*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 17 April 23, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +A "line in the sand" on BPL interference mitigation * +FCC cites "homeland security" in approving RFID tags on 70 cm * +Five hams now aboard the International Space Station * +Illinois amateurs support storm relief, recovery * +FCC levies $11,000 fine on California * +Kansas amateur wins Goldfarb Scholarship * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration International Marconi Day event set for April 24-25 weekend +Oklahoma hams respond to severe weather emergency Rodrigues Island DXpedition tops 150,000 contacts "AmExpo" to spotlight Amateur Radio at major airshow Gary Gordon, K6KV, wins QST Cover Plaque Award +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>UTILITY DRAWS "LINE IN THE SAND" ON BPL INTERFERENCE ABATEMENT In an e-mail this week to the FCC, an electric utility testing broadband over power line (BPL) systems in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area has drawn a virtual line in the sand on how far it plans to go to mitigate interference to Amateur Radio. Responding this week to the FCC about BPL interference complaints from hams, Progress Energy Corp (PEC) told the FCC that his company has eliminated any harmful interference from its BPL trial site and now complies with FCC rules. "It is PEC's position and interpretation of the FCC's rules with regard to 'harmful interference' that any interference that may still exist is not 'harmful' as that term is defined by the FCC's rules," Len Anthony, PEC's attorney for regulatory affairs, told James Burtle, chief of the FCC's Experimental License Branch. "This level of interference does not seriously degrade ham radio operation or transmissions or cause repeated interruptions." Some, but not all, of PEC's BPL field trials are covered by an FCC Part 5 experimental license. The FCC defines as "harmful" any interference that "seriously degrades, obstructs or repeatedly interrupts a radiocommunication service operating in accordance with the Radio Regulations." Anthony claimed that since PEC can modify its Amperion BPL system to totally eliminate interference to fixed stations, "the only impact of any kind upon ham operations is upon mobile operators." PEC concluded that since BPL interference to mobiles would be "very short lived," the company is not causing harmful interference and is in "full compliance" with FCC Part 15 rules. ARRL North Carolina Public Information Officer Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, suggests PEC has a bit more work to do. He is among local amateurs closely monitoring BPL deployment in the test zones and cooperating with PEC and Amperion to work out any interference issues. Pearce says interference remains on the top end of 20 meters in an overhead-line field trial neighborhood where PEC recently had tweaked its system. "Nothing had changed," he told ARRL after visiting the neighborhood in the wake of Anthony's e-mail. "They were still covering up the top end of the 20-meter band." Interference to 17 and 12 meters had been notched out, but beyond that, BPL interference persisted from 14.290 to nearly 17 MHz, he said, and "fringe" carriers still encroached some 100 kHz into the bottom of 15 meters. Interference had not been mitigated at all in neighborhoods with underground power service, he said. Progress Energy has been operating its "Phase II" trial in three neighborhoods south of Raleigh since early January. The area, in Wake County, is largely rural or lightly settled. No hams live in the underground-wired neighborhood, so none complained, Pearce said. The handful of BPL interference complaints eventually lodged with the FCC came from amateurs living closer to the overhead-wired neighborhood, and some were from mobile operators. Pearce said PEC's stance regarding mobile stations "sets a new bar" in interpreting harmful interference. "Hams have never been asked to accept that level of interference before," he said, noting that mobiles driving by a power line can hear the signal for "a mile or so." The ARRL's BPL strategy calls for the League to seek a radiated emission limit sufficient to protect the estimated 70,000 Amateur Radio mobile stations in the US. ARRL field observations using typical amateur equipment have documented BPL interference to mobile stations located hundreds of meters from BPL interference sources. Pearce says the North Carolina hams will respond to Progress Energy and the FCC to disagree with its interpretation of "harmful interference" and its conclusion regarding interference to mobiles. While he maintains that controlling BPL in a small trial area like his should not be that difficult, "having BPL buzzing across all the power lines in a large city is another story entirely, and