Digital Modes Petition RM-11831 generates debate

Winlink may be forced to close shop on HF in the USA.

Technology website The Register has now published an article on RM-11831 written by Thomas Claburn which covers some of the arguments, see

The founder of the research center NYU Wireless, New York University Professor Theodore Rappaport N9NB, has issued a press release which can be seen at

The QRZ forum on RM-11831 has received a large number of posts, see

Read the Petition for Rule Making RM-11831

Read comments submitted to FCC

Comments on RM-11831 should be submitted to the FCC by April 29 at

Winlink may be forced to close shop on HF in the USA

Winlink is…

…a worldwide radio email service that uses radio pathways where the internet is not present, and is capable of operating completely without the internet–automatically–using smart-network radio relays. Winlink provides its users email with attachments, position reporting, weather and information bulletins, and is well-known for its role in emergency and disaster relief communications. Licensed Winlink operators/stations use both amateur radio and government radio frequencies worldwide. The system is built, operated and administered entirely by licensed volunteers.

FCC Petition RM-11831 Threatens Amateur Digital Operations Like Winlink

Winlink may be forced to close shop on HF in the USA, explained below.

April 5, 2019–The FCC has opened for comment RM-11831, a proposal for rule making that would do two things the the US amateur radio rules:

1) remove paragraph (c) of 97.221. This would disallow narrow-bandwidth ARQ modes of 500 Hz or less from outside the specified 97.221 sub bands for automatically controlled digital stations. This will require all US Winlink HF gateway stations, regardless of mode/technique, to only operate within these narrow sub bands.

2) modify the wording of 97.309(4) thusly:
(4) An amateur station transmitting a RTTY or data emission using a digital code specified in this paragraph may use any technique whose technical characteristics have been documented publicly, *such as CLOVER, G-TOR, or PacTOR,* (remove *-*, add the following:) and the protocol used can be be monitored, in it’s entirety, by 3rd parties, with freely available open source software, for the purpose of facilitating communications.

This effectively eliminates Pactor 2, 3, and 4 from the US amateur bands unless SCS steps up and publishes complete technical specifications, including their proprietary signal processing methods, and produces an open-source monitoring program allowing on-air eavesdropping by third parties (not likely).

The Winlink Team will have to produce monitoring software for an unconnected eavesdropper for WINMOR, ARDOP. VARA’s author must do the same. The alternative is for Winlink to close shop for US licensees on HF amateur bands, or to eliminate B2F compression for messages sent by US-licensed amateurs. This will cause US users of all modes to suffer much longer transmission times by a factor of 2-10 times. Limits would not be placed on other users.

See and read the new proceeding from the link below. The 30-day comment period opened on 28 March. We have prepared a document containing useful arguments you may paraphrase for your comment filing. The formal ARSFI Motion to Dismiss RM-11831 and Petition for Rulemaking is also here for your review.…

Unless we receive support from users on this serious threat, Winlink may be forced to close shop on HF in the USA. US and non-US users and gateway operators are urged to educate themselves and file a comment soon!


Lor Kutchins, W3QA
Winlink Development Team
Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc.



Posted April 14, 2019

Posted February 28, 2019

Please attend the next OCRACES meeting this coming Monday, March 4th, at 7:30 PM, at OCSD Communications & Technology Division, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. Fountain Valley RACES Chief Radio Officer Alan Hill, W6ARH, will talk about loop antennas, which is a very interesting topic.

Kenwood TH-D72 APRS Checklist

The following checklist was created from a YouTube video “Basic setup for APRS operations with the Kenwood D72” by Don Arnold.  I really recommend you view this video.  The reason I wrote this list is because there are about 10 APRS setup steps.  I seldom use this radio and when I do, I want a quick check list to ensure the APRS is working.

  • * Turn Internal GPS On
    • * “F” Key = 1 “Int. GPS” (note that “F” key changes APRS menu items.)
    • * Turn ON.
    • * Confirm that “iGPS” appears upper right of screen.
  • * Turn Battery Saver OFF
    • * Press MENU
    • * Select RADIO = Menu 1
    • * Go to MENU = 110 = “Batt. Saver”
    • * Select OFF.
  • * APO OFF (automatic power off)
    • * Press MENU
    • * Select RADIO = Menu 1
    • * Go to MENU = 111 = “APO”
    • * Select OFF
  • * Set the DATE
    • * Press MENU
    • * Select RADIO = Menu 1
    • * Go to MENU = 194
    • * Enter correct date.
  • * Set the Time
    • * Press MENU
    • * Select RADIO = Menu 1
    • * Go to MENU = 195
    • * Enter the correct time.
  • * Set the UTC
    • * Set the UTC
    • * Select RADIO = Menu 1
    • * Go to MENU = 196 = Auxiliary, Time Zone, UTC
    • * Set to -7 Daylight Savings (for California)
    • * Set to -8 Standard Time (for California)
  • * Set the int. GPS
    • * Select GPS = Menu 2
    • * Go to MENU = 201 = Int. GPS = Operating Mode
    • * Sub menu = Battery Saver = OFF
  • * APRS Setup – BASIC SET
    • * Select APRS = Menu 3
    • * Go to MENU = 300 = Call Sign
    • * Go to sub menu “My Callsign”.
    • * Enter your call sign.
    • * Enter 144.390 = APRS Frequency for the USA
  • * Press TNC button. (this opens the TNC)
    • * Look at screen. You should see “APRS12”.

