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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 28, No. 29
July 24, 2009


* + Board Discusses Inappropriate Use of Amateur Radio, Strategic
Planning, Other Issues at Second 2009 Meeting 
* + FCC Continues BPL Debate 
* + Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD (SK) 
* + The Doctor Is IN the ARRL Letter 
* + Ham Radio Helps Out with Mountain Rescue 
* + Special Bonus Section Added to "ARRL Ham Radio Licensing Manual" 
*  Solar Update 
      This Week on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + "Passport to World Band Radio" in "Limbo" 

+Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<>, then e-mail

==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA


The ARRL Board of Directors held its Second Meeting of 2009 July 17-18
in Windsor, Connecticut, under the chairmanship of President Joel
Harrison, W5ZN. On Friday, the Board considered and acted on a number of
recommendations from committees as well as motions by Directors.
Saturday was devoted to reviewing and revising the ARRL Strategic Plan
that was adopted in October 2006

Inappropriate Use of Amateur Radio: The Board authorized the President
to appoint an ad hoc committee to prepare guidelines for use by the
amateur community and others to identify inappropriate uses of Amateur
Radio, while preserving our role of providing communications during
times of disasters and for public service events. The Board asked the
committee to present its findings to the Executive Committee within 30

Emergency Communications Advisory Committee: The Board considered, but
ultimately declined to adopt a motion to establish an Emergency
Communications Advisory Committee.

Amateur Auxiliary/Official Observer Program: Programs and Services
Committee Chairman Bruce Frahm, K0BJ, announced the creation of an ad
hoc subcommittee to study the Amateur Auxiliary/Official Observer
program and recommend any desirable changes to the Board.

Emergency Liaison Station: The Board established a national-level
appointment of Emergency Liaison Station to tie ARRL Headquarters to
affected areas during disasters via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
to HF or VHF linking.

Narrowband Channel Spacing: The Board directed the President to appoint
a study committee for the purpose of research and to consider developing
a plan to move the US amateur community to narrowband channel spacing in
the VHF/UHF bands.

Volunteer Consulting Engineer Program: The Board extended the Volunteer
Consulting Engineer program to registered professional engineers in
addition to structural, civil and mechanical engineers.

Annual Audit: Acting on the recommendation of the Administration and
Finance Committee as presented by Chairman Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF, the
Board formally accepted the financial statements, including the
auditors' opinion letter, for the year ending December 31, 2008.

ARRLWeb Redesign: A group from Fathom, a contractor based in Hartford,
presented an update of the redesign of the ARRL's Web site.

IARU: The Board voted to appoint Rod Stafford, W6ROD, as IARU Secretary
effective October 1, 2009. Stafford is retiring from full-time
employment as of that date and will be available to serve as a volunteer
in this capacity. The Board also directed the ARRL Secretary to cast a
vote in favor of IARU Proposal No 245, concerning the admission of Union
des Radioamateurs du Congo (URAC) to IARU membership.

Strategic Planning
The Board devoted a full day to reviewing and updating the three year
old ARRL Strategic Plan. Last year, the Board invited ARRL members to
comment on the League's future direction
<>. These comments were read
and considered by the Board. Before turning the comments over to the
Executive Committee, they added some thoughts of their own. The
Executive Committee started drafting ideas for the new Strategic Plan at
its March 2009 meeting.

The review process at the 2009 Second Meeting included breakout sessions
to develop possible strategies to address each of six goals that will
guide the ARRL for the next three to five years; the results of the
breakout sessions were then reported back to the full Board. The
complete output of the planning session will be reported back to the
participants for e-mail discussion and then considered by the Executive
Committee at its next meeting in October. The Executive Committee will
refine the document.

The Board established the George Hart Distinguished Service Award to be
given to an ARRL member whose service to the League's Field Organization
is of the most exemplary nature. Selection criteria for this award may
include an operating record with the National Traffic System (NTS),
participation in ARES or station appointments and/or leadership
positions held in the Field Organization. Nominations may be made by
anyone, and the nominees should have a minimum of 15 years of service.
Nominations will be considered by the Board at its Annual Meetings in

The Board made some changes to the Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional
Media Award, establishing separate categories for audio formats, visual
formats and print/text formats and redirecting the cash awards from the
winners to an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of the recipient's

Hiram Percy Maxim Award: The Board selected Jason Hatfield, KD8FDD, of
Grafton, West Virginia, as the recipient of the 2008 Hiram Percy Maxim

Technical Excellence Award: For the second year in a row the Board chose
John Stanley, K4ERO, Georgia, as the recipient of the 2008 Doug DeMaw,
W1FB Technical Excellence Award.

