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The ARRL Letter
January 16, 2020
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ARRL On the Air Podcast Premieres January 16

ARRL's new On the Air podcast for those just getting started on their amateur radio journey will debut this Thursday, January 16, with a new episode posted each month. The podcast is a companion to the new bimonthly On the Air magazine, which is already on its way to member subscribers. On the Air magazine's Editorial Director Becky Schoenfeld, W1BXY, will be the host of the new podcast. Both the podcast and the magazine are aimed at offering new and beginner-to-intermediate-level radio amateurs a fresh approach to exploring radio communication.

Listeners can find the On the Air podcast at Blubrry, Apple iTunes (or by using your iPhone or iPad podcast app -- search for On the Air), and Stitcher (or through the free Stitcher app for iOS, Kindle, or Android devices). Episodes will be archived on the ARRL website.

Each On the Air podcast will take a deeper dive into the articles and issues raised in the magazine, including advice and insight on topics covering the range of amateur radio interests and activities: radio technology, operating, equipment, project building, and emergency communication.

Supplementing On the Air will be a new Facebook page for those who share a love of radio communication and are looking to learn and explore more about their interests.

The biweekly Eclectic Tech podcast for experienced radio amateurs will launch on February 13. Hosted by QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, Eclectic Tech will highlight topics involving amateur and non-amateur technology, offer brief interviews with individuals involved in projects of interest to amateurs, and include practical information of immediate benefit to today's hams. Eclectic Tech will be available via iTunes and Stitcher.

The ARRL Mags apps including QST and On the Air are now live on Apple iTunes and Google Play. The digital edition of On the Air magazine is also live and linked from the On the Air page on the ARRL website.

Leadership Elections to Highlight January 17 - 18 ARRL Annual Board Meeting

Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB. [Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, photo]

The ARRL Board of Directors will elect officers when it meets for its 2020 annual meeting on January 17 - 18 in Windsor, Connecticut. The Board will hear nominations and then vote, as necessary, for ARRL president, first and second vice presidents, international affairs vice president, secretary, treasurer, chief executive officer, and chief financial officer. The Board will also choose members to serve on the Executive Committee and on the ARRL Foundation. Successful candidates will take office after the Board meeting adjourns.

Some new faces will be around the table. The ARRL Southeastern Division has entirely new leadership.

Southeastern Division Vice Director James Schilling, KG4JSZ. [Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, photo]

In last year's elections, Mickey Baker, N4MB, defeated Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, to become the new Southeastern Division Director, while James Schilling, KG4JSZ, won a three-way race for Vice Director.

In the Southwest Division, new Vice Director Mark Weiss, K6FG, was the sole candidate to succeed Ned Stearns, AA7A, who decided not to stand for another term.

The Board will hear officers' reports and receive financial reports. Members will also hear reports from ARRL's Washington Counsel, David Siddall, K3ZJ, and from its Connecticut Counsel.

Southwestern Division Vice Director Mark Weiss, K6FG. [Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, photo]

The Board will also receive and consider reports and recommendations from committees and coordinators.

Additionally, the Board will consider recommendations of the Standing Committees, including the Executive Committee, the Administration and Finance Committee, and the Programs and Services Committee and consider additional recommendations as contained in reports.

The meeting will hear any motions that the 15 individual Directors may offer for Board consideration.

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US Air Force Space Fence Nearing Operational Acceptance

According to NASA's most recent Orbital Debris Quarterly News, the space agency calculates about 17.6 million pounds of objects are in earth orbit, a number that will grow as launches proliferate -- including thousands of small satellites -- presenting a huge problem. The US Air Force Space Fence -- a second-generation space surveillance system now nearing completion -- is expected to play a crucial role.

Space Fence is located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. [US Army photo]

Using advanced solid-state S-band radar technology, Space Fence is located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Such critical space-based technologies as weather forecasting, banking, global communications, and GPS navigation are under threat from space junk orbiting Earth. Collisions already are frequent, and defunct satellites and rocket boosters have increased the amount of space debris.

The Air Force Space Surveillance Network tracks about 25,000 objects. When Space Fence comes online, the catalog will expand considerably, and when fully operational, it will be the world's largest and most advanced radar system, offering unprecedented space situational awareness. Beyond cataloging objects, Space Fence will detect closely spaced objects, breakups, maneuvers, launches, and more.

Contractor Lockheed Martin reported last spring that Space Fence was able to detect debris from a microsatellite destroyed by India as part of an anti-satellite test. It then was able to determine the orbit of the remnants and predict when the space junk would pass through the fence again.

