*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 28, No. 32 August 14, 2009 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * ARRL President Harrison Presents League's Views on Distracted Driving Laws to Safety Advocacy Group * ARRL Responds to FCC's Proposed Allocation for Medical Devices in 70 cm Band * ARRL Executive Committee Approves Eight Education & Technology Program Grants * QEX: Look for the September/October 2009 Issue * Cutting Edge ARRL Contest Runs this Weekend * Amateur Radio Station WX4NHC Featured in National Commercial * 7O1YGF Operation Approved for DXCC Credit * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This Week on the Radio ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration RadioShack Rebranding Itself as THE SHACK FCC: Vanity Call Sign Fees to Increase September 10 Mickey "Santa Claus" Hicks, WO6T (SK) There will be no ARRL Audio News for Friday, August 14. The ARRL Audio News will return on Friday, August 21. =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail <email@example.com> ==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA <firstname.lastname@example.org> =========================================================== ==> ARRL PRESIDENT HARRISON PRESENTS LEAGUE'S VIEWS ON DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS TO SAFETY ADVOCACY GROUP To ensure that Amateur Radio is not an unintended victim of the growing public debate over what to do about distracted drivers, ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, has written a letter to the National Safety Council (NSC) <http://www.nsc.org/>, highlighting issues regarding the use of Amateur Radio emergency communications devices in vehicles <http://www.arrl.org/news/files/NSC_Letter7-30-09.pdf>. Many states have outlawed the use of cell phones while driving; some states with these laws have ambiguous wording (such as "mobile communication devices" or "mobile electronic devices") concerning the use of Amateur Radio while driving. According to their Web site, the NSC is "on a mission" to "alert the American public that different kinds of distractions have different levels of crash risk. Talking on a cell phone and sending text messages are much higher risk activities that occur for longer durations and with more people than most other actions engaged in while driving." They also seek to "lead a change in our nation's cultural norms, so people come to view cell phone conversations and text messaging while driving as unsafe and socially unacceptable. Calling for a legislative ban on these activities is the first step in a long-term process to educate Americans to their risk and change the culture" <http://www.nsc.org/resources/issues/distracted_driving.aspx>. Harrison explained to NSC President Janet Froetscher that Amateur Radio operators provide essential emergency communications when regular communications channels are disrupted by disaster: "Through formal agreements with federal agencies, such as the National Weather Service, FEMA and private relief organizations, the Amateur Radio volunteers protect lives using their own equipment without compensation. The ability of hams to communicate and help protect the lives of those in danger would be strictly hindered if the federal, state and local governments to not ensure that Amateur Radio operators can continue the use of their mobile radios while on the road." According to ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, it boils down to the difference between simplex -- when only one message can be sent in either direction at one time -- and duplex -- a communications mode, such as a telephone system, that provides simultaneous transmission and reception in both directions. Harrison, citing Sumner's 40-plus years of experience as an Amateur Radio operator, puts it this way: "Simplex, two-way radio operation is simply different than duplex, cell phone use. Two-way radio operation in moving vehicles has been going on for decades without highway safety being an issue. The fact that cell phones have come along does not change that." Harrison attached a copy of the ARRL's Policy Statement on Mobile Amateur Radio Operation to the letter to the NSC. "Amateur Radio mobile operation is ubiquitous, and Amateur Radio emergency and public service communications, and other organized Amateur Radio communications activities and networks necessitate operation of equipment while some licensees are driving motor vehicles," the Policy Statement reads. "Two-way radio use is dissimilar from full-duplex cellular telephone communications because the operator spends little time actually transmitting; the time spent listening is more similar to, and arguably less distracting than, listening to a broadcast radio, CD or MP3 player. There are no distinctions to be made between or among Amateur Radio, public safety land mobile radio, private land mobile radio or citizen's radio in terms of driver distraction. All are distinguishable from mobile cellular telephone communications in this respect. Nevertheless, ARRL encourages licensees to conduct Amateur communications from motor vehicles in a manner that does not detract from the safe and attentive operation of a motor vehicle at all times. See the Policy Statement on the ARRL Web site: <http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/MobileAmateurRadioPolicyStatement.pdf> . "The ARRL acknowledges numerous and increasing instances of state legislative proposals (and occasionally municipal ordinance proposals) to curb the use of cellular telephones while operating motor