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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 15
April 9, 2004


* +ARRL cites interference in BPL trial site
* +"Interference temperature" concept not ready for prime time, ARRL says
* +ISS commander wraps up series of ARISS school group contacts
* +Mississippi hams muster after fatal train wreck
* +Two-meter long-range telephone nets big fine for restaurant
* +Bill Fisher, W4AN, SK
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration
     ARRL to sponsor ARES/RACES/EmComm seminar in California
     ARRL Technology Task Force forum set for Hamvention 2004
     Young Ham of the Year nominations due by June 30

+Available on ARRL Audio News

ARRL HEADQUARTERS CLOSED APRIL 9: Because ARRL Headquarters is closed
Friday, April 9, this week's editions of The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio
News are being distributed a day early. There will be no W1AW code
practice or bulletin transmissions on April 9. ARRL Headquarters will
reopen Monday, April 12, at 8 AM EDT. We wish everyone a safe and
enjoyable holiday weekend.


ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, has written Penn Yan, New York, Mayor Doug
Marchionda Jr to call the mayor's attention to documented radio
interference from the town's small BPL field trial. He accompanied his
April 1 e-mail with a report from ARRL member Dave Hallidy, K2DH, who
visited Penn Yan after a recent Wall Street Journal article suggested that
BPL interference issues in Penn Yan had been resolved.

"I understand that your village is considering entering into a long-term
agreement with a firm to offer BPL service," Sumner wrote Marchionda.
"Please be aware that a large-scale deployment of BPL is bound to cause
harmful interference to radio communications across a wide area."

According to news accounts, the Western New York community of about 5200
residents will consider approval of a 10-year agreement with Data Ventures
(DVI) to offer BPL service in Penn Yan. The village reportedly would get
10 percent of the generated revenue.

In his March 23 article "In This Power Play, High-Wire Act Riles Ham-Radio
Fans," Wall Street Journal reporter Ken Brown described a "firestorm" of
protest from amateurs when Penn Yan approved the BPL test plan.

Hallidy said he found during his visit that BPL noise "appears to start in
earnest around the bottom of the 17 meter band (18 MHz) and continues
upwards." He said that once he tuned above 18 MHz, there were no
frequencies where the BPL noise was not observed. "The signals were pretty
uniform from 18 to 30 MHz," he said.

Sumner told Marchionda that DVI cannot guarantee reliable service delivery
via BPL because FCC Part 15 rules stipulate that its operation "is subject
to the conditions that no harmful interference is caused and that
interference must be accepted that may be caused by the operation of an
authorized radio station." Sumner noted that newly proposed FCC rules
would impose additional requirements on BPL systems to better address
interference problems that arise.

The sort of interference Hallidy described in his report suggests "severe
interference on a broad range of radio frequencies" in violation of FCC
rules--specifically §15.5(b)--and a complaint has been filed with the FCC,
Sumner noted.

Sumner offered to demonstrate to Marchionda the extent of the BPL
interference in Penn Yan before the community proceeds any further with
its BPL plans and "to explain why a full-scale deployment is not possible
within the FCC rules." Such a demonstration, Sumner concluded, would
provide Penn Yan with "a factual basis" to make its decision on BPL.


The ARRL says the FCC's proposed "interference temperature" concept is
"highly premature and should not go forward" at this time. In a Notice of
Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rule Making in ET Docket 03-237 last
November, the FCC sought comment on the interference temperature
metric--or model--"for quantifying and managing interference." The FCC
initially wants to implement the concept in two microwave bands. It
asserts that the new metric "could represent a fundamental paradigm shift"
in its spectrum management approach by using a standard that takes into
account "the cumulative effects of all undesired RF energy" at a given
instant. The FCC suggests the interference temperature limit for a band
"would serve as an upper bound or 'cap' on the potential RF energy that
could be introduced into the band." The ARRL contends, however, that the
FCC doesn't have enough information to put such a model into place, and it
should not try to take a shortcut.

