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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
November 1, 2018
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Brief ARRL Website Outage Planned for Wednesday, November 7

Some services on the ARRL website will be interrupted briefly on Wednesday, November 7, sometime between 1000 UTC and 1200 UTC. This outage is to accommodate a hardware upgrade of the existing Rackspace firewall, so most future firewall updates and patches can be performed without interrupting website access. Affected systems are the main website, including the ARRL Store and contesting-related pages. Logbook of The World (LoTW), email, and all Headquarters will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

New CEO Wants ARRL to Serve All Ages and Amateur Radio Interests

Newly elected ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, is still on the uphill side of the learning curve as he acquaints himself with ARRL Headquarters and the nearly 90 staffers who work there. The New Jersey native arrived at HQ on October 15 and has spent much of his time since meeting with department managers and others to get his bearings, with an eye toward building consensus and aligning people, programs, and services in the same direction.

New ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX (left), meets with ARRL Development Manager Lauren Clarke, KB1YDD. [Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, photo]

"I'm still trying to understand what is working and where the challenges are," Michel said. "Once I understand where the challenges are, I need to understand why. Before I make any changes in what we're doing, I need to make sure the change is a step in the right direction and for the right reasons, and not kind of a random process."

Michel would like to see ARRL focus on the future of Amateur Radio and not become the redoubt of a particular generation of radio amateur or interest group. He said, "Ham radio shouldn't abandon the old guardians of the hobby, but at the same time, it needs to have new things that appeal to people who have different interests and different passions."

Ham radio appears currently entrenched with opposition often expressed to FT8 and other digital modes and protocols that bend Amateur Radio traditions and conventions, Michel observed. However, as he sees it, technology for the whole of Amateur Radio has been changing, and detractors to advances have always been present. He'd like ARRL to encourage more technological diversity without creating controversy.

"My kick is seeing the technology advance," the former IEEE president and CEO said. "I want to see hams embrace the new technology -- as long as we do that in a way that those who don't adopt the new technology won't feel abandoned." In his view, the real reason behind the continued enthusiasm for CW "is not the technology; it's the legacy."

At the same time, resources should reflect usage and interest, with respect to the spectrum and with respect to how many pages QST devotes to a particular interest area. "Everything should reflect the growth and change, without abandoning the legacy interests."

Acknowledging the incessant push to get more young people into Amateur Radio, Michel wants to explore ways "to morph some of the League's processes and services and products into something that would appeal to the newer generation of hams."

New CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, takes W1AW for a spin. [Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, photo]

"Young people in general don't join organizations, but they join causes," he said. "With that kind of attitude, how do we develop the same kind of ability for people interested in Amateur Radio to self-organize around causes? And if we can design the infrastructure around that, maybe they'll see value in ARRL and become a new type of member -- not one who necessarily comes to ham club meetings once a month but finds the League can facilitate what they want to do."

Michel said he's always enjoyed tinkering with ham gear, building it, modifying it, and repairing it, and then making it do something new or different. He concedes that while he has not had an opportunity to do much hamming as he's moved around with the military and for academic and business pursuits, he'd like to become more active, and he is presently exploring his options as an apartment dweller. As for FT8, he'd like to try it, if for no other reason than the novelty.

Michel said he definitely wants to encourage partnerships with other organizations with which ARRL might share some common ground, including IEEE.

"We can't do everything ourselves. We have to find partnerships," he said. Some IEEE operating units would be applicable to Amateur Radio, and he's already heard from two unit heads that are both hams.

Michel also feels that radio amateurs need to extend their gaze beyond the everyday nuts and bolts of Amateur Radio operating. "What we need to do is protect the spectrum from competition, develop interest in the various facets of Amateur Radio, and not try to pick fights 'in house,'" he said. "Spectrum is the gold of the 21st century."

Hamvention® to Host 2019 ARRL National Convention

Hamvention® will host the 2019 ARRL National Convention from May 17 - 19 in Xenia, Ohio. Hamvention, the largest annual Amateur Radio gathering in the US, and the ARRL National Convention will share the joint theme of "Mentoring the Next Generation" of Amateur Radio operators.

As host of the 2019 ARRL National Convention, Hamvention will feature dozens of forums covering a variety of Amateur Radio topics in the areas of technology, public service, on-air operating, training, and learning. A track of presentations will be organized to build on the mentorship theme, encouraging more individuals and radio clubs to lead new and inexperienced radio amateurs to become more active, involved, and engaged.

The National Convention will feature ARRL EXPO -- a large assembly of exhibits, activities, and representatives for ARRL programs and services. Details will be posted as these become available.

Hamvention 2019 will be the third held at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia since the event relocated from Dayton. In 2018, Hamvention recorded its third-largest attendance ever with 28,417. Sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association® (DARA), an ARRL-affiliated club, Hamvention is a traditional meeting place for radio amateurs from all over, and the event attracts many international attendees each spring.

The new Hamvention venue features multiple buildings of indoor vendor exhibits, an outdoor flea market, and many food trucks and concession stands, with free onsite parking and at nearby remote lots served by free shuttles.

The Hamvention website will include details on how to obtain convention tickets as well as information about forums, exhibits (including vendor and flea market accommodations), travel, and preferred hotels with special rates. Convention tickets are $22 in advance or $27 at the gate. Tickets cover admission for all 3 days. Read more.

