*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 26, No. 17 April 27, 2007 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +League pulls regulation-by-bandwidth petition, plans to refile * +Ham radio application surge continues * +League encourages Education and Technology Program donations * +Amateur Radio takes part in hurricane conference * +Young radio amateur wins prestigious NSF research fellowship * +Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Rough seas slowing Scarborough Reef (BS7H) DXpedition team International Marconi Day event is April 28 +Clandestine broadcaster, jamming station back in Amateur Radio band ARRL greets radio amateurs, visitors at broadcasters' convention Hawaii moonbounce a hit High-altitude balloon to carry Amateur Radio payloads NEAR-Fest to continue "Hosstraders" tradition in New England +Satgate System to QRT +Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> ==>Editorial questions or comments only: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, <email@example.com> =========================================================== ==>ARRL WITHDRAWS "REGULATION BY BANDWIDTH" PETITION, PLANS TO REFILE The ARRL has withdrawn its controversial November 2005 Petition for Rule Making (RM-11306) <http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/rm-11306/RM-11306-asFiled.pdf> calling on the FCC to establish a regulatory regime to segment bands by necessary bandwidth rather than by emission mode. The League cited "widespread misconceptions" surrounding the petition as a primary reason for deciding to remove it from FCC consideration. The ARRL left open the option of refiling the same or a similar petition in the future, however. "The withdrawal of the petition will permit a full discussion and consideration of options at the July 2007 meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors," said ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN. "The petition then can be recast with a better explanation of its scope and the reasons for the proposed changes." The ARRL Executive Committee recommended withdrawing the petition when it met by teleconference April 10. The ARRL Board of Directors subsequently okayed the EC's recommendation by mail vote. The ARRL Board continues to support the concept of regulation by maximum emission bandwidth as a way to facilitate the eventual transition from analog to digital communication modes. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, emphasized that the League seeks a regulatory framework that's "fully compatible with both narrowband and wideband analog emission modes now in common use" on the ham bands. Sumner expressed the hope that a refiled regulation-by-bandwidth petition would "address -- and hopefully avoid -- widespread misconceptions" about RM-11306, either in its original form or as amended earlier this year. Irrespective of the present controversy over the petition's proposals, he pointed out, the League repeatedly sought comment on its regulation-by-bandwidth concepts before filing its petition with the FCC. The ARRL first sounded out the Amateur Radio community regarding regulation-by-bandwidth three years ago. A September 2004 "It Seems to Us . . ." QST editorial "Regulation by Bandwidth" followed, explaining the concept and its rationale. Hundreds of subsequent comments from ARRL members and others "helped to bring the issues on which the amateur community was not in agreement into focus." That led to a second editorial, "Narrowing the Bandwidth Issues," in April 2005 QST, soliciting additional comments on the plan's most contentious points. That drew hundreds more constructive and critical comments, and the ARRL took all input into account in developing a draft petition for the Board's consideration. The ARRL filed the petition in November 2005, and the FCC put it on public notice in January 2006. In all, the amateur community has posted upward of 1000 comments on RM-11306. While some comments appropriately reflected concerns about the proposed substantial shift in regulatory philosophy, others tended to reflect a lack of understanding of existing rules, of the ARRL's proposals, or both. Some expressed the view that the League was attempting to promote or legitimize particular data modes, such as Winlink. "The petition, in fact, had nothing specifically to do with Winlink or any other particular data mode," Sumner maintains. "It was, rather, a means of facilitating data experimentation, which is somewhat stifled under the current rules" that apply almost exclusively to analog modes. A major distraction in the public debate related to automatically controlled data stations, and assertions that adopting the League's petition would permit such facilities to run roughshod over CW and other traditional modes. Sumner says automatic control is not even an essential component of the League's regulation-by-bandwidth proposals, which would leave in place restrictions on automatically controlled stations. Revisions to RM-11306 the ARRL filed earlier this year to accommodate changes in Part 97 