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Stone Mountain Hamfest
November 5
Lawrenceville, GA



ARES SM Retiring

Dr. Gene Clark, W4AYK, ARES Section Manager for many years is retiring at the end of the month. No replacement has been announced yet. Thanks for years of ARES service, Dr. Gene!



Higher Bands Will Pick Up this Fall, Data Suggest Smaller Solar Cycles Lie Ahead

Propagation guru Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, says that, while conditions on 12 and 10 meters will pick up as they always do in the fall, F2 propagation on those bands will decline thereafter, with only sporadic E during the summer months as a possible saving grace. On the other hand, the lower bands — 160, 80, and 40 meters — should be good going forward, and 20 and 17 meters will be the mainstays of daylight HF propagation. Luetzelschwab offered these observations during an August 23 World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF)-sponsored webinar “Solar Topics — Where We’re Headed.” He said data suggest that Solar Cycle 24, the current solar cycle, will bottom out in 2020, and he advised that radio amateurs may need to lower their expectations on the higher bands (and 6 meters) looking beyond that.

“I think the only conclusion we can make with some confidence is that we are headed for some small cycles,” he told his audience. He cited various evidence related to the Sun’s polar fields — which appear to be decreasing in strength, A index trends, and cosmic ray data to support his assertion. Luetzelschwab cautioned, however, that past performance does not necessarily predict future performance.

“There seems to be a good correlation between how long a solar minimum is and the next solar cycle,” said Luetzelschwab. “The longer you spend at solar minimum, the smaller the next cycle.”

He observed that hams active since the 1950s and 1960s have experienced short inter-cycle solar minimums of approximately 2 years, until the one between Solar Cycle 23 and Solar Cycle 24, which lasted about 4 years. He also allowed that the science is not fully understood, and that some things appearing to be patterns may just be coincidences.

On the other hand, he said, it looks like the downward trend of disappearing sunspots has leveled off, suggesting that Solar Cycle 25 may see a lower smoothed sunspot number as opposed to zero or near-zero sunspots.

Counting those sunspots can be a subjective business. “That’s a tough job,” he said of the task, noting that it appears observer bias also has been a factor over the years, affecting historical sunspot data. “We now have new corrected data that are believed to be more accurate.”

Luetzelschwab’s article “The New Sunspot Numbers,” appearing in the October issue of QST, discusses the new sunspot numbers.

Luetzelschwab cited historical sunspot cycle data going back centuries — including the “Maunder Minimum” of zero and near-zero sunspots between the years 1645 and 1715 and a later, less-drastic “Dalton Minimum.” He pointed out that over the last 11,000 years, 19 notable grand maximums — including Solar Cycle 19 and the cycles around it — and 27 notable grand minimums were recorded. “We’re likely to have more of both grand maximums and grand minimums in the future,” he predicted. The current system of numbering sunspot cycles begins with Solar Cycle 1 in the mid-18th century.

“We don’t fully understand the process inside the Sun that makes solar cycles,” Luetzelschwab said. “Thus, you should exercise caution with statements seen in the news.”

-ARRL Letter


Amateur Radio Parity Act Passes in the US House of Representatives!

“The bill is passed without objection.” With those words, Amateur Radio history was made on September 12, when the US House of Representatives approved the Amateur Radio Parity Act, H.R. 1301 on a voice vote under a suspension of the rules. The focus of the campaign to enact the legislation into law now shifts to the US Senate.

The House victory culminated many years of effort on ARRL’s part to gain legislation that would enable radio amateurs living in deed-restricted communities to erect antennas that support Amateur Radio communication. The measure calls on the FCC to amend its Part 97 rules “to prohibit the application to amateur stations of certain private land-use restrictions, and for other purposes.” While similar bills in past years gained some traction on Capitol Hill, it was not until the overwhelming grassroots support from the Amateur Radio community for H.R. 1301 shepherded by ARRL that a bill made it this far. The legislation faces significant obstacles to passage in the US Senate, however.

“This is huge step in our effort to enact legislation that will allow radio amateurs who live in deed-restricted communities the ability to construct an effective outdoor antenna,” ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, said. “Thanks to everyone for their help in this effort thus far. Now we must turn our full attention to getting the bill passed in the Senate.”

ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, who chairs the ARRL Board’s Legislative Advocacy Committee, has been heavily involved in efforts to move H.R. 1301 forward. “This has been a multi-year effort that is finally seeing some light,” he said. “The passage of the bill in the House is a major accomplishment, due to the hard work of so many — from the rank-and-file member to the officers and directors.”

