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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 24, No. 08
February 25, 2005


* +New Spectrum Protection bill introduced in US House
* +Consent decree ends FCC enforcement action on interference
* +Maine high schoolers speak with space station via ham radio
* +2005 Amateur Radio Hurricane Conference draws a crowd
* +Amateur Radio saves one of its own
* +New section managers start this spring in three ARRL sections
* +League honors Dayton Hamvention committee
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ARRL to sponsor emergency communications seminar at SEA-PAC
    +"Cardless" 5BDXCC testimony to Logbook of the World's value
     WRTC 2006 Web site open
     Microwave Update 2005 issues call for papers
     Notable Silent Keys

+Available on ARRL Audio News



At the urging of the ARRL, Rep Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) has introduced The
Amateur Radio Spectrum Act of 2005 into the US House of Representatives. The
bill, designated HR 691, has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce
Committee where Bilirakis serves as vice chairman. Like previous versions of
the proposal, the current measure would require the FCC to provide
"equivalent replacement spectrum" to Amateur Radio if the FCC reallocates
primary amateur frequencies, reduces any secondary amateur allocations, or
makes additional allocations within such bands that would substantially
reduce their utility to amateurs. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP,
expressed his appreciation to Bilirakis this week.

"As president of the American Radio League and on behalf of the more than
670,000 federally licensed Amateur Radio operators throughout the country, I
would like to thank you for once again sponsoring the 'Amateur Radio
Spectrum Protection Act,'" Haynie told the Florida Republican. "As you know,
this legislation is vital for ensuring that the Amateur Radio Service, the
only 100-percent fail safe emergency communication capability, remains a
viable public safety option."

HR 691 references Amateur Radio's role in providing "voluntary,
noncommercial radio service, particularly emergency communications," and it
points out that hams have "consistently and reliably" provided communication
support in the event of emergencies and disasters including tornadoes and
hurricanes, chemical spills, forest fires and rail accidents. As the measure
notes, FCC actions already have led to the loss of at least 107 MHz of
spectrum to radio amateurs.

Rep Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) has signed on as the bill's first co-sponsor.
Bartlett chairs the Projection Forces Subcommittee of the Armed Services
Committee. One of three scientists in the 109th Congress, Bartlett also is a
senior member of the House Science Committee.

Efforts now will focus on attracting additional cosponsors for the
legislation. The League is encouraging members to urge their congressional
representatives to sign aboard HR 691. A sample letter is available on the
ARRL Web site <>.
More than 100 lawmakers agreed to cosponsor similar legislation in the 108th
Congress, where it was designated HR 713. Work is proceeding to have
identical legislation introduced in the US Senate.

The text of HR 691 is available on the Government Printing Office Web site

For general guidance on the best methods of contacting your members of
Congress, see "Communicating with Congress," by Derek Riker, KB3JLF, on the
ARRL Web site <>.


The FCC has agreed to terminate enforcement action against an importer and
marketer of heated mattress pads and blankets--and associated external
switching power supplies--in exchange for the company's signature on a
Consent Decree. The case involved numerous interference complaints from
Amateur Radio operators and others related to consumer products marketed by
Perfect Fit Industries (PFI) of Charlotte, North Carolina.

"The Enforcement Bureau and PFI have negotiated the terms of a Consent
Decree that would resolve this matter and terminate the investigation," the
FCC announced in releasing an Order in the proceeding February 10. The Order
includes a copy of the Consent Decree. PFI also will make a "voluntary
contribution" of $7000 to the US treasury.

ARRL Laboratory Electromagnetic Compatibility Engineer Mike Gruber, W1MG,
said the League has been receiving an increasing number of reports from
radio amateurs about interference from modern switching-type power supplies.
Ironically, one complaint came from Gruber's boss--ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare,
W1RFI, whose wife had purchased one of the blankets. Hare says a further
irony involves the FCC's reaction in this case to an apparent Part 15
emissions violation.

"It's paradoxical that an electric blanket marketer is getting this level of
FCC attention for a conducted emission that's less than 1 percent of the
power level BPL manufacturers have told the FCC they use in their
installations," he commented.

