ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

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The ARRL Letter
Vol. 28, No. 21
May 29, 2009
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IN THIS EDITION:

* + FCC's Bill Cross: "Behave Yourselves!" 
* + ARRL Donors Gather in Dayton 
* + Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, Receives ARRL President's Award 
* + ARRL Field Day Tips and Techniques that Everyone Can Use 
* + The ARRL Triple Play Award: A Worldwide Event! 
* + Ham Radio DIY at Maker Faire 
*  Solar Update 
*  IN BRIEF: 
      This Week on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + 2009 ARRL Photo Contest Ends Soon 
    + ARRL DXCC Desk Approves Saudi Operation 

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

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==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail <letter-dlvy@arrl.org>;
==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA <k1sfa@arrl.org>;
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==> FCC'S BILL CROSS: "BEHAVE YOURSELVES!"

Bill Cross, W3TN, a staff member in the FCC's Mobility Division <http://wireless.fcc.gov/index.htm?job=md>, and Laura Smith, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Enforcement, spoke at the FCC Forum on Saturday, May 16 at the 2009 Dayton Hamvention. Cross opened by explaining just where Amateur Radio falls in the FCC's bureaucracy: "In the Mobility Division [part of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau <http://wireless.fcc.gov/>], we handle the day-to-day administration of the Amateur Service and some of the rulemaking activities that affect Amateur Radio. The Division also has staff members in our Gettysburg, Pennsylvania office. Our Gettysburg staff handles most of your applications and the licensing matters and deals with the Universal Licensing System, or ULS" <http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home>.

Cross offered some general comments on the Commission and its priorities, then went on to discuss topics that he said "keep coming up in questions we receive in articles that appear on Web sites and in columns in newsletters and the like. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about Commission decisions that have been issued, because most of these have been reported on the ARRL or other Web sites."

Cross went on to say that he does hear from Riley Hollingsworth, who retired as Special Counsel for the Spectrum Enforcement Division in July 2008; Smith replaced Hollingsworth earlier this year. Saying he received an e-mail from Hollingsworth that asked his opinion whether he should get an amplifier or 260 feet of hardline, Cross said that was an easy question to answer: "Get both! Two hundred and sixty feet of hardline. Okay. Thirty feet through the house, 30 feet out to the tower and 200 feet straight up. That sounded pretty reasonable. But then I found out that what he was thinking about was 230 feet across the back yard and 30 feet up. So, I've still got some work to do there."

As for the FCC Administration, Cross said that "the relationships between the Commissioners are very collegial." Cross pointed out that earlier this year, President Obama nominated two people to fill Commissioner vacancies: Julius Genachowski for Chairman <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/03/03/10684/?nc=1> and Mignon Clyburn <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/04/30/10795/> to fill the seat held by Jonathan Adelstein. Adelstein has been nominated to head up the Rural Utilities Service, of the United States Department of Agriculture <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/03/23/10716/?nc=1>. "The last I read was that their confirmation hearings would be held after Memorial Day, and beyond that, we really don't know what's planned," Cross told the crowd. "So maybe by the end of the summer, sometime during the summer, the Commission will be back up to its complement of five Commissioners and we will have a new Chairman, too."

RACES

Cross said that he has been getting questions concerning RACES <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RACES>, asking what plans the FCC has to rejuvenate the organization. "The questions have been from a couple of FEMA guys who also happen to be hams," he said. "Now, in RACES, stations are certified by a civil defense organization and persons who hold an FCC-issued Amateur Radio operators license are certified by that civil defense organization as enrolled in it. I know that the term 'civil defense organization' is way out-of-date -- 'emergency management agencies' is probably a more current term. But the terminology used in the rules reflects that RACES was created in the Cold War era when there was a concern that everyone would be ordered off the air."

Cross pointed out that RACES "seems to be used for local, state and regional events and it is administered by FEMA. The rules require that communications transmitted in RACES be approved by the organization that certified people and that they're enrolled with. Fundamentally, RACES is there to serve whatever purpose that the emergency management agency has for it. Because the emergency management agency decides whether it has a use for a RACES group, the rejuvenation, if it is even necessary, will have to come from the local or state organizations. They will have to get people interested in joining their groups if they have a use for them. Some of the people I have talked to in different government agencies wonder why we still have this service, given the way that emergency communications are run and managed today."

