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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 27, No. 19
May 16, 2008


*   ARRL Introduces "Fifth Pillar" at Dayton Hamvention 
*   Hams Called to Action in Aftermath of China Quake 
*   Tornadoes Sweep Across Midwest, Southeast US 
*   Dayton Update 
*   "The Doctor Is IN" the ARRL Letter 
*   Ronald A. Parise, WA4SIR (SK) 
*  Solar Update
      This Weekend on the Radio
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration
      No ARRL Audio News on Friday, May 16 
      W1HQ Snake Gets Name, Call Sign 
      2008 ARRL Photo Contest Deadline Approaching
      NWS Establishes Web Site to Report outages of NOAA Weather Radio
All Hazards Transmitters 

==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<>, then e-mail
==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane,


On Saturday, May 17 at the Dayton Hamvention, ARRL President Joel
Harrison, W5ZN, plans to announce that the League will expand its
identity program to include greater emphasis on technology. Harrison
explained that "Ham radio operators, and particularly ARRL members,
closely identify with current and emerging radio technology. Today, we
are naming 'technology' as ARRL's new fifth pillar." ARRL's other four
pillars, the underpinnings of the organization, are Public Service,
Advocacy, Education and Membership. "For hams, expanding the four
pillars to include technology will reinforce one of the organization's
guiding principles -- that ham radio is state-of-the-art, innovative and
relevant," he said.

"Radio amateurs have entered a new era. More than a dozen Amateur Radio
satellites are presently in orbit with more to come. Software is
expanding the capabilities of their radio hardware and communication by
digital voice and data is expanding rapidly among hams," Harrison said.

In addition to the new fifth pillar, the ARRL has launched a year-long
ham radio recruitment campaign emphasizing the Amateur Radio Service as
a scientific national resource. The campaign invites newcomers to
discover ham radio in the 21st Century -- where hams are using science,
technology and experimentation to explore the radio spectrum. "For more
than 90 years, the ARRL has been at the forefront of technology,
encouraging experimentation and education through its license training
resources, publications and periodicals. ARRL provides its members with
top-notch technical information services, trusted product reviews and
radio spectrum advocacy," Harrison said. "The ARRL Laboratory is a
centerpiece of ham radio technology, contributing to radio electronics
experimentation, spectrum development and advocacy, and radio frequency

Harrison also noted that many hams attribute their affinity to "Amateur"
Radio as launching their professional careers in radio engineering,
satellite communications, computer science and wireless communications. 

"This is less about defining a new course for Amateur Radio, but simply
recognizing a course that has always been a precept of radio amateurs
and the ARRL," he said. Referring to the federal rules and regulations
for Amateur Radio, Harrison explained that one of the defining
principles of the Service's very creation by the government is the
amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio
art. Harrison remarked, "Today's technology is nothing new to ham


On Monday, May 12 at 0628 UTC, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Sichuan,
China. According to the Chinese Radio Sports Association
<>, the Chinese IARU Member-Society,
has designated the following frequencies for emergency services involved
in the rescue: 14.270, 7.050 and 7.060 MHz. The ARRL encourages US
amateurs to be aware of the emergency operations on those three

The CRSA Web site reports the following:

"On the afternoon of May 12, 2008, Wenchuan Area of China's Sichuan
province was struck by an earthquake. Communications in some of the
surrounding areas are currently cut off, and communications in some
other areas are experiencing network congestion because of drastically
increased traffic.

"Chinese Radio Sports Association therefore calls on its members to take
actions to ensure their amateur radio stations to operate properly, and
to the extent possible stand by on often used short-wave frequencies. If
any radio signal is heard from the disaster area, please do your best to
understand what is most needed by people in that area and report it to
the local government authority. If people in the surrounding areas need
to pass messages to their loved ones over the radio, please help them to
get in touch and get the messages across as soon as possible.

"Amateur radio stations in the disaster area and surrounding areas if in
working conditions should be used unconditionally to assist the local
earthquake disaster relief authorities, and subject to permission by the
said authorities, to provide communications services to them. For
emergency communications purposes, amateur radio stations may also be
used to pass messages for local residents on a temporary basis until
local telecommunications services resume. Amateur radio stations of all
regions should give way to and stand by for emergency communications."