The ARRL Lab examined one of the offending blankets, which emitted a ticking
sound even while turned off but still plugged into the ac outlet. Gruber
noted that many products of this type appear to be made overseas and do not
carry the required labeling described in Part 15 of the FCC's rules. Owing
to negligence or ignorance of the FCC requirements for conducted and
radiated emissions limits, he says, some of these devices may operate at
levels significantly higher than the rules permit.

"We hope this case will serve as a reminder to other manufacturers that
their switching supplies need to be tested for compliance with the rules and
carry the proper labeling as required by Part 15," Gruber said. But, he
added, FCC's Part 15 limits are not a cure-all for interference--an
assertion borne out in other cases involving interference from unlicensed
devices such as broadband over power line (BPL) interference or common power
line noise.

"On the contrary, the limits are set high enough that interference--as was
seen in cases involving these products--is likely," he pointed out. "Part 15
requires that operators of unlicensed devices that cause harmful
interference must take whatever steps are necessary to correct the
interference or cease operation whenever interference occurs."

As part of the Consent Decree, PFI will put into place an FCC "Regulatory
Compliance Plan" with an eye toward ensuring future compliance. Among other
things, the company will have to designate a compliance officer to
administer the plan. PFI further agreed to replace free of charge any
noncompliant mattress pad or heated blanket with a compliant product upon
receipt of an interference complaint.

In addition, PFI will agree that its electric mattress pads and blankets and
associated external switching power supplies will comply with FCC Part 2 and
Part 15 rules before they're imported and marketed. The Consent Decree is
good for three years.

Signing the Consent Decree for the FCC was Enforcement Bureau Chief David H.
Solomon. PFI President and CEO Louis R. Morris signed on the company's

Sound recordings of the electric blanket and mattress pad RFI are available
on the RF Noise Identification Web site
<> operated by VE3HLS.


"Good to be talking to you all. Welcome Rockland District High School in
Rockland, Maine, from the International Space Station!" With those words,
ISS Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao, KE5BRW, kicked off an approximately
10-minute Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact
on February 14 between NA1SS and W1PBR--the call sign of the Pen Bay Amateur
Radio Club. It was the first ARISS school group QSO with a Maine school.
Given that state's typically colder climate, it was perhaps no surprise that
one student wanted to know how the ISS is heated.

"Space can be either very cold or very hot if you're in the direct sunlight,
and the station has several control systems that help regulate the
temperature inside--and we can actually set that temperature," Chiao
explained. He said because the onboard equipment generates heat in addition
to what the spacecraft absorbs from exposure to the sun, maintaining a
comfortable living environment comes down to shedding heat to outside
radiators. "So, depending on how much he we remove, we can control the
temperature inside," he said.

Responding to another student's question, Chiao said it's true that the ISS
crew sleeps in bunks that stand along the walls of the station. "We have
what we call a 'sleep station,' and they're basically phone booth-size
little boxes," Chiao said. There's one in the US segment and one in the
Russian module. Their size isn't confining, however. "They're pretty small,
but it's enough for a little privacy at night. You can get in there with
your sleeping bag and your computer and watch movies or listen to music or
read an electronic book," Chiao added.

With respect to the amount of room aboard the ISS, Chiao told another
student that while there's not as much room in their space quarters as there
is on the ground, the crew members quickly get used to it. "Especially in
weightlessness, you can get to all three dimensions," Chiao said. "You're
not just confined to walking around on the floor." Being able to float from
place to place also makes more efficient use of the available space, he
noted. "It's really not bad at all."

Part of Maine School Administrative District 5, Rockland District High
School, with an enrollment of approximately 500, draws students from that
mid-coast Maine city as well as from the neighboring towns of Thomaston and
Owl's Head. Those participating in the ARISS contact are taking or have
completed an integrated science course covering environmental and earth
science, including astronomy. In all, the high schoolers got to ask 13
questions before the ISS went out of radio range.

