*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 27, No. 34 August 29, 2008 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * Gulf Coast Prepares for Gustav * The September/October QEX Is Here * Check Out the September/October NCJ * "The Doctor Is IN" the ARRL Letter * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This Weekend on the Radio ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration ARRL HQ to Close for Labor Day September 1 No ARRL Audio News August 29 ARRL Emergency Communications Level 3 Online Course to be Revised New HF Digital Protocol to Debut at September Conference FCC Vanity Call Sign Fees to Increase September 25 Hobby radio author Tom Kneitel, W4XAA, SK ARRL and Citizen Corps Assist Schools with NOAA Emergency Radios ARRL Applies for Expansion of 500-kHz Experimental License =========================================================== ==>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: S. Khrystyne Keane, <email@example.com> =========================================================== ==> GULF COAST PREPARES FOR GUSTAV As of Friday, although Tropical Storm Gustav is still several days away from landfall on the US mainland, disaster preparations are being rolled out along the Gulf Coast. ARRL Leadership Officials, with the support of the ARRL Headquarters staff, are taking measures that will facilitate emergency communications among ham volunteers, among hams and served agencies such as the Red Cross, and among Leadership Officials during the expected emergency and in its aftermath. ARRL Section Managers in the Gulf Coast states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are marshaling resources and setting up procedures that will take effect as the storm approaches the mainland. Support from the ARRL Headquarters staff includes referrals from local and national media, shipment of Amateur Radio equipment via the Ham Aid program, Section Manager liaison and referral of inquiries from Amateur Radio operators. Two special Web sites are available for Amateur Radio operators looking for information and volunteer opportunities: <http://www.arrl.org/gustav/> and <http://www.arrl.org/gustav/vol.html>. In addition, news will be updated on the ARRL Web site over the weekend and early next week, as Gustav moves toward the Gulf Coast. On Thursday, as Gustav was slamming into Haiti and heading toward Jamaica, WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, activated at 12 PM EDT (1600Z). The NHC requested all land based stations as well as ships at sea in the areas affected to send them weather data (measured or estimated) and damage reports. A post to their Web site stated: "If you are in the affected area and normally monitor on a local Net on VHF, 40 or 80 meters, we would appreciate your checking into the HWN NET or EchoLink/IRLP Net once per hour to receive the latest Hurricane Advisories and to report your local conditions. Please do not venture outside during the hurricane to gather weather data." In addition, the VoIP Hurricane Net activated Thursday at 11 AM EDT (1500Z), according to a post by Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, VoIP-WX Net Scheduler. Also on Thursday, FEMA posted a news release that said, in part: "The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating plans and preparatory activities of numerous federal agencies in close communication with state, tribal and local officials as Tropical Storm Gustav threatens to return to hurricane strength prior to impacting Gulf Coast states. All residents in the region are encouraged to make personal preparations. Information is available at www.Ready.gov on how families and individuals can best prepare before the storm. "FEMA and its federal partners are in close communications with states along its potential path in order to review plans, pre-station assets and personnel, and respond to any request for assistance. FEMA's work with states using a Gap Analysis tool to determine in advance of storms where federal assistance is most likely to be needed has helped federal and state agencies to develop pre-scripted mission assignments and other contingency plans to help improve response and recovery efforts." The news release also provides details on preparations now underway by several other agencies, including the American Red Cross and the Army Corps of Engineers. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency for his state on Wednesday, and he activated 3000 National Guard troops, with more on call. The state of Mississippi declared a state of emergency on Thursday. Governor Haley Barbour stated, in part: "I urge all Mississippians to please take this storm seriously. One of the most important lessons we learned after Hurricane Katrina was that there is no substitute for awareness and self-help, especially in the days before the hurricane is predicted to hit." ==> THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER QEX IS HERE The September/October issue of QEX is out, and it is full of theoretical and practical technical articles that you don't want to miss. In this issue, Mark Spencer, WA8SME, describes a VLF receiver system that automatically logs received signal data so we can learn about some propagation conditions such as sudden ionospheric disturbances during Solar Cycle 24 in "SID: Study Cycle 24, Don't Just Use It." Phil Anderson, W0XI, gives us a detailed analysis of crystal set receiver circuitry in "A Great Teacher: The Crystal Set." Bertrand Zauhar, VE2ZAZ, brings us another great project that goes well beyond a simple battery charger with his "Rechargeable Battery Cycler." Jim Kocsis, WA9PYH, presents "Press-n-Peel Circuit Boards," a simple, reliable way to make your own circuit boards using Techniks, Inc Press-n-Peel Blue etch-resist material. Henry J. Rech offers some thoughts about, "Receiver Performance Measurement and Front End Selectivity," and Frank Witt, AI1H, describes "Optimum Lossy Broadband Matching Networks for Resonant Antennas," in this reprint of an April 1990 "RF Design" article. Would you like to write for QEX? It pays $50 per printed page. Be sure to check out the Authors Guide <http://www.arrl.org/qex/#aguide> for more information. If