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The ARRL Letter
April 13, 2017
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ARRL Headquarters to be Closed on Friday, April 14: ARRL Headquarters will be closed on Good Friday, April 14. There will be no W1AW bulletin or code practice transmissions and no ARRL Audio News on that day. ARRL Headquarters will reopen Monday, April 17, at 8 AM Eastern Daylight Time. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday!


ARRL EXPO will Anchor League's Hamvention Presence

At Hamvention® 2017 in Xenia, Ohio, on May 19, 20, and 21, ARRL EXPO will provide a spacious area focusing on ARRL activities. The ARRL Store will be the central focus of ARRL EXPO in Building 2 of the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, where visitors will be able to peruse and purchase a wide array of ARRL publications, supplies, and official League merchandise. They'll also be able to join, renew, or extend their ARRL memberships. A limited supply of complimentary ARRL EXPO 2017 pins will be available. With ARRL Field Day (FD) looming on June 24-25, ARRL will offer an inventory of official ARRL FD gear, including T-shirts, pins, hats, mugs, and posters. ARRL EXPO exhibits will include:

  • ARRL Laboratory: Get Your Handheld Radio Tested!

  • ARRL Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative

  • Amateur Radio and Education -- Meet ARRL Education & Technology Program (ETP) instructors and explore the resources available for introducing radio science and wireless technology into classrooms.

  • Radiosport and DXCC -- DXCC card checking, ARRL contests and awards, Logbook of The World (LoTW), and QSL Bureau

  • RFinder -- The Worldwide Repeater Directory

  • ARRL Development and ARRL Foundation

  • ARRL Public Service

  • ARRL Field Organization Volunteers -- Network with ARRL Field Organization volunteers, hosted by the ARRL Ohio Section.

  • HamSCI: The Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation

  • ARRL Visa® card -- U.S. Bank

Representatives of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) will be on hand to meet and greet visitors.

Hamvention will take place this May at a new venue, the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. [W8WWV video]

Heading the ARRL delegation will be ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR. On hand to represent ARRL will be Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK; Vice Director Thomas Delaney, W8WTD, and Ohio Section Manager Scott Yonally, N8SY.

ARRL is seeking college students and high school seniors to help support the ARRL Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative booth at ARRL EXPO. Student volunteers will sign up for one or more shifts working in the booth -- during which they will visit with Hamvention attendees and exchange ideas to strengthen radio clubs at our nation's colleges and universities. Volunteers will receive a Hamvention exhibitor badge and ARRL Team shirts. Contact Andy Milluzzi, KK4LWR, if interested.

World Amateur Radio Day on April 18 Marks IARU's 92nd Anniversary

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) on Tuesday, April 18, will mark the 92nd anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), and radio amateurs around the world will take to the airwaves to celebrate the day in 1925 that the IARU was formed in Paris. "Celebrating Amateur Radio's Contribution to Society" is the WARD theme.

Amateur Radio experimenters were the first to discover that the shortwave spectrum -- far from being a wasteland -- could support worldwide propagation. In the rush to use these shorter wavelengths, Amateur Radio was "in grave danger of being pushed aside," IARU's history notes. Amateur Radio pioneers, including ARRL co-founder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, met in Paris in 1925 and created the IARU to support Amateur Radio worldwide.

Just 2 years later, at the International Radiotelegraph Conference, Amateur Radio gained the allocations still recognized today -- 160, 80, 40, 20, and 10 meters. Since its founding, the IARU has worked tirelessly to defend and expand the frequency allocations for Amateur Radio. Thanks to the support of enlightened administrations in every part of the globe, radio amateurs are now able to experiment and communicate in frequency bands strategically located throughout the radio spectrum.

From the 25 countries that formed the IARU in 1925, the IARU has grown to include 160 member-societies in three regions. IARU Region 1 includes Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Asia. Region 2 covers the Americas, and Region 3 is comprised of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific island nations, and most of Asia. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has recognized the IARU as representing the interests of Amateur Radio.

