Thursday, December 13, 2012

100 Years of Amateur Radio

December 13, 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of perhaps the the most important event in amateur radio history in the USA. The Radio Law of 1912, passed in August 1912 became effective on December 13, 1912. Radio schools at naval yards and army posts were crowded with amateurs of all levels of experience to get a license from the Department of Commerce.

Irving Vermilya, 1HAA, later W1ZE, became the first licensed amateur in the USA being issued Certificate of Skill #1 and is known for all time as Amateur Number One. A number of other amateurs followed suit and rather than seeing amateur radio die out as the Law's authors obviously intended, amateur radio began to flourish with a combination of adopting new technology (Edwin H. Armstrong invented the regenerative receiver in September 1912) for reception and later transmitting (CW emissions became feasible after the World War) along with organizing message relay routes. Amateurs led the way finding that the wavelengths shorter than 200 meters were not useless through the new technologies and, by the early 1920s, a declining solar cycle that enabled communications not only for transcontinental paths, but intercontinental as well.

A century later we enjoy this hobby of amateur radio precisely due to the unintended consequence of a law designed to kill amateur radio that did not state its intention exactly and instead allowed it to live and thrive for 15 years! In 1927 more comprehensive radio legislation was enacted and in 1934 the Communications Act created the FCC that we know today.

For more information visit the United States Early Radio History site by Thomas H. White. Thomas' site is not limited to amateur radio, however, and is quite comprehensive on a lot of radio topics. The ARRL publication, 200 Meters and Down by Clinton B. Desoto documents much of the early amateur radio history. An article by David Newkirk, ex WJ1Z, now W9VES, The Coming of The Law (available to ARRL members), published in the November 1993 issue of QST also documents the forces behind the enactment of the Radio Law of 1912 and how radio amateurs responded to it. The December 2012 issue of CQ has The Radio Act of 1912: A Century of Radio Regulation and Licensing by Rich Moseson, W2VU, providing another perspective on this red letter day. Certainly, more articles on this topic have been published over the years and make for good reading.

As of December 13, 2012 amateur radio will officially be 100 years old complete with examinations and licenses. Happy anniversary!

My Stamp Collecting Blog

Counter Added January 1, 2011

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The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 1 to 6 is BEST
  • 7 to 9 is OK
  • 11 or more is BAD

Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.

A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]

  • 70 NOT GOOD
  • 80 GOOD
  • 90 BETTER
  • 100+ BEST

The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.

Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

K index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 0 or 1 is BEST
  • 2 is OK
  • 3 or more is BAD
  • 5 is VERY VERY BAD

The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.

A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

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