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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 24, No. 22
June 3, 2005


* +Dayton Hamvention plus ARRL 2005 National Convention a hit
* +League inks cooperative pact with US Power Squadrons
* +ARISS invites schools to participate in SuitSat project
* +Texas BPL bill withers on the vine
* +Nebraska legislation short circuits BPL
* +Special broadcast to mark FM anniversary
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration
    +University students' first Amateur Radio balloon mission a success
     New Mexico ARES members end river watch
     Ward Silver, N0AX, wins May QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL,


By all accounts, Dayton Hamvention and the ARRL National Convention/ARRL
EXPO 2005 represented the best of times for all involved--perhaps especially
for the Amateur Radio community. The League's 2005 convention was like no
other that came before. For the first time, the ARRL virtually took
Headquarters on the road, making available in the ARRL EXPO 2005 area all of
the League's core activities, plus live demonstrations and mini-forums on a
variety of topics. To those who've never made the trek to Newington, ARRL
EXPO 2005 was a chance to see the League in action firsthand, showcasing
public service, advocacy, education and membership. Perhaps ARRL Vice
President Kay Craigie, N3KN, said it best when she called it "an
unconventional convention."

"This was the most exciting ARRL National Convention I've attended in my 22
years as a League member," said Craigie, adding that ARRL EXPO showed
members what the League has to offer in a fresh, dramatic, participatory
way. Craigie was not alone in her hope that the 2005 ARRL National
Convention represented the beginning of a trend.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, put it another way in his "It Seems to Us . .
." editorial set to appear in the July 2005 QST: "A common comment was along
the lines of, 'Now I understand the scope of what the ARRL is doing for me
and other amateurs,'" he wrote.

All in one place--in the ARRL EXPO 2005 area in Hara Arena's
Ballarena--visitors could come face-to-face with HQ staffers and volunteers
representing the ARRL Education and Technology Program, youth activities,
clubs and mentoring, DXCC, development, spectrum defense, the ARRL
Technology Task Force, the ARRL VEC and much more. And they did! Of course,
they also could sign up to become League members, renew or extend current
memberships and--as a few did--become ARRL life members. This year, more
than 900 visitors--a record number--joined ARRL during Dayton Hamvention.

The League's "retail center"--a large, square counter space that greeted
visitors as they entered ARRL EXPO 2005--remained busy throughout the
weekend. ARRL Customer Service/Circulation Manager Kathy Capodicasa, N1GZO,
said it was fortunate she and her staff thought to pack additional inventory
for the convention.

"That area was busier than I ever remember over my last 17 Hamventions!" she
said. "The crowds on Friday and parts of Saturday were perhaps the largest I
have ever seen." The retail center itself was double the size of what the
League typically sets up at Dayton Hamvention. "We pulled into the sales
booth every available ARRL official, staffer and volunteer for staffing
assistance," Capodicasa noted. At its usual concession area in North Hall,
the League maintained a sales counter and "Relaxation Station," where
Hamventioneers could socialize or just sit down and take a break.

The mini-forums on the ARRL Stage at ARRL EXPO 2005 proved popular. Running
about 20 minutes each, the illustrated talks covered virtually every
interest area within the broad spectrum of Amateur Radio.

One big hit--and something entirely new and different for ARRL--was being
able to get your picture on the cover of QST for a modest fee. ARRL staffer
Dan Wolfgang and Lieska Motschenbacher--wife of Dennis, K7BV--paired up,
shooting upward of 200 faces to place on one of several QST front-cover
formats--from vintage to modern.

"Everybody told us what a wonderful idea this QST cover photo booth was,
that they hoped we would do it again, and how nice the result was," Wolfgang
recounted afterward. "It was definitely a big hit."

The weather cooperated by and large. Fog and drizzle early on opening day
gave way to merely overcast skies with occasional sunshine throughout the
remainder of the weekend. Moderate temperatures made things comfortable and
congenial outside and inside Hara Arena.

Every year, Dayton Hamvention visitors speculate on the size of the crowd,
typically in the vicinity of 25,000. Hamvention General Chair Gary Des
Combes, N8EMO, says attendance was up. 

"We have done a second rough count on the tickets sold alone, and we
definitely were up from last year," Des Combes told ARRL this week.
"Virtually everywhere I turned people were happy."

Manufacturers typically take advantage of Dayton Hamvention to debut their
new gear. Some highlights:

* Yaesu (Vertex-Standard) had the three versions of its FTdx-9000 series of
high-end transceivers on display.

* Icom featured its new IC-7000, which resembles the extremely popular--and
still available--IC-706, although it's a bit shorter and features IF DSP
filtering and a multicolor TFT display.

