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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
May 31, 2012
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


There will be no ARRL Audio News on Thursday, May 31. The Audio News will return on Thursday, June 7.

FCC News: FCC Expands Part 95 MedRadio Rules to Allow Devices in 2360-2400 MHz Band

In a First Report and Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ET 08-59) released on May 24, the FCC decided to expand the Part 95 Personal Radio Service rules to allow medical devices to operate on a secondary basis in the 2360-2400 MHz band. These devices -- called Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) -- provide a way for health care facilities to monitor their patients via wireless networks. Because use of these frequencies will be on a secondary basis, MBAN stations will not be allowed to cause interference to -- and must accept interference from -- primary services, including radio amateurs who operate on a primary basis in the 2390-2395 MHz and 2395-2400 MHz bands. Read more here.

MARS: House Armed Services Committee "Urges" MARS Coordination

On May 18, the US House of Representatives approved HR 4310, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This bill authorizes appropriations for military activities and prescribes military personnel strengths for Fiscal Year 2013. When the House Armed Services Committee sent the bill to the House, it included language in support of the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) and called for the three MARS branches -- Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps -- to be brought under one umbrella. Read more here.

On the Air: Have Some Fun in the 2012 ARRL June VHF QSO Party

Carrie Tai, W6TAI, of Yucca Valley, California, operated in the 2011 ARRL June VHF QSO Party as a rover, working "10 grid squares, 873 miles and lots of multipliers." Read her Soapbox entry at [Photo courtesy of Carrie Tai, W6TAI]

There will be lots of RF generated on 6 meters and up the weekend of June 9-11 during the 2012 ARRL June VHF QSO Party. While many amateurs think of the VHF+ bands as a "local" band for public service, emergency communications or even a bit of fun on FM repeaters, weak-signal VHF+ enthusiasts know better. Even with a modest station, it's possible to work hundreds -- or even thousands -- of miles on the VHF bands during a good opening.

ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, is a big VHF enthusiast. "In more than 25 years of Amateur Radio, weak-signal work on 6 and 2 meters remains the most fun and intriguing activity I do," he said. "There is nothing like a good VHF opening -- with interesting propagation characteristics like Sporadic-E, tropospheric ducting, aurora and even meteor scatter and moonbounce -- VHF offers QSO opportunities that HF can never satisfy." Read more here.

Amateur Radio Fun: Announcing the Winners of the 2012 QST Video Contest

The votes have been tallied for the 2012 QST video contest and the winners chosen!

Erin King, AK4JG, of Columbus, Georgia, sent her MIT acceptance letter up into space via a weather balloon. Her video of the event won first place in the 2012 QST Video Contest. Watch all the winning videos here.

  • First Place, Amateur: Erin King, AK4JG: Erin -- along with her mentor and members of the Columbus (Georgia) Amateur Radio Club (CARC) -- sent a weather balloon and a high-definition video camera to an altitude of over 90,000 feet. They tracked the balloon across the Georgia countryside using APRS and managed to recover the payload from the branches of a towering pine tree. The resulting video is nothing short of spectacular.
  • Second Place, Amateur: Jim Wright, N2GXJ: Jim's video Discovering the Fun does an outstanding job of capturing the thrill of obtaining an Amateur Radio license and then discovering the pleasures of HF digital operating with PSK31. When Jim unfurls his ARRL DX Century Club certificate at the end of the video, you can't help but smile.
  • Third Place, Amateur: Jared Gohlke, N4JMG: Jared chronicles a Rowan Amateur Radio Society (RARS) transmitter hunt among the woods and cotton fields of North Carolina. The result is both informative and humorous. After watching this video you may want to try a "foxhunt" of your own!
  • Professional: Gary Pearce, KN4AQ: Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, is a professional videographer and the creative force behind Amateur Radio Video News (ARVN). Gary took his equipment and crew to the 2012 Orlando Hamcation for a glimpse of one of the most popular Amateur Radio gatherings in the southeastern United States.

You can watch the winning videos in the digital edition of the July issue of QST when it becomes available in a few weeks. If you can't wait, enjoy the videos right now on the web.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, May 31, 2012, 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 "All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, Suns, moons, planets" Cook, K7RA, reports: The average daily sunspot numbers sank more than 28 points this week (nearly 26 percent) to 81.9, while the average daily solar flux declined more than 16 points to 111.6. No new sunspots appeared since May 25. The short term outlook is for lower solar activity, with the solar flux peaking around 120 on June 5-15 and July 1-12. The latest prediction has solar flux at 110 on May 31-June 2, 115 on June 3-4, 120 on June 5-15, then 115 on June 16-18, 110 on June 19-26 and 105 on June 27-28. The predicted planetary A index is 5 on May 31-June 2, then 10, 15, 18, 15 and 8 on June 3-7, 5 on June 8-11, 8 on June 12-13, 5 on June 14-17, and 15, 12 and 8 on June 18-20, and then back down to 5 on June 21-25. Look for more on the ARRL website on Friday, June 1. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (II On the Beach at Night Alone), taken from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (Book XIX, verse 8).

This Week in Radiosport

This week:

  • June 1 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder; HA3NS Sprint Memorial Contest
  • June 2 -- Wake-Up! QRP Sprint
  • June 2-3 -- Alabama QSO Party; Maritime QSO Party; 10-10 International Open Season PSK Contest; SEANET Contest
  • June 5 -- ARS Spartan Sprint

Next week:

  • June 8 -- NCCC Sprint Ladder
  • June 9 -- Portugal Day Contest; Asia-Pacific Sprint (SSB)
  • June 9-10 -- DRCG Long Distance Contest (RTTY); VK Shires Contest; GACW WWSA CW DX Contest; REF DDFM 6 Meter Contest
  • June 9-11 -- ARRL June VHF QSO Party
  • June 13 -- NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint; NAQCC-EU Monthly Sprint
  • June 13-14 -- 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 information. 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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