Space Fence is expected to become fully operational this year. -- Thanks to AMSAT News Service via Milsat Magazine; Lockheed Martin

Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief Effort Continues, with Help from Ham Radio

In Puerto Rico, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers continue to operate from the American Red Cross distribution center in Yauco -- one of the towns hit the hardest by the recent earthquakes and ongoing aftershocks on the island. The Red Cross requested assistance last week to identify undeclared refugee camps and to report on closed or damaged roadways and bridges. ARES District 5

Volunteers Eduardo Hernandez, WP4RAF (left), and Herb Perez, WP4ZZ. [Photo courtesy of Oscar Resto, KP4RF]

Emergency Coordinator Herb Perez, WP4ZZ, who is among those volunteering for the Red Cross at Yauco, reported on January 14 that he, Melvin Velazquez, WP4RAP, and Yolanda Garcia, WP4QZF, were on duty there.

"Today, we were able to occupy our space with no major incident other than the usual shaking of the entire structure. More than 10 per hour," Perez said. "One of our members, Jared Martinez, KP4LCO, was able to search near his hometown of Lajas and was able to locate more than 10 unidentified campsites around the area." Perez said such reports enable the Red Cross to provide necessary assistance to those left homeless as a result of the earthquakes.

Perez said volunteers were able to collect food from a church-run food pantry in Sabana Grande for isolated communities in the mountain region. He said local members of the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Citizens Band radio communities have been pitching in.

Operations from Yauco have been on VHF and UHF, although commercial telecommunication services remain in operation for the most part. Another station has been established at the Red Cross Headquarters in the capital of San Juan, which is not in the earthquake zone. Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, said the stations are operating as a backbone, in the event of new or stronger earthquakes. HF equipment has been safely stowed if communications fail, Resto said. Most of Puerto Rico now has power and water.

Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, installs an antenna at Red Cross Headquarters in San Juan.

ARRL is shipping six VHF/UHF base/repeater antennas and six 50-foot rolls of LMR-400 coax through the Ham Aid Fund. Resto said a new Red Cross warehouse will be placed in Mayagüez, where he will install a third station for backbone communication. "That is the reason for the new antennas," he said. "We already have the radios. In case we need to escalate to HF, we are ready with ARRL go-kits from Hurricane Maria."

A lot of seismic activity was reported on January 15. "Many more or less 3.1 quakes were felt during the day," Perez said. That included a magnitude 5.1 temblor that shook the facilities.

The ARES team in Yauco has also been handling health-and-welfare traffic from the earthquake zone. Operations are running from 9 AM until 5 PM each day.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the southwestern part of Puerto Rico on January 7, fast on the heels of a magnitude 5.8 tremor the day before. The worst-impacted cities were Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Yauco, and Guánica, where most homes are no longer habitable.

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2019 ARRL Periodicals Available on DVD and via Download

The 2019 ARRL Periodicals DVD is now available and includes the complete, fully searchable collection of three ARRL publications -- QST, the official membership journal of ARRL, QEX Forum for Communications Experimenters, and National Contest Journal (NCJ). In addition, the DVD includes source code for software projects and PC board patterns; Section News, and the ever-popular Contest Soapbox and Contest Results.

Search the full text of every article by entering titles, call signs, or names. See every word, photo, drawing, and table in technical and general-interest features, columns and product reviews, plus all advertisements. Print what you see, or copy it into other applications. System requirements: Microsoft Windows and Macintosh systems, using Adobe Acrobat Reader software.

The 2019 ARRL Periodicals DVD is available from the ARRL Store or your ARRL Dealer. (ARRL Item no. 1274, ISBN: 978-1-62595-127-4, $24.95 retail, plus shipping. Call 860-594-0355 or toll-free in the US, 888-277-5289. 2019 ARRL Periodicals is also available as a download in a Windows version (ARRL Item no. 1274_WD) and Mac/Linux version (ARRL Item no. 1274_MLD).

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Solar Cycle 25 sunspots persisted on January 9 - 10, with daily sunspot numbers of 14 and 11, respectively. This brought the weekly average daily sunspot number from 8.4 last week to 3.6 this week. Average daily solar flux edged up from 71.8 to 72.5.

The average daily planetary A index declined from 6.3 to 5.6, and the average middle latitude A index went from 5.3 to 3.7.

Predicted solar flux for the next 45 days is 71 on January 16 - 18; 70 on January 19 - 23; 72 on January 24 - 25; 70 on January 26 - February 7; 72 on February 8 - 22, and 70 on February 23 - 29.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on January 16 - 18; 8 on January 19 - 20; 5 on January 21 - 31; 8 on February 1 - 2; 5 on February 3; 10 on February 4 - 6; 5 on February 7 - 9; 10 on February 10 - 11; 5 on February 12 - 22; 8 on February 23 - 24; 5 on February 25 - 27, and 8 on February 28 - 29.

