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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 24
June 11, 2004


* +NTIA says BPL will mean less power line noise
* +Public funding of BPL project irks ARRL
* +ISS crew honors Reagan
* +Maritime net gets help for injured sailor
* +Virginia ham earns WAS with tuna power
* +Canadian 60-meter experiments scheduled
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     ARRL to sponsor emergency communications seminar in Oregon
    +SO-50 satellite now available to all via CTCSS tone
    +Kentucky's youngest amateur also youngest Extra
     Ham-Com 2004 to feature emergency communication, Kid's Day operation
     Elmer stories wanted
     ARRL 2003 Annual Report now available

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's comments
<> in the BPL Notice of Proposed Rule
Making (NPRM) more clearly reveal the political face of an agency eager
and determined to sell the technology's viability, no matter what its own
scientists have concluded. The NTIA is the principal White House adviser
on telecommunications policy and administers federal government radio
spectrum. Its largely scientific Phase 1 report, which clearly established
BPL's interference potential, already is part of the proceeding. The
agency's formal comments, filed June 4, take pains to depict the
technology not only as workable but desirable to all--provided that BPL
operators and utilities are willing to jump through additional
NTIA-recommended hoops. At one point, the NTIA calls BPL "a win-win
proposition," claiming that its widespread deployment could lead to a
reduction in power line noise.

"Substitution of BPL emissions for the strong, much wider-bandwidth power
line noise emissions will broadly reduce risks of interference to
radiocommunications," the agency asserts. The NTIA says it's measured
power line noise levels that are higher than the proposed BPL emission
limits. Existing power line noise poses "greater local interference risks"
than BPL would. The agency qualified its remarks, however, saying that
while it doesn't expect a net, nationwide reduction of interference risks,
it believes there will be "at least partial offsetting" of BPL's
interference risks.

The NTIA called reduction of strong power line noise "a basic technical
requirement" for acceptable BPL performance at the field strengths the FCC
has proposed and the NTIA has endorsed.

Nowhere does NTIA acknowledge that power line noise interference to
licensed radio services already contravenes FCC Part 15 rules regulating
unintentional radiators--the same rules that apply to power line carrier
and BPL systems.

The agency does come close to recommending a limit on BPL signal power to
compensate for variations in power line noise, however. "Because radio
noise on power lines can vary by upwards of 20 dB throughout a day," the
comments said, "a rule should require adjustment of BPL signal power to
preclude unnecessarily high levels of radiated emissions." The NTIA said
reducing Access BPL emissions by about 20 dB (a factor of 100) when noise
is at relatively low levels "will substantially reduce interference

Addressing BPL's interference potential is a persistent theme throughout
the agency's remarks, and sometimes the NTIA's stance verges on the
defensive. In an over-the-top example of "suspected" versus genuine
interference, the agency raised the specter of coax-munching rodents.

"For example, rodents sometimes chew coaxial cables or twin-lead
transmission lines and cause significant reductions or complete loss of
the desired signal power that should reach the receiver," the NTIA said.
"In many other cases, interference is realized but not caused by the
suspected device."

To reduce BPL's interference risks, the NTIA comments recommend "several
new BPL rule elements" to augment the FCC's proposals. "These rules also
help ensure that interference from BPL systems would be eliminated
expeditiously with little effort needed on the part of any radio
operator," the NTIA predicted. Its recommendations, the agency says, shift
emphasis away from eliminating interference and toward preventing
it--something it says BPL operators have a strong incentive to do.

"NTIA believes that BPL operators, as the parties responsible for
eliminating harmful interference, will voluntarily implement equipment,
organizational elements, and installation and operating practices that
prevent interference and facilitate interference mitigation," the agency
states. "Market appeal of BPL could quickly evaporate if BPL systems were
to endemically cause interference and have to be shut down with operating
authorizations swiftly revoked if necessary."

The NTIA's comments also include some key findings of the agency's pending
Phase 2 BPL study, set for release later this year. The FCC has extended
the reply comment deadline to June 22 to allow stakeholders time to review
the NTIA's comments.

For additional information, visit the "Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) and
Amateur Radio" <> page on the ARRL Web site. To
support the League's efforts in this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web
site <>.


The ARRL has questioned the propriety of a New York State Energy Research
and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant from public funds to promote a
broadband over power line (BPL) project. The project is believed to be the
BPL field test now under way in Briarcliff Manor. The Westchester County
community is just north of New York City. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, on
June 10 faxed a strongly worded letter to NYSERDA President Peter R. Smith
asserting that acknowledged interference from the Briarcliff Manor
installation clearly violates the Communications Act of 1934.

