ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 26, No. 35
August 31, 2007
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IN THIS EDITION:

* + FCC Issues Two Citations in Longstanding Power Line Noise Case 
* + Tennessee Amateur Finds Innovative Way to Promote Ham Radio 
* + Michigan Hams Activated Due to Storms and Tornado 
* + ARRL Announces New Fall Publications 
* + Lab Testing Changes Detailed in October QST 
* + ARRL Continues Efforts on Interference to PAVE PAWS Radar Sites
*   Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
      This Weekend on the Radio
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration
    + ARRL Headquarters Closed in Observance of Labor Day 
    + Upcoming Meteor Shower Can Be Boon for VHFers 
      ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference Sunday Seminar Announced 
      Malaysia to Celebrate 50 Years of Independence with Amateur Radio Event 
      QEX -- In This Issue 
      Let Us Know 


+Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> 

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==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, <k1sfa@arrl.org>;
===========================================================

==> FCC ISSUES TWO CITATIONS IN LONGSTANDING POWER LINE NOISE CASE 

The Federal Communications Commission's Dallas Field Office issued Citations on
July 25 to two utilities in a longstanding power line noise case in Lubbock,
Texas. Bryan Edwards, W5KFT, of Lubbock, first reported the interference
concerning the two involved utilities, Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L) and
Xcel Energy, as early as 1994. The record shows that the FCC Dallas Field Office
clarified the FCC rules with regard to power line noise for LP&L as early as
1998, and issued three letters to LP&L in 2003 and 2004. Xcel Energy was
first issued an FCC letter in 2004.

The Citations to the Lubbock utilities said that due to an investigation
conducted by the FCC's Dallas office May 22-25, 2007, they found that both
LP&L and Xcel "caused harmful interference to the reception of amateur
communications to amateur licensee W5KFT in Lubbock, Texas," and that
"Section 15.209 sets the general radiated emission limits for intentional
radiators. The limit for the band 30 to 88 MHz is 100 micro-volts per meter
measured at 3 meters. The attached list of strong electrical arcing points
appears to exceed the value allowed even for intentional radiators." The
list, attached to each Citation, included 44 separate "strong electrical
arcing points" that were found near Edwards' home.

The FCC directed both LP&L and Xcel, pursuant to the Commission's Rules, to
provide documents and information within 10 days of their respective Citations.
"Because the source of harmful interference is emanating from more than one
power company and past attempts have not resolved the problem, you must submit a
written plan describing the planned resolution of this case," including
LP&L's coordination with Xcel Energy and Xcel's coordination with LP&L,
according to the Citations. Also, each company is "directed to provide a
report every sixty (60) days, of work completed to resolve the interference
until your distribution system is in compliance."

Each Lubbock utility was warned that "[v]iolations of the Act or the
Commission's Rules may subject the violator to substantial monetary forfeitures,
seizure of equipment through in rem forfeiture action, and criminal sanctions,
including imprisonment." In rem is a civil forfeiture proceeding as opposed
to a criminal forfeiture proceeding.

In its undated Response to the FCC's Citation, LP&L stated that it
"does not admit to and specifically denies any violation of the
[Communications] Act [of 1934] or any rule pertaining thereto," but
"in order to comply with the...Citation, the City of Lubbock files this
response." As a result of the Citations issued by the FCC, LP&L's
Response stated that representatives from "Lubbock Power & Light met
with Paul Leonard, P.E., Area Engineer with Xcel Energy to discuss the alleged
findings regarding harmful interference to the reception of amateur
communications by amateur licensee W5KFT in Lubbock, Texas." 

Xcel's Response pointed out that the Citation acknowledges "that the source
of harmful interference to amateur licensee W5KFT is emanating from more than
one power company." Xcel also alleges that it "has been working with
amateur W5KFT for a number of years in an effort to identify the source of, and
a possible resolution for, the harmful interference he is experiencing. Xcel
Energy has a good working relationship with the licensee and has coordinated
with him on numerous occasions in attempting to resolve his interference
problems." 