Amateur Radio and Pecuniary Interests

A topic that keeps popping up, Cross said, is business use of Amateur Radio, specifically transmitting messages on behalf of an employer. "Section 97.113 <http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/octqtr/pdf/47cfr97.113.pdf> answers this question straight on: 'No amateur station shall transmit communications for hire or for material compensation, direct or indirect, paid or promised, except as otherwise provided in these rules.' There are two exceptions. There are exceptions for teachers who are using Amateur Radio as the control operator of a station in an educational institution as part of a classroom thing and control operators of club stations in certain cases. A station is also not allowed to transmit communication in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer. There is an exception to that rule that allows you to transmit communications that are commonly referred to as "swap nets," but eBay seems to have reduced the need for these nets. And you're not allowed to transmit communications on a regular basis which could reasonably be furnished through other radio services."

Cross said that Section 97.113 is in the rules for two reasons: It meets a statutory requirement and it is there to protect your frequencies from becoming the business radio alternative voice overflow, or "'BRAVO Service.' Because your spectrum is so valuable, if you let users such as businesses, TV stations, the National Weather Service or other users -- be they for-profit or non-profit -- use your frequencies to meet their communications needs, your frequencies will become their frequencies. All it takes is an allocation proceeding with the FCC, and your spectrum is gone. And you will be left whining about it in Internet chat rooms."

Cross pointed out the ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, "had an editorial on this on April 1, 2009 [on the ARRL Web site and in the April 2009 edition of QST] ["It Seems to Us: Keeping the 'Amateur' in Amateur Radio," page 9]. That's probably not the best day to date something, but you should read it. And I have plagiarized from that greatly because it is very elegant and spot on" <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2009/04/01/10668/>.

The bottom line, Cross said, is "that when any of us are on the air as amateurs in the ham bands, we are not pursuing financial gain for ourselves or our employers. The 'no pecuniary principle' has been reflected in the FCC regulations since 1928. It distinguishes us from commercial services. In 1993, the Commission, at your request, dropped the 'no business communications' language and simply prohibited communications on behalf of an amateur's employer or in which the amateur has a pecuniary interest. The Commission stated that any amateur-to-amateur communications is permitted unless specifically prohibited or unless transmitted for compensation or done for the pecuniary benefit for the station control operator or his or her employer."

Cross said that it does not matter what type of technology -- be it SSB, digital, slow scan TV or CW -- is used to transmit that communications: "It boils down to a simple four part test that you, as the control operator of the station, must ask yourself before you cause the station to transmit a message. One, is the communications expressly prohibited in the rules? For instance, is it music, is it obscenity, something like that. Two, is the communications transmitted for compensation? Whether it's paid or compensation in some other way, such as, 'If you get this message to a friend of mine who's on a sailboat in the middle of nowhere, I'll pay your light bill.' Or, 'Get this message to someplace and I'll buy you a new radio.' That's indirect compensation. Three, does the control operator have a pecuniary interest in the communications? That is, could he or she benefit financially? Stock trades on ham radio benefit you financially. And four, does the control operator's employer have an interest in the communications? If the answer to each of these questions is 'no,' then the communications is acceptable with the caveat that it is not on a regular basis, one which could be furnished alternatively through other radio services."

There are limits to what an amateur can do on behalf of his or her employer, Cross said, as well as limits to the extent that Amateur Radio can be used for the purpose for which other radio services were created. "'No communications on behalf of an employer' means just that," he said. "There's no exception for the 15 minutes you're on break. There's no exception for 'Gee, it's the weekend,' or there's no exception because you want to do it. If it's your employer, you cannot transmit communications on their behalf. That is a commercial communications."

Public Service Communications

The last topic Cross addressed concerned public service communications. "There's no rule about public service communications as such in Part 97, because most of the messages you transmit that you think of as public service communications are allowed by Section 97.111 <http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/octqtr/pdf/47cfr97.111.pdf>. Paragraph (a) authorizes an amateur station to transmit two-way communications including, among other things, exchanging messages with other stations in the Amateur Service and communications necessary to meet essential communications needs and to facilitate relief actions." Cross noted that most of these transmissions -- the essential communications needs and facilitating relief actions -- are two-way exchanges with messages with other amateur stations. "The rule also authorizes you to transmit one-way communications, such as transmissions necessary to make adjustments to the station -- these are your tests, your tones, tossing the carrier to see what the SWR is, that sort of thing -- and brief transmissions necessary to establish two-way communications with other stations."

