Tech Net News 05-16-2020


800px-Casuarius_unappendiculatus_-Northern_Cassowary_-oblique_front
This deadly bird is prettier than most! Hint—don’t feed it. Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Coming up just one week from today, this month’s lab will focus on the Winlink radio e-mail software, which is both fun and useful in an emergency. Served agencies just love to use email when they can, and Winlink is a way to get it through.

The contest calendar has plenty of operating possibilities even if there’s nothing famous. The RSGB Hope QSO Party is continuing, and there are some unusual events like the Portuguese Navy Day contest and a CW event to honor the King of Spain.

In amateur radio news, a new release candidate for WSJT-X has been released. It offers improved decoding speed and reliability, so you should give it a try.

The ARRL reports that the amateur radio transponder on Huskysat-1 is now open for use, offering an inverting transponder with VHF up and UHF down.

UPDATE: Gus, W5GUS, mentions that next (Memorial Day) weekend will feature the Strange Antenna Challenge, where your goal is to make HF contacts using debris you might find after a natural disaster, not the usual wire or pipe antennas. It’s time to get out your toughest old antenna tuner and load up a tomato cage!

One ham news item that we’re all curious about is still a matter for wonder, and not news. No one really knows what form Field Day 2020 will take, either on the national level or for many local clubs. Will there be rule changes? Will we all operate from home? Will the DARC operate a small, socially-distanced site or will that be impractical? I’d like to encourage every ham to think about what sort of operation you would like to conduct, whether from home or a local park, and what sort of station and equipment improvements you want to make.

In news from the world of science:

A large collection of human footprints, up to 19,100 years old, has been found in Africa. It’s hard to say exactly what the humans were doing, but the footprints shed a tiny bit of light on ancient demographics and activity.

Carnivorous plants are really neat; there are several in the room where I’m writing this post. But it turns out that their genetics are surprising—rather than having more complex genomes then more ordinary plants, carnivores have simpler ones. It could be that when you’re living in tough circumstances, extra baggage of every kind has to go.

And speaking of carnivores, giant lizards are invading Georgia. Georgians probably thought they were safe once General Sherman moved on, but no longer. These 4-foot-long tegus will be happy to eradicate any native species they can catch, if they’re not stopped.

One quick word from Texas Parks and Wildlife: while we don’t have giant lizards invading our southern regions, please don’t touch the wildlife. If you’re not careful, you can do more harm than good. Watch wildlife carefully before concluding it’s orphaned or injured!

Last, but never least, the Cassowary has a reputation as the world’s deadliest bird, thanks to its long claws and its habit of attacking humans who try to feed and tame it. The cassowary is also a strikingly pretty bird with unusual black feathers, and now researchers know why they’re so pretty. “It’s not the branches, it’s the trunk.” You can even read the original research paper on-line.

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