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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 27, No. 43
October 31, 2008


* + SKYWARN Recognition Day Set for December 6 
* + Ohio Hams Discover, Fix "Ditters" on 40 Meters 
* + The ARRL VEC: More than Just Amateur Radio Exams 
* + ARRL Invites Nominations for 2008 International Humanitarian Award 
* + Ask Perry: Why Is the ARRL in Connecticut? 
* + ARRL Membership Newsletters, Bulletins and Notifications 
*   Solar Update 
      This Weekend on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + 2008 Field Day Results Posted 
      New ARRL Satellite Book Available 
    + Spanish Hams Receive New Frequency Privileges 

+ Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

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


The 10th Annual SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) Special Event will take
place Saturday, December 6, 2008 <>. SRD is
co-sponsored by the ARRL and the National Weather Service (NWS) as a way
to recognize the commitment made by Amateur Radio operators in helping
to keep their communities safe. According to SRD Coordinator David
Floyd, N5DBZ, Amateur Radio operators can visit their local
participating NWS office
<>, working as
a team to contact other hams across the world throughout the 24 hour

The idea for the first SRD took shape in the summer of 1999.
Meteorologist-in-Charge of the Goodland, Kansas NWS office Scott
Mentzer, N0QE, tried to find a way to recognize the valuable
contributions storm spotters make to the National Weather Service.
"Since many of those storm spotters were also hams," Floyd said, "it
seemed like a natural fit for the recognition to be centered on Amateur

With the approval of NWS headquarters and a commitment to participate
from many local NWS offices across the country, the first National
Weather Service Special Event took place on November 27, 1999. "At the
end of the event, an amazing 15,888 QSOs were logged, with contacts made
to all 50 states and 63 countries," Floyd recounted. "The Des Moines
forecast office took the honor of making the most contacts of any office
that first year with 761 QSOs, and went on to lead the pack until 2003
by logging between 1300-1500 contacts each year!"

Floyd said that feedback from that first event was "overwhelmingly
positive" from both the NWS staff and the local ham clubs: "Suddenly
there was incentive for more NWS staffers to either obtain a license or
upgrade so that more people could work ham radio during severe events.
In addition, many club members had never visited an NWS office before.
When they came for the special event, they learned the value of their
reports and how they were used in conjunction with existing technology."

And so began an annual tradition. The following year, 85 of the 122 NWS
offices -- almost 70 percent -- participated in the event, making nearly
24,000 QSOs. "Perhaps the most unusual contact occurred in 2000 with an
airliner 39,000 feet above Utah," Floyd said. "The pilot ended the QSO
with a request for a 'spot weather forecast' for his arrival at Salt
Lake City airport."

In 2001, the name of the event was changed to SKYWARN Recognition Day, a
name Floyd said better relayed what the day was all about: "Each year
since the inception of SRD, the number of NWS offices and local ham
clubs participating has increased, until now more than 100 offices sign
up each year to take part. The most contacts made during any SRD
occurred in 2006 when -- thanks to the staff and local hams in the Grand
Junction, Colorado area -- 1640 QSOs were logged!"

Station call signs have also changed over the years. Floyd said that
some NWS offices and clubs apply for a special event call sign, "such as
W3B in Brownsville or N0Y in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Other call signs
hint at office location, including WX9GRB in Green Bay and WX4NHC at the
National Hurricane Center. Still others represent more of the big
picture, as in KC0SKY in Pleasant Hill, Missouri."

Floyd said that as SKYWARN Recognition Day has grown throughout the
years and is mainly an SSB event, he has seen a greater use of digital
communications in addition to CW, RTTY and packet radio: "Each year,
more and more contacts are being made using EchoLink and Winlink."

2008 SKYWARN Recognition Day will be held on December 6 from 0000
UTC-2400 UTC. Last year, contacts were made in all 50 states and 40
countries during the 24 hour event. If you haven't joined in the fun,
make 2008 your year to do so!


