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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 28, No. 37
September 18, 2009


* + Changes in Store for The ARRL Letter 
* + New Product Review Tests to Begin in October QST 
* + Nominations Now Being Accepted for the George Hart Distinguished
Service Award 
* + Part 2 of the 10 GHz and Up Contest Is This Weekend 
* + Smithsonian Curator to Speak at AMSAT-NA Banquet 
*   ARRL Membership Newsletters, Bulletins and Notifications 
*  Solar Update 
      This Week on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + ARRL/TAPR Digital Communication Conference Next Weekend 
    + Don't Forget to Send Your /140 QSLs! 
      Alpha Radio Products Now RF Concepts 
      South African Amateur Radio Payload Reaches Orbit 

+Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

***Starting September 24, The ARRL Letter will be distributed and posted
***to the ARRL Web site on Thursdays (moving from Fridays). 

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

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


After asking for feedback from ARRL Letter subscribers and reviewing
surveys sent to ARRL members, we are changing the way you receive The
ARRL Letter. Starting in two weeks -- October 1 -- The ARRL Letter will
be available to subscribers in an HTML formatted version. Of course,
those members who do not wish to receive the HTML version can click on a
link to view the Letter on the ARRL Web site. In addition, The ARRL
Letter will be distributed on Thursdays beginning September 24.

According to ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, this new format
will allow for more graphics and pictures, as well as occasional
articles that feature the technical side of Amateur Radio. We will also
be running portions of popular QST features, such as "The Doctor Is IN"
and "Hints & Kinks." 

"I am very excited about presenting The ARRL Letter in a completely new
format," Keane said. "Not only will we be able to add features such as
pictures and video, but by offering the Letter in HTML, readers will be
able to navigate directly to those stories they are most interested in.
The ARRL already offers two other newsletters -- The ARRL Contest Update
and The ARRL ARES E-Letter -- in an HTML version. We have received a lot
of positive feedback on these two newsletters."

The ARRL Letter first appeared in 1981 as a print publication, available
by subscription from the League. In 1991 -- following the technology of
the day -- it moved from being a print publication to being published
electronically and sent via e-mail as a free service to ARRL members.
"Now, once again, we at the ARRL are following technology's path and
publishing The ARRL Letter in a new way, moving from plain text to a
graphically pleasing interface," Keane explained.

We think you will enjoy this new format, and we welcome your comments.
Tell us what you like -- and don't like -- by sending an e-mail to Keane
<>;, with "ARRL Letter Feedback" in the subject line.


When you peruse the October issue of QST, you may notice a few extra
lines in the Product Review data. "Here at the ARRL Lab, we strive to
make our test procedures relevant to current technology and to new
features common on today's transceivers," said ARRL Test Engineer Bob
Allison, WB1GCM. "We continue to research ways to improve our testing
and to develop new tests that will benefit our members. I hope you will
find these new measurements useful in evaluating and comparing

* Receiver Sensitivity (MDS) at 137 and 505 kHz
Several countries now give amateurs permission to operate at and around
137 and 505 kHz. In the US, there is activity on 495 to 510 kHz by more
than 20 stations around the country operating under the ARRL sponsored
WD2XSH experimental license. In addition, there are other Part 15
experimental licensees operating in this range. The WD2XSH stations are
on the air regularly, gathering propagation data. They are always
looking for signal reports. 

Allison said that with many of today's transceivers and a suitable
antenna, you can listen for these experimental stations and submit
reception reports via the Web site: "The new Product Review tests will
help identify transceivers suitable for use on these frequencies. With
equipment built over the last 25 years ago or so, I've noticed a wide
variety of available sensitivity, from terrible to quite good. Many
receivers tune to 137 and 505 kHz; not all are proficient at receiving
signals there. For you 'lowfers,' this measurement is for you."

* Spectral Sensitivity
Spectral sensitivity is the weakest signal that can be "seen" on a
visual display of spectrum above and below the operating frequency.
Often called a spectrum scope or panadapter, this feature is included on
many mid-range and high-end transceivers. "This data represents the
level, in dBm, at which the operator can see a signal poke up out of the
display noise floor," Allison explained. "Although the measurement is
somewhat subjective, it works out to be about 3 dB above the noise floor
at the bottom of the display when the scope is adjusted to show 100 kHz
of spectrum. With software-defined receivers (SDRs), such as the
FLEX-3000, the sample rate is set to the highest setting."