Sunspot numbers for January 9 - 15 were 14, 11, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, with a mean of 3.6. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 74.4, 72.8, 73.5, 71.9, 71.5, 71.9, and 71.2, with a mean of 72.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 12, 7, 6, 4, 3, 3, and 4, with a mean of 5.6. The middle latitude A index was 8, 6, 4, 2, 2, 2, and 2, with a mean of 3.7.

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 K9LA's Propagation Page.

A propagation bulletin archive is available. Monthly charts offer propagation projections between the US and a dozen DX locations.

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Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • January 17 -- LZ Open Contest (CW)

  • January 18 -- RSGB AFS Contest, SSB

  • January 18 -- WAB 1.8 MHz Phone/CW

  • January 18 - 19 -- Hungarian DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • January 18 - 19 -- North American QSO Party, SSB

  • January 18 - 19 -- NA Collegiate Championship, SSB

  • January 18 - 19 -- Feld Hell Sprint

  • January 18 - 20 -- ARRL January VHF Contest (CW, phone, digital)

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

  • January 22 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)

  • January 23 -- NAQCC CW Sprint

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 email preferences.

YOTA Month Reported a Success in the Americas

For several years now, Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) has sponsored YOTA Month each December, primarily involving young radio amateurs in Europe and Africa. In December, youth-operated amateur radio stations in the Americas picked up the ball to contribute more than 12,000 contacts to the worldwide event. Eighteen operators aged 25 or younger deployed special event 1 × 1 call signs -- K8Y, K8O, K8T, and K8A -- to promote youth in amateur radio. Fifteen young operators across the US took turns using these call signs throughout December. They logged 10,474 contacts using those call signs on SSB, CW, digital modes, and satellites. Some operators also aired the call signs during contests. Participants in the Americas offered opinions on what made the event special for them.

"Operating-wise, it was definitely the pileups...I love a good pileup," said Mason Matrazzo, KM4SII. "Apart from that, it was great getting to be part of a group of youngsters that are all into the hobby. Even though we weren't physically working together, we all got to be part of the YOTA program over the air."

Audrey McElroy, KM4BUN, also cited the on-air camaraderie. "My favorite part of YOTA month was getting the wonderful experience of talking to other youth all over the world and sharing our experiences," she said. "It gives us hope to know the future of amateur radio is in the hands of these great kids." Her brother Jack, KM4ZIA, also took part.

In Canada, David Samu, VE7DZO, signed VE7YOTA in December, making 458 contacts on CW. "My favorite part was seeing all the YOTA stations on the air throughout December and seeing all the high energy youth activity," he said.

YOTA Month in the Americas Coordinator Bryant Rascoll, KG5HVO, at WRTC-2018.

Mathias Acevedo, CE2LR, activated XR2YOTA, and met another young operator from Chile, Manu Pardo, CA3MPR, through YOTA month. Between them, they put 1,535 contacts into the log on CW, SSB, and digital modes.

Bryant Rascoll, KG5HVO, coordinated the efforts of the 17 participants and the logs for the US stations. "I learned much during the month about the importance of teamwork and communication...just like baseball," Bryant said about his role as coordinator. "I think YOTA month was a great success considering the short amount of time we had to plan this all out. I had a lot of fun operating this event, but it was even more rewarding to see other youth here in the Americas make tons of QSOs during December."

The first Youth On The Air camp in the US will take place June 21 - 26 at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Township, Ohio. Read more.

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Nominations Solicited for Six ARRL Awards

ARRL is inviting nominations for awards that recognize educational and technological pursuits in amateur radio. Nominations are also open for ARRL's premier award to honor a young licensee.

  • The Hiram Percy Maxim Award recognizes a radio amateur and ARRL member younger than age 21, whose accomplishments and contributions are of the most exemplary nature within the framework of amateur radio activities. Nominations for this award are made through ARRL Section Managers, who will forward nominations to ARRL Headquarters. The deadline is March 31, 2020.

  • The ARRL Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year Award honors an ARRL volunteer amateur radio instructor or ARRL professional classroom teacher who uses creative instructional approaches and reflects the highest values of the amateur radio community. The award highlights quality of and commitment to licensing instruction. Nominations are due by March 16, 2020.