Cross said that the rules cover everything we do as Amateur Radio operators: "Ragchewing, DX, contests, DXpeditions, county hunting, tuning up, everything. Ninety-nine percent of our communications fall under the rules that are there."

Emergency communications, by their nature, involve an element of immediacy, immediate safety of property and life. "Reporting where damage is, what happened after a tornado goes through or where power lines are down, is certainly public service communications and it's allowed under 97.111, but it may not involve an immediate safety of life and property," Cross explained. "A bridge washed out, for example, may need a more immediate response than downed trees, and reporting that is already allowed as just two-way communications between stations. A car with occupants floating down a river is clearly an emergency situation. In cases like that, the rules already provide that at all times and on all frequencies, each control operator must give priority to stations providing emergency communications. I have never heard of a case where a ham station has come on a repeater or a frequency and said, 'I have an emergency message,' and someone said, 'Wait your turn.' That's not your style."

Laura Smith

The Dayton Hamvention was one of the first events Smith has attended in her role as Special Counsel. Cross introduced Smith, explaining that he used to work for her and that she was "one of the best people that we possibly could get for this job, because before she came to the Wireless Bureau, she had worked in mass media. After she had been in the Wireless Bureau, Laura had been the president of a trade association in Washington. Many of the issues that come up with other entities using amateur spectrum are entities that are either in mass media services or in land-mobile services and they are basically lusting after your bands. So we are fortunate now that when someone calls up, Laura has this breadth of knowledge of not only what the amateur stuff is, but where [land-mobile and mass media services] actually really should belong. And she can counsel them very gently that they need to get licensed here and not, you know, where they think they are. This is something you don't see. Believe it or not, this is a tremendous help to you."

He mentioned that Smith plans to stay in this position for the long haul: "So if you have any ideas about a short-timer or think you're going to get away with it, plan on about 15 years down the road. In the meantime, behave yourselves!"

Smith explained that when she took over the amateur enforcement position earlier this year, the job had changed a bit from when Hollingsworth was in the office. "This job used to be in the Spectrum Enforcement Division down in DC; it was a remote position in a DC office," she explained. "It is no longer in that Division. I am actually a Field Agent. I'm attached to the FCC Field Office, I'm in the Northeast Region and my supervisor is the Regional Director for the Northeast Region." She told the crowd that she has spent a large portion of her time going through all the files that had accumulated, about 430 cases, while the position was vacant.

She explained the different types of complaints her office receives, such as complaints dealing with criminal investigations, technical violations, harassment and language complaints, malicious interference complaints and unlicensed users.

Smith also handles RFI complaints. Saying that these complaints are "ultimately going to be the most troublesome," she explained that there are two kinds of RFI complaints. "The first type of RFI complaint I get are the ones where your neighbors are complaining about you. You guys are causing interference to their television or to their radios or their telephone. The Commission generally tells them if you are a licensed amateur operator operating in the parameters of your license, then the Part 15 device that you are causing interference to is subject to that interference, and the rules state that very clearly. We suggest that they either work with you or they get a filter; those are the two suggestions."

Smith, in cooperation with the ARRL Lab, also handles utility line interference complaints. "This one, you would think, would be easy to resolve -- the power line is causing interference, the utility will come out and fix it and everything will be fine. Not quite so easy," she explained. "Those of you that have been experiencing it for 3, 4, 5, 10, 12 years know that in fact, that is not what happens. What I am discovering is that the utilities quite simply don't know how to fix the problem. They can't identify the noise. What they will do is they will go out and will find 15 sources of noise. They will fix these 15 sources of noise and then they will come back to me with this detailed list of these 15 sources of noise that they have fixed. Yea! We're all done. No -- they haven't fixed your noise. So they don't quite understand the concept of 'Don't just run out and fix everything you see, that's irrelevant to the amateur.' The amateur wants you to fix their noise."