Xcel goes on to assure the FCC that it will "retain an outside technical
consultant to provide an unbiased assessment of whether the harmful interference
to W5KFT is attributable to Xcel Energy's power system and if so, what
corrective measures would be required." Edwards reported that on Thursday,
August 30, he received a phone call from Paul Leonard, head of Xcel Energy in
West Texas. Edwards said he was told that Xcel has contracted with Mike Martin,
K3RFI, to come out to Lubbock in October to work on the line noise.
"Leonard said they tried to get LP&L to participate with them and Mike,
but they refused to do so," Edwards said. Martin owns and operates RFI
Services, a firm dedicated exclusively to RFI locating and training. He has been
locating interference sources for more than 25 years, solving an average of 500
complaints a year, according to the ARRL Lab. Martin has also given power line
interference workshops at ARRL Headquarters.

ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, said, "I am pleased to see the FCC taking
a strong enforcement step in this case. It has gone on for a long time, and this
Citation should serve to finally get things resolved. It is unfortunate that
some of the power line cases the ARRL is handling can't be resolved without the
FCC taking formal action, but I expect that electric utilities across the
country will now take notice of this case." 

Most power line noise sources in fact can be located quickly and economically,
Gruber said; many utilities in fact handle power line noise complaints as a
matter of routine maintenance. "All it takes is a properly trained RFI
investigator with modern noise locating equipment. By using noise signature
techniques, the utilities would have had only to address those sources actually
contributing to the problem. The message to utilities here is clear. Don't
ignore power line noise complaints! Don't make the FCC get involved!"

For more information on this story, as well as links to the ARRL report, the
FCC's Citations and the utilities' Responses, please see the ARRL Web site
<http://www.arrl.org
/news/stories/2007/08/30/100/?nc=1>. 

==> TENNESSEE AMATEUR FINDS INNOVATIVE WAY TO PROMOTE HAM RADIO 

About three years ago, Cliff Segar, KD4GT, and his wife Kati were looking for
another place to live. After months of looking, they found their dream house in
Rockwood, Tennessee. There was just one problem -- it was right on Interstate
40. 

Two billboards were located within the Segar's new property. "They don't
provide much in the way of income; basically just paying the annual property
taxes in 'rural' Tennessee. Of the two billboards, Segar said the one "up
front (from our house perspective)" is the prime space. It is larger and
lighted and in use. The other billboard was not rented, and it was getting run
down, with brush and trees overtaking its view from the Interstate. 

This year, the ground lease for the two billboards came up for renewal. Segar
said that this was his opportunity to do something useful. "Basically, the
new lease for the previously unused billboard stipulated that the billboard
company had the obligation to keep the brush and vegetation clear and, 'when the
sign is not sold, lessee will agree to provide and install a vinyl face
advertising Amateur Radio activities.'" Segar said that the only way the
billboard company would agree to this stipulation was if they provided the vinyl
facing at their expense. "This was even better than I thought it would be.
Since the sign had not been sold at any time in the prior three years, I expect
to see the sign for quite a long time," Segar said. 

With the new lease signed, Segar sent an e-mail to ARRL Media and Public
Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, to let him know of this exciting
development. "In case anyone is wondering if anyone in Newington reads
e-mail, they do -- and frequently. In about an hour, Allen called me to work out
the details," Segar said. Within two days, the ARRL graphics department had
created the design for the vinyl facing. 

"The only thing I requested," Segar said, "was to have a couple
of 2 meter repeater frequencies listed for use by those of you driving past. The
one repeater was basically a must since the Roane County Amateur Radio Club, in
a moment of collective weakness, elected me president for the year. The only
problem is that KE4RX/r is behind anyone who sees the sign. We needed a repeater
that would continue to work with them for the next 30-plus miles." After a
few discussions with Paul Drothler, WO4U, in Crossville, Tennessee, W4NSA/r was
deemed the flagship repeater for use westbound. According to Segar, it is the
primary repeater used by ARES during severe weather or other emergency
situations. "If you are ever on I-40 between Cookville and Knoxville, dial
in 146.895, pl 118.8 or 147.015+ and give a call. We will try to be listening,
but please don't report that you caused an emergency slowing down to look at the
sign!" 

