SCARS Weekly Newsletter – 8/3/15

Monthly SCARS Meeting This Saturday . . .
Ham Holiday 2015 . . .
ARRL Complains about Home Depot Ballasts . . .
ARRL Letter – 7/30/15 . . .
USB/Signalink Receive Level Bug . . .
Hawai’i QSO Party . . .
How to Become A VE . . .
D-Star Stuff . . .
Amateur Radio Newsline . . .
Ham College Episode 7 . . .
K7RA Solar Update . . .
Officers, and odd-links . . .
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles _…_._

Monthly SCARS Meeting This Saturday

Saturday, August 8th, is the 2nd Saturday, so that’s our regular day. Donuts at 9, meeting at 9:30, Firestation #7, just west of the light at Flood (US77) and Rock Creek Road in Norman.
Remember to NOT PARK ON THE CURB immediately in front of the firestation. They need that space to maneuver in and out of their drive.

See you Saturday!

Ham Holiday 2015

Ham Holiday update: There will be more later, but for those who attended HH15 and thought the Venue to be ‘lacking’ (I’ll use that word – it’s charitable), a substantive refund has been promised to CORA.

As I said, “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]

ARRL Letter – 7/30/15

This week’s Headlines…

The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 Gains Momentum, Cosponsor List Tops 90
ARRL Files More “Grow Light” Ballast Complaints with FCC
AMSAT-NA, AMSAT-DL, and Virginia Tech Announce Potential Phase 3E Opportunity
FCC Sustains $22,000 Fine for Egregious On-Air Behavior
FCC Proposes Fining Georgia Ham $1000 for Failing to Identify
Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Fee to Disappear in September
HAARP Facility Will Be Transferred to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on August 11
World Scout Jamboree Participants Set to Speak with ISS via Amateur Radio
Past IARU Region 3 Director, WARC-79 Delegate Fred Johnson, ZL2AMJ, SK
In Brief…
The K7RA Solar Update
Getting It Right!
Just Ahead in Radiosport
Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions and Events
Read it all here: ARRL Letter.

USB/Signalink Receive Level Bug

The following came to wide-distribution by way of the Amateur Radio Newsline Facebook Page, but in brief, there is a Windows bug which affects all versions of Windows since XP and the way that those versions mis-handle the TI chip which is used in the USB interface used in Amateur Radios as well as the Signalink USB soundcard devices. 

The one important thing that you need to do if you think that this may affect you:
READ THE ENTIRE POST FIRST at the link which I’m sending.
You’ll be tempted to just watch the video and do the fix noted there, but if you read the whole post first, then you’ll see that there is an actual permanent fix noted in this updated page. 

I walked through this over the weekend before the Permanent Fix become public, and I had inadvertently configured my Windows 7 system such that I had my system configured in the manner of the ‘fixed’ configuration. Just dumb luck.

Again, read the whole page, then go back, watch the video to see what all the ruckus is about, check to see if you are plagued with this, and if so, do the permanent fix.

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’s Staff has hit there stride – good stuff!

Here is this week’s episode:

Amateur Radio Newsline Report #1970 July 31, 2015


[Script and Audio streams at the link below]

Amateur Radio Newsline #1970  8-31-2015

Ham College, Episode 7

Ham College, Episode 7 is now available, but the good news is that they’ve created an entirely new page which has all of the Episodes compactly on one simple page!

“In episode 7 we talk, discuss, and demonstrate Radio Waves. More questions and answers from the Technical class
question pool.”

All Episodes now here:

K7RA Solar Update


At 0132 UTC on July 30 the Australian Space Forecast Center issued a geomagnetic disturbance warning, saying a high speed solar wind from a recurring coronal hole is expected to raise geomagnetic activity levels to minor storms on July 31 and August 1. They predict quiet to minor storm levels on July 31 and minor storm declining to unsettled conditions on August 1.

Solar activity currently remains in the doldrums, with average daily sunspot numbers rising just 4.5 points to 47.9 during the July 23-29 period from the prior week. Average daily solar flux over the same periods rose just 1.5 points to 96.4.

When I look at the solar disc displayed at I count six numbered sunspot groups, but they are not magnetically complex, and the types of radiation we need to energize our ionosphere is weak.

The most active geomagnetic day was July 23, when the planetary A index was 23 and the mid-latitude A index was 21. That day there was a mild geomagnetic storm caused by a coronal mass ejection that did not hit earth directly.

Predicted solar flux is 105 on July 31 through August 2, 110 on August 3-5, 115 on August 6, 110 on August 7, 100 on August 8-9, 95 on August 10-13, then 90 and 85 on August 14-15, and 100 on August 16-17. Solar flux peaks at 115 on August 28-31, then drops below 100 after September 5.

Predicted planetary A index is 18 on July 31, 24 on August 1, then 16, 12 and 8 on August 2-4, then 5, 8 and 20 on August 5-7, then 15 on August 8-9, and 8 on August 10, 5 on August 11-15, 10 on August 16, 5 on August 17-18, then 15 and 10 on August 19-20, and 5 on August 21-23.

Read the remainder at: The K7RA Solar Update.

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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