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The ARRL Letter
December 30, 2021
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ARRL Headquarters will be closed on Friday, December 31, and there will be no W1AW bulletin or CW practice transmissions on that day. ARRL Headquarters will reopen on Monday, January 3, 2022, at 8 AM EST (1300 UTC). We extend our best wishes for the New Year!


IARU Region 2 Executive Committee Issues Upbeat Seasonal Message

International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 Secretary George Gorsline, VE3YV, has issued a year-end message on behalf of the Executive Committee.

"A bright spot in an otherwise challenging year is that our shared passion of amateur radio is growing stronger," Gorsline wrote. "The increase in on-the-air activity has been noticeable, especially on the HF bands. Driven by reawakening solar activity and the rapid adoption of digital modes, such as FT8, the bands are active -- not just during evenings and weekends, but also during normal working hours, where more than a few of us have been known to be in video conference calls while making QSOs.

George Gorsline, VE3YV [RAC photo]

Growth in activity and participation has not been limited to the HF bands. Use of VHF and UHF has also increased, not just for local nets, but especially interest in satellite operations."

Gorsline said that the use of "virtual learning" has allowed many IARU member-societies and affiliated clubs to conduct licensing classes and exams. "Attracting new and younger amateurs is our future," said Gorsline. "For 2022, the challenge to all of us is to not only enjoy our hobby, but to also share it with someone new."

Gorsline challenged members of the amateur community to "introduce someone to the many possibilities of amateur radio."

Hurricane Watch Net Recorded 300 On-Air Hours in 2021

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, says 2021 was the third most-active hurricane season on record in terms of named storms, and was the sixth consecutive above-normal season.

"We've completed another hurricane season. The Atlantic basin was extremely busy again for 2021," Graves told HWN members. "For the year, we had 21 named storms, seven of which became hurricanes, and four of those became major hurricanes -- Category 3 or stronger." Graves noted that 2021 marked the first year on record that two consecutive hurricane seasons exhausted the list of 21 storm names.

Tropical systems that made landfall caused estimated total damage of $70 billion, as of the end of November, making 2021 the fourth most costly hurricane season on record, behind 2012, 2005, and 2017.

Graves recounted that several tropical systems made an impact on land this year. "In August, Tropical Storm Fred caused devastating flooding across parts of the Greater Antilles and the southeastern United States," he said. "Hurricane Grace made two landfalls in Mexico -- first as a Category 1 hurricane just south of Tulum on the southeast Yucatán [Peninsula], and second as a Category 3 major hurricane in the Mexican state of Veracruz."

"Hurricane Ida was a deadly and destructive hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane -- the most intense and

HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV.

destructive hurricane to affect the state since Hurricane Katrina," Graves continued. He noted that Ida also caused catastrophic flooding across the US northeast.

"Hurricane Larry peaked as a powerful Category 3 hurricane over the open Atlantic [Ocean] before making landfall in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador as a Category 1 hurricane. Later, Hurricane Nicholas moved erratically both on and offshore [on] the coasts of Texas and Louisiana," he said.

In 2021, the HWN activated for five hurricanes -- Elsa, Grace, Henri, Ida, and Larry. Graves said the HWN racked up nearly 300 hours on the air, with 140 of those spent on Hurricane Ida alone. Read an expanded version.

New Low-Power Limit for ARRL HF Contests Goes into Effect on January 1, 2022

ARRL has set a new standard for what counts as low power for ARRL-sponsored HF contests. The new limit is 100 W, which is down from the 150 W limit that has been permitted in some events, including the ARRL November Sweepstakes.

With the exception of ARRL Field Day, this change goes into effect on January 1, 2022, for all ARRL-sponsored HF contests, as well as the IARU HF World Championship.

This change has been implemented to standardize low-power categories within the contesting community. However, on a more practical level, the typical modern HF transceiver has a maximum power output of 100 W.

For more information, contact the ARRL Contests program. -- Thanks to The ARRL Contest Update

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 24) features some tips about how to improve the effective range of your handheld transceiver.