Silent since the summer of 2000, "ditters" have been heard once again
<> on 40 meters by hams in
North Carolina. According to ARRL Field and Regulatory Correspondent
Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG, hams in that state contacted him on October 22
complaining of hearing a continuous string of "dits" on 7.0574 MHz. "We
informed the FCC HFDFing station of the situation and asked if they
could locate the approximate area of the 'dits' so we could get this
resolved as soon as possible," Skolaut said. "They responded promptly
and said it was coming from Westerville, a town just north of Columbus,

Once the general location had been pinpointed, Skolaut called on ARRL
Ohio Section Official Observer Coordinator Rick Swain, KK8O for
assistance. Swain immediately alerted his team of Official Observers
(OO) to check out the situation. "Neither I nor the OOs could hear the
transmitter," Swain said in his report. "In a telephone conversation
with one of the OOs near the target area, he suddenly stated that he
could hear it, but that the signal was at the noise level, about S2 to
S3. At just about the same time, I could hear it as well at my location
[about 50 miles from the target area] -- just above the noise level --
for about five or ten seconds, then it disappeared."

Swain also placed a call to Assistant Section Manager Bill Carpenter,
AA8EY. "Bill lives within the target area. I briefed him on the
situation and he went right to his station," Swain said. "Bill checked
the frequency and told me he was hearing [the 'dits'] at about S9. He
said he thought he might know who it could be and that would make some

Around 7:30 AM on October 23, Swain checked the frequency and found no
signal. "I assumed that either Bill had found the transmitter or the
owner came home, found it transmitting and turned it off," he said.
"Later that morning, Bill sent me an e-mail saying that the signal was
back on and about S7. I called Bill's house and left a message telling
him I was on my way to Westerville to track down the signal. If he
wanted to ride along with me while I looked for it, he was more than
welcome to come." Skolaut said the signal was also heard in Newington
that day.

When Swain arrived in Westerville, he had a list of the names and
addresses of 172 licensees in the area, as well as a general idea of
where the signal should be, based on the data from the FCC's HFDFing
station. He also had his HF radio, an all-band screwdriver antenna, a
GPS receiver and a VHF radio for information and directions.

"I drove around the area checking the signal and noted that it was about
S9 and climbing," Swain said. He and Carpenter met up and continued the
search together. About 15 minutes later -- with Swain driving and
Carpenter giving directions -- "we noted that the signal was 30 over S9
and Bill had me make a left turn at the next street, saying that there
was an address on the list we should check out. We stopped at that
address, but no luck."

Swain said he then injected 30 dB of attenuation and continued to drive
in the same direction: "The signal was now reading 20 dB over S9 with
the attenuator still on. We turned down the next street and the signal
rose another 20 dB. I pulled into a parking lot and made a 360-degree
turn as to determine the signal's direction. The turn indicated that we
should proceed to a newly constructed housing area adjacent to the
parking lot."

Swain and Carpenter then made their way over to the housing development
and found that signal peaked. "Bill checked the list and found a ham
lived on the street we were on, so we stopped and knocked on the door,
but no one answered," Swain said. "We checked out the backyard and saw a
4-band trapped vertical antenna. We went next door and spoke to the
neighbor and told him who we were and what we were trying to do."

With help from the neighbor, Swain contacted the ham at work and
explained the situation. The ham told the neighbor how to get in the
house and where they would find the transmitter. "We went in, found the
transmitter in operation and turned it off," Swain said. "I noticed the
ham had a large cat lounging near the transmitter and assumed the cat
could have leaned up against the keyer paddle and started the
transmitter. No other explanation could be possible without the owner
hearing the transmit relay clicking."

When Swain and Carpenter left the house, they listened to the receiver
and discovered the signal had disappeared.

"This was a great example of coordinated cooperation by the FCC and OOs
to resolve a problem in a timely fashion," Skolaut said. "The DFing
station told us that hopefully the OOs could handle it as the FCC
District Office was unable to work on the case at this time."