World Amateur Radio Day is the day when IARU member-societies can demonstrate the capabilities of Amateur Radio to the public and enjoy global friendship with other radio amateurs around the globe. Read more.

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The Doctor Will See You Now!

"Grounding" is the topic of the current episode of the "ARRL The Doctor is In" podcast. Listen...and learn!

Sponsored by DX Engineering, "ARRL The Doctor is In" is an informative discussion of all things technical. Listen on your computer, tablet, or smartphone -- whenever and wherever you like!

Every 2 weeks, your host, QST Editor-in-Chief Steve Ford, WB8IMY, and the Doctor himself, Joel Hallas, W1ZR, will discuss a broad range of technical topics. You can also e-mail your questions to doctor@arrl.org, and the Doctor may answer them in a future podcast.

Enjoy "ARRL The Doctor is In" on Apple iTunes, or by using your iPhone or iPad podcast app (just search for "ARRL The Doctor is In"). You can also listen online at Blubrry, or at Stitcher (free registration required, or browse the site as a guest) and through the free Stitcher app for iOS, Kindle, or Android devices. If you've never listened to a podcast before, download our beginner's guide.

Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur Now Available

Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur by Ward Silver, N0AX, is now available from ARRL. Proper station grounding is important! Build your ham radio station with effective grounding and bonding techniques for electrical safety, lightning protection, and RF management.

Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur shows you how to make sure your station follows current standards for lightning protection and communication systems, not to mention the National Electrical Code. You'll learn effective grounding and bonding techniques for stations in a house, condo, or apartment, for portable and temporary situations, and for towers and outdoor antennas.

Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur is available from the ARRL Store or your ARRL Dealer. (ARRL Item no. 0659), ISBN: 978-62595-0659, $25.95 retail, special ARRL member price $22.95). Call 860-594-0355 or, toll-free in the US, 888-277-5289. It is also available as an e-book for the Amazon Kindle.

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2017 National Hurricane Conference Set for New Orleans

Amateur Radio again will have a seat at the table during the 2017 National Hurricane Conference, which gets under way this month in New Orleans. The conference will offer several presentations of interest to radio amateurs. The conference theme, as it's been in the past, is to improve hurricane preparedness. All Amateur Radio sessions are free. For 2017, all the Amateur Radio sessions will be on Wednesday morning, April 19, from 8:30 AM until 12:15 PM CDT. There will be two primary Amateur Radio-related sessions, and all Amateur Radio-focused presentations will be recorded and streamed live online (alternate site). These sites include a complete schedule, which will be updated as required prior to the event, and a social networking stream.

In the first session, Bob Robichaud, VE1MBR, of the Canadian Hurricane Centre, will present on hurricane meteorological topics and provide a brief overview of Canadian Hurricane Centre Operations; Assistant Amateur Radio Station Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, will discuss WX4NHC operations at the National Hurricane Center, and Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, will offer an overview of the HWN, as well as talk about personal weather stations, backup power, and antennas. Louisiana ARRL Assistant Section Manager Matt Anderson, KD5KNZ, will provide a local ARRL and emergency communication update.

In the second session, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb will speak on the importance of Amateur Radio surface reporting. Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net and ARRL ARES Eastern Massachusetts Assistant SEC Rob Macedo, KD1CY, will discuss the VoIP Hurricane Net and best practices in SKYWARN for tropical systems. National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH, will talk on Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) health-and-welfare support during severe weather events.

A question-and-answer session will conclude the Amateur Radio program. Read more.

30th International Marconi Day Event Set for April 22

Dozens of official "award stations" have registered to take part in the 2017 International Marconi Day (IMD) event, this year being held on April 22, 0000-2359 UTC (starting on April 21 in US time zones). All contacts counting toward the Marconi Award must be made on HF with registered stations, but other participating stations do not need to be registered to claim awards. This year marks the 30th IMD, held each year to mark the anniversary of wireless pioneer Guglielmo Marconi's birth on April 25, 1874. IMD is observed each year on a Saturday close to Marconi's birthday. Many special event stations -- some operating from Marconi-related sites -- will be on the air. Marconi Award certificates are available for both transmitting stations and shortwave listeners (SWLs).

