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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 28, No. 8
February 27, 2009


* + ARRL National Convention to Feature Richard Garriott, W5KWQ 
* + BSA Updates Radio Merit Badge Requirements 
* + ARRL DX Phone Contest Brings DX in Full Force to HF Bands 
* + QEX: The March/April 2009 Issue 
* + Train the Trainers Course Debuts at Orlando HamCation 
* + 2009 Winter Section Manager Election Results 
*  Solar Update 
      This Week on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + Field Day Station Locator Service Returning for 2009 
    + RAC Elects New President 
      EMCOMMWEST to Include ARRL Pacific Division Convention 
      ARRL Sweepstakes and RTTY Roundup Set New Records 
      WSJT Monthly Sprints to Begin this Weekend 
      FCC Revokes License of Indiana Ham 

+Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<>, then e-mail
==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA


Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, will be attending the 2009 ARRL National
Convention -- hosted by the Dayton Hamvention -- as a special guest of
the ARRL and AMSAT. Garriott, who took off for the International Space
Station (ISS) on October 12, became the sixth private citizen to fly
with the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) for a short-term mission on
the ISS <>. Not
two hours after he arrived on the ISS on October 14, Garriott was making
ham radio contacts, just as his father, Owen Garriott, W5LFL -- the
first ham to make QSOs from space -- did in 1983 while aboard the space
shuttle Columbia on STS-9. Both Richard and Owen are ARRL members.

"We are so excited to have Richard be a part of our National Convention
this year," said ARRL Sales and Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R.
"He will spend some time in the ARRL EXPO exhibit area, meeting
convention attendees and signing autographs <>.
He's also been confirmed as a Hamvention forum speaker." The ARRL EXPO
is a large exhibit area located in the Ballarena Hall (near the
400-numbered booths) at Hara Arena.

"This mission to the ISS fulfilled a lifelong dream to experience
spaceflight, just as my father first did 26 years ago," Richard said.
"It's an honor to be the first American to follow a parent into space."
While living on the ISS, Richard conducted scientific experiments and
environmental research -- but he also had a chance to do quite a bit of
Amateur Radio operating, including sending slow-scan TV (SSTV) images.

Richard said that after his first QSOs with Earth, he understood how
"well-networked" the global ham community really is: "I received
specific reports back through Mission Control-Moscow about the technical
aspects of my work and how the [amateur] community was enjoying the
transmissions. This redoubled my enthusiasm to do quality work for the
Amateur Radio legions around the world, as I realized how much it meant
to those with whom I had the chance to talk. By late in my flight, I had
contacted many hundreds of hams by voice and I have good records of
these contacts."

For the past 26 years, ham radio operations from aboard the space
shuttles and the International Space Station have helped to spotlight
the innovation and experimentation that are benchmarks of the Amateur
Radio Service. Richard Garriott's story as a private astronaut embodies
that same "can-do" spirit. "We are absolutely delighted that Richard has
agreed to take part in the 2009 ARRL National Convention. His biography
reads like an adventure novel -- one that spans global expeditioner,
explorer and entrepreneur," Inderbitzen said. "Like many radio amateurs,
Richard has an innate fascination with science and technology. He has
written very enthusiastically about his experience using Amateur Radio
from aboard the ISS. He found it particularly gratifying to find hams
around the globe eager to make radio contact with him at any time of the
day or night. Throughout the mission, he made hundreds of radio contacts
with individuals and classrooms full of children. When we greet Richard
in Dayton, we'll welcome him as one of our own!"


The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has updated the requirements needed to
earn the Radio merit badge. The new requirements became effective with
the publication of Boy Scout Requirements 2009. While no new content has
been added to the program, the new merit badge pamphlet features lots of
new information -- including color pictures and updated charts and text
-- that reflects the changes in the Amateur Radio Service since the last
pamphlet update in 2002. Approximately 4000 Radio merit badges are
earned each year.

According to ARRL ad hoc Scouting Committee member Larry Wolfgang, WR1B,
the new Radio Merit Badge pamphlet had been in the works for some time.
"BSA has been replacing all merit badge pamphlets with new booklets
using color graphics and more modern presentations," he said. "With
attractive color photos and clear text explanations of the requirements,
the new merit badge pamphlet is a pleasure for the Scouts to read. The
new text is due in large part to the efforts of longtime Radio Merit
Badge Counselor and K2BSA National Jamboree Staff member Mike Brown,
WB2JWD. I am looking forward to using the new pamphlet to teach Radio
merit badge at our Council's Merit-Badge-O-Ree this spring, and to
having a supply of the new books available for Scouts during the 2009
summer camp season."

