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The ARRL Letter
August 30, 2012
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+ Available on ARRL Audio News.

+ Public Service: Hams Heed the Call to Help As Isaac Makes Landfall, Downgraded to Tropical Storm

This combination of satellite images shows Tropical Storm Isaac (eventually Hurricane Isaac) (top) on August 27, 2012 and Hurricane Katrina (bottom) on August 28, 2005. [Images courtesy of NOAA]

Seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans, Hurricane Isaac came calling. But instead of making landfall right at New Orleans like Katrina (a Category 3 storm) did on August 28, 2005, Isaac veered slightly to the west of the city. Through it all, hams at WX4NHC -- the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida -- and those supporting the Hurricane Watch Net and the VoIP Hurricane Net, along with various nets within the ARRL's Delta Division, relayed reports to their served agencies on Isaac's progress and the damage the storm created in its wake.

"Even though Isaac has made landfall and is currently tracking slowly up Central Louisiana to Arkansas, hams in the Delta Division are not done," explained ARRL Delta Division Director David Norris, K5UZ. "We had quite a few nets running as Isaac came ashore, and some are still going on, relaying damage reports and assisting with health-and-welfare traffic. As the American Red Cross and other served agencies venture out in the field within the next few days to assess the damage created by Isaac, hams in the Delta Division are ready to assist these teams with whatever communications support is necessary. Just because Isaac itself is over, we know that storms like this can bring tornadoes, power outages and other weather events in their wake, and we are prepared to continue to provide any support that is needed." Read more here.

+ On the Air: 2012 ARRL Field Day Logs Posted

More than 2600 submissions have been received for the 2012 running of ARRL Field Day. According to ARRL Field Day Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, this is another great showing for the number of entries received for what is one of Amateur Radio's most popular on-the-air operating events. The combined list of Logs Received for Field Day has been posted online. The list includes all logs submitted via the www.b4h.net/ website, as well as those submitted via e-mail and US Mail.

Because Field Day is not a "Cabrillo-format" event, there is no automated robot for processing entries. When you go to the website to see if your submission was received, look near the bottom of the page under "Other Reports." Click on the link to open the PDF for the 2012 listings. If you find your listing is missing, please contact Henderson via e-mail or by phone at 860-594-0200. If you find a typographical error in your listing -- or if your log is marked as a "Checklog" -- please contact Kathy Allison, KA1RWY, via e-mail. Logs marked as "Checklog" indicate that required information is missing that is still needed to properly process your entry. All problems must be resolved by Friday, August 31.

Henderson explained that the current list only shows general categories; the various sub-categories are added when the data is merged into the master database. Claimed scores or bonuses are also not included, as these are not publicized until the results are officially released. The results from the 2012 ARRL Field Day will be posted online on or around November 1, as well as in the December issue of QST. The 2013 ARRL Field Day is scheduled for June 22-23.

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+ On the Air: Get In on the VHF Fun in the 2012 ARRL September VHF QSO Party

Richard Stein, K2ZR (left) of North Tonawanda, New York, and Mark Adams, K2QO, of Clarence, New York, took to the roads of Connecticut in the rover category of the 2010 ARRL September VHF QSO Party. Read more about their adventures here. [Photo courtesy of Mark Adams, K2QO]

September is here -- and according to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, the VHF+ bands have been getting a workout: "If you've never experienced the fun of VHF+ operating, the 2012 ARRL September VHF QSO Party the weekend of September 8-10 is a great place to start. With many HF radios now offering at least 6 meter SSB/CW capabilities -- and some offering 2 meters and 70 cm as well -- any amateur with a Technician class license or higher can experience long-haul communication on the VHF bands."

