*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 28, No. 20 May 22, 2009 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * + The 2009 ARRL National Convention and Dayton Hamvention: Three Days of Fun, Fellowship and Festivities * + FCC Looks to Raise Vanity Call Sign Fees for Second Consecutive Year * + Take an Inside Look at the ARRL Regulatory Information Department * + "The Doctor Is IN" the ARRL Letter * + W1AW, W1HQ Receive Inspections, New Antennas * + May Section Manager Election Results Announced * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This Week on the Radio ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration + League Headquarters Closed Monday, May 25 + W1AW/8 QSL Cards +Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> ==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA <email@example.com> =========================================================== ==> THE 2009 ARRL NATIONAL CONVENTION AND DAYTON HAMVENTION: THREE DAYS OF FUN, FELLOWSHIP AND FESTIVITIES When Hara Arena closed its doors on Sunday, May 17 after three days as the 57th annual Dayton Hamvention <http://www.hamvention.org/> came to an end, many agreed that this was one of the best Hamventions in recent memory. With so much to do -- including close to 50 hours of forums and the world-renowned flea market, as well as vendor tables that seemed to stretch for miles -- the arena floor was filled with excitement. Held in conjunction with Hamvention, the 2009 ARRL National Convention was the largest exhibit at the event <http://www.arrl.org/expo>. At the ARRL EXPO, hams had the opportunity to do some kit building, pick up the latest League publications and Field Day T shirts, get a little competitive at the IARU table and drop off DXCC cards, as well as meet ARRL Officers, Directors and staff members. One of the highlights of both the National Convention and the Hamvention was private astronaut Richard Garriott, W5KWQ <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/02/21/10660/?nc=1>, son of Owen Garriott, W5LFL. In 1983, Owen Garriott was the first ham to make QSOs from space while aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Richard, a guest of the ARRL and AMSAT <http://www.amsat.org/> at Dayton, told convention crowds about his journey to the International Space Station (ISS) <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html>. Ever gracious, he spent time with ARRL Youth Editor Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/10/21/10395/>, in addition to speaking and signing autographs at the ARRL EXPO area, the ARRL Youth Lounge, and ARRL and AMSAT forums. Garriott also spoke at a Saturday afternoon forum, telling how he fulfilled his lifelong dream of experiencing space travel. Combining Amateur Radio and spaceflight, he had QSOs with more than 200 hams while on the ISS. The busiest place in the ARRL EXPO was definitely the kit building area. Led by ARRL Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM, with assistance from QEX Editor Larry Wolfgang, WR1B, and ARRL Instructors, hams (and non-hams, too!) sat down in front of a circuit board and soldering iron to build either a 24 hour clock or electronic keyer. "We saw a lot of people of all ages -- including a large number of kids -- coming over to build," Allison said. "A large majority had never built a kit before. They were so excited to be able to build something that they can use immediately." He pointed out that ham parents brought in their non-licensed children to build kits: "The little ones had a blast, and the parents were so proud that their kids are getting interested in Amateur Radio through the kit building projects." The ARRL National Convention offered an expanded IARU exhibit area this year. Led by new IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, and Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, the booth was staffed by representatives from the three IARU Regions: The Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) <http://www.darc.de/> from Germany represented Region 1 <http://www.iaru-r1.org/>, the ARRL represented Region 2 <http://www.iaru-r2.org/> and the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) <http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/0-2.htm> represented Region 3 <http://www.iaru-r3.org/>. "It was exciting to see how many people came over to visit with us," Ellam said. "With the JARL processing applications for the IARU's Worked All Continent (WAC) <http://www.iaru.org/wac/> and 5-Band WAC awards, there was a steady flow of amateurs here." In addition to the WAC awards, the DARC sponsored a world flag identification contest and the ARRL offered a RUFZ <http://www.rufzxp.net/> CW copying competition throughout the event. "It's certainly well known that hams from all over the world come to Dayton for the Hamvention," said ARRL International Vice President Rod Stafford, W6ROD. "We truly had an international flavor in the ARRL EXPO, though, as this was the first time that we had representatives from all three IARU regions in the IARU booth. We were glad to see many hams stop by and visit with IARU representatives from all corners of the globe." A massive forum schedule was one of the key features of the Dayton Hamvention. In keeping with this year's theme -- DREAM: Digital Radio Enabling Amateurs to do More -- there were numerous forums featuring digital radio. ARRL Publications Manager and QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, presented a forum on digital contesting. Tying in with this, Shelby Sommerville, K4WW, led a forum on