Wolfgang said that the requirements for the badge have been shifted
around: "The old Part 4 of Requirement 7(b) Broadcast Radio was pulled
out and placed in the main body of the requirements as Requirement 8. In
addition, the old Requirement 8 (to visit a radio installation and
discuss what types of equipment, how it was used, what types of licenses
are required to operate and maintain the equipment, and the purpose of
the station) was moved up to Requirement 7, so that now the three
options appear as Requirement 9. The main result is one additional full

ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director and Chairman of the League's ad
hoc Scouting Committee Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, called the Radio Merit
Badge "a perfect avenue to introduce Scouts and Scouters to the
wonderful world of ham radio. Ham clubs across the nation should locate
a local Boy Scout Troop, secure permission from their Scoutmaster and/or
committee to teach the merit badge and deliver an exceptional Radio
merit badge class. What the boys -- and their leaders and parents --
will learn in the process is a fair amount of what is part of the
Technician license exam, so the next logical step after a merit badge
class is an all-out recruiting effort to get that Troop involved in
Amateur Radio. They'll meet new friends and have a great way of
communicating while in transit to and from the field, as well as
additional peace of mind through an effective means of emergency
communications while in the backcountry."

For a complete overview of the Boy Scout Radio merit badge, see the
Radio merit badge page on the BSA Web site


With the 2009 ARRL International DX CW Contest now history
<>, the first
full weekend in March brings the next round of competition: The 2009
<>. Like its CW
predecessor, this event focuses on DX stations working all US states and
Canadian provinces, while US and Canadian amateurs try to work as many
DX countries as possible over the 48 hour contest period.

"While the origins of the ARRL DX Contest go back to 1929, the first
Phone weekend wasn't until 1937," said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean
Kutzko, KX9X. "AM was the voice mode used at that time. The rules may
have changed since the event was held back in the 1930s, but the premise
remains the same: How many contacts with stations in far-away locales
can you make?"

Just as in the CW contest a couple of weeks ago, US and Canadian
stations send a signal report and their state or province, while DX
stations send a signal report and their transmit power. Remember that
for this contest, Alaska and Hawaii are considered DX stations -- this
means stations in KH6 and KL7 focus their efforts on working Stateside
and Canada.

How can you participate? Kutzko said you're only limited by your
imagination and willingness to get on the air: "Even though we are at
the bottom of the 11-year solar cycle, there will be plenty of chances
to work DX, even for stations running 100 W and a dipole or vertical
antenna. If you live in an area where antenna restrictions exist, take
your contest effort on the road! Operate from your car, set up a
portable antenna in a park or campground or see if a friend's station is
available. If you have a station and won't be using it, consider opening
your doors to members of your club to try their hand at working some DX.
If you make 100 QSOs, you're eligible to purchase a commemorative pin
for your efforts."

The ARRL DX Phone Contest runs from 0000 UTC Saturday, March 7 to 2359
UTC Sunday, March 8. Complete rules and forms are available online
<>. Why let all this DX pass you by?
Get on the air and have some fun!


The March/April issue of QEX is coming soon, and it is full of
theoretical and practical technical articles that you don't want to miss

In this issue, Gary Steinbaugh, AF8L, introduces us to "A Cybernetic
Sinusoidal Synthesizer." The initial part presents some interesting
history and theory of feedback control. The system includes an
oven-stabilized crystal-controlled oscillator, a PLL frequency
synthesizer with a low phase noise sinusoidal output, a variable gain RF
amplifier for automatic power level control and an RF power meter with a
digital readout in dBm and an analog voltage output. Subsequent articles
will describe these circuits in detail. Ron Skelton, W6WO, takes us
"Exploring Near-End-Fed Wire Antennas" by modeling his design using
EZNEC, and then building a 40 meter version to verify the modeled
performance. Ken Grant, VE3FIT, describes "A Versatile Two-Tone Audio
Generator for SSB Testing." This handy piece of test gear could be a
valuable addition to your test bench.