Segar says this billboard is not about him -- it is about Amateur Radio and the
ways hams can promote it: "With the constant pressure from commercial
interests on the spectrum allocated to the Amateur Radio Service, we all need to
do something to promote the public benefit of the Amateur Radio Service. We are
to be more than a hobby. It is part of our licensing agreement. It is even part
of our name. We are to be a Service. I strongly urge everyone to think seriously
about how they can be a service to their community through Amateur Radio. ARES
is a good primary start and one that is most visible to the leaders of your
community. Providing communication at public service events is another. But
there are many more. To use an overworked cliché, think outside the box. Become
involved. Getting a DXCC or WAS award is great. A 5BDXCC shows even more
dedication but it really doesn't help 'pay' for the spectrum we enjoy. Your city
mayor or county supervisors really don't care that you managed to work Peter I
Island on five bands at the bottom of the sunspot cycle -- there's nothing in it
for them. Each of us needs to show our elected and appointed officials that
Amateur Radio really is a high quality and vital Service to them. The sooner
that happens, the easier it will be to put up that new antenna you've been
wanting." 

He continued: "Be innovative. The great folks in Newington are ready,
willing and able to help you. Join the ARRL and get involved. Join a local club.
Get active in ARES, RACES or a local CERT group. Spend a Saturday with a
handheld radio at a parade. You and the thousands of other licensed operators in
the Amateur Radio Service worldwide will continue to enjoy the challenges, joys
and magic of Amateur Radio. This billboard is only part of my contribution.
What's yours?" 

==> MICHIGAN HAMS ACTIVATED DUE TO STORMS AND TORNADO 

On Friday, August 24 at 5:15 PM (EDT), the National Weather Service issued a
severe thunderstorm warning for Genesee County. This storm produced two tornados
in the mid-Michigan area that caused severe damage to several towns. The
greatest damage occurred in the City of Fenton located just south of Flint. The
NWS confirmed that an EF2 tornado had touched down and had torn a path 26 miles
long and up to 0.5 miles wide through Livingston, Oakland, Genesee and Lapeer
County, damaging at least 250 homes and businesses. An EF2 tornado, using the
Enhanced Fujita scale, is a wind estimate of 110-135 MPH in a three-second gust.
More than 12,000 people lost power due to the storms.

Before the tornado hit, Michigan's Genesee County ARES and SKYWARN were
activated due to a severe thunderstorm watch. The storm moved into the county
with such heavy rain that visibility dropped down to zero at several points.
Funnel clouds were seen in the western part of the county, but these could not
be confirmed. The NWS issued a Tornado Warning based on confirmed sightings in
the adjacent counties to the west, as well as reports from their Doppler radar. 

As spotters continued to watch the storm, Randy Bond, N8VDS, spotted the funnel
heading for Fenton and reported it to the NWS via his ham radio; Fred Moses Jr,
W8FSM, confirmed the sighting. Moments later, the Genesee County 911 central
dispatch center received a call that the roof on the brand new Tractor Supply
Company store in Fenton had caved in and that the tornado had touched down.
About half of the Fenton Community Center's roof was blown off, and debris from
the building blew across the road to Fenton United Methodist Church.

Genesee County 911 called out the fire departments and activated their Fire
Coordination Plan. Ham radio spotters have an agreement with Genesee County fire
departments to provide supplemental communications for the departments. Hams
were providing communications via the SKYWARN net and the Fire Coordination
net. 

As the county's fire departments started to move toward the building collapse in
Fenton, hams were already on the scene. Bond and Mike Schafer, KB8RVP, shifted
gears from weather spotters to Fire Coordination operators. At the request of
the fire chief at the scene, Bond went to the Fenton City fire station and,
using ham radio, assisted their dispatch center; the storm had damaged their
radio fire communications tower, so Bond and Schafer started working dispatch
for them using their ham radios until the dispatch center was able to resume
normal fire communications. 