* Audio Output THD at 1 V RMS
Allison said that one of the ARRL Technical Advisors posed the question,
"Who ever listens to their receiver at full volume?" Allison explained
that audio output power and THD (total harmonic distortion) at the
specified load impedances as specified by the manufacturer have been
tested and reported. "Generally, the specification is at or near the
maximum audio output the receiver is capable of," he said. "If severe
hearing loss isn't an issue, we normally listen with the volume control
set to around the 9 o'clock to 11 o'clock position on most transceivers
and not with the control cranked to maximum."

Allison explained that distortion at normal listening levels is an
important factor, especially when you are listening for an extended
period of time: "High levels of distortion can make signals more
difficult to understand and add to fatigue. We'll continue to measure
and report how audio output power and THD compare to manufacturers'
specifications, but we have added a new test intended to show distortion
at more typical volume levels." 

After testing several radios for comfort, Allison picked 1 V RMS as an
output level for the new test. "It's an easy figure to remember," he
said. "We will now also report THD at this level. Note that this test
will appear with the next transceiver reviewed because the FLEX-3000 has
only a low-level audio output and is dependent on external,
user-supplied devices to amplify the audio to normal listening levels."

Look for these new tests beginning with October's QST Product Review
featuring the FLEX-3000. 


At its July 2009 meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors established the
George Hart Distinguished Service Award to be given to an ARRL member
whose service to the League's Field Organization is of the most
exemplary nature. The Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of
George Hart, W1NJM, long-time Communications Manager at ARRL
Headquarters and chief developer of the National Traffic System (NTS)
<>. Upon learning that the
ARRL Board of Directors had established this award named after him, Hart
called his namesake award "a great honor."

Selection criteria include: 
* Operating record with the National Traffic System; or 
* Participation within the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES); or 
* Station appointments and/or leadership positions held within the ARRL
Field Organization. 

Nominations for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award shall be
accepted from anyone and shall be submitted to the Membership and
Volunteer Programs Manager at ARRL HQ by November 1. Nominations should
document as thoroughly as possible the nominee's lifetime activities and
achievements within the Field Organization. It is expected that
nominated candidates will have 15 or more years of distinguished
service. The Programs and Services Committee will serve as the Review
Committee, with the Board of Directors making the final determination at
its Annual Meeting in January. Recipients will be given an engraved
plaque and cover letter and will be profiled in QST. 

Nominations for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award, including
any related supporting material and letters of recommendation, may be
e-mailed to ARRL Headquarters to the attention of ARRL Membership and
Volunteer Programs Manager Dave Patton, NN1N <>;, or to ARRL
Field and Public Service Team Supervisor Steve Ewald, WV1X
<>;. Nominations and supporting materials must be received
no later than November 1, 2009 to be considered.


This weekend brings the second leg of the 2009 ARRL 10 GHz and Up
Contest <>. If you
enjoy the technical side of Amateur Radio and being on the cutting edge,
this weekend gives you a perfect chance to explore the microwave portion
of the radio spectrum!

The contest period starts at 6 AM (local time) Saturday, running until
midnight (local time) Sunday. According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager
Sean Kutzko, KX9X, QSO points are awarded based on the distance of a
QSO. "Operating from several locations during the contest period is not
only allowed, it's even encouraged," he said. "Most people use SSB,
although some CW is used, too. Power levels are relatively low compared
to HF; most stations run several hundred milliwatts. A station running a
few watts is considered a 'Big Gun.' Antennas are usually dishes, like
those used for receiving satellite TV."

Kutzko explained that many QSOs are completed on the microwave bands by
bouncing signals off of other objects, such as mountains, buildings and
even raindrops! You can also get lucky and catch a good tropospheric
opening, he said, explaining that in the 2007 contest, a ham on the West
Coast made a QSO of 907.2 miles on 10 GHz between his location in
California and Mexico.

"If you have a person in your area that is interested in the microwave
bands, ask if you can tag along and observe," Kutzko advised. "If you
live in an area that has a microwave club -- such as the North Texas
Microwave Society, the North East Weak Signal Group, the Mt Airy VHF
Club and several others -- find out what their members are doing for the
contest. Elmering is a big part of the microwave groups, and they are
only too happy to introduce you to their fun."

Logs for the 2009 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest can be e-mailed
<>;. Paper logs should be sent to ARRL 10 GHz and Up
Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. All logs must be postmarked
no later than 2359 UTC Tuesday, October 20.