Technical Service Award: The 2009 ARRL Technical Service Award went to
Geoffrey Haines, N1GY, of Bradenton, Florida for his prolific and clear

Technical Innovation Award: Dan Smith, KK7DS, of Hillsboro, Oregon
received the 2009 ARRL Technical Innovation Award for his programming
contributions to digital communications.

Instructor of the Year Award: The Board selected Brian Short, KC0BS, of
Olathe, Kansas, as the recipient of the 2009 Herb S. Brier Instructor of
the Year Award.

McGan Memorial Silver Antenna Award: The Board selected Nate Brightman,
K6OSC, of Long Beach, California, as the winner of the 2009 Philip J.
McGan Memorial Silver Antenna Award for excellence in public relations.

Joe Knight Distinguished Service Award: The Board conferred ARRL Joe
Knight Distinguished Service Awards on two long-time volunteers this
year: former Western New York Section Manager Bill Thompson, W2MTA, of
Newark Valley, New York, and Georgia Section Manager Susan Swiderski,
AF4FO, of Norcross, Georgia.

International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, and
Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) Vice President International Affairs
Daniel Lamoureux, VE2KA, were guests of the Board.

The complete Minutes of the 2009 Second Meeting of the ARRL Board of
Directors will be available soon on the ARRLWeb.

The next meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors is scheduled for January
15-16, 2010.


On July 17, the FCC issued a "Request for Further Comment and Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" ("FNPRM")
addressing the issues remanded to them by the US Court of Appeals. In
October 2007, the ARRL took the Commission to court concerning the
Commission's Orders adopting rules governing broadband over power line
(BPL) systems <>.
In April 2008, the Court agreed with the ARRL on two major points and
remanded the rules to the Commission
<>. Writing for
the three-judge panel of Circuit Judges Rogers, Tatel and Kavanaugh,
Judge Rogers summarized: "The Commission failed to satisfy the notice
and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act ('APA') by
redacting studies on which it relied in promulgating the rule and failed
to provide a reasoned explanation for its choice of the extrapolation
factor for measuring Access BPL emissions."

* New Information?

The Court found, among other things, that the FCC not only withheld the
internal studies until it was too late to comment, but had yet to
release portions of studies that may not support its own conclusions
regarding BPL. The FCC claimed that the studies were "internal
communications" that it did not rely upon in reaching its decision to
adopt the BPL rules. In its April 2008 ruling, the Court ordered the FCC
to release the studies. In March 2009, when the FCC still had not
released the redacted portions of the studies as ordered by the court,
the ARRL filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the studies. Six
weeks later, the FCC released the redacted portions of the studies

To contend with the Court's ruling, the Commission is now requesting
comment on the information in those studies as it pertains the FCC's BPL
decisions. The Commission is "also placing into the record certain
additional materials that contain preliminary staff research and
educational information" that was not previously made available. It is
these records that concern ARRL Laboratory Manager and BPL expert Ed
Hare, W1RFI.

"At the same time the FCC released the new 'FNPRM,' it also released 800
MB of previously unseen FCC internal staff reports and video on BPL,"
Hare said <>.
"Although the FCC tries to downplay the work of their own staff by
saying that these reports are only the opinion of one FCC staffer, these
conclusions about BPL from the FCC Lab were made by FCC technical people
with strong experience in measurement techniques and interference
assessment. This is generally good engineering, with a clear objective
of providing the Commission with accurate technical information about

According to Hare's preliminary review of the "FNPRM," the FCC's own
technical findings clearly spell out that BPL operating at the FCC
limits has a very strong potential to cause interference to licensed
radio users: "These reports show that BPL causes interference to a
number of licensed services for significant distances from BPL noise
sources and that the noise from BPL at antennas that are about 100 feet
from wires carrying BPL operating at the FCC limits will represent an
increase in noise of about 30 dB in most cases."

Hare said that other slides show that radiated noise from overhead power
lines increases significantly above the noise at ground level. "Based on
these internal FCC technical analyses, the present rules and test
methods -- when coupled with inappropriate distance extrapolation --
simply do not protect licensed users from interference," he said. "The
Commission was well aware of the content of these presentations when it
issued a BPL "Report and Order" that discounted ARRL when the League
made many of the same technical points in its filings."