At 1757 UTC on Monday, May 12, Liu Hu, BG8AAS, of Chengdu, a town in the
province of Sichuan, reported that a local UHF repeater survived the
disaster. "It keeps functioning from the first minute and more than 200
local radio hams are now on that repeater. A group of hams from Chengdu
has headed for Wenchuan, the center of the quake, trying to set up
emergency communication services there," he said.

Michael Chen, BD5RV/4, said that Yue Shu, BA8AB, also from Chengdu,
Sichuan, was reported to be active on the 40 meter emergency frequency
on Monday. "Up to now, there has been no further information available
from the center zone of the quake. There are a few radio amateurs there,
but all of the communications have been cut out, including Amateur
Radio," Chen said.

At 1858 UTC, Liu reported that the local UHF repeater in Chengdu "keeps
busy running after the quake. It helps to direct social vehicles to
transport the wounded from Dujiangyan, Beichuan and other regions.
Another UHF repeater also started working in Mianyan, supported by
generators, but they are going to face a shortage of gas." Chen said
that damage in Chengdu remains in the lowest level, but the situation is
"very very bad in the counties around. A few towns are said to be
destroyed completely. More than 7000 died in the town of Beichuan.
Casualties in several other towns are still unknown and not counted in
the published numbers. It is a long and sad day."

At 0831 UTC on Tuesday, May 13, Chen said that a group of radio amateurs
is now transmitting from Wenchuan, the center of quake: "Its signal is
reported to be very weak. They tried to keep communication with BY8AA,
the Sichuan Radio Orienteering Association in Chengdu, seeking for all
resources needed. During a contact finished a few minutes ago, they were
asking for raincoats, water, tents and outdoor living facilities."  --
Information provided by Michael Ye, BD4AAQ, and Michael Chen, BD5RV/4


On May 9 and 10, a series of tornadoes swept across the Midwest and
Southeast United States. Throughout the storms, Amateur Radio operators
who had received the call for assistance responded promptly. An EF2
tornado blew through Stafford County, Virginia on May 9, causing damage
to more than 140 homes. On May 10, Picher, a town in the upper northeast
corner of Oklahoma, received the brunt of another storm system: an EF4
tornado zoomed through the town, killing six Picher residents. National
Weather Service (NWS) officials said the Picher tornado was 1 mile wide
at its widest point with wind speeds of 165 to 175 miles per hour. The
damage from the Picher storm system extended into Missouri and Georgia,
and 22 fatalities are blamed on that storm, 15 in Missouri alone; the
Picher storm spawned five twisters in Oklahoma and two in neighboring

An EF2 tornado cut a 4-mile swath through Stafford County on Thursday,
May 8. According to Stafford County Emergency Coordinator Curt "Bart"
Bartholomew, N3GQ, ARES members handled more than 100 traffic messages
during the surge. The American Red Cross, the Stafford Sheriff's Office,
the Stafford Sheriff's Office 911 Center and the Stafford Emergency
Management Division all received communications support from ARES, and
ARES members set up a SKYWARN net 9 PM, May 8 to 1 AM, May 9. 

Spotsylvania County Emergency Coordinator Tom Lauzon, KI4AFE, reported
that the Rappahannock Area Chapter of the American Red Cross requested
ARES support for communications between their headquarters in Massaponax
(in the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania area) and nearby Gayle Middle School
in South Stafford County. "The radio room at the Red Cross, K4TS, was
staffed from 7:30 AM-6 PM on Friday, May 9," Lauzon said. 

At least 160 houses were damaged in a Stafford County neighborhood, said
County Administrator Anthony Romanello, including 30 that have been
declared a total loss. Stafford County Fire Chief Bob Brown estimated
the damage at more than $15 million. Residents said the tornado blasted
in at about 10:30 PM Thursday amid a "lurid red-and-green sky laced with
lightning that sent many rushing into their basements, " Romanello said.

