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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
August 26, 2021
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Grace and Henri Keep Amateur Radio Weather Spotters Busy

Hurricane Grace and Hurricane Henri drew the attention of weather spotters over the past week. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), which tracked both storms to gather weather data for the National Hurricane Center (NHC), was able to secure operations at 1800 UTC on August 22 after watching Grace make two landfalls in Mexico.

"Things got busy -- and fast!" said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. "Just before activating at 1200 UTC [on Sunday], Henri was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm. Normally, we -- HWN -- don't activate for tropical storms. However, given the wind speed at the time of activation was just shy of being a hurricane, there was a slim possibility Henri could regain Category 1 status." And, Graves noted, the storm was headed into the densely populated northeastern US. The rainfall generated by Henri, some of it record-breaking, caused heavy flooding in some areas, including New York City. That storm came ashore near Westerly, Rhode Island.

Over the weekend, Eastern Massachusetts ARES® Section Emergency Coordinator Rob Macedo, KD1CY, who also manages the VoIP Hurricane Net, announced plans for the Commonwealth in advance of Henri's arrival. These included coordination with ARES® and SKYWARN teams in the region and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

All told, the HWN racked up a combined total of 27 hours on the air -- with two activations for Hurricane Grace and two for Hurricane Henri. Graves said only one station reported from Mexico, but the net remained available to assist in any capacity needed.

It was another story for Henri. "We were not lacking reporting stations, and that's a good thing," Graves said. "While maybe not as many as we would like, we certainly had a good number checking in and forwarding their data."

He said conditions, while improved over the past few years as Solar Cycle 25 ramped up, got tough. "At times, we would experience one-way propagation. For example, on Sunday, the NCS on duty was being heard by a station in the affected area but could not hear the reporting station," Graves recounted. "His relay was able to hear the reporting station, but that station could not hear the relay. So, the NCS asked the questions, and the relay received the report. This is what's called 'teamwork.'"

Graves is grateful that Henri was not as bad as it could have been. "It never really got itself organized, unlike storms such as Sandy in 2012 and Bob back in 1991," he said. "Had Henri been another Sandy, the outcome would have been much worse."

On the other hand, Grace, which made landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz, just south of Túxpam, as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 MPH, caused several fatalities. "Grace tied a record (with Karl in 2010) of being the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Bay of Campeche," Graves pointed out. Once it hit land, though, Grace quickly dissipated over mainland Mexico, while its remnants later reformed into Tropical Storm Marty in the Eastern Pacific early Monday morning.

Julio Ripoll, WD4R, at the National Hurricane Center, praised members of the VoIP Hurricane Net for being extremely supportive of WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center. "They are a vital part of the WX4NHC team and part of our elite group we call 'Hurricane Hams.'"

Trees such as this one in Charlestown, Rhode Island, were toppled around southern New England as a result of Henri. [Courtesy of Mike Lill, WD1N]

Ripoll said the NHC and WX4NHC rely heavily on the work of the hurricane nets and appreciate the time and effort that goes into gathering surface reports from stations in the affected areas. "These surface reports are vital to NHC, as they paint a picture of ground level physical conditions in real time," he said. "We all work as a team with a common goal to help NHC, which will help those in the affected areas and hopefully help save lives."

NHC Senior Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart singled out the VoIP Hurricane Net and the HWN for praise, calling the amateur radio reports "extremely helpful." Read an expanded version.

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 20) features a discussion with Oliver Dully, K6OLI, who describes how amateurs use the Winlink network for various public service applications. He also discusses the equipment and software necessary to access Winlink.

The latest edition of Eclectic Tech (Episode 41) features a conversation with Lin Holcomb, NI4Y, about experiments he is conducting on 8 meters with his recently issued FCC Part 5 Experimental license, WL2XUP, from Georgia.

The On the Air and Eclectic Tech podcasts are sponsored by Icom. Both podcasts are available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android), as well as on Blubrry -- On the Air | Eclectic Tech.

