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The ARRL Letter
December 1, 2011
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+ Available on ARRL Audio News.

+ FCC News: FCC Grants Secondary Service Allocation to Wireless Broadband Medical Micropower Networks

In their regular meeting on Wednesday, November 30, the four FCC Commissioners unanimously agreed 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). These devices will be used on a secondary basis as part of the Medical Data Radiocommunication Service in Part 95 of the FCC rules. The Amateur Radio Service also has a secondary allocation on the 70 cm band. These new rules are the result of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that the FCC released in March 2009. A Report & Order that will define these new rules is expected soon.

According to the FCC, these devices 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 micropower networks (MMNs).

A implantable microstimulator of the kind that would be used with a wireless medical micropower network. [Photo courtesy of the Alfred Mann Foundation]

Calling the new rules an "advance[ment of] its mobile broadband agenda," the FCC said this will create "a new generation of wireless medical devices that could be used to restore functions to paralyzed limbs. Medical Micropower Networks (MMNs) are ultra-low power wideband networks consisting of multiple transmitters implanted in the body that use electric currents to activate and monitor nerves and muscles." The Commission also noted that its National Broadband Plan -- released in 2010 -- observed "that the use of spectrum-agile radios and other techniques can significantly increase the efficient use of radio spectrum to meet growing demand for this valuable resource. MMNs illustrate how advanced technology can enable the more efficient use of spectrum to deliver innovative new services." Read more here.

+ Amateur Radio in Space: AMSAT Announces End of OSCAR 51 Mission

OSCAR 51 was launched in 2004 and became one of the most popular Amateur Radio satellites ever created. [Photo courtesy of AMSAT]

AMSAT-OSCAR 51 -- the popular FM repeater satellite -- has likely reached the end of its operational lifespan. AMSAT-NA Vice President of Operations Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, issued the following statement on November 29: "It is with a heavy heart I report that AO-51 has ceased transmission and is not responding to commands. The last telemetry data indicated that the third of six batteries was approaching failure to short, and observations indicate the voltage from three cells is insufficient to power the UHF transmitters. The IHU [internal housekeeping unit] may continue to be operative. Initial tests with the S band transmitter were also not positive, although more attempts are in order. We have tried leaving the satellite in an expected state where if voltages climb high enough, the 435.150 transmitter may possibly be heard. The command team will regularly attempt communications with the satellite over the coming months (and years). There is always the possibility that a cell will open and we could once again talk to our friend while illuminated. Thanks to all who helped fund, design, build, launch, command, and operate AO-51. Its 7 year mission has been extraordinary."

+ On the Air: The ARRL 10 Meter Contest -- Get On While the Bands Are Hot!

Steve Gette, KF7GNI, of Saint Helens, Oregon, made his first-ever attempt at contesting in the 2010 ARRL 10 Meter Contest from the shack of Mike Ritz, W7VO. [Mike Ritz, W7VO, Photo]

Ten meters -- in case you haven't heard, is alive in a big way! That means that the ARRL 10 Meter Contest -- coming up the weekend of December 10-11 -- is going to be the one of the best we've seen in years! During this event, many propagation modes will be available: Sporadic-E will help you work stateside stations, a touch of meteor scatter in the morning will give you split-second chances to work stations -- you'd better be quick, though! -- and DX stations will be plentiful, thanks to the return of F2 propagation. ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, said that he keeps hearing from numerous hams who have been licensed only three or four years, telling him that they've never experienced a 10 meter opening because they weren't licensed during the last solar cycle peak: "A common phrase I'm hearing is, 'Now I understand what all the Old-Timers in my club were talking about -- 10 meters is great!' With a concentration of activity for the contest, there will be an opportunity for the first time in several years to experience the beauty of a wide-open 10 meter band. With so much excitement worldwide over the great conditions, the 2011 ARRL 10 Meter Contest could see the highest level of participation in a very long time!" Read more here.

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+ On the Air: 2012 Malpelo DXpedition to Be Extended

The HK0NA DXpedition to Malpelo -- an island located approximately 235 miles from Colombia's Pacific coast -- is scheduled for early 2012. Organized by the DX Radio Amateur Club out of Colombia, the DXpedition boasts an international team of 16 operators from eight countries. According to DXpedition leader Jorge Prieto, HK1R it is highly unlikely that the various Colombian authorities will permit another DXpedition to Malpelo anytime soon. With this in mind, he said that the dates of the DXpedition will be extended by two to three days from the previous 12-14 day plan. The approximate dates of operations will be January 21-February 5/6, 2012. Operations are planned on 160-6 meters on CW, SSB and Digital modes, including EME. Malpelo is currently #12 on DX Magazine's 100 Most Needed Countries Survey. Read more here.

