 3 leaders. 4 hours classroom in the ships study area and 3 hours operating KH6BB in radio central.

Next event in radio will be what we call the “Hawaii QSO Party”.  It’s a world wide gab fest for radio amateurs starting Friday, August 21st at 6pm HST.

How To Become A VE

If you are interested in becoming an ARRL Volunteer Examiner (VE) and serving the Amateur Radio community, it’s easy and free!

Follow these three steps to become an ARRL Volunteer Examiner:

1. Review the Volunteer Examiner Manual, paying special attention to Chapter 2: Becoming a Volunteer Examiner.

2. Complete and sign the VE Application form and open-book review * (40 question review).

3. Please fax, mail or email forms (Adobe PDF file or scanned JPEG image showing your real signature) to the address below: * *

225 Main St
Newington, CT 06111  USA

Fax: 860-594-0339


Once accredited, you will receive in the mail a colorful, laminated VE badge, and badge clip to wear at exam sessions and a certificate suitable for framing. Please allow 3-4 weeks for the ARRL VE badge and certificate to arrive.

A bit more info at this link:

 D-Star Stuff

More and more Amateurs are getting into Digital radio and the OU Club does have a D-Star repeater with an antenna located on the roof of the Weather Center. The link below will get you on your way to understanding a little more about this new and very interesting way to talk to the world

 Amateur Radio Newsline

Amateur Radio Newsline continues in good hands. Here is this week’s episode:

Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1969 July 24, 2015


[Script and Audio streams at the link below]

via Amateur Radio Newsline #1969  7-24-2015

Ham College, Episode 6

In episode 6 we talk about and demonstrate diodes. More questions and answers from the Technical class question pool.

Episode 6 – Ham College Episode 6 [click to go there]

K7RA Solar Update


All daily sunspot numbers dipped into the double digits last week, with the average declining from 73.7 to 43.4. This compares the latest July 16-22 period against the previous seven days.

Over the same periods, average daily solar flux went from 114.8 to 95.1.

Geomagnetic indices were mostly quiet, with average daily planetary A index going from 13.7 to 6.1 and average mid-latitude A index declining from 12.3 to 8.1.

At 0749 UTC on July 23 the Australian Space Forecast Center posted a geomagnetic disturbance warning: “A sustained period of southward IMF is resulting in mildly elevated levels of geomagnetic activity, particularly at high latitude regions. Further mildly elevated levels of geomagnetic activity are possible during the remainder of 23 July.”

And indeed the planetary A index for the day was 23, with planetary K index reaching 3, 4, 5 and 3 over the first four 3-hour readings. The high latitude college A index was 33, with the first K index readings at 3, 4, 7, and 4.

Predicted solar flux is 90 on July 24, 95 on July 25, 100 on July 26-27, 105 on July 28-30, 110 on July 31, 115 on August 1-4, 110 and 105 on August 5-6, 100 on August 7-9, then 95 on August 10-13, finally dipping to 85 by August 15, then peaking (weakly) at 115 on August 28-31.

Predicted planetary A index is 15, 12, 8 and 5 on July 24-27, then 10, 8, 5 and 18 on July 28-31, then 25 and 12 on August 1-2, 5 on August 3-5, then 20, 25, 15, 10, and 8 on August 6-10, 5 on August 11-15, 10 on August 16, 5 on August 17-18, then 15 and 10 on August 19-20, 5 on August 21-26, then 18, 25 and 12 on August 27-29.

NOAA says the geomagnetic field is expected to be quiet to active on July 24-25 and quiet to unsettled on July 26.

OK1HH sees the geomagnetic field as quiet to active on July 24, quiet to unsettled July 25, mostly quiet July 26, quiet July 27, mostly quiet July 28, quiet July 29, quiet to active July 30, active to disturbed July 31 through August 1, quiet to active August 2, mostly quiet August 3, quiet on August 4, mostly quiet August 5, quiet to active August 6, active to disturbed August 7-8, quiet to active August 9, quiet to unsettled August 10, mostly quiet August 11, quiet August 12-14, mostly quiet August 15, quiet to unsettled August 16, mostly quiet August 17 and quiet on August 18.

He sees increases in solar wind on July 24-26, August 1-5, and 8-10. He sees uncertainty though for any predictions on July 26, August 1-5, August 8, August 17 and 18.

Here is an interesting article about how the far side views of the Sun from the STEREO mission are disrupted because the satellite transmissions back to Earth are blocked by the Ssun. But here the Curiosity rover on Mars fills in.
Check this table of predicted International Sunspot Numbers:
Note the next minimum is predicted roughly for July 2019, just four years from now, and unlike the last minima, there is some sunspot activity!  Let’s hope this is correct. Compare those numbers with all of 2009 in the same table. These are smoothed sunspot numbers, and someone out there is optimistic.

For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL Technical Information Service at For an explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin, see An archive of past propagation bulletins is at More good information and tutorials on propagation are at

Archives of the NOAA/USAF daily 45 day forecast for solar flux and planetary A index are in downloadable spreadsheet format at and

Click on “Download this file” to download the archive and ignore the security warning about file format. Pop-up blockers may suppress download. I’ve had better luck with Firefox than IE.

Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve overseas locations are at

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are at

Sunspot numbers for July 16 through 22 were 55, 40, 52, 46, 39, 37, and 35, with a mean of 43.4. 10.7 cm flux was 99.6, 97.4, 96, 99.4, 93.2, 91, and 89, with a mean of 95.1. Estimated planetary A indices were 8, 5, 4, 3, 5, 10, and 8, with a mean of 6.1. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 15, 7, 4, 3, 7, 12, and 9, with a mean of 8.1.

via The K7RA Solar Update. [click to go there]

For those who have not yet found the officers on the webpage, here is the list:

President: Phil Sinnett, KD5UGO
President-Elect-VP: Harold Black, W5IFN
Treasurer: Doug Forsyth, WX5DF
Secretary: Chris Pape, KE5JZN
Past President: Bill Lockett, AE5F
Director at Large: Bill Baker, WG5T (appointment)
Trustee: Peter Laws, N5UWY (appointment)
Assistant Trustee: Gary Skaggs, WB5ULK  (appointment)

Also, some of you have asked about the site I use personally to track real-time lightning data. That site can be found here:

Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles

Link below lists all the ARRL-related hamfests within a 250 mile drive of Norman for about the next 5 months. Lots of good ones close to Norman.

As always…Nets, Links, Other Stuff in the link at the top AND in the sidebar. Have a great week!

73 de Gary, WB5ULK …_._

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