Huntsville Hamfest Hosts 2021 ARRL Southeastern Division Convention

The annual Huntsville Hamfest, held on August 21 - 22, served as host for the 2021 ARRL Southeastern Division Convention. Convention visitors were able to meet with many ARRL officials and staff, including President Rick Roderick, K5UR; Chief Executive Officer

2021 Alan G. Thorpe, K1TMW, Memorial Scholarship winner Kaleb Ruddle, KN4JGJ, of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (L), with ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, at the 2021 ARRL Southeastern Division Convention. [Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, photo]

David Minster, NA2AA; Director of Membership, Marketing, and Communications Kathleen Callahan, KC1MBY, and Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. Also on hand at the ARRL booth were many Southeastern Division officials, Section Managers, and Field Organization volunteers.

The convention, held annually at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, had to be canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "For many of us, this was our return to a large in-person convention after nearly 18 months," Inderbitzen said. "The crowds were big, but the organizers had spread out the exhibits and widened the aisles, allowing for plenty of physical distancing. It was nice to have eyeballs on so many members and friends I've missed seeing."

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team members at Huntsville included (L - R) ARISS Chairman and ARISS-USA Executive Director Frank Bauer, KA3HDO; ARISS-USA Director of Education Kathy Lamont, KM4TAY, and Dave Jordan, AA4KN, for ARISS Public Relations. [Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, photo]

ARRL author Glen Popiel, KW5GP, presented a forum on the Arduino and various ham radio applications using this microprocessor prototyping platform. Popiel's recent book, More Arduino for Ham Radio, is now available from ARRL and its dealers. Other forums included an update from principals for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), an ARRL Membership Town Hall, and an opportunity to hear from ARRL Alabama Section leaders regarding key areas of volunteer activity, including the Amateur Radio Emergency Service®.

Volunteers from the North Alabama DX Club (NADXC) hosted a sold-out banquet on Saturday night that included a presentation from DXpeditioner Adrian Ciuperca, KO8SCA. He shared stories and photos from his 2019 DXpedition to Bhutan, where he operated as A50BOC, A50BPC, and A5B. Just ahead on his travel agenda, Ciuperca will be a member of DXpedition teams to Swains Island and Bouvet Island in 2022. NADXC members were also on hand throughout the convention to help check applications for DXCC and other ARRL Awards.

ARRL members Barbara Shafer, KE5QAT, and Steve Shafer, WA7RC, of Slidell, Louisiana, were among the visitors to the ARRL booth at the ARRL Southeastern Division Convention in Huntsville. [Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, photo]

A Youth Lounge at the Convention included opportunities for young hams and future hams to listen and get on the air. There were also demonstrations of robotics, 3D printing, and activities that included a radio direction-finding foxhunt and kit building.

ARRL CEO David Minster, NA2AA, and ARRL Instructional Designer Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, organized a YouTube Meet Up with many content producers for popular ham radio-themed YouTube channels -- an opportunity to thank the community for its part in nurturing active radio amateurs with information and learning.

ARRL has produced a YouTube video chronicling the convention.

ARRL Learning Network Webinars

Visit the ARRL Learning Network (a members-only benefit) to register, check on upcoming webinars, and to view previously recorded sessions.

ARRL members may register for upcoming presentations and view previously recorded Learning Network webinars. ARRL-affiliated radio clubs may also use the recordings as presentations for club meetings, mentoring new and current hams, and discussing amateur radio topics.

Introduction to DMR and Digital Voice by Tim Deagan, KJ8U / Thursday, September 9, 2021 @ 3:30 pm EDT (1930 UTC)

An introductory overview of digital voice (DV) technologies for ham radio, focusing on DMR with notes on System Fusion, D-STAR, etc. The session includes a description of DV architecture and components, as well as the interesting opportunities and challenges it presents amateur radio operators.

