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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 28, No. 15
April 17, 2009


* + When Vandals Strike Infrastructure, Hams Provide Communications Support 
* + ARRL Comments on Broadband Provisions in Recovery Act 
* + Look for the May Issue of QST in Your Mailbox 
* + California Teen Is 2009 Goldfarb Scholarship Recipient 
* + Hams in Southeastern US Provide Spotting Assistance to NWS 
* + Forum Schedule Announced for 2009 Dayton Hamvention 
*  Solar Update 
      This Week on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + No ARRL Audio News April 24 
    + Italy Discontinues HF Earthquake Net 

+Available on ARRL Audio News <>


==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <>, then e-mail <>;

==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA <>;



Just after midnight on April 9, someone climbed down four manholes in the San Jose, California area and cut underground fiber optic cables. The sabotage led to widespread disruption of phone service -- including tens of thousands of land lines, an undetermined number of cell phones, Internet access and 911 emergency service -- in southern Santa Clara County, as well as in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. San Jose is the county seat of Santa Clara County. With the infrastructure disabled, local Emergency Management officials called on ham radio operators in their communities to provide back-up communications. According to the "San Jose Mercury News," Santa Clara County called a local state of emergency, "but worst-case scenarios were successfully avoided through use of ham radios, door-to-door checks and extra-vigilant patrols" <>.

In Santa Cruz County, just over the Santa Cruz Mountains from San Jose, Santa Cruz County District Emergency Coordinator Cap Pennell, KE6AFE, was awoken just after 5 AM on April 9 by uniformed police at his door. Sent by Dominican Hospital President Nanette Mickiewicz, the police officers escorted Pennell to the hospital for a brief on this situation: The fiber optic lines that had been cut in San Jose had affected the Santa Cruz hospital's communications infrastructure, cutting off communications from the hospital to the outside world. Santa Cruz is located on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay, about 70 miles south of San Francisco.

"While I was meeting with hospital department heads, Bob Wolbert, K6XX, had started our ARES Resource Net on the W6WLS/W6MOW linked repeaters," Pennell told the ARRL. "During the briefing, the hospital determined to implement HICS/SEMS for this emergency. There hadn't been telephones or Internet anywhere since about 2:30 AM. The hospital's phone system did work, but only within the hospital. Their internal computer local area network wasn't working either, so they were instantly on a 'paper system.'"

By 6:15, Pennell said they had established tactical radio links on the K6BJ/KI6EH linked repeaters between the Dominican Hospital Emergency Operations Center in Santa Cruz and the Watsonville Community Hospital emergency room; Watsonville is about 15 miles south of Santa Cruz via the Pacific Coast Highway. "We established HEARNET 155.385 simplex between both hospital ERs and County 911; HEARNET is the Hospital Emergency Administrative Radio Network. Once HEARNET (ER staff) and K6BJ repeater (hams) were staffed and operating at both hospitals, I left the hospital to become our initial ham operator at the County Emergency Operations Center and operated as ARES/ACS shift supervisor from there for the rest of the day," Pennell reported.

Throughout the day, Pennell said that hams -- including some in Monterey County who had been working telephones -- helped dispatch ambulances, conferred with the Poison Center on a children's poisoning case, ordered replacement blood supplies for two hospitals from San Jose Red Cross, relayed a complex major "whole hospital" day's food order to the supplier out of county, tracked down various doctors for emergency consultations and shared status updates from our area. "We did all this while in unity with the County government, public safety agencies and California Emergency Management Agency's Coastal Region," he said. "Greg Smith of Cal-EMA <> spent the day in the Santa Cruz EOC with us." All service was restored by 12:15 AM on Friday, April 10.

NETCOM, the dispatch center for most police and fire agencies in Santa Cruz County, was able to receive 911 calls placed from land lines, but could not receive calls placed from cell phones, said Santa Cruz County Senior Dispatcher Stephanie Zube. "Because the only phone number many land line phone owners could call was 911," she said the center received "countless calls" regarding the blackout: "At least several people attempted to call 911 before driving themselves to the emergency room. A lady in Gilroy fled her home when a robber broke in, and couldn't call 911 before fleeing to a nearby firehouse."

Vandalism Takes Out System

San Jose and San Carlos police are joined in their investigation of the cut fiber optic cables -- now considered by authorities to be a coordinated act of sabotage -- by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and the FBI. The investigation also includes members of AT&T's security force, a handful of trained investigators working for the company. Authorities said on April 10 that evidence collection was complete, but would not elaborate on what exactly what they are examining or whether new security measures are in place to prevent similar acts of destruction.

