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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
May 18, 2017
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News
Hamvention 2017 is Here!


ARRL to Leverage Social Media for Hamvention Coverage

ARRL will be taking to social media from Hamvention®, when the show begins on May 19 from its new venue, the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. The ARRL Hamvention team will be posting updates, observations, and videos, and may even stream live video via Facebook Live.

"This will be the first convention where we've done an all-out digital media push," ARRL Publications Manager Steve Ford, WB8IMY, pointed out.

ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, and QST Managing Editor Becky Schoenfeld, W1BXY, will be on the show floor, wandering among the exhibits, and visiting the forums for all 3 days of Hamvention, which wraps up on May 21.

Keep an eye on ARRL's social media feeds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as on the ARRL home page news crawl for updates "and maybe a few surprises," Schoenfeld said. Friday and Saturday summaries will be posted on the ARRL website.

Driving to Hamvention? Take a 2-Meter Radio Along; Carpool, if Possible

Hamvention® organizers have advised those driving to Hamvention 2017 at its new location -- the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio -- to take along a 2-meter radio and be ready to use it. Gary Mullins, K8UW -- chair of the Talk-In Committee for Hamvention 2017 -- anticipates that the new venue will generate a need for more information by those who have never been to the fairgrounds. Factor that in with the weather outlook for Xenia over Hamvention weekend: Rain and possible thunderstorms on all 3 days.

To ease the load on the 146.94 MHz (123.0 Hz) talk-in frequency, Hamvention will deploy an informational bulletin system on 145.525 MHz to answer many frequently asked questions and to provide important general information to motorists. The system began operation on May 18 and will continue during talk-in hours throughout Hamvention weekend.

Talk-in volunteers will provide up-to-date information on traffic conditions, parking availability, and directions, if needed. They will also be able to redirect visitors, if a parking lot is reaching its maximum capacity.

The Hamvention Traffic Planning Committee, headed by volunteer Larry Sacks, N8QMN, a professional traffic engineer, worked with the Xenia Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff's Office, and the Ohio Highway Patrol to devise routes that promote safety and offer smooth traffic flow. By concentrating incoming vehicles on those roadways, officers will be able to control traffic lights at major intersections and minimize delays. But, Sacks pointed out, it all depends on drivers following the suggestions they're provided.

Hamvention General Chairman Ron Cramer, KD8ENJ, has advised visitors to use off-site parking in order to avoid traffic problems. Hamvention will offer free on-site and off-site parking during the event.

"We are now promoting using off-site parking as a means to avoid traffic congestion around the fairgrounds and possible lack of sufficient parking if there is heavy rain and the soccer fields are not available to us," Cramer said.

Maps of the four off-site parking areas are on the Hamvention website, and free transportation will be provided to and from all off-site parking areas.

Drivers are urged to review the directions and maps on the Hamvention website before starting out. These represent the best advice the committee can give, in addition to one final suggestion: Carpool, if possible.

According to the City of Xenia website, Hamvention's principal effects on Xenia will be temporary traffic congestion and potentially heavier restaurant patronage. City officials anticipate that Hamvention will inject $15 million to $17 million into the City's economy.

Maritime Mobile Service Net Relays Distress Call; Crew, Passengers, and Vessel Safe

The Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN) recently served as a critical communication link after the sport fishing vessel Free Spirit put out a "mayday" distress call on VHF marine channel 16 after running into trouble in Mexican waters. Brian Stipak, KF7QCX -- skipper of the sailing vessel Ubiquity -- heard the May 13 mayday, which advised that the Free Spirit was sinking quickly with four people on board and that all were abandoning ship. Unable to raise coastal stations on his vessel's VHF radio, Stipak went to the MMSN's 14.300 MHz frequency. Despite marginal band conditions, he was able to relay a position report to net control station Ken Porter, AC0ML, who had assistance from fellow NCS Scott Roberts, KK4ECR.

"They were taking on water and could not find the source, and were deploying their life raft," Stipak recounted on his website. "He clearly gave the coordinates for his position, which I plotted and saw [he] was about in the middle of the Sea of Cortez, about 46 nautical miles from me. My VHF communication with him was marginal." Stipak said that while he could barely hear the MMSN net control, the operator was able to copy the information. The S/V Fathom also heard the mayday and set a course for the distressed boat.

Porter notified the US Coast Guard in San Diego to relay the information to the Mexican Navy, which dispatched a vessel to the Free Spirit's last-known position. The Coast Guard also tried to raise Ubiquity on 14.300 MHz, but band conditions were changing rapidly, and there was no further contact.