that's what we're worried about." ARRL CEO David Sumner framed the situation another way. "If BPL emissions block weak signals that otherwise would be usable, that is harmful interference and they must remedy it," he said. "Progress Energy has as much as admitted that they can't. The only thing left for them to do is to shut their system down and get back to their basic business of supplying electrical energy." Additional information about BPL and Amateur Radio is on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/bpl/>. ==>FCC OKAYS RF IDENTIFICATION TAGS AT 433.5 TO 434.5 MHZ The FCC has adopted a somewhat limited version of its earlier proposal to permit deployment of RF Identification (RFID) tags in a segment of the 70-cm band at much greater duty cycles than current Part 15 rules permit for such devices and at higher field strengths. Among other applications, RFID tags are used to track shipments and packing containers. A Third Report and Order (R&O) in ET Docket 01-278 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-98A1.doc> released this week follows a 2000 petition by SAVI Technology to revise FCC Part 15 rules to accommodate such devices in the vicinity of 433 MHz. The ARRL has consistently opposed the proposal, but FCC just as unfailingly has tried to accommodate it. FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) Chief Ed Thomas said RFIDs provide important public benefits. "This item is designed to increase homeland security at ports, rail yards and warehouses," Thomas told the FCC open meeting. "It will foster the development of more powerful and advanced RFID systems that can identify the contents of shipping containers and determine whether tampering has occurred during shipment." Thomas said the devices also would increase efficiency in shipping operations and inventory control. ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, said SAVI has been raising the issue of homeland security in association with this proceeding for several months now. "This is the first time the FCC has acknowledged the argument," Imlay said, "but it helps the Commission justify the complete abandonment of its periodic radiator rules, and helps justify its abandonment of its custodial role of a natural resource." In requesting Commission adoption, OET's Hugh van Tuyl provided the broad strokes of the Part 15 rule changes, which, he said, would apply specifically to commercial shipping containers "in commercial and industrial areas." In certain cases, he asserted, current Part 15 requirements aimed at preventing interference to licensed services "may unnecessarily constrain the operational range of RFID systems as well as the speed and quantity of data that can be transmitted." The Third R&O not only would increase the maximum radiated field strength permitted for such devices but their maximum permissible transmission period as well--from one second to one minute. "While the maximum [emission] level would be greater than currently allowed," van Tuyl said, "it would still be only one-half of the level permitted for devices such as garage door openers, which also operate in this band." The longer authorized transmission period would allow an RFID to transmit the contents of an entire shipping container, he pointed out. "We therefore believe there will be no significant increase in the potential for interference to authorized services," van Tuyl concluded. The FCC made peace with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the RFID tag issue. In 2002, the NTIA--citing the likelihood of interference to critical government radars-expressed "grave concerns" about the proposal to permit deployment of the RFIDs. The Third R&O reflects certain accommodations that SAVI had offered in response to the 2002 NTIA study. It limits the operating band for such RFID tags to 433.5 to 434.5 MHz, instead of the 425 to 435 MHz SAVI originally wanted. It further would prohibit operation of RFID tag systems within 40 km (about 25 miles) of five government radar sites. Manufacturers of 433 MHz RFID systems would have to register the locations of their system base stations to assist in resolving interference complaints. Since SAVI first approached the FCC in 2000, ARRL has maintained that the RFID tags the company proposed represented a significant source of potential interference to sensitive receivers. Operating near-continuous duty Part 15 in the vicinity of 433 MHz "is fundamentally incompatible with incumbent amateur operation," the ARRL told the FCC. More than 130 amateurs filed comments in opposition to SAVI Technology's RFID tags proposal, and most supported the ARRL's position that the proposed rules were flawed and should not be adopted. ==>FIVE HAMS NOW ABOARD ISS; NEW CREW NOT WORRIED ABOUT GYRO FAILURE There now are five ham radio operators aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Expedition 9 ISS crew members Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, and Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, accompanied by European Space Agency astronaut André Kuipers, PI9ISS, arrived at the ISS right on schedule April 21 aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle. They joined Expedition 8 crew members Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Sasha Kaleri, U8MIR, whom Padalka and Fincke will relieve. Fincke told reporters April 23 that being aboard the ISS was "everything I've ever hoped for" and said he's "ready for the challenge" of living in space for the next six months. Both he and Foale also expressed confidence that the new crew can deal with this week's failure of a second control moment gyroscope (CMG) that leaves the ISS with the minimum two gyros. Fincke said he was prepared to do a space walk if necessary to repair the down units. "It's not a problem at all," he said. "We've trained in Houston . . . we've got spares on board . . . and we're ready to go when and if necessary." During their six-month tour of duty, Padalka, 45, will serve as Expedition 9 commander, while Fincke, 36, will be the NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer. The docking of the Soyuz spacecraft initiated a nine-day handover period now under way. During his visit aboard the space outpost, Kuipers will conduct a couple of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/> school group contacts and carry out scientific experiments under a commercial agreement between the ESA and Russia. He'll return to Earth April 29 with Foale and Kaleri aboard the older Soyuz vehicle now attached to the ISS. The Expedition 8 crew has so far spent 186 days onboard the station. NASA says Foale and Kaleri will be exercising rigorously in the days before their return to condition themselves for the effects of Earth's gravity upon their return. ==>ILLINOIS AMATEURS SUPPORT TORNADO RELIEF, RECOVERY EFFORTS Illinois ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator Pat Ryan, KC6VVT, reports Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) team members and local radio amateurs in LaSalle County--nearly 100 miles southwest of Chicago--this week supported American Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in the wake of tornados April 20 that left at least eight people dead. LaSalle, Putnam, Kankakee and Will counties were designated as disaster areas. Especially hard hit was the LaSalle County town of Utica, where the downtown area was devastated. "There was an outstanding turnout by local and nearby hams," Ryan told ARRL. "Many local hams are assisting in recovery efforts and damage assessment." In addition, SKYWARN teams and severe weather spotters "helped greatly throughout the area to spread the word of the approaching tornado tracking across many counties. LaSalle County ARES Emergency Coordinator Frank Carraro, KF9NZ, said he'd settled down to read a book when he began hearing weather-spotter reports of approaching tornados. He said it soon became obvious that Utica had been badly hit. "All the electric power was out, the roads were clogged with debris and panicked residents of the area--some trying to get in, and some trying to get out," he said. Jim Stefkovich, KD5HLE, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service (NWS) Chicago Forecast Office, expressed gratitude for Amateur Radio’s assistance in providing ground-level storm reports. "This was a true team effort, and I truly appreciate everything that was done from everyone in the Amateur Radio Community," he said. "I could not be more proud of everyone's efforts." Ryan, who lives in LaSalle County, reports that after the N9OUW Tri-County repeater was knocked off the air, owner Rich Grimshaw, N9OUW, and Kurt Clausen, KB9RKU, installed a deep-cycle battery from the Starved Rock Radio Club to get the machine back up. “This essential ham repeater then provided ideal coverage to link the downtown Utica area below the Illinois River bluff for further operation by the many amateurs responding,” he noted. “It was the critical link for this area.” The reactivated repeater supported disaster recovery efforts coordinated by the Illinois Valley Red Cross chapter in Peru. Simplex nets were activated in the Utica area on 2 meters to support shelter operations and disaster assessment and to minimize battery drain at the repeater. Grundy County amateurs also turned out to assist in LaSalle County. LaSalle County Assistant EC Joe Tokarz, KB9EZZ, said some 30 amateurs responded in his county alone. With telephone service being restored by week's end, Amateur Radio's role was beginning to wind down, he said. He encouraged hams to take advantage of ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Communications