"We respectfully suggest that this violation of federal law is relevant to
the question of whether such a grant of funding is in the public
interest," Sumner told Smith. He said both fixed and mobile stations
operated by the nation's 680,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the US "are
entitled to absolute protection from harmful interference from unlicensed
emitters such as PLC/BPL systems."

Utility Consolidated Edison and Ambient Corporation on June 8 announced
the award of NYSERDA funding, pending final contract negotiations, "to
enhance their PLC pilot in Westchester County." The announcement from
Ambient says the Con Edison-Ambient proposal "was favorably reviewed by a
technical evaluation panel and NYSERDA management." The authority will
provide up to $200,000 of the $480,000 project.

Smith said NYSERDA was "excited about the potential PLC technology has to
improve system reliability and power quality for business and residential
customers in New York." Ambient says the project will enable Con Edison to
monitor two overhead distribution circuits via Ambient's utility
applications as well as provide a backbone to deliver high-speed Internet
service. "To gain the support of a government agency such as NYSERDA, is a
further testament to the potential of Ambient's technology," the news
release said.

Sumner told Smith that the Briarcliff Manor field trial for months has
been "the source of ongoing harmful interference to radio communication in
violation of §15.5(b) of the Federal Communications Commission rules." He
pointed to documentation of interference, filed complaints and failures to
immediately eliminate the interference posted on the "BPL in Briarcliff
Manor" Web site <> of ARRL member Alan
Crosswell, N2YGK, a resident of the community.

Sumner also attached an April 26 reply to the FCC from Holland & Knight
LLP, a law firm representing Ambient, in response to Crosswell's March 31
interference complaint. The letter, to Jim Burtle, chief of the
Experimental License Branch within the FCC's Office of Engineering and
Technology, indicates that Ambient representatives spoke with Crosswell
"to confirm that the company takes his interference concerns seriously"
and was evaluating various options, including notching. The Briarcliff
Manor pilot project was granted an FCC Experimental License, WD2XEQ, last

In his letter to Smith, Sumner said the BPL system operator failed to
terminate the test immediately following Crosswell's complaint and allowed
the interference to continue, "despite the clearly stated requirement of
§15.5(b) that operation is subject to the condition that no harmful
interference is caused."

George Y. Wheeler of Holland and Knight said Ambient was studying the
proposed FCC BPL guidelines and was "considering how to introduce them
into its test program at an early date." In the meantime, Ambient notched
out the 20-meter amateur band. "Initial results from field tests have
shown feasibility of notching as a mitigation technique," Wheeler said,
adding that full implementation would require hardware upgrades.


The International Space Station Expedition 9 crew paid tribute to former
President Ronald Reagan June 10. Astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, and
cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, rang the ISS ship's bell 40 times to
commemorate the nation's 40th chief executive. Reagan died June 5 at the
age of 93 of complications resulting from Alzheimer's disease.

"We, the crew of the International Space Station, join millions of others
in mourning the passing of President Reagan, who worked tirelessly to
bring the world closer together," said Padalka, the Expedition 9 crew

Fincke noted that it was Reagan who had proposed building the space
station. "President Reagan realized that freedom would ring in a new era
of international cooperation," he said, "and with his vision guiding us,
the United States again began to work with our former Cold War rivals, the

Within a decade, Fincke said, the US Shuttle Atlantis docked to the
Russian Mir Space Station, and President Reagan's space station Freedom
became the International Space Station.

Fincke said he and Padalka felt privileged to be working aboard the ISS
"for the benefit of all humankind." He recalled that during Reagan's White
House tenure, the president spoke with astronauts in space, greeted the
crew of Columbia after its fourth voyage and led the nation in mourning
the loss of the Challenger crew.

"We all mourn his passing as freedom loving people around the world,"
Fincke concluded. "God bless him, and God bless America."

A funeral service for Reagan was held in the National Cathedral June 11.
Interment followed in a private ceremony at the Reagan Presidential
Library in California.


Members of the Maritime Mobile Service Net <> recently were
instrumental in the successful handling of yet another medical emergency
at sea. The crisis arose when a young hand aboard a commercial fishing
vessel in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Central America suffered
serious knife wounds May 25 in a fight with a crewmate. Although not an
amateur licensee, the captain of the Motor Vessel Brandon Travis knew he
could get prompt assistance on the net's 14.300 MHz frequency.

"Under normal conditions, transmissions by non-amateur stations on this
frequency are prohibited by international law," said Assistant Net Manager
Tom Job, VE3II, who lives near Toronto and took the initial call for help.
"But when an emergency occurs at sea, anyone can use the frequency for
assistance." At the time, the 80-foot, steel-hulled Brandon Travis was
reported two days east of Roatan, Honduras.

