*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 28, No. 37 September 18, 2009 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * + Changes in Store for The ARRL Letter * + New Product Review Tests to Begin in October QST * + Nominations Now Being Accepted for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award * + Part 2 of the 10 GHz and Up Contest Is This Weekend * + Smithsonian Curator to Speak at AMSAT-NA Banquet * ARRL Membership Newsletters, Bulletins and Notifications * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This Week on the Radio ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration + ARRL/TAPR Digital Communication Conference Next Weekend + Don't Forget to Send Your /140 QSLs! Alpha Radio Products Now RF Concepts South African Amateur Radio Payload Reaches Orbit +Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> ***Starting September 24, The ARRL Letter will be distributed and posted ***to the ARRL Web site on Thursdays (moving from Fridays). =========================================================== ==>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> =========================================================== ==> CHANGES IN STORE FOR THE ARRL LETTER After asking for feedback from ARRL Letter subscribers and reviewing surveys sent to ARRL members, we are changing the way you receive The ARRL Letter. Starting in two weeks -- October 1 -- The ARRL Letter will be available to subscribers in an HTML formatted version. Of course, those members who do not wish to receive the HTML version can click on a link to view the Letter on the ARRL Web site. In addition, The ARRL Letter will be distributed on Thursdays beginning September 24. According to ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, this new format will allow for more graphics and pictures, as well as occasional articles that feature the technical side of Amateur Radio. We will also be running portions of popular QST features, such as "The Doctor Is IN" and "Hints & Kinks." "I am very excited about presenting The ARRL Letter in a completely new format," Keane said. "Not only will we be able to add features such as pictures and video, but by offering the Letter in HTML, readers will be able to navigate directly to those stories they are most interested in. The ARRL already offers two other newsletters -- The ARRL Contest Update and The ARRL ARES E-Letter -- in an HTML version. We have received a lot of positive feedback on these two newsletters." The ARRL Letter first appeared in 1981 as a print publication, available by subscription from the League. In 1991 -- following the technology of the day -- it moved from being a print publication to being published electronically and sent via e-mail as a free service to ARRL members. "Now, once again, we at the ARRL are following technology's path and publishing The ARRL Letter in a new way, moving from plain text to a graphically pleasing interface," Keane explained. We think you will enjoy this new format, and we welcome your comments. Tell us what you like -- and don't like -- by sending an e-mail to Keane <email@example.com>, with "ARRL Letter Feedback" in the subject line. ==> NEW PRODUCT REVIEW TESTS TO BEGIN IN OCTOBER QST When you peruse the October issue of QST, you may notice a few extra lines in the Product Review data. "Here at the ARRL Lab, we strive to make our test procedures relevant to current technology and to new features common on today's transceivers," said ARRL Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM. "We continue to research ways to improve our testing and to develop new tests that will benefit our members. I hope you will find these new measurements useful in evaluating and comparing transceivers." * Receiver Sensitivity (MDS) at 137 and 505 kHz Several countries now give amateurs permission to operate at and around 137 and 505 kHz. In the US, there is activity on 495 to 510 kHz by more than 20 stations around the country operating under the ARRL sponsored WD2XSH experimental license. In addition, there are other Part 15 experimental licensees operating in this range. The WD2XSH stations are on the air regularly, gathering propagation data. They are always looking for signal reports. Allison said that with many of today's transceivers and a suitable antenna, you can listen for these experimental stations and submit reception reports via the Web site: "The new Product Review tests will help identify transceivers suitable for use on these frequencies. With equipment built over the last 25 years ago or so, I've noticed a wide variety of available sensitivity, from terrible to quite good. Many receivers tune to 137 and 505 kHz; not all are proficient at receiving signals there. For you 'lowfers,' this measurement is for you." * Spectral Sensitivity Spectral sensitivity is the weakest signal that can be "seen" on a visual display of spectrum above and below the operating frequency. Often called a spectrum scope or panadapter, this feature is included on many mid-range and high-end transceivers. "This data represents the level, in dBm, at which the operator can see a signal poke up out of the display noise floor," Allison explained. "Although the measurement is somewhat subjective, it works out to be about 3 dB above the noise floor at the bottom of the display when the scope is adjusted to show 100 kHz of spectrum. With software-defined receivers (SDRs), such as the FLEX-3000, the sample rate is set to the highest setting." * Audio Output THD at 1 V RMS Allison said that one of the ARRL Technical Advisors posed the question, "Who ever listens to their receiver at full volume?" Allison explained that audio output power and THD (total harmonic distortion) at the specified load impedances as specified by the manufacturer have been tested and reported. "Generally, the specification is at or near the maximum audio output the receiver is capable of," he said. "If severe hearing