Jerry Baker, KD8AYL, was next to arrive on the scene at the collapsed building
and after meeting with the Incident Commander, Baker was assigned the task of
setting up radio communications with more ARES volunteers in the Flint region. 

As more reports of damage came in, the Fenton City and Township Fire Department
became overloaded; their crippled communications tower did not help matters.
ARES Emergency Coordinator for Genesee County Greg Ybarra, N8HXQ, coordinated
the response during this incident and put out a call for help to District 3
Emergency Coordinator Greg Allinger, WA8OGJ. Allinger contacted other ARES units
in the state, and Amateur Radio operators from nine Michigan counties responded
to the Fenton area to help.

Evaluation of the damage started immediately after the storm. Baker was
reassigned to a relief shelter to aid the Red Cross. What would normally have
been a drive of less than 10 minutes took almost an hour due to trees and power
lines down everywhere. "Trees as much as 36 inches in diameter and more
than 100 years old had been ripped out of the ground by the storm; regular
electric power was out and the damage reports just never seemed to end," he
said.

The Genesee County Office of Emergency Management activated their Mobile Command
Unit. The MCU has an Amateur Radio station in it, as well as radios for all
public service organizations. The city set up a command post in the parking lot
of the Fenton City fire department and began operations from there. Michigan
State Police responded to the area and instituted an 8 PM curfew for everyone.
State and local police set up road blocks. Access was restricted to police,
fire, National Guard, Red Cross, Salvation Army or ARES.

ARES volunteers worked with all aspects of the incident. Damage reports and
assessments continued until 1:30 AM Saturday when the Incident Commander
determined everyone should break until 5:30 AM to get some rest.

==> ARRL ANNOUNCES NEW FALL PUBLICATIONS 

The ARRL has announced its new fall publications lineup. ARRL Sales and
Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, said, "ARRL's fall lineup includes
the biggest new publication introductions this year. These new books will keep
you current with rapid advances in radio operating and experimentation."

The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications - 2008 (Eighty-Fifth Edition)
uniquely serves both amateur experimenters and industry practitioners,
emphasizing connections between basic theory and application. This 85th edition
is both a useful introduction to radio communication and a source for answers to
questions about every aspect of the state-of-the-art. Topics include Amateur
Radio licensing requirements and operating activities, fundamental and advanced
electronics and communications concepts, radio propagation and antenna theory,
practical projects, repair techniques, references and much more. The Handbook
includes descriptions for new and emerging wireless technologies involving
digital signal processing (DSP) innovations, and radio applications utilizing
software and the Internet. The book is filled with valuable references,
practical examples and projects. The CD-ROM at the back of the book includes all
of the fully searchable text and illustrations in the printed book, as well as
companion software, PC board templates and other support files.

Revisions to the 2008 Handbook include new filter theory and design examples,
including a HF/6 meter high-power low-pass filter project, and revised and
expanded RF safety content -- including new insights into RF safety regulations
and research. New projects include: MKII updated universal QRP transmitter;
MicroR2 receiver and MicroT2 transmitter; ID-O-Matic-10-minute ID timer for
individual, repeater or beacon control; simple computer-to-transceiver serial
port interface and USB interface; keying adapter to interface vintage radios
with modern gear (CW keying or amplifier TR keying), and more.

The softcover edition of the Handbook sells for $44.95; the hardcover sells for
$59.95. As an early bird bonus, the ARRL Software Library for Hams CD-ROM, v
2.0, will be included with each Handbook ordered before October 31, 2007; this
is a $20 value. The CD includes quick access to utilities, applications, and
information; software for contesting, digital voice, HF digital (PSK31, MFSK16,
MT63, and RTTY), meteor scatter and moonbounce, book excerpts and more, as well
as programs for APRS, Winlink 2000, packet radio and satellite tracking. Both
editions will be available in early October.