Thomas Alldread, VA7TA, continues to describe his "NimbleSig III" dual
output DDS RF generator. This circuit provides signals over a range from
100 kHz to 200 MHz, with 1 Hz resolution. In this part of the series we
learn about the control software design, computer interface, MPU
programming and initial testing. Rudy Severns, N6LF, presents more of
his research in "Experimental Determination of Ground System Performance
for HF Verticals." Part 3 compares the performance of antennas using
ground-surface radials and those using elevated radials. If you use
vertical antennas on HF, or have thought about using vertical antennas
on HF, you will want to read all of the articles in this series. Roger
Monroe, K7NTW, introduces the process of programming a microcontroller
in "Some Assembly Required." As a practical application, he describes
how he used a microcontroller in the design of a QSK amplifier keying
interface for use between his Ten-Tec Omni IV+ radio and his Heath
SB-220 amplifier.

Ray Mack, W5IFS, continues his software defined radio column. In this
installment of "SDR: Simplified," Ray looks at signals in the time
domain and the frequency domain, and introduces the concept of Fourier
transforms. He also explains the Nyquist criterion for sampling signals
in analog to digital conversions as well as the filtering requirements
for digital to analog conversions. Mark Spencer, WA8SME, has been
sending results of his further data collection based on his article,
"SID: Study Cycle 24, Don't Just Use It" from the September/October 2008
issue of QEX. The "Tech Notes" column in this issue includes some graphs
of Mark's data, as well as a re-designed SID receiver and interface. The
"Reader's Page" includes photos of two different GPS-derived frequency
standards. Readers are encouraged to submit photos of their projects, to
show off their handiwork.

Would you like to write for QEX? It pays $50/printed page. Get more
information and an Author's Guide <>. If
you prefer postal mail, send a business-size self-addressed, stamped
envelope to QEX Author's Guide, c/o Maty Weinberg, ARRL, 225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111-1494.

QEX is edited by Larry Wolfgang, WR1B <>;, and is published
bimonthly. The subscription rate (6 issues) for ARRL members in the US
is $24. For First Class US delivery, it's $37; in Canada and
internationally by airmail it's $31. Nonmembers add $12 to these rates.
Subscribe to QEX today.

Editor's Note: Due to production difficulties, the March/April issue of
QEX will be arriving about two weeks later than normal. Readers should
expect to see their copies in their mailboxes in mid March. We regret
any inconvenience this may cause.


The inaugural Train the Trainers course -- supported by a grant from the
ARRL Foundation -- made its first appearance on February 13-14 at
HamCation <> in Orlando, Florida. Led by ARRL
Education and Technology Program Coordinator Mark Spencer, WA8SME, 12
participants -- primarily from the ARRL Southeastern Division --
completed the course. HamCation is the ARRL Southeastern Division's

According to Spencer, the focus of the Train the Trainers course is on
course development, instructional techniques and instructional resources
-- not on the technical content of the course. The objective of the
course is to develop and validate a model program that could be used to
provide instruction to volunteer ham radio licensing course instructors,
helping to improve their teaching effectiveness.

ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, attended the Train
the Trainers course: "When I agreed to attend the Train the Trainer
sessions at Orlando HamCation, I intended to be a fly on the wall. But
as a volunteer instructor myself, I found that I was caught up in the
enthusiasm of those who signed up for the course. Each of the
participants came with a set of teaching experiences, and left with even
more -- and some made dramatic changes in their philosophy and approach
to teaching licensing classes. I found the hours I spent under Mark's
leadership rewarding and very, very useful. Kudos to Director Sarratt
and the HamCation team for their support of this pilot project. I hope
that this is just the beginning of something that can enhance our
teaching of ham radio licensing."

Spencer commended the Orlando Amateur Radio Club (OARC)
<> -- HamCation's sponsor -- for their "exceptional
job of providing a venue for the class. ARRL Southeastern Division
Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, and his primary point of contact, Ed
Tyler, KI4GKS, did an excellent job of advertising the course, accepting
applications from interested volunteer instructors and vetting and
selecting the final pool of participants."

Spencer said the response from the course's participants was
enthusiastic. Here are a few comments:
* The course provided some great insights to different approaches to
subject matter, including out-of-the-ordinary presentation strategies
and considerations for class preparation.
* Participations were able to compare real-life classroom experiences. 
* I expected new techniques, and I got them. Rearranging the material in
a logical manner was something that made sense, but I had not given any
* The other (more important?) way the class exceeded my expectations was
the caliber of the "students" themselves. They were engaged, brilliant
and motivated for this to work. I like to think of myself as a really
good instructor, but I learned quite a number of useful and interesting
things from the classroom discussions just with the students.
* The most valuable feature of the class was the opportunity to "face
down my fear" and present in front of an audience of top-notch people
who were there to critique my work -- scary, yes; on the edge, yes. But
a very powerful motivational and quality-oriented tool to really pay
attention to the lessons and put forward one's very best effort, and
then learn from those critiques. 