San Jose police reported receiving about 10 tips concerning the sabotage; San Carlos police told the "Mercury News" that they were examining video surveillance of a major intersection near one of the four locations where AT&T's underground fiber-optic cables were sliced early Thursday morning.

On April 11, AT&T issued a $100,000 reward for information, but bumped up the reward to $250,000 the next day when it discovered that the damage was more serious than originally thought. According to the Daily Tech, some banks in the area were forced to close temporarily, while all service was disabled and hand-written receipts were offered to customers. Many businesses also were forced to either accept cash or close for a few hours, since credit card and ATM transactions were unavailable <>.

Authorities say the communications sabotage occurred in two separate incidents, one at 1:30 AM in south San Jose and the other two hours later in San Carlos. Several companies, such as Verizon, "piggy back" on the AT&T-owned cables. AT&T spokesman John Britton told the "Mercury News" <> that it appears vandals opened a manhole and climbed down at least 8 feet to cut four or five fiber optic cables along Monterey Road just north of the Blossom Hill Road exit. The second vandalism was along Old County Road near Bing Street in San Carlos. San Jose police spokesman Sergeant Ronnie Lopez said the manhole covers are heavy and would take quite an effort to lift, perhaps even requiring a tool. Investigators do not have a suspect yet, he said, but have learned "to expect the unexpected. We have some obvious clues and can assume some things," but a motive remains elusive <>.

Community Leaders Praise Hams

Gilroy, the southernmost city in Santa Clara County, was also affected. City Administrator/Director of Emergency Services Thomas J. Haglund expressed his thanks to the Amateur Radio operators who assisted with communications support, saying, "This particular emergency situation underscores that our reliance on technology should be balanced with maintaining the very types of capabilities that you provided to us. Communication is an obvious key to adequately responding to any emergency and the efforts of the Mutual Aid Communicators and the Gilroy Police VIP's provided the necessary communication and public visibility in this instance and demonstrated just how important your training and skill is to our community. Thank you very much for your dedication and expertise."

Gilroy Police Chief Denise Turner echoed Haglund's comments: "We truly appreciated all of your help during this challenging event! Each of you played a key role in a successful operation. I feel better knowing we have dedicated volunteers like you that will come to our aid in time of need! Thank you!" -- Some information provided by "The San Jose Mercury News" and "The Daily Tech"


On March 24, 2009, the FCC invited comments from interested parties concerning the Commission's consultative role in the broadband provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) <>. In the Recovery Act, Congress assigned grant and loanmaking responsibilities to the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). On April 13, the ARRL, through General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, submitted comments <> that expressed concern as "the threshold for what constitutes 'broadband' is a critical determination that will inevitably determine the success or failure of the [Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program] BTOP <> program going forward."

In the League's comments to the FCC, the ARRL asked the Commission to adopt as the definition of broadband "those technologies capable of the minimum threshold bidirectional speeds [as recommended in the ARRL's comments], without variation among the type of broadband technology under consideration, as a minimum threshold in order to be considered for grants or loans of public funds."

While the FCC has no funds under the Recovery Act for grant or loanmaking, it does, however, have what the Commission describes as "an important role to play in providing expert, technical advice to the NTIA" as it establishes the BTOP, "and the Commission may also provide expert, technical advice to RUS as it proceeds with its own programs."

Imlay pointed out to the Commission that the ARRL actively participates in the Committee for Communications Policy of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA (IEEE-USA CCP), "which has engaged in considerable discussion of universal access to high-speed broadband networks, and in particular, broadband definitions and target goals for broadband deployment" <>.

He told the Commission that the ARRL "wholeheartedly concurs" with that organization's views on broadband technologies, as detailed in its position statement, 'Nationwide High Speed Broadband Data Services,' that says "The most important short-term goal is broadening ubiquitous availability [of broadband]. Data rates should be sufficient to provide the equivalent of several channels of bidirectional, high resolution video, achievable by expanding the capabilities of current technologies" <>.

The IEEE also says that it "initially advocates" the achievement of at least 20 Mb/s bidirectional speed with 90 percent availability throughout the nation within five years. "The wide penetration of such speeds will achieve most of the expected benefits and accommodate numerous simultaneous applications per household or small business. Of course, greater speeds can be had by those with greater needs. We further advocate the achievement of at least 100 Mb/s bidirectional speed with availability to all businesses and households within 10 years. The technology necessary to meet this goal is scalable to almost any future need at inexpensive upgrade costs."