The event is not a contest but an opportunity for amateurs around the world to make point-to-point contact with historic Marconi sites using HF communication techniques descended from those used by Marconi, and to earn an award certificate for working or hearing a requisite number of Marconi stations.

There are two categories. Transmitting amateurs attempt to complete contacts with 15 of the official award stations, while shortwave listeners attempt to log two-way communications made by 15 of the official award stations.

International Marconi Day special event station GB4IMD will be on the air from Cornwall, helmed by members of the Cornish Amateur Radio Club, which organizes the IMD event. Cornwall was home to some of Marconi's early work. A list of participating stations is on the Cornish Amateur Radio Club's website.

The Kerry Amateur Radio Group in Ireland will be taking part as an IMD award station. EI6YXQ will be set up on the site of the former Marconi Station at Ballybunion. The YXQ suffix commemorates the call sign of the Marconi Station at Ballybunion.

Special event station K2M will be on the air from the site of the Marconi Tower in Binghamton, New York.

In the US, special event station K2M will be on the air from Binghamton, New York, the site of the remaining Marconi tower, where the inventor demonstrated in 1913 that it was possible to communicate via radio with a fast-moving train.

For the 7th year, the Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (NARC) will be on the air from special event station GB0CMS at the Caister Lifeboat Visitor Centre to commemorate the village's original Marconi wireless station, established in 1900.

Other IMD sites with historical links to the inventor's work include Cape Cod, Massachusetts (WA1WCC and KM1CC); Nantucket Island (W1AA/MSC); Glace Bay, Nova Scotia (VE1IMD); Villa Griffone, Bologna, Italy (IY4FGM), and many others.

A Facebook page is also available.

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ARRL 2016 International Humanitarian Award Winners Honored

The recipients of the 2016 ARRL International Humanitarian Award -- Richard Darling, AH7G, and Barbara Darling, NH7FY -- have been honored in Hawaii. Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim designated the month of April as "Roger and Barbara Darling Month" and personally presented a certificate to the couple at a recent gathering in Hilo.

Hawaii Governor David Ige also sent each a Special Recognition certificate, congratulating the Darlings on their hard work and service.

Richard and Barbara Darling.

The International Humanitarian Award recognizes Amateur Radio's unique role in international communication and the assistance amateurs regularly provide to people in need. In January, the ARRL Board of Directors cited the Darlings' work on behalf of past International Humanitarian Award winner John Bush, KH6DLK/V63JB, and their "significant material support" to his efforts to assist Yap and the Federated States of Micronesia.

"[T]hey have supported these ongoing efforts over many years with on-the-air activities including communication during weather events, including several typhoons, as well as other emergency activities, including assistance to boaters in trouble," the Board's resolution said.

This included monetary support for radio equipment, school supplies, diapers, medical supplies, food, and shipping. Regular radio contact via HF and phone patches helped to keep families connected, some of which had not talked to each other in several years, and to provide early weather warnings.

On April 8, the award was formally presented to the couple by ARRL Pacific Section Public Information Officer Stacy Holbrook, KH6OWL, of Oahu, on behalf of ARRL and Pacific Section Manager Joe Speroni, AH0A. -- Thanks to Stacy Holbrook, KH6OWL

Radio DARC to Cover IARU Region 1 General Conference on Shortwave this Fall

Radio DARC -- the shortwave broadcast program of the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club in Germany (DARC) -- has announced plans to broadcast six programs during the 24th International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Conference, September 16-22 in Landshut, Germany. IARU Region 1 includes Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Asia. Rainer Englert, DF2NU, of Radio DARC said the broadcasts from the conference, in English, will keep the IARU Region 1 ham radio audience up to date with news and background reports.

"Although targeted to IARU Region 1, the transmissions are likely to be heard in North America, too, as 2,000 kW EIRP from a log periodic antenna will be used for the western European beam in the 31-meter broadcast band," Englert said.