* SGC showed off its "Mini-Lini," a 500 W class-E amplifier that fits in
your hand and weighs approximately four pounds with the ac supply! It uses
plug in band modules and comes with one for 20 meters. 

* Brian Wood, W0DZ, who made the real cover of QST in January 2004 with his
DX-100, has formed a new company selling Heathkit-style kits that flatter
the originals right down to the yellow-covered manuals. His first major
offering is the Sienna high-end HF transceiver.

Sumner expressed the League's gratitude to the Dayton Amateur Radio
Association and HamventionR Committee for hosting the 2005 ARRL National
Convention. "This event has exceeded our expectations in so many ways, due
in large part to the volunteers that make Hamvention the 'Greatest Amateur
Radio Show on Earth,'" he said. "We thank each and every one of you."


The ARRL and the United States Power Squadrons (USPS), a national boating
and educational organization, will formally ratify a memorandum of
understanding (MoU) on June 4. The MoU spells out areas where the two
organizations can work together in educational activities of overlapping or
mutual interest to their respective memberships.

"ARRL and USPS have long and distinguished histories, both dating back to
1914, but both organizations have their focus on the future," said ARRL CEO
David Sumner, K1ZZ. "It is a pleasure to be working together." Sumner signed
the MoU on behalf of the League, while Chief Commander G. Leslie Johnson
signed for the USPS.

Among other things, the MoU calls for the League and USPS to assist each
other in marketing, developing and promoting educational materials specific
to the dual interests of the recreational boater and the Amateur Radio
operator. In addition, the two organizations have agreed to collaborate in
the development and distribution of promotional materials and to develop
products to serve boaters who are also Amateur Radio licensees.

With a mission of promoting safe boating through education, USPS--"America's
Boating Club"--has more than 50,000 members organized into 450 squadrons
across the continental US, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Japan. Local
squadrons offer public boating safety courses on a regular basis.
Successfully completing a USPS boating course qualifies boaters to meet the
educational requirement for boat licensing and operation in most states.
It's also a requirement to become a local Power Squadron member.

Organized in 1914 as a non-profit boating organization, USPS is a world
leader in speaking out for and promoting the needs of all recreational
boaters. USPS teaches classes in seamanship and navigation to help our
members improve their boating skills, confidence and performance on the
water. In addition, through a cooperative program with the US Coast Guard,
squadron members conduct vessel safety checks to make sure boaters have all
Coast Guard-required equipment aboard.

"This is a great way to introduce boating education to the thousands of ARRL
members," said Don Stark, a ham radio operator and USPS member. "Many hams
are also boaters and see the value of continuing boating education. The USPS
advanced and elective courses are a natural for this kind of study." 

Stark says USPS on-the-water events often are coordinated using Amateur
Radio, so the match of boating and Amateur Radio operations is a good fit.

"It's also a great way to introduce boaters to Amateur Radio," said ARRL
Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP. "Time and again hams
have shown that Amateur Radio gets emergency messages through when other
systems fail or are overloaded. The ability to have such a resource on board
would make any skipper safer and better able to render aid if needed."

A new Amateur Radio Learning Guide for boaters--a cooperative effort by USPS
and ARRL--has just been released. The publication will be available from
USPS and ARRL as well as through major book retailers. "This new publication
is a great reference for anyone interested in ham radio operation, ashore or
on the water," said Darrell Allison of USPS. He cited GPS, APRS, radar and
marine electronics among the common interests between hams and boaters.

US Power Squadrons representatives were a part of ARRL EXPO 2005 at Dayton
Hamvention in May. A copy of the MoU is available on the ARRL Web site

The USPS/CPS Amateur Radio Net meets Saturdays, 1700 UTC, on 14.287 MHz. A
once-a-month 10-meter net takes place on the first Saturday of each month at
1800 UTC on 28.357 MHz.


Plans are on the fast track to deploy a surplus Russian Orlan spacesuit this
fall as a non-traditional satellite. Dubbed "SuitSat," the Amateur Radio on
the International Space Station (ARISS) project could become the most
unusual Amateur Radio satellite ever orbited. Now, an ARISS-US proposal will
provide an opportunity for schools to participate in the SuitSat enterprise.
To be launched during a spacewalk, SuitSat will carry an Amateur Radio
transmitter that will send voice greetings to commemorate the 175th
anniversary of Russia's Bauman Moscow State Technical University. Other
message possibilities remain under discussion. ARISS got permission from the
ISS Program Office in May to go forward with delivery of the SuitSat
project, and schools now will have the chance to take part through what's
being called "School Spacewalk." ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer,
KA3HDO, says the idea is to have schools around the globe provide a page of
artwork that will fly inside SuitSat.