Working the Pileup, presented by Ron Delpiere-Smith, KD9IPO / Tuesday, October 5, 2021 @ 1:00 pm EDT (1700 UTC)

Ron Delpiere-Smith, KD9IPO, Vice President of the Chicago Suburban Radio Association and an ARRL Assistant Section Manager in Illinois, will offer an enlightening discussion on working a pileup from both sides of the contact. Whether your interest lies in ARRL Field Day, contesting, special events, or rare DX, this is a must-see presentation. Ron will discuss search-and-pounce and running techniques, when to use them, and some tips on working them to your advantage.

The ARRL Learning Network schedule is subject to change.

Newspaper Article Boosts Interest in Net Aimed at Visually Impaired, Disabled Amateurs

In June, Gerald Gaule, KE7GGV, of Vancouver, Washington, announced that he was launching a new net in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington Metro Area for the visually impaired, blind, and disabled. The net runs on the fourth Sunday of each month at 8 PM Pacific Time on the W7RAT repeater on 440.400 MHz. Some publicity about Gaule and the net in The Columbian, a regional newspaper, has boosted attendance, Gaule said, as well as a request for help.

"Within a few minutes after the article came out, a mom approached me about helping her son, who is visually impaired and autistic, and interested in becoming a ham," Gaule said. "I am planning to help him every step of the way, even becoming a mentor after he gets his license." Gaule said that ARRL Western Washington Section Manager Monte Simpson, W7FF, was providing material and working to come up with a plan involving the 25-year-old's parents that would help get him licensed.

"He's a very nice young man and very confident in himself," said Gaule. "We had a 2-hour meeting yesterday at a local coffee shop. I've offered my help to read the material and get him the right sources to get him on the way to becoming a successful amateur radio operator."

Earlier this year, Simpson appointed Gaule as an Assistant Section Manager for Inclusivity.

As a result of the newspaper article, Gaule reports receiving more than 50 calls from amateur radio operators, as well as people who are interested in amateur radio. He's also gotten more than 100 emails about the story -- all positive.

As the newspaper article explained, "Gaule, who was disabled in 2007, said he worked for commercial radio stations for many years and has been a ham operator for about 20 years. He decided a few months ago to try to include more blind and disabled people in ham radio because it is versatile, educational, and entertaining."

Gaule serves as the Public Information Officer for Region 4 ARES/RACES in Western Washington.

Amateur Radio in the News

ARRL Public Information Officers, Coordinators, and many other member-volunteers help keep amateur radio and ARRL in the news.

Share any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

Registration Now Open for AMSAT Space Symposium

Registration is now open for the 39th AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting, Friday through Sunday, October 29 - 31, at the Crowne Plaza AiRE in Bloomington, Minnesota, adjacent to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. General registration is $75, and student registration is $40. Registration for the Saturday evening Symposium Banquet is an additional $55. Registration includes a digital copy of the 2021 AMSAT Symposium Proceedings and admission to the Symposium presentations and exhibits.

The AMSAT Board of Directors will meet Thursday and Friday, October 28 - 29. AMSAT Space Symposium presentations will start at 1 PM CDT on Friday and continue until 5 PM. The AMSAT Reception is set for 7 PM on Friday. AMSAT Space Symposium presentations will continue on Saturday, October 30, 8 AM - 3 PM (with a 1-hour lunch break at noon). The AMSAT General Meeting begins at 3 PM on Saturday. The banquet will begin at 7 PM, preceded by a reception at 6 PM. The 3-day event wraps up with the AMSAT Ambassadors' Breakfast on Sunday at 7 AM.

Attendees may make reservations by calling the hotel directly at (952) 854-9000 or (877) 424-4188 (toll free) or online at The group name is Amateur Satellite Group. Platinum and Titanium members of the AMSAT President's Club receive free admission to the Symposium and a complimentary lunch with the President on Saturday afternoon. Email to arrange registration.

Presenters are invited to participate at the Symposium and/or submit a paper to the Symposium Proceedings. The Call for Papers includes more information.


