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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
April 27, 2018
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
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ARRL Website, Some Services to be Down Briefly on Tuesday, May 1: The ARRL website and some services will be down for maintenance for up to 1 hour on Tuesday, May 1, starting at approximately 0900 UTC. During this period some or all systems may be temporarily inaccessible. This includes all content on (including the ARRL Store),, and Logbook of the World (LoTW) and e-mail will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

JK Antennas Donates 40-Meter Yagi to W1AW

JK Antennas of Connecticut has generously donated and assembled a new two-element, 40-meter Yagi on site at Maxim Memorial Station W1AW at ARRL Headquarters. JK Antennas' Ken Garg, W3JK, and his assistant Craig Finley transported the new Yagi to W1AW on April 24 for assembly and installation.

Ken Garg, W3JK, assembles the new JK403T 40-meter Yagi at W1AW.

"I am very grateful for Ken's generosity," said W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q. "His kindness toward W1AW, his technical expertise, and pride in his product is most refreshing."

Carcia said the new antenna replaces an antenna that had not been performing as needed and had failed a couple of times in the past.

"What we did on April 24 was remove the old two-element, 40-meter Yagi -- fixed to the south-southwest and used for all of our 40-meter code practice and bulletin transmissions -- and replaced it with the JK402T two-element, 40 meter Yagi," Carcia explained.

The new 40-meter Yagi is installed at W1AW.

Taking down the old antenna were Andrew Toth -- who works with antenna pro Matt Strelow, KC1XX (XX Towers Inc.) -- and Finley. Carcia pitched in to tram the old antenna down a line and off the tower. Strelow and Toth, who handle most of W1AW's antenna maintenance, were at W1AW to perform spring antenna and tower inspections. "The installation of the JK402T was a bonus! The timing just worked out," Carcia said, adding that the pair also installed a second 6-meter loop for scheduled transmissions on that band.

Strelow, Carcia, and Finley hoisted the new antenna into place with Toth pulling from the tower and then affixing the new Yagi and making the necessary feed-line connections. Garg oversaw the process of assembling the antenna and trimming the elements to W1AW's specification.

W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, assists with the antenna installation.

Carcia recounted that the old antenna could not provide full band coverage right out of the box, and required the user to pick a band segment for operation. "I had to compromise and tune it for the CW/digital segment," Carcia said, but when it came to either end of 40 meters, the amplifier was not happy."

In contrast, Carcia said the JK402T offers wide bandwidth, keeping the SWR below 2:1 across the entire 40-meter band.

The entire enterprise -- from removing the old antenna to assembling the new one and putting it in place on the tower -- took about 9 hours, Carcia estimated.

Look for "Ham Radio 2.0 -- Innovation and Discovery" at Hamvention

At this year's Hamvention, the Yasme Foundation will sponsor "Ham Radio 2.0 -- Innovation and Discovery," which Foundation President Ward Silver, N0AX, describes as "a deliberately low-structure affair, affectionately dubbed '2.0 Row'" that's intended to be a gathering spot for innovative groups and organizations.

The IARU Region 1 group Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) will set up in this area, staffed by Florian Zwingl, OE3FTA, of Austria, and Koos Fick, ZR6KF, of South Africa. "We are hoping to spark an interest in YOTA here in Region 2," suggested Silver. The annual Region 1 YOTA conference for 2018 will be held in South Africa this coming August.

Representatives of the HamSCI (Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation) group will be adjacent to the Yasme Foundation's booth. Along with the HamSCI Forum, researchers and participants in HamSCI will be making short presentations in the 2.0 Row area. A schedule will be posted on the HamSCI website. Results of the recent Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP) and some of the papers it generated will be on display as well.

The Ham Radio 2.0 setup at Hamvention will look something like this. [Hamvention graphic]

Other organizations located in the Volta Building (Building 4) near the entrance to the Flea Market will include FIRST Robotics and Hamvention's Youth Tech area, just across the walkway. NSIradio will be exhibiting software-defined radio equipment by Expert Electronics. The Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) will be co-located with the NASA Radio JOVE exhibit. Stop by to learn about how a radio amateur and amateur astronomer, Scott Tilley, VE7TIL/VA7LF, of British Columbia, discovered that a long-dead satellite had returned to life. The schedule of subject, speakers, and times will be posted on the HamSCI website.

"I encourage Hamvention visitors to stop by and leave a QSL card," Silver said. "We invite college clubs to hang their colors, makers and builders to demonstrate their latest projects, vendors and individuals to put on short demonstrations, and for everyone to make connections and friends. There will also be some short presentations interleaved with presentations by HamSCI researchers. We hope to see a lot of new faces at 2.0 Row!"