The Stafford County tornado was one of two that struck Virginia as
thunderstorms rolled northeast across the state Thursday night and
Friday morning. The NWS confirmed that a smaller tornado, producing 86
to 110 MPH winds, struck Henry and Franklin Counties south of Roanoke
about 8 PM Thursday. In addition, straight winds of about 100 MPH
damaged several buildings along a mile-long path in Spotsylvania County
and Fredericksburg, the weather service said. In central Virginia, the
storms flooded some roads and toppled trees. The storms dropped an
estimated 1 to 5 inches of rain in central Virginia, and possibly more
in places. 

In Oklahoma, ARRL Oklahoma Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Mark
Conklin, N7XYO, said served agencies were contacted and ARES groups in
the area were placed on standby status: "Amateur Radio SKYWARN spotters
were very busy and were of great help to the National Weather Service
office in Tulsa during the storm events."

Ottawa County Emergency Management said that homes, businesses and
vehicles were destroyed in a 20-square-block area at the south end of
Picher. In some cases, only a home's concrete slab remains. The storm
also downed power lines, utility poles and trees. The Oklahoma
Corporation Commission reports about 6300 homes and businesses are
without electric service due to the storms. The American Red Cross
opened a shelter at the First Christian Church in Miami.

Once a boom town of about 20,000, Picher's population had dwindled to
about 800 after waste from lead and zinc mines turned the area into an
environmental disaster and Superfund site. Oklahoma Emergency Management
Director Albert Ashwood said the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) is unlikely to grant assistance to homeowners to rebuild in the
town. Jeff Reeves, 43, who has followed his grandfather and father as
Picher's fire chief, has lived in Picher all his life and has watched it
slowly decline. He told reporters, "With everything else that's going on
here, I'm not sure there is a recovery." 


Crowds have been enthusiastic on this, the opening day of the Dayton
Hamvention. Thursday evening featured the ARRL Donor Recognition
Reception that honored those who have made a significant financial
contribution to the ARRL. If you didn't make it to Dayton this year (or
even if you did), you can follow the action on the ARRL blog
<>. An update will
also be posted to the ARRL Web site during the weekend, and a
comprehensive article will appear in the July issue of QST. 


This week, ARRL Letter readers are in luck! The ARRL's very own Doctor,
author of the popular QST column "The Doctor Is IN," answers a question
from his mailbag:

Question -- Mel, Snyder, K8MIW, of West Olive, Michigan, asks: I have a
question about feeding a folded dipole, spaced about 5 inches between
wires. What would be the difference between feeding it with the usual
300 ohm twin lead and using the popular 450 ohm window line as a feed
line? I operate mostly on 75 meters. Years ago I used a folded dipole
and found it to be an effective and wide band antenna. I have heavy duty
window line on hand, but would have to buy the twin lead and the only
line I can find is light duty line. Would the mismatch with the 450 ohm
line cause any problems?

The Doctor answers -- The most significant difference would be the level
of mismatch at the transmitter end. If you are using an antenna tuner, I
doubt that you will notice any difference at all. 

There will actually be slightly less loss with the 450 ohm (usually
closer to 400 ohm in my experience) line. Let's see, if the antenna is
about a quarter-wavelength high, the actual feed impedance will be
closer to 200 ohms than to the free space value of 300 ohms. With 300
ohm line that results a 1.5:1 SWR at resonance, or 2:1 with 400 ohm

I would go ahead and use the window line. It should be less bothered by
rain and will probably last longer. If your tuner has a problem at any
frequency you operate at, try changing the feed line length by 20 feet
or so and see what happens -- you are likely to find a length that works
across the band. Just don't roll up any excess. In my cellar shack, I
usually put any excess window line between the overhead floor joists,
away from other wires and secured with TV standoff insulators. 

That should be a great antenna! You may even be able to tune it on other
bands, if you have a wide range tuner -- especially 30 meters. On that
band, the window line will make even more of an improvement.


Dr Ronald A. Parise, PhD, WA4SIR, passed away Friday May 9, 2008 after a
very long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 57. Parise flew as a
payload specialist on two space shuttle missions: STS-35 on Columbia in
December 1990 and STS-67 on the Endeavour in March 1995. These two
missions, ASTRO-1 and ASTRO-2, respectively, carried out ultraviolet and
x-ray astronomical observations, logging more than 614 hours and 10.6
million miles in space. Parise was one of the first astronomers to
operate a telescope from space, making hundreds of observations during
the mission. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
Chairman Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO, said Parise's personal contributions to
these two missions provided scientists with "an unprecedented view of
our universe, expanding our understanding of the birth, life and death
of stars and galaxies." Information on ARISS can be found on the ARISS
Web site <>. 

