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The ARRL Letter
May 5, 2011
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+ Public Service: Northern Florida Hams Respond to Aftermath of Alabama Storm

Hackleburg -- located in Marion County in Alabama's northwest corner -- suffered an EF-5 tornado last week that killed 30 of the town's 1400 residents. Hams from the ARRL's Northern Florida Section are in Hackleburg and Jasper (located in Walker County) to help provide communications support. [Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press]

After the devastating storms that swept through Alabama last week, radio amateurs from the ARRLs' Northern Florida Section -- at the invitation of ARRL Alabama Section Emergency Coordinator Greg Gross, K4GR - are making their way to Alabama to assist with providing assistance. "We contacted Greg and worked out a disaster operation assignment," ARRL Northern Florida Section Manager Paul Eakin, KJ4G, told the ARRL. "We have already sent two teams to Alabama and have five others on stand-by. This was a very damaging tornado and it will be very long time before everything is cleared up." Read more here.

Public Service: Georgia Hams Hasten to Help During Storms

Hams in Paulding County -- located in Georgia's northwestern corner -- activated for the tornadoes and thunderstorms that swept through the South last week. According to Paulding County ARES® Public Information Officer Lee McDaniel WB4QOJ, the County's Emergency Management Agency invited ARES® members to gather at the county's Emergency Operations Center on the evening of April 26 to help provide communications support. Read more here.

+ Hams Helping Hams: The ARRL's Ham Aid Program Responds to Devastated South

The ARRL's Ham Aid Fund has been tapped to aid Amateur Radio operations in Alabama, following the wake of destructive killer tornadoes that ravaged the state last week. According to ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, hams in Alabama have requested radios and antennas, since cell tower sites and repeaters have been damaged and are not yet back up. "The ARRL has already shipped five cases to the state, full of 2 meter, 440 MHz and HF radios, as well as two cases of handheld transceivers with batteries," she said. "We anticipate the demand for equipment may continue from Alabama and possibly from neighboring states."

Following the January 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Assistant Manager Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, prepared the Ham Aid shipment to that country. [S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, Photo]

Hobart said that she knows that not every ham can be in Alabama to help out, but every ham can support the effort -- by contributing to the ARRL's Ham Aid Fund: "First created in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Ham Aid Fund has enabled ARRL to provide vital communication equipment to devastated areas along the Gulf Coast. Now the fund is purchasing equipment to meet the needs of hams in Alabama, as well as our served agencies such as the Southern Baptist Men's Kitchen and the American Red Cross."

How can you help? Hobart said that the best way is to make a contribution of $25, $10 or $5 -- or whatever you can afford. The ARRL will use your contribution to respond to the calls for assistance from Amateur Radio operators where repeaters, antennas and radios have been damaged or destroyed. "And this event may be just the beginning," she explained. "As hurricane season is on the horizon, we need to be prepared for those situations when all else fails. The easiest way to make your donation is on the ARRL website. Use the simple form and designate your contribution to the ARRL Ham Aid Fund. We'll put your gift to work right away in the affected area. On behalf of the ham community in Alabama, thank you!"

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+ FCC News: FCC Seeks to Raise the Fee for Vanity Call Signs

The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on May 3, seeking to raise the fee for Amateur Radio vanity call signs. Currently, a vanity call sign costs $13.30 and is good for 10 years; the new fee, if the FCC plan goes through, will go up to $14.20 for 10 years, an increase of 90 cents. 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 term. Read more here.

Hays Affinity Group Provides ARRL Members with Equipment Protection, Club Liability Insurance Plans

Effective May 1, 2011, the ARRL began a new partnership to provide its ARRL-sponsored Equipment Insurance and Club Liability Insurance plans. The League has signed an agreement with Hays Affinity Group to serve as the program administrator to provide equipment insurance to its members who choose to elect coverage. In addition, Hays will also provide club liability insurance to ARRL Affiliated Clubs for those clubs that wish to take advantage of that program. Hays will be replacing Marsh Affinity Group Services as the program's administrator and has introduced new policies for both plans, underwritten by the Hanover Insurance Company. Read more here.