Imlay said that IEEE-USA's position statement concludes that there are "two overarching goals for nationwide high-speed broadband networks: widespread availability and high performance." In providing public funds to achieve widespread availability, Imlay stated that the FCC, NTIA and the RUS should ensure that high performance should not be set aside to achieve that goal. "This," he told the Commission, "to ARRL, means the establishment of a floor for throughput of at least 20 Mb/s bidirectional speed for funding of broadband systems to be developed between now and 2014, and 100 Mb/s bidirectional speed for those systems to be implemented between 2014 and 2019. Expenditure of public funds should be limited to the technologies that can meet these goals."

The IEEE-USA statement also notes, Imlay explained to the Commission, that the FCC's recently adopted definition of broadband speed "is a series of tiers, starting as low as 768 kb/s. As noted in the statement, this is woefully inadequate to perform even current computing applications." Imlay called for an elimination of tiers "at least for purposes of determining what broadband technologies should be funded with public funds."

Imlay, in his comments, said that the "most urgent" of the FCC's "consultative issues with the NTIA" involve defining just what broadband is. "The Commission is obligated pursuant to the Recovery Act to consult with NTIA on the establishment of a national broadband service deployment and expansion program, and the NTIA is obligated, through the BTOP program, to provide access to broadband service to consumers residing in unserved areas," he said. "It is not useful in the expenditure of large sums of Recovery Act funds to promote broadband technologies that do not include the capabilities needed by individuals and businesses located in rural or underserved areas. Therefore, the threshold for what constitutes 'broadband' is a critical determination that will inevitably determine the success or failure of the BTOP program going forward."

The ARRL recognizes that the FCC has struggled with this definition for some time, Imlay wrote: "Indeed, in the Notice of Inquiry in Docket 09-51, FCC 09-31, released April 8, 2009 (at ¶15-16), the Commission stated that 'Broadband can be defined in myriad ways. In order to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability, we must make sure that the Commission appropriately identifies goals and benchmarks in this regard...In addition, to the extent that broadband is defined by 'speed,' should the Commission consider raising the speeds that define broadband? Should we distinguish among the various broadband technologies?" <>

Imlay said that it is the ARRL's position that the definition of "broadband" should include an "absolute lower threshold, minimum bidirectional speed. It should not be a variable concept determined by technology. To do otherwise is to provide grants and loans of public funds to technologies whose benefits are, in the medium term, inadequate and which might, for example, render businesses in rural areas less competitive than those located in urban areas. It is, in other words, not useful to fund the creation of infrastructure that will be obsolete in the near term or less useful than other technologies which provide greater speeds. That simply perpetuates the status quo, where there will still, going forward, be adequately served and underserved areas. The status quo is quite obviously unacceptable to Congress, and it should be.


The May issue of QST has left for the printer and is speeding toward your mailbox. This issue -- with its cover featuring the 2009 ARRL National Convention and the Dayton Hamvention -- is jam-packed with all sorts of things that today's Amateur Radio operator needs. From product reviews to experiments to contesting, the upcoming issue of QST has something for just about everyone.

In the May issue, Dwight Merkley, N7KBC, shows a way to see what's happening at night on your mobile radio in his article "See Your Mobile Controls at Night with Superbright LEDs." Discover another way to talk on your radio in "A Cell Phone Headset Adapter for Amateur Radio" by Geoff Haines, N1GY. Is your antenna beam pointed at the best possible elevation for the contacts you want to make? Find out in the article "What's the Best Height for My HF Beam?" by Steve Hunt, G3TXQ.

If you're excited about the 2009 ARRL National Convention and the Dayton Hamvention, you're definitely not alone! Catch up on all the latest happenings at these events in S. Khrystyne Keane's, K1SFA, article, "Something for Everyone at the 2009 ARRL National Convention." ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, gives readers a glimpse into the life of Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, son of US astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL. Find out in the May QST how you can meet Richard in Dayton at the ARRL EXPO.

If you like the competitive spirit of radiosport, but you have a hankering for the big outdoors, why not try ARDF, or Amateur Radio Direction Finding? ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, explores the world of ARDF in "This Month in Contesting." According to Kutzko, all you need to get started in competitive ARDF is "your running shows, a set of headphones attached to a receiver, a map or compass and a small handheld directional receiver. Now run through a course in a forest or on a trail, and try to find several hidden transmitters as fast as possible." Kelly Taylor, VE4XT, reports on the results of the 2008 ARRL CW Sweepstakes in this issue.

