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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 26, No. 06
February 9, 2007


* +Upgrades under new "no-code" rules not available until Feb 23
* +Deadly tornados prompt ARES response in Florida
* +W1AW "Welcome Weekend" special event set
* +FCC resumes processing of new Amateur Radio vanity call signs
* +Students in Canada, Nebraska, speak with ISS via ham radio
* +St Brandon DXpedition gets ARRL Colvin Award grant
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +Mike Caughran, KL7R, SK
     M. Walter Maxwell, W2DU, wins January QST Cover Plaque Award
    +Microwave Update 2007 sets schedule, issues first call for papers
     DXCC Desk approves operations for DXCC credit
     We stand corrected

+Available on ARRL Audio News <>

==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<>, then e-mail
==>Editorial questions or comments only: Rick Lindquist, N1RL,
NOTE: To accommodate vacation schedules, The Friday, February 16, editions
of The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will be distributed on Thursday,
February 15.


Code-free upgrades to General or Amateur Extra will not be available at
volunteer examination sessions until the 5 WPM Morse code requirement
disappears from the FCC's Amateur Radio Service rules on February 23. ARRL
Regulatory Information Specialist Dan Henderson, N1ND, says that, judging
from the questions he's been getting, many in the amateur community --
including some Volunteer Examiners (VEs) -- don't fully understand the new
rules and privileges resulting from the FCC's Report and Order (R&O) in the
"Morse code proceeding," WT Docket 05-235
<>. He
stresses that VE teams may not accept upgrade applications in advance of
February 23, then hold the paperwork.

"There will be no automatic midnight upgrades February 23 for applicants
advancing to General or Amateur Extra," Henderson explained. "You must make
application." He further advises that a Certificate of Successful Completion
of Examination (CSCE) valid for Element 3 (General) or Element 4 (Amateur
Extra) credit does not confer any operating privileges and, lacking Morse
code credit, is no good for an upgrade until the new rules become effective.

"Anyone holding or earning a valid CSCE for element credit must wait until
February 23 to redeem it at a volunteer examination session," he says. "You
may not operate as /AG or /AE until you have upgraded and have been issued a
CSCE marked for upgrade." A CSCE is good for 365 days from the date of
issuance, no exceptions.

Henderson also emphasizes that those who qualified as Technician licensees
under the examination regime in place from March 21, 1987, until April 15,
2000, do not get General class Element 3 credit on that basis. For starters,
he said, the "old" Element 3 is not the same as the current Element 3.

"When the Novice and Advanced examination elements went away, the FCC
renumbered the elements," he pointed out. "Those who passed Element 3 from
March 21, 1987 until April 15, 2000, qualified for the Technician license,
and the exam was not the same as the current Element 3 General element

Applicants upgrading at a test session on or after February 23 on the basis
of a valid CSCE must present the certificate for element credit, fill out an
application and pay any applicable exam session fee, which most VECs charge.
Between now and then, Henderson points out, upgrade applicants still have
the option of passing the 5 WPM Element 1 Morse code test in addition to the
General or Amateur Extra written tests.

Technician licensees who have not passed a Morse code examination
automatically gain new privileges on February 23 without having to apply at
an exam session. But they're the only ones. On that date, all Novices and
Technicians will have equal privileges on HF: CW on parts of 80, 40 and 15
meters, and CW, SSB and data on parts of 10 meters. No other license classes
get automatic upgrades or new privileges on February 23.

The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC) reports that business has
been very brisk since the FCC announced the new rules dropping the Morse
requirement for any Amateur Radio license.

"We're avalanched," said Assistant ARRL VEC Manager Perry Green, WY1O.
"Sessions are going onto the schedule fast and furious. They're all waiting
for that magic date of February 23." ARRL VEC has hired extra personnel to
deal with the anticipated post-February 23 application onslaught.

ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, says the VEC typically schedules some
5500 exam sessions a year. By the end of January, some 3500 were already on
this year's calendar with more pouring in every day. Sales of ARRL Amateur
Radio licensing materials also are up dramatically.

The ARRL has posted all relevant information on these important Part 97 rule
revisions on its "FCC's Morse Code Report and Order WT Docket 05-235" Web
page <>.


When deadly tornados struck Central Florida early Friday, February 2,
Amateur Radio volunteers turned out to assist emergency managers and relief
organizations to supplement communication and offer other support. The
National Weather Service (NWS) rated two of the three twisters as EF-3
events -- 160-165 MPH winds -- on the new "Enhanced Fujita Scale." Since
they hit in the early-morning hours, the tornadoes took many residents by
surprise. They left behind a landscape of downed trees and extensive
structural damage in at least four Florida counties and claimed 20 lives --
most within the tornado's first two minutes, authorities say. Amateur Radio
Emergency Service (ARES) and SKYWARN volunteers were active in Lake,
Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties -- all designated as federal disaster

"It's likely to take a long time to recover from this," observed Sparky
Leger, N1YLQ, a Red Cross and SKYWARN volunteer in Volusia County, where an
EF-1 tornado -- 100-105 MPH -- hit. "Seeing some of the damage during a
drive-through, honestly, we're not sure how people managed to survive." He
shared his experiences last weekend with members of the VoIP Hurricane Prep
Net <>. An estimated 1500 dwellings were badly damaged
or destroyed in the four-county region. Devastation was widespread.

Sumter County ARES Emergency Coordinator JT Fleming, W3GQJ, who says the
storm affected only a portion of his county. "Sumter County was very lucky
in that the majority of the homes affected were all built in the last two
years to the current Florida 110 miles-per-hour standard," he noted. "Lake
County that borders on the east side had much greater destruction because
the tornado hit a mobile home community." All 20 deaths occurred in Lake

Some 20 Sumter County ARES volunteers responded over the course of the
weekend to support communication between the county emergency operations
center (EOC) and shelters. Many residents opted to remain at their damaged
properties, although some are staying with family or friends or in public

By all accounts, Amateur Radio communication support was largely unneeded
because the cellular telephone network remained operational, although it did
get overloaded at times. ARES teams stood by to fill the gaps if needed.

Irv Butler, KB1E, was among those volunteering in hard-hit Lake County. "We
are providing comms to The Salvation Army meals relief teams," he told ARRL
Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Joe Bushel, W2DWR, over the
weekend. He said the county emergency management staff had expressed
appreciation for the Amateur Radio assistance.

ARES/RACES volunteers from Seminole and Lake counties installed a backup
repeater in Paisley to restore radio communication for Lake County Fire and

Volusia County EC Fred Magliacane, KF4VRS, reports the adjacent KE8MR 145.23
MHz repeater was abruptly taken off the air after the storm toppled the
1500-foot commercial radio tower that had supported the repeater's antenna.
The repeater typically serves the East Central District ARES during

"Over the past few years we have learned that we cannot always rely on
repeaters," Magliacane says. "We have trained our members to use simplex if
and when the repeaters fail. One net a month we have a simplex net, and
sometimes during the regular nets, we turn off the repeaters to see if our
members remember to go to simplex."


As new Amateur Radio Service rules phase in Friday, February 23, eliminating
the Morse code requirement, Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station W1AW will
mark the milestone with a weekend-long special event. In addition, a number
of Central Connecticut volunteer examiners will be on hand at ARRL
Headquarters -- both before and after the new rules become effective at
12:01 AM EST -- to offer Amateur Radio examinations under the current and
new rules. ARRL Regulatory Information Specialist Dan Henderson, N1ND, is
helping to coordinate the celebration. He says Headquarters staff and other
volunteers will keep W1AW active for the "Welcome Weekend" event.