First licensed when he was 11, Parise kept Amateur Radio at the
forefront of everything he did, including his operations from space.
During his two shuttle flights, he spoke with hundreds of hams on the
ground. He was instrumental in guiding the development of a simple ham
radio system that could be used in multiple configurations on the space
shuttle; as a result, his first flight on Columbia ushered in what Bauer
called the "frequent flyer era" of the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment
(SAREX) payload <>. He was the
first ham in space to operate packet radio. "His flight pioneered the
telebridge ground station concept to enable more schools to talk to
shuttle crew members despite time and orbit constraints," Bauer said.
"In his two shuttle flights, he inspired countless students to seek
technical careers and he created memories at the schools and communities
that will never be forgotten. Ron was also the ultimate ham radio
operator -- in space and on the ground."

Bauer said that Parise's love for Amateur Radio and his love of
inspiring students continued well beyond his two shuttle flights:
"During the formation of the ARISS program, Ron was a tremendous
resource to the newly forming international team. I know of many
instances where Ron's wisdom and sage advice was instrumental in helping
our international team resolve issues when we reached critical technical
or political roadblocks. He was a key volunteer in the development of
the ham radio hardware systems that are now on-board ISS. The ARISS team
is deeply indebted to WA4SIR for his leadership, technical advice and
tremendous vision."

Parise worked hand-in-hand with the students at the US Naval Academy and
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on the development of their student
satellites. He helped develop Radio Jove, a student educational project
to listen to the radio signals emanating from Jupiter
<>. Parise spoke at numerous schools over
the years, inspiring students to pursue careers in science, math and

"Ron Parise was--and continues to be--an inspiration to countless
students, ham radio operators, and friends the world over. His
accomplishments were many, including space explorer, pioneer,
astrophysicist, pilot, ham radio operator, avionics and software expert,
inspirational speaker and motivator, student satellite mentor, husband,
father and friend. While he certainly did some truly extraordinary
things in his lifetime, Ron Parise is best known and cherished for
keeping family and friends first, and for this, we will miss him most,"
Bauer said.

In an effort to continue Parise's work to inspire the next generation,
his family has set up a scholarship fund in Parise's honor for students
pursuing technical degrees at Youngstown State University, Parise's alma
mater. In lieu of flowers, those interested are welcome to send
donations to the Dr Ronald A. Parise Scholarship Fund, Youngstown State
University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44555.  -- Information
provided by Goddard Amateur Radio Club, WA3NAN


Tad "Bright as ever shines the Sun" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: We've
had another week with no sunspots. Our reporting week for this bulletin
runs from Thursday through Wednesday, and this is the fifth bulletin of
the year reporting zero sunspots for the week. 

Geomagnetic indices were quiet. But next Tuesday, May 20 should be quite
active.  Predicted planetary A index for May 16-22 is 5, 5, 5, 12, 30,
15 and 8.  Geophysical Institute Prague expects quiet conditions May
16-18, quiet to unsettled May 19, active geomagnetic conditions May 20,
unsettled May 21, and quiet to unsettled May 22.

Sunspot numbers for May 8 through 14 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0 with a
mean of 0.  10.7 cm flux was 66.4, 67.3, 67.4, 68, 68, 68.3, and 69 with
a mean of 67.8.  Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 3, 5, 3, 4, 4 and
3 with a mean of 3.7.  Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 3, 3, 4, 3,
3, 3 and 1, with a mean of 2.9.

For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL
Technical Information Service Propagation page
<>. To read this week's
Solar Report in its entirety, check out the W1AW Propagation Bulletin
page <>. 



