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The ARRL Letter
February 24, 2011
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+ Legislative News: ARRL Asks Members to Write in Opposition to HR 607

The ARRL is asking its members to contact their US representatives in opposition to the sections of HR 607 that could affect the Amateur Radio Service allocation at 420-440 MHz. HR 607 -- The Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011 -- would address certain spectrum management issues, including the creation and maintenance of a nationwide Public Safety broadband network. It was introduced into the US House of Representatives February 10.

ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, clarified that the League opposes HR 607 in its present form. "We do not oppose the concept of dedicated spectrum for the development of a Public Safety infrastructure and wireless network. We object to the bill because of the inclusion of 420-440 MHz as part of the spectrum to be swapped and auctioned to commercial users." You can find a sample letter, "How to Find your Representative" and the contact information for ARRL's legislative consultant, Chwat & Co, here.

+ Public Service: New Zealand Amateurs Assist in Earthquake's Aftermath

This map shows the intensity of the Christchurch earthquake. See a larger version here. [Image courtesy of the US Geological Survey]

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Canterbury region in New Zealand's South Island on Tuesday, February 22 at 12:51 PM local time (2351 on February 21 UTC). According to IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee Chairman Jim Linton, VK3PC, 10 radio amateurs are using their two emergency broadcast vans to keep rescue teams and Civil Defense staff in touch. One is at a major welfare center, providing portable communication so they can talk to Civil Defense, and the other vehicle is on its way to assist search-and-rescue teams in an area where communication is poor . Read more here.

+ WRC-12 : Amateur MF Allocation Moves a Step Closer

Amateur Radio has moved a step closer to a medium frequency (MF) allocation below the AM broadcast band. During the first week of the Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM) for the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) of the International Telecommunication Union, held in Geneva February 14-25, delegates completed the drafting of nine pages of analysis of the technical and regulatory issues related to WRC-12 Agenda Item 1.23: consideration of a possible secondary allocation to the Amateur Service of about 15 kHz somewhere between 415 and 526.5 kHz. Two possible methods of satisfying the agenda item, along with the possibility of there being no change (and therefore no allocation), are set out in the CPM Report, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each . Read more here.

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+ In the News : Three Yachtsmen Killed by Somali Pirates were Hams

Four Americans -- including three Amateur Radio operators -- who were being held hostage on their yacht by pirates off the coast of Oman have been killed. Scott Adam, K9ESO, and his wife Jean, KF6RVB, along with Bob Riggle, KE7IIV, and Phyllis Macay were on board the S/V Quest when pirates boarded their vessel on Friday, February 18. The Adams were based in the Los Angeles area; Riggle and Macay were from Seattle.

Scott Adam, K9ESO, and his wife Jean, KF6RVB (pictured) -- along with friends Bob Riggle, KE7IIV, and Phyllis Macay -- were killed by Somali pirates on their 58 foot yacht early in the morning on Tuesday, February 22. [Photo from the Adams website].

According to the US Central Command, the boat was in the Indian Ocean, headed toward the Somali coast when on Friday, the 58 foot yacht sent a distress signal. The boat was being trailed by US Navy forces; it was about a two day sail from the Somali coast. They had begun tracking the yacht after being alerted that a Danish naval helicopter had seen the Quest off Oman under the pirates' control. The Central Command oversees US anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

Officials were in the process of negotiating for the Americans' release when gunfire was heard around 1 AM (EST) on Tuesday, February 22. "As (US forces) responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors," a statement from US Central Command said. "Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds." Read more here.

+ On the Air : The HF Bands Come Alive for the ARRL International DX SSB Contest

Bill Lippert, AC0W, of Austin, Minnesota, operated as KH6/AC0W during the 2009 running of the ARRL International DX SSB Contest, where he handed out the Hawaii mult. [Photo courtesy of Bill Lippert, AC0W]

With the CW running of the ARRL International DX Contest over, it's time to get ready for the phone portion. With the solar flux peaking at 125 during the CW contest -- and 10 meters in unexpectedly good shape and open to Europe during the event -- one wonders if the same kind of conditions will be present for the phone running, 0000 UTC Saturday, March 5-2359 UTC Sunday, March 6. With another region of the Sun coming around to face Earth for this contest, there could be more unstable conditions. But if the solar flux index stays high -- and there aren't any more solar flares -- the ARRL DX SSB Contest could have some openings like there haven't been in years. Are you ready? Read more here.