Dr Martin Collins, a curator in the Space History Division at the
Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington
<>, will be the featured speaker at the AMSAT-NA
Symposium banquet on Saturday, October 10, at the Four Points Sheraton
Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport
<>. The title of
his presentation will be "Making the Space Age: The First 50 Years."

Dr Collins curates the National Air and Space Museum's civilian
applications satellites collection that includes weather, remote sensing
and communications satellites and related technologies. He has
contributed to a series of Museum exhibits and was primary author of the
exhibition catalog "Space Race: The US-USSR Competition to Reach the

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Sputnik, he was editor of the
book "After Sputnik: 50 Years of the Space Age"
<> that
included text and photos on the history of Project OSCAR. He was
instrumental in arranging the display of OSCAR 1 at the National Air and
Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, along with the Naval Academy's PCSat
Amateur Radio satellite. He also arranged the acquisition of AMSAT's
MicroSat mechanical test model, just in time for AMSAT's 35th
Anniversary Annual Meeting. 

The Saturday evening banquet is one of the highlights of this year's
40th anniversary symposium, October 9-11


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 Keplarian 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 "Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing Sun" Cook, K7RA, this
week reports: Sunspot numbers for September 10 through 16 were 0, 0, 0,
0, 0, 0 and 0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7 cm flux was 69.3, 69.3, 69,
69.1, 69, 69.2 and 68.8 with a mean of 69.1. The estimated planetary A
indices were 2, 4, 4, 6, 5, 5 and 6 with a mean of 4.6. The estimated
mid-latitude A indices were 2, 2, 1, 4, 4, 4 and 5 with a mean of 3.1.
Thursday's prediction shows solar flux values at 70 beginning tomorrow,
September 19, and continuing through September 24, then rising to 72
September 25-28. We haven't reported a weekly solar flux average above
70 in this bulletin since May 19, and prior to that there were only four
more weeks above 70 in 2009. These predictions are from NOAA and the US
Air Force, who also predict a planetary A index of 8 for September 18,
and only 5 from September 19 to more than a month after. Geophysical
Institute Prague also predicts nothing but quiet geomagnetic conditions
for September 18-24.. 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 John Keats' "Endymion" <>. 



* This Week on the Radio: This week, the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest is
September 19-20 (local time). Look for two NCCC Sprints this week, one
each on September 18 and 19. The Feld Hell Sprint is September 19. The
South Carolina QSO Party, QRP Afield, the Washington State Salmon Run,
the QCWA Fall QSO Party and the Scandinavian Activity Contest (CW) are
all September 19-20. The North American Sprint (SSB) is September 20.
The Run for the Bacon QRP Contest and the 144 MHz Fall Sprint (local
time) are September 21. The SKCC Sprint is September 23. Next week, look
for another NCCC Sprint on September 25. The Texas QSO Party, the CQ
Worldwide DX Contest (RTTY) and Scandinavian Activity Contest (SSB) are
all September 26-27. QRP Homebrewer Sprint is September 28. 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, October 25, 2009, for these online course sessions
beginning on Friday, November 6, 2009: Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Level 1; Antenna Modeling; Radio Frequency Interference;
Antenna Design and Construction; Ham Radio (Technician) License Course;
Propagation; Analog Electronics, and Digital Electronics. 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 <>;.

* ARRL/TAPR Digital Communication Conference Next Weekend: ARRL and the
Tucson Amateur Packet Radio Group (TAPR) <> will
jointly host the 28th Annual Digital Communications Conference (DCC)
September 25-27 in Chicago <>. The DCC has
something for everyone from those new to digital modes to those
experienced with digital communications including technical and
introductory forums. According to DCC Co-host Mark Thompson, WB9QZB, one
of the highlights of this year's DCC will be Bob Bruninga, WB4APR,
presenting "Universal Ham Radio Text Messaging." The Saturday night
banquet speaker will be Bill Brown, WB8ELK, a pioneer in flying balloons
with payloads including Amateur Radio digital communication
technologies. Brown is the publisher and editor of Amateur Television
Quarterly magazine. ARRL Technical Relations Manager Brennan Price,
N4QX, will be on hand to discuss the upcoming World Radiocommunications
Conference in his talk "WRC-12 Agenda Item 1.19: Shaping the
International Regulatory Framework for Software Defined and Cognitive
Radio Systems." QEX Editor Larry Wolfgang, WR1B
<>, and ARRL Central Division Director Dick
Isely, W9GIG, will also be in attendance. The 2009 DCC forum and speaker
schedule is available online
TAPR provides leadership and resources to radio amateurs for the purpose
of advancing the radio art and is a research and development oriented
group offering kits, assembled products and publications related to the
intersection of Amateur Radio and digital technology.