Kutzko explained that September -- as opposed to June with its sporadic-E openings -- is known for good tropospheric propagation. "In the past week, there have been some good tropo openings in the mornings on 2 meters along the Eastern seaboard and in the Midwest. There's even been a touch of sporadic-E propagation on 6 meters this week, primarily in the western half of the US. Couple the recent openings with talk among the VHF Hopeful of some F2 propagation on 6 meters (due to the upswing of Solar Cycle 24), and the potential for enhanced propagation during the contest looks favorable." Read more here.

+ IARU Supports Proposal for .radio Domain Name

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has expressed public support for a .radio top-level domain name. Under the proposal as put forth by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), registration will be available via the EBU to all eligible radio representative organizations and broadcasters, Internet radios, radio amateurs, radio professionals and their respective representative organizations, as well as companies providing radio-specific products and services in order to create a worldwide radio community. The proposal must be approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); this organization is responsible for the coordination of the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers and, in particular, ensuring its stable and secure operation. Read more here.

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+ Youth and Amateur Radio: North Carolina Teen Named Recipient of ARRL's 2011 Hiram Percy Maxim Award

Derek Brown, W4DTB, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was named the recipient of the 2011 Hiram Percy Maxim Award. Derek, who is 14, has been licensed since 2010 and holds an Amateur Extra class license.

Derek Brown, W4DTB, was named by the ARRL Board of Directors as the 2011 recipient of the ARRL's Hiram Percy Maxim Award.

Derek first became interested in Amateur Radio after reading an article in MAKE Magazine. "After I read the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, I went to the local club, the Orange County Radio Amateurs (NCOCRA) to take my Technician test," he told the ARRL. "That same evening, I met my Elmer, Bruce Meier, N1LN, who inspired me to finish the next two tests. He helped me build a station, including my first radio that I bought at a swap meet. With his help, I put up a vertical antenna in my backyard. Unfortunately, a tree knocked down the antenna about two weeks ago and broke the mounting bracket, so I'll be offline until after we get the replacement parts."

Meier recalled meeting Derek when he first came in to take his Technician exam in September 2010: "Derek had just turned 14. He had discovered Amateur Radio and was starting to get involved. His interest quickly grew, and by November 2010, he had his General ticket and then in March 2011, his Extra. In February 2011, Derek and his father went to a hamfest and found his first rig. Since Derek lives in an antenna-restricted area, he started to research different stealth antennas. As he wanted to start to work on his WAS, DXCC and WAC awards, and potentially get in involved in contesting (he got exposed to contesting at my QTH), he wanted something beyond stealth. So because of the woods behind his house, he was able to put up a vertical antenna and not bother any of the neighbors. He was now on the air."

Meier told the ARRL that Derek started out with SSB, but because of his skills in computers and computer programming, he became interested in the digital modes. "Derek modified his radio (by himself) and connected an interface board to enable the necessary control signals, wired up a home brew soundcard interface and was then able to operate digital modes," Meier explained. "He now operates PSK 31, RTTY PSK 63, Olivia 250, JT35 and even SSTV. Not bad for a 14 year old!" Derek is working on his CW skills, and recently earned his DXCC Award and only needs Vermont to complete his Worked All States Award. He also enjoys operating on the satellite modes, as well as developing software for his local HSMM Mesh.

Meier said that Derek competed with him and his team of operators in the 2011 CQ WW SSB contest. "We operated as a Multi/Two entry and were fortunate to place first in North America," he said. "Derek has also operated from his own home in the CQ WPX SSB Contest, the ARRL Rookie Roundup and several other contests."

Derek is also involved in public service activities. Meier's wife, Laurie Meier, N1YXU, was the ARES Emergency Coordinator for Orange County, North Carolina (she and Bruce are now Assistant Emergency Coordinators). Through them, Derek became interested in public service activities and started to take the various ICS courses. He has now taken and passed ICS 100, 200, 700, 800 and IS-3. Meier said that Derek is ready to help with ARES drills, public service events and ARES activations.

