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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
August 17, 2023
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Amateur Radio Operators Serve in Hawaii Firestorm Relief Efforts

ARRL members, in the Hawaii Amateur Radio Emergency Service®, (Hawaii ARES®), continue to respond following to the deadly wildfires on the island of Maui.

Fire Damage at Wailuku, HI (Dominick Del Vecchio/FEMA, photo)

The radio amateurs are coordinating with state and local officials during the response and recovery effort. Local hams continue to update lists of frequencies and repeaters that can be used in the response.

ARRL Headquarters staff have been in daily contact with member-volunteers on the island. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Hawaii and especially the island of Maui," said ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV. "ARRL was in initial contact with Section Manager [of the ARRL Pacific Section] Joe Speroni, AH0A, on Wednesday, August 9, and we have had daily briefs with him. This is an exceedingly challenging time for Hawaii, and we will be available as needed." ARRL has offered equipment through ARRL Ham Aid, a program established in 2005 and funded by donations, Ham Aid makes emergency communications equipment available to amateur radio organizations during disasters.

Johnston emphasized that most amateur radio communications, including relayed messages are being handled on the existing repeater system in the state. On shortwave, HF stations across Hawaii are operating nets on 7.088 MHz.

On August 8, wildfires fueled by strong winds began burning in Maui, and by the next day, much of Lahaina had been destroyed. As of press time, 110 people have been killed in the blaze and 2,200 structures have been destroyed; 86% of those structures were residential, according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green.

Read more in ARRL News.

STEM in Action: YOTA Campers Contact the International Space Station

On July 18, 2023, a weeklong Youth on the Air (YOTA) summer camp at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, hosted an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) radio contact.

YOTA campers show excitement upon hearing the ISS contact. (Left to right) Abby Matsuyoshi, KK7CFJ; Ruth Willet, KM4LAO; Alex Lammers, KO4ZMC, and Tripp Sanders, K5TRP.

The purpose of the camp is to connect young amateur radio operators from North, Central, and South America through amateur radio and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities.

The youth talked with astronaut Steve Bowen, KI5BKB, who answered 18 questions. ARISS volunteer Ruth Willet, KM4LAO, orchestrated their activities.

"[The ARISS contact] went so wonderfully -- I'm still on a high! It never, never, never gets old," said Willet. A reporter for the Radio Amateurs of Canada magazine, The Canadian Amateur, came to watch and report on the action.

Watch a video of the contact on YouTube

ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the ISS. In the US, participating organizations include NASA, the ISS National Lab, ARRL, and AMSAT.

Amateur Radio Operator Contacts Spacecraft

The headlines are sensational, although a bit exaggerated: "Ham Radio 'hacks' NASA Satellite". While the phrase is eye-catching for social media, the truth is just as exciting. Amateur radio astronomer Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, has made contact with NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft, which passed Earth for the first time in 17 years.

The STEREO-A (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecraft was launched on October 25, 2006, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with its twin sister ship, STEREO-B. Both spacecraft were on a mission to circle behind the and send images back to Earth so scientists could make 3D models of solar activity. In 2014, STEREO-B failed and was not heard from again.

"I'm having fun with STEREO-A," Tilley reported to "The spacecraft is close to Earth this summer, and I can now receive its signal using a small 26-inch dish in my backyard."

Scott Tilley's, VE7TIL, dish antenna for receiving NASA STEREO-A spacecraft. [Photo courtesy of Scott Tilley]

Tilley began hearing rumors that other radio operators were picking up signals from STEREO-A on 8443.580 MHz. He decided to check it out. "The central carrier is very loud, almost 30 dB above the noise," he said. "I also noticed data sidebands, which are unusual to see on such a distant object for my small antenna."

Tilley was able to decode and demodulate STEREO-A's signal using a special program written by Alan Antonie, F4LAU, known as SatDump, and now, he is monitoring almost all of STEREO-A's science instruments, including its Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUVI), two coronagraphs (COR1 and COR2), the heliospheric imager (HI), and a solar radio burst receiver (S/WAVES).

STEREO-A's closest approach to Earth was scheduled to occur on August 17, 2023.

Amateur radio operators who would like to monitor STEREO-A can check out Tilley's technical blog for more information.

[Thanks to and NASA for updated information in this story]

Ohio Surplus Store to Close

An iconic electronics surplus store will soon be closing its doors.