* This Weekend on the Radio: This weekend, look for another running of
the NCCC Sprint Ladder on May 16. The Feld Hell Sprint is May 17. On May
17-18, be sure to make room in your schedule for the EU PSK DX Contest,
His Majesty King of Spain Contest (CW), the Manchester Mineira All
America CW Contest and the Baltic Contest. The Run for the Bacon QRP
Contest is on May 19. The RSGB 80m Club Championship (CW) and the NAQCC
Straight Key/Bug Sprint is on May 22. Next weekend is VK/Trans-Tasman
80m Contest (CW) on May 24. The CQ WW WPX Contest (CW) is May 24-25. The
MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint is May 27. The MI QRP Memorial Day CW
Sprint is May 26-27. The ARCI Hootowl Sprint is May 27 (local time) and
the SKCC Sprint is May 28. All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC.
See the ARRL Contest Branch page <>, the
ARRL Contester's Rate Sheet <>
and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration: Registration remains
open through Sunday, May 25, 2008, for these online course sessions
beginning on Friday, June 6, 2008: Technician License Course (EC-010),
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level 1 (EC-001), Radio Frequency
Interference (EC-006), Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009), Analog
Electronics (EC-012) and Digital Electronics (EC-013). Each online
course has been developed in segments -- learning units with objectives,
informative text, student activities and quizzes. Courses are
interactive, and some include direct communications with a
Mentor/Instructor. Students register for a particular session that may
be 8, 12 or 16 weeks (depending on the course) and they may access the
course at any time of day during the course period, completing lessons
and activities at times convenient for their personal schedule. Mentors
assist students by answering questions, reviewing assignments and
activities, as well as providing helpful feedback. Interaction with
mentors is conducted through e-mail; there is no appointed time the
student must be present -- allowing complete flexibility for the student
to work when and where it is convenient. To learn more, visit the CCE
Course Listing page <> or contact
the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <>;.

* No ARRL Audio News on Friday, May 16: There will be no ARRL Audio News
on Friday, May 16. ARRL Audio News will return on Friday, May 23. 

* W1HQ Snake Gets Name, Call Sign: With more than 400 votes tallied, the
W1HQ snake finally has a name
<>. Sean Kutzko, KX9X,
president of The Laird Campbell Memorial HQ Operators Club W1HQ,
announced that the snake not only has a name, but a call sign, as well:
"Members of the club met over lunch to discuss and vote on all the names
that were sent in. The winning entry came from Charlie Liberto, W4MEC,
of Hendersonville, North Carolina. He, along with former ARRL staffer R.
Dean Straw, N6BV, submitted the name Hamaconda. Paul Trotter, AA4ZZ, of
Charlotte, North Carolina, submitted H1SS as a name. We liked the idea
of the snake having a call sign, so the club decided, out of all the
great names and call signs sent in, that Charlie's and Paul's
submissions fit our mascot perfectly." Both Liberto and Trotter will
receive a copy of "The ARRL Antenna Book." Kutzko, the ARRL Contest
Branch Manager, was voted in as president of the HQ club at the meeting.
ARRL Membership Manager Katie Breen, W1KRB, was selected as
vice-president. ARRL Lab Manager and W1HQ Trustee Ed Hare, W1RFI, was
selected as the club's technical officer, and ARRL MVP
Associate/Production Assistant Carol Michaud, KB1QAW, was selected as
club secretary.

* 2008 ARRL Photo Contest Deadline Approaching: Photos submitted for the
2008 ARRL Photo Contest will be accepted through Saturday, May 31. Send
your photo (one per entrant) as an e-mail attachment to
with the subject line "2008 ARRL Photo Contest." Digital photos should
be high-resolution. Prints can be mailed to 2008 ARRL Photo Contest, 225
Main St, Newington, CT 06111. 

* The National Weather Service has announced a Web page for hams and
others to report outages of the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards
Transmitters (NWR). The Web page
<> explains how to report a
transmitter that may be off air in a listener's area. -- Joe Lachacz 

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
<> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news
updates. The ARRL Web site <> also offers
informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News
<> is a weekly "ham radio newscast"
compiled and edited from The ARRL Letter. It's also available as a
podcast from our Web site.

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/American Radio Relay League.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA,
==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
==>ARRL Audio News: <> or call

==>How to Get The ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly
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Copyright 2008 American Radio Relay League, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


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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