ARRL's HF Digital Handbook -- Fourth Edition is your guide to understanding the
most active HF digital communication modes in use today. There is something here
for every radio operator -- beginners and more advanced operators alike. And, as
this technology rapidly advances, your increased understanding of digital
communication techniques will make certain that you stay in the race as new
modes and methods unfold. This 4th edition book includes expanded station setup
information, discussion of PSKMail and other varieties of PSK, new content on
Olivia, DominoEX, HF digital voice and image modes, and Automatic Link
Establishment. Are you just getting started with exploring digital
communications? All it takes is your sound-card-equipped computer and your HF
transceiver. ARRL's HF Digital Handbook will guide you through the rest. This
softcover book will be available in early October for $19.95.

ARRL's Low Power Communication -- Third Edition shows how you can explore the
excitement of low-power radio operating. Discover how to build and operate
low-power radio gear - the QRP way, with sections on equipment and station
accessories, antennas and operating strategies. There are new sections on
Emergency Communication and surplus military equipment, including how to restore
and use this classic radio hardware. This book can be purchased alone for $19.95
and includes the complete assembly manual for the MFJ Cub Transceiver Kit, or
with the MFJ-9340K 40M QRP-Cub CW Transceiver Kit for $99.95. Both editions will
be available in early October.

FCC Rules and Regulations for the Amateur Radio Service is now available for
only $5.95. The new 8-1/2 x 11 reference contains the complete Part 97 rules
from Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, effective February 23, 2007.

Antenna Compendium Volume 4, the popular antenna book from 1995, is being
reprinted due to increasing demand. This is the fourth in the popular ARRL
Antenna Compendium series. You'll find 38 articles inside, covering a wide range
of topics. There are simple, practical antenna projects, and there are
heavy-duty, theoretical treatments of complex arrays. When the sunspots are low,
head for the low-bands - seven articles are devoted to 80 and 160 meters,
including some truly gargantuan arrays. There are articles for mobile work, too.
A section on portable or temporary antennas that will get you thinking about
Field Day in June, regardless of what time of year you read it. The Antenna
Compendium Volume 4 will be available in September for only $20.

AC Power Interference Handbook, 3rd edition, revised, looks at the causes,
effects, locating and correction of power-line and electrical interference, and
includes a new locating concept! "This easy-to-read, very practical book,
is a must for anyone responsible for solving interference problems." --
Vern Chartier, past chairman, IEEE T&D Committee. AC Power Interference
Handbook is written by Marv Loftness, KB7KK, and published by Percival
Technology. ARRL is the worldwide distributor for this title.

These books, as well as the complete ARRL library, are available from the ARRL
Online store <http://www.arrl.org/catalog/>. 

==> LAB TESTING CHANGES DETAILED IN OCTOBER QST 

In the upcoming October issue of QST, the ARRL Lab introduces a series of
significant new receiver tests. These are the result of development work and
discussions with professionals in the radio industry over a period of several
years.

One new test concerns receiver blocking gain compression and reciprocal mixing.
The ARRL Lab describes Blocking Dynamic Range (BDR) as "a condition in
which the weak [desired] signal is 'blocked' or suppressed" by a strong
interfering signal. This is also known as desense or overload. In some cases,
the cause is a reduction in receiver gain. In other cases ("noise
limited" measurements), the cause is an increase in the receiver's internal
noise due to the noise sidebands of the local oscillator mixing together with
the strong interferer (also known as "reciprocal mixing"). The level
of the noise masks the gain reduction effect on the desired signal. Instead of
reporting the BDR as a noise limited measurement, the Lab will now be using
narrow-band measurement techniques to "dig out" the desired signal on
noise-limited measurements and determine the point of gain reduction. 

To distinguish from earlier measurements, the name will be changed to
"Blocking Gain Compression." A separate reciprocal mixing test
indicates the level of noise increase within the receiver caused by the
interfering signal. Together, these two measurements provide more information
about how the receiver behaves with a single strong interfering signal.

From 1983 onward, ARRL Product Review published IP3 (third order intercept)
figures for receivers based on a noise floor intermodulation distortion (IMD)
response level. In 1993, the level was changed to a response that produced an S5
reading on the receiver's own S-meter. The decision was based largely on this
being a more typical average of signals that would be found on the bands. The
drawbacks to this approach are that there is a great variation in S-meters from
receiver to receiver (see Product Review, April 2005) and it overlooks the
significant change that can often be observed in receivers at higher signal
levels. 