Phil Sellati, owner of Fair Radio Sales in Lima, Ohio, says it's time to close the business.

"I took over the business that my dad started in 1947, and after 50 years, it's time to close the doors," he said. Sellati has had an offer on the building and feels that it's time to move on.

There are 30,000 square feet of equipment and parts that all need to go. Sellati wants to be done with the business by October 2023, but he thinks it might take a little longer. He has even received suggestions to stay open for next year's Hamvention® in Xenia, Ohio.

Thousands of amateur radio operators, collectors, experimenters, and shortwave listeners have visited the store over the years. The shelves and aisles are full of old military radios and receivers. The store's fall-winter 1967 catalog lists a BC-499 FM 20 - 28 megacycle five-channel, crystal-controlled receiver with a dynamotor for $18.95; a GO-9 Navy 100 W CW transmitter for $69.95; along with pages of meters, cords, headphones, and microphones circa 1942.

Many Fair Radio Sales visitors started visiting when they were young, and they continue to shop there now. For one radio amateur, it was a must-stop location every year on their way to Dayton Hamvention. Another amateur radio operator said he stopped there in 1980 to pick up a Teletype Model 19 that still works today!

Sellati said he likes what he does and has enjoyed coming to work, but he wonders what comes next. He said he's thinking about looking for another building and starting over.

International Lighthouse-Lightship Weekend

International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) is on Saturday, August 19, and Sunday, August 20, 2023.

Loop Head Lighthouse, County Clare, Ireland. Photo courtesy of Mark Dunphy, Dunphy Communications.

In County Clare, Ireland, the Limerick Clare Radio Club, EI4LCR, will celebrate the 26th annual event by operating non-stop for 48 hours from the Loop Head West Clare lighthouse. The club will be using CW and SSB to contact lighthouses and lightships throughout the world.

Limerick Clare Radio Club Secretary Joe Ryan, EI9HG, said "A special QSL card has been designed to mark the event. The club will operate two stations, one of which will be at the entrance to the lighthouse, so members of the public can listen to some of the transmissions."

During this weekend's activation, lighthouse visitors will be able to listen to communications between some of the 500 lighthouses and lightships in over 40 countries that will be activated by amateur radio operators. The ILLW website has a complete list of rules, guidelines, and frequencies for the event.

ILLW began in 1998 as the Scottish Northern Lights Award run by the Ayr Amateur Radio Group. The annual event takes place on the third full weekend in August.

Amateur Radio in the News

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

"Mississippi Amateur Radio Operators gather for annual Mississippi Simulated Emergency Test" / WLOX (Mississippi) August 13, 2023 -- Amateur Radio Emergency Service®.

any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

ARRL Podcasts

On the Air
Sponsored by

This month, we talk with Steve Simons, W1SMS, the Technical Coordinator for the Connecticut Section, who shares his experiences as a TC, from coordinating with Emergency Operations Centers during an emergency, to presenting technical papers at ham club meetings, to working with the Section's Technical Specialists to help local hams with troubleshooting and other technical matters.

ARRL Audio News
Listen to ARRL Audio News, available every Friday. ARRL Audio News is a summary of the week's top news stories in the world of amateur radio and ARRL, along with interviews and other features.

The On the Air podcast is available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android). The On the Air podcast and ARRL Audio News are also on blubrry -- On the Air | ARRL Audio News.


The September 2023 issue of QST has an incorrect date for the Midwest Superfest at the Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois. In the "Convention and Hamfest Calendar" on page 86 the date is listed as September 9, 2023. The actual dates are September 16 - 17, 2023. ARRL regrets this error. This ARRL-sanctioned hamfest is sponsored by the Peoria-Area Amateur Radio Club, and more information can be found at Additional information about hamfests and conventions can be found here on the ARRL website.

A new special event will take place on Saturday, August 19, 2023, involving amateur radio and former Atlas F missile silos. Beginning at 11:00 AM EDT, amateur radio operators from the Champlain Valley Amateur Radio Club (CVARC), W2UXC, as well as a group of amateurs in Texas, will attempt to activate two missile sites -- one in Oplin, Texas, and the other in Champlain, New York. The goal is to establish an HF contact with each site and with other amateurs throughout the day. The frequencies have not been selected yet, but additional information will be posted on the CVARC Facebook page. Robert Grabowski, KB5RG, and Lance Tolar, KD5EFB, will be at the Texas site, which is one of 12 missile silo sites remaining in the state. "The site has been converted into a home, but the owner has agreed to let the amateurs use it for the event," said Grabowski. "Eight of the 12 sites are lived in, and two are still abandoned," he added. The site in New York, is listed as Champlain Atlas Missile Silo Site 1, at 67 Missile Base Road. It took only 4 days to plan this event, but both groups say they envision organizing other special events and operations linked to historical dates related to the Atlas F missile program.