The Doctor Will See You Now!

"Kits and Kit Building" is the topic of the new (April 26) 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.

Hams on Dominica Conduct "Preparedness" Field Day in Advance of Hurricane Season

Members of the Dominica Amateur Radio Club Incorporated (DARCI) held a second Field Day-style emergency preparedness, awareness, and recruiting exercise on April 21. Radio amateurs on the Caribbean island are continuing the process of taking on a larger role in emergency preparedness and response for the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1.

Dominica suffered severe damage from Hurricane Maria last September, and, using their remaining resources in the storm's aftermath, radio amateurs there played a leading role in establishing communication links and providing necessary information to the public. Brian Machesney, K1LI, is among those assisting Dominica's Amateur Radio community in forming a stronger position for response to future emergencies that may affect the small island nation. The Yasme Foundation, Yaesu, the Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service (FAIRS), the CDAC Network, and GoFundMe contributors have donated equipment, provided material support, or delivered training.

One of the emergency exercise "field day" sites.

"The purpose of the field day was to exercise our state of preparedness, expose the novice class and students to a field day, get hands-on experience in setting up equipment, and make contact with the other field day stations," said Roger Blanchard, J73MBQ, of DARCI, in a post on the Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) website. DARCI blanketed the country, hosting some 150 visitors of all ages at stations set up at the J73Z club site in Canefield, the Botanical Gardens and Police Headquarters in the capital of Roseau, and at high-visibility sites in Grand Bay, Goodwill, Castle Bruce, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Capuchin. The 6-hour exercise involved an exchange of communications among all participating stations on 75 and 40 meters, as well as on VHF and UHF.

"We also had good communications with Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique, Saint Lucia, and Anguilla," Blanchard said. "The students were exposed to all the various modes of communication we can use as hams [and] made contact with other Amateur Radio operators." DARCI said the purpose of the Field Day-style exercise "was achieved with good attendance and lots of fun." Overall, 16 radio amateurs on Dominica took part in the exercise, chaired by John Mitchel, J73MH.

Following last year's storms, the Dominican government has been working to establish a stronger partnership with DARCI with the goal of ensuring that future disaster communication is not entirely dependent on commercial telecommunication providers. Machesney and his wife, Michelle, are planning to get additional complete Amateur Radio stations where they are needed on Dominica.

Brian Machesney, K1LI, ferried Amateur Radio gear and supplies to Dominica last fall by air.

"With the next storm season just over the horizon, the government of Dominica seems to be responding to recommendations made by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that worked on the ground after Hurricane Maria," Machesney said earlier this month. "Despite continuing challenges with commercial power and telecommunication services on Dominica, we have been able to establish somewhat regular channels with people we know in-country and have helped kindle training and equipping programs in several outlying areas."

Amateur Radio on Dominica is not new -- DARCI celebrated its 55th anniversary last fall -- and radio amateurs have always pitched in to provide emergency communication. The Dominican government wants to tighten up its relationship with DARCI to establish a plan that would include trained radio amateurs being strategically located within governmental organizations, hospitals, and elsewhere.

"DARCI has embarked on an ambitious recruiting drive to be sure there are hams in every corner of the country," Machesney told ARRL. He's also hoping to get hams on Dominica and elsewhere in the Caribbean Basin more involved in ARRL Field Day, June 23 - 24.

ARRL Raises Amateur Radio's Profile at 2018 National Association of Broadcasters Convention

Radio amateurs were among some 600 global visitors signing in at ARRL's booth at the 2018 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas April 7 - 12. Those stopping by hailed from many countries, including Australia, South Korea, Israel, Norway, Canada, England, Ireland, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Tanzania, Greenland, the US Virgin Islands, Poland, South Africa, Bulgaria, and Spain. Nevada Section Manager John Bigley, N7UR, who said many visitors never signed the register, managed the booth with the help of volunteers from various Nevada Amateur Radio groups. ARRL Second Vice President Bob Vallio, W6RGG, and East Bay Section Manager-Elect Jim Siemons, AF6PU, were also on hand to assist.

ARRL East Bay Section Manager-Elect Jim Siemons, AF6PU; Nevada SM John Bigley, N7UR, and Phares Magesa of Tanzania, who is in the process of becoming an Amateur Radio licensee.