RTTY, both from the operations side and from the contesting side. ARRL Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, piloted a multi-level forum on D-STAR. According to ARRL Technical Editor Joel Hallas, W1ZR, there were close to 35 new products featured at Hamvention. From a 2 meter transverter module for the Elecraft K3 to a traditional hexagonal five band Yagi from DX Engineering to antenna tuners from Ten-Tec and Palstar, there was definitely a wide variety of the latest in ham radio gear to satisfy even the most hard-to-please ham. For more on the 2009 ARRL National Convention and Dayton Hamvention -- including a look at some of the new and exciting products -- check out the July issue of QST. The 2010 Dayton Hamvention is scheduled for May 14-16. ==> FCC LOOKS TO RAISE VANITY CALL SIGN FEES FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (NPRM) on May 14 seeking to raise fees for Amateur Radio vanity call signs <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-08-126A1.pdf>. Currently, a vanity call sign costs $12.30 and is good for 10 years; the new fee, if the FCC plan goes through, will go up to $13.40 for 10 years, an increase of $1.10. The FCC is authorized by the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended) to collect vanity call sign fees to recover the costs associated with that program. The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign, but also upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new term. Instructions on how to comment on this NPRM are available on the FCC Web site <http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/howtocomment.html>. The vanity call sign fee has fluctuated over the 12 years of the current program -- from a low of $11.70 in 2007 <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2007/08/31/105/> to a high of $70 (as first proposed in the FCC's 1994 Report and Order). In 2007, the Commission lowered the fee from $20.80 to $11.70. The FCC said it anticipates some 15,000 Amateur Radio vanity call sign "payment units" or applications during the next fiscal year, collecting $201,000 in fees from the program. The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign, but also upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new term. The first vanity call sign licenses issued under the current Amateur Radio vanity call sign program that began in 1996 came up for renewal three years ago. Those holding vanity call signs issued prior to 1996 are exempt from having to pay the vanity call sign regulatory fee at renewal, however. That's because Congress did not authorize the FCC to collect regulatory fees until 1993. Such "heritage" vanity call sign holders do not appear as vanity licensees in the FCC Amateur Radio database. Amateur Radio licensees may file for renewal only within 90 days of their license expiration date. All radio amateurs must have an FCC Registration Number (FRN) before filing any application with the Commission. Applicants can obtain an FRN by going to the ULS <http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/> and clicking on the "New Users Register" link. You must supply your Social Security Number to obtain an FRN. The ARRL VEC <http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/> will process license renewals for vanity call sign holders for a modest fee. The service is available to ARRL members and nonmembers, although League members pay less. Routine, non-vanity renewals continue to be free for ARRL members. Trustees of club stations with vanity call signs may renew either via the ULS or through a Club Station Call Sign Administrator, such as ARRL VEC. League members should visit the "ARRL Member Instructions for License Renewals or Changes" page <http://www.arrl.org/fcc/memberlicenseinstructions.html>, while the "Instructions for License Renewals or Changes" page covers general renewal procedures for nonmembers <http://www.arrl.org/fcc/licenseinstructions.html >. There is additional information on the ARRL VEC's "FCC License Renewals and ARRL License Expiration Notices" page <http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/renewals.html>. License application and renewal information and links to the required forms are available on the ARRL Amateur Application Filing FAQ Web page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/application-filing-faq.htm l>. The FCC's forms page also offers the required forms <http://www.fcc.gov/formpage.html>. ==> TAKE AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE ARRL REGULATORY INFORMATION DEPARTMENT Hams always seem to have questions on how to interpret FCC rules and regulations. The ARRL's Regulatory Information Department (RID) -- led by Dan Henderson, N1ND -- is the first point of contact at ARRL Headquarters for such situations. The ARRL does not maintain its own legal department, so the RID provides answers to these types of questions, providing ARRL members with accurate information about the rules and regulations that govern the Amateur Radio Service. Its goal is to provide radio amateurs with the information they need to operate their stations safely, legally and appropriately. RID handles hundred of e-mails and phone calls each month that ask for information on correctly interpreting Part 97, as well as other federal, state and local regulatory matters. According to Henderson, the most frequently asked questions concern FCC frequency allocations, the ARRL Band Plan and whether a particular activity is permitted on the amateur bands. "The most frequent areas of concern to members are antenna and tower