loss isn't an issue, we normally listen with the volume control set to around the 9 o'clock to 11 o'clock position on most transceivers and not with the control cranked to maximum." Allison explained that distortion at normal listening levels is an important factor, especially when you are listening for an extended period of time: "High levels of distortion can make signals more difficult to understand and add to fatigue. We'll continue to measure and report how audio output power and THD compare to manufacturers' specifications, but we have added a new test intended to show distortion at more typical volume levels." After testing several radios for comfort, Allison picked 1 V RMS as an output level for the new test. "It's an easy figure to remember," he said. "We will now also report THD at this level. Note that this test will appear with the next transceiver reviewed because the FLEX-3000 has only a low-level audio output and is dependent on external, user-supplied devices to amplify the audio to normal listening levels." Look for these new tests beginning with October's QST Product Review featuring the FLEX-3000. ==> NOMINATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED FOR THE GEORGE HART DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD At its July 2009 meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors 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. The Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of George Hart, W1NJM, long-time Communications Manager at ARRL Headquarters and chief developer of the National Traffic System (NTS) <http://www.emergency-radio.org/what_nts.pdf>. Upon learning that the ARRL Board of Directors had established this award named after him, Hart called his namesake award "a great honor." Selection criteria include: * Operating record with the National Traffic System; or * Participation within the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES); or * Station appointments and/or leadership positions held within the ARRL Field Organization. Nominations for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award shall be accepted from anyone and shall be submitted to the Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager at ARRL HQ by November 1. Nominations should document as thoroughly as possible the nominee's lifetime activities and achievements within the Field Organization. It is expected that nominated candidates will have 15 or more years of distinguished service. The Programs and Services Committee will serve as the Review Committee, with the Board of Directors making the final determination at its Annual Meeting in January. Recipients will be given an engraved plaque and cover letter and will be profiled in QST. Nominations for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award, including any related supporting material and letters of recommendation, may be e-mailed to ARRL Headquarters to the attention of ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager Dave Patton, NN1N <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or to ARRL Field and Public Service Team Supervisor Steve Ewald, WV1X <email@example.com>. Nominations and supporting materials must be received no later than November 1, 2009 to be considered. ==> PART 2 OF THE 10 GHZ AND UP CONTEST IS THIS WEEKEND This weekend brings the second leg of the 2009 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest <http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2009/10-GHz.html>. If you enjoy the technical side of Amateur Radio and being on the cutting edge, this weekend gives you a perfect chance to explore the microwave portion of the radio spectrum! The contest period starts at 6 AM (local time) Saturday, running until midnight (local time) Sunday. According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, QSO points are awarded based on the distance of a QSO. "Operating from several locations during the contest period is not only allowed, it's even encouraged," he said. "Most people use SSB, although some CW is used, too. 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." Kutzko explained that many QSOs are completed on the microwave bands by bouncing signals off of other objects, such as mountains, buildings and even raindrops! You can also get lucky and catch a good tropospheric opening, he said, explaining that in the 2007 contest, a ham on the West Coast made a QSO of 907.2 miles on 10 GHz between his location in California and Mexico. "If you have a person in your area that is interested in the microwave bands, ask if you can tag along and observe," Kutzko advised. "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 you to their fun." Logs for the 2009 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest can be e-mailed <10GHz@arrl.org>. Paper logs should be sent to ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. All logs must be postmarked no later than 2359 UTC Tuesday, October 20. ==> SMITHSONIAN CURATOR TO SPEAK AT AMSAT-NA BANQUET Dr Martin Collins, a curator in the Space History Division at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington <http://www.nasm.si.edu/>, will be the featured speaker at the AMSAT-NA Symposium banquet on Saturday, October 10, at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport <http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/symposium/2009/index.php>. The title of his presentation will be "Making the Space Age: The First 50 Years." Dr Collins curates the National Air and Space Museum's civilian applications satellites collection that includes weather, remote sensing and communications satellites and related technologies. He has contributed to a series of Museum exhibits and was primary author of the exhibition catalog "Space Race: The US-USSR Competition to Reach the Moon" <http://www.amazon.com/Space-Race-U-S-U-S-S-R-Competition-Reach/dp/07649 09053>. On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Sputnik, he