Deadline Extended for 60-Meter Comments

The public comment period for Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) Docket 23-120 has been extended to November 28, 2023, from the original deadline of October 30, 2023.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing altering the 60-meter allocation from five 2.8 KHz wide channels to a single 15 KHz segment around the existing center channel. The FCC is also proposing reducing the power limit from 100 watts ERP (Effective Radiated Power) to 15 watts EIRP (Effective Isotropic Radiated Power), which is the total power radiated by a hypothetical isotropic antenna in a single direction.

The 60-meter (5 MHz) amateur radio allocation is on a secondary basis to government use. Since amateurs were first granted the 60-meter allocation in 2002, radio amateurs and governmental agencies has co-existed without incident. It may not be one of the most used HF bands, but it has played an important role in times of emergency. The propagation characteristics make it favorable for emergency communications as demonstrated by communications between the southern United States and the Caribbean as well as in Alaska.

The ARRL is advocating for keeping the existing upper and lower two channels, allocating a 15 KHz segment centered on the middle channel, and keeping the existing 100 watts ERP power limit. This is similar to the Canadian band plan. The League is requesting amateurs submit comments about the NPRM to the FCC before November 28th and have provided a resource link with instructions:

The proposed changes will have a detrimental impact on amateur radio’s ability to train and respond to disasters (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, wildfires, etc.), which have become more frequent. 

If these new rules become effective, there will be a number of negative consequences.

Most radios that have been manufactured since 2002 are preprogrammed for the five channels authorized for use. Radios that are field programmable could receive firmware updates from the radio manufacture that will allow access to the new allocation, but updates would be at the discretion of the radio vendor and on their time table. Radios that cannot be updated will only be usable on a single frequency. This will make many radios virtually unusable on 60-meters.

Assuming a dipole for an antenna, reducing the power from 100 watts ERP to 15 watts EIRP would be over a 10 dB reduction in power (100 watts to 9.1 watts). During times of emergency, 100 watts could make the difference between getting the message through or not. As radio amateurs and governmental agencies have successfully coexisted for over 20 years, it is not clear why this power reduction is being proposed.

Voice your opinion and get your comments in before November 28th.

MCWA Celebrates 45th Anniversary

The McHenry County Wireless Association celebrated its forty-fifth anniversary at the club’s monthly meeting on September 5, 2023.  Around fifty members and supporters were in attendance for the event, including those attending from around the country via Zoom.

After posing for a group photo and enjoying two delicious cakes, the meeting resumed, electing the new officers for 2023-2024: 

      • Dan Larson (KD9M), President
      • Wendell Smith (N9REP), Vice President
      • Andrew White (K9AJW), Secretary
      • Bob Temes (KD9IDD), Treasurer
      • Glenn Otto (K9OK), Director

The newly elected officers will be seated at the October meeting on October 3rd.

Dan Larson (KD9M), who took this group photo managed to vault into the air and stick his landing before the self-timer on his camera snapped the photo. Dan can be seen in the front row, third from the left.

The club was formed on September 12, 1978 and consisted of thirty-one charter members. Three of the original charter members continue to be active in the club: John Dewey (KA9CAR), Doug Mather (KD9PK), and Art Reis (K9XI). A fourth founding member, Jerry Heien (N9AVY) passed away in October 2022.

Today, MCWA is an ARRL affiliated club with a membership of nearly one hundred forty members. The club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 PM at Algonquin Township in Crystal Lake. All are welcome to attend.

Field Day 2022

ARRL FD22 Logo

Mark your calendars for June 25th and 26th. The McHenry County Wireless Association (MCWA) will participate in the ARRL Field Day event at the Rush Creek Conservation Area in Harvard, IL.

The site is located off of McGuire Road, just east of Route 14. For reference the Walmart is located at the corner of McGuire Road and Route 14.

Every fourth full weekend in June, more than 40,000 radio amateurs or “hams” throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation.

Field Day is amateur radio’s open house combining public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single twenty-four event. It has been an annual event since 1933 and remains the most popular event in amateur radio.

Guests are welcome and encouraged to visit us during the event, which begins at 1 PM Saturday. For more information contact us at

In addition to MCWA, two other Field Day sites will be in operation in McHenry County: McHenry County RACES at the Government Center in Woodstock and The 415 ARC at 3208 Bay Road, Crystal Lake.

Maker Faire Lake County 2022

The Maker Faire held at College of Lake County last Saturday was very well attended, especially for their first live event.  Our exhibit, Morse Code: The “New” old technology, seemed to be a big hit with the faire goers.

Maker Faires attract a variety of people who are interested in learning and creating/making things. There were people of all ages including young families who really seemed to enjoy the exhibit.  This is a group of people who know how to wrangle a soldering iron.

Our exhibit had three tables, each depicting a different aspect of digital communications using amateur radio.

Table 1 (Dave, K9AT): Using a IC-705 and Wolf River coil, a typical portable station was shown. Dave also brought a key and Morse decoder for visitors to try out sending Morse Code.

Table 2 (Andy, WB7DKZ and Ralph, WB9ICF): Focused on the history of Morse Code and the tools that you can use to learn it in the 21st century. The table had two MorseInos (thanks to Dan, KD9M and for loaning us his Cricket QRP transceiver), two homebrew Morse Tutors, and examples of QRP CW radios. Visitors enjoyed practicing Morse Code and sending messages to their family members and friends.

Table 3 (Gary, W9GD and Sam, KC9GPY): Showed FT-8 communications to visitors using Gary’s remote station (to ensure that local conditions in the building wouldn’t prevent contacts being made).

The exhibit was well attended and all were kept quite busy explaining Morse Code and amateur radio as well as answering questions.

For those interested in Morse Code, a MCWA Code Practice Oscillator kit was offered to encourage exploration of amateur radio. 

Morse Tutor/CPO project page