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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
April 7, 2011
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


+ Available on ARRL Audio News

+ Japan Suffers Large Aftershock; Tsunami Warning Issued, Lifted

The April 7 quake was centered 41 miles from Sendai -- one of the areas worst hit by last month's 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

A 7.4 magnitude aftershock hit just off the coast of Japan at 11:30 PM JST (1430 UTC) on Thursday, April 7. The epicenter of this earthquake is just 73 miles from the nuclear plant at Fukushima and 41 miles from the epicenter of last month's 9.0 earthquake. As such, Japan's meteorological agency issued, and then lifted, a tsunami warning for a wave of up to 6 feet for the coastal area that has been already torn apart by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. These events are believed to have killed some 25,000 people and have sparked an ongoing crisis at the nuclear power plant. The ARRL asks that you keep 7.030 MHz clear for emergency use. In addition, these frequencies should also be kept clear: 3.525, 7.030, 7.077, 7.087, 7.097, 14.100, 21.200 and 28.200 MHz. -- Thanks to CNN and other sources for the information

+ Amateur Radio in the Classroom: Alabama High Schools Successfully Launch High Altitude Balloon

The view form the high altitude balloon that was jointly launched on April 2 by Pell City High School and St Clair County High School. Both schools are in Alabama.

The Pell City and St Clair County High School's joint balloon launch was a great success. The balloon was launched from the St Clair County Airport in Pell City, Alabama into a brisk wind at 2 PM on April 2. The balloon carried a variety of experiments ranging from materials, plastic sticks, silly putty, several varieties of seed, batteries, film and cameras, radio location equipment and a radio beacon announcing the balloons flight, as well as a collection of worms. The worms were given physicals by a St Clair County High School science class prior to the flight. They returned home in apparent good health and have made reservations for the next flight. The balloon made a rapid and steady ascent to 94,449 feet and, after bursting, landed near Woodbury, Georgia. The balloon landed in the middle of an open field and was quickly retrieved by Amateur Radio operators from the Auburn/Alexander city area. Read more here.

+ Public Service: Bill Smith, K1ARK, Receives National Recognition for Storm Spotting Activities

Bill Smith, K1ARK, is the recipient of the 2011 Bob Kenworthy Community Service Award winner -- given by the College of Sports Information Directors of America -- for his service to SKYWARN and the National Weather Service. [Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas]

It is difficult to imagine the number of hours that Dr Bill Smith, K1ARK, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, logs in his job as the University of Arkansas' Director of New Media for the Razorback Athletics Department. Smith spends countless hours blogging, filming, commentating and handling the social media responsibilities for 19 teams and the department, but he still finds time to assist Washington County residents when dangerous weather conditions arise. Smith has volunteered for the Washington County Department of Emergency Management for more than a decade, assisting with county weather emergency communications. In addition, Smith is the volunteer Public Information Officer for the DEM with Advanced P10 certification from FEMA.

For these efforts, Smith -- an ARRL member -- has been named the Bob Kenworthy Community Service Award winner by the College of Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The Bob Kenworthy Community Service Award is presented annually to a member for civic involvement and accomplishments outside of the sports information office. CoSIDA is a 2700-plus member national organization comprised of the sports public relations, communications and information professionals throughout all levels of collegiate athletics in the United States and Canada. Smith will be honored at the CoSIDA at the organization's annual convention in June. Read more here.

+ Check out the May Issue of QST

The May issue of QST is jam-packed with all sorts of things that today's Amateur Radio operator needs. From product reviews to experiments to contesting -- including a special look at the ARRL EXPO, coming to the Dayton Hamvention® and the ARRL National Convention at Ham-Com in Plano, Texas -- this issue of QST has something for just about everyone.

As amateurs, we get excited when we finally get that new entity, top a previous year's score in a contest, build a new piece of equipment or meet up with an old friend on the air. Why not unleash some of that excitement and introduce kids to Amateur Radio at the same time? Mark Spencer, WA8SME, shows readers how to do just that in his article "A Transmitter for Foxhunting." Build this project that combines the fun of the outdoors with the science and art of radio. With today's rising energy costs, we are all looking for ways to save on those monthly bills. One of the ways to do so is by lassoing the energy of the Sun. In his article "An Emergency Backup Solar Power System," Jim Talens, N3JT, says that after the purchase of some basic hardware, solar power is free -- and independent of the grid.