Smith described that the first step the utilities need to do is to go to the amateur's house and listen to the noise and determine exactly what they're hearing. "This way, when they fix it, you can ultimately figure out if you have in fact fixed their noise. I'm trying to figure out a way with the Lab as to how we can best tell the utilities that they really need to think about how their processes work and what we can do to educate them so they can get out and fix this."

Smith has also given utility companies time limits to fix the noise complaints. "I am telling them, 'If you go out and you can't fix it, every two weeks you have to report back to me in writing why you can't fix it.' Utilities are, generally speaking publicly traded companies, so what happens is that they have a Board of Directors that they answer to. Those people are not going to want them to waste time and energy writing this crazy woman in Gettysburg every two weeks a detailed report. And believe you me, if they miss their deadline, I call them and tell them 'You've missed your deadline. I need your report.' I have spoken to more heads of utilities in the last three weeks than I ever care to speak to again. They have no qualms about calling me, saying 'We can't meet the deadline.' And I explain to them that's fine, I'll just write up this nice little letter [saying] you can write your check to the federal government."

Smith suggested to the amateur community "that we as a collective -- you guys and me -- we can have a great relationship, we can do this the easy way. You guys can, in fact, follow the rules and remember that when you signed up to become an amateur, you actually committed to adhere to the Commission's rules. I'm going to strongly suggest that you hold to that. If you don't we can do this the difficult way, and I am more than willing to do that if it comes down to it."

Questions and Answers

Cross and Smith then took questions from the audience. They concerned grandfathering Advanced class license holders to Extra class, enforcing Amateur Radio rules on stations originating outside the US, what type of internal review is required before a Notice of Apparent Liability is issued, keeping undesired hams off a repeater system, issues with D-STAR repeaters allowing Internet content to be carried on amateur frequencies and establishments that sell 10 meter radios disguised as 11 meter radios.

Smith also told the crowd why she has not yet become a licensed Amateur Radio operator: "My father-in-law is Richard Smith. He is the former Chief of the Field Operations Bureau. The Field Operations Bureau was the precursor to the Enforcement Bureau. When Dick started his career at the FCC, he worked in the LA Field Office as an engineer; one of the duties that he had while he was out there was to administer the Amateur Radio tests. His expertise just so happened to be in the Code. He is an incredible operator. And so when I decided to take this job, I did not want to run out and get my license before I took the job for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is I felt it would be a sham -- I wasn't an amateur before I took the job, I didn't want you to think that I was selling you so short that I was going to run out and get my license to try and validate myself for this industry. Instead, I said that I would wait and take the exam later and become an amateur as I got to know the community. When I told the story to Dick and I said I was thinking about getting my license, he said to me, 'You will not get your license until you can pass the code part of the test.' Unfortunately, he followed that up with a caveat, which was 'I will be there to oversee the administration of the test to determine whether or not you are competent and qualified to be an amateur.' So I have to learn code -- I obviously do not know it." Smith said she plans on learning CW this summer, along with her six year old daughter.

Cross closed the forum, quipping, "For those of you who are concerned, I made sure she went by the Vibroplex booth, and we also stopped by the Begali booth. So she got to see what the minimum requirements are for proper CW."

An audio feed of the FCC forum can be found on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/news/files/FCC-Forum-2009.mp3>.

==> ARRL DONORS GATHER IN DAYTON

More than 100 ARRL donors gathered to mix and mingle at the ARRL's Eighth Annual Donor Reception on Thursday, May 14, just prior to the 2009 ARRL National Convention and Dayton Hamvention. Hosted by the ARRL as a way to thank those who donated $1000 or more to the League in 2008, the reception -- held at the Meadowbrook Country Club -- featured a sumptuous buffet and a speech by new IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/02/11/10645/?nc=1>.

"It is always great fun to see many of our good friends at the Annual Donor Reception," said ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH. "I have a chance to catch up with the wonderful group of people share our dedication to ARRL and Amateur Radio. In the eight years that we've been holding this event, its popularity grows and we get to meet new donors, and in some cases, their spouses and children. We look forward to hosting this evening and having an opportunity to thank key donors in person for all they do to support ARRL."

One of the highlights of the evening was the introduction of three new members of the ARRL's Maxim Society <http://www.arrl.org/development/maxim.html>: Frank Donovan, W3LPL, of Glenwood, Maryland; Tom Hutton, N3ZZ, of Cupertino, California, and Tom Porter, W8KYZ, of Avon Lake, Ohio. With the addition of these three amateurs, there are now 61 members of the Maxim Society. Maxim Society donors are those amateurs whose lifetime giving exceeds $10,000.