"The ARISS team has received permission to include a special compact disk
onboard this spacesuit with school artwork included," Bauer said. "As a
result, participating schools will have an opportunity to 'fly' their
artwork as part of the spacewalk." 

Schools that want to get onboard must act fast, however. ARISS wants a
single 8-1/2 by 11-inch page of artwork that "uniquely represents your
school" by June 15--so time is tight. Schools may deliver their artistic
contributions electronically in JPEG format, with the file size not to
exceed 2 MB. No other file formats can be accepted. 

"This could be an artist's representation of the school, a list of student
names, student signatures, a school science project summary or a school
mission patch," Bauer explained. "This artwork should be primarily developed
by the students. The goal is for you to use your imaginations."

Hard-copy artwork can be mailed to School Spacewalk, c/o AMSAT, 850 Sligo
Ave, Suite 600, Silver Spring, MD 20910-4703. JPEG images using the naming
format <schoolname_location.jpg> may be e-mailed to

Artistic contributions to fly aboard SuitSat will be put onto a compact disk
that will be delivered to Russia later this month. It will go into space as
part of the cargo on a Progress supply rocket flight now set for August. 

"The ARISS team looks forward to your artwork and is pleased to provide this
opportunity to school students around the world," Bauer said. "On behalf of
the ARISS team, we look forward to some real excitement as SuitSat gets
ready for deployment this fall." Bauer says ARISS will be releasing
additional details about SuitSat in the near future.

ARISS-Russia's Sergei Samburov, RV3DR, proposed the SuitSat concept at last
fall's ARISS International Team meeting, quickly sparking a wide-ranging
brainstorming session among the delegates. With diminishing stowage space
aboard the ISS, several Russian Orlan spacesuits used for spacewalks have
been declared surplus. Samburov's notion was to have an ISS crew equip one
of them as an Amateur Radio satellite--possibly including a camera in the
helmet area--and launch it during a space walk.

A second Orlan space suit is expected to become available for possible
deployment as a temporary satellite in 2007. 

ARISS says plans call for launching SuitSat during a spacewalk currently
planned for mid-September. Once deployed, SuitSat is expected to orbit the
planet for several weeks before burning up when it enters Earth's

A summary of the "School Spacewalk" project is available on the AMSAT Web
site < Spacewalk Suitsat


Despite some eleventh-hour political wrangling, Texas legislation that would
have encouraged the deployment of BPL by electric utilities has failed to
pass. After the original measure, Texas Senate Bill 1748, got stalled in the
Texas House of Representatives, its language was grafted onto two other
bills in an effort to ease it through the legislative session that wrapped
up May 31. The various measures died when House and Senate leaders were
unable to resolve their differing versions. Meanwhile, wording to exempt
Amateur Radio has been restored to a potentially restrictive antenna bill,
HB 843. North Texas ARRL Section Manager Tom Blackwell, N5GAR, says time
simply ran out for the supporters of the BPL measure, which was to have
served as a model for bills in other states.

"The Texas BPL bill is dead," Blackwell commented on his Texas BPL Web site
<>. "The winners are the Texas Constitution and the
people of Texas, who have imposed strict time limits on actions by the Texas
Legislature." By law, legislative sessions run 140 days.

A collateral benefit of the legislative battle, Blackwell says, is that the
BPL bill motivated people not normally engaged in the political process to
get involved--some for the first time. Many members of the Amateur Radio
community in the Lone Star State contacted their lawmakers to voice their
opposition to the original bill and its various successors, he said.

"Potential investors in BPL should be reminded that because of the conduct
of the lobbyists they hired and the elected officials they influenced, we
were energized," he said. "Because of them we are now better organized and
prepared to address interference complaints to the FCC and respond to any
other attempt to effectively convert any of our amateur bands to commercial

Blackwell suggests it's not too soon to start thinking about the 2007
legislative session. "We expect to see the same kinds of bills filed again,"
he said.

Blackwell, Bill Lawless, W5WRL (now West Texas SM-elect), Gene Preston,
K5GP, and Skip Cameron, W5GAI, testified in opposition to the original BPL
bill--SB 1748--while it was under consideration by the House Regulated
Industries Committee. Blackwell says a representative of the Texas Coalition
of Cities for Utility Issues who also testified against the measure called
it unconstitutional.

Radio amateurs in Texas also contacted their lawmakers regarding
antenna-related legislation--HB 843--giving certain Texas counties the
authority to regulate "communication facility structures." The House version
included an exemption for Amateur Radio antenna support structures, but the
Senate version stripped that provision. South Texas State Government Liaison
Jim Robinson, K5PNV, said, however, that he got assurances from House and
Senate sponsors of the bill that the language would be reinstated when the
measure went to conference.