  • The ARRL Microwave Development Award pays tribute to a radio amateur or group of radio amateurs who contribute to the development of the amateur radio microwave bands. The nomination deadline is March 31, 2020.

  • The ARRL Technical Service Award recognizes an individual radio amateur or group of radio amateurs who provide amateur radio technical assistance or training. The nomination deadline is March 31, 2020.

  • The ARRL Technical Innovation Award is conferred on an individual radio amateur or group of radio amateurs who develop and apply new technical ideas or techniques in amateur radio. The nomination deadline is March 31, 2020.

  • The Knight Distinguished Service Award recognizes exceptional contributions by a Section Manager to the health and vitality of ARRL. The nomination deadline is April 30, 2020.

The ARRL Board of Directors selects award recipients, and winners are typically announced following the Board's July meeting. More information about these awards on the ARRL website, or contact Steve Ewald, WV1X, telephone (860) 594-0265.

In Brief...

W1AW will be on the air for Winter Field Day. Members of the Warren County (New York) Amateur Radio Club (W2WCR) will activate Maxim Memorial Station W1AW for Winter Field Day 2020 over the January 25 - 26 weekend. Winter Field Day is sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA), which believes that emergency communication is important throughout the year. Winter Field Day is open to radio amateurs worldwide. The WFDA's goal is to help enhance operating skills and to prepare participants for all environmental conditions. Winter Field Day runs for 24 hours. Station set-up may start no earlier than 1900 UTC on the day before the event and may not take any longer than 12 hours in total. Expect activity on all amateur bands except 12, 17, 30, and 60 meters. All modes that can handle the required exchange are welcome; this does not include FT8. Entry categories include indoor, outdoor, and home. Full details are on the Winter Field Day website.

The free ARRL Events app, which will be featured at Orlando HamCation, is now available for both Apple iOS and Android devices. A web-browser version, optimized for nearly any browser or other mobile device type, is also available to view. Orlando HamCation 2020 takes place February 7 - 9 and has been sanctioned as the 2020 ARRL Northern Florida Section Convention. Hosted annually by the Orlando Amateur Radio Club, HamCation is one of the largest annual amateur radio gatherings in the US.

Marvin Hoffman, WA4NC, will take over this spring as ARRL North Carolina Section Manager. Hoffman, of Boone, was the sole nominee to succeed incumbent Section Manager Karl Bowman, W4CHX, of Raleigh, who decided not to run for a new term after serving since 2014. Because no challengers came forward by the nomination deadline, no contested SM elections took place during the winter election cycle. These incumbent Section Managers will begin new terms in 2020: John Fritze, K2QY, Eastern New York; George Miller, W3GWM, Eastern Pennsylvania; John Mark Robertson, K5JMR, Louisiana; Joe Speroni, AH0A, Pacific; Dave Kaltenborn, N8KBC, San Diego; Chris Stallkamp, KI0D, South Dakota, and Joe Palsa, K3WRY, Virginia. New 2-year terms of office begin on April 1.

The fourth annual AM Rally operating event will take place February 1 - 3 (UTC). The annual AM Rally encourages all operators to explore amateur radio's original voice mode by showcasing the various types of AM equipment in use today, ranging from early vacuum-tube rigs to the newest SDR-based transceivers. "Both new and experienced ops are discovering that AM can sound quite good, enhancing the enjoyment of contacts," said Clark Burgard, N1BCG, an enthusiastic promoter of the event. "The AM Rally provides a great reason to give it a try." The AM Rally is open to all radio amateurs capable of running full-carrier, amplitude modulation (standard AM) using any type of radio equipment -- modern, vintage, tube, solid-state, software-defined, military, boat anchor, broadcast, homebrew, or commercially manufactured -- are encouraged to join in the AM fun on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, and 6 meters. Details are on the AM Rally website or contact Burgard via email. The AM Rally is sponsored by ARRL, Radio Engineering Associates, and iNetRadio.

An international team of 10 operators will be active as W8S from Swains Island from March 10 to March 25. The DXpedtion team will be active on all HF bands on CW, SSB, FT8, and RTTY. Operation will be from two separate camps on the island -- a Red Camp and a Blue Camp -- each with two stations. The four stations will be on the air 24/7. The station equipment complements are identical. Two stations will be dedicated for 160 and 80 meters. A WiFi network will link the Red and Blue camps to network all logging laptops. Hans Griessl, DL6JGN, and Ronald Stuy, PA3EWP, are co-leaders. Swains Island (Olohega) is an atoll in the Tokelau chain. Swains is a US territory and considered part of American Samoa. Swains Island is the 34th most-wanted DXCC entity, according to Club Log.


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.

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