ARRL members in the North Texas Section have elected a new Section
Manager. Jay Urish, W5GM, of Flower Mound, received 740 votes; his
opponent, incumbent Section Manager Tom Blackwell, N5GAR, of Dallas,
received 678 votes. Blackwell has served as Section Manager since 2005.
In Arizona, members re-elected incumbent Tom Fagan, K7DF, of Tucson.
Fagan, who has been Section Manager since 2005, received 1016 votes;
Robert Spencer, KE8DM, of Yuma, received 205 votes. Ballots were counted
and verified at ARRL Headquarters on Tuesday, February 24.

Iowa will have a new Section Manager starting in April. Tom Brehmer,
N0LOH, of Muscatine, was the only candidate to run for office when
veteran Section Manager Jim Lasley, N0JL, of Chillicothe, decided not to
run for another term. Lasley has been the Iowa Section Manager since
1994. Brehmer is presently the ARRL Official Observer Coordinator in
Iowa and a Volunteer Examiner. He is serving as the Secretary/Treasurer
of the Muscatine Amateur Radio Club.

In Wyoming, Garth Crowe, N7XKT, continues as Section Manager for the
April 2009-March 2011 term of office. Crowe was appointed in January to
take the reins from LeeAnne Sachau, WY7DTW, who decided to step down
after she was the only nominee for the next term of office.

The following incumbent ARRL Section Managers did not face opposition
and were declared elected for their upcoming terms of office beginning
April 1: J.M. Rowe, N5XFW, Arkansas; Jim Brooks, KY4Z, Kentucky; Malcolm
Keown, W5XX, Mississippi; Doug Dunn, K7YD, Montana, and Carl Gardenias,
WU6D, Orange.


Tad "A savage Sun consumes its hidden day" Cook, K7RA, this week
reports: Excitement mounted a few days ago when new Solar Cycle 24
sunspot 1013 emerged, but two days later it was fading away, similar to
other recent sunspot appearances. The sunspot number for February 24-26
was 12, 14 and 12. Today's number will likely be 0. Sunspot numbers for
February 19-25 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 12 and 14 with a mean of 3.7. The
10.7 cm flux was 68.9, 69.2, 70.6, 70.3, 70.8, 71 and 70.7 with a mean
of 70.2. The estimated planetary A indices were 1, 3, 3, 3, 5, 6 and 3
with a mean of 3.4. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 0, 3, 2,
3, 3, 6 and 2 with a mean of 2.7. 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 David Gascoyne's "Winter Garden"



* This Week on the Radio: This week, the Russian WW PSK Contest is on
February 27-28. Look for the UBA Contest (CW), Mississippi QSO Party,
North American QSO Party (RTTY), CQ WW 160 Meter Contest (SSB) and the
CQC Winter QSO Party to be on the air February 28-March 1. The High
Speed CW Contest is March 1. The North Carolina QSO Party and DARC 10
Meter Digital "Corona" are both March 1-2. Next week is the ARRL
International DX Contest (SSB) on March 7-8. The NCCC Sprint is March 6.
The Wake-Up! QRP Sprint is March 7 and the Open Ukraine RTTY
Championship is March 7-8. Look for the SKCC Weekend Sprint, the UBA
Spring Contest (CW), the DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest and the NSARA
Contest on March 8. The CLARA HF Contest is March 10-11 and March 14-15.
The RSGB 80 Meter Club Championship (CW) is March 11. 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, March 8, 2009 for these online course sessions
beginning on Friday, March 20, 2009: Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Level 2, Antenna Modeling, and Radio Frequency
Propagation. 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 <>;.

* Field Day Station Locator Service Returning for 2009: First introduced
in 2008, the ARRL's Field Day Station Locator Service was a popular
addition to the Field Day toolbox. This service -- an interactive map
that helps amateurs or those interested in Amateur Radio find a Field
Day <> site near them -- is free to clubs or
individuals who will be operating public Field Day stations. Stations
can also be listed by state or province. If your group would like to be
a part of the Station Locator Service, it's easy to get started -- just
go to the Field Day Station Locator Web site and follow the instructions
<>. ARRL Field
Day is the most popular on-the-air operating event in Amateur Radio. On
June 27-28, join tens of thousands of Amateur Radio operators as they
gather for a public demonstration of our Service.