With this in mind, the ARRL Lab has decided to measure and report IP3 at three
levels. The lowest level measurement is made at the noise floor, as has been
done in the past. The middle level is done at a standard level of -97 dBm,
defined as S5 in the IARU Region 1 standard for S-meters. For the highest level,
instead of selecting a particular receiver response, the maximum level of
expected interferer will be set to 0 dBm (S9 + 73 dB by the IARU standard, a
loud signal indeed!). These three levels taken together should present the best
overall view of a receiver's total performance, with each level being most
useful in a particular context. For example, someone doing SSB or CW work on VHF
would care most about the receiver performance at the noise floor, while on HF,
an S5 level would be more useful. 

According to ARRL Lab Test Manager Mike Tracy, KC1SX, members frequently ask why
manufacturers' sensitivity specifications are given in microvolts but Product
Review measurements are reported in dBm (decibels relative to a milliwatt). He
said, "The chief reason is that manufacturers typically do not include a
bandwidth in their specification, and measurements in different bandwidths are
not directly comparable. All other things being equal, there is more noise power
in a 3 kHz bandwidth than a 2.4 kHz bandwidth. To overcome that limitation, the
sensitivity testing is done with a 500 Hz bandwidth filter, or as close to that
as is available. This permits reasonable comparisons of different
receivers." Although the filters that a receiver has cannot be changed, the
variation in actual bandwidth can be determined by calculating the Equivalent
Rectangular Bandwidth (ERBW). This is the width that the filter would have if it
passed the same noise power and possessed the "ideal" shape of
vertical sides and a flat passband response. 

For more on the changes coming in future Product Reviews, be sure to check out
the October issue of QST.

==> ARRL CONTINUES EFFORTS ON INTERFERENCE TO PAVE PAWS RADAR SITES

On August 13, the ARRL began sending "specific mitigation reduction
numbers" to 122 repeater owners, recommending that they reduce their signal
anywhere from 7 dB to 56 dB, according to ARRL Regulatory Information Branch
Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. These reductions, requested by the US Air Force and
the Department of Defense, only concern those repeaters identified by the DoD as
affecting the PAVE PAWS radar system. 

"Some reductions are going to be attainable," Henderson said.
"You can do 7 dB, but 56?" He said such a reduction would "not be
realistic to achieve. While many of the affected repeater owners may not be able
to achieve the required reductions, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try to
meet the goal. Everyone involved needs to continue trying to meet the DoD's
requirements. This gives us the best chance to keep as many of these machines as
possible on the air." 

Henderson stressed that any order to shut down a repeater will come from the
Federal Communications Commission, at the request of the DoD. "This
situation only affects those repeaters on the DoD's list in Massachusetts and
California. It does not affect the everyday, casual user of 70 cm. This is not a
wide-spread threat to the 70 cm band." 

Citing an increasing number of interference complaints, the US Air Force has
asked the FCC to order dozens of repeater systems to either mitigate
interference to the PAVE PAWS radars or shut down. The ARRL has been working
with the DoD to develop a plan to mitigate alleged interference from 70 cm ham
radio repeaters to this military radar system on both coasts. According to the
DoD, the in-band interference from Amateur Radio fixed FM voice repeaters has
increased to an unacceptable level. PAVE PAWS radars are used for national
security functions, including early detection of sea-launched missiles. They are
critical to our national defense and are in use 24 hours per day, seven days per
week. 