vehicles, ranging from prohibitions on hand-held telephones to prohibitions on all forms of electronic devices," the Policy Statement maintains. "These statutory proposals would supplement the more generalized motor vehicle code requirements that exist in various forms in virtually all States, which require operators of motor vehicles to pay full time and attention to the operation of the vehicle while driving. ARRL understands that driver inattention is a leading cause of automobile accidents, and it is not unreasonable to be concerned about substantial distractions to drivers of motor vehicles." Saying that the League understands that driver inattention is a leading cause of automobile accidents, "it is not unreasonable to be concerned about substantial distractions to drivers of motor vehicles. Given the necessity of unrestricted mobile Amateur Radio communications in order for the benefits of Amateur Radio to the public to continue to be realized," the policy statement reads, "the ARRL urges state and municipal legislators considering restrictions on mobile cellular telephone operation to (I) narrowly define the class of devices included in the regulation so that the class includes only full duplex wireless telephones and related hand-held or portable equipment; or alternatively (II) specifically identify licensed Amateur Radio operation as an excluded service." "The ARRL is aware of no evidence that [mobile] operation contributes to driver inattention," the Policy Statement asserts. "Quite the contrary: Radio amateurs are public service-minded individuals who utilize their radio-equipped motor vehicles to assist others, and they are focused on driving in the execution of that function." ==> ARRL RESPONDS TO FCC'S PROPOSED ALLOCATION FOR MEDICAL DEVICES IN 70 CM BAND ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, on behalf of the ARRL, filed comments <http://www.arrl.org/news/files/MannFoundationDocket_09-36Comments08_11_ 09.pdf> on August 11 regarding a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), ET Docket 09-36, issued by the FCC in March 2009 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-09-20A1.pdf>. In the NPRM, the FCC proposed to allocate spectrum and adopt service and technical rules for the utilization of new implanted medical devices that operate on 413-457 MHz (70 cm). According to the Commission, these devices -- called implanted neuromuscular microstimulators -- would greatly expand the use of functional electric stimulation to restore sensation, mobility and function to those persons with paralyzed limbs and organs; they would be implanted in a patient and function as wireless broadband medical micro-power networks (MMNs). These devices would be used on the 70 cm band on a secondary basis as part of the Medical Data Radiocommunication Service in Part 95 of the FCC rules. The Amateur Radio Service has a secondary allocation in the 70 cm band. Researchers with the Alfred Mann Foundation -- a leading medical research organization located in Santa Clarita, California <http://www.aemf.org/> -- have developed a wireless medical micro-power network to tie together tiny devices implanted in victims of paralysis, creating an artificial nervous system to restore sensation, mobility, and function to paralyzed limbs and organs. "The Mann Foundation argues that the frequency range just above 400 MHz is optimum for their application, which requires no more than 1 mW of RF spread across about 5 MHz of bandwidth," ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, wrote in "It Seems to Us," published in the June 2009 issue of QST <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2009/06/01/10784/>. "However, recognizing the presence of a variety of incumbent radio services in that range, specifically including the amateur service, they have proposed four channels for flexibility in avoiding localized interference. Two of the four channels are 426-432 and 438-444 MHz; the other two are above and below the 420-450 MHz band." In its comments to the FCC regarding the NPRM, the ARRL said it believes that the choice of frequency bands for MMNs as proposed is "unfortunate and unnecessary" and that "the WMTS [Wireless Medical Telemetry Service] offers a far more suitable solution than does the 413-457 MHz band for MMNs." Sumner, in his editorial, said that the FCC's proposed rules raise two concerns: "First and foremost, the devices would be required to accept interference only from stations authorized to operate on a primary basis. The Mann Foundation has assured us that amateur stations will not cause its system to malfunction, so we see no reason why this cannot be reflected in the rules, even though our allocation is on a secondary basis. Second, while the Mann Foundation researchers appear to have done their homework, others who try to take advantage of the new rules may not be as rigorous." The ARRL asserts in its comments that due to redundant interference rejection design, the devices developed by the Alfred Mann Foundation "appear to have some reasonable prospect of avoiding the disastrous consequences of RF interference to implanted MMNs." The ARRL stressed, however, that the FCC should not permit the marketing of MMNs or any similar device in the 420-450 MHz band: "(1) unless and until thorough RF interference susceptibility testing is conducted on the AMF devices relative to high power Amateur Radio equipment; (2) at parameters other than those inherent in the Mann system, which incorporates notably redundant interference rejection design characteristics; and (3) without very specific patient notifications and labeling of the body-worn MCUs [Master Control Units] and other portable components which provide firm assurance that the devices will not malfunction in the presence of RF fields from authorized radio services in the same bands." The ARRL did acknowledge that it thought the Commission to be correct when it stated in the NPRM that "[g]iven the low transmitter power and duty cycle limits that would typically be used by either the implanted MMN device or the external MCU, we expect that the risk of interference from MMNs to incumbent operations in these frequency bands would be negligibly small." The ARRL pointed out, however, that no testing has been done to verify this conclusion and "such testing should be concluded and the results analyzed before this anticipatory conclusion can be relied upon." In its comments, the ARRL made note of the fact that there is Part 90 spectrum above 450 MHz available for low-power biomedical telemetry, but "the Alfred Mann Foundation argues that bands between 450 and 470 MHz are unsuitable due to the fact that the band is 'congested and populated with commercial, high-power transmitters that could preclude reliable operation of lower-power, wireless medical implant devices.' This, the ARRL said, "is a very worrisome contention, and not the argument that should be made by the proponent of a new service that is secondary to other incumbent licensees. ARRL contends that if the 450-470 MHz band hosts services that are incompatible with reliable operation of MMNs, then the 420-450 MHz band, and especially the segment proposed for MMNs at 438-444 MHz is equally incompatible with MMNs." Pointing out that Amateur Radio television transmitters and repeaters and FM voice repeater input and outputs operate in this segment in particular, "the potential for interference to MMNs is on the same order, or worse, than would be the case if MMNs were to operate in the Part 90 biomedical telemetry band between 450 and 470 MHz," the ARRL told the FCC. "In the segment 426-432 MHz, amateur television stations transmit on a wide bandwidth basis. Amateur Radio stations are permitted to operate at power levels up to 1500 W PEP output, and the RF environment at 420-450 MHz, with primary government radiolocation facilities and highpower amateur facilities is no more conducive to reliable MMN operation than would be the 450-470 MHz band." The ARRL also voiced concerns that nowhere in the NPRM does it mention what the allocation status of MMNs would be relative to the Amateur Radio Service. Though the Alfred Mann Foundation has proposed that MMNs would be secondary to incumbent licensed operations in the subject bands, the Amateur Service is presently secondary to government radiolocation in this band; this represents a cooperative sharing arrangement that is satisfactory to both government agencies and the Amateur Service, the League contends. "While it is presumed that the proposal is for MMNs to be secondary to both government radiolocation and to the Amateur Service (as opposed to Amateur stations and MMNs being co-secondary) this is not clear from the NPRM," the ARRL maintained. "Because the interference susceptibility of MMN devices generally is not known, it would be improper to create a co-secondary allocation for MMNs anywhere in the 420-450 MHz band at this time. The Amateur Service has a practical inability to protect patients wearing RF susceptible MMNs from interference from ongoing amateur operations in the 420-450 MHz band, and therefore all MMN operation is going to have to be conditioned on the ability to withstand and operate in the presence of such high-power signals, and thus subordinate in allocation status to the Amateur Service. Unless this interference rejection capability is demonstrated by MMN proponents in advance, the devices should not be allowed to operate anywhere in the 420-450 MHz band." Imlay and ARRL Technical Relations Manager Brennan Price, N4QX, met with the Alfred Mann Foundation in February 2009, but Imlay said that so far, they have not responded to the ARRL's request to "cooperate in a firm statement that their devices would not malfunction in the presence of nearby RF signals from Amateur Radio stations. Failing that, these comments reflect our continuing concern about the effect on implant patients from unpredictably close Amateur Radio station operations. Other radio services affected, both above and below the 430-450 MHz band, are taking similar positions." ==> ARRL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE APPROVES EIGHT EDUCATION & TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM GRANTS In July 2009, the ARRL Executive Committee reviewed grant applications for the ARRL's Education & Technology Program (ETP) <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/>, awarding nearly $9000 to eight schools. More than 370 schools across the country have received support from the ETP in the form of grants for equipment, curriculum and resources, as well as teacher in-service training through the Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/ti.html>. The Executive Committee reviews applications for equipment and resource grants twice each year. ETP Grants ETP grants consist of Amateur Radio equipment, enabling the school to set up a station. Schools may receive activity kits in addition to station equipment. The following schools recently received ETP grants: Bob Jones High School, Madison, Alabama: One teacher from this school -- and another seven from the school's