Calling this a "splendid example of cooperation," ARRL Great Lakes
Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, echoed Skolaut's praise: "I believe
the response to the situation was as fine an example of symbiotic
relationship between member-staff-FCC-staff-field organization as one
might find. Extremely well done by all hands."


When you think of ARRL's Volunteer Examiner Coordinator Department (VEC)
<>, Amateur Radio licensing exams are
probably what come to mind. Questions regarding exam requirements, exam
accommodations, exam test locations, exam question pools and Volunteer
Examiner support are handled by the League's VEC department. According
to ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, the ARRL VEC has been busy
meeting the needs of the Amateur Radio community since 1984. "Helping a
person become a radio amateur or upgrade their existing license is what
we do best, but that's not all we do," Somma said. 

"We provide instruction and support for everyone who wants to get an
Amateur Radio license, as well as licensing assistance and procedures
for those amateurs seeking upgrades to their current license, regardless
of where in the US they may live; some sessions are also provided
overseas," Somma explained. "Volunteer Examiners are accredited by the
ARRL/VEC; they obtain their training -- and receive ongoing guidance --
from our office by phone or e-mail. They can also access our online VE

Somma said that the ARRL's VEC Department is also a primary provider for
club license questions and applications (club call signs) and vanity
call signs. "We only serve in an advisory capacity in this activity, as
application must be made (with their appropriate fee) directly to the
FCC," she said. "We also handle the 1x1 Special Event call signs,
International Amateur Radio Permits (IARP) and ARRL member (or
non-member with accompanying fee) FCC license updates and renewals

Since the VE program began in 1984, the ARRL VEC has accredited more
than 50,000 Volunteer Examiners. "These VEs have conducted more than
90,000 test sessions," Somma said. "At these sessions, more than 850,000
individuals have taken examinations to earn a license or to upgrade
their license privileges. And out of those, 400,000 have had their
successful applications submitted to the FCC for new and higher class
licenses. Today, the ARRL VEC is the largest of the USA's 14 VECs
representing nearly 70 percent of all exams given." 

Somma credits her "skilled, knowledgeable and friendly staff" with the
success of the League's VEC department: Assistant VEC Manager Perry
Green, WY1O; Pete Warner, K1HJW; Ann Brinius; Lisa Riendeau; Amanda
Grimaldi, and China Chaney. 

"The ARRL VEC has more than 20 years of service to radio amateurs,
operating as a knowledgeable information source for a wide-range of
licensing issues," Somma said. "Look beyond the exams -- we're here to


Nominations are open for the 2008 ARRL International Humanitarian Award
<>. The award
is conferred upon an amateur or amateurs who demonstrate devotion to
human welfare, peace and international understanding through Amateur

The League established the annual prize to recognize Amateur Radio
operators who have used ham radio to provide extraordinary service to
others in times of crisis or disaster. A committee appointed by the
League's President recommends the award recipient(s) to the ARRL Board,
which makes the final decision. 

The committee is now accepting nominations from Amateur Radio,
governmental or other organizations that have benefited from
extraordinary service rendered by an Amateur Radio operator or group.
Amateur Radio is one of the few telecommunication services that allow
people throughout the world from all walks of life to meet and talk with
each other, thereby spreading goodwill across political boundaries. The
ARRL International Humanitarian Award recognizes Amateur Radio's unique
role in international communication and the assistance amateurs
regularly provide to people in need. 

Nominations should include a summary of the nominee's actions that
qualify the individual (or individuals) for this award, plus verifying
statements from at least two people having first-hand knowledge of the
events warranting the nomination. These statements may be from an
official of a group (for example, the American Red Cross, The Salvation
Army or a local or state emergency management official) that benefited
from the nominee's particular Amateur Radio contribution. Nominations
should include the names and addresses of all references. 