ARRL In Action: What Have We Been Up To?

Compiled by ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA

This feature is a concise monthly update of some of the things that the ARRL is doing on behalf of its members. This installment -- which covers the month of November -- takes a look the 2011 Division elections, the latest happenings at W1AW, microwave bandplanning, freshman engineering students getting their Technician tickets, reports from the Official Observer Desk and more. Read more here.

+ Logbook of The World: LoTW Processing Update

Logbook of The World (LoTW) is continuing to accept and process logs, including logs from this past weekend's CQ World Wide CW Contest. Before the contest, LoTW had just about caught up with the backlog, but due to the high number of logs submitted after the contest, is once again seeing delays. As of December 1, the processing delay is at 22 hours -- down from 45 hours last week -- with approximately 830,000 QSOs in 2500 logs still waiting to be processed. If it has been more than 48 hours since you uploaded a log to LoTW and your log has not yet been processed, please upload it again. Remember: Do not send entire logs that contain previously uploaded QSOs -- use the date range option when signing logs, selecting only those QSOs in a specific date range to upload to LoTW. Thanks again for your patience.

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Lauren Clarke Joins ARRL Staff as Individual Giving Manager

The ARRL is pleased to welcome Individual Giving Manager Lauren Clarke to the Headquarters staff in Newington. Lauren -- who will be working in the ARRL Development Office -- will be taking over the many funds in the Development Office, such as the Diamond Club, the Education & Technology Fund, the Spectrum Defense Fund and the W1AW Endowment Fund. This will allow ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, to shift her focus to the ARRL Second Century Campaign.

ARRL Individual Giving Manager Lauren Clarke [S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, Photo]

Though Lauren comes to the ARRL with more than 20 years of experience in non-profit fundraising, this is her first experience with a technology organization. "My background has been primarily focused on the social services and arts side of the coin," she said. "I've worked with the United Way, the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Wadsworth Athenaeum. I am very excited to be here at the ARRL. The League does wonderful work and it is wonderful to see how our members embrace it and Amateur Radio."

Lauren expressed her appreciation to the ARRL volunteers, members and staff who have welcomed her here at ARRL Headquarters: "Everyone has all been very welcoming and helpful as I learn about Amateur Radio and work toward getting my Amateur Radio license. We are definitely a team in the Development Office, and I hope to build on the hard work of Mary and Development Associates Margie Bourgoin, KB1DCO, and Maryann Macdonald to continue raising funds to support the ARRL's initiatives."

As she learns more about the ARRL and Amateur Radio, Lauren said she finds that her primary interest is Emergency Communications and the ARES® program. "With so many terrible storms and natural disasters that have hit the US and other countries recently, I am proud to be associated with an organization that supports the volunteers who quickly step in to help people and their communities during these disasters," she explained. "I am looking forward to the Dayton Hamvention® in May and meeting many of our members and donors in person."

"When Lauren joined the Development staff, she dove right in, working on the departmental budget details and 2012 plan," Hobart said. "She has taken a fresh look at some key fund raising programs and she is adding value to whatever she does. The ARRL is very fortunate to have in Lauren an experienced Development professional who shares our fund raising philosophy and is building solid relationships with staff and donors. I am confident that Lauren has a bright future at ARRL."

Lauren and her husband live in the Greater Hartford area. They have two children: a daughter who is attending Tufts University and a son in high school. Lauren and her family are active in the local Labrador Retriever rescue organization and serve as foster parents for dogs awaiting adoption. She also enjoys recreational rowing and gardening. If you would like to discuss giving opportunities with the ARRL -- or would just like to welcome Lauren to the ARRL family -- you can reach her via e-mail or by phone at 860-594-0348.