"W1AW will be on the air all weekend for this special event to celebrate the
fact that so many amateurs have gained or will earn new privileges as a
result of the rule changes," he said. "The station will operate starting at
12:01 AM Eastern Time on Friday, February 23, continuing into the wee hours
and resuming operation during the day. Then W1AW will be on the air on both
days of the weekend, from 10 AM until 5 PM -- perhaps longer as conditions
and enthusiasm dictate."

Operation will be on both SSB and CW. W1AW operators will concentrate their
activities on the Technician and General class HF subbands. On SSB, the
station will use its normal phone frequencies -- 1.811, 3.990, 7.290,
14.290, 18.160 and 21.390 MHz. On 10 meters, W1AW will operate SSB on or
about 28.480 MHz.

Henderson says operating will be casual unless pileups develop. "The purpose
is to welcome newcomers to new privileges," he said.

"First Contact" certificates will be available as part of this event. ARRL
invites anyone making a first contact or first HF contact to enter the
contact information on the ARRL "Welcome Weekend" Web site
<> and receive a certificate in return. "If
the first contact is with W1AW we will also be including a W1AW QSL card for
the contact," Henderson added.

The ARRL anticipates a huge influx of upgrade applications once the Morse
code requirement disappears. In addition, all Technician licensees will have
limited HF privileges starting February 23, whether or not they've passed a
Morse code test.

Amateur Radio exam sessions both before and after the zero hour will offer
an opportunity for applicants either to upgrade under the outgoing licensing
rules at the last possible opportunity or under the new licensing rules at
the first possible opportunity.

"Dual exam sessions are scheduled at ARRL Headquarters around the effective
time of the new licensing rules," says Brennan Price, N4QX, a former ARRL
staff member and an ARRL VEC volunteer examiner. "At 11 PM on February 22, a
session will be held for candidates wishing to upgrade under the existing
rules. A few folks have expressed interest in such a session." Price says
all Amateur Radio written and telegraphy elements will be offered until

"At 12:01 AM February 23, a second session will begin under the new
licensing rules," he said. "Examiners will not only be evaluating previously
earned Certificates of Successful Completion of Exam (CSCEs) for upgrades,
but will be offering all written elements." Two teams of volunteer examiners
will be on site until all applicants have been served.

On or after February 23, applicants upgrading on the basis of a valid CSCE
must present the certificate for element credit, fill out an application and
pay any applicable exam session fee, which most VECs charge. Only after the
VE team has issued a CSCE for upgrade credit may applicants actually use
their new operating privileges on the air.

Additional details and more information will be available on the ARRL Web
site in the days leading up to February 23.


The FCC has resumed processing new Amateur Radio vanity call sign
applications. An initial stab at whittling down the backlog began February 8
-- five weeks to the day after the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB)
issued the last vanity call sign prior to the resumption. The Commission
stopped processing new vanity call sign applications received on or after
December 18 while it readied the Universal Licensing System (ULS)
<> vanity application software to accommodate a
December 15 rule change to discourage the filing of multiple applications
for the same call sign. The FCC has continued to accept new vanity
applications and to process vanity renewals. A WTB staff member, speaking on
background, told ARRL the Commission could wrap up backlog processing and be
back on track by next week.

"We've resumed processing, and by next week we'll be caught up," said the
staffer, who conceded that the FCC's ULS software had not been fully tested
to ensure it could deal with the multiple-applications issue when the new
rule's December 15 effective date rolled around. "We knew the date was
coming, but the software wasn't quite ready." The staff member indicated the
Commission could complete processing of applications that have been sitting
in the queue as early as Monday, February 12.

As of February 9, the WTB appeared to have granted some 125 vanity call sign
applications submitted between December 18 and December 22. Another 500 or
so applications remain in the queue.

The FCC this week also issued a public notice to announce the formal
implementation of the multiple applications rule, §97.19(a)(1), effective
February 8. The notice said the ULS would limit individuals to filing only
one vanity call sign application on the same day. "In the case where an
applicant files multiple vanity call sign applications on the same day, only
the first-filed application will be considered for the process, and the
additional applications will be dismissed," the FCC said. "This new process
will eliminate the possibility of an applicant having more than one
application for the same call sign being considered on any one day."