ARRL Contributing Author Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, reviews Kenwood's RC-D710 Control Head/TNC. According to Pearce, the RC-D710 "upgrades the TM-V71A transceiver to add packet radio and APRS capabilities identical to Kenwood's TM-D710A transceiver, and it can be used with other radios as a stand-alone TNC." Be sure to also check out the reviews by ARRL Technical Advisor Bruce Prior, N7RR, on portable dual-lever keyer paddles, also in the May issue.

Of course, there are the usual columns you know and love in the May QST: Hints & Kinks, The Doctor Is IN, How's DX, Vintage Radio, Hamspeak and more. Look for your May issue of QST in your mailbox. QST is the official journal of ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. QST is just one of the many benefits of ARRL membership. To join or renew your ARRL membership, please see the ARRL Web page <>.


In April, the ARRL Foundation Board of Directors <> voted unanimously to award the prestigious William R. Goldfarb Memorial Scholarship to Dean LaBarba, KI6CUX, of Long Beach, California. LaBarba will graduate from Woodrow Wilson High School this year with a GPA of 4.0. According to ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, upon graduation, LaBarba will more than meet the course requirements with 50 hours of honors and Advanced Placement credits.

LaBarba holds a Technician class license that in 2005 led him to participation in the Amateur Radio Emergency Communication (AREC) team at his high school; since 2007, he has served as president. The mobile Amateur Radio station at Wilson High School is the only high school emergency team in Long Beach. Hobart said that LaBarba took the "extra initiative" to display and demonstrate the mobile radio station at the district science fair, explaining to the public the role that Amateur Radio plays in community safety. LaBarba also spends considerable time coordinating Amateur Radio activities, including Field Day, with the local community.

In addition to his Amateur Radio activities, LaBarba is active in the Symphony and Symphonic Orchestra where he is seated as principal trombone. He also participates in the school speech and debate team. From an early age, LaBarba -- who will be attending Westmont College <> in Santa Barbara, California -- has had a keen interest in medicine and intends to pursue a career in neurology.

The Goldfarb Scholarship is the result of a generous endowment from the late William Goldfarb, N2ITP. Before his death in 1997, Goldfarb set up a scholarship endowment of close to $1 million in memory of his parents, Albert and Dorothy Goldfarb. Awarded to one high school senior each year, the Goldfarb Scholarship assists the recipient to receive a four-year undergraduate degree in engineering or science or in the medical or business-related fields. The terms of reference of the generous Goldfarb scholarship award require that recipients demonstrate financial need and significant involvement with Amateur Radio, in addition to high academic performance. The seventh Goldfarb Scholarship winner, LaBarba continues the tradition of prior recipients, demonstrating superior academic performance, outstanding leadership and extraordinary Amateur Radio and community service.

More information on the Goldfarb Scholarship is available on the ARRL Web site <>. Applications for the Goldfarb Scholarship and other ARRL Foundation Scholarships are accepted each year beginning October 1 and ending February 1 for the academic year that starts the following August/September.


As tornados swept through the southeastern part of the country on April 10, hams in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia were on the air providing assistance to the National Weather Service (NWS) <>.

In Alabama, hams in Madison, Shelby and Calhoun Counties activated SKYWARN Nets. According to Madison County Emergency Coordinator Rolf Goedhart, K4RGG storm spotters in that county were quite active on their Net. "At 12:37, at the request of the Madison County Emergency Operations Center and in response to a tornado watch, we formally activated the Madison County Emergency Net," Goedhart told the ARRL. "For about an hour and a half, there was virtually no dead air, either on the SKYWARN net or the Madison County Emergency Net. In fact, reports were flowing fast enough to make one pause, deciding when or even whether to call NCS with a report." Goedhart said that Hilton, at the Huntsville NWS amateur station, estimated handling more than 200 reports from the northern counties of the state in the nine hours that the Net was open.

In Tennessee, members of the Heart of Tennessee (HOT) ARES <> started an NWS SKYWARN Net at 12:18 PM as the storms approached. "Amateur operators relayed storm damage information to NWS for evaluation in determining tornado strength in the area," Rutherford County Emergency Coordinator Keith Miller, N9DGK, told the ARRL. "ARES members were monitoring the developing line of storms as watches and warnings were issued in the adjacent counties in the Middle Tennessee area."

Miller said that since primary communications for police departments, fire departments, Emergency Medical Service, County Sheriff or County Emergency Management Agency were not lost, backup communication was not required per the County EMA Director. His ARES group did not receive any requests to staff emergency shelters.