The Amateur Radio Service is a secondary user in the 420-450 MHz (70 cm) band,
both by the Table of Frequency Allocations and the FCC Part 97 regulations. As
such, Amateur Radio licensees, jointly and individually, bear the responsibility
of mitigating or eliminating any harmful interference to the primary user, which
in this case is the Government Radiolocation Service that includes the DoD PAVE
PAWS systems.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Tad "I'm Melting in the Sun, and This Is What They Call the Life"
Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Sunspot numbers pulled up from zero this week,
but barely. Average daily sunspot numbers rose more than nine points to 12.9.
Geomagnetic conditions were quiet. Conditions have been quiet for so long that
we may not appreciate this, as many of us wish for more solar activity and
sunspots. Geophysical Institute Prague predicted earlier that August 31 would be
quiet to unsettled, September 1 unsettled to active, unsettled conditions
September 2-3, quiet September 4-5 and unsettled to active again on September 6.
Over the same period, the US Air Force predicts planetary A index of 15, 25, 12,
12, 8, 5 and 15 for August 31-September 6. From the same prediction, it looks
like September 8-17 may see a return of zero sunspot days. Sunspot numbers for
August 23 through 29 were 12, 12, 14, 13, 12, 14 and 13 with a mean of 12.9. The
10.7 cm flux was 70.8, 71.6, 71.5, 70.1, 69.2, 70.1 and 69.6 with a mean of
70.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 2, 2, 8, 10, 12, 11 and 4 with a mean
of 7. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 1, 1, 6, 10, 10, 9 and 4 with a mean
of 5.9. 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: This weekend, look for the NCCC Sprint (CW) on
August 31. The Russian RTTY WW Contest and the Wake-Up! QRP Sprint are on
September 1. On September 1-2, check out the All Asian DX Contest (Phone), RSGB
Field Day (SSB) and IARU Region 1 Field Day (SSB). The DARC 10 Meter Digital
Contest is September 2, while the MI QRP Labor Day CW Sprint is September 3-4
and the ARS Spartan Sprint is September 4. Next week, don't forget the ARRL
September VHF QSO Party, scheduled for September 8-10. The NCCC Sprint (CW) and
the AGCW Straight Key Party are September 7. Another NCCC Sprint (CW), the SOC
Marathon Sprint and the Swiss HTC QRP Sprint are September 8. The WAE DX Contest
(SSB) and the Arkansas QSO Party are scheduled for September 8-9. The North
American Sprint (CW) and the ARCI End of Summer Digital Sprint are both
September 9. The Tennessee QSO Party is September 9-10, while the YLRL Howdy
Days are September 11-13. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/>, the
ARRL Contester's Rate Sheet <http://www.arrl.org/contests/
rate-sheet/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com
/contestcal/index.html> for more info.

* ARRL Continuing Education course registration: Registration remains open
through Sunday, September 9, 2007, for these online courses beginning on Friday
September 21: 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). To learn more, visit the CCE Course
Listing page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html
> or contact the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <cce@arrl.org>;.

* ARRL Headquarters Closed in Observance of Labor Day: ARRL Headquarters will be
closed in observance of Labor Day on Monday, September 3. There will be no W1AW
bulletin or code practice transmissions that day. ARRL Headquarters will reopen
Tuesday, September 4 at 8 AM Eastern Daylight Time. We wish everyone a safe and
fun Labor Day holiday. 

* Upcoming Meteor Shower Can Be Boon for VHFers: VHFers, particularly those
interested in meteor scatter, should be on the alert Saturday morning, September
1, for what could be a rare opportunity of excellent propagation. At 1137 UTC
(+/- 20 minutes), the Earth's orbit will cross through the dust trail of
long-period comet C/1911 N1 (Kiess), which is expected to provide a short but
active two hour outburst of bright (-2 to +3 magnitude) meteors radiating from
the constellation Auriga. Predicted rates for this particular Aurigids vary from
around 100 meteors per hour to up to 1000. If high rates are achieved, the
meteors could provide "open-band" conditions during the peak times. It
might certainly be worth a look on 2 meters (or higher) during the hour leading
up to the peak and through the peak time period. The meteor radiant is ideally
placed for North Americans, so the more stations that are active, the more
people can take advantage of what might possibly happen in the sky on Saturday
morning. If conditions turn out to be excellent, the best mode for information
exchange will be on SSB, keeping calls and transmissions very short and
exchanging minimal information, such as signal reports or grids. As usual, the
best frequency on 2 meters will likely be 144.200 MHz, with stations spreading
out from there if conditions warrant.  -- Information provided by Steve
McDonald, VE7SL 

* ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference Sunday Seminar Announced: Robert
McGwier, N4HY, will present "A Stroll through Software Radio, Information
Theory and Some Applications" at the ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications
Conference Sunday Seminar in Hartford, Connecticut on September 30. The seminar
will cover the basic building blocks of a simple software radio system, as well
as a discussion of information theory and its practical use in communication
systems. As time permits, McGwier plans to demonstrate several software radio
systems ranging from the Softrock40 to the GnuRadio/USRP and the Flex5000.
Attendees will receive packages containing tutorials and software. McGwier is
the chairman of the ARRL Software Defined Radio Working Group, a member of the
SDR Forum and a contributor to GnuRadio and vice president of engineering for
AMSAT-NA. He is co-author with Frank Brickle, AB2KT, of DttSP, a software radio
suite used in Flex Radio's PowerSDR to operate its SDR transceivers. The
ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference will be held September 28-30 at the
Doubletree Hotel in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, just north of Hartford. For more
information and registration, see the conference's Web site <http://www.tapr.org/dcc>, or call the TAPR
office at 972-671-8277. Tickets for the Sunday Seminar are $25 and are separate
from the conference registration fee.

* Malaysia to Celebrate 50 Years of Independence with Amateur Radio Event: Radio
amateurs in Malaysia will celebrate its 50 years of independence from Great
Britain with a nationwide Field Day August 30-September 1 with 9M50Mx special
event call signs. The Malaysian Amateur Radio Transmitter's Society (MARTS)
<http://www.marts.org.my/> invites
Amateur Radio operators from all over the world to celebrate with Malaysia on
air. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission granted these 9M50Mx
special event call signs for the first time in history of Malaysian Amateur
Radio. To celebrate the occasion, the Merdeka Field Day (MFD) -- Merdeka means
independence in the Malay language -- has a total of 16 stations operating
simultaneously in different cities, as well as in the middle of the jungle. QSL
to the Bureau at PO Box 10777, 50724 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  -- Information
provided by Lance M. T. Lai, 9W2LAI, MARTS Honorary Secretary 

* QEX -- In This Issue: The September/October issue of QEX is out, and it is
full of theoretical and practical technical articles. In this issue, Maynard
Wright, W6PAP, explains the impedance graphing capabilities of some powerful
computer software in "Octave for Circle Diagrams." Dr George Steber,
WB9LVI, describes some simple circuits that combine with a digital oscilloscope,
signal generator and PC to create "An Unusual Vector Network
Analyzer." Mateo Campanella, IZ2EEQ, used a direct digital synthesizer IC
and PIC microcontroller to build "A DDS Based QRSS (and CW) Beacon."
Paolo Antonizzi, IW2ACD and Marco Arecco, IK2WAQ, team up to describe the design
and lab testing of "Very High Q Microwave Cavities and Filters." J. R.
Laughlin, KE5KSC, designed a circuit to reduce background noise pick-up and
feedback squeal for a "Differential Leveling Microphone." Steve
Gradijan, WB5KIA, shares the news about a free software development tool by Code
Gear from Borland in "Turbo Delphi Explorer: Develop Amateur Radio Projects
for Windows with a Free Compiler." Fred Glenn, K9SO, describes his system
of using Excel spreadsheets to compare antenna performance and propagation
predictions by "Using Gain-Probability Data to Compare Antenna
Performances." Contributing Editor L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, compares some
circularly polarized satellite antennas in "Antenna Options." QEX is
edited by Larry Wolfgang, WR1B (lwolfgang@arrl.org), and is published six
times a year. Subscribe to QEX today <http://www.arrl.org/qex>. 

* Let Us Know: What's your favorite part of The ARRL Letter? What kind of
stories would you like to see in the Letter? Would you prefer the Letter in an
HTML format? This is your Letter and your chance to let your voice be heard.
Please send your suggestions to ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, at
k1sfa@arrl.org, with the subject line
"ARRL Letter Suggestions." All messages will be read and discussed,
and we look forward to implementing positive suggestions into the ARRL Letter.

=========================================================== 
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.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential and general news of
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The ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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