on-line classes, weather-spotter classes as well as other available emergency preparedness training to be ready. In this situation, he noted, there wasn't much advance warning. Ryan reports "outstanding assistance" from Community Emergency Response Teams throughout Northern Illinois. Twisters also hit the town of Granville in Putnam County. Salvation Army Team Emergency Network <http://www.satern.org/> National Director Pat McPherson, WW9E, reports Salvation Army canteens have been roving stricken neighborhoods providing food, beverages and respite and assisting with damage assessment and cleanup. "We used SKYWARN and our SATERN folks to keep us abreast of reports as the weather conditions turned sour, and they turned out to be invaluable assets in determining the course of the tornados," said McPherson, who's headquartered in Chicago. Will County ARES Emergency Coordinator Rob Sobkoviak, K9NYO, said tornados destroyed one house and damaged dozens of other homes and businesses in Joliet. He said The Salvation Army--with SATERN support--was called in to assist with damage assessment and cleanup and to provide meals to affected residents and emergency workers. Sobkoviak also cited the efforts of the ARES Severe Weather Net and of numerous weather spotters. Will County amateurs staffed ARES stations at local emergency operations centers and at the National Weather Service in Chicago. "These guys are true heroes," Sobkoviak said of his ARES team members. ==>FCC PROPOSES $11,000 FINE FOR CALIFORNIA AMATEUR The FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Daniel Granda, KA6VHC, proposing to fine the Whittier, California, man $11,000 for allegedly "willfully and repeatedly" violating the Communications Act of 1934 and Amateur Service (Part 97) rules. The FCC asserted that on at least eight occasions, Granda, 58, "willfully and maliciously caused interference to other stations and conducted activity in an effort to obtain exclusive use" of a 1.25 meter repeater pair. "Specifically, we find Mr Granda apparently liable for failure to respond to official Commission correspondence and causing intentional interference to amateur radio communications," the FCC said in the NAL, released March 31. In December 2002, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau issued a Warning Notice to Granda alleging that he deliberately interfered with two repeaters, KD6ZLZ and WA6NJJ. Granda failed to respond to that and to subsequent notices, including one from the FCC's Los Angeles Field Office, the NAL said. Agents from the FCC's LA office subsequently used direction-finding techniques to track interfering signals to Granda's residence, the NAL said. FCC agents inspected his station on April 15, 2003, and found radio equipment capable of transmitting on all of the frequencies involved. The FCC says Granda "orally admitted" that he had received the warning notices from the Commission. The NAL says Granda told the agents he was "trying to prevent anyone from using 'his' frequency by re-transmitting 147.49 MHz signals on 222.24/223.84 MHz to 'keep the channel occupied.'" The following day, an FCC agent observed that audio from 147.49 MHz was being retransmitted onto 222.24/223.84 MHz from Granda's residence, the NAL said. Based on the evidence, the FCC said, it determined that Granda had caused malicious interference and transmitted signals "in an attempt to exclusively use a frequency." The FCC gave Granda 30 days to pay the proposed forfeiture or file for a reduction or cancellation. Last August, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau set aside the grant of renewal of Granda's Amateur Extra class license, which expired last November. His renewal application has reverted to "pending" status. Although his call sign no longer appears in the FCC database, he does have interim operating privileges at least until the enforcement action is resolved. ==>KANSAS AMATEUR IS 2004 GOLDFARB SCHOLARSHIP WINNER Jonathan Krenzel, KC0AMG, a senior at Wichita County High School in Leoti, Kansas, is the 2004 winner of the William R. Goldfarb Memorial Scholarship. ARRL Foundation <http://www.arrl.org/arrlf/> President Tom Frenaye, K1KI, and Scholarship Committee Chairman Tom Comstock, N5TC, announced Krenzel's selection April 20. A Technician licensee since 1997 and an ARRL member, Krenzel, 18, enjoys operating SSB on 6 and 2 meters and 70 cm. He's active in various VHF-UHF operating events and in DXing as well as high-speed meteor scatter work. His father, Gary, is N0KQY. A member of the National Honor Society, Krenzel is ranked at the top of his class. Numerous other honors, including Who's Who among High School Students and designation as a Presidential Scholar, complement his outstanding academic resume. He was among 15 top Kansas high schoolers honored this