The U.S. National Science Foundation is accepting proposals from anyone who wants to take over operations.

By Associated Press and Danica Coto
Jan 25, 2017 

The future of one of the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes is in question after the U.S. National Science Foundation announced Wednesday it was accepting proposals from those interested in assuming operations at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The announcement comes as the federal agency runs out of funds to support the observatory, which features a 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter-wide) dish used in part to search for gravitational waves and track asteroids that might be on a collision course with Earth.
Officials with the foundation stressed in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that the agency prefers that the observatory remain open with the help of collaborators that would provide a funding boost.

“Our (community reviews) have recognized that Arecibo does great science and will continue to do great science,” said Ralph Gaume, acting division director for the foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences.

However, he warned it’s possible none of the proposals that have to be submitted by late April will be chosen. This would leave the foundation with alternatives including suspending operations at the observatory, turning it into an educational center or shutting it down.

The first hint that the 53-year-old observatory was at risk came a decade ago, when a panel of experts recommended it be shut down unless other institutions could help the foundation. The agency finances two-thirds of the observatory’s $12 million annual budget, and officials said it could provide some $20 million over a five-year period to a potential new operator.

Scientists use the observatory in part to detect radio emissions emitted by objects including stars and galaxies, and it has been featured in the Jodie Foster film “Contact” and the James Bond movie “GoldenEye.” It attracts about 90,000 visitors and some 200 scientists a year that use the observatory for free to do research, said observatory director Francisco Cordova.

However, he told the AP that could change depending on the type of proposals submitted.

“Perhaps in the future, scientists might have to pay to use it,” he said, adding that the observatory still plays a key role in research including the study of solar eruptions capable of disrupting electronic equipment.

The observatory has been threatened in recent years by bigger, more powerful telescopes in places like Chile and China, where officials recently unveiled the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST.

The foundation said it expects to make a decision by late 2017 as it awaits completion of a final environmental impact statement, which will outline all alternatives for the observatory’s future.

Category: Antenna


Everybody knows that the so called “BIG GUNS” will win the contest, but you will have fun even if you come in the 9999th . When “Hams” (Amateur Radio Operators) talk about the Big Guns, they are talking about the radio station that another Ham is operating. These stations are built usually just for contesting. On the outside is a few acres (could be stretching it a bit) of antennas that are of special types (beams, dipoles, and verticals) for different frequencies at legal heights (up to 250 feet). These antennas are on towers with guide wires to hold them straight in the wind, and the antennas are mounted on rotors so the operator can turn them to the desired direction.

The inside of the “SHACK” has at least two of everything. Am not going to get into all the equipment that is in here or the lines/coaxes that run to the antennas as that would take too long and not part of this article.  There of course is (HF, VHF, and UHF) radio(s) with antenna tuners and the different amplifiers (will put out up to 1500 volts on HF, less on higher frequencies). These stations are set up by individuals or clubs that are interested in contesting and cost thousands of dollars (since they are all over the world it could be rubles or the currency of that country!). Of course then there are the “LITTLE LITTLE LITTLE GUYS” that don’t have money to put thousands into radio equipment, all they have is an antenna and a radio to transmit on! As you can see, contesting is made of Hams with different amounts of equipment, and they all are in the same contest and communicate with each other as the object of a contest is to see how many contacts you can make!

In contesting there are several different modes, and for a contest that has different modes involved, they are on separate week-ends. Modes are a method of communicating, and it can be voice (AM or FM), set of frequencies (HF, VHF, UHF), or digital (RTTY, CW, and others). The reason that I have said ‘and others’ for digital is that there are always new modes that Hams are using for communicating. Some contests can run for several week-ends and have various types of communication between the operators, each week-end has a different mode of operation for the same contest such as voice and morse code. Which ever mode of operation, an operator still trades the same information with the other operator. That is location of station (i.e.: country, state), call letters, RST (receiving strength of signal), and power of transmitting station. The exchange can include more information, but it depends on the contest and the mode that is used for that contest.

