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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 22
May 28, 2004


* +NTIA hints at Phase 2 BPL report findings
* +FCC extends BPL reply comment deadline by three weeks
* +ARISS contact marks two "firsts"
* +Amateurs assist following tornados
* +Nurture ham radio's newcomers, Haynie tells Dayton forum
* +FCC chairman assures congressmen on restructuring
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ARRL to sponsor Emergency Communications seminar in Arizona
    +W1RFI to represent ARRL at BPL session
     Commemorative Air Force-Memorial Day special event set
     Indy 500 special event station gets the green flag
     National Hurricane Center's WX4NHC sets annual test

+Available on ARRL Audio News

NOTE: ARRL Headquarters closed Monday, May 31: Because of the Memorial Day
holiday, ARRL Headquarters will be closed Monday, May 31, and W1AW will
suspend its normal transmission schedule. ARRL Headquarters reopens
Tuesday, June 1, at 8 AM EDT. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable


National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Acting
Administrator Michael Gallagher says his agency's complete Phase 2
broadband over power line (BPL) study is targeted for release later this
year. In remarks May 17 at the United Telecom Council's "Telecom 2004,"
Gallagher hinted at some findings in the Phase 2 study, which NTIA says
will provide "additional guidance" on contending with BPL interference.
The NTIA advised against putting the present FCC rule making proceeding on
hold until release of its full Phase 2 report, however.

"Key Phase 2 technical analyses have been completed," Gallagher told the
UTC gathering, "and the findings are appended to NTIA's comments on
proposed rules." The NTIA has posted its Phase 1 BPL study on the
proceeding, ET Docket 04-37, and has indicated to the FCC that it will
file its comments on or about May 28.

Responsible for developing telecommunications policy for a White House
that's promoting BPL, as well as for administering federal government
radio spectrum that could be affected by the technology, the NTIA finds
itself with a stake in both sides of the BPL controversy.

The principal concern, Gallagher acknowledged, is that BPL systems might
interfere with federal government and other radio services. The NTIA's
Phase 1 study showed that interference risks already are high under
existing Part 15 rules. Among its recommendations for reducing
interference were frequency shifting and notching as well as "refined
compliance measurement procedures."

Gallagher says the NTIA's Phase 2 study has determined that BPL
aggregation (ie, total emissions from multiple BPL systems) and
ionospheric propagation "is not a potential near-term problem." The agency
predicts that millions of BPL devices can be deployed under the rules the
FCC is expected to adopt--probably later this year--before ionospheric
propagation and aggregate BPL emissions become an interference issue.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, says he's curious to hear the NTIA
rationalize its "near-term" assertion. "Does this mean it's okay to go
ahead with a bad idea if the problems it causes are sufficiently far in
the future?" he asked.

The Phase 2 study also will evaluate the effectiveness of proposed Part 15
measurement techniques and recommend a "height-correction factor" of 5 dB
to BPL measurements made at a height of 1 meter, Gallagher said. The NTIA
acknowledges that peak field strength is as much as 20 dB higher--a factor
of 100--than the peak measured at a height of 1 meter under current Part
15 rules. Because the peak does not occur consistently at a particular
distance from a BPL device along the power line, the NTIA will advise
requiring a peak field strength measurement search along the entire power
line at a distance of 10 meters and at a height of 1 meter.

The agency has determined that a moderate-to-high probability of
interference exists to a fixed station from BPL power lines at a distance
of 450 meters--approximately 1480 feet--and to a mobile station at a
distance of 55 meters--approximately 180 feet.

To "fulfill special protection requirements," Gallagher said, the NTIA
will suggest "minimal" coordination areas--where a specified authority
would coordinate all planned BPL deployment--plus excluded bands and
exclusion zones. The NTIA recommends "voluntary coordination" with respect
to other radio operations plus "mandatory Access BPL power control,
frequency agility and shut-off capabilities" to reduce interference risks
and to expedite interference mitigation.

The NTIA further proposes that BPL rules provide for "prompt response to
complaints of suspected interference," recasting the FCC's Part 15
shutdown requirement as "a last resort."

"Our BPL study of more than 10 million signal samples shows that solutions
exist to all identified BPL technical issues," Gallagher concluded.

That's true, Sumner said, "but only if you include shutting a BPL system
off and keeping it off as a 'solution.'"

During a White House meeting May 20, ARRL officials asked the Bush
administration to heed its own NTIA experts and back away from its support
of BPL. The League also has called on the FCC to put its BPL proceeding on
hold to allow more thorough research of its interference potential.