All nominations and supporting materials for the 2008 ARRL International
Humanitarian Award must be submitted in writing in English to ARRL
International Humanitarian Award, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 USA.
Nomination submissions are due by December 31, 2008. In the event that
no nominations are received, the committee itself may determine a
recipient or decide to make no award. The winner of the ARRL
International Humanitarian Award receives an engraved plaque and a
profile in QST and other ARRL venues.


Every once in a while, ARRL Archivist Perry Williams, W1UED -- a rich
source of information about the early days of the League -- runs across
a question that really needs an answer. Earlier this month, someone
posed this question to Perry: Why was Connecticut chosen as the site for

"To answer that question," Perry explained, "consider a parable: Why did
the tree choose to grow in this forest? Because that is where the seed
fell on fertile ground. The seed that became ARRL fell on Hartford,
Connecticut in 1914. When it sprouted, it was cultivated initially by
two men: Hiram Percy Maxim, 1WH (he became W1AW after World War I), and
Clarence D. Tuska, 1WD, who was still in his teens when the League

"Maxim was an inventor in a family of inventors, an industrialist. He
was founder of the Maxim Silencer Company, making devices to keep
firearms and engines quiet, as well as a principal in a company involved
first in making bicycles and then autos. He was also a writer with an
early interest in motion pictures (he was also founder of the Amateur
Cinematographic League) and on and on. Most of these activities were in
or near Hartford, where he lived with his family. 

"Tuska manned the hoe and trowel around the ARRL seedling. Soon after
the ARRL's founding, Maxim settled in as President, an office he held
until his death in 1936. In those early days, Tuska served as Secretary.
Together, Maxim and Tuska founded the magazine QST as a private venture
in 1915 out of their own pockets; Tuska was its Editor until the United
States got into WWI and amateurs were taken off the air. Tuska closed
down the 'offices' of ARRL and QST -- they were in his mother's kitchen
-- and joined the Army." Williams said that the story doesn't end here
-- to find out more, please see "Two Hundred Meters and Down," by
Clinton B DeSoto, W1CBD (SK) <>.

Williams continued: "By the time the Tree had grown to the point to
merit relocation elsewhere (this issue has been examined many times by
the ARRL's elected, unpaid Board), transplanting it never came out as
feasible: The Hartford-area roots were too deep." 


Did you know the ARRL offers more newsletters than just The ARRL Letter?
One of the many ARRL membership benefits includes other newsletters,
such as the ARRL Contest Update (a bi-weekly contest newsletter), the
ARES E-Letter (sent monthly, containing public service and emergency
communications news), the ARRL Club News, the ARRL Instructor/Teacher
E-Letter and the VE Newsletter, just to name a few. 

You can also elect to receive news and information from your Division
Director and Section Manager (keep in mind that not all
Divisions/Sections send notices), as well as W1AW bulletins that relate
to DX, propagation, satellites and Keplerian reports. The ARRL also
offers a free notification service to members, letting them know when
their membership and license are due to expire. 

Sign up for these newsletters, bulletins and notifications on the Member
Data page of the ARRL Web site


Tad "But give me your Sun from yonder skies!" Cook, K7RA, this week
reports: Solar Cycle 24 is slowly building momentum. We saw sunspots for
eight days in a row -- October 10-17 -- then 12 days of no spots.
Another sunspot -- number 1007 -- appeared on October 30 from Solar
Cycle 24. It is a high latitude sunspot and may provide some fun for
this weekend's 75th running of the ARRL CW Sweepstakes. Sunspot numbers
for October 23-29 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and 0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7
cm flux was 67.2, 67.5, 67.5, 66.9, 67, 67.1 and 66.7 with a mean of
67.1. The estimated planetary A indices were 3, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4 and 11
with a mean of 3.7. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 3, 0, 1,
3, 1, 5 and 16 with a mean of 4.1. Geophysical Institute Prague predicts
"Relative sunspot number in the range 0-25" for October 31-November 6.
They forecast unsettled geomagnetic conditions for today, October 31,
quiet to unsettled November 1, quiet conditions November 2-5 and quiet
to unsettled November 6. It is possible that around November 4 we may
see a return of sunspot number 1005. 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 week's
"Tad Cookism" brought to you by Robert Browning's "The Patriot"