Stipak was also able to get through on his cell phone to the port captain at Puerto Escondido and leave information on the distress call.

"We did not hear from the boat in distress for an hour, the last communication saying they were deploying the life raft. I thought the boat had likely sunk," Stipak said in his website narrative. "Then, the captain of Free Spirit came on the VHF again saying they had found and stopped the leak, were trying to pump out the boat, could not start the engine, had deployed the life raft, but not abandoned the boat and did not yet want to cancel the mayday."

Roberts later learned via the Coast Guard that the Free Spirit had been towed to the port of San Carlos and that all on board were safe.

"It looks like a great resolution to a very intense situation," Stipak allowed afterward.

The MMSN is in its 50th year of operation. -- Thanks to Jeff Savasta, KB4JKL, MMSN assistant net manager

Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Ellen Ochoa, ex-KB5TZZ, to Join Astronaut Hall of Fame

Two NASA astronauts, both with one-of-a-kind career credits, will be honored on May 19 when they are inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website at 17:00 UTC. Honorees will include Ellen Ochoa, ex-KB5TZZ -- the first Hispanic woman to go into space and the current director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston -- and former astronaut Michael Foale, KB5UAC. Mir. Bob Cabana, a 2008 hall of famer and current director of Kennedy Space Center, will speak at the induction ceremony about the distinguished careers of the two honorees.

The ceremony will take place at the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Ochoa was selected as a NASA astronaut in January 1990. A veteran of four flights, Ochoa logged more than 978 hours in space, serving as mission specialist on space shuttle mission STS-56, payload commander on STS-66, and both flight engineer and mission specialist on STS-96 and STS-110. She has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA's highest award.

Foale was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 1987. A veteran of six missions, he logged more than 374 days in space and four spacewalks totaling almost 23 hours, including a spacewalk to perform repairs and upgrades to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. He is also the only American citizen to have served on both the Russian Mir space station and the International Space Station. Foale retired from NASA in 2013.

During his ISS tour, the British-born Foale set up the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Phase 2 equipment, a Kenwood TM-D700E dualband transceiver, in the Zvezda Service Module.

The Doctor Will See You Now!

"Optimizing Receiver Performance" is the topic of the current episode of the "ARRL The Doctor is In" podcast. Listen...and learn!

Sponsored by DX Engineering, "ARRL The Doctor is In" is an informative discussion of all things technical. Listen on your computer, tablet, or smartphone -- whenever and wherever you like!

Every 2 weeks, your host, QST Editor-in-Chief Steve Ford, WB8IMY, and the Doctor himself, Joel Hallas, W1ZR, will discuss a broad range of technical topics. You can also e-mail your questions to, and the Doctor may answer them in a future podcast.

Enjoy "ARRL The Doctor is In" on Apple iTunes, or by using your iPhone or iPad podcast app (just search for "ARRL The Doctor is In"). You can also listen online at Blubrry, or at Stitcher (free registration required, or browse the site as a guest) and through the free Stitcher app for iOS, Kindle, or Android devices. If you've never listened to a podcast before, download our beginner's guide. Just ahead: "Flea Market Tips."

Updated ARRL "US Amateur Radio Bands" Charts Now Available

ARRL has revised and updated its "US Amateur Radio Bands" charts, and these are now available for download. These are PDF documents, available in color or grayscale presentations. The revised allocations charts reflect the new 630- and 2,200-meter bands, but also emphasize that these bands are not yet available for Amateur Radio use.

The effective date of the recent FCC Report & Order granting these allocations has not yet been determined. Until the FCC sets a start date, it is not legal under an Amateur Radio license to transmit on either band. The FCC will publish a notice in The Federal Register "announcing such approval and the relevant effective date." ARRL will announce the UTC notification procedures and the effective date to use these new bands as soon as these are known.

ARRL will update the Amateur Radio frequency charts at that time. These reference guides are available for purchase in 11 x 17 and 8.5 x 11 formats in packs of 50 from the ARRL Store. Both include an ARRL Worked All States (WAS) map on the reverse side.

Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) 2017 Summer Gathering to Take Place in the UK

The seventh Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) conference will take place August 5-12 at Gilwell Park in England, the UK Scouting Headquarters. Upward of 100 young radio amateurs younger than 26 from around the world will gather for YOTA UK 2017 to participate in Amateur Radio programs and workshops as well as cross-cultural exchanges and social interaction. The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) will serve as the host of the summer conference.