For additional information, visit the "Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) and
Amateur Radio" <> page on the ARRL Web site.


The FCC has extended to June 22 the deadline to file reply comments
(comments on filed comments) in its broadband over power line (BPL) Notice
of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), ET Docket 04-37. The FCC acted this week
on a request from the National Antenna Consortium and the Amherst Alliance
(NAC/Amherst) for a much longer filing deadline extension. The
organizations said the June 1 reply comment deadline would not allow
stakeholders adequate time to prepare comments that address the full
two-part National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
BPL study. The FCC said the NTIA has indicated it soon will submit
comments and a technical appendix that will include key findings of the
Phase 2 report, which is due for release later this year.

"We believe that three weeks should provide ample time for review and
analysis of this information, and accordingly grant the extension for that
period," said FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Edmond J.
Thomas, who signed the May 26 Order Granting Extension of Time.
NAC/Amherst had sought to have the FCC postpone the filing comment
deadline until either September 1 or two months after the public release
of the NTIA's Phase 2 study--whichever came later.

Noting that its Part 15 rules already permit Access BPL systems and that
its February BPL NPRM places additional requirements on BPL systems over
and above current Part 15 requirements, the FCC asserted that any further
delay would diminish the Commission's ability to protect licensed users
now occupying the HF spectrum. A further extension, the FCC added, also
would "needlessly increase regulatory uncertainty" about BPL.

The FCC turned down a request that it reissue in substantially greater
detail the provisions of its proposed BPL rules concerning interference
prevention and mitigation and the enforcement of standards.

The FCC does not routinely grant such time extensions, and it denied
earlier petitions, including filings from the ARRL and NAC/Amherst, to
extend the initial May 3 comment filing deadline. The League and others
had said commenters needed more time to digest the NTIA's Part 1 BPL
study, released April 27.


NASA Expedition 9 International Space Station Science Officer and Flight
Engineer Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, logged what's believed to be his first-ever
Amateur Radio contact May 25 from the spacecraft's NA1SS. The QSO also
marked the first Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
school group contact for the Expedition 9 crew. The US astronaut and
Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka, RN3DT,
arrived aboard the ISS in late April. Fincke advised a dozen youngsters
gathered at Erie Planetarium
<> in Pennsylvania, that
the crew must take a space walk in the next few weeks to replace a failed
remote power controller module for one of the four ISS control moment
gyroscopes, or CMGs.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Fincke told the youngsters, who attend
several schools in the Erie area. In addition to the CMG repair EVA, the
Expedition 9 crew will carry out two other space walks during their
six-month tour.

Responding to another question, Fincke said he's really enjoying the
weightlessness of space, although he noted, some caution is in order. "I
love being weightless," he said. "I can fly around like Superman and pick
up very big things." He cautioned, however, that crew members need to
"take it nice and easy" in weightlessness to avoid banging into things and
injuring themselves.

For fun and recreation, Fincke said, the crew has laptop computers and can
watch DVDs--although there's no television aboard. "The whole space
station is a little bit fun to play in and do fun things," he said, "but
just being aboard the International Space Station is like a dream come
true, so it's all fun--every minute of every day is really fun."

In all, the youngsters asked 18 questions of Fincke before the ISS went
over the horizon from the telebridge station of Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, in
South Australia. MCI donated a teleconferencing link to handle the two-way
audio between VK5ZAI and the planetarium. Fincke has twice before visited
the Erie Planetarium, run by the Erie County Historical Society.

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


From storm spotting through recovery support, Amateur Radio operators were
on duty this week, aiding tornado-stricken communities in Nebraska and
elsewhere in the Midwest. A May 22 tornado virtually destroyed most
structures and was blamed for one death in Hallam, a town of approximately
300 some 20 miles south of Lincoln. ARRL Nebraska Section Emergency
Coordinator Reynolds Davis, K0GND, said Lancaster County ARES/SKYWARN
spotters activated the evening of May 22 in response to a report of an
approaching front. Within a half-hour, W0NWS at the National Weather
Service office in Valley already was receiving tornado damage reports via
the Lincoln Amateur Radio Club K0KKV repeater.

"When the system moved into Lancaster County shortly after 8:30 PM, it
destroyed almost every structure in the town of Hallam," Davis said,
leaving the residents homeless. The NWS rated the tornado that struck
Hallam as an F-4 on the five-point Fujita Scale--207 to 260 MPH.

The storm also severely damaged the high school in Norris and plucked the
tower supporting the K0RPT repeater's south receiver from the ground. The
tower remains missing. The tornado went on to destroy additional homes to
the northeast, and its path of destruction finally ended south of Bennet,
he said.