Handling Earth station duties were George Caswell, W1ME, and Norm Smith,
NY1B, with help from members of the Pen Bay ARC. The contact also was
retransmitted over a local repeater.

The ARISS event had media coverage from at least two TV stations and one
newspaper. Some 400 students and visitors were on hand in the audience.

ARISS is an international educational outreach program with US participation


ARRL Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, represented
the League at the 10th annual Amateur Radio Hurricane Conference February 5
at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami <>. He
reports upward of 75 visitors--nearly all of them radio amateurs--turned out
for the event. Scheduled in conjunction with the Miami Tropical Hamboree,
which Miller also attended, the conference provided an opportunity to review
the busy 2004 hurricane season and to discuss Amateur Radio's role to
support emergency communication.

"This was a phenomenal meeting," commented Miller, who delivered a
presentation at the conference on ham radio's hurricane and tsunami-related
activities. "Because 2004 was one for the record books, comments, reports
and pictures from the people who live in the islands and in the affected
areas of Florida, were that much more meaningful."

Miller said the consensus at the gathering was that despite the best efforts
to prepare, no one imagined the onslaught witnessed last year. Among
featured speakers was Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) <> Manager
Mike Pilgrim, K5MP. The HWN and the center's WX4NHC work hand-in-hand to
funnel real-time weather data to NHC forecasters via Amateur Radio. The HWN
Web site recorded more than 55 million hits during September alone!

The conference agenda also included reports from many areas affected by the
2004 hurricanes, including the Cayman Islands; Grenada; Marsh Harbour,
Abacos, and, of course, Florida. NHC Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart told
the gathering how each storm presented varied characteristics and explained
how computer modeling is not always right on the money in projecting a
hurricane's path.

Newly appointed Southern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Jeff Beals,
WA4AW, spoke about the Holiday Hams video, which chronicled the
overwhelmingly successful ARRL Holiday Toy Drive to benefit youngsters
affected by the Florida hurricanes.

NHC Amateur Radio Coordinator John McHugh, K4AG, and Assistant Coordinator
Julio Ripoll, WD4R, served as conference hosts.


Two Alaskan hikers on a day outing in rugged mountains near Anchorage saw
their afternoon turn into something entirely unexpected February 12. One of
them--Jesse Jones, KL1RK--slipped and fell more than 200 feet down a steep
ravine, losing his snowshoes in the process. Jones found himself trapped
between a low overhang on one side and a swift-moving stream on the other.
Even worse was the fact that his descent could continue into the water at
any moment, and almost certain death from hypothermia. With more than 10
feet on the ground, the loss of his snowshoes meant he could not walk out.
On the plus side, Jones had taken along his 2-meter handheld transceiver.
After several unsuccessful tries, he finally was able to access the
wide-area WL7CVG repeater atop Mt Susitna, almost 40 miles distant.

"As a control operator for the repeater, I heard his weak 'Mayday! Mayday!
Mayday!' call just a few minutes after 4 PM local time," reports Jim Wiley,
KL7CC. "I immediately called 911 and was placed in contact with the local
fire department rescue coordinator. I was able to pass on Jesse's messages
to the local rescue coordinator, including coordinates from a GPS unit he
was carrying." Wiley says the rescue coordinator's office called out the
local mountain rescue group and the Alaska State Troopers, who immediately
left for the scene.

The rescue team met with Jones's climbing partner, who had been able to hike
out to a place where he could assist the rescuers. Jones was able to keep in
touch via 2 meters to report his condition, but his signal into the repeater
was marginal. Although uninjured, the sub-zero cold was numbing his
extremities to the point that he was having trouble operating his

Unable to execute the rescue themselves, the team called an Air National
Guard unit, which flew a helicopter to the scene. While the presence of
high-voltage power lines just above Jones' position complicated matters, the
chopper was able to lower some para-rescue jumpers to a nearby location,
from which they could rappel to his position and, after a few hours,
extricate him.

Briefly hospitalized for a checkup, Jones was released just before midnight,
cold and a bit hungry, but otherwise okay. Wiley says several local hams
also assisted the effort, either directly or by their connection with local
emergency service groups.