was editor of the book "After Sputnik: 50 Years of the Space Age" <http://www.amazon.com/After-Sputnik-Years-Space-Age/dp/0060897813> that included text and photos on the history of Project OSCAR. He was instrumental in arranging the display of OSCAR 1 at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, along with the Naval Academy's PCSat Amateur Radio satellite. He also arranged the acquisition of AMSAT's MicroSat mechanical test model, just in time for AMSAT's 35th Anniversary Annual Meeting. The Saturday evening banquet is one of the highlights of this year's 40th anniversary symposium, October 9-11 <http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/symposium/2009/index.php>. ==> ARRL MEMBERSHIP NEWSLETTERS, BULLETINS AND NOTIFICATIONS Did you know the ARRL offers more newsletters than just The ARRL Letter? One of the many ARRL membership benefits includes other newsletters, such as the ARRL Contest Update (a bi-weekly contest newsletter), the ARES E-Letter (sent monthly, containing public service and emergency communications news), the ARRL Club News, the ARRL Instructor/Teacher E-Letter and the VE Newsletter, just to name a few. You can also elect to receive news and information from your Division Director and Section Manager (keep in mind that not all Divisions/Sections send notices), as well as W1AW bulletins that relate to DX, propagation, satellites and Keplarian reports. The ARRL also offers a free notification service to members, letting them know when their membership and license are due to expire. Sign up for these newsletters, bulletins and notifications on the Member Data page of the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/memdata.html>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Tad "Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing Sun" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Sunspot numbers for September 10 through 16 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and 0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7 cm flux was 69.3, 69.3, 69, 69.1, 69, 69.2 and 68.8 with a mean of 69.1. The estimated planetary A indices were 2, 4, 4, 6, 5, 5 and 6 with a mean of 4.6. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 2, 2, 1, 4, 4, 4 and 5 with a mean of 3.1. Thursday's prediction shows solar flux values at 70 beginning tomorrow, September 19, and continuing through September 24, then rising to 72 September 25-28. We haven't reported a weekly solar flux average above 70 in this bulletin since May 19, and prior to that there were only four more weeks above 70 in 2009. These predictions are from NOAA and the US Air Force, who also predict a planetary A index of 8 for September 18, and only 5 from September 19 to more than a month after. Geophysical Institute Prague also predicts nothing but quiet geomagnetic conditions for September 18-24.. 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 John Keats' "Endymion" <http://www.bartleby.com/126/32.html>. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This Week on the Radio: This week, the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest is September 19-20 (local time). Look for two NCCC Sprints this week, one each on September 18 and 19. The Feld Hell Sprint is September 19. The South Carolina QSO Party, QRP Afield, the Washington State Salmon Run, the QCWA Fall QSO Party and the Scandinavian Activity Contest (CW) are all September 19-20. The North American Sprint (SSB) is September 20. The Run for the Bacon QRP Contest and the 144 MHz Fall Sprint (local time) are September 21. The SKCC Sprint is September 23. Next week, look for another NCCC Sprint on September 25. The Texas QSO Party, the CQ Worldwide DX Contest (RTTY) and Scandinavian Activity Contest (SSB) are all September 26-27. QRP Homebrewer Sprint is September 28. 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, October 25, 2009, for these online course sessions beginning on Friday, November 6, 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>. * ARRL/TAPR Digital Communication Conference Next Weekend: ARRL and the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio Group (TAPR) <http://www.tapr.org/> will jointly host the 28th Annual Digital Communications Conference (DCC) September 25-27 in Chicago <http://www.tapr.org/dcc.html>. The DCC has something for everyone from those new to digital modes to those experienced with digital communications including technical and introductory forums. According to DCC Co-host Mark Thompson, WB9QZB, one of the highlights of this year's DCC will be Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, presenting "Universal Ham Radio Text Messaging." The Saturday night banquet speaker will be Bill Brown, WB8ELK, a pioneer in flying balloons with payloads including Amateur Radio digital communication technologies. Brown is the publisher and editor of Amateur Television Quarterly magazine. ARRL Technical Relations Manager Brennan Price, N4QX, will be on hand to discuss the upcoming World Radiocommunications Conference in his talk "WRC-12 Agenda Item 1.19: Shaping the International Regulatory Framework for Software Defined and Cognitive Radio Systems." QEX Editor Larry Wolfgang, WR1B <http://www.arrl.org/qex>, and ARRL Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG, will also be in attendance. The 2009 DCC forum and speaker schedule is available online <http://www.tapr.org/pdf/DCC_2009_Schedule_Preliminary2009-09-16.pdf>. TAPR provides leadership and resources to radio amateurs for the purpose of advancing the radio art and is a research and development oriented group offering kits, assembled products and publications related to the intersection of Amateur Radio and digital technology. * Don't Forget to Send Your /140 QSLs!: For seven days -- September 2-9 -- the ARRL celebrated the 140th anniversary of the birth of Hiram Percy Maxim, the League's co-founder and first president <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/08/17/11025/?nc=1>. The highlight of the week-long celebration was an on-the-air Special Event where eligible amateurs could add /140 to their call signs, and amateurs who had more than 25 QSOs (with endorsements in increments of 25, up to 100) with /140 stations would receive an attractive award certificate. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, reports that so far, more than 200 applications for the certificate have been received, with more arriving at ARRL HQ every day. "Here at W1AW, the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, we signed more than 700 QSOs with the /140 Special Event suffix," Carcia said. "This is a great way to remember 'The Old Man,' and I know that if he were alive today, he would have been on the air, enjoying all that Amateur Radio has to offer today's ham." It's not too late to apply for your award certificate -- all requests must be postmarked by October 9, 2009. Paper logs, along with a $5 fee, should be sent to HPM/140 Celebration, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. * Alpha Radio Products Now RF Concepts: On September 15, Michael Seedman, AA6DY, announced that his company, RF Concepts <http://www.rfconcepts.com/>, had purchased Boulder, Colorado-based Alpha Radio Products <http://www.alpharadioproducts.com/>. Seedman explained in a press release <http://www.rfconcepts.com/dear_alpha_customers.asp> that when he contacted Alpha to purchase a new amplifier, he was "disappointed to learn that I would not receive it for months." He was told that as each amplifier is made by hand, there was not enough shelf inventory to send a new one right away. Working with Alpha Products president Molly Hardman, W0MOM, "we created a way to capitalize the company in order to put amplifiers in inventory for immediate availability. Customers will no longer have to wait weeks or months to add an Alpha product to their station." Seedman said that RF Concepts "will focus on shipping our backlog of Alpha amplifiers and building sufficient product to ship from stock. We will honor our existing customer commitments -- including warranties, customer and technical support and repairs -- and keep our extensive parts inventories to support the more than 10,000 Alpha amplifiers in the market." Hardman will be staying on as Vice President of Sales for RF Concepts. * South African Amateur Radio Payload Reaches Orbit: After several delays, South Africa's SumbandilaSat satellite <http://www.amsatsa.org.za/SZASAT.htm> finally blasted to orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 16 <http://www.russianspaceweb.com/baikonur.html>. The main payload is a multi-spectral imager, but the satellite also carries an Amateur Radio component consisting of a 2 meter/70 cm FM repeater. After SumbandilaSat is fully commissioned, the repeater will be activated with an uplink at 145.880 MHz and a downlink at 435.350 MHz; there will also be a voice beacon at 435.300 MHz. The transponder mode will be controlled by a CTCSS tone on the uplink frequency. The CTCSS tone frequencies have yet to be announced. SumbandilaSat was sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology and was built at SunSpace <http://www.sunspace.co.za/> in cooperation with the Stellenbosch University <http://www.sun.ac.za/>. In addition to the SA-AMSAT amateur module, the satellite carries Stellenbosch University's radiation experiment and software defined radio (SDR) project, an experiment from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and a VLF radio module from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League: ARRL--the national association for Amateur Radio, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Joel Harrison, W5ZN, President. The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential and general news of interest to active radio amateurs. Visit the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news updates. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> also offers informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled and edited from The ARRL Letter. It's also available as a podcast from our Web site. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter/American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, firstname.lastname@example.org ==>ARRL News on the Web: <http://www.arrl.org/> ==>ARRL Audio News: <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for e-mail delivery: ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site <http://www.arrl.org/members/>. You'll have an opportunity during registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW bulletins, and other material. To change these selections--including delivery of The ARRL Letter--registered members should click on the "Member Data Page" link (in the Members Only box). Click on "Modify membership data," check or uncheck the appropriate boxes and/or change your e-mail address if necessary. (Check "Temporarily disable all automatically sent email" to temporarily stop all e-mail deliveries.) Then, click on "Submit modification" to make selections effective. (NOTE: HQ staff members cannot change your e-mail delivery address. You must do this yourself via the Members Only Web Site.) The ARRL Letter also is available to all, free of charge, from these sources: * ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/>. (NOTE: The ARRL Letter will be posted each Friday when it is distributed via e-mail.) * The QTH.net listserver, thanks to volunteers from the Boston Amateur Radio Club: Visit Mailing Lists@QTH.Net <http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/letter-list>. (NOTE: The ARRL cannot assist subscribers who receive The ARRL Letter via this listserver.) 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.
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Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, K1SFA@arrl.org.