The latest edition of the Eclectic Tech podcast (Episode 50) -- the final edition for 2021 -- features a discussion with Nelson Sollenberger, KA2C, about the filter he designed that allows two nearby stations to operate on the same band during Field Day and contests. Also featured is a brief explanation of the so-called POST beeps that many computers make, and what they mean.

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.

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ARRL to Oppose Forest Service Administrative Fees for Amateur Radio Facilities

The US Forest Service is proposing to implement a statutorily required annual fee for new and existing communications use authorizations to cover the costs of administering its authorization program. ARRL plans to vigorously oppose the imposition of the proposed fees on amateur radio.

The Forest Service proposal results from requirements set forth in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka "the Farm Bill"). Specifically, section 8705(c)(3)(b) of the Farm Bill directs the Forest Service to issue regulations that require fees for issuing communications use authorizations based on the cost to the Agency for maintenance or other activities to be performed by the Agency "as a result of the location or modification of a communications facility."

The Forest Service is responsible for managing Federal lands and authorizes the use and occupancy of National Forest System (NFS) lands for communications facilities that provide communications services for adjacent rural and urban communities. The Agency said in its proposal that it administers more than 3,700 special use authorizations on NFS lands for infrastructure that supports more than 10,000 wireless communications uses at 1,367 communications sites.

According to the Forest Service Notice published in the December 22, 2021 issue of the Federal Register, revenues from the proposed fee, "would provide the funds necessary to support a more modernized, efficient, and enhanced communications use program," and will "cover the costs of administering the Agency's communications use program." Costs, as laid out in section 8705(f)(4) of the Farm Bill, may include expenditures for such things as "on-site reviews of communications sites, developing communications site management plans, hiring and training personnel for the communications use program, conducting internal and external outreach for and national oversight of the communications use program, and obtaining or improving access to communications sites on NFS lands."

ARRL encourages amateur radio licensees to file comments opposing the imposition of the proposed administrative fee on amateur radio users. Comments must be received in writing by no later than February 22, 2022. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal Rulemaking Portal or via USPS mail to Director, Lands & Realty Management Staff, 201 14th Street SW, Washington, DC 20250-1124, and must include the identifier "RIN 0596-AD44."

HamSCI Invites Abstracts for its 2022 Workshop

HamSCI is soliciting abstracts for the 2022 HamSCI Workshop. The submission deadline is February 1, 2022. The workshop will be a hybrid (in-person and virtual) event from March 18 - 19, 2022, at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

"The primary objective of the HamSCI workshop is to bring together the amateur radio community and professional scientists," said HamSCI Lead Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, an assistant professor within the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering at The University of Scranton. "This year's theme is 'The Weather Connection,' with invited speakers Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW, and Jim Bacon, G3YLA."

Skov and Bacon will present tutorials on the impacts of space and terrestrial weather on the ionosphere. Chen-Pang Yeang, an associate professor and director for the Special Project on Scientific Instruments at the University of Toronto, will deliver the keynote address, "Ham Radio and the Discovery of the Ionosphere."

Frissell said that abstracts related to development of the Personal Space Weather Station, ionospheric science, atmospheric science, radio science, space weather, radio astronomy, and any science topic that can be appropriately related to amateur radio are invited. "We especially encourage submissions related to this year's meeting theme of The Weather Connection, but will also accept abstracts outside of this theme that are of interest to both the amateur radio and professional science communities."

To submit an abstract, complete the form on the HamSCI Workshop page. Workshop registration will open by mid-January. Read an expanded version.

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.

Have an interesting topic you want to share? The ARRL Learning Network is a series of online webinars presented by member-volunteers for members. Presentations should be short -- 30 minutes plus an additional 15 minutes for Q&A.

For more information, email ARRL Education and Learning.

More webinars are coming soon!

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.

The ARRL Learning Network schedule is subject to change.