* Extrapolation Factor: FCC Looking for Compromise?

One of the major points of difference between ARRL and the FCC has been
the measurement extrapolation factor below 30 MHz that is applied to
measurements made at distances from power lines or other radiating
sources to determine what the value of that measurement would be at a
distance of 30 meters. This is the distance in the FCC rules for which
maximum permitted emission are specified. The FCC believes that this
factor should be 40 dB/distance decade.

Hare explained why this is incorrect: "The FCC's test method measures
BPL emissions at ground level, using a loop antenna located 1 meter off
the ground. Amateurs know that a low horizontal antenna radiates more
energy upward than it does toward the horizon, and that a measurement
made of a radiating power line at 1 meter off the ground is not a good
indicator of the noise levels that will be present at angles upward from
that same power line, where HF antennas are most apt to be located. The
40 dB extrapolation factor and the lack of any correction for height
result in a BPL system that will significantly exceed the FCC emission
limits at the very point where most Amateur HF antennas are located."

In response to its remand of a portion of BPL measurement procedure, the
FCC is "also providing an explanation of our reasons for selecting 40 dB
per decade as the extrapolation factor for frequencies below 30 MHz. We
further explain why we believe the studies and technical proposal
submitted earlier by the ARRL do not provide convincing information that
we should use an extrapolation factor that is different from that which
we adopted," noting the existence of "more recent studies" that prove
their point.

In the "FNPRM," the FCC states that they are "re-examining the current
extrapolation factor in light of the recently issued technical studies
addressing the attenuation of BPL emissions with distance and efforts by
the IEEE to develop BPL measurement standards." Using these studies and
older ones, the FCC said that "there can be considerable variability in
the attenuation of emissions from BPL systems across individual
measurement sites that is not captured in the fixed 40 dB per decade

Based upon this "considerable variability," the FCC has opened a 30 day
comment period, asking if they should change their rules to "adjust the
extrapolation factor downward to 30 dB or some other fixed value and, as
an alternative, also allow use of a special procedure for determining
site-specific BPL extrapolation values using in situ measurements."

Hare notes that the "FNRPM" is creating a complex way to look for a
simple solution to a complex problem. "It's ironic that the FNPRM
discusses the 'considerable variability' in attenuation at BPL sites,
then proposes that a measurement of a mere four points within that
variability can determine the supposedly actual extrapolation. The NTIA
Phase II study that is the 'newer study' that the FCC is relying on for
part of its justification for 40 dB/decade shows an environment
extremely more complicated than that. Trying to apply any measurement of
extrapolation to this complex environment is a recipe for failure -- and
possible 'cherrypicking' of results that will allow those making
measurements of BPL systems to provide any value of extrapolation they
want, in either direction. I serve on the IEEE committee that developed
the draft for this extrapolation-measurement method and I did not stand
alone in not supporting the approach that the P1775 Working Group has
sent to ballot. At this point, the working group is in the process of
resolving and rebutting the numerous comments received in the
still-unresolved IEEE ballot."

Even though the FCC is inviting comments, they state that they "do not
believe that the studies and technical proposal submitted earlier by the
ARRL provide convincing information that we should use an extrapolation
factor that is different from (and, specifically, less than) 40 dB. We
believe that [other] studies [we have relied on] further validate the
use of 40 dB as the extrapolation factor. In addition, the sufficiency
of our rules for ensuring compliance is further validated by the fact
that we have not had any new complaints of interference for more than
two years."

Hare has worked extensively with the BPL industry to help it address
interference. "If the FCC thinks that the falling off in BPL complaints
is due to the sufficiency of its rules, it is mistaken," he said. "In
response to ARRL's input and offers of help, the industry has
essentially stopped using the amateur bands in US deployments. The FCC's
own video documentation of interference from BPL that is operating under
the rules the FCC put forward should be more than sufficient to show
that the rules as written are not good ones. The industry has reduced
the interference from BPL by doing more than the rules require. By not
using the amateur bands and by improving the filtering of BPL systems
well beyond the inadequate requirements of the present rules, the
industry and ARRL have shown that it is possible to operate BPL systems
without widespread interference problems to Amateur Radio."

Hare said that what is needed now "are good rules and industry standards
that reflect this successful model. That is not seen in this FNPRM.
Rules that reflect the industry practice of not using the amateur bands
and that specify state-of-the-art filtering could protect the Amateur
Radio Service and support this still-nascent BPL industry."


Legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD, who held the title of
"Most Trusted Man in America," passed away Friday, July 17 after a long
illness. He was 92. The avuncular Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News
for 19 years until 1981 when he retired. During that time, he reported
on such subjects as the Kennedy assassinations, the Civil Rights
movement, the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Vietnam and the Vietnam-era
protests, the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, Watergate and the Begin-Sadat
peace accords.

Cronkite, an ARRL member, narrated the 6 minute video "Amateur Radio
Today" <>. Produced by the ARRL in 2003, the
video tells Amateur Radio's public service story to non-hams, focusing
on ham radio's part in helping various agencies respond to wildfires in
the Western US during 2002, ham radio in space and the role Amateur
Radio plays in emergency communications. "Dozens of radio amateurs
helped the police and fire departments and other emergency services
maintain communications in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC,"
narrator Cronkite intoned in reference to ham radio's response on
September 11, 2001. "Their country asked, and they responded without

In 1963, it was Cronkite who broke into the soap opera "As the World
Turns" to announce that the president had been shot -- and later to
declare that he had been killed. CBS called it a "defining moment for
Cronkite, and for the country. His presence -- in shirtsleeves, slowly
removing his glasses to check the time and blink back tears -- captured
both the sense of shock, and the struggle for composure, that would
consume America and the world over the next four days."

Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML, was Cronkite's radio engineer at CBS for many
years. "I had many chances to discuss my favorite hobby, ham radio, with
'the world's most trusted anchor man,'" he told the ARRL. "Gradually,
his interest increased, but on finding that he had to pass a Morse code
test, he balked, saying it was too hard for him; however, he told me he
had purchased a receiver and listened to the Novice bands every night
for a few minutes. At the CBS Radio Network, Walter would arrive 10
minutes before we went on the air to read his script aloud, make
corrections for his style of grammar and just 'get in the mood' to do
the show. In those days Rich Moseson, W2VU, was the producer of a show
called "In the News," a 3 minute television show for children voiced by
CBS Correspondent Christopher Glenn. On this day, Rich was at the
Broadcast Center to record Chris' voice for his show and had dropped by
my control room to discuss some upcoming ARRL issues." At the time,
Mendelsohn was the ARRL Hudson Division Director. 

"When Walter walked into the studio, I started to set the show up at the
behest of our director, Dick Muller, WA2DOS," Mendelsohn recalled. "In
setting up the tape recorders, I had to send tone to them and make sure
they were all at proper level. Having some time, I grabbed "The New York
Times" and started sending code with the tone key on the audio console.
For 10 minutes I sent code and noticed Walter had turned his script over
and was copying it. We went to air, as we did every day, at 4:50 PM and
after we were off, Walter brought his script into the control room.
Neatly printed on the back was the text I had sent with the tone key.
Rich and I looked at the copy, he nodded, and I told Walter that he had
just passed the code test. He laughed and asked when the formal test
was, but I reminded him that it took two General class licensees to
validate the test and he had just passed the code. Several weeks later
he passed the written test and the FCC issued him KB2GSD."

Mendelsohn helped Cronkite make his first Amateur Radio contact: "Having
passed the licensing test, Walter was now ready to get on the air. His
first QSO was on 10 meters about 28.390 MHz. He was nervous and I called
him on the phone to talk him through his first experience. As we talked
on the air, a ham from the Midwest come on and called me. Acknowledging
him, I asked the usual questions about where he was from, wanting to
give Walter a bit of flavor of what the hobby was about. I turned it
over to Walter, and following his introduction, the gentleman in the
Midwest said, 'That's the worst Walter Cronkite imitation I've ever
heard!' I suggested that maybe it was Walter and the man replied,
'Walter Cronkite is not even a ham, and if he was, he certainly wouldn't
be here on 10 meters.' Walter and I laughed for weeks at that one."

In 2007, ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, presented
Cronkite with the ARRL President's Award. This award, created in 2003 by
the ARRL Board of Directors, recognizes 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. Cronkite was selected to receive the award in
April 2005 in recognition of his outstanding support of the ARRL and
Amateur Radio by narrating the videos "Amateur Radio Today" and "The
ARRL Goes to Washington" <>. "It
was quite a thrill to make this presentation to Cronkite," Fallon said.
"He has long been recognized as the 'most trusted man in America,' so
lining our causes to his face, name and voice has been a great help."