After 8 decades of providing emergency backup communication on a volunteer basis during storms and disasters, the Steel City Amateur Radio Club has hosted a special event station, W8O, sharing the news of their 80th anniversary with the rest of the world. The Steel City ARC is an ARRL-affiliated club.

John Desmond, EI7GL, reported on a transatlantic opening on 144 MHz between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean on August 20. Distances in excess of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) were achieved, with EA8CXN contacting both Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe.

The AMSAT-EA GENESIS-L and GENESIS-N satellites may launch as early as September 2 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellites were designed and built by AMSAT-EA in collaboration with university students. The GENESIS satellites are CW and amplitude shift keying (ASK) digital repeater satellites, 145.875 MHz up and 436.875 down for GENESIS-L and 145.888 MHz up, 436.888 MHz down for GENESIS-N.


ARRL member Ryan Pearson, KN4VKW, of Brentwood, Tennessee, took part in this month's Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Wearing #7, he is a pitcher and a shortstop. Ryan, along with his brother, Blake, KN4VKY; his dad, Andrew, KN4VKX, and his ham radio mentor RJ, KC4LRR, all upgraded to Amateur Extra class last summer.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sun watchers saw no days without sunspots this week. Average daily sunspot numbers rose from 17.7 last week to 21.7 over the August 19 - 25 reporting week. Average daily solar flux increased from 73.8 to 78.5.

Geomagnetic indicators were quiet, with average daily planetary A index declining from 6.1 to 4.7, and average daily middle latitude A index dropping from 7.6 to 5.7.

We are less than 1 month away from the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere on Wednesday, September 22. That's when both hemispheres will be bathed in equal measures of solar radiation -- always good for HF propagation.

Predicted solar flux is 84 on August 26 - 27; 85 on August 28 - September 1; 78 on September 2; 73 on September 3 - 11; 74 on September 12 - 15; 76 on September 16 - 18; 77 on September 19 - 20; 76 on September 21, and 75 on September 22 - 29.

Predicted planetary A index is 15, 18, 12, 10, and 8 on August 26 - 30; 5 on August 31 - September 2; 12 on September 3; 5 on September 4 - 10; 10 and 8 on September 11 - 12; 5 on September 13 - 18; 8 on September 19 - 20; 15 and 10 on September 21 - 22; 7 on September 23 - 24; 5 on September 25 - 28, and 8 and 12 on September 29 - 30.

Sunspot numbers for August 19 - 25 were 25, 14, 25, 16, 14, 29, and 29, with a mean of 21.7. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 74.9, 77.7, 77.1, 77.1, 78.1, 80.9, and 83.6, with a mean of 78.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 5, 3, 3, 4, 5, and 9, with a mean of 4.7. Middle latitude A index was 5, 6, 4, 4, 8, 5, and 8, with a mean of 5.7.

A comprehensive K7RA Solar Update is posted Fridays on the ARRL website. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service, read "What the Numbers Mean...," and check out this Propagation Page.

A propagation bulletin archive is available. For customizable propagation charts, visit the VOACAP Online for Ham Radio website.

Share your reports and observations.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • August 28 - 29 -- ALARA Contest (CW, phone)

  • August 28 - 29 -- W/VE Islands QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • August 28 - 29 -- YO DX HF Contest (CW, phone)

  • August 28 - 29 -- World Wide Digi DX Contest

  • August 28 - 29 -- Kansas QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • August 28 - 29 -- Ohio QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • August 28 - 30 -- Hawaii QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • August 29 -- SARL HF CW Contest

  • September 1 -- VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest

  • September 1 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (Phone)

  • September 1 - 3 -- G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest (CW)

  • September 2 -- NRAU 10-Meter Activity Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 2 -- SKCC Sprint Europe (CW)

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

Some conventions and hamfests may have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Check the calendar of canceled events on the ARRL website.

Find conventions and hamfests in your area.

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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.

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

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