The captain, who identified himself as "Chris," explained that the most
serious injury the 17-year-old crew member suffered was a stab wound in
the back, just a few inches from the victim's spine.

After obtaining critical information, Job contacted the Coast Guard's
District 7 Search and Rescue Center in Miami and relayed the situation
report. The Coast Guard in turn contacted Honduran authorities to arrange
to evacuate the injured man.

The net also was able to get physician Jim Hirschman, K4TCV, a net member
in Miami, on frequency. Hirschman has extensive experience assisting with
injuries and medical emergencies via the radio. He was one of the
principal MMSN members to provide assistance and advice to the parents of
Willem van Tuyl, then 13, after he was shot and seriously injured in a
pirate attack on the family's sailboat in 2000.

The injured man was reported in pain and apparent shock and having
difficulty breathing. Hirschman advised the captain on how to stabilize
the victim and treat his injuries. No oxygen was available aboard the
vessel. "The injury was life-threatening, and medical evacuation was of
the utmost urgency," Job pointed out. Hirschman was joined by fellow
physician Peter Sosnow, W1KY, an emergency room trauma specialist.

The net remained open past its normal closing time to keep an ear on the
situation. Early the next morning, the captain of the Brandon Travis
informed the net that the injured man had been removed to a Honduran naval
vessel and taken to a hospital.

"Without the assistance of the net, this situation could have resulted in
the death of the crew member," Job added. The stabbing victim spent a
couple of days in the hospital and was released.

The captain of the Brandon Travis checked into the net two days after the
incident to thank everyone for their help. At the captain's request, the
net supplied him with a copy of ARRL Amateur Radio license study

"He was super impressed with the net's response and now has 14.300 in the
ship SSB radio's memory," Job said. "Chalk up another one for the good


It took him four years, but a ham from Bealeton, Virginia, has become the
first US amateur licensee to work all states using a flea-power "Tuna Tin
II" transmitter. ARRL member Bob Chapman, W9JOP, recently completed his
"QRPp" (less than 1 W output) accomplishment and has received his ARRL
Worked All States Award certificate.

"Unfortunately, ARRL does not issue a certificate for WAS QRPp," he said.
"Mine is endorsed with 'QRP-CW.'"

Chapman, 71, says he actually used two Tuna Tin transmitters to accomplish
the feat. He worked and confirmed the contiguous 48 states with a classic
Tuna Tin, which uses an inverted tuna can as a chassis. Not only was
Chapman running just 250 mW--one-quarter of a watt--he was crystal
controlled on 7043 kHz! Chapman says he snagged the last two states,
Hawaii (KH6U) and Alaska (WL7WH) using a homebrew 20-meter Tuna Tin,
rockbound on 14,060 kHz and also running 250 mW.

"No QRO here," Chapman says of his setup. "Just a low-power, low-tech
station with a G5RV wire antenna at 50 feet and a 'TiCK' keyer." He uses a
vintage Collins 51S-1 receiver.

A ham for 50 years, Chapman further points out that he accomplished his
QRPp WAS without any schedules but "just by waiting for the states to pass
within my capture area--namely, on my frequency," he said. He also has a
QRP Amateur Radio Club International QRPp Worked All States certificate.
His wife, Joy, is KA9TTB.

In 2001 Steve Chapman, VE7SL, in British Columbia, Canada, became the
world's first amateur to accomplish QRPp WAS using a Tuna Tin II running
about 400 mW.


The Marconi Radio Club of Newfoundland's VO1MRC will conduct an experiment
on 60 meters Saturday and Sunday, June 19-20, from 0000 to 2400 UTC (ie,
starting the evening of Friday, June 18, in North America). During this
period, a CW beacon will be in operation on 5269.5 kHz to determine the
relative performance of high and low radiation angle antennas. The antenna
in use will be identified by a code in each transmission.

"The low-angle aerial is a vertical, and the high-angle one is an inverted
V," says RAC Newfoundland-Labrador Section Manager Joe Craig, VO1NA. He's
coordinating the 60-meter experiment in Canada and will be the primary
operator for the antenna tests. Craig will use the club's Marconi CH-150
for simplex QSOs, for the beacon and as a transmitter for split operation.

VO1MRC will open briefly for two-way contacts with stations authorized to
transmit on 60 meters starting at 0000 UTC each of these days, operating
CW on 5260.5 kHz (US stations may not transmit on this frequency, nor may
they use CW on 60 meters). VO1MRC will listen on 5346.5 kHz USB. Following
this VO1MRC will transmit on 5327.5 USB and receive 5346.5 USB and 3807.5
kHz LSB.