Now Lets confirm that the radio is “seeing” the GPS satellites and the APRS circuits are working properly:

    • * Press POS key which will show degrees, minutes seconds. Make sure the small circles just to the right of each is blinking on and off.
    • * You can press the radio joy stick to see your Altitude.
    • * Target Point is another display. Target Point is recorded in the HT.  Up to 5 points can be stored.  (Its accuracy is not good enough for Geocaching.)
    • * You can view the log memory used.
    • * You can view satellites.
  • Beacon
    • * If you have manual beacon set, press “BCON” key to send your position.

Sun Storm To Hit Earth August 4, 2017

Space Weather News for August 3, 2017

GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH: NOAA forecasters say there is an 80% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Aug. 4th when a solar wind stream is expected to buffet Earth’s magnetic field. The wind is flowing from a canyon-shaped hole in the sun’s atmosphere, so wide that it is almost bisecting the solar disk. Storm levels could reach G2-category (moderately strong) during the late hours of Aug. 4th, subsiding to G1-category (minor) on Aug. 5th. Visit for more information and updates.

Boost Your HT Performance With A Rat Tail

A rat tail is a wire attached in some way to the ground of your HT.  It effectively adds the missing part for your antenna system.  This missing part is the ground wire that matches the length of your antenna length.  In normal, every day activity, you really do not need this device.  But, if you are going to travel into an area where repeater coverage is iffy, you might consider taking this simple device along with you.  You can easily make this device yourself and the cost is cheap.  I calculate the wire and connector is less than $1.

Recommended Internet Information:

Construction Materials:

Connector: Insulated Ring 22-18 Guage. 1/4 inch, Vinyl, package of 100 $4.95

Wire: Beldon 8890. 10 feet $9.90 I was able to make 6 rat tails from 10 feet when I cut each length 20 inches.

Vendor: Orvac Electronics, Fullerton, Calif.

Image shows a small vise holding the O connector and a wire that has been tinned with solder threaded into the back end of the connect with just enough exposed wire ready to be soldered.
Connector and wire ready to be soldered.

The antenna connector is shown in a close up with the rat tail O connector with wire slid into the ground of the antenna.
Rat Tail connector shown gripping antenna ground.  This connector is for a Baofeng HT.

The image shows a person holding a HT radio and comming off the antenna connection base is the rat tail wire ground.
Rat tail ground is attached to a Kenwood TH-F6 radio.

After constructing my first rat tail I decided to test its performance.

Test 1: I walk with another ham radio operator each weekend morning. The other operator lives about a mile away and we start walking toward one another and join up at Tri-City Park. I told him I wanted to test the rat tail the night before. The next day as we walk out of our houses and try calling one another, he reported that my signal was improved. Normally when we start walking from our front doors, the audio is scratchy.

Test 2: August 1, 2017 I tried to find a repeater that would respond with the rat tail but not when it was removed. I finally found Sunset Ridge, 145.440, using low power. When the rat tail was removed from the HT the repeater would not respond. When I put the rat tail in place, the repeater did respond. This second test proved that the rat tail is a definite improvement.

Note: This connect

Caution:  After about a week and a half wearing this rat tail on my HT, I noticed that the wire coming from the connector seemed to fray, a bit, due to the constant bending.  I need to solve this problem.

Baofeng Pofung GT-3TP Mark-III Tri-Power

Following is a copy of e-mails between some Placentia, Calif., RACES members dated July 18, 2017