This elite group embodies the spirit of ARRL co-founder Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW, who, in 1914, envisioned an organization dedicated to encouraging and developing Amateur Radio as a source of enjoyment for radio operators and as a public service to communities nationwide. Maxim Society donors nurture the legacy and leadership exhibited by "The Old Man" so many years ago. Their infectious enthusiasm and deep commitment to Amateur Radio and ARRL are evidence of their abiding loyalty. Their willingness to contribute generously to the work of ARRL is evidence of a remarkable dedication to the vision of Hiram Percy Maxim.

After a welcome from ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, introduced Ellam, whose remarks focused on the impact that the ARRL had on his introduction to Amateur Radio as a young man in Canada, telling the story of how the ARRL Handbook played a pivotal role in his effort to secure his first Amateur Radio license in 1976.

"One of the textbooks for the Amateur Radio class run by my local club was the 1976 version of the ARRL Handbook," Ellam told the group. "The club also paid for associate membership in the ARRL, Canadian Division, which had the benefit of allowing students to receive QST. When it came time to write my exam, I decided to be a rebel. Rather than using all of the approved schematics to memorize and draw for the exam, I made one change: I drew a simple key klix filter that I had memorized from the ARRL Handbook.

"Weeks later, my exam results came in the mail. I had failed. The Canadian government decided the ARRL version of the key klix filter would not work north of the border and gave me a zero. This meant I failed the entire test, with no possibility of retaking it for several months. My hopes of becoming an amateur were crushed. So off to the local office of the Department of Communications I marched, with my trusty ARRL Handbook under my arm. After a spirited debate, the person manning the desk at the office allowed me to speak to an examiner and review my results with him. He argued I had failed to draw a correct key klix filter. I showed him the one in the ARRL Handbook. He refused to accept it! I pushed the issue. We went to see the district director, who was an amateur. He took one look at the schematic and said, "This is from the ARRL Handbook -- it must be right!" and overruled the inspector and passed me on the spot.

"I was so impressed by the power of the Handbook that I have maintained my ARRL membership to this day. By doing that, I of course received QST and through that, I became aware of the work of the ARRL and IARU."

Ellam said that it was "an honor to speak at the ARRL Donor Reception in front of so many supporters of ARRL and the Amateur Service. The IARU appreciates the support of the ARRL as the International Secretariat."

For more information on giving opportunities, please visit the ARRL Development Office Web site <http://www.arrl.org/development/>.

==> FRANK BAUER, KA3HDO, RECEIVES ARRL PRESIDENT'S AWARD

On Saturday, May 16 during the forum featuring Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, at the Dayton Hamvention, ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, presented former Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/oindex.htm> International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, with the ARRL President's Award. Bauer, who stepped down from ARISS <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/03/25/10724/> and Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation's (AMSAT) <http://www.amsat.org/> duties this past March, served as ARISS Program Leader and ARISS International Working Group Chair. Since 1991, he served as AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight Programs.

The ARRL Board of Directors voted to create the President's Award in 2003. The President's Award is to go to an ARRL member or members who "have shown long-term dedication to the goals and objectives of ARRL and Amateur Radio," and who have gone the extra mile to support individual League programs and goals. Nominations for the award come from directors and are approved by the ARRL President and the Executive Committee.

Under Bauer's leadership, Amateur Radio activities have been on human spaceflight vehicles, including NASA-sponsored ham radio activities on the shuttle, Space Station Mir and the ISS. Starting in 1983, Bauer led the Goddard Amateur Radio Club team that provided around-the clock space shuttle retransmissions from the WA3NAN club station. These retransmissions provided the international ham radio community up-to-the-minute information during the flight of Owen Garriott, W5LFL, on STS-9 <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-9.html> and subsequent SAREX flights. In the days prior to the Internet, these real-time bulletins and frequent orbital element updates could only be obtained through Amateur Radio.

"For well over a decade, I have been fortunate to be part of a group that has been leading international teams together to focus on Amateur Radio on the ISS," Bauer told the ARRL. "As AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight since 1991, I have really worked to get this international team to work as one, focusing on Amateur Radio. It is very critical to get all the space agency partners to have a vested interest in making sure we do Amateur Radio right on the ISS. We need to keep the partnership we have with our international team in good stead."