"It is now rushing to judgment on a proposal to permit broadband over
unshielded power line systems in the high frequency and low-band VHF
spectrum," ARRL commented, "without first carefully studying the ability
of sensitive and geographically proximate fixed and especially mobile
radio systems to tolerate such interference." Instead of determining what
a proper post-BPL RF environment should be, the League noted, the FCC has
suggested that amateurs orient their antennas away from the interference

"There can be no shortcuts in a conceptual shift to management of the RF
environment without disenfranchising incumbent licensees, which themselves
provide valuable and sometimes indispensable services," the ARRL said.
"Whether by overlay or underlay of additional users, the Commission has
stumbled repeatedly by attempting shortcuts in the process."

The ARRL said the FCC should preserve the interference temperature concept
as a "holistic method" of dynamic RF spectrum management--the
determination of compatibility in sharing of allocations. "However, the
concept is not yet mature, and there are no shortcuts in the preparations
necessary to implement it."

The ARRL says localized noise studies in various bands are a prerequisite
to putting an interference temperature metric into place, along with a
"comprehensive evaluation of the differences in receiver sensitivities and
emission modes" across various services and bands. The League has been
conducting noise studies in different geographic environments, and it
proposed objective, formal studies to provide a basis for an interference
temperature metric in the future.

The ARRL says it's also necessary to create a new management paradigm for
unlicensed services, accompanied by "substantial change" in their
regulation. Otherwise, the League said, management of the RF environment
will be impossible.

An interference temperature metric also would not be appropriate for the
HF spectrum as well as certain other bands, including those used for radio
astronomy, the ARRL commented. The variability of HF skywave propagation
and the extreme sensitivity of certain amateur and all radio astronomy
receivers coupled with very small signal levels make calculating an
interference temperature metric "impractical for these bands," the League

For the short term, the League said, other methods of improving spectrum
efficiency, such as dynamic frequency selection by cognitive radios in
certain bands, might have greater potential than adopting an interference
temperature metric.


Astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, told a group of students in France April 1
that he's looking forward to returning to Earth at the end of the month.
But he was not especially enthusiastic about the prospect of having to
reacclimate himself to Earth's gravitational pull. Foale made the comment
during an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school
group contact with youngsters at two schools in Saint Mard, France.
Speaking via NA1SS aboard the space outpost, Foale--who's the ISS
Expedition 8 commander and NASA ISS science officer--said coming back to
Earth is difficult for the first two or three days.

"It feels like I am carrying suitcases all the time," he said. "My body
hurts and all the muscles hurt in my body as if I've had influenza." Foale
has been living in zero gravity conditions for the past five months.

Participating in the contact were students at the College George Brassens
of Saint Mard and the Ecole Jacques Prevert, both located some 28 miles
northeast of Paris. Teacher Jocelyn Raffray, F5CAR, posed the questions
students prepared.

Foale also told the pupils that the ISS does sometimes get struck by small
meteorite particles. "We can see one or two small holes in the large,
large solar arrays that generate our electricity aboard the International
Space Station," Foale explained. "We also have one or two small little
pits or marks on the windows of the Service Module in the Russian

Youngsters at an Arizona elementary school that focuses on the theme of
flight also enjoyed chatting with Foale on April 5. The contact with
KA7SKY at Sonoran Sky Elementary School
<> in Scottsdale marked the final
school group contact for the Expedition 8 crew. The school has been
following the ISS mission and daily events. As a part of Sonoran Sky's
standard curriculum, third graders learn about space exploration beginning
with the Apollo missions through the building of the ISS, and sixth
graders attend Astrocamp every year.

Among other things, Foale told the Arizona students that being launched
from Earth is a surprise and a shock. "The Soyuz provides a smoother ride
as compared to the shuttle," he said, "but you are pressed down in your

During the approximately 10-minute contact, teacher Carrie Cunningham,
N7NFX, handled control operator duties at the kindergarten through
sixth-grade school of some 500 students. The contact was broadcast live
through the school as reporters from three TV stations and two newspapers
looked on.