"Teams from across the world are getting ready to fly to the UK to take part in YOTA 2017," said International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 Youth Coordinator Lisa Leenders, PA2LS. "The team travelling the furthest is from Japan -- we're looking forward to welcoming Seiya Kato, JE1XUZ, and Riku Suda, JR2KHB." Leenders told ARRL that none of the participants this summer would be from IARU Region 2, because more applications were received than spaces were available. Two US radio amateurs attended YOTA 2016 in Austria.Yasme Foundation grants will allow two young radio amateurs each from Ethiopia, Tunisia, and Kosovo to attend YOTA UK 2017.

"Gatherings such as YOTA exemplify the ability of amateurs to work together across national borders and ethnicities in the best 'ham spirit' of friendship," Yasme said in announcing the grant.

Attendees at YOTA 2016 in Austra enjoyed operating OE2YOTA at the conference venue.

YOTA UK 2017 promises a week of wireless technology activities, including a special event station, a build-a-thon, antenna construction, an Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) competition, and a Summits on the Air (SOTA) activation. There will also be an opportunity to visit Bletchley Park -- including the National Radio Centre -- and the Science Museum.

Several Amateur Radio clubs in the UK, as well as Scouting leaders, will be assisting to make YOTA UK 2017 a success. YOTA reports that Ciaran Morgan, M0XTD, has confirmed that the plans are in place for an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact during YOTA 2017 week in August. He will be visiting Gilwell Park soon as part of the preparations, and the ARISS team from the Principia mission of UK astronaut Tim Peake, KG5BVI/GB1SS, will be available to run the contact in August.

The IARU and RSGB are providing the largest chunk of the funds needed to mount YOTA 2017. Financial support at any level is welcome, the RSGB said, pointing out that all contributions will go directly to YOTA 2017.

Last summer, 114 young people from 29 countries in IARU Region 1 and the US gathered in Austria for the YOTA convention.

Hamvention and ARISS Teaming Up Again

For the second year, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) will work with Hamvention to support ARISS. Two ARISS Challenge Coins will be given away in a special drawing held just prior to the big prize drawings on Hamvention's final day, May 21. ARISS has donated two of the coins, positioned side by side in a display that shows off each of the coin's sides, to be given away. The commemorative coin is the premium received by donors who give $100 or more to ARISS.

Hamvention 2017 has selected ARISS Chair Frank Bauer to receive its Amateur of the Year award, crediting his technical achievements on GPS reception experiments with AMSAT's Phase 3D. Hamvention also cited Bauer's ARISS and SAREX work. Bauer thanked Hamvention for supporting ARISS.

"The ARISS Team kicked off its fund-raising campaign at Hamvention 2016 -- ARISS needs funding for the very high cost of replacing our aging ISS radio system (one of the radios failed in October 2016) and to help defray costs of continuing ARISS operations," Bauer said. "Having Hamvention team up with ARISS again in 2017 is a major boost, motivating the ARISS hardware team to work that much harder." Bauer invited Hamvention visitors to stop by the ARISS booth to see a model of the newest power supply that will be undergoing space-certification testing.

Contributions are welcome!

Missing Issues of Morsum Magnificat Now Available for Free Download

All copies of the English-language version of Morsum Magnificat, the Morse Magazine, are now available for free download from the website of Lynn Burlingame, N7CFO. This includes the 89 issues published from 1986 to 2004. Mike Feher, N4FS, was able to provide the missing editions, which Randy Cole, KN6W, scanned for viewing. The 89 issues of Morsum Magnificat contain more than 4,000 printed pages, covering all aspects of Morse telegraphy.

The newly available downloads also include "The Story of the Key: The Best of MM-1," by Louise Ramsey Moreau, W3WRE, which includes a list of American telegraph instrument makers from 1837 to 1900, compiled by Roger Reinke. In addition, there's "Key WT 8 Amp Worldwide Survey: The Best of MM-2," by Tony Smith G4FAI, an updated and revised version of the 54-page booklet that provides information about the famous military Morse key, of which more than 100 versions were manufactured in six countries.

Also available: The MM Q & Z Codebook, (English), compiled by Rinus Hellemons, PA0BFN, and Dick Kraayveld, PA3ALM, publishers of the original Dutch version of Morsum Magnificat. The codebook lists all Q & Z codes in their original applications, including a copy of the original single-page Q-code guide of 1912.