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Intrepid-DX Group Announces Youth "Dream Rig" Essay Contest Winners

On December 1, Intrepid-DX Group President Paul Ewing, N6PSE, announced the prize recipients of the second annual Youth "Dream Rig" Essay Contest. Ewing said all essays received "were all unique in thought and very well articulated." Extra points were given for correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling, he said.

"Most of the essays gave unique perspectives on how to reach out and connect with the youth of today. We will be sharing those ideas in subsequent postings," he said.

The first-place winner and recipient of an Icom IC-7300 transceiver is Silas Davis, W3SED. Second-place winner Olivia Lee, KD2UYX, and third-place winner Isaac Schmidt, K6IAS, will each receive Yaesu FT-65R radios. "Having read your many essays this week, we can tell you that our youth are full of great ideas, and they are brimming with enthusiasm to keep our hobby alive well into the future," Ewing concluded.

He thanked Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) for supporting this year's prizes.


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.


3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island Updates its Progress

Two new team members of the upcoming 3Y0J Bouvet DXpedition team have come aboard to replace, in part, three operators who are unable to make the trip -- Sandro Nitoi, VE7NY; Laci Radócz, HA0NAR, and Dimtry Zhikharev, RA9USU. Joining the 3Y0J crew will be Cezar Trifu, VE3LYC, and Otis Vicens, NP4G. A third replacement has not yet been named.

"Their experience will be a great addition to the team," the DXpedition team said in a media release announcing the personnel changes and updating the DXpedition's planning process.

Ken Opskar, LA7GIA; Rune Øye, LA7THA, and Erwann Merrien, LB1QI, are sharing leadership duties for the 2023 DXpedition.

The 3Y0J team has also been busy selecting the gear that they will need once they reach the subantarctic island. Arctic Lavvo of Norway will supply the team with its Venor Gamme tent. The tent, which stood up to winds of 40 meters per second (nearly 90 MPH) when it was tested in extreme conditions on Svalbard, will be improved further by adding extra guying levels and by strengthening the aluminum frame, the 3Y0J DXpedition team explained.

Silcom of South Africa will supply custom masts for the Yagi antennas that are rated for the Bouvet environment. The aluminum mast will be used for the tribanders, while the smaller, galvanized steel mast will support dual-band Yagis.

"We're taking preparation to the next level by procuring a [Zodiac Milpro inflatable boat]," the team continued. "The strategic decision to buy the [boat] will enable us to train [for] the critical beach landing in Norway.

The DXpedition team said it's still $160,000 short of its funding goal.

Follow the team's plans via its website or the 3Y0J Facebook page. View Bouvet Island from above in a short YouTube video. Read an expanded version.

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Announcements
  • ARRL's Commemorative 1915 QST download on Christmas Day encountered a delivery issue. ARRL members can now access the document. Send questions or comments via email. QST marked its centenary in 2015, and the first edition was published in December 1915.

  • Finland's IARU member-society SRAL has presented Iceland's member-society IRA with an engraved KBX-380 Morse paddle to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the IRA's founding.

  • NASA has announced its intent to purchase three more commercial crew missions from SpaceX -- in a sole-source award -- as a hedge against further delays in the certification of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. Those missions will be in addition to the six post-certification missions SpaceX in 2014. "It's critical we begin to secure additional flights to the space station now so we are ready as these missions are needed to maintain a US presence on the station," said Kathy Lueders, Associate Administrator of NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate.

  • ARRL has been migrating to new rule sets that exist as a single document. As the rule sets are replaced, the older "General Rules," "Rules for Contests below 30 MHz," and "Rules for Contests above 30 MHz" documents will sunset. Complete rules are available as a PDF on individual contest pages. -- Thanks to ARRL Contest Program Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE

  • New Year's Day is also Kids Day. Introduce your child, or a relative's or friend's child, to amateur radio. If you hear kids on the air, have a friendly contact with them. Kids Day is designed to give young people on-the-air experience and hopefully foster their interest in getting a license of their own. It is also intended to give older hams a chance to share their stations and love for amateur radio with youngsters.