Bauer said that through the years, the AMSAT and ARISS teams have developed a substantial amount of hardware and software systems on the ISS. "We have trained astronauts and cosmonauts to use the equipment that we have on many modules," he said. "We have two systems on the Russian module with five antennas, and two L/S band antennas on Columbus <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/02/14/101/>, with new ones going up later this year -- all of this is being done by a volunteer team. Both AMSAT and ARISS have done a tremendous job promoting Amateur Radio, allowing hams to talk with astronauts and encouraging children to pursue technical careers."

Bauer said that when a new crew of astronauts comes on board at NASA, ARISS gives them a briefing, familiarizing them with the ARISS program and Amateur Radio in general. "We are very fortunate that all of the US astronauts of late have received their Amateur Radio licenses," he said. "We emphasize to them how important it is to get their license early in their training, because as their training progresses, they get caught up in everything and it is hard to find the time to study and take the exam. From an astronaut perspective, I think it's a little easier for them to pass the test, since they know most of the theory stuff, but they do need to be trained on the rules and regulations that govern the Amateur Radio Service."

ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, said he was very honored to present Bauer with his award. "I have had the pleasurable opportunity first hand to see Frank work with the international community to ensure Amateur Radio became and remained a part of manned space flight. Frank's ability to organize all parties to consensus regarding key issues was vital to the program. The amateur community owes a great deal of gratitude to Frank for his many years of dedication to service and education."

Bauer told the ARRL that he was "proud and humbled" to receive the ARRL President's Award. "It was a total surprise, I did not expect any of this. I want to thank the ARRL leadership for this very prestigious award. And thanks to the entire ARISS volunteer team for their outstanding support and diligence in inspiring our next generation of explorers through Amateur Radio contacts between school students and crew members on the ISS."

ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, who, together with Bauer, served as the USA delegates to ARISS, told the ARRL she was "very happy" for her colleague and friend: "Over the years, Frank continuously gave more to the ARISS project than anyone could ever expect of one person. He put his heart and soul into ARISS because he believed in its objectives: To introduce teachers and youth to Amateur Radio and the foundation of radio science, plus provide students with a way via radio to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math."

Bauer is currently the Chief Engineer for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA. This directorate is developing the next generation human spaceflight vehicles that will take NASA to the International Space Station (ISS) and then to the Moon, Mars and beyond. He is also providing some backup support to the Space Operations Chief Engineer who supports the space shuttle and ISS programs.

==> ARRL FIELD DAY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES THAT EVERYONE CAN USE

Many amateurs treat ARRL Field Day (June 27-28) as a contest, even though it isn't one <http://www.arrl.org/fieldday>. But if your idea of Field Day fun is to go for the highest score possible, ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, offered the following suggestions at the ARRL Field Day Forum at the 2009 Dayton Hamvention.

1) You will get many more stations in your log by calling CQ than by tuning the dial and answering CQs; however, if you're calling CQ and not getting any replies, keep calling. Most major contesters call CQ for several minutes at a time before giving up. Giving up after three or four CQs is giving up too soon.

2) Keep your CQs short and to the point: "CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day, Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey, Field Day." Wait about 5 seconds between CQs -- this gives stations enough time to answer you.

3) Use standard phonetics. "Cute" phonetics don't always get through and they can confuse newer operators.

4) When working a station, you should give your exchange information only once and keep it simple. "Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey, copy three Foxtrot Connecticut, QSL?" If they didn't get all of the exchange, they will ask for a repeat.

5) If you are running a pileup: Once you have pulled a call out of the pileup, give your exchange information first. Here's an example: "Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey, copy 3F Connecticut, QSL?" Don't ask for the calling station's information first -- this will reduce any sense of rhythm and timing in the pileup.

6) If you get a pileup of stations and can't make out an entire call, listen for one letter and ask for it specifically: "The station with Delta only, go ahead."

7) When you get the other station's information, keep your acknowledgment simple. "QSL, thanks, QRZ Field Day from Whiskey-One-Alfa-Whiskey."

8) Find a comfortable pace for you and maintain that pace. You will tire quickly if you are screaming into the microphone or trying to work stations too quickly. This leads to inefficiency.