All copies of Morsum Magnificat or associated publications downloaded from the N7CFO website are for personal use only and may not be downloaded or distributed for any commercial purpose. -- Thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News via Tony Smith, G4FAI, co-founder of the English edition of Morsum Magnificat

Nominations Open for AMSAT-NA Board of Directors

It's time to submit nominations for the upcoming AMSAT-NA Board of Directors election. Four directors' terms expire this year -- Barry Baines, WD4ASW; Jerry Buxton, N0JY; Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, and Bob McGwier, N4HY. In addition, up to two alternates may be elected for 1-year terms.

A valid nomination requires either one member society or five current members in good standing to nominate an AMSAT-NA member for Director.

Mail written nominations, consisting of the nominee's name and call sign, and the nominating individual's names, call signs, and individual signatures to AMSAT-NA, 10605 Concord St., #304, Kensington, MD 20895-2526.

Submitting written nominations by mail is the preferred method, but notice of intent to nominate an AMSAT member may be delivered by electronic means -- e-mail, fax, or electronic image of a petition. E-mail electronic petitions to or fax them to (301)822-4371. Petitions must arrive no later than June 15, 2017, at the AMSAT-NA office. Anything other than a traditional written petition must be backed up by a verifying written petition, received at the AMSAT-NA office within 7 days of the June 15 close of nominations. Solely electronic submissions are invalid under AMSAT-NA bylaws. -- Thanks to AMSAT News Service via Paul Stoetzer, N8HM

Telecommunications Ministry in India Orders Halt to Online Transceiver Sales

The Mumbai Mirror in India reports that a complaint by radio amateurs has prompted the Telecommunications Ministry to order online purveyors, including eBay and Amazon, to stop selling wireless transmitting equipment. According to the newspaper, a group of hams wrote the Wireless Advisor in the Telecommunications Ministry last fall to warn that online sales of wireless equipment could pose a national security threat. Their warning followed reports of "highly suspicious" 2-meter transmissions along the Bengal-Bangladesh border.

The letter drew the attention of the Intelligence Bureau, the prime minister's office, and the military. The Telecommunications Ministry has now ordered e-commerce websites to stop selling transmitting gear online, effective immediately. The law in India requires that those selling such equipment have a dealer's possession license and users have a license to transmit.

Ankur Puranik, VU2AXN, spokesperson of the Mumbai Amateur Radio Society, told the newspaper, "...our concern is that the powerful equipment can fall into wrong hands and be misused. More importantly, these two-way radios can tune into any frequency including confidential frequencies used by law enforcement agencies. They can be misused to listen to confidential wireless conversations."

Glenn Baxter, ex-K1MAN, SK; Engaged in Protracted Enforcement Battle with FCC

Glenn Baxter, ex-K1MAN, of Belgrade, Maine, died on May 5. He was 75. In 2014, Baxter ultimately lost his battle to retain his Amateur Extra class license when the FCC dismissed his long-standing renewal application, citing an unpaid $10,000 forfeiture stemming from violations over a period extending back several years.

"Anyone filing an application [who] is found to be delinquent in debt owed to the FCC and who fails to pay the debt in full or make other satisfactory arrangements in a timely manner will have their application dismissed," the FCC said in a Notice of Dismissal appended to Baxter's Universal Licensing System (ULS) file. "Because you have failed to resolve this matter timely, your application is hereby dismissed." Baxter had been licensed since 1956. The K1MAN call sign is now held by an individual living in New York.

Over a period of decades, Baxter -- a licensed professional engineer in Maine and Illinois -- ran afoul of the FCC stemming from complaints of malicious interference resulting from his program-length AM transmissions under the flag of his self-styled American Amateur Radio Association. Baxter's transmissions included, news, interviews, commentaries, and rebroadcasts of ham radio news programs produced by others, including ARRL, with which Baxter also had feuded.

In 2012, the US District Court for the State of Maine ruled in the FCC's lawsuit to collect Baxter's fine, initially $21,000. The Court agreed with the FCC on the first two counts -- willful or repeated failure to respond to FCC requests for information, and willful or malicious interference -- and granted summary judgments to the FCC in the amounts of $3,000 and $7,000, respectively. The Court declined to rule on the third issue -- communications in which an amateur station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest -- saying that issues of material fact remained to be litigated.

In Brief...