issues, including questions about CC&Rs (deed covenants, conditions and restrictions) and PRB-1," Henderson said. PRB-1 is the FCC ruling that states that local and state governments must make reasonable accommodation when an amateur wishes to erect antennas and towers. The RID is responsible for a wide range of regulatory related areas and activities at ARRL Headquarters. It maintains a close working relationship with other departments at HQ, particularly the Membership and Volunteer Programs Department concerning issues related to the ARRL Field Organization and emergency communications. The RID acts as a liaison to ARRL Official Observer (OO) Coordinator Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG, on matters related to interference and on-the-air operating abuses. The office also works with the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) staff on issues such as international operating requirements, the vanity call sign program and license renewals. It also maintains regular contact with FCC staff on Amateur Radio enforcement issues, rule interpretations and questions. The RID also administers the Division-level Legislative Action Programs list server and serves as a resource for list members. For amateurs who need the services of an attorney in their area to deal with Amateur Radio issues, the RID manages the Volunteer Counsel (VC) program <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/local/vci.html>. The VC program maintains an up-to-date list of attorneys capable of representing amateurs involved in antenna or RFI disputes. These attorneys provide members with an initial consultation when they need to address legal issues. The RID also maintains the Volunteer Consulting Engineer (VCE) database <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/local/vcei.html> that refers members to ARRL VCEs in their area. VCEs provide assistance to amateurs who may need to meet structural requirements set forth by local zoning authorities. Henderson, along with his staff of colleagues, volunteers and professional associates, provides expertise, knowledge and outstanding service to League members and to Amateur Radio. Find out more about the ARRL's Regulatory Information Department on the RID Web site <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/index.html>. ==> "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 -- Mario Bedard, VE2FZH, of St-Andre de Kamouraska, Quebec, Canada, asks: Is an antenna tuner of any use in a receiving system with a long wire or dipole antenna? If not, should I disable it while strictly receiving? The Doctor Answers -- This is one of those "that depends" kind of questions. A mismatched receive antenna will result in a reduction of both signal and atmospheric noise reaching your radio. If the atmospheric noise is much stronger than the internal noise in your radio, the resulting signal-to-noise ratio will be almost the same, even though the signal will be weaker. It is often the case -- especially on 20 meters and above -- that the external noise may not dominate and you won't hear weak signals that you might have heard with the tuner properly tuned. It is somewhat more complicated with a transceiver with an internal automatic tuner. There may be no way to adjust it without transmitting, especially a problem if listening outside the amateur bands. That means that in listening mode -- unless it remembers the settings for each band -- you may have a mistuned tuner. That can be much worse than no tuner. If it's easy to bypass the tuner, try it each time and see which is better. Do you have a question or a problem? Send your questions via e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 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. ==> W1AW, W1HQ RECEIVE INSPECTIONS, NEW ANTENNAS The antennas and towers at the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw.html>, and W1HQ, the Laird Campbell Memorial HQ Operators Club <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/02/13/101/?nc=1>, received their semi-annual inspection on May 12. In addition to the inspections, new equipment was also installed on the W1AW antenna farm. "Each year, W1AW and W1HQ get two antenna and tower inspections, one in the spring and one in the fall," explained ARRL Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM. "Sometimes Matt Strelow, KC1XX, and Andrew Toth of XX Towers will also do some antenna work during the inspections." Strelow and Toth replaced the az-el rotators located on the satellite tower -- originally installed back in 1997 -- with a newer model. According to W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, the older rotators were replaced due to signs of wear and fatigue after many years of use. "The North tower received a new satellite turnstile antenna," Carcia said. "This turnstile antenna will be used in conjunction with our satellite weather fax receiver. This receiver is in use in the main area of W1AW and will allow visitors to see real-time pictures received from various weather satellites. XX Towers also replaced a coaxial pigtail on the 23 cm satellite antenna." A new side-arm atop the 120 foot tower will allow vertical wire antennas to be hoisted to the top when the antennas are in use, accommodating the hoisting of W1AW's new 160 meter vertical antenna. Carcia said that this will come in handy during contests or other operating events. In addition to 160, verticals for 80 and 40 meters may also be supported by the new halyard. "We will soon be installing an extensive ground radial system for the new antenna," Carcia