The WTB staff member told ARRL that while the FCC knew the ULS software
wasn't ready to handle multiple applications on December 15, it went ahead
and processed vanity application receipts for December 15, 16 and 17 after
determining that no one had filed multiple applications on those dates. The
December 18 applications did include at least one such application, however.

"Once we received multiple applications for the same call sign, we knew we
had to suspend processing," the FCC staffer explained.

The Commission is likely to receive an avalanche of new vanity call sign
applications after February 23, when elimination of the Morse code
examination requirement is expected to spur a massive influx of license

The FCC is processing new vanity call sign applications now in the queue in
the order they were received. Typically, it takes 18 days from the time the
FCC receives a vanity application until the call sign is issued -- or the
application is denied. The current vanity call sign fee, payable for new
applications as well as renewals, is $20.80 for the 10-year license term.


Youngsters at a museum in Ottawa, Canada, and an Indian Reservation school
in Nebraska joined a long and growing list of students who've had the chance
to speak with the International Space Station crew via Amateur Radio. The
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program arranged
the contacts between NA1SS and VE3JW at the Canada Science and Technology
Museum on January 24, and KB0GEH at Winnebago Public School on January 25.
Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Suni Williams, KD5PLB, greeted the students
from École Élémentaire Publique Le Prélude in both English and French. One
of the kindergarten through sixth graders wondered what Williams enjoyed
most about being in space.

"I think what I like the most is the view of the earth and also floating
around," Williams responded. "Floating is really fun. You can do flips in
the air, and it's just incredible."

Williams told the students that doing a spacewalk "is amazing, because the
spacesuit is like its own little spacecraft, and you have a 360-degree view
of not only the earth but also the galaxy and all of the stars." Among the
things she misses in space is her dog "Gorby," named after former Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

She explained that it took her a little time after arriving to become
comfortable about living in microgravity. "I finally am able to do multiple
tasks at once and not forget things," she said, "so it's taken me really a
while to figure it out -- probably a month."

All told, Williams was able to answer 20 of the students' questions during
the nearly 10-minute ISS pass. The audience of 175 included two members of
Parliament, an Ottawa city councilor, the chairman of the Ottawa School
Board and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) President Earle Smith, VE6NM.

Media outlets -- both French and English-language -- included four TV
stations to cover the event. Steve McFarlane, VE3BTD, was the ARISS-Canada
mentor for the contact.

The following day, in what may have marked the first ARISS school contact
with students on a US Indian Reservation, 20 grade 2 through grade 11
students attending Nebraska's Winnebago Public School posed their questions
to Williams, who managed to handle 19 out of 20 during the pass. Every
participant was able to ask at least one question. The  youngsters'
curiosity ran the gamut, from "space dirt" to "space junk."

Members of the Siouxland Amateur Radio Association volunteered their time
and expertise to set up the Earth station at the school. Math and science
teacher Terresa Greenleaf, KB0GEH, loaned her call sign for the occasion.

A Sioux City, Iowa, TV station reported on the event, including interviews
with the students, and The Sioux City Journal also covered the contact, said
ARISS Mentor Keith Pugh, W5IU. Other students and members of the Winnebago
Public School faculty also were on hand. teacher, and media.

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


A planned September DXpedition to St Brandon (3B7) will benefit from a $5000
ARRL Colvin Award support grant. The Five Star DXers Association (FSDXA)
team is scheduled to operate as 3B7C <> from Isle du Sud
from September 7 until September 24. Located in the Indian Ocean, St Brandon
(Cargados Shoals) is part of the Republic of Mauritius and was number 45
overall on the latest available most-wanted list of DXCC entities, although
West Coast US DXers put it at number 18.