A private memorial service was held July 23 in New York City. Cronkite
will be cremated and his remains buried in Missouri next to his wife
Betsy, who passed away in 2005. A public memorial service will be held
within the next month at Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center for the
Performing Arts. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations
to the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Foundation through the Austin Community
Foundation <>, which will
distribute contributions to various charities the couple supported.


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 -- Jeff Freedman, K7JF, of Gig Harbor, Washington, asks: I am
setting up my beam antenna for the first time. I understand there is a
true north and a magnetic north (or south for the Southern Hemisphere).
What is the difference between true and magnetic? For which of the two
should my beam be initially calibrated? If magnetic north, how do I know
where to set the beam?

The Doctor Answers -- Magnetic north is the direction a compass needle
points to, while true north is the direction to the Earth's northerly
rotational axis point. They are indeed different in most places, and the
difference is different for each spot on Earth. It also changes over
time. The difference is referred to as magnetic variation on nautical
charts and as magnetic declination in some other venues.

NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center provides information on the
nature of this phenomenon as well as maps showing the correction
<>. For example, at my
station location in Connecticut, in 1981 the magnetic variation was 13
degrees west with an annual increase of 4 minutes. That means in 2009,
it should be a bit less than 16 degrees. If you look at the US map on
the above Web site you will see that they have it near the -15 degrees

In addition to the Web site, you can find your variation on any nautical
chart of a location near your station, on any coast and geodetic survey
map or call your town engineer. To convert magnetic north readings from
your compass to true north, subtract if the variation is westerly
(negative on the NOAA map), add if easterly.

Conceptually, either a true or magnetic reference could be used, as long
as you keep track and convert everything to the same basis. All
propagation programs that I am aware of give bearings with respect to
true north, so I would suggest using true bearings on your rotator

Do you have a question or a problem? Send your questions via e-mail
<>;; 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.


It was a quiet afternoon on July 11 and Rich Lippucci, KI6RRQ, of Vista,
California, was monitoring the Catalina Amateur Radio Association (CARA)
repeater on his base station. "I heard someone come over the repeater,
calling, 'Is there anybody listening?' I responded and the caller said
he was on his handheld transceiver hiking around the Mt Baldy area. He
was about 2.5 miles off road and resting at the wilderness San Antonio
Ski Hut <>. A
few hikers had arrived from farther in the backcountry -- one of their
friends had broken an ankle and was a mile or more up the trail and they
needed help." Mt Baldy is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains
and the highest point in Los Angeles County.

Lippucci asked the caller for his call sign and name. "He told me he was
Kirk Gustafson, KE6MTF," he told the ARRL. "I asked Kirk if he had a
cell phone, but he told me there was no cell service where they were. I
told him I would coordinate emergency services over my landline and
asked for his exact location. He did an excellent job; he had a good
idea of where he was and wasn't sure which county he was in, but he did
have GPS coordinates."

Using his landline, Lippucci called 911 and was transferred three times
until he was connected to Chelsea in the San Bernardino County Sheriff's
dispatch center. "Chelsea coordinated the rescue with the San Bernardino
Fire Department who sent a foot patrol to the area," he said. "The
Sherriff's office dispatched a helicopter to meet someone at the ski hut
to take them to where the hiker was down. It took a little less than an
hour for emergency services to get above the location in a helicopter,
but they were not able to land the helicopter due to the rocky terrain
at the ski lift." Lippucci said that while the foot patrol and
helicopter were on their way, the group of hikers had brought the
injured woman down the trail to the ski hut, stabilized her leg and
determined it was probably not broken. They still did not feel they
could carry her out as the trail down from the wilderness ski lift was
so steep." The ski hut can only be reached via a steep three mile hike
and 2200 feet elevation gain.

The dispatcher told Lippucci that the helicopter would perform a skid
rescue where a crew member suspends a bed basket from the helicopter;
the victim is secured and pulled back up to the helicopter. The
dispatchers asked Lippucci to relay back to Gustafson, asking if the
group needed anything, such as food or water. Gustafson relayed back
that they didn't need anything. "After about 15 minutes from arriving on
site, the helicopter and its crew got the victim airlifted out
successfully without further complications," Lippucci said. Gustafson
took a video of the rescue with his cell phone

Gustafson and Lippucci -- both ARRL members -- have been in contact
since that Saturday afternoon. "Since the incident, Kirk informed me
that the injured lady was around 40 years old and that there were up to
15 hikers hanging around the ski hut, some of which were search and
rescue volunteers on vacation," he told the ARRL. "They had some kind of
radios with them, but their batteries where dead. Kirk said when he got
out of his car to start his hike, he grabbed his handheld transceiver
radio and GPS. His friends told him 'That's just extra weight -- you
won't need that.' He told them, 'I go nowhere without my radio. If I
need to call for help, the only way I would be able to let them know
where I am is with GPS. I'm bringing them.' I don't think they will say
that next time! Kirk said that one of them decided they need to look
into getting a ticket and radio and that the search and rescue folks
said they were going to look into getting ham radio licenses."

