Items of interest presented periodically on the Sunday Night "News and Net".

26 October 2014

Ham Radio Balloon Keeps Going Around the World

It’s a great story about a balloon cruising at about 12km above the Earth completing its sixth circumnavigation of the planet. That post is from October 4th, and two weeks later the balloon is still going strong. Right now it’s over the Baltic heading into Russia with no sign of stopping or popping any time soon.

The balloon was launched July 12, 2014 from Silverstone, UK. In the 100 days since then, this balloon has covered 144,168 kilometers and has crossed its launching longitude six times. Even if this balloon weren’t trapped at high latitudes (including coming within 9 km of the pole), this balloon has still travelled more than three times the equatorial circumference of the Earth.

Details can be found HERE.

5 October 2014

Actor Tim Allen Gets His Ham Ticket For Real

Actor and comedian Tim Allen now not only plays an Amateur Radio operator on television, he is one! Allen got his Technician license on September 4, but did not release the news until this week. In his weekly ABC comedy TV show “Last Man Standing,” Allen’s character Mike Baxter, is supposed to be KA0XTT, and the show has featured ham radio in some episodes.

21 September 2014

SpaceX to launch SpinSat Saturday

On Saturday, September 20 at 0616 UT SpaceX plan to launch a Falcon 9 from Florida carrying the satellite SpinSat with its amateur radio payload to the ISS. Now planned for Sunday at 1.52am Eastern Time due to bad weather.

On arrival at the ISS it will be put into storage until deployment, later in the Fall, from the airlock of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM).

Developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) SpinSat is a 56 cm sphere weighing 57 kg that has 12 Electronically-controlled Solid Propellant (ESP) thrusters spread in pairs throughout the surface of the satellite.
They will be fired in pairs to spin the spacecraft. With just primary batteries and only 4.8 grams of fuel this phase may last between three to six months.

The spacecraft will be used to calibrate the space surveillance network. Lasers will be fired at SpinSat from the ground, the light reflected back will be measured to determine where in time and space the satellite is passing overhead. SpinSat will also model the density of the atmosphere.

The IARU Satellite Coordination Panel report that SpinSat carries a 2 watt RF output AX.25 packet radio store and forward system on 437.230 MHz.

7 September 2014

Poway – now a ham-friendly city

Poway, Calif., might become a Mecca for amateur radio operators with regulations approved in early August by the City Council. Antennas up to 65 feet can now be built with only a building permit required. In addition, a compromise was reached on requirements for neighbor notification. Tower builders will be required to apprise neighbors within a 250-foot radius of the tower.

Radio amateurs call on new recruits to tune into the world

As social media takes over, enthusiasts from North Yorkshire are calling for recruits to join a new club using historic communications technology to talk to the world. The first ever Colburn and Richmondshire Amateur Radio club has been set up by friends Colin Lyne, Chris Watkins and Craig Dennis who are desperate to encourage people to get involved to keep the hobby alive.

10th August 2014

France will now allow students third-party communication with the ISS

On July 16, 2014 the French State Secretary for Digital Affairs, Axelle
Lemaire, responded to a request by the Deputy of Haute-Vienne Province, Daniel Boiserrie, authorizing French students to participate directly in ARISS educational school contacts under the supervision of a licensed operator.

Until now, the French administration was very restrictive. For direct school contacts, the operator read the questions prepared by the students. Even this is "third party", but was tolerated by the French regulatory authority.

Most European countries allow students to participate directly in ARISS school contacts under the supervision of a licensed operator. Permission to do so requires varying procedures from country to country, but the issue of enabling "third party" communications can generally be solved.

Until now, the only exception was France. Notwithstanding years and years of efforts, French schoolchildren had no access to the mike for direct amateur radio communications with the ISS. The letter from the Secretary of State in charge of telecommunications now changes the game.

3rd August 2014

Ham Radio Balloon Goes Around the World

The 434 MHz solar powered party balloon B-64, launched by radio amateur Leo Bodnar M0XER, is approaching the UK at the end of its record breaking journey around the world.

Leo launched his balloon from Silverstone in the UK on July 12, 2014. It travelled east across Asia, the Pacific and the Americas and is expected to complete the final transatlantic crossing arriving over Cornwall on July 31 or August 1. It is then likely to continue eastwards toward Europe.

Radio amateurs and listeners should be able to receive B-64’s Contestia 64/1000 signal on 434.500 MHz USB with the usual pips. When it is over the UK it will alternate the Contestia transmission with APRS also on 434.500 MHz running 10 mW output.

During the circumnavigation of the northern hemisphere B-64 has traveled over 25,000 km across some of the most remote terrain in the planet.

See track of B-64 at:- http:/spacenear.us/tracker/?filter=B-64

27th July 2014

The Radio Society of Great Britain says that four 25 kHz bandwidth channels in the 2 meter band between 144.0 and 144.1 MHz are being used at the Commonwealth Games that began on July 22nd and will conclude on August 4th.  This following negotiations between the United Kingdom’s national amateur radio society and telecommunications Ofcom.