"Although we recognize that St Brandon is not terribly high on the 'Most
Wanted List' and that there will be another operation prior to yours, we
believe the Five Star operation will outshine all others," said a letter to
3B7C joint team leader Neville Cheadle, G3NUG, from then-Colvin Award
Committee Chair Wayne Mills, N7NG. "We are confident that the Five Star
group will fill a need by making this country available to many who might
not be able to get into the log of a more-focused operation."

A recent 3B7C DXpedition bulletin by Don Field, G3XTT, reported that two
FSDXA members already have visited Mauritius to set up logistics for the
September St Brandon operation and that all necessary permits and licenses
were in hand. The team will need to transport some six tons of equipment and
supplies by boat.

"There is still a lot to be done, but we are all looking forward to putting
another rare one on the air," Field said.

Mills had suggested that the 3B7C DXpedition could be the first "to focus on
those operators who are not as capable with Morse," given the elimination of
the Morse code requirement for HF access in the US and elsewhere. Field said
the team would be only too happy to comply. "We will ensure, once we are on
the island, that we publicize our operating schedules such that
inexperienced CW operators can maximize their chances of a contact," he

In addition to the Colvin Award grant, other support for the 3B7C outing has
come from the Northern California DX Foundation (NDXF), the Chiltern DX Club
(CDXC) in the UK and the UK DX Foundation. Corporate donors of equipment
include Yaesu, as principal sponsor, as well as Titanex. Yaesu will provide
a dozen FT-2000 transceivers and six VL1000 linear amplifiers as well as
monoband Yagis for all bands 30 through 6 meters. Tinanex-supplied verticals
will cover 160, 80 and 40.

Up to 20 world-class operators, most from the UK and the US, are expected to
handle the pileups from 12 operating positions. The FSDXA says that, given
the low point in the sunspot cycle, the 3B7C team will concentrate on the
low bands. It's hoping to log in excess of 100,000 QSOs during its stay.

The Colvin Award was established in 1994 with the proceeds of a life
insurance policy purchased by Lloyd Colvin, W6KG (SK), that named the ARRL
as beneficiary. The award is conferred in the form of grants in support of
Amateur Radio projects that promote international goodwill in the field of

From the 1960s into the early 1990s, renowned DXers Lloyd Colvin and his
wife Iris, W6QL, activated more than 100 DXCC entities. Lloyd Colvin died in
1993 and Iris Colvin in 1998.


Solar Fluxmeister Tad "Little Miss Sunshine" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers and solar flux were up
this week, while average daily geomagnetic indices were down.

Geomagnetic activity should increase until Tuesday, February 13. Geophysical
Institute Prague predicts quiet to unsettled conditions for February 9,
quiet conditions on February 10, unsettled to active February 11, unsettled
February 12, active geomagnetic conditions on February 13, unsettled to
active on February 14, and February 15 unsettled.

Now as we move toward mid-February, we are farther from the "darkest day" of
the year and halfway toward the spring equinox -- a good time for HF

Sunspot numbers for February 1 through 7 were 31, 36, 35, 28, 25, 23 and 23,
with a mean of 28.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 89.9, 90.3, 87.3, 83.7, 83, 81.9,
and 82, with a mean of 85.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 8, 2, 3, 2,
6, 8 and 10, with a mean of 5.6. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 7, 2,
1, 2, 4, 6 and 8, with a mean of 4.3.