"When you have more than 100,000 broadcasting, electronics, and communications professionals under one roof, it's easy to assume that promoting Amateur Radio is kind of like preaching to the choir," Bigley said. "Yet, even in this environment I was surprised by the large number of people who have never heard of Amateur Radio." Bigley said the booth's enthusiastic volunteers successfully enlightened and informed many visitors.

New to the booth this year was a kiosk with three screens continuously playing informational videos on such topics as the ARRL Teachers Institute, Amateur Radio's response to Hurricane Maria, young radio amateurs handling health-and-welfare traffic for Puerto Rico, the "Land Ops" Amateur Radio activity [see "Land Ops -- Off Road and On the Air" by Jim Biram, K6JKB, in the May 2018 issue of QST -- Ed.], and information on local ham radio resources and activities.

Booth visitors were able to get help with licensing, renewing their ARRL memberships, accessing ARRL services and programs, and locating classes and examination sites. League members also discussed issues important to their personal enjoyment of Amateur Radio.

NAB traditionally sponsors an Amateur Radio reception at the annual industry gathering.

Former "Coast to Coast AM" Radio Show Host Art Bell, W6OBB, SK

Former "Coast to Coast AM" and "Dreamland" radio host Art Bell, W6OBB, of Pahrump, Nevada, died on Friday, April 13, at his home, the Nye County Sheriff's Office announced. He was 72. A KSNV news report indicated that Bell's family was with him when he died. The Sheriff's Office said an autopsy would be performed.

Bell's long-running radio show trafficked in conspiracy theories, the paranormal, and "dark matter." Ham radio came up too, from time to time. In early 2004, Bell aired an extensive live interview with then-ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP (SK).

"Coast to Coast AM" was syndicated nationwide in the early morning hours and, at its peak, was said to have reached 50 million listeners. Bell produced the show from his own studio in the High Desert of Nevada. Often, after his show was over, he would get together on 75 meters with a group of friends.

Bell retired from "Coast to Coast AM" in the early 2000s, although he had served as a guest host as recently as 2010. He briefly returned to the air with "Art Bell's Dark Matter," which lasted several weeks on the SiriusXM satellite network, but he subsequently got involved with another radio program, "Midnight in the Desert," streamed via the Internet. He quit that show in 2015, however, citing "security concerns" at his home.

Bell was the author of the books The Art of Talk, The Quickening, and The Coming Global Superstorm. Read more. -- Thanks to KSNV and International Business Times

In Brief...

Logbook of The World (LoTW) now has a full-time status monitor. The system's status is displayed in real time and is available offsite, offering a single spot for all users -- web, Facebook, Twitter, etc. -- to quickly check what's happening with the online repository of contacts and confirmations. At a glance, the LoTW status monitor shows if the system is up, paused, or down; overall uptime statistics, and quick stats. A green status means all systems are go, a red status means the system is down, and a black status means the system has been paused. The monitor indicates overall uptime for the past 24 hours, the past 7 days, and the past 30 days, as well as the most-recent downtime occurrence.

Entrepreneur and electrical engineer Jeri Ellsworth, AI6TK, will be guest speaker at the 12th annual AMSAT/TAPR Banquet during Hamvention. The event will take place on Friday, May 18, at the Kohler Presidential Banquet Center, 4548 Presidential Way, Kettering, Ohio -- just south of Dayton. An American entrepreneur, inventor, and self-taught engineer and computer chip designer, Ellsworth will discuss her innovative ideas and her adventures in Amateur Radio. She gained notice in 2004 for creating a complete Commodore 64 system on a chip housed within a joystick -- the C64 Direct-to-TV. In 2016, she earned her Amateur Extra-class license. Ellsworth was featured in the January 2017 issue of QST and in YouTube videos from Quartzfest. A social hour begins at 6:30, with the buffet dinner served at 7 PM. Read more. -- Thanks to AMSAT News Service

"Amateur Radio Roundtable" Host Tom Medlin, W5KUB, will once again livestream selected activities from Hamvention® 2018. Medlin calls it his "Hamvention Marathon Webcast" -- more than 40 hours of live video from the annual show. This will mark his 17th year covering the show for those unable to attend Hamvention. "Our motto is 'Bringing ham radio to you,'" Medlin said. "We want to give everyone the experience of feeling like they are part of this ham radio event." Medlin said viewers can not only see what's going on at Hamvention, but they can also use the chat room to communicate directly with the W5KUB group. "Astronaut Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, is scheduled to be with us again for the 5th year as a co-host," Medlin noted. "Amateur Radio Roundtable" is webcast Tuesday evenings (Wednesday at 0100 UTC). Medlin invites radio amateurs to join the W5KUB Facebook group.