Usage of this spectrum by the Commonwealth Games will be limited the vicinity of Glasgow, Scotland games venues and will be limited to handheld equipment operating on a maximum of 5 watts of Effective Radiated Power.  Ofcom emphasizes that use of Primary Amateur spectrum is only for the specified time period and does not constitute a long term change of usage.

In making the announcement, Ofcom said that it was aware of the very short notice to the United Kingdom’s ham radio community.  Therefore the authorization for use of this spectrum is on a non-interference, non-protection basis.  That said, hams in the Glasgow area are requested to avoid these frequencies until 4th August.  (source - Ofcom)

20th July 2014

Astronaut Reid Weisman, KF5LKT, has been active on the Twitter social network as well as the ARISS space station ham radio gear.  According to several news reports Weisman has literally been tweeting from space about the planet we live on describing what he sees from his vantage point high above the Earth’s surface.  Since he began his tweeting from the ISS his number of followers has risen from 37,000 when he started to over 126,000 today. 

You can follow him on the web at - twitter.com/astro_reid

13th July 2014


Radio Amateurs in Italy have again been granted temporary access to the I-T-U Region One 70 MHz or 4 meter band.  At least until December 19th all Italian stations are authorized to use this band except within 30 kilometers of the borders with Austria, Switzerland and France.  Specific frequencies being permitted are 70.1, 70.2 and 70.3 MHz with a maximum bandwidth of 25 kHz.  All modes may be used as long as they do not exceed 50 watts of Effective Radiated Power.

(source - Southgate Amateur Radio News)

6th July 2014

Kite Antenna's - G4ROJ

Roger has his very own website at:-


Where you can find out more about the amazing antennas he flies on a huge variety of kites.

The website has some background history on how Roger became involved with kite antenna's and the developement of them. There is also construction details and pictures of 4 different types.

The information on these pages is given in good faith. No responsibility is taken by the author for any problems caused by the use of this information.


22nd June 2014

World Cup Special Event Stations, Prefixes On the Air until July 30

To mark the FIFA World Cup of football (soccer) competition now underway in Brazil, special event stations will be on the air until the end of July. Also, listen for special World Cup-related prefixes. Read more....

15th June 2014

Rebranding of BAOFENG to ‘Pofung’ In International Markets

Radio supplier Baofeng has changed its product distribution name to Pofung for all sales outside China.  In an announcement on its website the company says that it feels it’s time to adapt its brand to the global stage.  It notes that the current name Baofeng is a literal translation of its Chinese character name, and as such it may be difficult for a hobbyist elsewhere in the world to pronounce.  The company say that its new product name of Pofung is easier to pronounce and more friendly to its customers, while maintaining the phonetic symbolism of its brand.  The company’s official web domain www.baofengradio.com will remain unchanged. You can read more HERE ...

8th June 2014

From the TX factor website

Found under TX talk -

Resonating Beer Barrels

The use of a couple of beer kegs as cavities for the GB3SW 2 metre  repeater in Sidmouth, East Devon, England.

Listen now! (3:20) - mp3

1st June 2014

Apps suitable for Amateur Radio

These are Android Apps available free from the Google Play Store.

'IRLP Finder' - it will display the nearest IRLP nodes on a map. You can use your current location, or enter an address. Clicking on any node on the map will give you the connection details. Details include the node frequency, and tone, or whether the node is idle or not.

'Ham GPS' - basic GPS with extended Locator for Ham radio usage. Display your current Maidenhead locator with 10 digit precision. It also computes bearing and distance to a target location using locator or latitude / longitude. Useful to align antennas in microwave DX activities. No network or fancy maps usage, so it can be used even in remote locations. I have not tried it, but it has good reviews.

'Repeater' - easily find Amateur Radio Repeaters across the UK, USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and many many more. Use network, GPS or Locator to find Repeaters. No network connection required. Displays your locator and selection distance. Displays distance, heading and full repeater details.

25th May 2014

From the BBC:

'Pocket spacecrafts' to become a reality -

On Thursday, May 15 2014, the BBC Radio 4 Today show featured an item on the recently launched 437 MHz Sprite satellites and the new Pocket Spacecraft being developed by a UK radio amateur.

The tiny Sprite satellites, measuring 3x3cm and just a few millimetres thick, contain a 437 MHz transmitter, solar cell, sensor and antenna.

The CubeSat KickSat-1 carrying 104 Sprites was successfully launched on April 18, however, a suspected radiation glitch meant they could not be deployed before the CubeSat burnt up on re-entry on May 14.

UK radio amateur Michael Johnson M0MJJ has developed Pocket Spacecraft known as ‘Scouts’. A ‘Scout’ is a wafer thin disk with flexible electronics, smaller than a CD, containing a transceiver, antenna and solar cells. It is hoped to carry them in a CubeSat which would deploy them in Lunar orbit. It is understood that frequencies in the 435 MHz and 2400 MHz bands may be used.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 clip ‘Pocket spacecrafts’ to become a reality in which BBC Spencer Kelly discusses the development of pocket spacecrafts - www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01z4q22

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