Derek is an active member of NCOCRA and his local ARES® group. He has worked with the club's public relations officer to revamp the club's website. He is the founder of the Youth Amateur Radio Club of America (YARCA), which aims to further youths in Amateur Radio; one of YARCA's initial target audiences is Scout troops. The site includes license test training and a Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge Workshop. Derek said he is currently planning for YARCA to hold a Badge Day for local Boy and Cub Scouts. He is also an ARRL Public Information Officer (PIO).

When not on the radio, Derek spends time as a Computer Science intern, where he is creating computer programs in a variety of languages. He is also a Lincoln-Douglas debater and will be traveling to tournaments across the country this year. He will be entering his freshman year at Durham Academy in Durham, North Carolina this fall.

The Hiram Percy Maxim Award is given to an ARRL member under the age of 18. It is intended to provide a tangible reward to those deserving young amateurs who contribute their time, skills and energies daily through their commitment to Amateur Radio. As models for their peers, and inspirations to us all, these fine young people are highly visible boosters of Amateur Radio awareness. The ARRL continues to recognize and encourage their hard work and contributions at every opportunity.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, August 30, 2012 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 "Everything under the Sun is in tune, but the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon" Cook, K7RA, reports: Although solar activity is quite low, there was an increase in sunspot numbers and the solar flux over the past week. The average daily sunspot numbers were up nearly 20 points -- about 36 percent -- to 74.1, while the average daily solar flux increased nearly 13 points to 108.7. The latest forecast has activity over the next week a bit lower than what forecasts predicted a few weeks ago: Expected solar flux is 115 on August 30, 120 on August 31-September 2, 115 again on September 3-8, 110 on September 9-10, 105 on September 11-12, 100 on September 13-16, 95 on September 17-22, and then rising above 100 to a peak of 125 on September 26-28. The predicted planetary A index is 5, 10 and 8 on August 30-September 1, 5 on September 2-7, 8 on September 8-9, 5 on September 10-14, 12 on September 15-16, 8 on September 17-18, 5 on September 19, 8 on September 20-21, 10 on September 22, and 8 on September 23-25, followed by 5 on September 26 through the first few days in October. Look for more on the ARRL website on Friday, August 31. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon (Brain Damage/Eclipse).

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+ DXCC News: DXCC Desk Approves 1998 XU1A Cambodian DXpedition

After reviewing new information and documentation, the ARRL DXCC Desk has concluded that the 1998 XU1A DXpedition to Cambodia will be valid for DXCC credit. If you have had QSLs rejected for this operation, please send a request via e-mail to be placed on the list for update. If you remember the submission in which you included the QSL, please note this in your e-mail, as it will expedite the search for the rejected QSO.

+ ARRL Headquarters to Close in Observance of Labor Day

ARRL Headquarters will be closed in observance of Labor Day on Monday, September 3. There will be no W1AW bulletin or code practice transmissions that day. ARRL Headquarters will reopen Tuesday, September 4 at 8 AM Eastern Daylight Time. We wish everyone a safe and festive holiday weekend.

This Week in Radiosport

This week:

  • August 31 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder
  • September 1 -- Russian RTTY WW Contest; Wake-Up! QRP Sprint; AGCW Straight Key Party
  • September 1-2 -- Colorado QSO Party; All Asian DX Contest (Phone); CWOps CW Open
  • September 2 -- DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest
  • September 2-3 -- Tennessee QSO Party
  • September 3-4 -- Michigan QRP Labor Day CW Sprint
  • September 4 -- ARS Spartan Sprint

Next week:

  • September 7-8 -- PODXS 070 Club Jay Hudak Memorial 80 Meter Sprint (local time)
  • September 8-9 -- Arkansas QSO Party; WAE DX Contest (SSB)
  • September 8-10 -- ARRL September VHF QSO Party
  • September 9 -- North American Sprint (CW); SKCC Weekend Sprintathon; Swiss HTC QRP Sprint
  • September 10 -- NAQCC-EU Monthly Sprint
  • September 12-13 -- 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 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 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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