More than 50 amateurs participated in the SKYWARN net, said Davis, who
also serves as Lancaster County Emergency Coordinator. The National
Weather Service Omaha office logged dozens of weather and storm-damage
reports from radio amateurs in several Nebraska counties on May 22.

Once the SKYWARN Nets closed, the K0RPT VHF repeater was put into service
to support Red Cross communications among the tornado scene, the chapter
house and a shelter set up in a Lincoln high school for residents
displaced by the storm. Two ARES nets activated May 23 to coordinate
damage survey and assessment, and reports logged via K0EOC at the
Lancaster County Emergency Operations Center.

Davis said that by the time both damage survey nets shut down, 41
operators had driven nearly 2200 miles and surveyed 100 square miles. Gov
Mike Johanns declared a state of emergency after more than a dozen
tornados swept several southern Nebraska counties.

In Missouri, Grundy County EC Glen Briggs, KB0RPJ, reports that Amateur
Radio groups in the northern part of the state relayed severe weather
reports to the National Weather Service and to local emergency management
and law enforcement officials May 22. Hardest hit areas were near
Chillicothe and Brookfield. After one repeater was knocked off the air,
amateurs switched to backup repeaters and simplex. Some 18 operators in
nine Missouri counties participated, he said.


It's up to today's Amateur Radio veterans to cultivate the younger
generation, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, told the ARRL Forum at
Dayton Hamvention 2004 May 15. Calling the statistic "shocking," Haynie
cited ARRL survey data showing that more than one-fifth of new amateur
licensees never get on the air. He suggested that too few experienced
amateurs take new licensees under their wing to help them get started.

"One of the things that we need to do is open up our hearts and open up
our minds a little bit about the new generation coming along," he said.
The addition of another half-dozen ARRL Education and Technology Program
(ETP) <> pilot schools has raised the total
to 81, Haynie pointed out. While its primary goal is using Amateur Radio
to educate youngsters about wireless technology, the ETP has resulted in
thousands of new hams--teenagers and younger.

"What makes these programs successful, of course, is the local hams, the
local clubs getting behind the program and teaching these kids the kinds
of things we all know," Haynie said, adding that nothing is too basic or
simple. "I didn't know how to put on a PL-259 when I got my General,"
Haynie admitted, recalling that he'd more than once forgotten to slip the
connector's shell over the end of the cable before soldering the plug.

Haynie suggested that today's older hams also need to consider that
technology is changing, and the questions appearing on the ham radio
examinations of tomorrow will be ones "that haven't been thought of yet."
In 1972 when he took his General, he said, his test included questions on
Hartley and Colpitts oscillators. In contrast, today's examinations cover
topics such as phase-locked loops, satellite operation and digital

The ARRL president asserted that many Amateur Extra class licensees
couldn't pass today's Element 4 examination if they had to do. Haynie said
that if and when the FCC changes Amateur Radio licensing requirements in
response to various petitions for rule making--including one from the
League--it will not be a matter of "dumbing down" Amateur Radio. "It's not
that Amateur Radio is dumbed down," he said. "People like me have failed
to keep up, and if you look in your heart, you're going to say the same

"Amateur Radio is what you make of it once you get your license," Haynie
continued. Getting a ham ticket doesn't make anyone more intelligent, and
learning the ropes usually begins after someone already has a license in

"You learn by doing," he said.

Haynie said the ARRL Board did not take lightly its latest restructuring
proposal, and he acknowledged that the League's petition has not won
universal praise. "It was not an overnight decision," he said, adding that
the Board wanted to take a fair and evenhanded approach to restructuring.

How the FCC will act on the Morse code requirement and restructuring "is
anyone's guess," Haynie said, but he predicted that the Commission will
never reinstate higher code speed requirements as some have requested.
"The FCC is not going to go back to 13 and 20 words per minute, and you
can take that to the bank," he predicted. "It's not going to happen."

"Whatever you enjoy about Amateur Radio, it's not going to change" as a
result of any restructuring Haynie said. While the FCC might take "the
path of least resistance," he believes it's more likely to take bits and
pieces of the various petitions to come up with something that's would be
workable and "give Amateur Radio a shot in the arm."

"We need that," Haynie concluded.


FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell has assured US representatives Greg Walden,
W7EQI (R-OR), and Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), that the Commission will act
"as expeditiously as possible" on Amateur Radio restructuring. Walden and
Ross wrote Powell a month ago to urge adoption of the ARRL's restructuring
Petition for Rule Making (RM-10867) "in its entirety" along with rules
changes needed to put it into place. Powell said the League's petition was
one of many.