Radio DARC is the weekly magazine of the German Amateur Radio Club for radio amateurs and shortwave listeners, with three broadcasts on 6,070 kHz for Europe. Typical programs contain DX news, technical features, and reports from the DARC, as well as commentary, propagation forecasts and music from the 1970s and 1980s. After the discontinuation of Deutsche Welle and other shortwave broadcasters, the weekly DARC program is one of the few remaining from Germany.

The venue for the 2017 IARU Region 1 General Conference is the Sparkassenakademie Bayern in Landshut.

"Several transmitters of up to 300 kW and three shortwave bands will be used to allow reception in different target regions of the world," Englert said. In 2015, a group of radio amateurs in Germany obtained a license to broadcast on the 49-meter band after German national broadcaster Deutsche Welle closed down a 500 kW shortwave broadcast transmitter near Munich. Using parts scavenged from the Deutsche Welle site, the ham group built up its own 10 kW transmitter and launched Channel 292.

The Austrian Broadcasting Transmitters Corporation (ORS) near Vienna is a broadcast partner for the IARU R1 General Conference, and broadcasts covering that event will air via ORS and Channel 292 transmitters.

Preliminary Schedule: Sunday, September 17 through Friday, September 22, 2017

  • 1730-1800 UTC: 13,775 kHz @ 300 kW for Africa

  • 1730-1800 UTC: 9,790 kHz @ 100 kW for eastern Europe / Russia / Middle East

  • 1800-1830 UTC: 6,070 kHz @ 100 kW for central, northern, and southern Europe

  • 1800-1830 UTC: 9,540 kHz @ 100 kW for western Europe

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Noted Contester Dr. Pat Sonnier, W5WMU, SK

A well-known contest signal has gone silent. Dr. Pat Sonnier, W5WMU, of Lafayette, Louisiana, died on April 6 after suffering an apparent heart attack. An ARRL Life Member, he was 78. Sonnier had been licensed since the early 1950s.

Pat Sonnier, W5WMU. [Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, photo]

A graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Sonnier practiced family medicine in Lafayette. His always enviable signal from W5WMU -- and later from W1WMU at his summer home in Lubec, Maine -- were testament to his technical skill. In domestic events such as ARRL November Sweepstakes, Sonnier often provided the semi-rare LA or ME multiplier. Champion contester Scott Redd, K0DQ, met W5WMU when Redd and his wife were vacationing in Lubec and spotted the substantial W1WMU antenna farm.

"I had known of and heard Pat, W5WMU, for as long as I can remember," Redd told ARRL. "His signal from his swampland QTH in Louisiana was always booming on any band, and a review of his antenna farm revealed his seriousness in pursuing dB."

Sonnier frequently invited others to operate from his station, and he and his wife Alice were gracious hosts. "Operating from Pat's place in Maine was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in contesting," Kevin Stockton, N5DX, said on the CQ-Contest Reflector. "It wasn't the on-air time that stuck with me, but what happened before and after the contests that made both trips so memorable."

Sonnier hosted multiple winning ARRL November Sweepstakes CW efforts, with Tree Tyree, N6TR, at the helm, and an all-W5 operating team won the 2013 CQ World Wide DX CW from W1WMU in the Multi-Single category.

"Age tried to slow Pat down, but he didn't know the word 'surrender,'" Stockton added.

A view of the W1WMU antennas in Lubec, Maine. [Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, photo]

Redd said his most salient impression of Sonnier was his zest for ham radio and contesting. "Well into his 8th decade, he undertook to build, maintain, and operate a serious station," he said.

Dan Street, K1TO, who helped install the W1WMU antenna farm, recalled, "His station in low-lying southern Louisiana is legendary, with many towers and large arrays." Street said Sonnier had an insatiable curiosity about all things and was unwaveringly generous.

Sonnier was a founding member and a director of the ARRL-affiliated Louisiana Contest Club. He was the last US radio amateur to host Thomas Andersen, OZ1AA, during Andersen's globe-circling bicycle journey.