you prefer postal mail, please send a business-size self-addressed, stamped envelope to QEX Authors Guide, c/o Maty Weinberg, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111-1494. QEX is edited by Larry Wolfgang, WR1B, and is published six times a year. The subscription rate for ARRL members in the US is $24. For First Class US delivery, the rate is $37 for members, $49 for nonmembers. For international delivery via air mail, including Canada, the subscription rate is $31 for members, $43 for nonmembers. Subscribe to QEX today <http://www.arrl.org/qex>. ==> CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER NCJ NCJ, The National Contest Journal is what everyone interested in radiosport needs to have in their shack. Filled with the latest news from the contesting world, NCJ is the voice of radiosport. Whether you are new to contesting or are a seasoned pro (or somewhere in the middle), you will find something in NCJ just for you. In the September/October issue, Stan Stockton, K5GO and Bob Wilson, N6TV, provide a dialogue on "CW Skimmer: Point/Counterpoint." To go along with this article, Pete Smith, N4ZR, talks about "So You Want to Skim? Practical Issues in Deploying CW Skimmer in a Contesting Environment." Eric Scace, K3NA, writes about "Distributing Receiving Antennas" in the first of a multi-part article. If you're a top-bander, you don't want to miss "A Simple 2-Element Vertical Array for 160 Meters" by John Barcroft, K6AM. Dennis McAlpine, K2SX, takes a look at "The Wacky World of State QSO Parties," while Jon Platt, W0ZQ/m gives his take on "One Rover's View on Propagation during the 2008 Minnesota QSO Party." Bill Santelmann, N1AU, remembers his son in "A Tribute to my Son, Stuart, KC1F." Stu, a founding member and past president of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club, became a Silent Key in May of this year. ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, lets NCJ readers take a sneak peak at the October issue of QST in "October is Radiosport Month in QST." Of course, there are all the regular columns and features you expect from NCJ: "Workshop Chronicles," by Don Daso, K4ZA; "Contest Tips, Tricks & Techniques," by Gary Sutcliffe, W9XT; "Propagation," by Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA; "VHF-UHF Contesting," by Jon Jones, N0JK; "Contesting on a Budget," by Paul Schaffenberger, K5AF; "DX Contest Activity Announcements," by Bill Feidt, NG3K; "RTTY Contesting," by Don Hill, AA5AU; "Contesting 101," by Kirk Pickering, K4RO, and "Contest Calendar," by Bruce Horn, WA7BNM. All this and more in the September/October issue of NCJ. NCJ is published six times a year by the ARRL; it is edited by Al Dewey, K0AD. Subscribe today <http://www.arrl.org/ncj/>! ==> "THE DOCTOR IS IN" THE ARRL LETTER This week, ARRL Letter readers are in luck! The ARRL's very own Doctor, author of the popular QST column "The Doctor Is IN," answers a question from his mailbag: Question -- John Hoffman, KJ4GER, of Woodstock, Georgia, asks: I am reading the "ARRL General Class License Manual" <http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?item=9965>. In a few places, it mentions the 75 meter band. On my ARRL-provided "US Amateur Radio Bands" chart, it shows an 80 meter band and a 60 meter band, but no 75 meter band. What is the 75 meter band, and why does it not show up on the official band chart? The Doctor Answers -- John, 75 meters is an designation for the 3.6-4.0 MHz phone band, a portion of the 3.5-4.0 MHz 80 meter allocation. If you convert 4.0 MHz to wavelength (300/4) you will find that the top end of the band has a wavelength of 75 meters. Historically, 75 meters refers to the voice portion of the "official" 80 meter band. The term 80 meters is often used to refer to the entire band. Most HF radios have a bandswitch position for 80 meters that covers the entire band, not one for 75 meters. Unlike any other band, you will rarely hear anyone refer to "80 meter phone." I cannot offer any logical explanation for the anomaly -- perhaps someone will fill us in on how this came to be. If you know the answer to this question, send an e-mail to the Doctor <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Do you have a question or a problem? Send your questions via e-mail <email@example.com> or to "The Doctor," ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 (no phone calls, please). Look for "The Doctor Is IN" every month in QST, the official journal of the ARRL. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Tad "Heat and haze of crimson sunsets" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Our Sun is still very quiet, but last week's bulletin mentioned a new sunspot emerging on August 21-22. Spaceweather.com showed the sunspot number on those days as 11, which is the smallest non-zero sunspot number. If we don't see any sunspots this weekend, Sunday will mark 42 consecutive days with no sunspots. This will also bring the 3-month moving average for daily sunspot numbers (that we present monthly) clear down to 1.76, the lowest on this side of cycle 23. This would be the three month average centered on July. The forecast for the next week is a planetary A index of 5 on every day, indicating more of the same quiet and stable geomagnetic conditions. The prediction for September 5 is a planetary A index of 18, probably from a recurring coronal hole and associated solar wind. Geophysical Institute Prague predicts quiet conditions August 29 to September 3, and quiet to unsettled September 4. Sunspot numbers for August 21 through 27 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0 with a mean of 0. 10.7 cm flux was 67.1, 67.6, 67.9, 67.1, 66.6, 66.9, and 66.6 with a mean of 67.1. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 4, 2, 4, 2, 3 and 3 with a mean of 3.1. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 4, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1 and 2 with a mean of 2. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/propagation.html>. To read this week's Solar Report in its entirety, check out the W1AW Propagation Bulletin page <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/prop/>. This week's "Tad Cookism" brought to you by Elizabeth Maua Taylor's "August." __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This Weekend on the Radio: This weekend, the NCCC Sprint on August 29. The ALARA Contest, the SCC RTTY Championship and the YO DX HF Contest are all August 30-31. The SARL HF CW Contest is August 31 and the MI QRP Labor Day CW Sprint is September 1-2. Next weekend is the International G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest on September 5-7. On September 6, be sure to look for the Russian RTTY WW Contest, the NCCC Sprint, the Wake-Up! QRP Sprint and the AGCW Straight Key Party. The All Asian DX Contest (Phone), the RSGB SSB Field Day and the IARU Region 1 Field Day (SSB) are September 6-7. The North American Sprint (CW) and the DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest are September 7. The Tennessee QSO Party is September 7-8. All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/>, the ARRL Contest Update <http://www.arrl.org/contests/update/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. Looking for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL Special Event Station Web page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html>. * ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration: Registration remains open through Sunday, September 7, 2008 for these online course sessions beginning on Friday, September 19, 2008: 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). Each online course has been developed in segments -- learning units with objectives, informative text, student activities and quizzes. Courses are interactive, and some include direct communications with a Mentor/Instructor. Students register for a particular session that may be 8, 12 or 16 weeks (depending on the course) and they may access the course at any time of day during the course period, completing lessons and activities at times convenient for their personal schedule. Mentors assist students by answering questions, reviewing assignments and activities, as well as providing helpful feedback. Interaction with mentors is conducted through e-mail; there is no appointed time the student must be present -- allowing complete flexibility for the student to work when and where it is convenient. To learn more, visit the CCE Course Listing page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html> or contact the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <firstname.lastname@example.org>. * ARRL HQ to Close for Labor Day September 1: ARRL Headquarters will be closed Monday, September 1. Headquarters will reopen at 8 AM Tuesday, September 2. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. * No ARRL Audio News August 29: There will be no ARRL Audio News today, Friday, August 29; ARRL Audio News will resume production on Friday, September 5. * ARRL Emergency Communications Level 3 Online Course to be Revised: New enrollments in the online Level 3 course will be suspended effective October 1 to allow us to update the course curricula. We expect the updated course to be available in the first quarter of 2009. * New HF Digital Protocol to Debut at September Conference: WINMOR, an HF digital protocol designed for use with the Winlink 2000 network, will be unveiled at the upcoming ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference in Chicago September 26-28. * FCC Vanity Call Sign Fees to Increase September 25: The FCC will increase the vanity call sign fee from $11.70 to $12.30, effective September 25, 2008. * Hobby radio author Tom Kneitel, W4XAA, SK: Tom Kneitel, W4XAA (ex-K2AES), died August 22 at age 75. He was a prolific author of articles and books on monitoring, CB radio and building electronics projects. * ARRL and Citizen Corps Assist Schools with NOAA Emergency Radios: ARRL and Citizen Corps are teaming up to offer assistance to local school districts in setting up and registering their NOAA Weather All Hazard Public Alert Radio. * ARRL Applies for Expansion of 500-kHz Experimental License: On August 22, the ARRL applied to the FCC for expansion of the 500-kHz experimental license WD2XSH. If approved, this application will raise the total number of stations from 20 to 40. This will provide greater geographic coverage, including Alaska and Hawaii, and will provide more opportunities for ground-wave testing. Also included are requests for an expanded frequency band (495-510 kHz) and portable operation within 50 km. The current four modulation modes (CW, PSK-31, FSK-31, and MSK-31) are included. -- Fritz Raab, W1FR =========================================================== 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. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter/American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, firstname.lastname@example.org ==>ARRL News on the Web: <http://www.arrl.org/> ==>ARRL Audio News: <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for e-mail delivery: ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site <http://www.arrl.org/members/>. You'll have an opportunity during registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW bulletins, and other material. To change these selections--including delivery of The ARRL Letter--registered members should click on the "Member Data Page" link (in the Members Only box). Click on "Modify membership data," check or uncheck the appropriate boxes and/or change your e-mail address if necessary. (Check "Temporarily disable all automatically sent email" to temporarily stop all e-mail deliveries.) Then, click on "Submit modification" to make selections effective. (NOTE: HQ staff members cannot change your e-mail delivery address. You must do this yourself via the Members Only Web Site.) The ARRL Letter also is available to all, free of charge, from these sources: * ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/>. (NOTE: The ARRL Letter will be posted each Friday when it is distributed via e-mail.) * The QTH.net listserver, thanks to volunteers from the Boston Amateur Radio Club: Visit Mailing Lists@QTH.Net <http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/letter-list>. 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