district -- attended the ARRL Teachers Institute this summer. The grant application proposed a basic Amateur Radio station to implement what these teachers learned during the Teachers Institute. The proposal detailed a long range plan with incremental steps; this basic station set-up is the first step to school district-wide programs within numerous schools in the district. Armada Middle School, Armada, Michigan: The program articulated in this grant application is the typical entry level program that includes Amateur Radio as an extracurricular activity, and asks for a basic Amateur Radio station. The instructors plan to mainstream the program as they gain experience and student support. Hidden Valley High School, Roanoke, Virginia: This grant application asks for a basic Amateur Radio station. As the school gains experience with ham radio in the classroom, their program will be refined. Their application requests a basic station set up and has plans for future expansion. Progress Grants In order for a school to be considered for a Progress Grant, it must already be an ETP School. If a teacher attends a session of the Teachers Institute, that school is automatically considered an ETP School. The following schools received Progress Grants: West Pines Elementary School, Greenville, Tennessee: The lead teacher -- a graduate of the Teachers Institute -- wants to integrate the weather satellite system that was demonstrated during the Teachers Institute. This will be used as a beginning to expand the program to include space in the classroom content. Morris County School of Technology, Denville, New Jersey: The lead teacher is a graduate of the Teachers Institute, but has moved to this school since that time. He would like to integrate the weather satellite system that was demonstrated during the Teachers Institute as a beginning to expand the program to include space in the classroom content. Highland Middle School, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania: The lead teacher is a graduate of the Teachers Institute and wants to integrate the weather satellite system that was demonstrated during the Teachers Institute as a beginning to expand his program to include space in the classroom content. Sister Lakes Elementary School, Dowagiac, Michigan: The lead teacher, a graduate of the Teachers Institute, was selected to participate in the inaugural Teachers Institute II this summer. He has proven to be a strong advocate for integrating ham radio not only in his previous school assignment as a teacher, but also in his current position as a school administrator. He is requesting the equipment resources to develop the Mars Lander simulation that is demonstrated during the Teachers Institute. Livingston High School, Livingston, New Jersey: The lead teacher for this program is a recent Teachers Institute graduate. He wants to expand the use of the activity board resources he learned about during the Institute into his regular curriculum. Nichols Junior High School, Arlington, Texas: The lead teacher is a graduate of the Teachers Institute and wants to integrate the weather satellite system that was demonstrated during the Teachers Institute as a beginning to expand his program to include space in the classroom content. A goal of the ARRL Education & Technology Program is to improve the quality of education by providing an educationally sound curriculum that employs Amateur Radio to integrate technology, math, science, geography and language arts with core curricula. Amateur Radio and an understanding of radio science are keys to building Wireless Technology Literacy, another important objective. ==> QEX: LOOK FOR THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009 ISSUE The September/October issue of QEX is coming soon, and it is full of theoretical and practical technical articles that you won't want to miss <http://www.arrl.org/qex>. Richard Chapman, KC4IFB, shows how to use the Arduino prototyping board to design a project, and then gives us a lesson in programming the microprocessor to "Build a Low-Cost Iambic Keyer Using Open-Source Hardware." W. G. Moneysmith, W4NFR, was a new repeater trustee needing a duplexer for a 70 cm repeater. He presents his solution in "A Homecrafted Duplexer for the 70 Centimeter Band." Robert Zimmerman, VE3RKZ, describes one of his recent antenna experiments in "An Easily Erected 20 Meter Antenna for Emergency Use." Mike Hamel, WO1U, discusses "Phase Controlled Differential Drive for EER Amplifiers" in this presentation about envelope elimination and restoration as a way to achieve linear operation with high efficiency (such as Class E) amplifiers. Gary Steinbaugh, AF8L, presents Part 4 of "A Cybernetic Sinusoidal Synthesizer." In this installment, Gary describes an RF power level control module for the synthesizer, and concludes with a 53.3 MHz low phase noise synthesizer using the 10 MHz reference signal. Bob Miller, KE6F, explains how you can use a surplus rubidium oscillator to build an "Atomic Frequency Reference for Your Shack." He presents information about the stability and accuracy of rubidium oscillators, as well as a number of practical applications for such a reference. Would you like to write for QEX? It pays $50/printed page. Get more information and an Author's Guide <http://www.arrl.org/qex/#aguide>. If you prefer postal mail, send a business-size self-addressed, stamped envelope to QEX Author's Guide, c/o Maty Weinberg, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111-1494. QEX is edited by Larry Wolfgang, WR1B <email@example.com>, and