Another youngster at Sonoran Sky wanted to know what Foale liked best
about being an astronaut.

"I think the best thing about being an astronaut is that you're taking
part in an adventure--a human adventure," Foale replied. On the plus side
of being in space, he said in response to another question, is that he
gets to do something very few other people get to do. On the minus side,
he noted, is "being away from my family and missing my children."

Foale won't be in space too much longer now. The Expedition 9 crew of Mike
Fincke, KE5AIT, and Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, will launch from Kazakhstan
April 19 aboard a Soyuz vehicle to relieve Foale and crewmate Sasha
Kaleri, U8MIR. Accompanying Fincke and Padalka will be European Space
Agency astronaut André Kuipers of the Netherlands, who is scheduled to
handle two ARISS contacts with school groups in his home country during
his week or so aboard the ISS.

Foale, Kaleri and Kuipers will return to Earth at the end of the month
aboard the Soyuz vehicle now attached to the ISS. Fincke and Padalka will
spend approximately six months aboard the ISS. Regular school group
contacts will resume sometime in late May.

ARISS <> is an international educational outreach
program with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.


Members of Metro-Jackson, Mississippi, Amateur Radio Emergency Service
(MJARES) and the Jackson Amateur Radio Club (JARC) responded Tuesday,
April 6, after Amtrak's "City of New Orleans" passenger train bound from
New Orleans to Chicago derailed. One person died and dozens were injured
in the mishap, which occurred at 7 PM near the Madison-Yazoo county line
after the train had departed from Jackson with 80 passengers and crew
members aboard.

"Fortunately, rescue operations quickly turned into a cleanup effort as
passengers were transported to area hospitals and overnight
accommodations," said MJARES member and ARES Emergency Coordinator Ben
Jones, AC5SU.

The accident's swampy location made access difficult for rescue workers
and other emergency personnel and also complicated communication and
logistics. Jeff Sykes, K5VU, and other JARC members responded to a request
from the Central Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross to provide
emergency communication. Greg King, KD5HDZ, accompanied the Red Cross
Emergency Response Vehicle as it brought water and snacks to emergency
workers at the incident command post and the Madison County Sheriff's
Office respite center in Flora.

Club members Bill White, KC5WYY, and Terry Drake, KD5JPB, staffed the JARC
radio station at the Red Cross Chapter, utilizing HF as well as the
KA5SBK, W5PPB, W5PFR and N5WDG repeaters. John Jenkins, KD5QQF, and Guy
Harrell, KD5QQG, also responded to assist in the relief effort.

MJARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator Ed Jones, W5GEJ, and Central
Mississippi DEC Ron Brown, AB5WF, activated the Radio Amateur Civil
Emergency Service on behalf of the Mississippi Emergency Management
Agency. Official Relay Station Lew King, W5LEW, stood ready to service NTS
traffic and disaster wellness inquiries.

MJARES members worked well into the early morning hours of April 7 to
support Red Cross relief operations, passing vital messages relating to
logistics and essential on-the-scene information. Jones managed the
amateurs' volunteer efforts in conjunction with Red Cross staff and

Less than an hour before the train wreck, SKYWARN Coordinator and MJARES
AEC Billy Bob Sekul, N5XXX, had put members on alert for severe weather at
the request of the National Weather Service.


A New Jersey restaurant is facing a $10,000 fine from the FCC for
operating transmitting equipment on 2 meters without a license. The case
involves Best Wok in Westville, which apparently had been using a
so-called "long-range cordless telephone" to communicate with its delivery
vehicle. The FCC says the telephone in question--said to have been
obtained outside the US and not FCC certificated--operated within the
2-meter satellite subband at 145.8376 MHz. Acting on a tip, the FCC
conducted an investigation that resulted in the February 26 issuance of a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Best Wok. While the
case dates back to 2001, the FCC asserted in its NAL that the restaurant
had violated the Communications Act as recently as early last year.

