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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
March 5, 2015
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
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Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 Introduced in Congress

"The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015" -- H.R.1301 -- has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. The measure would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions. US Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced the bill on March 4 with 12 original co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle -- seven Republicans and five Democrats. Kinzinger also sponsored "The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014, which died at the end of the 113th Congress. H.R. 1301 is an essentially identical piece of legislation.

"The introduction of H.R. 1301 with so many original co-sponsors, so early in this session of Congress, is very encouraging," said ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN. "Several additional members of Congress already have agreed to be co-sponsors. This bill has momentum, but introduction is only the first step. Many of the next steps will be taken as ARRL members contact their US Representatives urging co-sponsorship and thanking them as they sign on to the bill."

If Congress approves the legislation, and it is signed by the president, H.R. 1301 would require the FCC to amend its Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply the three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to include homeowners' association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as "covenants, conditions, and restrictions" (CC&Rs). At present, PRB-1 only applies to state and

US Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced "The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015" on March 4.

local zoning laws and ordinances. The FCC has been reluctant to extend the same legal protections to include such private land-use agreements without direction from Congress.

H.R. 1301 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs that panel's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which will consider the measure. The League had worked with Walden on the 2014 bill during the 113th Congress.

Among H.R. 1301 initial co-sponsors is Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT), who attended the ARRL National Centennial Convention last summer to speak with League officials and those attending the event about the earlier bill.

Craigie encouraged ARRL members to urge their US House members to sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor. If the House member is already a co-sponsor, call the member's local office or send an e-mail via the member's official website to express their thanks. She called on League members to encourage other hams to do the same, and to be sure to refer to the bill by its number, H.R. 1301. The ARRL has an H.R. 1301 resources page on its website

"Remember what those pile-ups on the W1AW portable stations sounded like last year?" Craigie said. "Let's be that avid in calling for even greater support in Congress for this essential legislation."

Number of US Amateur Radio Licensees at All-Time High

The US Amateur Radio population continues to soar. At the end of 2014, the total number of US Amateurs in the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS) database reached an all-time high of 726,275 -- and the trend has continued in the first 2 months of 2015, which saw the total rise to slightly more than 727,000. The figures exclude expired licenses that are within the 2-year grace period, and club

Amateur Radio numbers in the US from 2000 through 2014. The FCC dropped the Morse code requirement in 2007. Click to enlarge the graphic. [Prepared from statistics compiled by Joe Speroni, AH0A]

station licenses. Outside of a little dithering last fall, growth in the Amateur Radio Service in 2014 was steady, according to figures compiled by Joe Speroni, AH0A, on his FCC Amateur Radio Statistics web pages. Over the past decade, the number of Amateur Radio licenses in the ULS database grew by some 8.1 percent. But 2014 was also a banner year for the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC).

"For the first time in the ARRL VEC program's history, we have conducted more than 7000 Amateur Radio exam sessions in a year, an important milestone," said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. "A total of 7216 ARRL-sponsored exam sessions were administered in 2014, compared to 6823 in 2013."

Somma said the number of new licensees spiked to more than 33,000 in 2014, up by about 15 percent from the previous year. Successful license upgrades rose last year by an unprecedented 13 percent over a year earlier.

ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM.

At the end of 2014, there were 136,405 Amateur Extra, 169,524 General, and 357,236 Technician class licensees -- all record numbers, Somma pointed out. While the number of Amateur Extra licensees grew in each month of 2014, the number of Technicians and Generals -- and of licensees overall -- faltered a bit last July and September. Last year's overall upward trend quickly recovered, however, during the final quarter of 2014. The General population also dipped briefly in May 2014, before rebounding.

Somma believes the July and September dips may have been a result of applicants adjusting to the new Technician question pool that went into effect last July 1. "We always expect an adjustment period when a new question pool is introduced to the public, as VEs, teachers, and candidates must prepare new study and exam materials," she said. Somma called the dips "a normal part of the question pool cycle."

Technician licensees comprise slightly less than one-half of the US Amateur Radio population. As of December 31, some 51,000 Advanced and 12,000 Novice licensees remained in the FCC database. The FCC no longer issues Advanced and Novice licenses, and their numbers continue to decline.

Once again, California far and away was home to the largest number of licensees among the 50 states, with 102,806 at the end of February. Texas was a distant second, with 51,022, Florida came in third, with 40,743, Washington was fourth, with 30,511, and Ohio was fifth at 28,256. With the exception of Ohio, the licensing trend in these states has been through the roof. In Ohio, ham radio numbers began to flag a bit in 2014, after holding steady for about the past 4 years.