The bill now includes wording exempting "a communications antenna, antenna
facility, or antenna tower or support structure located in a residential
area that is used by an Amateur Radio operator exclusively for Amateur Radio
communications or public safety services."

"Looks like our work is done, insofar as the 79th Legislature is concerned,"
Robinson told ARRL West Gulf Director Coy Day, N5OK, and Texas ARRL section
leadership this week. "Thanks to all of you for the excellent job you
collectively did in getting contacts made with key legislators. This
reflects a great team effort."


Nebraska's unicameral legislature has passed a bill supported by
telecommunications interests to ban "agencies, political subdivisions and
public power suppliers" from providing any broadband, Internet,
telecommunications or video services. This would include broadband over
power line (BPL). The "Unicam," as it's called, approved the measure, LB
645, by a vote of 37-8-4.

"So it's time for rejoicing, ARRL Nebraska State Government Liaison Bob
Mitchell, WB0RJJ," said. "BPL is dead in Nebraska for this year!"

ARRL Nebraska Section Manager Matthew Anderson, KA0BOJ, hailed the bill's
passage as "great news." He also extended congratulations to the Nebraska
Section team for its work in securing passage for the measure. "All of our
contacts, letters, e-mails, phone calls and personal visits have paid off,"
he said. "This is indeed a great day for ham radio in Nebraska."

Mitchell said even if LB 645 is overturned next year, he believes BPL by
then "will have been superseded by superior technology that will not pollute
the RF environment." The measure now goes to Gov David Heineman for his
signature. Mitchell said it's unlikely that the governor would veto the

The legislation also creates a Broadband Services Task Force to study--among
other things--"The need and necessity for the provision of wholesale
broadband services, Internet services, telecommunications services or video
services by agencies or political subdivisions of the state an d public
power suppliers." The task force will report to the legislature, the
governor and the Unicam's Natural Resources and Transportation and
Telecommunications committees by December 1, 2006.

The "final reading" text of the bill is available via the Unicam's Web site


Broadcasting history buffs mark your calendars! A special commemorative FM
broadcast Saturday, June 11, at noon EDT will mark the 70th anniversary of
Maj Edwin H. Armstrong's first public demonstration of wideband frequency
modulation (FM).

The broadcast will emanate from Armstrong's 400-foot-tall experimental tower
in Alpine, New Jersey, overlooking the Hudson River. An area landmark that
also served several New York City broadcasters in the wake of the September
11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, the
gigantic structure now is owned by CSC Management Inc, headed by Charles
Sackerman Jr. He and Steve Hemphill, WA3ZAE, owner of Solid Electronics
Laboratories--a Pennsylvania broadcast equipment manufacturer--have secured
a Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC to conduct the FM broadcast
on Armstrong's original frequency of 42.8 MHz at a power of 250 W ERP.
They'll use the experimental/STA call sign WA2XMN, reminiscent of
Armstrong's W2XMN call sign. 

The program itself will consist of David Ossman's dramatic production of
"Empire of the Air," based on the book by Tom Lewis. They also plan to air
excerpts from a 1941 test broadcast between member stations of the original
New England Yankee Network, featuring actual voice recordings of Armstrong,
Yankee Network Chief Engineer Paul deMars and others. They'll also
rebroadcast the final signoff of Armstrong's pioneer FM station
W2XMN/KE2XCC. The station went silent February 25, 1954, following
Armstrong's death by suicide. 

For those lacking an FM radio that can tune to 42.8 MHz, the broadcast will
be simulcast via WFDU(FM) 89.1 MHz, which also will provide a streaming
webcast <>. The entire program
will be rebroadcast on the Web at 7 PM EDT on June 14 and 16. A recording of
the complete broadcast will be available for download at
<>. Additional information about the commemorative
broadcast and the Alpine tower site is available on the CSC Management Web
site <>.


Solar scion Tad "That Lucky Ol' Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Both sunspot numbers and solar flux were higher this week, with the
average daily sunspot number nearly doubling to 71.3, and average solar flux
up by more than 10 points to 93.8. These numbers are compared to the average
for the previous reporting week, May 19-25. 

Conditions were good at least for most of the first day of last weekend's CQ
Worldwide WPX Contest (CW), but Earth passed through a solar wind stream,
sparking auroras. By Monday the planetary A index was 67, indicating a
strong geomagnetic storm. The effect was not as large as the storm of
mid-May, however.