  • The US Department of Defense has issued an updated Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) instruction, DODI 4650.02, replacing MARS DODI 4650.02 issued in 2009. The document establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for MARS. It further establishes MARS organization, membership, and functions. -- Thanks to Gary Sessums, KC5QCN

Georgia Club Donates License Manuals to Local Schools

The Dalton Amateur Radio Club (DARC) in Dalton, Georgia, recently donated copies of the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual to several schools in its service area. The materials will be available in the schools' media centers.

On December 1, DARC President Jack Thompson, N5UOV, met with media specialists Sarah Hicks of North Murray High School and Ryan Long of Murray County High School to present both schools with copies of the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, which covers everything needed to obtain a Technician-class license including the full question pool for the exam.

Jack Thompson, N5UOV, and Sarah Hicks at North Murray High School.

During a second presentation on December 3, Thompson and David Stanley, WI4L, met with Whitfield County Schools Media Specialist Ge-Anne Bolhuis, and Communications Specialist Kristina Horsley, to present 10 copies of the license manual, which will be placed in each middle school and high school in the county.

The visits offered Thompson and Stanley a chance to answer questions about amateur radio. Thompson explained to Hicks that not only was ham radio an interesting hobby, it involves public service activities and could inspire students to become involved in emergency management or search-and-rescue activities.

Bolhuis also asked about the uses of amateur radio. Stanley explained that ham radio is often the last line of communication in an emergency when all other means fail. Thompson explained how his activity as a radio amateur led to his 25+ years of volunteering as a reservist in emergency management and as a member of the search-and-rescue team of the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department in Mississippi.

Representatives from all of the schools received information about the ARRL Foundation Scholarship Program. The Dalton Amateur Radio Club expressed its appreciation to Tom Smith, KI4IG, for making the initial contacts with the schools and to ARRL for providing the manuals at no cost.

In Brief...

David Benoist, AG4ZR, has been appointed as ARRL Georgia Section Manager. In consultation with ARRL Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB, ARRL Field Services Manager Mike Walters, W8ZY, appointed Benoist, of Senoia, to fill the vacant post starting immediately. Benoist had previously served as Georgia Section Manager (SM) from 2016 to 2021. Benoist was the ARRL Georgia Section Emergency Coordinator from March 2014 to 2016. The former Georgia ARRL SM, Jim Millsap, K9APD, resigned for personal reasons, effective December 14, after serving since October 1.

A new release of WSJT-X is available. The WSJT-X development group -- Joe Taylor, K1JT; Steve Franke, K9AN; and new member Nico Palermo, IV3NWV -- have announced the release of WSJT-X 2.5.3. This new release includes a feature of special interest to users participating in the ARRL January VHF Contest (January 15 - 17). This new feature is an enhanced macro facility for text messages that is aimed at making it easier to ask another station to move to another band. This feature is described briefly in the updated WSJT-X User Guide. Installation packages for WSJT-X 2.5.3 are available on the WSJT-X website.

Special WRTC 2022 call signs will be active starting in January. The World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) 2022 Organizing Committee has announced that more than 100 Italian radio amateurs will be activating special WRTC call signs, one for each Italian call district, starting on January 1, 2022, and concluding on July 10, 2022. A first-time-ever award will be available promoting WRTC 2022, which has been postponed until 2023. Look for these call signs to be active during some contests, concluding with the 2022 IARU HF World Championship. Each participant's contact totals and award-hunter scores will be displayed on a real-time leaderboard. Participants can download the award in digital format. -- Thanks to The ARRL Contest Update

Former ARRL Tennessee Section Manager Keith Miller Sr., N9DGK, of Rockvale, Tennessee, died of COVID on December 22. An ARRL Life Member, he was 75. Miller served four terms as ARRL Tennessee Section Manager from 2012 until December 2019, when he decided not to run for another term. He was licensed in 1981 and was very active in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and emergency communication. Miller served as ARRL Emergency Coordinator from 2006 to 2013. Miller served as a member and officer of the Stones River Amateur Radio Club.