"For split operation," Craig said, "I will be using a manual T/R switch,
so it's going to be a bit awkward and patience will be needed from those
looking for QSOs." He invites signal reports from all stations via e-mail
to Joe Craig, VO1NA <>;.

Proposed by the Marconi Radio Club of Newfoundland, the 5-MHz experiment
has been endorsed by Radio Amateurs of Canada <> and
authorized by Industry Canada, which approved resumption of the 60-meter
experiments in February.

US licensees unfamiliar with the rules for operating on 60 meters may
consult the "60 Meters - Frequently Asked Questions" page
<> on the ARRL Web
site. For further information, visit the MRCN Web site
<> and The VO1MRC 5 MHz Experiment
page <>.


Sol man Tad "SPF-15" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar
activity remains low. As the sunspot cycle declines, we are inevitably
headed toward a year or two of quiet sun. The sunspot minimum still is
several years away, however.

This week average daily sunspot numbers were up slightly by more than 7
points to 68.3. Average daily solar flux was down nearly 10 points to
87.4. Geomagnetic conditions remained quiet to slightly unsettled.

The chance of any geomagnetic upset this weekend seems very remote. The
sun is nearly blank, but as of June 10, two sunspots were peeking around
the edge of the visible face. Solar flux is expected to remain low,
declining to around 80 next week. Solar flux is expected to rise above 100
once again between June 19-22.

The Regional Warning Center Prague predicts quiet geomagnetic conditions
June 13, 14 and 17, quiet to unsettled conditions June 12, and unsettled
conditions June 11, 15 and 16. On June 9, the sun spewed a coronal mass
ejection, but the energy was aimed away from Earth, and it caused no
geomagnetic upset.

Sunspot numbers for June 3 through 9 were 77, 55, 59, 60, 82, 72 and 73,
with a mean of 68.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 90, 89.4, 84.5, 88.4, 88.5, 86
and 85.2, with a mean of 87.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 8, 11,
11, 11, 8, 9 and 14, with a mean of 10.3. Estimated mid-latitude A indices
were 6, 14, 8, 12, 7, 6 and 13, with a mean of 9.4.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL June VHF QSO Party, the ANARTS World
Wide RTTY Contest, the Portugal Day Contest and the Asia-Pacific Summer
Sprint (SSB) are the weekend of June 12-13. SARL Kid's Day and the RSGB
80-Meter Club Championship (CW) are June 16. JUST AHEAD: ARRL Kid's Day is
Saturday June 19. The All Asian DX Contest (CW), the SMIRK Contest, the
West Virginia and Quebec QSO parties, the AGCW VHF/UHF Contest and the DIE
Contest are the weekend of June 19-20. 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, June 20. Classes begin Tuesday June 29. This course
is a excellent way learn the ins and outs of antenna modeling.
Computer-modeling expert and noted author L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, has combined
the expertise of his long career as a college professor with his passion
for 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, June 27. Classes begin Tuesday, July 6.
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
<> Web page or contact the ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education Program Department <>;.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Seats are still
available for the ARRL on-line Level I Emergency Communications course
(EC-001). Registration remains open through Sunday, June 13, or until all
available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Registration
opens Monday, June 14, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC), for the Level II Emergency
Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains open through
Sunday, June 20, or until all seats are filled--whichever occurs first.
Class begins Tuesday, June 29. 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. Seats are limited.
Register early to ensure your place in the June classes! To learn more,
visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Web page
<>. For more information, contact Emergency
Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG,;

* ARRL to sponsor emergency communications seminar in Oregon: The ARRL
will offer a free Amateur Radio Emergency Communications seminar Friday,
June 18, in conjunction with the SeaPac Amateur Radio convention in
Seaside, Oregon. The seminar will not include the Level I course itself.
Senior citizens are strongly encouraged to participate. All ARES/RACES
volunteers, ARECC course participants, ARRL Field Organization leadership
(SMs, SECs, DECs and ECs), course participants at every ARECC
level--mentors, certification instructors, certification examiners,
current students and all interested radio amateurs--are invited to
participate. The seminar will be held Friday, June 18, at the Seaside
Convention Center, 415 First Avenue, Seaside, Oregon, from 1 until 4 PM.
Seating may be limited. If you plan to attend, contact Dan Miller, K3UFG,
<>;; 860-594-0340; fax 860-594-0259). For more information on
the SeaPac Convention, visit the convention Web site
<>. Attendance at this seminar does not include the
price of admission to the convention.