Lippucci said that ham radio saved the day: "A handheld radio, hitting a
local wide-area repeater, was what was needed when cell and landline
phones were not available. Many thanks to the CARA club for their
awesome reach in Southern California on 2 meters. Thanks also to those
on the air that where very gracious to respect the traffic and keep
communications open during the rescue. This is such an excellent example
of the benefits of ham radio. If people had to hike out of the
wilderness, get to their cars and find a cell signal, they might have
been pushing up against the loss of daylight hours. Any rescue would
have been significantly more difficult in the dark."

Lippucci told the ARRL that 911 and the Sherriff's office in San
Bernardino accepted the ham radio call without hesitation. "They used a
ham radio operator to relay questions to Kirk through me, to gain all
the information they wanted and needed to put assets on the emergency,"
he said. "It was as if I was calling about something in my own backyard,
even though the problem was several counties away in the mountains, with
people I didn't know. I am proud to have had the opportunity to use my
license in service of an emergency situation. As a CERT member
<>, this was the very reason I got my
ham radio license in the first place!"  -- Information provided by Rich
Lippucci, KI6RRQ


The most common question asked by new radio amateurs is "Now that I have
my license, what kind of radio should I get?" The ARRL, in an attempt to
help newcomers to Amateur Radio answer that very question, has added a
bonus supplement to the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual
<>. "Choosing a Ham Radio: Your
Guide to Selecting the Right Equipment" is aimed at the new Technician
licensee ready to acquire a first radio, a licensee recently upgraded to
General class and wanting to explore HF or someone getting back into
Amateur Radio after a period of inactivity.

The guide features two main sections -- one covering gear for the VHF
and UHF bands, and one for HF band equipment, including a VHF/UHF and an
HF glossary of terms you will encounter. The guide also urges you to
discover just what you want to do with Amateur Radio and where you want
to do it from. Do you want to be a "big gun" HF contester? Do you want
to ragchew on your local repeater system? Maybe you want to join your
local ARES unit and help provide communications support in times of
emergency. This guide will help you select the right rig for what you
want to do.

"Choosing a Ham Radio: Your Guide to Selecting the Right Equipment"
isn't a traditional "buyer's guide" with feature lists and prices for
many radios. Manufacturer's Web sites and catalogs from radio stores
have plenty of information on the latest models and features. As such,
you won't find operating instructions or technical specifications here,
but many manufacturers' Web sites will let you download brochures and
manuals directly.

Second only to "What kind of radio should I get?" "What kind of antenna
do I need?" is the most common question asked by the new amateur. Don't
worry! "Choosing a Ham Radio: Your Guide to Selecting the Right
Equipment" talks about all kinds of antennas -- from "rubber duckies" to
verticals to dipoles to Yagis; it even explains rotators and antenna

An explanation of power, filters and digital signal processing (DSP), as
well as special features commonly found on VHF/UHF and HF radios are
also included in the guide. ARRL members who are logged on to the ARRL
Web site can view the guide online


Tad "The Sun himself has sent me like a ray" Cook, K7RA, this week
reports: No new sunspots yet, but a big surprise this week with aurora
and a geomagnetic storm: Sunspot activity peaked around 0300-0900 UTC on
Wednesday July 22, with K index as high as 6. The planetary A index for
the day was 24. One nice result was aurora propagation on 6 meters. A
week ago there wasn't any indicator of increased activity. There is a
new sunspot trying to emerge today (July 24), but it looks to be from
Solar Cycle 23. Sunspot numbers for July 16-22 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and
0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7 cm flux was 66.7, 66.2, 67, 67.6, 68.2,
67.7 and 67.8 with a mean of 67.3. The estimated planetary A indices
were 4, 2, 3, 2, 6, 4 and 24 with a mean of 6.4. The estimated
mid-latitude A indices were 2, 0, 1, 1, 3, 3 and 18 with a mean of 4.
Geophysical Institute Prague predicts quiet geomagnetic conditions July
24-25, quiet to unsettled July 26 and back to quiet for July 27-30. The
US Air Force and NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center calls for
planetary A index of 5 for July 24-25, 8 on July 26, 7 on July 27 and
back to 5 though the end of the month. They predict solar flux on July
24-26 at 68, 69 and 70, remaining at 70 through August 7. For more
information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical
Information Service Propagation page
<>. To read this week's
Solar Report in its entirety, check out the W1AW Propagation Bulletin
page <>. This week's "Tad Cookism" brought
to you by George Gordon, Lord Byron's "Don Juan"