ARRL Georgia Section Emergency Coordinator Gene Clark, W4AYK, told the ARRL that hams in Gwinnett County activated a SKYWARN Net at 4:30 PM on April 10. "According to plan, a de-centralized Net Control function was used, with the Net Manager coordinating weather spotter reports to the NWS office in Peachtree City," he said. "Forty-one amateurs reported seven different reportable weather situations to the NWS."

In Newton County, Emergency Coordinator Charles Davis, WA4UJC, activated a weather Net at 8 PM. Ten operators from different areas of the county, as well as from adjacent counties, participated in the Net, reporting golf ball-sized hail and heavy rain. "When power went out for three hours due to a broken power pole on the west side of the county, the Net continued with hams using mobile transceivers and backup power," Clark explained. "The power outage caused us to lose repeater capabilities, so the hams relied on simplex. Using backup power, they contacted a linked repeater system and maintained communication with the NWS until securing at 11:15 that night."

Arkansas hams were busy with the storm, too. At 7:24 PM CDT, the NWS issued a tornado warning for areas north of the Arkansas town of Mena in Polk County; at 8:01 PM CDT, the warning was extended into Mena. Nine minutes later, an EF-3 tornado struck the city, killing three people.

According to ARRL Arkansas Section Emergency Coordinator John Nordlund, AD5FU, members of the Central Arkansas UHF Group (CAUHF) <> provided real-time reports to the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock and to media outlets around the state. "The Group used the AR-Links SKYWARN net and the WarnIM system," Nordlund said. WarnIM is a SKYWARN instant messenger system serving to give those with or without ham radio access, or those who are in remote areas an additional means of communication in times of emergencies or severe weather events. Its features include live chat and access to updated radar data directly from the NWS.

"When the net closed at the end of the severe weather outbreak, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist John Robinson stated on the WarnIM system that the North Little Rock NWS office had never had so much timely storm report information before," Nordlund said.

Nordlund visited Mena on April 11 and noted that the local ham operators are participating in any emergency tasks that are assigned to them -- based on their training and certifications -- and are using simplex ham radio frequencies primarily to avoid additional loading of public safety frequencies as they carry out those assignments. "The damage path [of the tornado] is a striking example of the power of nature," he said. "The recovery effort of community volunteers is inspiring. This is another fine example of a local ham group that has their ducks lined up and on parade when it really counts."


One of the many highlights at Dayton Hamvention is the myriad of educational and fun forums that take place the entire weekend at Hara Arena. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has coordinated 45 unique programs that encompass nearly 80 hours of programs and activities for the thousands of people expected to attend these programs. Hamvention, the largest event of its kind, will be May 15-17 at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio. Please keep in mind that the schedule may change before Hamvention.

Friday, May 15
9:15-11:15 -- TAPR Digital Forum (Room 1)
9:15-10:15 -- Engineering Manuals (Room 2)
9:15-10:15 -- Kit Building (Room 3)
9:15-10:15 -- QRP (Room 5)
10:30-12 -- Drake Forum (Room 2)
10:30-12 - Teachers Workshop (Room 3)
10:30-11:30 -- ARRL Field Day (Room 5)
11:30-12:30 -- APRS Forum (Room 1)
11:45-12:45 -- QSL Cards (Room 5)
12:15-1:15 -- ARRL, The Doctor Is IN (Room 2)
12:15-2 -- Ham Radio and the Law (Room 3)
12:45-2:15 -- D-STAR Forum (Room 1)
1-2:15 -- Alternative Energy Forum (Room 5)
1:30-2:30 -- ARRL, Public Relations (Room 2)
2:15-3:30 -- Gordon West (Room 3)
2:30-5 -- Antenna Forum (Room 1)
2:30-5 -- Software defined Radio (Room 5)
2:45-3:45 -- Foxhunting Forum (Room 2)
3:45-5 -- Techniques of the Best Operators (Room 3)
4-5 -- County Hunting Forum (Room 2)