Dayton Hamvention: Charles Kaiser, KD8JZR, Named Dayton Hamvention® Assistant General Chairman

On November 21, 2012 Dayton Hamvention® General Chairman Mike Kalter W8CI, announced that Charles Kaiser, KD8JZR, would take over as Assistant General Chairman of the largest hamfest in the US. Kaiser is replacing Josh Long, KD8BVD, who stepped down due to work commitments. "I am lucky to find someone who is as committed as Charles," Kalter said. "He has served on a number of committees and knows Hamvention well. I know he will be an excellent assistant." Kaiser, who is retired, said that he considered the time requirements carefully before accepting the position and is ready to devote as much time as needed to ensure that the 2012 Hamvention is a success. Read more here.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, December 1, 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 "Like the Moon and the stars and the Sun" Cook, K7RA, reports: November conveniently ended on the last day of the data reporting period for the upcoming bulletin, so we can now look at recent averages. Solar Cycle 24 continues to turn up. We have a new high for the trailing three month daily sunspot number average. Starting with the three month period ending in December 2010 and going through November 2011, they were: 30.1, 35.3, 55.7, 72.3, 74.4, 65.9, 61.5, 63, 79.6, 98.6 and 118.8. There hasn't been a three month period with average daily sunspot numbers above 118.8 since way back in June, July and August 2003, when the average was 121.9. The latest forecast from NOAA/USAF has the solar flux on December 1-11 at 145, 140, 135, 135, 140, 135, 135, 145, 150, 150 and 155, and then at 160 on December 12-18. The planetary A index on December 1-10 at 8, 8, 7, 7, 5, 7, 5, 5, 8 and 8, and then 5 on December 11-22. In case you missed it, we had an extra bulletin on Monday morning, and last week's bulletin was a day early. Look for more information on the ARRL website on Friday, December 2. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by John Lennon's Instant Karma! (And We All Shine On).

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+ ARRL Congratulates: Allen Baker, KG4JJH , Wins November QST Cover Plaque Award

The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for November is Allen Baker, KG4JJH , for his article "Build Your Own DSP Speaker. " Congratulations Allen! 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 December issue today.

Hams Listen to Mars Science Laboratory Signal

An artist's concept of the Mars Science Laboratory at work on the Martian surface.

As NASA's Mars Science Laboratory was streaking away from Earth just seven hours after its November 26 launch, amateurs using the AMSAT-DL facility in Bochum, Germany eavesdropped on its 10 GHz telemetry signals. At 21:45 UTC, the spacecraft was about 70,000 miles from Earth, heading for a rendezvous on the red planet in August 2012. James Miller, G3RUH, remotely reconfigured the Bochum tracking and receiving system, aiming the 20 meter parabolic dish antenna toward the Mars Science Laboratory. According to Miller, the signal had a spin-modulation of +/-3.5 Hz at two revolutions per minute. The dish at Bochum is also used by AMSAT-DL to automatically receive real-time solar data from the NASA STEREO A/B satellites. The data is transmitted to a NOAA server in the US via the Internet.

+ Amateur Radio Fun: The Night Before Christmas -- From a Ham's Perspective

The December 1930 cover of QST magazine is one of the many Amateur Radio-related items featured in A Ham's Night Before Christmas.

Just in time for the Holidays, Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, has created a video version of Clement Clark Moore's poem A Visit from St Nicholas -- more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas -- but Pearce's version has a decidedly Amateur Radio twist. With a guitar accompaniment by Don Mercz, WA3AYR, A Ham's Night Before Christmas features QST magazine covers, Gil cartoons and Christmas-themed QST advertisements from days gone by. Click here to watch the video on the ARRL YouTube channel.

This Week on the Radio

This week:

  • December 2 -- NCCC Sprint
  • December 2-4 -- ARRL 160 Meter Contest
  • December 3 -- TARA RTTY Melee; Wake-Up! QRP Sprint
  • December 3-4 -- TOPS Activity Contest
  • December 4 -- 10 Meter RTTY Contest
  • December 6 -- ARS Spartan Sprint

Next week:

  • December 9 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder
  • December 10-11 -- ARRL 10 Meter Contest; CWops Mini-CWT Test; International Naval Contest
  • December 11 -- SKCC Weekend Sprint; CQC Great Colorado Snowshoe Run
  • December 11-18 -- NA High Speed Meteor Scatter Winter Rally
  • December 14 -- NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint; NAQCC-EU Monthly Sprint
  • December 14-15 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test
  • December 16 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder; Russian 160 Meter Contest; AGB-Party Contest
  • December 17 -- OK DX RTTY Contest; RAC Winter Contest; Feld Hell Sprint
  • December 17, 2011 -- January 1, 2012 -- Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party
  • December 17-18 -- Stew Perry Topband Challenge; Croatian CW Contest

All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, the ARRL Contest Update and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar for more information. 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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