that occurred since November 2005 only seemed to generate additional controversy and lead to further confusion, Sumner concedes. Those revisions would have largely confined regulation by bandwidth to the VHF and UHF bands. One misunderstanding resulting from an unintentional editorial error in the League's revisions gave rise to concerns that the ARRL's proposed 3 kHz bandwidth limitation for data emissions represented an expansion of the currently permitted maximum bandwidth. Quite the contrary, Sumner explains. "In fact, 3 kHz bandwidth would have been a new limitation, because the present baud rate limit applies to individual carriers," he said. "Therefore, for emissions such as OFDM [orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing], which use multiple carriers, there is no effective bandwidth limit in the HF bands now." Sumner notes that under current rules, a single OFDM signal could conceivably -- and legally -- occupy an entire HF band. Harrison assured that the League intends to offer a "far better explanation" of the consequences of regulation by bandwidth before filing a new petition proposing that regulatory concept, "so that the misunderstandings that occurred with respect to RM-11306 do not happen again." ==>APPLICATION SURGE CONTINUES UNDER NEW AMATEUR RULES It's been just a little more than two months since the FCC dropped the requirement that Amateur Radio applicants pass a Morse code test to earn operating privileges below 30 MHz. While the initial avalanche of applications immediately following February 23, when the no-Morse testing regime went into effect, has abated somewhat, business remains brisk for the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator staff. "It's slowing down a little bit, but it's still substantially above what we usually see," observed ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. She estimated that new Amateur Radio applications were up by 35 percent, while upgrade applications were up by 150 percent over last year's volume. In a typical pre-February 23 week, Somma said, ARRL VEC would receive paperwork from approximately 115 test sessions. "It's on the order of 150 to 200 sessions per week now!" she exclaimed. Somma and ARRL VEC staffers concurred that applications were roughly evenly split between newcomers and upgraders. She said she's also seen a spike in the number of applications from General and higher class radio amateurs to serve as volunteer examiners. To satisfy his own curiosity, ARRL member Tommy Gober, N5DUX, compiled some FCC statistics on the number of new Technician, General and Extra licensees before and after the Morse code requirement was deleted. His numbers show the FCC issued nearly 700 more Amateur Extra, 3625 more General and 454 more Technician licenses in March 2007 than in the same month last year. Figures from ARRL member and ham radio statistician Joe Speroni, AH0A, indicate the total number of Amateur Extra licensees is up 1649 from March 2006 to March 2007, while the General population grew by 2668. The total number of Technician licensees dropped by 1632 during the same period, however -- and it continues to drop going into April. Speroni's figures also show that the grand total of Amateur Radio station licenses has declined by more than 12,800 over the past two years -- to 655,048 at the end of March. The still-heavy volume has stretched the amount of time it takes for an application to proceed from examination session to license grant. "I think we're looking at eight to ten days from the test date," Somma allowed. By and large, those on the waiting end have been patient and understanding, she added. A staff of seven full-time and three part-time employees handle the "incoming" from Amateur Radio exam sessions across the US and from other sites where US Amateur Radio examinations are administered through ARRL VEC. There's no light at the end of the tunnel just yet. Somma and her staff are looking ahead to 450 examination sessions registered for May, another 400 in June and 320 apiece during July and August. And summer is "the slow season," she remarked. Another 900 test sessions already are on the calendar for the rest of 2007. ==>ARRL URGES SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM The ARRL is encouraging members to invest in Amateur Radio's future generation by supporting the Education and Technology Program (ETP) <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/>. Begun in 2000 simply as "The Big Project" under the inspiration of then-President (now President Emeritus) Jim Haynie, W5JBP, the ETP has expanded to some 250 participating schools across the US and sponsors free Teachers Institutes each summer for educators. The program is funded solely through contributions. ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, describes the ETP as the cornerstone of the League's efforts to introduce a new generation to ham radio. "ARRL is doing lots of great things in education for Amateur Radio, but the ETP is the foundation of our future," Hobart says. "I wish every ARRL member could sit in a classroom as students discover the magic of wireless technology, or sit in on one day of the Teachers Institute as teachers unravel the mysteries of weather, space, robotics and ham radio -- and how they are interwoven -- to open up a whole new world for kids. It's magical and inspiring!" Mark Spencer, WA8SME, coordinates the ETP. The program provides participating schools with a turnkey Amateur Radio station and a complete wireless technology curriculum at no cost. Many youngsters at ETP grant schools have obtained Amateur Radio licenses, although that's not a primary program goal. Hobart says hundreds of students and their teachers have become radio amateurs, forming school clubs and getting on the air for such events as the annual School Club Round-Up. Hobart predicts, recent changes in the requirements to obtain an Amateur Radio license will spark even more interest. "We are poised to add thousands of new hams to our service -- many of them young people who are just discovering the magic of wireless communication," she said. Hobart notes the recent appointment of Debra Johnson, K1DMJ, as the League's new Education Services Manager as further evidence of ARRL's commitment to inspiring and educating the generations of radio amateurs yet to come. The ETP will sponsor four Teachers Institutes this year, and contributions help keep this free educational service alive. "Youngsters who benefit from the generosity of your donations may follow in the footsteps of hams who found a future in electronics, communications, computers and the sciences," she says. "Without the contributions of ARRL members, the Education and Technology Program would not be a reality." "Contributions by June 30 will place Amateur Radio in more schools and train more teachers in 2007," Hobart says. Visit the secure ARRL Development Office Web site <https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/education/2007/> to donate. For more information, contact Hobart via e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> or call 860-594-0397. ==>AMATEUR RADIO PARTICIPATES IN 2007 NATIONAL HURRICANE CONFERENCE Amateur Radio had a seat at the table during the 29th National Hurricane Conference, April 2-6 in New Orleans. The annual gathering, which serves as "the nation's forum for education and professional training in hurricane preparedness," featured Amateur Radio's role in severe weather situations. More than 2500 government, industry, military, and volunteers attended this year's gathering. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), WX4NHC -- the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center -- and ARRL collaborated to present a training session at the conference on April 3. "This gave Amateur Radio operators and several representatives of the ARRL Field Organization leadership a chance to discuss their experiences and lessons learned during recent hurricane seasons -- especially Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that affected so much of the Gulf Coast in 2005," said ARRL HQ's Field Organization Team Leader Steve Ewald, WV1X, who moderated the forum. Among the presenters was Alabama Section Manager Greg Sarratt, W4OZK. "The Amateur Radio presentations were very successful. Amateurs from several different areas of disaster experience spoke about what Amateur Radio experienced and has done to be better prepared for the next large disaster," Sarratt observed. "Attendees listened intently and posed very good questions." He said attendees reviewed ARRL enhancements and the work and recommendations of the National Emergency Response Planning Committee (NERPC). New Orleans ARRL Emergency Coordinator Joel Colman, NO5FD, explained how their experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina have led to an even better working relationship with the Orleans Parish Fire Department. Amateur Radio operators are now setting up a ham radio station at the fire department's communications facility, and they are offering Amateur Radio license classes for 911 operators and others. In other presentations: * Cedric Walker, K5CFW, an ARRL Technical Specialist from New Orleans and active ARES member, discussed the close relationship that has developed between Amateur Radio operators with their communication skills and Flotilla 45 of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. * Tom Hammack, W4WLF, a District Emergency Coordinator from Gulfport, presented his first-hand perspective of Amateur Radio emergency support during and after Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. * Gary Stratton, K5GLS, ARRL Louisiana Section Emergency Coordinator, recounted the stories of those many days and weeks after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and how they have led to several lessons learned with regard to message handling, served agency relationships, and contact with other sections for mutual assistance. Sarratt assessed the 2007 National Hurricane Conference as a very informative event. "This conference is a must-attend event for all EmComm leadership!" he