I purchased a Baofeng about a year ago when my sister purchased one as her first ham radio.  I purchased one too.  My first impression is this is an illegal radio for FRS.  I think FCC requirements for FRS requires a definite antenna dimension and only .5 watt transmit power.
“…the FCC, doesn’t really care all that much, any more, about what happens on the FRS and GMRS frequencies, and as long as you don’t do anything too egregious, they may be content to ignore you.” (
But, for our purpose, using them for RACES operators and CERT groups in emergencies seems to be a clever solution.   I love the high power and being able to screw in a much better antenna.  I want successful performance from a radio (See also: Rat Tail Tiger Counterpoise below).
I think a good emergency radio should be programmed in the field.  The Baofeng  is darn near difficult to program without a computer.  The price is terrific.  E-ham gives an overall score of 3.9 for all the models combined.  The most recent reviews show the radio to be improving.  “The older ones aren’t as good with desense and intermod, but the triple powers are quite a bit cleaner. The latest versions bring reports of “broadcast quality”.
I am somewhat surprised that Newegg is selling the model you are thinking of buying.  Their description is way better than Amazon:
The GT-3TP Mark-III is upgraded version of GT-3 with Tri-Power (8W/4W/1W). The 23CM High Gain Antenna allows GT-3TP to transmit in 11KM. It also comes with upgraded frame material, buttons and knob, Antenna Interface, Radio Frequency IC, Frequency-Modulated Receiver Chip, Power Amplifier IC, etc.
* Tri-Power: High / Med / Low Power (8W/4W/1W)
* 23CM High Gain Antenna: allows GT-3TP to transmit in 11KM
* Big buttons & knob: GT-3TP has built in PTT key, CALL key, and MONI key on the left side of the radio
* Antenna Interface: Fine copper-made antenna connector outperforms other antenna connectors and improves communication.
* Radio Frequency IC: Upgrade SQ to enhance the anti-interference ability
* RDA1846S add an new tail tone elimination function, when transmit and receive signal between 50Hz with 55H
* Improve the receiver AGV switching noise when signal strength changes severe
* Frequency-Modulated Receiver Chip: the RDA5802N has a powerful low-IF digital audio processor, this make it have optimum sound quality with varying reception conditions
* Power Amplifier IC: Low crossover distortion, Low quiescent circuit current
* LED Flashlight: high lumens degrees
* Shell: Upgrade Dustproof, waterproof and drop resistance ability
* Mode: Simplex or semi-duplex
* Memory channels: Up to 128 channels
* Frequency stability: 2.5ppm
* Antenna impedance: 50 ohm
* Voltage: Lithium-Ion 7.4V/1800mAh
* Squelch adjustable from 0 to 9
1x GT-3TP Mark III
1x 7.4V 1800mAh Li-ion Battery
1x 23CM Antenna
1x Car Charger
1x Belt Clip
1x User Manual
1x Adapter
1x Desktop Charger
1x Headset
When I purchased my Baofeng, I specified their largest battery capacity.  I recommend you do the same.  Because RACES operators need to be able to support CERT, they all should have a good FRS radio.  This radio serves both RACES and FRS needs in one package.  I would definitely carry this as my secondary radio in an emergency.
Summary:  I think the radio is a good purchase for the price.
By the way, I found out that you can attach a Rat Tail Tiger Counterpoise to most HT radios including the Baofeng and improve its performance:

HT Memory Block or Group Scan

Most modern HT radios come with a lot of features.  Lets cover the group or  block scan.  Most HT radios have a lot of memory channels.  You might consider entering the frequencies into your radio as geographical blocks if your radio offers this capability  This feature allows the operator to scan a portion of the total memory channels.  I was taking a short vacation from Placentia to San Luis Obispo  the summer of 2017.  I had put frequencies into my HT for Orange County, LA County, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.  I love to scan the frequencies as I make this long drive.  The scan works way better if you make your radio scan only the channel memories where you are located within.

For example, I have a Kenwood TH-F6A that offers 400 memory channels.  After I enter the frequencies into this radio, I can long press the MR button and all the stored channels will be scanned.  This can be very inefficient.  On this particular radio you also have the option to long press the MHz button which will scan the current 50 channels from where you started.  Another option is this radio allows you to group link, meaning that two or more groups can be linked together for the scan process, but you need to go into the radio menu to activate this.

You could input all the north Orange County city frequencies together.  The south Orange County cities could be in a separate 50 channel range.  Riverside could be in another.  LA could be in one or more channel groups.

Here is my argument that you might want to consider entering the radio frequencies into 50 memory location groups and make each group a close geographical area.

  • Why have your radio scan all 400 channels?  This slows down the scan process if you are only concerned with the area you are within.
  • It is quite possible to pick up a channel outside your active area.  Catalina has a very large coverage area as other well placed repeaters.

The disadvantage of this method is when you might only have way fewer memory frequencies to enter than 50 in that geographical group or you go over the 50, forcing you to link two groups.

Emergency Command Vehicle RACES Radios

Placentia RACES is allowed positions within the Placentia emergency command vehicle.  We currently have two Yaesu FT 8900R radios.  This radio is a quad Band FM transceiver providing 50 Watts of power output on the 29/50/144 MHz Amateur bands and 35 Watts on the 430 MHz band.

Operation manual for Yaesu FT8900R

The main ham radio electronics is mounted in an equipment rack.  The radio control heads are stored away in one of the overhead storage compartments.

You will need to pull both control heads out of storage and connect them to the command vehicle wall interface plates.  Please note the exact interface plate’s label and note its number because you will need to go to the equipment rack and patch the radio electronics properly to the vehicle location for the radio head to work.  The patch  between radio and control head is completed at the equipment rack patch panel located in the middle of the vehicle.

The command vehicle has a number of operation seats and each seat has its own communications wall interface with a position number.  All communications is accomplished using Ethernet wall connectors.  It is necessary that you know which chair location you are using  because you will need to patch the proper chair location number too and from the radio electronics.

If two RACES operators are in the vehicle it is strongly recommended that both radio heads be connected because the second operator can use the backup radio to monitor what is going on.  The reason for this is the police dispatch operators are also in the command vehicle and will be making frequent calls which makes concentration for RACES traffic difficult.

There are two antennas on top of the command vehicle that need to be extended upward before using the radio.  Also, please remember to position the antennas down when finished.