The state with the fewest Amateur Radio licensees in 2014 was North Dakota, with 1477, but in an overall upward trajectory since around 2009. Others with small ham populations included Delaware (1715 and growing), Rhode Island (1926 and dropping), Wyoming (1868 and headed up), and Vermont (2101 and slipping, after a bump in 2013 and 2014). These numbers may go a long way toward explaining why these are rare multipliers in the ARRL November Sweepstakes and other events.

Club station licenses in the US numbered 11,501, according to Speroni's statistics. -- Thanks to Joe Speroni, AH0A; FCC ULS licensing statistics; ARRL VEC

Southeast US ARES Teams Rally as Severe Winter Weather Strikes

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers in the US Southeast went on alert in late February, as the region was faced with an unaccustomed ration of severe winter weather. Tennessee, which saw at least 30 winter storm-related fatalities, was placed on a Level II state emergency operations center activation level, indicating a major disaster.

On February 26 Tennessee Section Emergency Coordinator Daniel O'Donovan, W4DOD, reported that Tennessee ARES volunteers in several counties were on standby, monitoring established nets, or actively staffing shelters and other locations. O'Donovan said the American Red Cross had opened six shelters in five counties, with 224 occupants, and that nearly 20,000 had lost power across five counties.

States of emergency also were declared in Alabama and Georgia, as they and other states in the region that typically receive far milder winter weather confronted what the National Weather Service called "a historic winter storm." North Alabama reported snow accumulations of 6 inches or more, and vehicle traffic was brought to a standstill on some major highways. Alabama ARES volunteers were on alert throughout the day on February 25, and the American Red Cross had established shelter sites for displaced residents.

On February 25 Alabama Section Emergency Coordinator Mike Watkins, WX4AL, elevated the section's ARES status to orange, invoking formal nets on the local and district levels, due to heavy icing of roads in North Alabama and requests for Amateur Radio operators to staff shelters and to assist emergency managers and the National Weather Service.

On March 5, the FCC closed along with the rest of the federal government after a few more inches of snow contributed to the US capital's most significant cumulative snowfall since the so-called "Snowmageddon" of 2010.

ARRL 2015 Field Day Gear, Supplies Now Available!

ARRL Field Day -- the most popular ham radio operating event on the calendar -- is June 27-28, and official gear and supplies are now available from ARRL. Shirts, hats, pins, patches, and coffee mugs are a great way to acknowledge -- and commemorate -- your participation in this annual event. New for 2015 are two T-shirt color options -- cardinal red and ice gray. Order one or both!

Encourage family, friends, and fellow hams to take part in ARRL Field Day with recruitment posters and attractive "Get on the Air" (GOTA) pins for newcomers. All items are available for order now while supplies last and will begin shipping in early April.

Clubs are encouraged to order early. Place a group order and pay just $12.50 shipping for all orders over $50 (while supplies last).

Get your 2015 ARRL Field Day supplies from the ARRL online store or by calling 888-277-5289 in the US, Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern Time (outside the US, call 860-594-0355).

The complete 2015 ARRL Field Day packet is online, and there are no rule changes for 2015. On the fourth weekend of June, more than 35,000 radio amateurs are expected to gather with their clubs, in groups, or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.

ARRL encourages participants to register their Field Day operations using the FD Site Locator. E-mail your Field Day questions or call 860-594-0232.

ARISS Offering Online Information Sessions for Prospective Contact Hosts

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program coordinator will offer three online information sessions during March for schools and organizations that are interested in hosting an ARISS Amateur Radio contact with a member of the International Space Station crew. These hour-long sessions are aimed at providing more information regarding US ARISS contacts and the proposal process. There will be an opportunity to ask questions. Prospective ARISS contact sponsors are not required to attend an online information session, but they are strongly encouraged to do so.

Information sessions will be offered on Wednesday, March 11, at 2000 UTC, on Monday, March 16 at 2300 UTC, and on Thursday, March 26, at 2000 UTC. Advance registration is required. Contact ARISS to sign up for a session.

The US ARISS contact proposal window will remain open until April 15. ARISS is seeking formal and informal educational institutions and organizations, individually or working together, to host an Amateur Radio contact with an ISS crew member between January 1 and June 30, 2016. ARISS is looking for organizations that have the potential to draw large numbers of participants and can integrate the contact into a well-developed educational plan.