Former ARRL Virgin Islands Section Manager Ron Hall, KP2N, of St. Augustine, Florida, has died. An ARRL Life Member, he was 85. Hall served as Section Manager from 1988 until 1996. He later served as an Assistant Section Manager in 2002 before relocating to Florida. Licensed in the 1950s, he once worked for Heathkit. He was a member of the St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club.

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The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot activity persisted over the reporting week, although numbers were a bit lower. Average daily sunspot number declined from 124.4 to 110.1. Average daily solar flux slipped just slightly from 125 to 124. Average daily planetary A index went from 9.1 to 6.4, and average middle latitude numbers changed from 6.4 to 4.4.

New sunspot groups appeared on December 25, 26, and 28.

Predicted solar flux over the next month is expected to peak at 130 on January 18 - 19, and the numbers are 110, 108, and 105 on December 30 - January 1; 104 on January 2 - 3; 100 on January 4; 98 on January 5 - 6; then 92, 100, 105, and 110 on January 7 - 10; 115 on January 11 - 13; 118 on January 14 - 15; 122 and 128 on January 16 - 17; 130 on January 18 - 19; 128, 125, and 120 on January 20 - 22; 125 on January 23 - 24; 122 on January 25; 120 on January 26 - 27; 115, 110, 100, and 95 on January 28 - 31; 90 on February 1 - 2, and 92 and 100 on February 3 - 4.

Predicted planetary A index is 10 and 8 on December 30 - 31, then 6, 12, and 8 on January 1 - 3; 5 on January 4 - 10; 10 on January 11 - 12; 5 on January 13 - 14; 8 and 12 on January 15 - 16; 8 on January 17 - 18; 5 on January 19 - 22; 8, 10, 8, and 8 on January 23 - 26, and 5 on January 27 - February 6.

Sunspot numbers for December 23 - 29 were 143, 145, 117, 95, 85, 107, and 79, with a mean of 110.1. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 129.8, 126.2, 130.7, 125.4, 123.9, 120.5, and 111.4, with a mean of 124. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 5, 7, 3, 10, 9, and 7, with a mean of 6.4. Middle latitude A index was 2, 3, 5, 2, 8, 6, and 5, with a mean of 4.4.

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 the Propagation Page of Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA.

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
  • December 31 -- Bogor Old and New Contest (Phone)

  • January 1 -- Straight Key Night

  • January 1 -- ARRL Kids Day (Phone)

  • January 1 -- AGB New Year Snowball Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • January 1 -- SARTG New Year RTTY Contest

  • January 1 -- AGCW Happy New Year Contest (CW)

  • January 1 -- AGCW VHF/UHF Contest (CW)

  • January 1 -- QRP ARCI New Years Sprint (CW)

  • January 1 - 2 -- WW PMC Contest (CW, phone)

  • January 1 - 2 -- Original QRP Contest (CW, phone)

  • January 3 -- K1USN Slow Speed Test (CW, maximum 20 WPM)

  • January 4 -- Worldwide Sideband Contest

  • January 4 -- ARS Spartan Sprint (CW)

  • January 5 -- RTTYops Weeksprint

  • January 5 -- QRP Fox Hunt (CW)

  • January 5 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW)

  • January 5 -- FT8 Activity Contest

  • January 5 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW)

  • January 5 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (Phone)

  • January 6 - 7 -- Walk for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)


Upcoming Section, State, and Division Conventions

Search the ARRL Hamfest and Convention Database to find events in your area.


ARRL -- Your One-Stop Resource for
Amateur Radio News and Information

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  • Listen to ARRL Audio News, available every Friday.

  • The ARRL Letter is available in an accessible format, posted weekly to the Blind-hams Groups.io email group. The group is dedicated to discussions about amateur radio as it concerns blind hams, plus related topics including ham radio use of adaptive technology.

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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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