"On February 28, 2003, Best Wok operated radio transmitting equipment on
the Two-Meter Amateur Radio Service frequency 145.8376 MHz," the FCC said.
"Neither Best Wok nor any of its employees held a license to operate a
station in the Amateur Radio Service Band." In 2001, following numerous
complaints from the amateur community, the ARRL asked the FCC to
investigate and "take appropriate action" against several companies it
alleged were marketing similar telephone devices via the Internet.

After issuing a couple of warning notices, an FCC agent from the
Commission's Philadelphia office visited Westville in February 2003 "to
determine if Best Wok was operating radio transmitting equipment" on 2
meters. Using direction-finding techniques, the agent pinned down the
source of the transmissions to Best Wok.

According to the FCC, the agent visited the establishment and inspected
the radio transmitting equipment in the presence of restaurant manager Sae
C. Hauwo. "The agent found that Best Wok was operating a long-distance
cordless telephone system," the FCC said. The Commission says Hauwo told
the agent he installed the long-range cordless telephone system so that
his employees could answer customers' telephone calls while making

Hauwo said that after the restaurant got the second written warning, it
stopped using the long-range telephone and purchased a set of Multi-Use
Radio Service (MURS) radios that operated on 154.600 MHz. But the MURS
units failed to provide sufficient coverage, the FCC says Hauwo told the
agent, so Best Wok resumed using the long-distance cordless telephone

In its NAL, the FCC said that based on the evidence it had, it determined
that Best Wok "willfully violated" Section 301 of the Communications Act.
Applying its forfeiture policies and the statutory factors, the FCC said
the $10,000 fine was warranted. Best Wok was given 30 days to pay the fine
or to seek a reduction or cancellation.

In unrelated enforcement actions, the FCC has downgraded one licensee and
canceled four license grants in California pursuant to an audit of a
W5YI-VEC examination session on September 1, 2001, in Yucaipa and an
ARRL-VEC examination session on March 30, 2002, in Los Angeles. All
participating volunteer examiners have been removed from VE service by the


Bill J. Fisher, W4AN (ex-KM9P), of Alpharetta, Georgia, died unexpectedly
April 4. He was 41. An ARRL Life Member, Fisher was an enthusiastic radio
amateur whose call sign often graced the upper echelons of the contest
results. Fisher and fellow Georgian John Laney, K4BAI, took the silver
medal at World Radiosport Team Championship '96 in the San Francisco Bay
area. The pair also competed in WRTC-02 in Finland. Fisher's death comes
as the contesting community is still recovering from the untimely death of
Jim White, K4OJ, in February.

"I knew of nobody as generous with his time and with as unique a personal
touch as Bill," said Dave Pascoe, KM3T, whose friendship with Fisher
extends back more than 20 years. "Many will never know nor comprehend the
amount of time and resources he poured into this hobby of ours."

Fisher was the founder of the <>
Web site. He also helped to establish the popular
<> Amateur Radio site in 1999. In addition, he
personally supported contesting reflectors via his own servers.

The eHam Site Manager Mike Gilmer, N2MG, said he would miss Fisher's
leadership. "Bill had a way of low-pass filtering the noise from both the
users of eHam and the site team and trying to maintain focus," he said.

Fisher had established a top-flight contesting station on a hilltop in the
mountains of north Georgia near Dahlonega. When not contesting, he
operated the station from his home via a telephone link, since antenna
restrictions prevented him from putting up outdoor antennas. More recently
he was said to be dismantling his contest station as part of a plan to
combine forces with his good friend Tom Rauch, W8JI, and establish a
contest superstation.

Fisher was a member of the South East Contest Club, the South East DX
Club, the First-Class CW Operators' Club (FOC) and the A-1 Operator Club.
In addition to being a ham radio contester, he was an avid bicycle racer.