Spring Issue of Radio Waves is Now Available: The spring edition of ARRL's license instruction and radio science education news e-magazine Radio Waves is on the virtual newsstand. Featured stories: "KID Museum Station Powers Up at Maker Faire," "Amateur Radio Sparks Interest at Elementary School," "Making a Good Hobby Better through Post-Licensing Enrichment," and "Teaching with the Solar Eclipse." There's also news on the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, and word of a new "passive method" to learn the code. The spring edition reviews the latest Boy Scouts' radio merit badge requirements, and it includes a calendar of upcoming events, opportunities, and deadlines. Radio Waves is free!

2017 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference Issues Second Call for Papers: Technical papers are solicited for presentation at the 36th annual ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC), set for September 15-17 in St. Louis, Missouri at the Holiday Inn Airport West in Earth City. Papers will also be published in the Conference Proceedings. Authors do not need to attend the conference to have their papers included in the Proceedings. The submission deadline is July 31, 2017. Submit papers via e-mail or via post to Maty Weinberg, KB1EIB, ARRL, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111. Papers will be published exactly as submitted, and authors will retain all rights.

Registration is Open for the 2017 W9DXCC DX Convention and Banquet: Online registration is now available and the program is shaping up for the 2017 W9DXCC DX Convention and Banquet September 15-16 in suburban Chicago. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, will be the keynote speaker for this 65th annual W9DXCC event. Discounted hotel rooms can also be booked now. Sponsored by the Northern Illinois DX Association, W9DXCC will also offer Contest University (CTU) and DX University (DXU) programs on Friday, with presentations for new and veteran DXers and contest operators. The day-long session on Saturday will feature speakers, exhibits, QSL card checking, and a CW pileup contest, plus prizes. Visit the W9DXCC website for more information and updates, or contact John McCormick, K9KE.

Iceland Extends Experimental License Privileges at 5 MHz: PTA, the telecommunication authority in Iceland, has extended experimental license privileges for radio amateurs in the 5 MHz band until December 31, 2017. The privileges are for 5,260-5,410 kHz, with 100 W EIRP. Permissible modes include CW, USB, PSK31, and other digital modes. The permit is the same for N and G licensees. Currently 25 licensees in Iceland have experimental licenses to operate on 60 meters. -- Thanks to Jónas Bjarnason, TF3JB

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: We recently saw 7 consecutive days -- May 9-15 -- with no sunspots. This overlapped the May 11-17 reporting week with the previous week. This period ended on May 16, when sunspot groups 2656 and 2657 appeared, with sunspot numbers of 11 and 13 on May 16-17, respectively.

The average daily sunspot number last week was 17.1; this week, it's just 3.4. That's because last week's report covered 2 consecutive days with no sunspots, while this week's report covered 5 days with no activity.

Average daily solar flux declined from 71.5 to 70.5, the average estimated daily planetary A index rose from 6.3 to 8.3, while the mid-latitude A index rose from 5.9 to 9.4.

Predicted solar flux (from Wednesday's NOAA and USAF 45-day forecast) is 71 on May 18-20; 73 on May 21-24; 76 on May 25-29; 74 on May 30-June 3; 72 on June 4; 70 on June 5-10; 72 on June 11-12; 74 on June 13-17; 76 on June 18-25, and 74 on June 26-30.

Predicted planetary A index is 20, 45, 30, 20, and 12 on May 18-22; 8 on May 23-24; 5 on May 25-June 3; 8 on June 4; 5 on June 5-9; 8, 12, 22, 32, and 20 on June 10-14; 48, 36, 20, 12, and 8 on June 15-19, and 5 on June 20 through the end of the month.

Sunspot numbers for May 11 through 17 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 11, and 13, with a mean of 3.4. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 69.1, 68.9, 70.4, 71.2, 70.6, 71.9, and 71.4, with a mean of 70.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 7, 4, 10, 14, 9, and 8, with a mean of 8.3. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 8, 6, 5, 11, 17, 10, and 9, with a mean of 9.4.

Send me your reports and observations.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • May 20 -- Feld Hell Sprint

  • May 20 -- UN DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • May 20 -- Portuguese Navy Day Contest (Digital)

  • May 20-21 -- NZART Sangster Shield Contest (CW)

  • May 20-20 -- His Majesty King of Spain Contest (CW)

  • May 20-21 -- EU PSK DX Contest (Digital)

  • May 20-21 -- Aegean RTTY Contest

  • May 20-21 --Baltic Contest (CW, phone)

  • May 22 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • May 24 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)

  • May 25 -- RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (CW)

See the ARRL Contest Calendar for more information. For in-depth reporting on Amateur Radio contesting, subscribe to The ARRL Contest Update via your ARRL member profile e-mail preferences.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

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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