* This Week on the Radio: This week, look for an NCCC Sprint Ladder on
July 24. The RSGB IOTA Contest is July 25-26. Next week, the ARRL UHF
Contest, the 10-10 Summer QSO Party and the North American QSO Party
(CW) are August 1-2. All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See
the ARRL Contest Branch page <>, the ARRL
Contest Update <> and the WA7BNM
Contest Calendar <> for
more info. Looking for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the
ARRL Special Event Station Web page

* ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration remains open through
Sunday, July 26, 2009, for these online course sessions beginning on
Friday, August 7, 2009: Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level 1;
Antenna Modeling; Radio Frequency Interference; Antenna Design and
Construction; Ham Radio (Technician) License Course; Propagation; Analog
Electronics, and Digital Electronics. 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
<> or contact the Continuing Education
Program Coordinator <>;.

* "Passport to World Band Radio" in "Limbo": The publisher of "Passport
to World Band Radio" <> told readers that the
future of the seminal SWL guide is in "limbo." Acknowledging on the
Passport's Web site
that "solid content" is essential to the success of a publication,
publisher Larry Magne cited "other considerations" as the impetus behind
the decision to possibly cease publication. While Magne gave no exact
reason for the decision, it reflects the decline in popularity of
shortwave listening, as well as the availability of shortwave schedules
on the Internet. Magne said that "Passport to World Band Radio," which
just released its 25th edition this year, will continue "to maintain the
WorldScan database and uphold all proprietary material. Among other
things, this should help allow for an orderly return to
production...should conditions allow. For Passport readers and our small
team alike, this is a seminal moment. After all, 'Passport to World Band
Radio' goes back a quarter century and has had something like a million
readers worldwide. But the future has its own rhythm that confounds
prognostication. There may yet be more chapters to this story. Stay
tuned." "Passport to World Band Radio" is available from the ARRL Online
Store <>.

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; <>. 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
<> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news
updates. The ARRL Web site <> also offers
informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News
<> 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!):
==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA,
==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
==>ARRL Audio News: <> or call

==>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
<>. 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

* ARRLWeb <>. (NOTE: The ARRL Letter will
be posted each Friday when it is distributed via e-mail.)

* The listserver, thanks to volunteers from the Boston Amateur
Radio Club: Visit Mailing Lists@QTH.Net
<>. (NOTE: The ARRL
cannot assist subscribers who receive The ARRL Letter via this

Copyright 2009 American Radio Relay League, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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 and The American Radio Relay League.

Back issues published since 2000 are available on this page. If you wish to subscribe via e-mail, simply log on to the ARRL Web site, click on Edit Your Profile at the top, then click on Edit Email Subscriptions. Check the box next to The ARRL email newsletter, the ARRL Letter and you will receive each weekly issue in HTML format. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):

Editorial questions or comments: John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, at


The ARRL E-Letter e-mail is also available in plain-text version:

Outlook Express

1. From the Inbox view, select the Tools menu and the Options selection.

2. Click the Read tab

3. Check the Read All Messages In Plain Text box.  When you open the e-mail, it will be in plain text without images. Other e-mail programs may be able to make a Mail Rule for e-mail received from the address so that the plain-text-only display is selected automatically.

Outlook 2007

Use the same procedure as for Outlook Express, although the global option is under "Tools/Trust Center/E-mail Security".


Use the menu item "View/Message Body As/Plain Text" or "View/Message Source" options.

OS X Mail (Mac)

Use the "View/Message/Plain Text Alternative" menu item.


Use the "Message text garbled?" link in the drop-down menu at the upper right of the displayed message block. pine, alpine Set "prefer-plain-text" in your ~/.pinerc configuration file: feature-list=..., prefer-plain-text, ...


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