* Don't Forget to Send Your /140 QSLs!: For seven days -- September 2-9
-- the ARRL celebrated the 140th anniversary of the birth of Hiram Percy
Maxim, the League's co-founder and first president
<>. The highlight
of the week-long celebration was an on-the-air Special Event where
eligible amateurs could add /140 to their call signs, and amateurs who
had more than 25 QSOs (with endorsements in increments of 25, up to 100)
with /140 stations would receive an attractive award certificate. W1AW
Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, reports that so far, more than 200
applications for the certificate have been received, with more arriving
at ARRL HQ every day. "Here at W1AW, the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial
Station, we signed more than 700 QSOs with the /140 Special Event
suffix," Carcia said. "This is a great way to remember 'The Old Man,'
and I know that if he were alive today, he would have been on the air,
enjoying all that Amateur Radio has to offer today's ham." It's not too
late to apply for your award certificate -- all requests must be
postmarked by October 9, 2009. Paper logs, along with a $5 fee, should
be sent to HPM/140 Celebration, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. 

* Alpha Radio Products Now RF Concepts: On September 15, Michael
Seedman, AA6DY, announced that his company, RF Concepts
<>, had purchased Boulder, Colorado-based
Alpha Radio Products <>. Seedman
explained in a press release
<> that when he
contacted Alpha to purchase a new amplifier, he was "disappointed to
learn that I would not receive it for months." He was told that as each
amplifier is made by hand, there was not enough shelf inventory to send
a new one right away. Working with Alpha Products president Molly
Hardman, W0MOM, "we created a way to capitalize the company in order to
put amplifiers in inventory for immediate availability. Customers will
no longer have to wait weeks or months to add an Alpha product to their
station." Seedman said that RF Concepts "will focus on shipping our
backlog of Alpha amplifiers and building sufficient product to ship from
stock. We will honor our existing customer commitments -- including
warranties, customer and technical support and repairs -- and keep our
extensive parts inventories to support the more than 10,000 Alpha
amplifiers in the market." Hardman will be staying on as Vice President
of Sales for RF Concepts.

* South African Amateur Radio Payload Reaches Orbit: After several
delays, South Africa's SumbandilaSat satellite
<> finally blasted to orbit aboard a
Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 16
<>. The main payload is a
multi-spectral imager, but the satellite also carries an Amateur Radio
component consisting of a 2 meter/70 cm FM repeater. After SumbandilaSat
is fully commissioned, the repeater will be activated with an uplink at
145.880 MHz and a downlink at 435.350 MHz; there will also be a voice
beacon at 435.300 MHz. The transponder mode will be controlled by a
CTCSS tone on the uplink frequency. The CTCSS tone frequencies have yet
to be announced. SumbandilaSat was sponsored by the Department of
Science and Technology and was built at SunSpace
<> in cooperation with the Stellenbosch
University <>. In addition to the SA-AMSAT amateur
module, the satellite carries Stellenbosch University's radiation
experiment and software defined radio (SDR) project, an experiment from
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and a VLF radio module from the
University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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
from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for
e-mail delivery: 
ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site
<>. You'll have an opportunity during
registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW
bulletins, and other material. To change these selections--including
delivery of The ARRL Letter--registered members should click on the
"Member Data Page" link (in the Members Only box). Click on "Modify
membership data," check or uncheck the appropriate boxes and/or change
your e-mail address if necessary. (Check "Temporarily disable all
automatically sent email" to temporarily stop all e-mail deliveries.)
Then, click on "Submit modification" to make selections effective.
(NOTE: HQ staff members cannot change your e-mail delivery address. You
must do this yourself via the Members Only Web Site.)

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

* ARRLWeb <>. (NOTE: The ARRL Letter will
be posted each Friday when it is distributed via e-mail.)

* The listserver, thanks to volunteers from the Boston Amateur
Radio Club: Visit Mailing Lists@QTH.Net
<>. (NOTE: The ARRL
cannot assist subscribers who receive The ARRL Letter via this

Copyright 2009 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.

Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):

Editorial questions or comments: John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, at


The ARRL E-Letter e-mail is also available in plain-text version:

Outlook Express

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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