The predicted planetary A index for Friday, June 3, is 15, dropping to 10
for Saturday through Monday, June 4-6. After today predicted solar flux
should drop below 95 and possibly stay there until around the end of the
month. The Prague Geophysical Institute forecast shows active conditions on
June 5-6, unsettled on June 3, 4 and 7, quiet to unsettled on June 8, and
quiet on June 9.

Sunspot numbers for May 26 through June 1 were 72, 51, 71, 55, 76, 79 and
95, with a mean of 71.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 90.4, 95.5, 92.5, 92.7, 94.9,
96.3 and 94.3, with a mean of 93.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 4,
13, 22, 67, 17 and 8, with a mean of 19.3. Estimated mid-latitude A indices
were 1, 1, 9, 16, 32, 10 and 5, with a mean of 10.6.



* This weekend on the radio: The VK/Trans-Tasman 80-Meter Contest (CW), the
IARU Region 1 Field Day (CW), the RSGB National Field Day, the QRP TAC
Sprint and the Worldradio Friends' Day QSO Party are the weekend of June
4-5. The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (Data) is June 6. JUST AHEAD: The
ARRL June VHF QSO Party, the ANARTS WW RTTY Contest, the Portugal Day
Contest, the Asia-Pacific Sprint, SSB, the GACW WWSA CW DX Contest, and the
REF DDFM Contest are the weekend of June 11-12. The RSGB 80-Meter Club
Championship (CW) is June 15. SARL Kid's Day is June 16. See the ARRL
Contest Branch page <> and the WA7BNM Contest
Calendar <> for more info.

* Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration
for the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level I on-line course
(EC-001) opens Monday, June 6, 2005, at 1201 AM EDT and will remain open
until all available seats have been filled or through the June 11-12
weekend--whichever comes first. Class begins Friday, June 24. ***ACT NOW!
amateurs 55 and older are strongly encouraged to participate. Thanks to the
Corporation for National and Community Service, the $45 registration fee
paid upon enrollment will be reimbursed to students who complete the course
requirements and are granted "Passed" status by their mentors on or before
August 31. During this registration period, seats are being offered to ARRL
members on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Web page. For more information,
contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG,; 860-594-0340. 

* University students' first Amateur Radio balloon mission a success:
Members of the University of Tennessee Amateur Radio Club (AA4UT) launched
their first balloon carrying Amateur Radio equipment on May 14. The team
used APRS to track the balloon--designated UX-1--which had ATV equipment on
board to provide a video feed back to Earth. The balloon reached an
estimated altitude of approximately 52,000 feet (the GPS units would not
read above 32,000 feet) and covered some 90 miles before bursting and
descending by parachute. The balloon payload was recovered intact. Mike
Coffey, KJ4Z, and Dan Bowen, K2VOL, were the prime movers behind the
project. "This is an outstanding effort by young Amateur Radio operators in
pursuit of their hobby," commented Tennessee Assistant Section Manager David
Bower, K4PZT. Bower says the UT ham club has greatly benefited from the
support of local radio amateurs dedicated to promoting Amateur Radio to
younger licensees and prospective licensees. "Thanks to these local hams,
they have an excellent HF amateur radio station at the University of
Tennessee, including a tower and HF beam," Bower said. Another launch in the
works for this weekend--June 4--may get media coverage by CNN. There's much
more information, videos and photos on the UX-1 Web site

* New Mexico ARES members end river watch: With water levels in the rivers
of northern New Mexico finally falling, Amateur Radio Emergency Service
(ARES) monitoring activities have ended. Members of several ARES teams
sacrificed Memorial Day weekend plans to monitor the swollen rivers. New
Mexico Section Emergency Coordinator Bill Kauffman, W5YEJ, was in the area
May 27 to synchronize ARES activities with those of state and local
emergency officials. An emergency operations center in Espanola provided a
base of operations for radio amateurs and other emergency responders. Of
special concern was the Embudo River. As of May 29, the water level was down
another inch compared to the previous day, and ARES operations stood down.
ARES members thus were able to enjoy the last day of the long holiday
weekend with family and friends. New Mexico ARES groups from Los Alamos,
Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Sandoval and Rio Arriba counties provided emergency
communication support and spotters at the request of the Rio Arriba County
Emergency Manager.--Sandoval County ARES

* Ward Silver, N0AX, wins May QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST
Cover Plaque Award for May is H. Ward Silver, N0AX, for his article "Beyond
the VOM--Test Equipment for the Ham Shack." Congratulations, Ward! The
winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author or authors of the
best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members on the
QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page
<>. Cast a ballot for your
favorite article in the June issue by June 30. 

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!):
==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL,
==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
==>ARRL Audio News: <> or call

==>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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