Additional details of the rescue and photos are available on the ARRL Web
site <>.


The ARRL North Texas, Arkansas and Arizona sections will get new Section
Managers this spring. Ballots cast in the two contested races of the current
Section Manager (SM) election cycle were counted and verified February 22 at
ARRL Headquarters. New terms of office for successful candidates begin April

In the North Texas Section, Tom Blackwell, N5GAR, outpolled incumbent SM Roy
Rabey, AD5KZ, 853 to 586. Rabey has served as SM since 2003. A resident of
Dallas, Blackwell has served as State Government Liaison for eight years
under previous SMs.

In Arkansas, David Norris, K5UZ, won the open SM slot 353 to 199 over Terry
Busby, W5ARS. Norris, who lives in Batesville, has served as an ARRL
Assistant SM for eight years, is active in ARES and RACES and is an avid
DXer and contester. He'll succeed Dennis Schaefer, W5RZ, who has served
since 2003 and did not seek a new term.

In Arizona, Tom Fagan, WB7NXH, will take over the reins from Cliff Hauser,
KD6XH, who did not seek a new term after serving for 12 years. Fagan, who
had no opposition, now serves as Technical Coordinator and has served as
Arizona Section Emergency Coordinator for the past two years. He also has
held Emergency Coordinator and District Emergency Coordinator positions.

Incumbent SMs in four other ARRL sections also ran unopposed and will
continue in office for new two-year terms. They are Jim Lasley, N0JL, Iowa;
John Meyers, NB4K, Kentucky; Malcolm Keown, W5XX, Mississippi, and Carl
Gardenias, WU6D, Orange.

Since no candidates have sought to run for the Montana, Puerto Rico and
Wyoming SM positions, nominations will be resolicited in the April issue of


The ARRL has recognized members of the 2005 Dayton Hamvention Committee.
ARRL Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, presented a special award during
the committee's February 8 planning session in Dayton. Reading from the
citation, Weaver said,

"This award is presented to the 2005 Hamvention Committee and Gary Des
Combes, N8EMO, General Chairman, in appreciation of your invitation to host
the 2005 ARRL National Convention." Des Combes, who's serving his second
year as general chairman, accepted the award on the committee's behalf.

Celebrating its 54th show, Dayton Hamvention, May 20-22, has set aside a
large area in the Hara Arena complex--the Ballarena near the 400-number
booths--for "ARRL EXPO 2005," a special exhibit dedicated entirely to the
ARRL National Convention. ARRL EXPO 2005 will showcase ARRL programs and
services. Hamvention admission will include access to ARRL EXPO 2005. The
official ARRL National Convention Web site <> has
more information.

Sponsored by Dayton Amateur Radio Association, Dayton Hamvention is the
world's largest Amateur Radio gathering and trade show. Tickets and
additional information are available via the Dayton Hamvention Web site


Solar flash Tad "Walking on the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Average daily geomagnetic indices for the week were slightly
higher, and the average daily sunspot numbers and solar flux were down
markedly. Average daily sunspot numbers dropped nearly 30 points to 45.4,
and average daily solar flux slipped nearly 19 points to 97.3.

This weekend is the CQ World Wide 160 Meter Contest (SSB), and for 160
meters we hope for quiet geomagnetic conditions. The latest forecast for
February 25-27 is for a planetary A index of 15, 20 and 20. The Prague
Geophysical Institute projects active geomagnetic conditions for February
26, and unsettled to active for February 25 and 27. Sunspot numbers and
solar flux should remain quite low. Predicted solar flux for February 25-27
is 80, and flux values are not expected to rise above 100 until around March
9, and then only slightly.

Sunspot numbers for February 17 through 23 were 51, 46, 51, 60, 33, 23 and
54, with a mean of 45.4. The 10.7 cm flux was 111.3, 104.2, 98.5, 95.7,
94.5, 92.3 and 84.6, with a mean of 97.3. Estimated planetary A indices were
6, 25, 14, 12, 8, 4 and 4 with a mean of 10.4. Estimated mid-latitude A
indices were 7, 14, 8, 6, 4, 3 and 2, with a mean of 6.3.