9) Use a headset with a boom microphone and a foot switch -- this frees up your hands to log QSOs. Writing or typing with a mike in your hand slows you down.

10) Go for as many bonus points as you possibly can. Numerous opportunities exist, from copying the Field Day message to sending traffic to using natural power for QSOs.

These tips should help maximize your score on Field Day. Remember: No matter how you choose to enjoy Field Day, maximize your fun, however you define it.

==> THE ARRL TRIPLE PLAY AWARD: A WORLDWIDE EVENT!

The ARRL Triple Play Award (TPA) -- introduced January 1, 2009 <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/12/05/10490/> -- is available to all amateurs worldwide who confirm QSOs with each of the 50 states on voice, CW and digital modes via Logbook of the World (LoTW) <http://www.arrl.org/lotw>. Not even six months since its inception, the Triple Play Award has been awarded to 269 hams around the world.

The first recipient was Dave Strout, W2YC, of Williamstown, New Jersey. Strout achieved this milestone on January 15. The very next day, Jeff Wheeler, W7JW, of Plymouth, Michigan, received TPA #2.

But the TPA is not limited to US hams. On February 11, Scotland's Cris Henderson, GM4FAM, was the first ham outside the US to receive the TPA award, #158. Jose Vicente Pinto, YV6BTF, of Venezuela, received TPA #163, making him the first South American amateur to achieve the award. Hams in many countries, such as Brazil, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Poland, Colombia and Mexico, have claimed the Triple Play Award.

"An side effect of the Triple Play Award has been the increased issuance of basic Worked All States (WAS) <http://www.arrl.org/awards/was/> awards for Phone, CW, Digital and Basic modes," said ARRL Awards Manager Bill Moore, NC1L. "Comments on the Triple Play Award have been very positive, reflecting a renewed interest in the challenge -- and of course, the fun! -- that ARRL awards continue to provide. The Triple Play Award is the first of what we hope to be many more LoTW-only awards in the future."

The Triple Play Award is a one-time award -- once you have made the required 150 confirmed contacts via LoTW, you're done. "Even so," ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said, "there are many possible variations on the theme. You can try to be the first (or at least the first on your block) or you can set your own pace. Think it's too easy? Limit yourself to QRP while operating your favorite mode (or all three). Maybe you prefer to be the quarry; it will quickly emerge which states are the most difficult to find, offering opportunities to earn the gratitude of your mates by activating the ones you can get to with your portable or mobile rig."

If you haven't yet begun trying for the Triple Play Award, why not start? There are still quite a few State QSO Parties this year, and the DX contest season starts in a few months. According to Sumner, contesters are among the most loyal devotees of LoTW. Once you begin, you might find that the pursuit can be terribly addictive.

The rules for the Triple Play Award state that two-way communication must be established on the amateur bands with each state on each mode (the District of Columbia may be counted for Maryland). There is no minimum signal report required. Contacts must be made from the same location, or from locations no two of which are more than 50 miles apart. Club station applicants must include their club name and call sign of the club station or trustee on their application. The Triple Play Award will be issued on sequentially numbered certificates, starting with #1, as determined by the time stamp of the electronic application as submitted via LoTW. There are no endorsements for this award.

Contacts made through repeater devices or any other power relay method may not be used for WAS confirmation (a separate WAS award is available for satellite contacts). All stations contacted must be land stations; contacts with ships, anchored or otherwise, and aircraft, cannot be counted. The only exception to this rule is permanently docked exhibition ships (such as the Queen Mary) and other historic ships will be considered land based.

Triple Play Award applicants who reside in the US must be ARRL members to be eligible to receive the award. DX stations do not need to be ARRL members. All bands -- with the exception of 60 meters -- may be used in pursuit of the Triple Play Award.

==> HAM RADIO DIY AT MAKER FAIRE

Ham radio demonstrations and displays are in the works for Maker Faire, May 30-31, the world's largest do-it-yourself (DIY) festival <http://www.makerfaire.com/>. This year, the festival will take place at the San Mateo County Expo Center in California. According to ARRL Sales and Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R -- who is attending the fair along with dozens of San Francisco Bay Area hams -- this annual event showcases the country's best innovations in science and technology, engineering, arts and crafts, food and music. "It's no surprise that such an event has captured the attention of the ham radio community. Do-it-yourself, or DIY, has always been a signature of the Amateur Radio Service," he said.