said. ==>FIRST GOLDFARB SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT WINS RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP ARRL member Ben Schupack, NW7DX, the first-ever recipient of the prestigious ARRL Foundation William R. Goldfarb Memorial Scholarship, has won a $120,000 graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The stipend will enable Schupack, a senior at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, to undertake three years' of research in Iceland and Greenland. Schupack says that he's planning to take Amateur Radio gear along when he heads into the field. "My graduate studies will not involve radio directly, but I will continue my involvement on the air, and I anticipate bringing along radio equipment to my proposed field sites in Iceland and Greenland," he told ARRL. A geology and environmental studies major, Schupack, 22, plans to attend the University of Colorado -- Boulder in the fall, where he will be working within the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). His research will focus on the interaction between volcanic eruptions and Arctic climate variability, and he expects to undertake ice-core and lake-core field work in Iceland and Greenland. Schupack says he believes Amateur Radio played a role in his getting the NSF award, which typically goes to graduate students. In one application essay, Schupack mentioned his interest in Amateur Radio and the infinite questions that stem from studying Earth sciences. "The atmosphere, geomagnetic variations and solar conditions are among just a few of the many threads that help unravel Earth's history and predict future dynamics," he explained. He also says his background in electronics and ham radio has come in handy on countless occasions, from installing remote solar panels to measuring battery discharge cycles and interpreting ground-penetrating radar surveys. In addition to his scholarly endeavors, Schupack is lead trombonist in Whitman's jazz band, and he's a member of the school's award-winning cycling team. Last year Schupack took part in a semester abroad program in tropical marine ecology with the School for Field Studies in the Turks & Caicos Islands. The Goldfarb award is the result of a generous endowment from the late William Goldfarb, N2ITP. For more information about ARRL scholarships, visit the ARRL Foundation scholarships Web page <http://www.arrlf.org/programs/scholarship>. -- some information from Whitman College ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar flash Tad "I Live for the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspots have reappeared over the past few days after six days of nothing. So far in April we've seen 18 days with zero spots, but a large sunspot, Number 953, now is rolling into view. A solar wind stream also is expected to hit Earth, causing a geomagnetic upset on Saturday, April 28. The Australian Space Forecast Centre predicts quiet-to-unsettled conditions April 27, active-to-minor storm conditions April 28, and active conditions April 29. The US Air Force predicts the planetary A index from April 27 through May 1 at 5, 25, 15, 10 and 8. Similar predictions from Geophysical Institute Prague give us quiet conditions April 27, active April 28, unsettled to active April 29, unsettled April 30, quiet to unsettled May 1, and back to quiet May 2-3. There's been a lot of news this week regarding the solar minimum and predicted solar maximum. On April 25, a Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel consisting of members from NOAA, NASA and other agencies looked at all available predictions, attempted to reach consensus and released a statement <http://www.sec.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/SC24/Statement_01.html>. It looks like the minimum between cycles 23 and 24 may not occur for another year, until March 2008, a year later than recently reported. The accuracy is expected to be plus or minus six months. Sunspot numbers for April 19 through 25 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and 14, with a mean of 2. The 10.7 cm flux was 68.3, 68.5 68.7, 68.9, 69.1, 73.2, and 76.5, with a mean of 70.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 3, 2, 10, 18, 4 and 5, with a mean of 6.9. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 4, 2, 2, 8, 10, 5 and 4, with a mean of 5. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/propagation.html>. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The Florida and Nebraska QSO parties, the SP DX RTTY Contest and the Helvetia Contest are the April 28-29 weekend. JUST AHEAD: The AGCW QRP/QRP Party is May 1. The NCCC Sprint Ladder is May 4. The New England QSO Party, the MARAC County Hunter Contest (CW), the 10-10 International Spring Contest (CW), the Microwave Spring Sprint, the Seventh Call Area QSO Party, the NA High-Speed Meteor Scatter Spring Rally, the US IPARC Annual Contest (CW and SSB), the Portuguese Navy Day Contest (CW/SSB and PSK31), the Indiana QSO, the ARI International DX Contest, are the weekend of May 5-6. The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (SSB) is May 7. The ARS Spartan Sprint is May 8. The SKCC Sprint is May 9. 