Three Dutch hams -- Eltje Veen, PA3CEE; Johan Meezen, PE9DX, and René Hasper, PE1L -- ventured to Mauritius to shoot for the moon. Read about their adventure in "3B8EME -- Moonbounce from the Indian Ocean." Join a group of Midwestern teenage hams as they discover what it's like on the other end of the pile-up in "Youth DX Adventure #1" by Don DuBon, N6JRL, and Dave Kalter, KB8OCP. QST Assistant Editor Steve Sant Andrea, AG1YK, decodes RSQ and explains what it means to digital operators in his article "Readability, Strength -- and Quality?"

Take a look at the Kenwood TS-590S HF and 6 meter transceiver (pictured) and the Heil Pro Set Elite headset, featured in the May 2011QST product review. Click here to go to the QST Multimedia page and scroll down to the Product Review video. Click the "Play" button to watch the video.

QST Contributing Editor Ward Silver, N0AX, takes a look at the Kenwood TS-590S HF and 6 meter transceiver in this month's Product Review. He says that this rig "is a compact package of high-performance radio with an exceptional receiver for the price and is well-suited for today's operating modes and styles. It has a useful package of features that are thoughtfully organized and easy to access." QST Technical Editor Joel Hallas, W1ZR, checks out the Heil Pro Set Elite headset. He calls it "a worthy addition to the popular Pro Set line of headsets. It offers comfortable, wider range earphones, combined with a wide range fidelity dynamic microphone element. The mic element is intended to be tailored by radio or external audio equalizers to provide just the desired voice characteristics."

Kelly Taylor, VE4XT, delivers the results of the 2010 ARRL November CW Sweepstakes. For the first time ever in the history of the contest, there's a tie for first place! Jeremy Alexander, W7EME, has the results of the 2010 ARRL International EME Competition, held over three weekends this past September and October. According to Alexander, the 2010 running of the contest generated more than 100 logs with many more stations participating.

Of course, there are the usual columns you know and expect in the May QST: Happenings, Hints & Kinks, The Doctor Is IN, How's DX, Technical Correspondence, Vintage Radio and more. Look for your May issue 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.

+ On the Air: Rev Up the Rookies -- the 2011 SSB Rookie Roundup Is Here!

Newly licensed amateurs will once again be the focus of attention on Sunday, April 17 as the ARRL Rookie Roundup enters its second year. Created to give the budding operator a place to learn about contesting at an easier pace, the ARRL Rookie Roundup is a six hour contest open to all amateurs who have been licensed for three years or fewer. If you were licensed in 2009, 2010 or 2011, you qualify as a Rookie. The Rookie Roundup happens three times each year: SSB in April, RTTY in August and CW in December. Read more here.

ARRL to Change Insurance Company for Equipment Protection, Club Liability Services

On May 1, 2011, the ARRL will begin a new partnership to provide its ARRL-sponsored Equipment Insurance and Club Liability Insurance plans. The League has signed an agreement with Hays Affinity Group to serve as the program administrator to provide equipment insurance to its members who choose to elect coverage. In addition, Hays will also provide club liability insurance to ARRL Affiliated Clubs for those clubs that wish to take advantage of that program. Hays will be replacing Marsh Affinity Group Services as the program's administrator and will be introducing new policies for both plans, underwritten by the Hanover Insurance Company. Read more here.

+ Amateur Radio Fun: Announcing the Winners of the ARRL Video Contest

The winner of the ARRL video contest was the father/daughter team of Frank Callaghan, AC2EE, and Becky Callaghan, KC2YZI, of Cresskill, New Jersey for their video No Communication, No Problem!

With more than 30 videos submitted from all corners of the Earth, the ARRL's production and editorial team had a tough job ahead of them as they sat down to pick the best one. But in the end, these ARRL HQ staff members picked a clear and decisive winner. In December, the ARRL announced that it was looking for ARRL members to shoot and submit videos that showcase how fun and electrifying our hobby can be. Extra points were awarded for videos showing someone -- young or old, licensed or not -- making their first contacts. Videos were judged on their creativity, overall quality and composition, and how well each communicated enthusiasm for Amateur Radio. All videos had to be less than five minutes long. Read more here.

ARRL in Action : What Have We Been Up to Lately?

Compiled by ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA

This feature is a concise monthly update of some of the things ARRL is doing on behalf of its members. This installment -- which covers the month of March -- looks at how the ARRL and its members are responding to HR 607, various filings made by the ARRL to the FCC, the ARRL's Executive Committee meeting, reports from the Official Observer Desk and more. Read more here.

