*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 26, No. 35 August 31, 2007 *************** 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/> =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail <email@example.com> ==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, <firstname.lastname@example.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 <email@example.com>. * 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 (firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com, 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 interest to active radio amateurs. Visit the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news updates. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> also offers informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/ audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled and edited from The ARRL Letter. It's also available as a podcast from our Web site. 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