+ Check Out the June Issue of QST

The June issue of QST is jam-packed with all sorts of things that today's Amateur Radio operator needs. From product reviews to experiments to contesting -- including a special look at ARRL Field Day, the most popular on-the-air event in Amateur Radio -- this issue of QST has something for just about everyone.

Radio amateurs who operate ARRL Field Day know that portability is key. So with this in mind, Bob Dixon, W8ERD, took some military surplus mast sections to make "A One Person, Safe, Portable and Easy to Erect Antenna Mast." Consider Dixon's approach to your Field Day antenna installation -- especially if you're short of trees. Some wattmeters give you power, while others measure SWR. QST Technical Editor Joel Hallas, W1ZR, tells you how to bring them together in his article "SWR, Reflected Power -- What Do They Mean?" In his article "A Single Element Vertical 'Beam,'" David Robbins, K7BKI makes a directional antenna out of a single monopole.

One of the highlights of a Field Day operation is the Get-on-the-air -- or GOTA -- Station. This is a great way to introduce non-hams to the fun of Amateur Radio, as well as to get those less experienced hams a bit more comfortable on the air. Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, and Dick Orander, KD4ISC, know that the GOTA Station is the perfect spot to find new ops in search of an Elmer. Discover how you, too, can do this in their article "Get Up and Get-On-The-Air." ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Department Assistant Manager Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, knows that Field Day means more than just getting on the radio; it's also about the friendships that persevere through the years. In his article "Field Day: It's Not About the Fish," Fusaro tells the story of how Field Day brought two hams together after half a decade of radio friendship.

Take a look at the Alinco DX-SR8T HF transceiver (pictured) and the TYT TH-UVF1 dual band handheld transceiver, featured in the June 2011QST product review. Click here to go to the QST Multimedia page and scroll down to the Product Review video. Click the "Play" button to watch the video.

ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Mike Corey, W5MPC, takes a look at the Alinco DX-SR8T HF transceiver in this month's Product Review. He says that this rig "is a low cost HF transceiver that includes a good selection of the basic features for the casual operator." ARRL Educational Correspondent Dewey Rykard II, KI4RGD, checks out the TYT TH-UVF1 dual band handheld transceiver. He says this compact radio "offers a good basic set at a nice price. The user interface and instructions need work, but the radio works well once you have figured out how to program and use it."

Steve London, N2IC, delivers the results of the 2010 ARRL November Phone Sweepstakes. This year, 287 stations earned the ever-elusive Clean Sweep, five more than in 2009. Gary Breed, K9AY, has the results of the 2010 ARRL 160 Meter Contest. According to Breed, the ARRL Contest Branch received a record number of logs from DX stations for this year's running.

Of course, there are the usual columns you know and expect in the June QST: Happenings, Hints & Kinks, The Doctor Is IN, How's DX, Vintage Radio and more. Look for your June issue in your mailbox. QST is the official journal of ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. QST is just one of the many benefits of ARRL membership. To join or renew your ARRL membership, please see the ARRL Web page.

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+ Amateur Radio in the Classroom: College Students Attempt High Altitude Balloon Launch

The Amateur Radio club at Rochester Institute of Technology will be presenting a display of modern technology and applications with ham radio at the university's annual ImagineRIT festival on Saturday, May 7. Members of the RIT Amateur Radio Club, K2GXT, have constructed a custom High Altitude Balloon that will be suspended below a weather balloon and launched up to 100,000 feet during the festival. The balloon will stream live data back to the exhibit, displaying information such as location, altitude and temperature. The planned launch will take place close to the beginning of the festival. The group will also be flying a 12 foot long custom radio-controlled blimp. This blimp has appeared several times at the RIT men's and women's hockey games this season.

ARRL In Action: What Have We Been Up to Lately?

Compiled by ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA

This feature is a concise monthly update of some of the things ARRL is doing on behalf of its members. This installment -- which covers the month of April -- looks at the latest with the FCC and ReconRobotics, sponsoring the Frequency Measuring Test, readying the OSCAR 1 satellite to take to the air again, reports from the Official Observer Desk and more. Read more here.