"Pat Sonnier was stellar example of a lifetime spent enjoying our wonderful and ageless hobby," Redd said.

Getting It Right!

The article "New Rookie Roundup Rules Go into Effect for SSB Event on April 17" in the April 6 edition of The ARRL Letter contained the incorrect date for the contest. The Rookie Roundup SSB will take place on Sunday, April 16.

In Brief...

DX Code of Conduct Pioneer, Proponent Randy Johnson, W6SJ, SK: One of the driving forces behind the DX Code of Conduct, Randy Johnson, W6SJ, of Corona del Mar, California, died on March 27 following complications of heart surgery. A member of ARRL and the First Class CW Operators Club (FOC), he was 79. Licensed the first time in 1951, Johnson let his ticket lapse when his interests wandered, but then, 50 years after he was first licensed, he took and passed all four US licensing levels in place at the time (2001) and became AE6AX. The following year, he obtained W6SJ. He described his location as "an antenna-challenged environment" but said that made his DXing successes "all the sweeter." In 2010, Johnson penned an Op-Ed "DX Etiquette" that appeared in the March 2010 issue of QST. He said the positive feedback led him and "a good-sized band of DXers" to try to do something about poor operating by DXers, especially in DXpedition pileups. They developed the DX Code of Conduct. "We hope that ultimately when every ham gets on the air, he will remember the ethical operating practices that make our hobby so enjoyable," Johnson said on his QRZ.com profile. -- Thanks to the The Daily DX for some information

2017 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference Issues Call for Papers: Technical papers are solicited for presentation at the 36th Annual ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC), set for September 15-17 in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Holiday Inn Airport West in Earth City. Papers will also be published in the Conference Proceedings. Authors do not need to attend the conference to have their papers included in the Proceedings. The submission deadline is July 31, 2017. Submit papers via e-mail or via post to Maty Weinberg, KB1EIB, ARRL, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111. Papers will be published exactly as submitted, and authors will retain all rights.

The Chinese "Foghorn" jumps between 7,128 and 7,187 kHz. [Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, image]

Russian "Buzzer" Disappears, Chinese "Foghorn" Returns: The International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Monitoring System (IARUMS) March newsletter reports that the Russian "buzzer" on 6,998.0 kHz has disappeared. For a long time the system interfered with the lower edge of the 40-meter band. In addition, a Russian F1B transmission on 7,193 kHz -- believed to be emanating from Kaliningrad -- has ceased. IARUMS credits German telecoms authorities for submitting complaints and the Russian military. The IARUMS March newsletter further reports that a Chinese over-the-horizon (OTH) burst system radar "foghorn" signal is being heard again on both 40 meters (jumping between 7,128 and 7,187 kHz) and on 20 meters (14,218 kHz). The signals are 10 kHz wide with burst durations of 3.8 and 7.6 seconds. A "numbers" station said to be from the Ukraine SZRU intelligence agency was reported on March 30 on AM (female voice) on 14,212 kHz


Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • April 14-15 -- Holyland DX Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 15 -- Feld Hell Sprint

  • April 15 -- ES Open HF Championship (CW, phone)

  • April 15-16 -- Worked All Provinces of China (CW, phone)

  • April 15-16 -- YU DX Contest (CW)

  • April 15-16 -- CQ Manchester Mineira DX Contest (CW)

  • April 15-16 -- Michigan QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • April 15-16 -- EA-QRP CW Contest

  • April 15-16 -- Ontario QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • April 15-16 -- North Dakota QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 16 -- WAB 3.5/7/14 MHz Data Modes Contest

  • April 16 -- ARRL Rookie Roundup (SSB)

  • April 17 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • April 17 -- Low Power Spring Sprint (CW)

  • April 17 -- 144 MHz Spring Sprint (CW, phone, digital)

See the ARRL Contest Calendar for more information. For in-depth reporting on Amateur Radio contesting, subscribe to The ARRL Contest Update via your ARRL member profile e-mail preferences.


Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

Find conventions and hamfests in your area.


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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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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 and The American Radio Relay League.

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