"At this time, the Commission staff is reviewing and analyzing carefully
all of the petitions, comments and proposed rule changes in this area,"
Powell responded May 21. "Because this matter is of great importance to
you and the almost 700,000 amateur radio operators nationwide, the staff
is working diligently to create a comprehensive solution to address the
proposals the petitioners have submitted." The next step in the process,
he said, will be to prepare a notice of proposed rule making for the
Commission's consideration.

In addition to the League's filing, Powell pointed out, the Commission
received 17 other petitions for rule making that address examination
requirements and operating privileges for Amateur Service licensees. The
various proposals attracted more than 5000 comments, he noted--more than
800 of them on the ARRL's petition alone.

In their letter to Powell, Walden and Ross expressed their belief that the
ARRL's plan "will encourage the development, refinement and use of new
technologies; increase the number of young people involved in Amateur
Radio; and provide incentives for Amateur Radio licensees to pursue
technical self-training and opportunities for volunteerism in the best
traditions of our country."

Other restructuring plans were filed by the Radio Amateur Foundation,
RM-10868, and by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner
Coordinators, RM-10870.

Fifteen other petitions for rule making came down on one side or the other
of retaining the Amateur Radio Morse code examination requirement to
operate on HF. Judging from Powell's letter to Walden and Ross, the FCC
plans to address all 18 petitions within the framework of a single rule
making proceeding.


Sun gazer Tad "Ain't No Sunspots When You're Gone" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: Conditions weren't bad this week. Average daily
sunspot numbers were down about 13 points and average daily solar flux was
off about 6 points. There were no major geomagnetic disruptions.

Solar flux is expected to remain around 100. Predicted planetary A index
for Friday through Monday, May 28-31 is 10, 10, 12 and 15. Predicted solar
flux for the same days is 100, 100, 105 and 105. Currently holographic
helioseismic imaging reveals another sunspot group on the sun's far side,
so perhaps activity will remain at the current moderate levels.

The Australian Space Weather Agency has warned of possible increased
geomagnetic activity due to a solar wind stream from a coronal hole around
Jun 1-3.

Sunspot numbers for May 20 through 26 were 109, 82, 79, 127, 118, 101 and
89, with a mean of 100.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 104.6, 106.9, 102.4, 104,
105.2, 102.4 and 103.3, with a mean of 104.1. Estimated planetary A
indices were 13, 10, 11, 12, 11, 8 and 6, with a mean of 10.1. Estimated
mid-latitude A indices were 11, 6, 7, 9, 8, 5 and 3, with a mean of 7.



* This weekend on the radio: The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (CW), the Great
Lakes QSO Party and the ARCI Hootowl Sprint are the weekend of May 29-30.
The MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint is May 31-June 1. JUST AHEAD: The Major
Six Club Contest, the VK/Trans-Tasman 80-Meter Contest (CW), the UKSMG
Summer Contest, IARU Region 1 Field Day (CW), RSGB National Field Day, the
QRP TAC Sprint, the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (data) and the ARS
Spartan Sprint are the weekend of June 5-6. 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 RFI (EC-006) and Antenna Design and Construction
(EC-009) courses remains open through Sunday, May 30. Classes begin
Tuesday, June 8. Students participating in the RFI course will learn to
identify various interference sources. Antenna Design and Construction
students will, among other things, learn about basic dipoles and ground
planes and how to assemble combinations of these into more complex
antennas. Students also will learn about transmission lines, standing wave
ratio, phased arrays and Yagis. Registration for Technician Licensing
(EC-010) will remain open through Sunday, June 6. Classes begin Tuesday,
June 15. With the assistance of a mentor, students will learn everything
they need to learn to pass the FCC Technician class Amateur Radio
examination. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education Web page <> or contact the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Program Department,

* ARRL to sponsor Emergency Communications seminar in Arizona: The ARRL
will offer a free Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course seminar in
conjunction with the ARRL Southwest Division Convention in Arizona. The
seminar, Friday, August 27, 1-5 PM, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort
& Spa in Phoenix, is open to all interested hams. The seminar will *not*
include the Level I course itself. A PowerPoint presentation will include
background information, group discussion of multiple disaster scenarios,
comments from emergency communications leadership, ARECC mentors and
students, discussion about the ARRL Amateur Radio emergency communications
courses, current status of our federal grant from Corporation for National
and Community Service (CNCS) and the grant from our corporate partner,
United Technologies Corporation, updates on emergency communications tools
being developed nationally and a quiz to determine personal preparedness.
Senior citizens are strongly encouraged to participate. All ARES/RACES
volunteers, ARECC course participants at every level, and ARRL Field
Organization leadership are welcome. Course participants are invited to
share their experiences. Field Organization Leadership--SMs, SECs, DECs
and ECs--are encouraged to brainstorm ideas to motivate volunteers and
coordinate activities. Attendees will receive handouts and be eligible for
a prize drawing. Seating is limited. Anyone planning to attend should
contact Dan Miller, K3UFG, <>;; 860-594-0340; FAX
860-594-0259. For more information, visit the ARRL Southwest Division
Convention Web site <>.

