SCARS Weekly Newsletter – 8/10/15

Monthly SCARS Meeting High/Lowlights . . .
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 . . .
Officers, and odd-links . . .
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles _…_._

Monthly SCARS Meeting High/Lowlights

We had 38 folks for a hot Saturday morning this month, including one newly-minted Amateur with a 38 hour-old CSCE in his pocket! Several wide-ranging and eclectic discussions occurred during the meeting, including some news about Ham Holiday. CORA made $2000, which will be put into the giveaway pool for next years HH2016, but it was unclear if that number included the $1000 that “The Venue Which Shall Not Be Named” returned to CORA due to the complete disaster which was their facility and service. We also discussed liability insurance, what we bought lately, who had caught any good DX, and upcoming rare DX opportunities. There was also discussion about the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service (thanks to WG5T) and upcoming DX ops (thanks to N5AQ), and those links are included immediately below. We ended the meeting with a video from this year’s Field Day shot and compiled by KJ7EFF, Jeff, for which I include a link below.

ARRL Outgoing QSL Service
Announced DX Operations

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 9.37.04 PM
SCARS Field Day 2015 Highlights

NOTE: the link above is different from an earlier post. Youtube has lots of distractions with ads, pop-ups, etc. This one is a VIMEO link which has none of those. Great job Jeff! Enjoy!

Ham Holiday 2015

Caution: What follows is an Opinion likely not shared by some of the Membership of SCARS. Read this at your own peril.

Being the not-very-smart person which I am, I continue to poke the bear about how very little we truly pay for tickets to Ham Holiday.

I UNDERSTAND that we are not comparing apples to apples. But having said that, we have paid $8 in advance and $10 at the door for several years now. I was curious about how much admission was in the past, and I just happen to have several years-worth of CORA’s newsletters (The Collector and Emitter) from the 80s and 90s. In 1986, admission was $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Inflation from 1986 to 2015 would’ve made “that ticket” $21.77. At the door, the $12 ticket would have been $26.13 this year. Again, I understand that we are in a different world today with respect to hamfests. Buying online is the way of the world for most of us. We don’t usually buy from an ad in QST or at a hamfest as many did in the past, and I certainly don’t drive 200 miles just to fondle the knobs on the front of a radio. Those days are gone. But… 

I DID ask the membership whether they’d pay MORE to go to a nice venue, and the overwhelming answer was “yes”. How much was a variable with the bottom being $15 and others saying that is the venue was a good quality venue with space, meeting rooms, banquet facilities, actual air conditioning, tail-gate sale locations, among others, and they’d pay even up to $35 and $40. At that point, we are into Dayton territory, but you get the idea.

We were told that several venues have already been ruled out as ‘too expensive’ (Embassy Suites – Norman, the Reed Center – Midwest City, perhaps others). I’m not on the Board and don’t want to be. I did serve a term as CORA President for a short-time during the mid-90s, so I know that these discussions ARE NOT NEW, but let’s be honest, there are a number of Amateurs who think that $8 and $10 is too expensive (and perhaps for the venue we’ve had for the past few years, maybe), but for every one of those, it is my opinion that there are a number of others who would willingly part with more money for a nice venue. You will ALWAYS lose folks on the margins when prices go up, but IMHO, an upscale venue should seriously be considered for HH16.

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 – 8/6/15

This week’s Headlines…

Amateur Radio Parity Act Would Not Void “Private Contracts,” ARRL General Counsel Says
Hiram Percy Maxim Award Recipient Anna Veal, W0ANT, Sets Sights on Biomedical Career
California ARES Volunteers Support Wildfire Response
Fox-1A Satellite Mated to Launcher, Fox-1B Gets a Ride
Chinese Amateur Radio Satellites Set to Launch in Early September
Additional ARRL Books Now Available as E-Books
JH5GHM Donates Foot Switches to W1AW
Researchers Decode CASSIOPE Satellite Field Day Fly-Over Experiment Results
In Brief…
The K7RA Solar Update
Just Ahead in Radiosport
Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions and Events

Read it all hereARRL 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 Report #1971 August 7, 2015


[Script and Audio streams at the link below]

Amateur Radio Newsline Report, August 7, 2015

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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