* This Weekend on the Radio: This week, look for the 75th running of the
ARRL Sweepstakes Contest (CW) on November 1-3. The NCCC Sprint is
October 31 and the IPARC Contest (CW) is November 1. The Ukrainian DX
Contest is November 1-2. The IPARC Contest (SSB), the High Speed Club CW
Contest and the DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest are all November 2. Next
week is the NCCC Sprint on November 7. The WAE DX Contest (RTTY), the
JIDX Phone Contest, the OK/OM DX Contest (CW), the Kentucky QSO Party
and the CQ-WE Contest are all November 8-9. The SKCC Weekend Sprintathon
is November 9 and the RSGB 80 Meter Club Sprint (SSB) is November 13.
All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch
page <>, the ARRL Contest Update
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info. Looking
for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL Special Event
Station Web page <>. 

* ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration: Registration remains
open through Sunday, November 9, 2008, for these online course sessions
beginning on Friday, November 21, 2008: Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Level 2 (EC-002); Antenna Modeling (EC-004); HF Digital
Communications (EC-005); VHF/UHF -- Life Beyond the Repeater (EC-008),
and Radio Frequency Propagation (EC-011). 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 <>;.

* 2008 Field Day Results Posted: The results from this year's Field Day
are now available online
<>. "The
addition of the online ARRL Field Day Locator site was a huge success,
as more than 1500 sites were listed in this first year of use," said
ARRL Field Day Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. "When you scan the Online
Soapbox <>, Field Day continues to
be the most popular on-the-air event in Amateur Radio." You can find the
results in the Members Only section of the ARRL Web site.

* New ARRL Satellite Book Available: "The ARRL Satellite Handbook" by
QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, brings the thrill of satellite
communications within your reach
<>. Filled with understandable
descriptions and illustrations, this book includes all the tools you
need to participate in this exciting field. This very readable guide was
designed to give a broad introduction to the subject of satellite
communications, while providing the practical fundamentals you need to
explore, track and operate ham radio satellites on your own. Since the
pioneering days of satellite communications, ham radio operators have
been along for the ride -- building, launching, and operating
satellites. You can experience this technology firsthand using today's
fleet of Earth-orbiting ham radio satellites. Including content by
satellite expert Martin Davidoff, PhD, K2UBC, this book is sure to be a
hit with both new and experienced satellite enthusiasts. Be sure to get
your copy of "The ARRL Satellite Handbook" today!

* Spanish Hams Receive New Frequency Privileges: The Union de
Radioaficionados Espanoles (URE) <>, Spain's IARU
Member-Society, reported that as of October 24, 2008, that country's
Secretaria de Estado de Telecomunicaciones y para la Sociedad de la
Informacion (SETSI) approved an expansion on 160 meters during certain
events, such as international Amateur Radio contests
<>. The new
allocation, 1.810-1.830 MHz, as well as 1.850-2.000 MHz, will be
available for the 2009 ARRL 160 Meter Contest, the 2009 King of Spain
Contests (both SSB and CW) and the 2009 CQ 160 Meter Contest (both SSB
and CW); it was also allowed for the CQ Worldwide DX Contest (SSB)
earlier this month. In addition, Spanish hams were also granted
privileges on the experimental portion of the 4 meter band --
70.150-70.200 MHz running 10 W ERP -- until April 25, 2009.  -- Thanks
to "The Daily DX" for the information

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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The ARRL Letter also is available to all, free of charge, from these

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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.

Back issues published since 2000 are available on this page. If you wish to subscribe via e-mail, simply log on to the ARRL Web site, click on Edit Your Profile at the top, then click on Edit Email Subscriptions. Check the box next to The ARRL email newsletter, the ARRL Letter and you will receive each weekly issue in HTML format. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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