GR9RW will be the call sign for a Royal Wedding special event operation. To celebrate the marriage of Great Britain's Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle, special event call sign GR9RW will be on the air May 19 - 23. It's believed that this will mark the first use of a GR9 call sign prefix in the UK. The royal wedding will take place on May 19 at St. George's Chapel in England's Windsor Castle. Members of the Cray Valley Radio Society (CVRS) will operate GR9RW from their club station in Eltham. GR9RW will primarily use SSB and CW, with the addition of FM on VHF and UHF. Two HF stations and one VHF station will cover all bands from 80 meters to 70 centimeters. A commemorative QSL card is available upon request.

Low-frequency World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station, SAQ, will transmit from Sweden on May 1. The event will mark SAQ's participation in the European Route of Industrial Heritage's "Work It Out" observance. "As part of the event, we plan for the first SAQ transmission since 2016," said Lars Kalland, SM6NM. The transmitter start-up will begin at 0930 UTC, with the transmission to follow on 17.2 kHz CW at 1000 UTC. A live video stream of the event will be available. Kalland said no QSL cards will be sent, nor will SAQ post a list of reports, but SAQ does invite brief listener reports via e-mail. "We sincerely hope that all the SAQ transmission on 17.2 kHz will go as planned," Kalland said. "But, as always, there is a reservation that the transmission [may be] cancelled on short notice."

New Santa Barbara Section Manager John Kitchens, NS6X, of Somis, California, is getting a head start. He's stepping into the job a couple of months earlier than the scheduled date. No nominations for the post were received by the nomination deadline last September, and nominations were resolicited for an 18-month term starting on July 1. Kitchens, the only nominee, was declared elected, succeeding Jim Fortney, K6IYK, who served as Santa Barbara Section Manager since January 2016. Fortney did not run for a new term because he has moved from the Section, although he graciously extended his service by a few months until Kitchens had been formally declared elected and was ready to assume duty. Kitchens has been a radio amateur since 1966. He especially enjoys low-power, VHF, and UHF operating, building equipment and antennas, and contesting.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Solar activity increased over the past week, with average daily sunspot numbers up from 5.4 to 20, and average daily solar flux rallying from 69.9 to 73.4. The previous week saw 4 days with no sunspots, but this week had sunspots on every day. New sunspot groups emerged on April 19 and 21.

Predicted solar flux is 71 on April 26-29; 70 on April 30-May 16; 75 on May 17-29, and 70 on May 30-June 9.

Predicted planetary A index is 8 and 12 on April 26-27; 5 on April 28-May 1; 8 on May 2; 5 on May 3-5; 10, 15, 12, 10, and 8 on May 6-10; 5 on May 11-16; 42, 12, and 8 on May 17-19; 5 on May 20-22; 8 and 12 on May 23-24; 5 on May 25-June 1; 10, 15, 12, 10, and 8 on June 2-6, and 5 on June 7-9.

Sunspot numbers for April 19-25 were 14, 14, 34, 20, 22, 19, and 17, with a mean of 20. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 70.8, 73, 76.8, 75.7, 73.9, 72.9, and 70.8, with a mean of 73.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 3, 47, 12, 5, 6, 5, and 5, with a mean of 11.9. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 2, 29, 10, 5, 6, 4, and 4, with a mean of 8.6.

Send me your reports or observations.

Getting It Right

In The ARRL Letter of April 19, the article, "New 630-Meter Band Reported 'Very Busy'" contained an incorrect call sign. The sentence should have said, "NO3M, who also operates as W8CDX, reports eight DXCC entities worked on the new band." A photo caption in the same article indicated that NO3M was using a modified Heathkit amplifier for his amateur work on 630 meters. NO3M said the modified tube amp was one he'd used while operating under an FCC Part 5 Experimental license for generating sufficient power to obtain the 100 W ERP permitted under that grant. His current solid-state amp for amateur work is much more modest.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • April 28-29 -- 10-10 International Spring Contest, Digital

  • April 28-29 -- DX RTTY Contest

  • April 28-29 -- Helvetia Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 28-29 -- Florida QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • April 29 -- BARTG Sprint 75 (75 baud RTTY)

  • May 1 -- AGCW QRP/QRP Party (CW)

  • May 3 -- NRAU 10-Meter Activity Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • May 3 -- MIE 33 Contest (CW, phone)

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

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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