+ Section Manager Elections : New Section Manager Elected in Arkansas

In the only balloted Section Manager election this winter, ARRL members in Arkansas have elected Dale Temple, W5RXU, North Little Rock, as Section Manager for the next two year term of office that starts April 1. Temple received 362 votes, and his opponent, incumbent Section Manager J. M. Rowe, N5XFW, received 290 votes. Rowe has served as Section Manager since December 2008. Ballots were counted and verified at ARRL Headquarters on Tuesday, February 22. Read more here.

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ARRL Atlantic Division to Host Two Webinars in February

Periodically, the ARRL's Atlantic Division hosts a "webinar" -- an interactive web-based seminar, designed to facilitate communication between a small number of presenters and a large remote audience using the Internet. This month, Atlantic Division Director Bill Edgar, N3LLR, will host two webinars for ARRL members, one on 501(c)(3) organizations (Thursday, February 24) and one on using Narrow Band Emergency Messaging Software (NBEMS) -- a set of programs used to send messages and files via Amateur Radio using an audio interface (Saturday, February 26). Read more here.

ARRL Field Day: 2011 Field Day Packets Available

It's that time of year again -- time to start gearing up for ARRL Field Day, June 25-26, 2011! ARRL's flagship operating event -- always held the fourth full weekend in June -- brings together new and experienced hams for 24 hours of operating fun. Field Day packets are now available for download and include the complete rules (including a change for 2011), as well as other reference items such as forms, ARRL Section abbreviation list, entry submission instructions, a Frequently Asked Questions section, guidelines for getting bonus points, instructions for GOTA stations and a kit to publicize your event with the local press. Read more here.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, February 24, 2011 from NASA's SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. This image was taken at 304 Angstrom; the bright material is at 60,000 to 80,000 Kelvin.

Tad "Away from the Sun" Cook, K7RA, reports: The weekly averages for solar flux and sunspot numbers were nearly unchanged this week, although last week they were rising and this week declining. The average daily sunspot number was down less than five points to 65, while the average daily solar flux was up just 0.3 points to 103.8. The outlook from NOAA/USAF shows a gradually rising solar flux, 85 on February 24-26, 88 on February 27 through March 3, 90 on March 4 and rising to 110 on March 10-15. The predicted planetary A index for February 24-through March 5 is 5, 7, 7, 5, 15, 12, 8, 10, 7 and 5. Sunspot groups 1161 and 1162 -- which brought so much activity last week -- are now rotating over our Sun's western horizon, but with the STEREO craft, we can see a new active region rotating over the eastern horizon. The predicted geomagnetic storm just before last weekend's ARRL International DX CW Contest did not persist, lasting only half a day through February 18. Look for more information on the ARRL website on Friday, February 25. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by 3 Doors Down's Away from the Sun.

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Amateur Radio Fun: Be a Star! Enter the ARRL Video Contest

If you've ever wanted a way to show the world how exciting Amateur Radio can be, here's your chance: The ARRL is sponsoring its first-ever video contest! We are looking for ARRL members to shoot and submit videos that showcase how fun and electrifying our hobby is; extra points will be awarded for a video showing someone, young or old, licensed or not, making their first contact. Videos will be judged on overall quality and composition, and prizes will be awarded. The video author/producer must be an ARRL member; however, the people who appear in your video can be non-members. This contest is intended for amateur videographers. If you are a professional, please do not apply. Check out all the details -- including the fine print -- on the ARRL Video Contest Rules and Guidelines Web page. The submission deadline is Monday, February 28, 2011.

This Week on the Radio

This week:

  • February 25 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder
  • February 25-February 27 -- CQ 160 Meter Contest (SSB)
  • February 26-27 -- Mississippi QSO Party; North American QSO Party (RTTY)
  • February 27 -- High Speed Club CW Contest
  • February 27-28 -- North Carolina QSO Party
  • February 28 -- CQC Winter QSO Sprint
  • March 1 -- AGCW YL-CW Party

Next week:

  • March 5 -- Wake-Up! QRP Sprint
  • March 5-6 -- ARRL International DX Contest (SSB); Open Ukraine RTTY Championship
  • March 6 -- DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest
  • March 8 -- ARS Spartan Sprint
  • March 9-10 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test

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 Stations Web page.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State and Division Conventions and Events

To find a convention or hamfest near you, click here.

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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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