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 remains open through Sunday, May 6 , for these ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (CEC) program online courses beginning Friday, May 18: Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level 2 (EC-002), Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level 3 (EC-003R2), Antenna Modeling (EC-004), HF Digital Communications (EC-005), VHF/UHF -- Life Beyond the Repeater (EC-008), and Radio Frequency Propagation (EC-011). These courses will also open for registration Friday, May 4, for classes beginning Friday, June 15. To learn more, visit the CCE Course Listing page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html> or contact the CCE Department <email@example.com>. * Rough seas slowing Scarborough Reef (BS7H) DXpedition team: The Scarborough Reef (BS7H) DXpedition team <http://www.scarboroughreef.com/> will not be hitting the airwaves quite as quickly as expected. Extremely rough seas were slowing the progress of their vessel and now estimates it will arrive on Scarborough Reef Sunday morning local time (UTC = local time minus 8 hours). At 0240 UTC on April 27, the team was located some 240 nautical miles northwest of Scarborough Reef and making less-than-expected progress. The sea has been rough since departure, and there has been no maritime mobile operation. The multinational team from the US, Europe and Asia says on its Web site that it's "poised and prepared to ensure that every DXer gets a chance to make a QSO with this rare entity." Headed by ARRL Pacific Division Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, the crew left Hong Kong April 25. Under normal conditions, the voyage takes approximately two and a half days. Upon their arrival team members will immediately assemble gear, erect antennas and announce on the Web site when operations commence. The team plans to follow propagation forecasts as closely as possible and concentrate on the bands that should provide the highest productivity to the Americas and to Western Europe. Logs <http://www.scarboroughreef.com/srlog.html> will be available only after the DXpedition concludes and should be uploaded to Logbook of the World <http://www.arrl.org/lotw> as well. * International Marconi Day event is April 28: Special event stations will be on the air Saturday, April 28 (UTC), to mark International Marconi Day (IMD) <http://www.gb4imd.org.uk/>, a 24-hour Amateur Radio event comemorating the birth of wireless pioneer Guglielmo Marconi on April 25, 1874. Participants can qualify for awards by making contacts on 160 through 10 meters (CW, SSB and digital) with designated IMD stations operating on or near a site where Marconi carried out experiments or where Marconi equipment was used prior to his death in 1937. The sponsoring Cornish Radio Amateur Club (CRAC) will operate GB4IMD from Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall. Additional IMD stations will be on the air from the UK, the US, Canada, South America, Australia and Europe. The IMD Web site has a list of IMD 2007 award stations <http://www.gb4imd.org.uk/awardstns.htm>. * Clandestine broadcaster, jamming station back in Amateur Radio band: ARRL Monitoring System/Intruder Watch Liaison Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG, confirms reports that a clandestine broadcaster and a jamming station again are competing on 18.160 MHz. The 17-meter band is a worldwide exclusive Amateur Radio allocation. Following up on reports, Skolaut says he's able to hear the "Sound of Hope" broadcast station from Taiwan as well as the so-called "Fire Dragon" jammer, broadcasting music from Hainan, Peoples' Republic of China, at ARRL Headquarters station W1HQ. The Sound of Hope transmits news unfavorable to the PRC, while the Hainan music transmissions attempt to block the transmission, pausing for four minutes each hour, apparently to check the frequency. The result is a mess! Skolaut has received reports about the clandestine broadcaster and music jammer interference from all over the US as well as Europe, Africa and the UK. IARU Monitoring System Region 1 Coordinator Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, in Germany has documented the intruders on 18.160 MHz (and others) on his Web site <http://www.iarums-r1.org/iarums/latest.pdf>. * ARRL greets radio amateurs, visitors at broadcasters' convention: The ARRL had a presence at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention, April 14-19 in Las Vegas. The gathering annually attracts more than 100,000 broadcasting and electronic media industry representatives. Las Vegas volunteer Stan Perkins, W7SLP, ARRL Pacific Division Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, and others from near and far staffed the League's exhibit to inform attendees about Amateur Radio's service to the public. The NAB generously provided space for the League's booth, which attracted hams and non-hams alike. Several visitors expressed