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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
April 14, 2011
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
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+ Available on ARRL Audio News

+ Public Service: Hams Provide Communications Support During West Texas Wildfires

When wildfires swept across the West Texas towns of Fort Davis and Marfa, hams were on hand to provide communications support. [B. John McDaniel, KE5PL, Photo]

On April 9 at 4:15 PM (CDT), ARRL West Texas District 5 Emergency Coordinator Bob Ward, WA5ROE, received a call from Jeff Davis County (Texas) Fire Marshal Stewart Billingsley, N5HXZ. Billingsley informed Ward that a fire had begun in the West Texas town of Marfa and was rapidly approaching Fort Davis, 22 miles to the northeast.

"Stewart asked me to call the National Weather Service to get it on the alert system, as well as the AM and FM radio stations in Alpine," Ward told the ARRL. "He wanted it broadcast over the radio stations that he needed the Mano Prieto and Fort Davis Estates sub-divisions evacuated. People in the area know that when an emergency happens, they need to tune into these stations for the latest information. This was the Rock House Fire. At the same time, another fire, the Roper Fire, had started on the eastern edge of Alpine." Read more here.

+ On the Air: World Amateur Radio Day Set for Monday, April 18

The International Amateur Radio Union and its more than 160 Member-Societies that represent countries around the world will celebrate World Amateur Radio Day on April 18. The theme for this year's celebration is Amateur Radio: The First Technology-Based Social Network. Long before the Internet and smart phones, Amateur Radio operators have been talking, texting and sharing for decades. But unlike those commercial services, Amateur Radio continues to attract people worldwide by providing international communications for free. And because it does not need pre-established supporting infrastructure, these radio-savvy "amateurs" can reach out to friends in every corner of the world, as well as into space. Read more here.

+ On the Air: Ofcom to Issue Special Temporary Call Signs for Royal Wedding

Ofcom is issuing special temporary call signs to British amateurs to commemorate the April 29 nuptials of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton.

If you are a prefix hunter -- or you just get caught up in the pageantry that a Royal Wedding can bring -- then take note: Ofcom, at the request of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), will issue special temporary call signs that British amateurs may use from April 29 through May 9, 2011, commemorating the marriage of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton. Amateurs in the United Kingdom who choose to apply for these special call signs will be using GR, MR and 2R prefixes during this time to commemorate the wedding.

+ From the Hearts: Providing a Way for Others to Communicate with the ISS

These Sacred Hearts students download information and confirm radio frequencies to prepare for a telebridge contact with the International Space Station. [Photo courtesy of Sacred Hearts Academy and NASA]

In America and around the world, students use Amateur Radio to talk to astronauts on the International Space Station, orbiting high above the Earth -- and it's the students at an all-girls school in Honolulu, Hawaii who help make the connection. Sacred Hearts Academy is a telebridge station for the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program (ARISS). ARISS is a NASA-sponsored education activity where astronauts and cosmonauts use Amateur Radio equipment aboard the ISS to talk with students around the world. Telebridge stations, like the one at Sacred Hearts, connect schools, museums and others without their own Amateur Radio equipment to astronauts in space. Read more here.

+ ARRL West Gulf Division to Host Webinar on Antenna Zoning

Periodically, ARRL Divisions will host a "webinar" -- an interactive Web-based seminar, designed to facilitate communication between a small number of presenters and a large remote audience using the Internet -- for interested amateurs. On Wednesday, April 27 at 9 PM (EDT), ARRL West Gulf Division Director David Woolweaver, K5RAV -- along with ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, and noted antenna zoning lawyer Fred Hopengarten, K1VR -- will present Antenna Ordinances, You and the ARRL. 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.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, April 14, 2011 from NASA's SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. This MDI (Michelson Doppler Imager) image was taken in the continuum near the Ni I 6768 Angstrom line. The most prominent features are the sunspots. This is very much how the Sun looks in the visible range of the spectrum.

Tad "She has burst like the music of angels, the light of the Sun" Cook, K7RA, reports: On Wednesday, April 13, we saw a new high in the daily sunspot numbers for Solar Cycle 24 when it hit 153. Seven new sunspot groups emerged over the past week, and sunspot activity (in terms of daily sunspot numbers) hasn't been this high since the declining side of Solar Cycle 23 in mid-2005. The average daily sunspot numbers rose 21.6 points this week to 89.9. The predicted solar flux values from NOAA/USAF for the near term are 120 on April 14-16, 125 on April 17-20, 120 on April 21 and 115 on April 22-23. The planetary A index for the same period is predicted to be 5 on April 14-17, 7 and 10 on April 18-19 and 5 on April 20-23. Geophysical Institute Prague predicts quiet geomagnetic conditions April 15-17, quiet to unsettled April 18, active conditions April 19 and unsettled conditions April 20-21. Considering that the predicted solar flux for today of 125 is higher than yesterday's reported value of 117.8, it is possible that the sunspot number will also be higher, although these numbers don't always move in tandem. 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 In My Life/Heart Full of Love from the musical Les Misérables.

Amateur Radio Fun: New QuickStats Poll Now Available on ARRL Website

Four new poll questions have just been published on the QuickStats page on the ARRL website. Let your voice be heard!

Questions in this month's QuickStats poll:

  • Do you operate HF portable while camping or hiking?
  • Have you earned an ARRL Worked All States award?
  • How old is your oldest transceiver?
  • Do you monitor W1AW transmissions?

Visit the QuickStats page and be sure to bookmark it in your browser. Results from this QuickStats poll will be published in the July 2011 issue of QST on the QuickStats page, located in the rear advertising section of the magazine. Along with monthly poll results, QST QuickStats offers colorful charts and graphs that highlight interesting Amateur Radio statistics.

ARRL Seeks Book Editor

The ARRL is seeking a Book Editor to manage the production of ARRL books and other publications, ensuring that they meet ARRL standards. The successful applicant will be responsible for managing the progress of all book materials through the production process, tracking current book inventory and scheduling reprints or new editions as needed, authoring new books and other materials, and editing and formatting manuscript materials provided by authors to ensure correct grammar, punctuation and style. Applicants must hold an Amateur Radio license, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Journalism or equivalent, and 5 to 10 years of experience as a professional newspaper, book or magazine editor, or corporate technical writer. For more information, including a complete job description and application details, please see the Employment Opportunities page on the ARRL website.

+ Silent Key: Legendary Recording Engineer Roger Nichols, KE4BDA (SK)

Roger Nichols, KE4BDA (SK)

Roger Nichols, KE4BDA, of Jupiter, Florida, passed away on April 9 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 66. Nichols was best known for his work with Steely Dan, whose albums were noted for their pristine sonic clarity. He collected three Grammy Awards -- including one for Album of the Year -- for his work on the duo's 2000 album Two Against Nature. He also received the Grammy for Best Engineered Recording for Steely Dan's albums Aja in 1977, Gaucho in 1981 and their film theme FM (No Static at All) in 1978. Nichols collected another Grammy for his board work on John Denver's All Aboard!, named Best Children's Album for 1997. Read more here.

This Week on the Radio

This 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)

Next week:

  • April 22 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder 0230Z-0300Z, Apr 22
  • April 23-24 -- South Dakota QSO Party; 10-10 International Spring Contest (Digital); SP DX RTTY Contest; Helvetia Contest
  • April 25 -- Low Power Spring Sprint
  • April 27 -- SKCC Sprint; 432 MHz Spring Sprint (local time)
  • April 27-28 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test

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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