week by the University of Kansas Alumni Association and the KU Endowment Association. In 2002, he took a silver medal in the Kansas Science Olympiad. His community activities include church youth projects and participation at schools, nursing homes and food drives. Krenzel plans to attend Wichita State University in the fall, majoring in aerospace engineering with a goal of one day working for NASA. The Goldfarb Scholarship is the result of a generous endowment from the late William Goldfarb, N2ITP. The Goldfarb Scholarship assists a qualified student to obtain a bachelor's degree at an accredited institution of higher education in computers, engineering, the sciences, medical/nursing or a business-related area. The four-year award to an active radio amateur is based on outstanding qualifications, financial need and the availability of other educational funding sources. More information on the Goldfarb Scholarship is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/arrlf/goldfarb.html>. Applications for the Goldfarb Scholarship and other ARRL Foundation Scholarship applications are accepted each year beginning October 1 and ending February 1 for the academic year that starts the following August/September. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation guru Tad "Dancing in Sunshine" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and sunspot numbers rose this week, and geomagnetic indices were down. Although still headed down the far side of solar cycle 23, rising sunspot counts and lower geomagnetic disturbances are great for HF propagation. Over the next few days, April 23-25, solar flux should stay around 120. It's expected to drop to around 115, 115 and 110 April 26-27. Planetary A index may rise to around 15 or higher on Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25, due to a solar windstream, especially if the interplanetary magnetic field points south. Currently the field is pointing north, protecting Earth from solar wind. There is a possibility of effects from a coronal hole reaching Earth this Sunday, April 25. Returning activity as the sun rotates relative to Earth could cause a larger rise in geomagnetic activity around May 3. This week's update has a new index added to the numbers at the end of the bulletin. The middle latitude numbers reflect conditions experienced by the majority amateurs in North America living below the 50th parallel. Sunspot numbers for April 15 through 21 were 60, 53, 55, 92, 108, 96 and 98, with a mean of 80.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 96.7, 96.9, 98.2, 109, 113.4, 110.7 and 112.7, with a mean of 105.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 12, 9, 11, 6, 4 and 5, with a mean of 7.6. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 3, 10, 6, 6, 4, 4 and 6, with a mean of 5.6. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The SP DX RTTY Contest, the Helvetia Contest (CW/SSB/digital), the QRP to the Field event, the Florida, Kentucky and Nebraska QSO parties and the CQC PSK31 Kontest are the weekend of April 24-25. JUST AHEAD: The EUCW/FISTS QRS Party is April 25-May 1. JUST AHEAD: The New England QSO Party, the US IPARC Annual Contest (CW), the MARAC County Hunters Contest (CW), the UBA Welcome to European Union Contest, the 10-10 International Spring Contest (CW), the Microwave Spring Sprint, the AGCW QRP/QRP Party, the Indiana QSO Party, the ARI International DX Contest, the US IPARC Annual Contest (SSB) and the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (SSB) are the weekend of May 1-2. The ARS Spartan Sprint is May 4. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. * ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the ARRL HF Digital Communication (EC-005), ARRL VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) and ARRL Technician Licensing (EC-010) courses remains open through Sunday, April 25. Classes begin Tuesday May 4. Students participating in VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) will enjoy exploring some of the lesser-used and more intriguing aspects of VHF/UHF operation. HF Digital Communication students will learn to use a variety of HF digital modes. With the assistance of a mentor students in Technician Licensing (EC-010) will learn everything they need to know to pass the FCC Technician class amateur license test. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) <<http://www.arrl.org/cce/>> Web page or contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department <email@example.com>. * International Marconi Day event set for April 24-25 weekend: Dozens of stations are expected to be on the air the weekend of April 24-25 to mark the 17th annual International Marconi Day (IMD). The 24-hour event commemorates the birth of wireless pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, who was born April 25, 1874. (IMD is usually held on the Saturday closest to Marconi's birthday.) The event is an opportunity for amateurs around the world to make contact with "Award Stations" on the air from various historic Marconi sites, such as VO1IMD on Signal Hill in Newfoundland, the Maritime Radio Historical Society's K6KPH in California (at the former KPH receiving site) and W1AA/MSC on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Members of the Cornish Radio Amateur Club (G4CRC) will be among them, operating as GB4IMD. Awards are available. A complete list of stations that will be on the air as well as additional information about IMD are on the CRAC Web site <http://www.gb4imd.co.uk/index.htm>. * Oklahoma hams respond to severe weather emergency: ARRL Oklahoma Section Manager John Thomason, WB5SYT, reports that Amateur Radio Emergency Service teams responded after tornados, severe thunderstorms and hailstorms struck the state April 20 and 21. "Several ARES groups assisted in severe weather spotting, radar analysis, city shelter management and damage assessment," Thomason told ARRL. "Severe thunderstorms with large hail, heavy rain and tornadoes struck Oklahoma for the second day consecutive day. A tornado warning lasted for almost an hour. Hail the size of baseballs punished people and vehicles." Thomason said hail accumulation on roadways made travel difficult, and the National Weather Service at one point had most of the state's 77 counties under a tornado watch. As of mid-week, several hundred residents remained without power. The ARRL-affiliated Southern Oklahoma ARES club in Ardmore provided numerous weather spotters and radar interpreters to assist public service agencies. The Ardmore Amateur Radio group's activity, including a picture of Matt Jones, W5FLW, were reported in the April 22 edition of The Daily Ardmoreite <http://www.ardmoreite.com/stories/042204/loc_okstorms.shtml>. Thomason said the Edmond Amateur Radio Society--an ARRL Special Service Club--provided spotters and shelters monitors in that community. "Other ARES groups throughout Oklahoma provided similar support to city and county emergency service entities," Thomason said. * Rodrigues Island DXpedition tops 150,000 contacts: The recent Project Star Reach 3B9C DXpedition <http://www.fsdxa.com/3b9c/index.html> to Rodrigues Island (AF-017) shut down April 12 at approximately 0300 UTC. The DXpedition was the recipient of an ARRL Colvin Award. 3B9C on-line logs <http://www.fsdxa.com/3b9c/online-logs.html> remain available. The DXpedition was sponsored by the Five Star DXers Association (FSDXA), with assistance from many others. QSL direct to FSDXA, PO Box 73, Church Stretton SY6 6WF UK or via the RSGB QSL Bureau. Much more information plus a form to request bureau cards is available on the 3B9C Web page <http://www.fsdxa.com/3b9c/>.--some information via The Daily DX <http://www.dailydx.com/> * "AmExpo" to spotlight Amateur Radio at major airshow: Amateur Radio special event station N2M will be on the air May 1 and 2 in conjunction with the annual Millville Wheels & Wings Airshow in New Jersey. "AmExpo commemorates the advancement of radio communications conducted at this location during World War II," says Hugh McElroy, W2AVN, who's chairman of the board of directors for the Millville army Air Field Museum. McElroy calls the special event "a celebration of radio and technology" during the airshow, which annually attracts upward of 150,000 visitors. Vintage and modern radio gear will be available, and multiple Amateur Radio clubs are providing operators. "We wish to invite all radio amateurs and radio enthusiasts to attend and enjoy this thrilling event," McElroy said. "Our goal is to foster Amateur Radio and to generate new radio amateurs." He says the N2M will be an all-band Field Day-style operation that will include VoIP modes such as EchoLink as well as satellite communication. For more information, visit the Millville Wheels & Wings Airshow Web site <http://www.p47millville.org/> and the AmExpo N2M Web page <http://www.millvilleairshow.com/am_expo.html> or e-mail McElroy <firstname.lastname@example.org>. * Gary Gordon, K6KV, wins QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for March is Gary Gordon, K6KV, for his article "Build a Puff-and-Sip Keyer." Congratulations, Gary! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author--or authors--of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html>. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the April issue of QST. Voting ends April 30. =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President. The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> offers access to news, informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. 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