* SO-50 satellite now available to all via CTCSS tone: AMSAT-NA says the
the SO-50 <>
satellite--also known as SaudiSat-1C--now is available to all, and users
can switch on the Mode J transponder via a CTCSS tone. Previously, only
one of the three control operators could turn on the spacecraft for
amateur communication. Here's the procedure: Transmit on 145.850 MHz
(taking Doppler effect into account) using a CTCSS tone of 74.4 Hz to arm
the onboard 10-minute timer. Then, transmit FM voice on 145.850 MHz using
a CTCSS tone of 67.0 Hz to actuate the repeater within the 10-minute
window (SO-50 takes a half second or so to start transmitting once a
signal is received, so users should pause briefly before talking). SO-50's
downlink frequency is 436.800 MHz. Sending the 74.4 Hz CTCSS tone again
within the 10-minute window resets the timer. Launched in December 2002,
SO-50 sports a quarter-wave vertical receiving antenna mounted at the top
corner of the spacecraft. The transmitter runs 250 mW into a quarter-wave
antenna mounted on the bottom corner of the spacecraft and canted 45
degrees inward.

* Kentucky's youngest amateur also youngest Extra: ARRL Kentucky Section
Manager John Meyers, NB4K, says League member Christopher Lee Castle,
KI4BOQ, of West Van Lear, Kentucky, not only is the youngest radio amateur
in the Blue Grass State, he's its youngest Amateur Extra class licensee.
Castle got his Technician ticket last July at age 11. After upgrading to
General in January, he passed the Extra examination on St Valentine's
Day--less than 10 days before his 12th birthday. The youngster hails from
a family of hams, taking not only after his father, Ron Castle, KI4NM, and
grandfather, Donald Castle, KI4NL, and grandmother, Deloris Castle, N4OKP,
but his late great-grandfather Clyde Castle Jr, N4KJQ. He says his biggest
thrill in Amateur Radio was getting his Extra before his granddad did.
Castle enjoys DXing, and he's a member of the Big Sandy Amateur Radio Club
and Johnson County ARES. In addition to his ham radio activities, Castle
plays the drums, steel guitar and a little piano, and he's won drum and
steel guitar competitions. He also is a member of the Porter
Elementary/Johnson County Middle School Academic/Future Problem Solving
team, part of the Future Problem Solving Program <>.
During a competition June 3-6, his teams placed second and fourth in the
world, while the Johnson County Middle School Team--to which he'll be
recruited in the fall, took first place in the world. The competition
included participants from all 50 states and 10 countries. "Chris is so
proud and told many students about his involvement in ham radio," said his
dad, "and many seemed very interested."--John Meyers, NB4K; Ron Castle,

* Ham-Com 2004 to feature emergency communication, Kid's Day operation:
Community-based emergency communication will be a major focus of Ham-Com
2004 <>, Friday and Saturday, June 18-19, at the
Arlington Convention Center, Arlington, Texas. With more than 100 hours of
activities and workshops, Ham-Com key forum topics will include the ARRL
Education and Technology Program (ETP) <>,
public service, and Amateur Radio's role in providing emergency
communication. The Boy Scouts of America have authorized the use of their
K2BSA call sign as a special event station for ARRL Kid's Day
<>, Saturday, June
19. HamCom 2004 Chairman Barry Goldblatt, WA5KXX, says the station will
operate from the exhibit floor staffed by students from the DeGolyer
School, an ARRL ETP pilot school. Ham-Com's featured speaker will be FCC
Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth. He and ARRL President
Jim Haynie, W5JBP, will hold a Saturday forum to discuss Amateur Radio
restructuring and BPL. There will be Amateur Radio examination sessions,
and Goldblatt says HamCom expects to be the first hamfest to offer
same-day FCC call sign grants for new license applicants. Upward of 5000
visitors are expected to attend HamCom.

* Elmer stories wanted: Attention, clubs! Is there someone in your club
who is especially good at Elmering (mentoring) new hams? Tell us what this
person does that goes above and beyond the ordinary. An ARRL Web
feature--"Elmers: A Guiding Ham"--awaits your story. Now's the chance to
put your Elmer in the spotlight! Send your information to ARRL Affiliated
Club/Mentor Program Manager Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, Now's the
time to publicly praise that special mentor.

* ARRL 2003 Annual Report now available: The ARRL 2003 Annual Report is
hot off the press and copies--while they last--are available free upon
request. Enjoy a look back at ARRL activities, Headquarters staff efforts,
messages from ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, and ARRL Chief Executive
Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ and more. To obtain your copy of the ARRL 2003
Annual Report, contact Media Relations Manager Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY,
<>;; 860-594-0328. The 2003 Annual Report also is available
on the ARRL Web site as an Adobe PDF file

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,
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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
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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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