* This weekend on the radio: The CQ 160-Meter Contest (SSB), the REF Contest
(SSB), the UBA DX Contest (CW), the Mississippi and North Carolina QSO
parties, the CZEBRIS Contest, the North American QSO Party (RTTY), the High
Speed Club CW Contest, and the CQC Winter QSO Party are the weekend of
February 26-27. JUST AHEAD: The AGCW YL-CW Party is March 1. The ARRL
International DX Contest (SSB), the Wake-Up! QRP Sprint and the Open Ukraine
RTTY Championship are the weekend of March 5-6. The DARC 10-Meter Digital
Contest is March 6, the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (Data) is March 7,
the ARS Spartan Sprint is March 8, and the Pesky Texan Armadillo Chase is
March 10. 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 HF Digital Communication (EC-005) and
VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses remains open through Sunday,
February 27. Classes begin Friday March 11. Students participating in
VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) will enjoy exploring some of the
lesser-used and more intriguing aspects of VHF/UHF operation. HF Digital
Communication students will learn to use a variety of HF digital modes. To
learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (CCE) Web
page <> or contact the ARRL CCE Department

* ARRL to sponsor emergency communications seminar at SEA-PAC: The ARRL will
offer a free Amateur Radio Emergency Communications seminar Friday, June 17,
1-5 PM, in conjunction with SEA-PAC--the ARRL Northwest Division
Convention--in Seaside, Oregon. This seminar is not an emergency
communications course. It is about Amateur Radio emergency communications
from a national perspective. ARRL Emergency Communications Course Manager
Dan Miller, K3UFG, says the seminar will focus on ways to better meet the
increasing demand for ham radio operators to assist in emergency
communication activities. ARES/RACES leadership, ARRL Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications course graduates, mentors, instructors and
prospective students are encouraged to attend this open, interactive
presentation. Seating for this seminar may be limited. If you plan to
attend, contact Dan Miller, K3UFG,; 860-594-0340; fax
860-594-0259. Handouts and door prizes will be available to all attendees.
Seminar attendance does not include admission to SEA-PAC
<>, which runs June 17-19.

* "Cardless" Five-Band DXCC testimony to Logbook of the World's value: New
Hampshire contest station KC1XX (chief op Matt Strelow) recently achieved
Five-Band DXCC solely through contact data submitted to the ARRL's Logbook
of the World (LoTW). With more than 255,000 QSOs already in the worldwide
contact database, KC1XX recently was able to confirm 100 DXCC entities on 80
meters to qualify for the award. Because most participants have linked their
DXCC data into LoTW, it is not always possible to determine band totals
derived solely from Logbook confirmations. Major contest stations like KC1XX
serve to demonstrate the value of participating in LoTW, however, because
these stations frequently do not have DXCC, and their totals are due
entirely to LoTW-verified contacts. The largely single-op contesting and DX
station of John Sluymer, VE3EJ, in Ontario also has qualified for 5BDXCC
through LoTW-verified QSOs, while several others are closing in on achieving
5BDXCC using the same route. Meanwhile, Brian Alsop, K3KO, in North
Carolina, has already confirmed 221 DXCC entities entirely via LoTW.