* W1RFI to represent ARRL at BPL session: ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI,
will represent the League June 7 at a meeting to consider the development
of standards for BPL technology. The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA)
will sponsor the gathering, "Call for Interest in Standards Development
for Broadband over Power Lines (BPL)," in conjunction with the IEEE Power
Engineering Society. The IEEE says the meeting will focus on understanding
how standardization of BPL technologies will accelerate its development.
Among the session's stated objectives is to identify regulatory issues,
including interference. This session will be take place during the IEEE
Power Engineering Society general meeting in Denver. Hare is a member of
the American National Standards Institute C63 Accredited Standards
Committee on Electromagnetic Compatibility <> on which
he chairs the ad hoc BPL/PLC working group and the subcommittee on

* Commemorative Air Force-Memorial Day special event set: Commemorative
Air Force-Memorial Day special event station KD4SFF ("Super Flying
Fortress") will be on the air from Asheville, North Carolina, from 1600
UTC May 29 until 1600 UTC May 31. The Commemorative Air Force's B-29 Super
Fortress "Fifi" and B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil" are scheduled to be at
Asheville this weekend. The special event will honor all who gave their
lives defending the United States as well as Col Robert K. Morgan
USAFR/Ret, who died May 15
<>. The
single-station operation will rotate among the General-class segments of
80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. Operation also is anticipated on 6 and 2
meters as well as on the AO-27 satellite and packet via RS0ISS aboard the
International Space Station. An SASE should accompany QSL or 9x12
certificate requests to Experimenters Group ARC N4ISS, c/o Al Lark 301
Shannon Dr, Greenville, SC 29615-1814.

* Indy 500 special event station gets the green flag: The Indianapolis
Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club (W9IMS) has been designated the official
Amateur Radio club of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway--the first time a
ham radio club has received this distinction. A W9IMS special event
operation continues through Sunday, May 30, the day of the Indy 500.
Operation will center around 1.840, 3.840, 7.240, 14.070 (PSK31), 14.240,
21.340, 28.340, 50.140 and 144.240 MHz, as well as 146.52 MHz FM simplex.
W9IMS also will operate special event stations for the other two races in
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Triple Crown--the United States Grand
Prix (Formula One) June 20 and the Brickyard 400 (NASCAR) August 8. Those
operations will begin about three weeks before each race and end on the
respective race days. Stations working or monitoring W9IMS are eligible
for an official W9IMS Indianapolis Motor Speedway QSL card. Include an
SASE with QSL requests to Indianapolis Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club,
PO Box 18495, Indianapolis, IN 46218-0495 USA. Stations outside the US may
QSL via the bureau. For more information, contact David Spoelstra, N9KT,

* National Hurricane Center's WX4NHC sets annual test: A reminder: Amateur
Radio station WX4NHC <> at the National Hurricane
Center (NHC) in Miami will conduct its 2004 on-the-air station test
Sunday, May 30, 1300-2200 UTC. WX4NHC Amateur Radio Coordinator John
McHugh, KU4GY, says the test provides an opportunity to test all of the
station's radio gear prior to the official start of the 2004 hurricane
season June 1. The WX4NHC event will be just an equipment and operator
test, and no nets will be activated. WX4NHC will be on the air on HF, VHF
and UHF as well as on APRS. HF operation will center on 7.268, 14.325,
21.325 and 28.525 MHz on SSB; 14.035, 21.035 and 28.035 MHz on CW; and
14.070 MHz on PSK31. WX4NHC will also be on IRLP and EchoLink South
Florida-area VHF and UHF repeaters as well as 146.52 MHz FM simplex and
144.200 MHz SSB. Participating stations report call sign, signal report,
location and a brief  weather report ("sunny," "rain," etc). Include an
SASE with QSL requests to W4VBQ.

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
<> offers access to news, informative features and
columns. ARRL Audio News <> is a
weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter.

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
The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
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==>How to Get The ARRL Letter
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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.

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 The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

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