+ On the Air: Space Weather Prediction Center to Discontinue Broadcasts on WWV and WWVH

Beginning Tuesday, September 6, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) will cease broadcasting its geophysical alert message on WWV and WWVH. These messages inform listeners of the solar flux, the mid-latitude A and K indices and space weather storms, both current and predicted. Currently, the message is heard on minute 18 from WWV and minute 45 from WWVH. The information will still be available on the SWPC website. If you care to comment on this, or if you have any questions, the SPWC -- part of the National Weather Service (NWS) -- would like to hear from you.

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Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, May 5, 2011 from NASA's SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. This MDI (Michelson Doppler Imager) image was taken in the continuum near the Ni I 6768 Angstrom line. The most prominent features are the sunspots. This is very much how the Sun looks in the visible range of the spectrum.

Tad "And the Sun was always shining" Cook, K7RA, reports: Currently, five sunspot groups are visible, but the average daily solar flux is down more than 7 points over the past week, compared with the previous week. The average daily solar flux was off nearly five points compared to the earlier period. A solar wind stream from a coronal hole induced a high latitude geomagnetic storm at the end of April. Middle-latitude geomagnetic K indices measured at Fredericksburg, Virginia went as high as 4, and the April 30-May 2 A index was 17, 13 and 14. The planetary K index hit 5 on April 30, and the A index over the same three day period was 24, 19 and 20. High latitude areas were more sharply affected, and Alaska's college K index rose to 7; the same three day period saw the college A index at 43, 56 and 37. The latest prediction shows more geomagnetic active coming May 9-10, when the predicted planetary A index is 15. The USAF/NOAA prediction shows a planetary A index of 5 on May 5-6, 7 on May 7-8, 15 on May 9-10, 10 on May 11 and 5 on May 12-16, rising again to 15 on May 17. The sane prediction shows solar flux at 107 on May 5, 110 on May 6-8, 100 on May 9-12 and 115 on May 13-21. Look for more information -- including some observations on the beginning of the summer sporadic-E season, already underway, plus an update on the three month moving sunspot average -- on the ARRL website on Friday, May 6. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by the song They Call the Wind Mariah from the musical Paint Your Wagon.

+ ARRL Recognizes: Lou Burke, W7JI, Wins April QST Cover Plaque Award

The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for April is Lou Burke, W7JI, for his article "The W7JI Low or Lower Power 40 Meter Transmitter." Congratulations Lou! The QST Cover Plaque award -- given to the author or authors of the best article in each issue -- is determined by a vote of ARRL members on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the May issue today.

Kenwood Donates HF/6 Meter Transceiver to W1AW

W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, adjusts the TS-590S -- donated to W1AW by Kenwood USA -- for a W1AW visitor. [S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, Photo]

Thanks to the generosity of Kenwood USA, W1AW, the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, now boasts a new HF plus 6 meter transceiver -- the TS-590S. "Hams from all over the world come to operate at W1AW, the flagship station of Amateur Radio," said ARRL Business Services Manager Debra Jahnke, K1DAJ. "We are delighted that Kenwood's generosity makes it possible for visitors to W1AW to experience the latest in Kenwood's line of Amateur Radio hardware." Read more here.

DXCC News: DXCC Desk Approves 2011 Revillagigedo DXpedition

ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, reports that the 2011 4A4A DXpedition to Revillagigedo has been approved for DXCC credit. If you have any questions about this operation, please send an e-mail to the ARRL DXCC Desk.

This Week on the Radio

This week:

  • May 6 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder
  • May 7-8 -- New England QSO Party; 7th Call Area QSO Party; Indiana QSO Party; 10-10 International Spring Contest (CW); ARI International DX Contest
  • May 8 -- Araucaria VHF Contest; Microwave Spring Sprint (local time)
  • May 8 -- SKCC Weekend Sprint
  • May 11-12 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test

Next week:

  • May 14 -- FISTS Spring Sprint; FOC QSO Party
  • May 14-15 -- Nevada Mustang Roundup; EUCW Fraternizing CW QSO Party; CQ-M International DX Contest; VOLTA WW RTTY Contest; 50 MHz Spring Sprint
  • May 16 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest
  • May 19 -- NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint

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

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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