Details on expectations, audience, proposal guidelines, and proposal form, and dates and times of information sessions are on the ARRL website. E-mail ARISS with any questions.

ARRL Centennial Convention Guest Speaker Presentations DVD Now Available

The ARRL is making available a DVD of ARRL Centennial Convention Guest Speaker Presentations. The ARRL National Centennial Convention last July in Hartford, Connecticut, was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of Amateur Radio's past and promising future.

More than 3300 members and friends attended. Many convention visitors were entertained and informed by primary guest speakers at the event, and the ARRL now has compiled these presentations onto a DVD -- more than 110 minutes in all.

The DVD includes these convention presentations.

  • ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, with introduction by ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT (41:09). Luncheon speaker, Thursday, July 17, 2014.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, with introduction by ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB (22:49). ARRL Centennial Banquet keynote speaker, Friday, July 18, 2014.
  • Nobel Laureate Joe Taylor, K1JT, "Gazing into the Future -- DXing with Weak Signals and Beyond," with introduction by ARRL Treasurer Rick Niswander, K7GM (46:45). Saturday, July 19, 2014.

The Guest Speakers Presentation DVD is $12.95 (plus $2.75 shipping & handling). Order Item No 1241.

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Northern California DX Foundation Makes Major Grant to DXpedition Group

The Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF) has donated $50,000 to the Intrepid-DX Group to support its planned activation of two Top 10 DXCC entities early next year -- South Sandwich Island (VP8S) and South Georgia Island (VP8G).

"It is only through the generosity of amateur organizations such as the NCDXF that we can make this DXpedition possible," the Intrepid-DX Group said in accepting the grant. "Our destination is very remote and costly to reach. This grant by the NCDXF gives us the foundation with which we can solidify our plans and move forward with successful activations of these rare islands." The Intrepid-DX Group anticipates a total budget of approximately $425,000.

The team plans to be on each island for 10 days, with 8 full days on the air.

Without grants of this type, it would not be possible to activate many of the most-wanted DXCC entities, NCDXF Vice President Glenn Johnson, W0GJ, said in announcing the grant. Johnson himself was part of the recent K1N Navassa Island DXpedition team. "Individual contributions to NCDXF have enabled us to make this grant possible," he noted.

Located in the South Atlantic, the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are a British overseas territory. The only inhabitants are British government officials and staff. South Georgia currently is number 4 on ClubLog's DXCC Most Wanted List. South Sandwich is number 9.

Malawi 7QAA DXpedition Will Help Kick Off New Africa All-Mode International DX Contest

The 7QAA Multinational DXpedition to Malawi will take part in the inaugural Africa All-Mode International DX Contest over the March 14-15 weekend, operating SSB, CW, and digital modes. The DXpedition is scheduled begin on March 11.

Unusual call signs such as 7QAA have been issued for at least one prior Malawi operation.

The 7QAA Multinational DXpedition will employ two teams -- one for CW and RTTY -- which will operate from March 11 until March 21, and a second for SSB and RTTY, which will be on the air from March 22 until April 1. Both will operate on 160 through 10 meters.

The DXpedition will upload logs to Logbook of The World (LoTW) following the DXpedition and to ClubLog daily. The second team will take part in the CQ World Wide WPX Contest (Digital) on RTTY and PSK. The team will listen on 50.110 MHz CW and SSB for any possible openings.

The DXpedition is dedicated to Charles "Frosty" Frost, K5LBU (SK), who often operated from Africa. -- Thanks to The Daily DX

North Dakota ARRL Member Marks 80th Anniversary as ARRL Member

North Dakota radio amateur Alex Muggli, W0ZTL, was recently honored on the 80th anniversary of his ARRL membership -- a rare milestone. At the Bismarck Hamfest, Muggli, who still lives in his home town of Glen Ullin, received an 80-year membership plaque and a framed commemorative cover of QST from 1935, the year Muggli joined the ARRL.

"Alex has been a ham since he was 17, and now is 97 years old," said ARRL Dakota Division Vice Director Kent Olson, KA0LDG, who joined North Dakota Section Manager Lynn Nelson, W0ND, in honoring Muggli. "His wife had him quit climbing his tower a couple of years ago, but he seems like he could still do it today."