+ FCC News: FCC Launches Complete Overhaul of Website

The Federal Communications Commission announced on April 6 that it has launched a complete overhaul of its website. According to an April 6 press release from the FCC, the new website is "architected with a more intuitive user experience and the addition of Web 2.0 technologies, and improves and simplifies the experience for consumers, government, public safety agencies and the business community." This is the first major update to the Commission's website in 10 years. Read more here.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, April 7, 2011 from NASA's SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. This image was taken at 304 Angstrom; the bright material is at 60,000 to 80,000 Kelvin.

Tad "I walk out into the Sun, I try to find a new day" Cook, K7RA, reports: Our Sun is still quite active, but solar activity is down this week when compared with the week before. The average daily sunspot numbers were down nearly 34 points to 68.3, while the average daily solar flux declined nearly 3 points to 111.8. But geomagnetic activity was quite strong this week, with the planetary A index on April 2 at 20, rising to 26 on April 6. The latest forecast from USAF and NOAA has the solar flux at 117 on April 7-9, 115 on April 10-14, 88, 90, 100 and 115 on April 15-18 and 125 on April 19-27. The predicted planetary A index is 8, 5, 10 and 10 on April 6-9, 5 on April 11-17 and 7 on April 18-20. Geophysical Institute Prague predicts quiet conditions on April 8, quiet to unsettled April 9, unsettled to active April 10, active April 11, unsettled April 12, quiet to unsettled April 13 and back to quiet on April 14. On April 4, NASA released a new solar cycle prediction, and they say this may be the smallest sunspot cycle in 200 years. Look for more information on the ARRL website on Friday, April 8. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by Duran Duran's Careless Memories.

+ ARRL Recognizes: Howard "Skip" Teller, KH6TY, Wins March QST Cover Plaque Award

The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for March is Howard "Skip" Teller, KH6TY, for his article "Digital VOX Sound Card Interface." Congratulations Skip! The QST Cover Plaque award -- given to the author or authors of the best article in each issue -- is determined by a vote of ARRL members on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the April issue today.

+ On the Air: ARRL Frequency Measuring Test Scheduled for Tuesday, April 12

The Frequency Measuring Test (FMT) adds a couple of new wrinkles to the format when it takes to the airwaves on April 12. The first change is that the FMT will be held on Tuesday evening instead of Wednesday. If weeknight schedules have prevented you from participating in past FMTs, this change is for you. The second change is in the sequence of stations transmitting. The new format will mimic a round-table QSO in which all of the stations are close to the same frequency but not exactly on the same frequency. Read more here.

On the Air : NIST to Conduct Time and Frequency User Survey

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Time and Frequency Division is conducting a survey to learn more about its users, seeking to determine how the agency can make its services more useful in the future. NIST services include WWV, WWVH and WWVB, which provide reference time and frequency signals via radio. The NIST also provides the Internet Time Service -- which provides accurate time synchronization to computer systems -- and several other services to offer accurate time information via telephone or web pages. Radio amateurs are encouraged to complete the survey. Read more here.

This Week on the Radio

This week:

  • April 9 -- PODXS 070 Club PSK 31 Flavors Contest (local time); EU Spring Sprint (CW)
  • April 9-10 -- Montana QSO Party; New Mexico QSO Party; Georgia QSO Party; JIDX CW Contest
  • April 10 -- SKCC Weekend Sprint; UBA Spring Contest (SSB)
  • April 11 -- 144 MHz Spring Sprint (local time)
  • April 13 -- NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint
  • April 13-14 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test

Next week:

  • April 15 -- NCCC Sprint
  • April 15-16 -- Holyland DX Contest
  • April 16 -- Feld Hell Sprint; TARA Skirmish Digital Prefix Contest; ES Open HF Championship; EU Spring Sprint (SSB)
  • April 16-17 -- Michigan QSO Party; Ontario QSO Party; YU DX Contest; CQ Manchester Mineira DX Contest; EA-QRP CW Contest
  • April 16-24 -- ARLHS Annual Spring Lites QSO Party
  • April 17 -- ARRL Rookie Roundup (SSB)
  • April 18 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest
  • April 19 -- 222 MHz Spring Sprint (local time)

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 Stations Web page.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State and Division Conventions and Events

To find a convention or hamfest near you, click here.

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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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