Fisher was founder and Vice President of Concentric Systems Inc--a
supplier of custom-built PCs. He also established and was president of
Akorn Access Inc--an Internet service provider and consulting company.

Survivors include his wife, Dana, and their young sons Graeme and Erik.

A memorial service was held Thursday, April 8, in Fisher's hometown of
Moline, Illinois. Fisher's family has requested memorial contributions to
the Victor C. Clark Youth Incentive Program, c/o ARRL, 225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111.

Friends and family also are invited to gather Saturday, April 10, 10 AM,
at L. W. McDonald & Son Funeral Home & Crematory, 150 Sawnee Drive,
Cumming, Georgia. A memorial service will begin at 11 AM.

The W4AN Memorial Fund for Graeme and Erik Fisher has been established to
benefit Fisher's children. Donations are welcome to North Atlanta National
Bank, 10500 Old Alabama Rd Connector, Alpharetta, GA 30022; 678-277-8400.
Make checks payable to "W4AN Memorial Account" and include the account
number, 20005913, on the check "memo" line.--ARRL thanks Tom Rauch, W8JI,
for providing information for this report


Heliophile Tad "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: Solar flux values and sunspot numbers both dropped
this week. Average daily sunspot numbers declined more than 46 points, and
solar flux was down nearly 20.

Solar flux is expected to rise over the next couple of days. Predicted
solar flux for Thursday through Monday, April 8-12, is 105 for Thursday
and Friday and 100 for Saturday through Monday. Flux values and sunspots
should rise again for a few days next week.

A coronal mass ejection near Sunspot 588 spewed toward Earth April 6.
Currently that sunspot is squarely in the center of the solar disk, aimed
straight at us. The ejection should hit Earth today, April 8. The
predicted planetary A index for Thursday through Monday, April 8-12, is
30, 20, 15, 12 and 8.

A solar wind caused geomagnetic instability late on April 5 and through
most of April 6. Another solar wind on April 3 caused similar conditions.

Sunspot numbers for April 1 through 7 were 100, 99, 68, 69, 85, 66 and 57,
with a mean of 77.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 112.8, 108.1, 107.4, 108.9,
108.7, 101.4 and 98.1, with a mean of 106.5. Estimated planetary A indices
were 3, 3, 23, 12, 14, 21 and 10, with a mean of 12.3.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARCI Spring QSO Party, the EU Spring
Sprint (SSB), the Georgia QSO Party, the Japan International DX Contest
(CW), the CIS DX Contest (SSB), the UBA Spring Contest (SSB) and the SARL
Hamnet 40-Meter Simulated Emergency Contest are the weekend of April
10-11. The Low Power Spring Sprint is April 12, the 222 MHz Spring Sprint
is April 13, the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (SSB) is April 14 and the
DX YL to North American YL Contest (SSB) is April 14-16. JUST AHEAD: The
Holyland DX Contest, the TARA Skirmish Digital Prefix Contest, the ES Open
HF Championship, the YU DX Contest, the GACW "Mr Samuel Morse Party" CW DX
Contest, the EU Spring Sprint (CW), the Michigan and Ontario QSO parties
and the EA QRP CW Contest are the weekend of April 17-18. The World
Amateur Radio Day Party is April 18. The 432 MHz Spring Sprint is April
21, the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (Data) is April 22 and the Harry
Angel Memorial Sprint is April 23. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL Antenna Modeling (EC-004) on-line course remains
open through Sunday, April 11. Classes begin Tuesday April 20. This course
is a excellent way learn the ins and outs and the nitty-gritty details of
modeling antennas. Computer-modeling expert and noted author L.B. Cebik,
W4RNL, has combined the expertise of his long career as a college
professor with his love and antennas and antenna modeling to offer a
comprehensive, yet practical, course of study. Registration for the
Technician Licensing course (EC-010) also remains open through Sunday,
April 11. Classes begin Tuesday, April 20. With the assistance of a
mentor, EC-010 students learn everything they need to know to pass the FCC
Technician license class test. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification
and Continuing Education (C-CE) <> Web page or
contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department

* ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration opens
Monday, April 12, 12:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time (0401 UTC), for the Level
II Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains
open through the April 17-18 weekend or until all seats are
filled--whichever occurs first. Class begins Tuesday, April 27. Thanks to
our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National and Community Service and
the United Technologies Corporation--the $45 registration fee paid upon
enrollment will be reimbursed after successful completion of the course.
During this registration period, approximately 60 seats are being offered
to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit
the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE)
<> Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For
more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan
Miller, K3UFG,, 860-594-0340.

* ARRL to sponsor ARES/RACES/EmComm seminar in California: The ARRL will
offer a free Amateur Radio emergency communications seminar Friday, April
30, 1-5 PM, at the Ramada Inn, (Shaw/Fwy 41), in Fresno, California, in
conjunction with the San Joaquin Valley Section Convention. The seminar
will not include the Level I course itself. This program will explain in
greater detail the duties of all Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
Course (ARECC) participants and how their volunteer efforts are essential
to the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). Senior citizens are
strongly encouraged to participate. "This seminar will explain the
importance of every team player with emphasis on using lessons learned to
effectively move Amateur Radio emergency communications to the next
level," said ARRL Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller,
K3UFG. All ARES/RACES volunteers, ARECC course participants, and Field
Organization leadership are invited. Course participants at every ARECC
level--Mentors, Certification Instructors, Certification Examiners and
current students--are encouraged to share their ARECC experiences. Field
Organization leaders are invited to brainstorm ideas to motivate
volunteers and coordinate activities. The focus will be on coordination
between ARECC volunteers and students, and their integration into the
Field Organization. This session is open to all interested hams, but
seating may be limited. Those planning to attend should contact Dan
Miller, K3UFG, <>;; 860-594-0340; FAX 860-594-0259. For more
information on the SJV Section Convention, visit the Fresno Amateur Radio
Club Hamfest 2004 Web site <>.

* ARRL Technology Task Force forum set for Hamvention 2004: The ARRL's
Technology Task Force (TTF) will hold its third annual forum at Hamvention
2004, Sunday, May 16, 10:15 AM until noon in Hara Arena. All Hamvention
attendees are welcome. TTF Chair and ARRL Central Division Vice Director
Howard Huntington, K9KM, will moderate. All three TTF working groups will
be represented. At 10:30 AM, Mark Williams, AB8LN, of the High-Speed
Multimedia (HSMM) Working Group will update progress on merging Amateur
Radio and networking technology via Radio Metropolitan Area Networks
(RMANs) using various node-connection methods. At 11 AM, Yoshikazu
Nishimura, JA6UHL, AOR Japan and Matt Yellen, KB7TSE, of ICOM America,
will address the Digital Voice (DV) Working Group: Nishimura will discuss
ARD-9800 DV technical development and operating, while Yellen will talk
about Icom's D-STAR DV development. At 11:30 AM, Gerald Youngblood, AC5OG,
and Bob McGwier, N4HY, will be featured during the Software-Defined Radio
(SDR) Working Group session. They will detail SDR advancements through
open-source software development on the Flex Radio Systems SDR-1000. Learn
about the latest in leading-edge Amateur Radio technology and what the
League is planning for the future. Audience interaction is
encouraged.--Doug Smith, KF6DX

* Young Ham of the Year nominations due by June 30: Amateur Radio Newsline
says the deadline is June 30 to nominate a deserving young amateur for the
2004 Young Ham of the Year Award. A nomination form is available on the
Newsline Web site <>. The
YHOTY Award goes to an amateur licensee aged 18 or younger and living in
the contiguous 48 states who has made a significant contribution to the
community or the nation through Amateur Radio. More information is
available on the Newsline Web site <>.

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
<>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely,
accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <> for
the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
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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
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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.

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