ARRL North Dakota Section Manager Lynn Nelson, W0ND (left), presents 80-year ARRL member Alex Muggli, W0ZTL, with a framed 1935 QST cover. [Tom Williams, K0TLW, photo]

Nelson said the presentation was a surprise to Alex and his wife, Alice. Their son Dave, N0JLY, and his wife Karen were on hand for the recognition.

Born in 1917, Muggli got interested in radio as a youngster and built a cat's whisker "crystal set" as his first radio. He learned Morse code in the Boy Scouts -- he became an Eagle Scout -- and was first licensed as W9ZTL in 1937, a couple of years after he joined the League. He subsequently became W0ZTL, when the FCC reshuffled US call districts. Muggli served in the US Navy during World War II and was a radio and radar instructor. He later worked in his family's business, managing a grain elevator until he retired.

Muggli remains active on the daily ARRL North Dakota traffic nets and still drives a car. "Many old hams and even the new ones remember Alex on 160 meters," said Nelson. "He is always active on 160 meters in the winter months and sends out many QSLs. Although Alex is pretty reserved, he is in good health, has lots of stories to tell, and is a special person to visit with at hamfests or on the air," he added.

Past IARU Region 1 Chairman Louis van de Nadort, PA0LOU, SK

Past International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Chairman Louis van de Nadort, PA0LOU, of Zundert, Netherlands, died February 28 after a brief illness. Van de Nadort served as the

Louis van de Nadort, PA0LOU. [Photo courtesy of UBE]

IARU Region 1 Chair from 1975 until 2002. He was a founding member of the IARU Administrative Council.

"He will be sorely missed by his many colleagues and friends in IARU and around the world," said IARU Region 1 President Don Beattie, G3BJ. "On behalf of myself and the entire Executive Committee, I express our sincere condolences to his wife An and family."

A member of VERON, the Dutch IARU member society, van de Nadort was licensed in 1955 after discovering ham radio during a stint in the Dutch Signal Corp, where he trained soldiers in telegraphy. He was a member of the First Class Operators Club (FOC) and active in CWops.

Van de Nadort enjoyed DXing and CW and was a regular presence on the HF bands. He was on the DXCC Honor Roll and lacked only North Korea (P5) on CW. He was well known within the international Amateur Radio community and held honorary memberships in several other Amateur Radio societies.

In Brief...

A Reminder: The ARRL International DX Phone Contest is March 7-8! The SSB weekend of the ARRL International DX Contest is Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8 (UTC), and the DX will be looking for stations in the US and Canada. W/VE amateurs work as many DX stations in as many DXCC entities as possible on the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. Participating DX stations work as many stations as possible in the 48 contiguous US states and Canadian provinces. US and Canadian stations send a signal report and their state or province abbreviation. DX stations send a signal report and their output power. The contest gets under way March 7 at 0000 UTC (Friday, March 6, in US time zones) and continues until March 8 at 2359 UTC. Complete rules and forms are on the ARRL website.

Arkansas ARRL Member Aids Accident Victim: According to a report in the Ozark County Times, Arkansas radio amateur and ARRL member Jim Long, N5CXP, of Mountain Home, extracted a woman from her wrecked car in late February after she had skidded off the road and overturned. After getting the woman out of her car, Long called for assistance on ham radio, since no cell telephone signal was available on that part of Arkansas Highway 201. N9JSM in Mountain Home came back to him and called 911. First responders soon showed up, and the 25-year-old mother of two was taken to the hospital, treated, and released. Long is a member of the Ozark Amateur Radio Club.

International DX Convention (Visalia) Advance Registration Available Until April 8: Advance registration for those planning to attend the International DX Convention in Visalia, California, April 16-19, ends April 8. The Visalia program includes DX University and Contest Academy sessions, ARRL, DX, and Contest forums, and a long list of DX and technical presentations, as well as an entire exhibition hall of displays and vendors. Jeanne Socrates, KC2IOV, will keynote the Saturday banquet. Socrates holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest woman to sail solo and nonstop around the world. The Sunday DX Convention Breakfast speaker will be Bob Allphin, K4UEE, who will talk on the recent K1N DXpedition to Navassa Island. (Allphin is also scheduled to speak at the Friday Top Band Dinner about the team's 160 meter experiences). More information is available on the convention website. This year's event will mark the 66th annual IDXC, sponsored by the Northern California DX Club (NCDXC).