said. "Look for W1AW during the next 160 meter contest!" Strelow and Toth also inspected the W1HQ antennas that reside on top of the ARRL Headquarters building <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/08/19/10267/?nc=1>. According to Allison, the SteppIR antenna <http://www.steppir.com/> made it through the winter in good shape and all mounting bolts were checked and tightened. ==> MAY SECTION MANAGER ELECTION RESULTS ANNOUNCED In the only contested Section Manager race this spring, Mel Parkes, NM7P, of Layton, was re-elected as the Utah Section Manager with 480 votes. His opponent, Lauri "Mac" McCreary, KG7C, of Lehi, received 147 votes. Parkes, who has held the Section Manager's post since 1999, begins his sixth consecutive two-year term of office on July 1. Election ballots were counted on May 19 at ARRL Headquarters. In the San Joaquin Valley Section, Dan Pruitt, AE6SX, becomes Section Manager on July 1 when he takes the reins from Charles McConnell, W6DPD. Both live in Fresno. Pruitt was the only nominee for this upcoming new term of office. He has held Public Information Officer and Emergency Coordinator appointments since 2005. McConnell decided not to run for another term of office after having served seven years as Section Manager. Prior to his term as Section Manager, he served as ARRL Pacific Division Director for four years, from 1990-1993; he was also Pacific Division Vice Director in 1989. In 1976, McConnell became the Section Communications Manager, serving for 13 years. The following incumbent ARRL Section Managers did not face opposition and were declared elected for their next terms of office beginning on July 1: Bob Beaudet, W1YRC (Rhode Island); Jim Cross, WI3N (Maryland-DC); John Dyer, AE5B (West Texas); Joe Giraudo, N7JEH (Nevada); Richard Krohn, N2SMV (Northern New Jersey), and Al Shuman, K1AKS (New Hampshire). ==>SOLAR UPDATE Tad "How bright the sunbeams" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Do sunspots matter? Many of us are surprised at how good conditions can be with zero sunspots; the weak solar wind and lack of flares and geomagnetic events likely have something to do with it. Many times during the more active solar periods, sunspots were welcomed, but then some event associated with the higher solar activity would make conditions difficult, disrupt the ionosphere and increase absorption. For example, look back to the fall of 2003 bulletins via the index <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/prop/2003-index.html>. In addition to the text, note the sunspot numbers and A index listings at the end of each bulletin. There were plenty of sunspots, but if you look at bulletin ARLP038 in September, or ARLP044 through ARLP049 around November, there were huge events that drove the planetary A index to 189 during one week and 162 the next. This is hard to imagine today. Over the near term, it looks like more quiet conditions. We had a nice seven day run of sunspots, but do not know when they will return. Sunspot numbers for May 14-20 were 18, 12, 15, 13, 14, 11 and 0 with a mean of 11.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 73.9, 73.7, 74.2, 74, 72.9, 72.3 and 71.5 with a mean of 73.2. The estimated planetary A indices were 8, 2, 5, 3, 4, 5 and 4 with a mean of 4.4. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 8, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2 and 4 with a mean of 3.3. Geophysical Institute Prague reports quiet conditions should prevail May 22-28. NOAA and the US Air Force predict solar flux settling back to 70, then rising again June 5-17. 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 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "May Song" <http://www.online-literature.com/goethe/2653/>. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This Week on the Radio: This week, the NCCC Sprint is on May 22. The MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint is May 25-May 26 and the SKCC Sprint is May 27. Next week is the CQ WW WPX Contest (CW) and Kids Roundup on May 30-31. Look for the ARCI Hootowl Sprint on May 31 (local time). 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, June 7, 2009 for these online course sessions that begin on Friday, June 19, 2009: Antenna Modeling and Radio Frequency Propagation. 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/cep/student> or contact the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <email@example.com>. * League Headquarters Closed Monday, May 25: ARRL Headquarters will be closed Monday, May 25 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. There will be no W1AW code practice or bulletin transmissions that day. ARRL Headquarters will reopen Tuesday, May 26 at 8 AM EDT. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend! * W1AW/8 QSL Cards: W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, reports that the QSL card for the W1AW/8 Special Event station at the 2009 ARRL National Convention at the Dayton Hamvention has yet to be designed and printed. "Once we have the cards in hand, all W1AW/8 QSL requests received at W1AW will be processed," Carcia said. "It just might take a few months, so please be patient." QSL via W1AW, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. =========================================================== 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!): firstname.lastname@example.org ==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, email@example.com ==>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/>. 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