For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical
Information Service Propagation page



* This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest, the Asia-Pacific
Spring Sprint (CW), the KCJ Top Band Contest, the Dutch PACC Contest, the
YLRL YL-OM Contest (SSB), the British Columbia QSO Challenge, the FISTS
Winter Sprint, the RSGB First 1.8 MHz Contest (CW) and the North American
Sprint (CW) are the weekend of February 10-11. The ARRL School Club Roundup
runs from February 12 until February 16. The NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint,
the AGCW Semi-Automatic Key Evening and the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship
(Data) are February 14. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL International DX Contest (CW)
is the weekend of February 17-18. The Run for the Bacon QRP Contest is
February 19. The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (CW) is February 22. See
the ARRL Contest Branch page <> and the WA7BNM
Contest Calendar <> for more

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration remains open through Sunday, February 18, for these ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education (CCE) <>
online courses beginning Friday, March 2: Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Level 1 (EC-001), Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006),
Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009), ARRL Ham Radio License Course
(EC-010), Analog Electronics (EC-012) and Digital Electronics (EC-013).
These courses will also open for registration Friday, February 16, for
classes beginning Friday, April 6. To learn more, visit the CCE Course
Listing page <> or contact the CCE
Department <>;.

* Mike Caughran, KL7R, SK: Well-known low-power (QRP) and homebrewing
enthusiast Michael S. "Mike" Caughran, KL7R, of Juneau, Alaska, died January
22 of injuries suffered in an automobile accident in Hawaii. He was 51.
Caughran may be best known as one-half of the team -- with Bill Meara,
N2CQR/M0HBR -- that created and produced the weekly SolderSmoke podcast
<>. "I think people were drawn in by Mike's
friendly voice and manner," Meara commented on a memorial page for KL7R
<>. A member of ARRL and the Juneau
Amateur Radio Club, Caughran also wrote articles for the Michigan QRP Club's
T5W newsletter and he was an active ham radio contester. "Mike was one of
those people who you instantly like because of his honest, straightforward
and humble way of talking and expressing ideas," said Mike Hall, WB8ICN, who
edits T5W. "His co-hosting of SolderSmoke provided me hours and hours of
enjoyment." Caughran was an IT professional with the State of Alaska.
Survivors include his wife and son.

* M. Walter Maxwell, W2DU, wins January QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner
of the QST Cover Plaque Award for January is M. Walter Maxwell, W2DU, for
his article "How the FCC Helped to End World War II." Congratulations,
Walter! 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 February issue by Wednesday, February 28.

* Microwave Update 2007 sets schedule, issues first call for papers:
Microwave Update 2007 will take place Thursday through Saturday, October
18-20, in historic Valley Forge Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the
Mt Airy VHF Radio Club. Registration, accommodation and program information
is available on the Microwave Update 2007 Web site
<>. Register by September 1 and save! Papers,
articles and presentations are invited on topics related to microwave
theory, construction, communication, deployment, propagation, antennas,
activity, transmitters, receivers, components, amplifiers, communication
modes, LASER and practical experiences are welcome. Submit abstracts in
MS-Word or as a PDF by June 1 and completed papers, articles and
presentations (diagrams, photos and illustrations preferably in black and
white; color accepted) by August 15 to Paul Drexler, W2PED, 28 W Squan Rd,
Clarksburg, NJ 08510 <>;.

* DXCC Desk approves operations for DXCC credit: The ARRL DXCC Desk has
approved these operations for DXCC credit: VU7LD -- Lakshadweep Islands,
operation December 1-30, 2006; VU7RG -- Lakshadweep Islands, operation
January 14-26, 2007; ZL9BSJ/P -- Auckland and Campbell Island, operation of
September 12, 2006; 5A7A -- Libya, operation November 15-30, 2006; YU6AO --
Montenegro, operation effective June 28, 2006. For more information, visit
the DXCC Web page <>. "DXCC Frequently Asked
Questions" can answer most questions about the DXCC program.

* We stand corrected! In The ARRL Letter, Vol 26, No 05, February 2, 2007,
the news brief "DXCC Desk approves operation for DXCC credit" contained
incorrect information. DXCC credit for VU7LD - Lakshadweep Islands covers
December 1-30, 2006, operation (see above item).

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League: ARRL--the National Association For Amateur Radio, 225
Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
<>. Joel Harrison, W5ZN, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential and general news
of interest to active radio amateurs. Visit the ARRL Web site
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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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