HF or High Frequency is known for its bounce capabilities. It can/will bounce off of the earth or the atmosphere, but some frequencies are affected by the daylight (heating) or nighttime (cooling) time of day capabilities of this type of acrobatics! These frequencies also will penetrate to a certain depth in most objects. When an operator has daylight conditions they will operate on the upper part of the spectrum, as night approaches the operators will migrate to the lower part of the spectrum. As can be expected the middle part of the spectrum (around 20 meters) has both daylight and nighttime abilitie

VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) are mainly line of sight frequencies with short distance communication. Occasionally under certain weather conditions a oddity called tunnel ducting will transport a signal back and forth for several hundred miles from locality to locality, this is an exception and not the rule! Signals in this area are Microwave frequencies and the power sent to the final for transmitting is regulated by the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) and part of the test to achieve an Amateur License. Some radios in these frequencies are set to a stationary frequency are called repeaters, all repeaters are limited by some contests as to the type of contacts they can make, straight contact without the use of a repeater is legal and not regulated in contests. In contests for higher frequencies the radios and antennas are either mounted on something mobile or are very portable and can be set up and taken down very easily.

The world is divided up into grid squares each one measuring approximately 70 miles by 100 miles (more like a rectangle). These grid squares are then designated by two letters and two numbers (LLNN), These grid squares are than broken down into smaller squares (3 miles by 4 miles Rectangles again)) and is designated by two letters at the end of a larger grid square (LLNNLL) to give a better location. The ham operator(s) that is involved in this kind of contesting will try and find the highest point with-in that square for their contacts and move to another square! The same contact is legal as long as it is from or to another grid.

Contesting on the Ham Radio can be fun no matter what mode it is in! It is my belief that every Ham Operator should be involved in at least one contest no matter which mode it is in! You do have to turn in the contact sheets within a certain time frame for recognition. There usually is either a certificate or pin stating which contest they were in, as well as the year that it took place. Guess if you win, that would be another feather in your hat as I never have, but I look at all the contacts that I have made and how far away they were and that is all the feather I need!

Source by Dave Glass



Ham radio operators have so many different operating modes and techniques in their tool chest; it is often hard to decide where to focus your attention. This will provide the reader with a short primer on operating characteristics in the VHF and UHF amateur radio bands. Amateurs who operate in the VHF and UHF region of the spectrum are often referred to as weak signal operators.

Most popular is the 2 meter band. This is because they are often pushing the envelope of capabilities in this region of the frequency spectrum and as such often are working with very weak signal strengths from other ham radio operators. To operate successfully in this environment hams normally turn to higher power stations, very sensitive receivers and much larger and higher antennas. In the VHF and UHF bands, the height of the antenna is critical as well as the gain of the antenna. Antennas in the VHF and UHF range used for weak signal communications are almost always YAGI antennas with many elements. These antennas can reach and often exceed 25 feet in length. They also are very directive in terms of signal strength, which means you need to be pointing the antenna in the geographical area in which you want to communicate. Pointing of the antenna is done many ways, some use what is called the “Arm-strong” method where you turn the antenna by hand, this is impractical in most cases however. Hams rely on rotators to both turn the antenna and know in what direction it is pointing.

For weak signal work most amateurs rely on either Single Side Band (SSB) or Continuous Wave (CW) modes. However, now with computers and specialized software available, hams are able to utilize what are known as digital modes to communicate using very weak signals. Using digital signal processing software, known as DSP, hams can communicate in instances where the human ear could not hear the signal, but the computer and software makes it possible to pull the signal right out of the noise!!!

So far we have discussed “terrestrial” communications on the VHF and UHF bands, meaning the signal was point to point between two ground stations. There are other modes used in the VHF/UHF region that go beyond just terrestrial communications. They are Earth-Moon-Earth or EME and Meteor scatter modes of operation. EME involves bouncing a signal off the Moon, and meteor scatter is reflecting the radio signals off the ionized trail from meteors entering the earth’s atmosphere! There are even hams radio satellites in orbit around the earth which hams use to communicate over long distances in the VHF/UHF bands. The satellite basically operates as a “repeater” in space, where the signal goes up to the satellite and is retransmitted to another ham well beyond normal line of sight for the VHF/UHF bands.

Amazing stuff is going on all time in the world of amateur radio, get involved today! Between choice of operating bands, weekly contests and working very distant exotic stations on the other side of the world, amateur radio remains an exciting hobby today.

Source by Joseph E Johnson



As a trained severe storm spotter (not chaser) I need to make accurate position reports when I make severe storm reports destined for the National Weather Service and the county Emergency Manager (usually at the 9-1-1 call center). By training we report the distance and direction from the nearest major intersection. This is where problems can enter the equation.