FT5ZM DXpedition Wins DxCoffee's Best Communication Award 2014: DxCoffee has awarded its "Best Communication Award 2014" to the FT5ZM DXpedition to Amsterdam Island in January-February 2014. DxCoffee said it especially appreciated the FT5ZM website, which provided information about the island and included frequently asked questions and links to Facebook and Twitter, as well as many photos. DxCoffee cited for "special mention" the A35V/A35X DXpediton to Tonga, "for fascinating us with their diary and the final account;" the YW5D Tortuga Island DXpedition, "for the great use of social networks and for spreading information through several web magazines," and the VK9MT, VK9DLX, and FT4TA DXpeditions, for their "comprehensive and updated websites."

K1N DXpedition to Navassa Island Okayed for DXCC Credit: The ARRL DXCC Desk has approved the January/February 2015 K1N DXpedition to Navassa Island for DXCC credit. DXCC is Amateur Radio's premier award that hams can earn by confirming on-the-air contacts with 100 DXCC "entities," most of which are countries in the traditional sense. You can begin with the basic DXCC award and work your way up to the DXCC Honor Roll.

NASA Soundbites Suitable for Ringtones Include Juno "HI" CW Message: NASA is offering a collection of sounds from historic spaceflights and current missions that are suitable for cell phone ringtones or other purposes. "You can hear the roar of a space shuttle launch or Neil Armstrong's 'One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,' every time you get a phone call," NASA said. The files are available for download in MP3 and M4R (iPhone) sound file formats (M4R files must be imported via iTunes). One of the sounds is the Morse code "HI" message transmitted by the Juno spacecraft (photo) during its 2013 Earth flyby. -- Thanks to Don Kirchner, KD0L;

Central States VHF Society Issues Call for Conference Papers: The Central States VHF Society (CSVHFS) has issued a call for papers, presentations, and posters for its 49th annual conference July 23-26 in Denver. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, antennas, propagation, satellites, test equipment, digital modes, and contesting. For more information, contact Proceedings Chair John Maxwell, W0VG. Those planning to attend the conference may register online.

Getting It Right!

The correct dates for the ARRL International DX Contest (Phone) are March 7-8. The announcement, "There's a Place for You in the ARRL International DX Phone Contest!" in The ARRL Letter, February 26, 2015, listed the wrong days!

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot activity continues to weaken. Average daily sunspot numbers dropped from 59 in the previous 7 days to 54.1 during the February 26 through March 4 period. Average daily solar flux actually rose a little, with values increasing from 116.3 to 122.9 over the same 2 weeks.

The vernal equinox is only 2 weeks away on March 20, and around this time the Northern and Southern hemispheres are bathed in an equal measure of solar radiation. We should enjoy enhanced HF radio propagation as a result. This weekend the ARRL International DX Contest phone event takes place.

Predicted solar flux from NOAA and USAF is 120 for March 5-6, 115 for March 7-8, then 120, 125, 130, and 125 for March 9-12, 130 for March 13-15, 135 for March 16-17, then 130 and 125 for March 18-19, and 120 for March 20-21. Flux values then hit a minimum for the short term at 110 for March 24-25, then rising to 135 for April 12-13, according to the forecast.

Predicted planetary A index is 8 for March 5-7, then 12, 15, 12, and 10 for March 8-11, 5 for March 12-13, then 8 and 5 for March 14-15, then 15 for March 16-17, 8 on March 18, 5 for March 19-21, then 15, 20, and 8 for March 22-24, 5 for March 25-26, then 15, 30, 25, 15, and 10 for March 27-31, and 8 for April 1-4. The predicted planetary A index at 30 on March 26 is quite high -- perhaps an echo of March 1-2, when the A index was 28.

This weekly "Solar Update" in The ARRL Letter is a preview of the "Propagation Bulletin" issued each Friday. The latest bulletin and an archive of past propagation bulletins is on the ARRL website.

In Friday's bulletin look for an updated forecast and an update on our 3-month moving average of daily sunspot numbers. Send me your reports and observations. -- Tad Cook, K7RA

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • March 6 -- NS Weekly RTTY Sprint

  • March 6 -- NS Weekly Sprint (CW)

  • March 7-8 -- ARRL International DX Contest (SSB)

  • March 7 -- Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon

  • March 7 -- Open Ukraine RTTY Championship

  • March 14-15 -- Africa All-Mode International DX Contest

See the ARRL Contest Calendar for more information.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions and Events

Find conventions and hamfests in your area.

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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.

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