Lisenco said it’s not a time to rest on our laurels. “We are only halfway there. The focus now shifts to our effort in the Senate,” he said. “We are beginning a massive e-mail campaign in which we need every member to write their two Senators using our simplified process. You will be hearing from President Roderick and from your Directors, asking you to go to our Rally Congress page. Using your ZIP code, e-mails will be generated much like our recent letter campaign. You’ll fill in your name and address and press Enter. The e-mails will be sent directly to your Senators without you having to search through their websites.”

Lisenco said getting these e-mails to members’ Senators is a critical part of the process. “Those numbers matter! Please help us help you by participating in this effort,” he said.

As the amended bill provides, “Community associations should fairly administer private land-use regulations in the interest of their communities, while nevertheless permitting the installation and maintenance of effective outdoor Amateur Radio antennas. There exist antenna designs and installations that can be consistent with the aesthetics and physical characteristics of land and structures in community associations while accommodating communications in the Amateur Radio services.”

Limited Debate

During this week’s limited debate, the House bill’s sponsor, Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), thanked ARRL and the Community Associations Institute (CAI) for reaching an agreement to move the bill forward “in a bipartisan and very positive manner.” He pointed out to his colleagues that Amateur Radio antennas are prohibited outright in some areas.

“For some this is merely a nuisance,” Kinzinger said, “but for others — those that use their Amateur Radio license for life-saving emergency communications — a dangerous situation can be created by limiting their ability to establish effective communication for those in need.”

Kinzinger said that in emergencies, hams can provide “a vital and life-saving function” when conventional communication systems are down. He also praised the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), a US Department of Defense-sponsored program, comprised largely of Amateur Radio volunteers, that also supports communication during emergencies and disasters.

Cosponsor US Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT) also urged the bill’s passage. “This is not just a feel-good bill,” Courtney said, recounting how Hurricane Sandy brought down the power grid, and “we saw all the advanced communications we take for granted...completely fall by the wayside.” Ham radio volunteers provided real-time communication in the storm’s wake, he said, saying the legislation was a way “to rebalance things” for radio amateurs who choose to live in deed-restricted neighborhoods by enabling them to install “non-intrusive antennas.”

Courtney noted that he spoke recently with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and said that Wheeler “strongly supports this legislation.”

Leading up to the vote, Rep Paul Tonko (D-NY) also spoke in support of the legislation, calling it a common-sense approach that would build “fairness into the equation for Amateur Radio operators” in dealing with homeowners associations.

The earlier U.S. Senate version of the Amateur Radio Parity Act, S. 1685, no longer is in play, and the Senate is expected to vote by unanimous consent on the version of H.R. 1301 that the House adopted on September 12.

-ARRL Letter


Ham Radio Outlet Refurbishes, Reopens Former AES Milwaukee Location

Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) opened its latest Amateur Radio retail outlet at the site of the former Amateur Electronic Supply (AES) headquarters store at 5710 West Good Hope Road in Milwaukee on August 27. AES closed its Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Orlando outlets on July 28, following a surprise announcement 4 weeks earlier that it was going out of business after 59 years as a ham radio equipment supplier. A couple of weeks later, HRO announced plans to make over the Milwaukee outlet and reopen it as its latest “super store” — now HRO’s largest. Several former AES Milwaukee employees are now working for HRO, which undertook a rapid remodeling project to make the store over in its own brand. Dan Vanevenhoven, N9LVS, visited the HRO Milwaukee location on opening day, camera in hand, and he posted video of his brief tour on YouTube.

“One of the first things that caught my eye was the radio demo area,” Vanevenhoven says in his video. “They’ve actually got radios that you can try out.” A row of eight carrels, each with a different piece of gear ready to use, stretches along part of one wall in the store.

The Milwaukee store is 5000 square feet of Amateur Radio equipment, antennas, books, and accessories.

A family-owned business, HRO is the world’s largest Amateur Radio dealership, with 14 locations from New England to the West Coast. It opened a new outlet in Plano, Texas, in early 2015 and relocated and expanded its Portland, Oregon, store, which opened in late July.

HRO has planned the weekends of September 10, 17, 24 and October 1 for the grand opening of its Portland store, and October 1, 8, 15, and 22 for the grand opening of the new Milwaukee outlet.

-ARRL Letter



Excellent promotional video for Ham Radio

-Radio Society of Great Britain


Radio History: A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL

Look at this "history" of ham radio through the eyes of the ARRL, an interesting read!


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