is published bimonthly. The subscription rate (6 issues) for ARRL members in the US is $24. For First Class US delivery, it's $37; in Canada and internationally by airmail it's $31. Nonmembers add $12 to these rates. Subscribe to QEX today <http://www.arrl.org/qex>. ==> CUTTING EDGE ARRL CONTEST RUNS THIS WEEKEND If you enjoy the technical side of Amateur Radio and being on the cutting edge, you might want to take a look at the microwave bands. This weekend gives you a perfect chance to explore this portion of the radio spectrum with the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest <http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2009/10-GHz.html>. There are two weekends of activity: August 15 and 16, and again on September 19 and 20. The contest period for both weekends starts at 6 AM local time Saturday and runs until Midnight local time Sunday. QSO points are awarded based on the distance of a QSO, and operating from several locations during the contest period is not only allowed, it's encouraged! SSB is the mode commonly used, although there is some CW used as well. Power levels are relatively low compared to HF; most stations run several hundred milliwatts. A station running a few watts is considered a "Big Gun." Antennas are usually dishes, like those used for receiving satellite TV. Many QSOs are completed on the microwave bands by bouncing signals off of other objects, such as mountains, buildings, even raindrops! You can also get lucky and catch a good tropospheric opening; in the 2007 contest, a QSO of 907.2 miles was made on 10 GHz on the NA West Coast between California and Mexico. If you have a person in your area active on the microwave bands, ask if you can tag along and observe. If you live in an area that has a microwave club, such as the North Texas Microwave Society, the North East Weak Signal Group, the Mt Airy VHF Club and several others, find out what their members are doing for the contest. Elmering is a big part of the microwave groups and they are only too happy to introduce their fun to you. Exploring different facets of Amateur Radio gives you the opportunity to see what others enjoy and why they enjoy it. You might be missing out on something you would really like. Think outside the box and try something new! ==> AMATEUR RADIO STATION WX4NHC FEATURED IN NATIONAL COMMERCIAL WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) <http://www.wx4nhc.org/>, is featured in a 60 second radio spot for Duracell batteries. The commercial, which begins airing this month, highlights the efforts of an all-volunteer army of ham radio operators for WX4NHC. Narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, it describes the important role that radio amateurs play during severe weather conditions -- enabling communications with emergency medical teams, police and fire departments -- when the power goes out. The narration underscores the importance of a reliable battery to power the portable ham radios, which are crucial to WX4NHC's work. Listen to the spot here: <http://www.arrl.org/news/files/HURRICANE_60_PREPAREDNESS_MIX.MP3>. "This commercial is being played nationally during hurricane season and will help promote awareness of Amateur Radio and the public service we do to provide emergency communications, especially during and after hurricanes, when we have experienced complete electrical and conventional communications blackouts for periods of days and weeks," WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, told the ARRL. Ripoll said that he and WX4NHC Amateur Radio Coordinator John McHugh, K4AG, worked with the ACME Marketing Firm and Duracell for several weeks to help produce the radio commercial. "It captures the essence of Amateur Radio volunteer public service and the important role of Amateur Radio performs during emergency communications in 30 seconds," Ripoll said. "The President and Creative Director of ACME and the Duracell national representative also flew down to Miami and received a tour of NHC and of the WX4NHC station where they learned about our many modes of communications, including our portable VHF/UHF radios and other portable battery operated equipment." "With this new spot, we are helping to showcase the important contributions made by the Miami ham radio operators," said Duracell's Bob Jacobs. "These heroic teams are working to save the lives of others. When storms strike, the radio operators are donating their time to make sure communications stay intact, facing intense pressures and dangerous conditions to those in need. We're proud that our batteries can help power these life-saving efforts." ==> 7O1YGF OPERATION APPROVED FOR DXCC CREDIT On August 12, ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, announced that after more than eight years, the 7O1YGF operation in 2000 from Yemen <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2002/08/15/2/?nc=1> has been approved for DXCC credit. Moore cited a review of "recently received information," as well as "additional dialogue" with the leader of the 7O1YGF DXpedition, as reasons for the approval. Because so much time has passed since the DXpedition, Moore asked that those amateurs seeking credit for 7OYGF follow certain procedures. If you are seeking credit for 7O1YGF only: * If you live in the US, send only the 7O1YGF QSL card with your application to DXCC; enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If you live outside the US, please enclose return postage, so we may return the card to you. DXCC will then process the card. Applicants will not