In Brief...

In a joint release, the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) and the Radio Club D'Haïti (RCH) have announced their commitment to training new amateur radio operators for in Haiti. On Monday, July 2, 2023, CONATEL and the RCH jointly launched a 90 day raining session for CONATEL engineers and young executives to learn Morse code and other basic techniques for using amateur radio equipment. The launch of this activity follows the Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) between CONATEL and the RCH, which was signed on March 26, 2023. CONATEL Director General and RCH President Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, initialed the MOA. The objective of the training session is to professionally equip participants, and in turn, grow the country's amateur radio community. About 20 CONATEL employees are taking part in the session. Two representatives, Gaillard and Pierrick Madsen, HH2MK, emphasized the importance of learning the Morse code as they believe it's the basis of the language of amateur radio.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, reports for this week's ARRL Propagation Bulletin, ARLP033:

Eleven new sunspot groups emerged over the past week, August 10 - 16, 2023, but average solar indicators declined.

There were two new sunspot groups on August 11, three more on

Solar disk image taken August 17, 2023, courtesy of NASA SDO/HMI.

August 13, another on August 14, two more on August 15, and three more on August 16.

The average daily sunspot numbers declined from 108.9 to 95.7, while the average daily solar flux dropped from 166.4 to 154.2.

Predicted solar flux is 160 on August 17 - 24; 162, 160, and 164 on August 25 - 27; 168 on August 28 - 31; 165, 163, and 160 on September 1 - 3; 158, 155, 152, and 150 on September 4 - 7; 148, 142, 140, and 130 on September 8 - 11; 135 on September 12 - 14, and 145, 150, and 155 on September 15 - 17.

Predicted planetary A index is 15, 12, and 8 on August 17 - 19; 5 on August 20 - 25; 12 on August 26; 5 on August 27 through September 5; 10, 8, and 8 on September 6 - 8; 5 on September 9 - 11, and 12, 15, 12, and 8 on September 12 - 15.

Look for comments from readers concerning the transition from summer to fall conditions in Friday's bulletin.

Sunspot numbers for August 10 through 16, 2023, were 83, 105, 61, 89, 85, 107, and 140, with a mean of 95.7. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 155.7, 152.8, 148.3, 150.4, 154, 158.1, and 160.1, with a mean of 154.2. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 5, 8, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, and 8, with a mean of 6. The middle latitude A index was 8, 6, 10, 7, 6, 7, and 10, with a mean of 7.7.

Send your tips, questions, or comments to

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.

A weekly, full report is posted on ARRL News.

Just Ahead in Radiosport

Yearlong -- ARRL Volunteers On the Air (VOTA). See the State Activations Schedule for weekly W1AW Portable Operations, including:

  • August 16 - 22 -- Vermont W1AW/1

  • August 16 - 22 -- Oklahoma W1AW/5

  • August 23 - 29 -- North Dakota W1AW/0

  • August 23 - 29 -- Idaho W1AW/7

Upcoming Contests:
  • August 17 - 18-- Walk for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • August 17 -- NTC QSO Party (CW)

  • August 19 - 20 -- SARTG WW RTTY Contest (digital)

  • August 19 - 20 -- ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • August 19 - 20 -- Russian District Award Contest (CW, phone)

  • August 19 - 20 -- Keyman's Club of Japan Contest (CW)

  • August 19 -- Feld Hell Sprint (digital)

  • August 19 - 20 -- North American QSO Party, SSB (phone)

  • August 19 - 20 -- CVA DX Contest (CW)

  • August 20 -- FISTS Sunday Sprint (CW)

  • August 20 -- ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY (digital)

  • August 20 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • August 23 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)

Visit the ARRL Contest Calendar for more events and information.

Upcoming Section, State, and Division Conventions

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

Have News for ARRL?

Submissions for the ARRL Letter and ARRL News can be sent to -- John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, ARRL News Editor

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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.

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