* WRTC 2006 Web site open: World Radiosport Team Championship 2006 (WRTC
2006), which will take place in Brazil in conjunction with the Liga de
Amadores de Radio Emiss„o (LABRE) and the Araucaria DX Group (GADX), now has
an official Web site <>. Although some sections
remain under construction, the site does include draft rules, still subject
to final approval. Following in the footsteps of previous WRTC competitions
held in Seattle, San Francisco, Slovenia, and Finland, the WRTC showcases
Amateur Radio competition at its highest level, pitting two-person teams of
the world's top operators for the gold, silver and bronze. WRTC 2006 will
take place July 7-10 in the vicinity of Florianopolis, the capital of Santa
Catarina State in Southern Brazil. Atilano de Oms, PY5EG, heads the WRTC
2006 Steering Committee. The WRTC brings competitors together in a single
geographical area. The on-the-air portion of the event is held in
conjunction with the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) HF World
Championship, although WRTC rules differ in some respects from those of the
IARU event, and scoring is done separately. WRTC stations run 100 W and have
comparably modest antenna systems--typically a dipole for the low bands and
a triband Yagi for the higher bands. The idea is to minimize the variables
associated with radio contesting, thereby emphasizing each team's operating
skills. The contesting duo of Jeff Steinman, N5TJ, and Dan Street, K1TO,
took home the WRTC gold for the third time in the 2002 event in Finland.
Teams have not yet been announced for the 2006 event.

* Microwave Update 2005 issues call for papers: Microwave Update 2005 (MUD
2005) has issued its first call for papers. The conference will take place
Thursday, October 27, through Sunday, October 30, at the Sheraton Cerritos
Hotel in Cerritos, California--less than 10 miles north of Disneyland. The
paramount conference on Amateur Radio experimentation above 1 GHz, MUD 2005
will be sponsored jointly by the San Bernardino Microwave Society (SBMS) and
the Western States Weak Signal Society (WSWSS). It will include technical
programs, a banquet and the opportunity to network with fellow microwave
enthusiasts. MUD 2005 is a great opportunity to get your ideas and papers
published, and you don't have to present your paper to have it included in
the conference Proceedings. Electronic submissions via e-mail or on CD-ROM
are welcome. The deadline to submit for publication in the Proceedings is
September 5. Those interested in writing and/or presenting a paper for
Microwave Update 2005 should submit an abstract or topic to Chip Angle,
N6CA, PO Box 35, Lomita, CA 90717-0035; Additional
information on the conference is on the MUD 2005 Web site

* Notable Silent Keys: Lavene Vorel, WA4AZE, of St Petersburg, Florida, died
January 14. He was 60. An ARRL member, Vorel was one of the engineers who
designed the original Signal One amateur transceiver at Electronic
Communications Inc. Dick Aspinwall, W7PV, of Seattle, Washington, died
January 21. He was 90. An ARRL Life Member, Aspinwall founded Amateur Radio
Supply in Georgetown in 1956 and operated it until 1989. Bob Lewis, VO1BL
(ex-W4CKZ), of St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, died January 28. He was 90.
Born Clarence Louis Engelbrecht, he adopted the Lewis surname as a
broadcaster. An active amateur for more than six decades, Lewis was a
founding member of the Society of Newfoundland Radio Amateurs and of the
Marconi Radio Club of Newfoundland. Despite health problems, he remained
active on the air up to the day of his death. John Willig, W8ACE, of
Sarasota, Florida, died January 30. He's credited with being the spark plug
behind the Dayton Hamvention in the 1950s. Virginia ham radio pioneer Ted
Mathewson, W4FJ, of Richmond died January 31. He was 100. An ARRL member,
Mathews founded the Richmond Amateur Radio Club and served for many years as
Virginia Army MARS director. He also was well-known within the amateur
satellite and VHF/UHF communities. SSB pioneer Bob Moren, K4CX (ex-W8LDR and
W4INL), of Boone, North Carolina, died February 3. He was 86. Licensed in
1932, Moren, an ARRL member, was among the first radio amateurs operating
SSB in the late 1940s. He described his homebrew SSB gear in a March 1991
QST article. As W4INL, Moren was on one end of the first transpacific
two-way SSB QSO with VK7DH in 1950. Other QST articles by Moren appeared in
the 1950s and in 1991, the last describing his retirement center ham radio
setup. His feature article, "Requiem for the Alligator Years," appeared on
the ARRL Web site in 2001. Mary G. Dosland, W5DEW, of Moorhead, Minnesota,
died February 8. She was 95. Mary Dosland was the widow of past ARRL
President Goodwin L. Dosland, W0TSN (SK), who served from 1952 until 1962.
He died in 1983.

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
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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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