These reports are via a ham radio network. The assumption is that we clearly pronounce the names of the roads we are near for example. And that we know the difference between being on a street, road, avenue, etc.. That, of course, is as long as we can see the road signs in the pouring rain, darkness and winds that we drive through. Next consideration is the guess at the distance and direction from the nearest intersection. How accurate is that in a rain storm? Then comes the issue of map location. Does the map that the person you are reporting your location to have the level of map detailed needed to locate the roads you are reporting? More importantly, does everyone in the communications network have the same level of map details?

Introducing a nice solution – APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) Connected to a GPS sensor on one side and a ham radio on the other side a TNC (terminal node controller) transmits any ham radio operator’s EXACT coordinates (within about 50 feet) to (effectively) a Google map on the internet. Anyone anywhere that has an internet connection (and many with just a ham radio station without an internet connection) can display the exact location, altitude and direction of travel (at least) almost instantly. Since Google maps are zoomable to various levels the desired level of detail is but a click or two away.

Travel path is also be automatically plotted. A nice bright blue line connects the red dots that represent the points of transmission of the APRS device. A quite nice feature of an APRS Google map (see an example at http://APRS.FI) happens when your mouse pointer hovers over one of the red transmission points. A separate red line pops up that indicates what ham radio station heard the transmission. With that information you can trace the route of the data from the GPS device into the internet.

Another nice feature of reporting data via digital data transmissions to the National Weather Service is that many people that have access to the internet Google map can view the information at one time.

As a side note, Facebook – the social network – now has an APRS application that makes these APRS maps of all of your friends available at the click of one button from your Facebook page! One possible application is to have the National Weather Service become friends for all severe storm spotters. Then they would have this data available at the click of one button!

Source by Jon Kreski

Category: Digital, Misc, Software


“Hello!” Was the very first word every broadcast over the radio. Few folks that are not entrenched in Ham Operation know the history of the radio.

Who Is Reginald Fessenden?

Reginald Fessenden invented the radio! Canadian Reginald Fessenden adopted his love of transmission when he was a mere lad. After Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone young Reginald has been quoted as saying to a family member “Why do they have to have wires?” This was the first step in a life long journey to answer that very question.

Like all great inventions, the earliest attempts were miserable failed attempts. His theories earned him a government contract, Fessenden, and his assistant Thiessen, worked diligently to meet the challenge until they were able to meet with success.

Fessenden founded the National Electric Signaling Company (NESCO) with money invested by two wealthy fruit company owners once he had fulfilled his contractual obligations to the government, because of his failed attempts the government opted not to renew funding. As part of the United Fruit Company he worked to figure out a way for their ships at sea could communicate with the folks back in Pittsburgh.

The money that his backers invested bought high powered transmitters and antenna systems. In June of 1906 the first ever voice transmission was sent and received successfully a total of 12 miles away. Fessenden continued to plug away at improvements until he reached the point where he knew his invention was a success.

Six months after the first ever voice transmission over the air waves a surprise transmission to ships on the day before Christmas in nineteen six.

As his wife and employees as co-conspirator’s he prepared a special Christmas program On ship operators were told to tune in to receive a special Christmas message on December 24th at 9:00 pm. Radio operators sat stunned when 9:00 pm rolled around and a voice came over the air calling out “CQ, CQ”.

This was the first “radio” program. Ships across the North Atlantic were treated to Handel’s “Largo” played on a Victrola and “O, Holy Night” played for “the audience” by Fessenden on his violin.

The Rest Is History

This new technology called Radio set the world on fire. Hobbyist and early day techies could not get enough of this device and loved the idea of talking to people may miles away without being tied to a cord. They were, and are still, called “amateur” radio operators. Long before commercial broadcasting was on the radar “amateur” radio operators filled the airwaves.  Official laws were first instituted in 1912 by congress. A newly formed agency was put in place by the federal government in nineteen twenty seven that was responsible for regulating radio usage including ham radio operations.  Amateur radio operators have been on the cutting edge of communication since the inception of the radio. They were the first to use cell phones and the first to use FM broadcast.  The inventor did not know the impact he would have on the world.


Source by Stanley Braverman

Category: General News

Solar-Terrestrial Data

Geomagnetic Field status monitor

Solar X-rays:

Geomagnetic Field:

Recent Comments