Inderbitzen said that this year's Maker Faire theme -- ReMake America: Building a Sustainable Future -- is based on President Obama's call to action to participate in a new era of DIY. "The Amateur Radio community fits this mold perfectly," Inderbitzen said. "Hams represent the very best of service-to-country and community. We're both doers and makers of things."

A large exhibit area at Maker Faire is planned to help spotlight ham radio. The Foothills Amateur Radio Society is the primary sponsor of the Amateur Radio exhibit, but volunteers from many participating ham radio clubs and other related groups -- including the Silicon Valley Amateur Television Group, the Palo Alto Amateur Radio Association, the Mad Scientist Amateur Radio Club, the Kings Mountain Amateur Radio Club, the Burlingame Red Cross, BAERS Ham Cram and Ham Radio Outlet are going to be there, as well. The coordinating effort is being lead by ARRL Santa Clara Valley Assistant Section Manager Michael Pechner, KI6QNZ, of Palo Alto.

Inderbitzen said that the exhibit will include equipment demonstrations, a basic radio station setup intended for beginners, home brew project displays, an emergency communications van, live amateur television demonstrations and ham radio and radio control planes, as well as a demonstration pairing APRS <http://www.aprs.net/> and model rocketry. Club representatives will be on hand to discuss public service opportunities and to assist newcomers with information for getting started in Amateur Radio. Teachers and students who attend the Maker Faire on May 29 will get to see ham radio educational demonstrations on the day before the official Faire opening.

Started in California in 2006, Maker Faire is held annually in San Mateo, California and Austin, Texas. Maker Faire is supported by Make Magazine, craftzine.com and O'Reilly Media. Additional details about ham radio at Maker Faire, including special event operating frequencies, are posted on the Foothills Amateur Radio Society's Web site <http://www.fars.k6ya.org/>.

For more information on the 2008 Maker Faire in Austin, Texas, check out this article by ARRL Contributing Editor H. Ward Silver, N0AX <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2008/06/21/10175/>.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Tad "The marvel of Earth and Sun" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Sunspot numbers for May 21 through 27 were 0, 0, 13, 0, 0, 0 and 0, with a mean of 1.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 71.8, 72.1, 70.4, 69.2, 68.9, 68.1 and 66.7, with a mean of 69.6. The estimated planetary A indices were 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 4 and 3 with a mean of 4. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 2, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2 and 2 with a mean of 2.6. Conditions have been quiet, with many days showing zeros for the planetary K index. The US Air Force and NOAA predict a planetary A index of 5 until June 3-5 when it goes to 12, then 8 for the following two days. Solar flux is predicted at 68 until June 5, when it goes to 70, then 71 June 6, and 72 for June 7-14. Perhaps we will see sunspots return during this period. Geophysical Institute Prague has a slightly different view for geomagnetic activity, predicting quiet conditions for May 29 to June 1, quiet to unsettled June 2-3 and active on June 4. 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 William Ernest Henley's "Between the Dusk of a Summer Night" <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/between-the-dusk-of-a-summer-night/>.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This Week on the Radio: This week, the CQ WW WPX Contest (CW) and Kids Roundup are May 30-31. Look for the ARCI Hootowl Sprint on May 31 (local time). Next week, the SEANET Contest, IARU Region 1 Field Day and the Alabama QSO Party are all June 6-7. 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 <cce@arrl.org>;.

* 2009 ARRL Photo Contest Ends Soon: There's still time -- but not much -- to enter your high-resolution digital image in the 2009 ARRL Photo Contest. Entries must be received by May 31 via e-mail <upfront@arrl.org>; (subject line: 2009 Photo Contest). Details appear on page 20 of the April 2009 issue of QST.

* ARRL DXCC Desk Approves Saudi Operation: ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, reports that the current 7Z1CQ operation in Saudi Arabia has been approved for DXCC credit. "If you had cards that were recently rejected for this operation, please send an e-mail <dxcc@arrl.org>; to the ARRL DXCC Desk and you will be placed on the list for update," Moore said.

===========================================================
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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==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): letter-dlvy@arrl.org
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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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