Saturday, May 16
9:15-11:15 -- Contesting Forum (Room 1)
9:15-10:15 -- SATERN Forum (Room 2)
9:15-10:15 - Lightning Grounding Forum (Room 3)
9:15-11:00 - VHF/UHF/Microwave Forum (Room 5)
10:30-11:30 -- ARRL Members Forum (Room 2)
10:30-11:45 -- Heil Sound (Room 3)
11:15-1:30 -- AMSAT Forum (Room 5)
11:30-1:15 -- Youth Forum (Room 1)
11:45-2 -- Newsline Town Meeting (Room 2)
12-1 -- RTTY Forum (Room 3)
1:15-2:15 -- ARRL, Digital Contesting (Room 3)
1:30-2:30 - ARRL Presents Richard Garriott, W5KWQ (Room 1)
1:45-3 -- SSTV Forum (Room 5)
2:15-3:15 -- FCC Forum (Room 2) 
2:30-3:30 -- ARES Forum (Room 3)
2:45-5 -- DX Forum (Room 1)
3:15-5 -- MARS Forum (Room 5)
3:30-5 -- ATV Forum (Room 2)
3:45-5 -- Collins Forum (Room 3)

Sunday, May 17
9:15-10:15 -- Red Cross Forum (Room 1)
9:15-11 -- QCWA Forum (Room 2)
9:15-10:15 -- Volunteers and EmComm Forum (Room 3)
9:30-11:15 - Bicycle Mobile Forum (Room 5)
10:30-11:30 - When All Else Fails, South Carolina Is Ready (Room 1)
For more information on forums at the 2009 Dayton Hamvention, please visit the Dayton Hamvention Web site <>.


Tad "The Sun is hot on my neck as I observe" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: Still no sunspots, and again we saw a prediction for slightly higher solar flux slip away. Sunspot numbers for April 9-15 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and 0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7 cm flux was 70.1, 69.4, 69.3, 69.3, 68.4, 69.4 and 69.4 with a mean of 69.3. The estimated planetary A indices were 12, 8, 9, 8, 4, 2 and 3 with a mean of 6.6. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 9, 6, 7, 4, 3, 1 and 2 with a mean of 4.6. 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 Edna St Vincent Millay's "Spring" <>.



* This Week on the Radio: This week, the NCCC Sprint Ladder is on April 17. Be sure to check out the Holyland DX Contest, the TARA Skirmish Digital Prefix Contest, the ES Open HF Championship and the Feld Hell Sprint on April 18. The Michigan QSO Party, the Ontario QSO Party and the YU DX Contest are April 18-19. The Run for the Bacon QRP Contest is April 20. The SKCC Sprint and the 432 MHz Spring Sprint are April 22 (the 432 MHz Sprint is local time). Look for another NCCC Sprint Ladder next week on April 24. The Florida QSO Party, the Nebraska QSO Party and the SP DX RTTY Contest are all on April 25-26. 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, May 3, 2009 for these online course sessions beginning on Friday, May 15, 2009: 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 <>;.

* No ARRL Audio News April 24: There will be no ARRL Audio News on Friday, April 24. The ARRL Letter will be distributed that day. The ARRL Audio News will return for May 1 and 8, but will be on hiatus on May 15 due to the Dayton Hamvention. The Audio News will resume regular distribution on May 22.

* Italy Discontinues HF Earthquake Net: On April 10, Italy's Dipartimento della Protezione Civile announced they had closed down all organized emergency communications support on HF frequencies that had been set up after the April 6 earthquake that struck the town of L'Aquila. The ARRL reported that two HF frequencies -- 7045 and 3640 kHz -- were being kept clear of regular traffic so that they could be utilized for any communications support needed in the aftermath of the quake <>. "There do not appear to be any other emergency groups using [7045 kHz]," said IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator Greg Mossop, G0DUB, "so it is appropriate to return it to normal use and let normal amateur procedures apply: Listen before transmitting, and if you hear any station passing emergency traffic, leave the frequency clear and avoid causing interference." Mossop said that a large number of Amateur Radio responders are still present from the different emergency communications groups in the country.


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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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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1. From the Inbox view, select the Tools menu and the Options selection.

2. Click the Read tab

3. Check the Read All Messages In Plain Text box.  When you open the e-mail, it will be in plain text without images. Other e-mail programs may be able to make a Mail Rule for e-mail received from the address so that the plain-text-only display is selected automatically.

Outlook 2007

Use the same procedure as for Outlook Express, although the global option is under "Tools/Trust Center/E-mail Security".


Use the menu item "View/Message Body As/Plain Text" or "View/Message Source" options.

OS X Mail (Mac)

Use the "View/Message/Plain Text Alternative" menu item.


Use the "Message text garbled?" link in the drop-down menu at the upper right of the displayed message block. pine, alpine Set "prefer-plain-text" in your ~/.pinerc configuration file: feature-list=..., prefer-plain-text, ...


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