an interest in becoming licensed -- or re-licensed. One ham discovered that his license was about to lapse the next day. ARRL representatives directed him to the FCC booth, where his ticket was renewed on the spot. Audio guru Bob Heil, K9EID, of Heil Sound Ltd sponsored the popular Wednesday evening ham radio reception, which featured entertainment, refreshments and an array of great door prizes. While Thursday is usually a slow day, the ARRL booth remained a beehive of activity when the folks from NOAA brought along "Sprockit," an intelligent robot to discuss Amateur Radio and its contribution to SKYWARN and other public service activities, Perkins said. The ARRL thanks all NAB volunteers for contributing their time to make the League's booth a success. * Hawaii moonbounce a hit: Bruce Clark, K0YW, operating as KH7X from the station of Alex Benton, KH6YY, made the first successful 2.3 GHz EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) contact from Hawaii April 23 (UTC). "This is the first time EME from Hawaii has been worked on this band," reports Ron Hashiro, AH6RH, who assisted in the effort. Clark made contact with well-known VHF/UHF and moonbounce enthusiast Al Ward, W5LUA, in Texas. Hashiro says the Hawaii operation was set up in a tent pitched next to the 12-foot TV receive-only (TVRO) dish used for the antenna, in order to minimize feed line losses. "The CW signal was just above the noise level and sounded 'watery,' as if the speaker were being held underwater," Hashiro reported. "The warbling tone was much worse than Arctic flutter." He said Doppler shift was on the order of 3 kHz. CW was sent at about 10 WPM. K0YW made additional contacts with several other stations on 2.3 GHz as well as on 1.2 GHz EME, Hashiro said. News of Clark's temporary Hawaii moonbounce setup made the April 21 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser <http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Apr/21/ln/FP704210343.html>. In addition to Benton and Hashiro, others assisting in the moonbounce experiment included KH6ND, KH7U, WH6GS and AH6NF. * High-altitude balloon to carry Amateur Radio payloads: ARBONET-2, a high-altitude balloon carrying an Amateur Radio payload, is set to launch Saturday, May 5, at 9 AM CDT (1400 UTC), from Red River County Airport in Clarksville, Texas. An unfavorable weather forecast led sponsors to reschedule the launch date from April 28. Using the call sign K5FRC, the "Amateur Radio Balloons over North East Texas" flight will carry a crossband repeater (445.800 MHz up/147.560 MHz down), APRS (144.390 MHz) and a homing and data beacon (145.560 MHz). A 10-meter CW beacon on 28.061 MHz will identify as K5RWK. The ARBONET-2 flight is being dedicated to long-time Amateur Radio high-altitude balloon enthusiast Kim R. Miles, N9IS, who died March 27. He was a prominent member of the Central Indiana Windtrax organization with more than 30 high-altitude balloon flight operations to his credit. A launch net (K5FRC) will commence at 8:30 AM CDT (1130 UTC) and continue until recovery on 7.260 MHz (plus or minus QRM). The flight is expected to last about two hours. The ARBONET team requests reception reports to the ARBONET Web site <http://www.arbonet.net/>. A commemorative QSL card will be available for those submitting reports. * NEAR-Fest to continue "Hosstraders" tradition in New England: The New England Amateur Radio Festival ("NEAR-Fest") will take place Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, at the Deerfield, New Hampshire, Fairgrounds, Route 43 approximately 15 miles northeast of Manchester. NEAR-Fest will continue the tradition begun years ago by the now-discontinued "Hosstraders Tailgate Swapfest" -- a New England tradition for more than 30 years. NEAR-Fest will take place spring and fall at the original Hosstraders location. Gates open Friday at 9 AM. Tickets are $10 per person ($5 after 3 PM Friday) and $10 per vehicle into the flea market. Commercial vendors will also be on site. There are no sellers' fees or space limitations, and there's ample free parking outside the flea market. There's no charge for camping, but RV hookups (power and water) are $30. Check the NEAR-Fest Web site <http://www.near-fest.com/> for additional information and updates. * Satgate System to QRT: AMSAT-NA reports that after many years of forwarding packet messages via UO-22, GO-32 and AO-51 the Satgate System will go silent. The total of 35 worldwide stations in the system a few years ago has dwindled due to a lack of traffic, maintenance problems, change of location and operator attrition. The system originated with David Medley, KI6QE, and the driving force over the past several years has been Andrew Sellers, G8TZJ, who's credited with developing software to permit Satgate stations to be fully automated. -- AMSAT News Service =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League: ARRL--the National Association For Amateur Radio, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Joel Harrison, W5ZN, President. 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