* RAC Elects New President: Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) President
Dave Goodwin, VE3AAQ/VO1AU, announced he was resigning his post,
effective immediately, at the RAC Board of Directors teleconference
meeting on February 24. At the same teleconference meeting, the RAC
Board elected Bob Cooke, VE3BDB, as RAC President. Cooke will serve
until December 31, 2009, the end of the current term. According to RAC
Vice President for International Affairs Daniel Lamoureux, VE2KA,
Goodwin indicated that his decision was motivated by his inability to
devote enough time to RAC affairs, due to a recent increase in personal
and professional responsibilities. Goodwin became RAC President on
January 1, 2008 at the end of President Earle Smith's, VE6NM, tenure.
Cooke has a long history of working with RAC. His involvement started in
the early 1990s as an Assistant Director; he was served as RAC Ontario
South Director from November 2001-January 2005. He was then elected by
the RAC Board as Vice President for Field Services, serving from January
2006-February 2009 when he resigned to accept the appointment as
President.  -- Information provided by RAC

* EMCOMMWEST to Include ARRL Pacific Division Convention: EMCOMMWEST
2009 -- an ARRL specialty convention devoted entirely to emergency
communications -- will host this year's Pacific Division Convention
(Pacificon) at the Circus Circus Hotel Resort in Reno, Nevada May 1-3.
Supervisor of the ARRL's Field and Public Service Team Steve Ewald,
WV1X, will host an emergency communications forum and deliver the
keynote address. Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, former Special Counsel of
the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, will be the speaker at the Saturday
evening banquet; Hollingsworth will also present a forum on the legal
aspects of emergency communications. Other forums in the works include
an introduction to the work of Public Information Officers (PIO) and the
PR-101 Course <>;
how to create an effective ARES team (and even how to create an ARES
team from scratch); how to work with ARES from an Emergency Manager's
view; packet software and operations for emergency communications;
practical emergency communication functions for ATV; how to creating a
Section-wide intercom using EchoLink and VoIP, and more! SKYWARN and
storm spotter training will also be offered. ARRL Pacific Division
Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, and Vice Director Andy Oppel, N6AJO, will
lead the ARRL Forum. Registration is now available online via the
EMCOMMWEST Web site <>. 

* ARRL Sweepstakes and RTTY Roundup Set New Records: The lack of good HF
propagation didn't seem to affect participation in the 2008 Sweepstakes
or the 2009 RTTY Roundup contests. According to ARRL Contest Manager
Sean Kutzko, KX9X, both contests were record-breaking events. "We have
received 3298 logs for the November SSB and CW Sweeps combined in 2008,"
Kutzko said. "That is -- at bare minimum -- a 5 year high. The 2009 RTTY
Roundup in January saw 1564 entries, also a 5 year high." Kutzko said he
attributes some of the increase to the hoopla surrounding the 75th
running of Sweepstakes: "The excitement over the new Triple Play Award
<> was likely a large factor in
the RTTY Roundup increase. Interest in contesting in general is on the

* WSJT Monthly Sprints to Begin this Weekend: The first monthly WSJT
Sprint contest will be held this Saturday, February 28 between 4 AM and
noon (local time). WSJT <>
is a popular software suite created by Joe Taylor, K1JT. It is used to
make digital contacts by reflecting signals off the ionized trails left
by meteors (a technique known as meteor scatter). The same software can
be used to make contacts by using the moon as a radio reflector
(moonbounce). WSJT Sprint points are based on the distances worked.
Participants are allowed to make random or assisted contacts (skeds via
Ping Jockey <>). Enter as 6
meter only, 2 meter only or Combined class. Simultaneous 6/2 meter
operation is permitted in the Combined class. Complete rules are
available online <>; click on "Sprints" in the
content bar on the left. 

* FCC Revokes License of Indiana Ham: On February 25, the Federal
Communications Commission revoked the license of Lonnie L. Keeney,
KB9RFO, of Greencastle Indiana. According to the FCC, Keeney's 2002
conviction of child molestation, a Class C felony, renders him
"lack[ing] the requisite character qualifications to be and remain a
Commission licensee." Keeney has 30 days to appeal the revocation

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!):
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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.

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