be charged a submission fee. * Bring the card to a DXCC Card Checker. The card checker will forward the confirmation to the DXCC Desk for processing. Again, there will be no submission fee if this is a single card submission; however, you still must fill out an application form. If you are submitting 7O1YGF with other QSL cards: * Applicants may include their 7O1YGF QSL card with their next QSL card submission and it will be handled as usual. Moore said that the DXCC Desk will work with the 7O1YGF team to use Logbook of the World (LoTW) <http://www.arrl.org/lotw>, if possible. "Remember, the cutoff date for the 2009 DXCC Annual listing and Honor Roll list is December 31, 2009," Moore reminded DXers. "We encourage applicants to handle this sooner, rather than waiting until the last minute." ==>SOLAR UPDATE Tad "The fair haired Sun rises in the sky" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Another quiet week on the Sun. Last week on Earth we neglected to mention the Perseids meteor shower, which peaked this week on August 12-13. A nice statistical display from the International Meteor Organization is at <http://www.imo.net/live/perseids2009/.> A look at <http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpmenu/forecasts/45DF.html> on August 13 showed possible heightened geomagnetic activity returning around August 18-19, with a planetary A index of 20 and 12, respectively. Sunspot numbers for August 6 through 12 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0 with a mean of 0. 10.7 cm flux was 66.8, 67.8, 67, 67.2, 67.1, 66.6 and 66.5 with a mean of 67. Estimated planetary A indices were 14, 8, 4, 8, 4, 4 and 5 with a mean of 6.7. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 8, 8, 2, 6, 3, 2 and 2 with a mean of 4.4. 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 Rhonda Baker's "August Sun" <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/august-sun/>. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This Week on the Radio: This week, there is an NCCC Sprint on August 14. The ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest and the North American QSO Party (SSB) are August 15-16. On August 15, look for another NCCC Sprint, as well as the Feld Hell Sprint. The New Jersey QSO Party is August 15-17 and the Run for the Bacon QRP Contest is August 17. Next week, there is another NCCC Sprint on August 21. Check out the Hawaii QSO Party and the Ohio QSO Party on August 22-23. The SKCC Sprint is on August 26. 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, August 23, 2009, for these online course sessions beginning on Friday, September 4, 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 <http://www.arrl.org/cep/student> or contact the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <firstname.lastname@example.org>. * RadioShack Rebranding Itself as The Shack: In early August, a RadioShack Corporation news release touted its new branding: THE SHACK. The stated purpose: THE SHACK is friendlier-sounding and less "corporate" than RadioShack <http://ir.radioshackcorporation.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=400656> . * FCC: Vanity Call Sign Fees to Increase September 10: On August 11, the FCC announced that the cost of an Amateur Radio vanity call sign will increase $1.10, from $12.30 to $13.40. Now that notice of the increase has been published in the "Federal Register" <http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-19104.pdf>, the increase will take effect in 30 days, September 10, 2009. 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 10 year term. The notice in the August 11, 2009 Federal Register, entitled "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2009," includes regulatory fees; these fees are expected to recover a total of $341,875,000 during FY2009, encompassing all the Services the FCC regulates. For more information, see the recent ARRLWeb article, "FCC Looks to Raise Vanity Call Sign Fees for Second Consecutive Year" <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/05/18/10825/?nc=1>. * Mickey "Santa Claus" Hicks, WO6T (SK): Mickey Hicks, WO6T <http://www.wo6t.com/> -- known to many amateurs and their children as Santa Claus -- passed away Sunday, August 9. He was 79. For the past 38 years, Hicks, a ham for almost 50 years and a long-time ARRL member and Amateur Radio instructor, would get on the air for 10 days each December as W6S (Whiskers-6-Santa). ARRL Youth Editor Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM, profiled Hicks in December 2008 <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2008/12/01/10479/>: "The Amateur Radio community has been quick to embrace the W6S operation. Mickey says that the first year operating as W6S was 'a hit with the operators of all ages and their children.' Mickey noted that most children are a bit apprehensive of talking over the radio, let alone to Santa! Hicks told the ARRL in 2001 that his Santa's Workshop has been a great ham radio recruiting tool <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2001/12/21/3/?nc=1>. One of his most memorable experiences was when a young girl he'd once spoken with on the air as Santa came by with her ham ticket in hand to thank him in person for getting her interested. "I had tears in my eyes, of course," he said. -- Thanks to "The Daily DX" <http://www.dailydx.com/> for providing some information for this story =========================================================== 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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