ARRL Executive Committee Updated on Regulatory, Governance Issues

The ARRL Executive Committee (EC) met on October 20 in Bloomington, Minnesota. During his opening comments, ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, who chaired the session, said his membership contacts have indicated that strong support exists for the Entry-Level License Enhancement petition to the FCC, as well as for the Volunteer Monitor Program that would supplant the current Official Observers program.

General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, told the EC that the Amateur Radio Parity Act remains alive in Congress as part of the House-passed version of the Financial Services and General Government authorization Act (FSGG). The measure is now before a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences between the versions passed by each house. Imlay indicated that administrative implementation of the bill's provisions remains on the table should the act not be included in the FSGG authorization bill.

Imlay said that ARRL is awaiting final approval from the FCC of a new Memorandum of Understanding for the Amateur Auxiliary. Discussions are under way with key players planning the rollout and implementation of the Volunteer Monitor program.

The EC was also told that the FCC has yet to reply to ARRL's concerns regarding a recent FCC Enforcement Advisory that addressed the importation and use of non-certified radios, which have been marketed to the general public. ARRL officials recently conferred with FCC officials about the Advisory, expressing concerns about a portion of the notice that called on radio amateurs possessing such radios not to use them. ARRL officials believe there was no valid legal basis for that assertion in the notice. The EC directed Imlay to prepare a "white paper" explaining ARRL's position on the issue to inform members in response to inquiries.

In another FCC matter, ARRL officials met with the chief and staff members of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to urge more rapid FCC resolution of a series of long-pending rulemaking proceedings now before the Bureau. Most urgent are the long-delayed "symbol rate" petition (WT Docket 16-239) and the ARRL's Entry-Level License Enhancement petition. The FCC has not yet put the latter petition on public notice for comment.

In other action, the Committee directed the Board's National Broadband Plan Committee to continue monitoring potential threats to the 5.850 - 5.925 GHz, 10 GHz, and 24 GHz bands. Amateur allocations within the so-called "mid-band" spectrum (3.7 - 7.125 GHz) are now under consideration for fixed and mobile broadband allocation.

On the subject of the ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors, the EC considered and extensively discussed two proposed restatements of that policy. The EC adopted a motion to recommend a draft proposal prepared by the committee appointed by the President to the full Board, with a draft prepared by Imlay also presented as an alternative. The Board holds its next regular meeting in January.

The EC also received a status report on the review of Ethics and Elections Guidelines to be presented to the Board in January. The ad hoc committee formed for the purpose will circulate its proposal 60 days in advance of the January Board meeting.

Minutes of the October 20 EC meeting have been posted.

The Doctor Will See You Now!

"Do you really need a tower?" is the topic of the current (October 25) 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 email 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: "External Speakers."

New Book Magic Band Antennas for Ham Radio is Now Shipping!

Magic Band Antennas for Ham Radio is designed for radio amateurs who want to discover the mysteries of the "magic band." Six meters is a band full of surprises. When you least expect it, 6 meters can suddenly open for contacts over hundreds and even thousands of miles. And while the HF bands may be suffering during a solar minimum, 6 meters is unaffected and just as amazing as ever.

If you're looking for new pursuits in Amateur Radio, the world above 50 MHz is the territory you should explore. You'll quickly learn 6 meters is exciting and fun!

Written by Bruce Walker, N3JO, ARRL Life Member, and volunteer VHF Awards Manager, this book includes:

Insight into the unpredictable behavior of the 6-meter band.

6-meter operating and the quirks of 6-meter propagation.

Build your own 6-meter antennas - includes detailed designs for everything from simple antennas to high-gain band busters.

Magic Band Antennas for Ham Radio is available from the ARRL Store or your ARRL Dealer. (ARRL Item no. 0987, ISBN: 978-1-62595-098-7, $22.95 retail, special ARRL Member Price $19.95). Call 860-594-0355 or, toll-free in the US, 888-277-5289. It will also be available as an e-book for the Amazon Kindle.

The 13th Annual ARRL On-Line Auction Grosses More than $22,000

The 13th Annual ARRL On-Line Auction October 19 - 26 took in more than $22,000. In addition to hundreds of browsers, the auction saw 214 individual bidders vying for QST "Product Review" equipment, vintage publications, one-of-a-kind finds, and the ever popular "mystery junque boxes" from the ARRL Lab. Also receiving many bids were "Last Man Standing" KAØXTT QSL cards autographed by Tim Allen. A total of 1,084 bids were recorded.

Proceeds from the yearly auction benefit ARRL education programs. These include activities to license new hams, strengthen Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) training, offer continuing technical and operating education, and create instructional materials. Always the most popular auction items, QST "Product Review" equipment was in high demand. The premier item turned out to be the Apache Labs ANAN-8000DLE HF and 6-Meter SDR Transceiver, which drew a winning bid of $3,200. In second place was the ICOM IC-R8600 Communications Receiver, which brought in $2,100. The Yaesu FT-991A HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver drew a final bid of $1,060.

"We would like to express our appreciation to the donors who provided such a diverse mix of items, and we look forward to our 14th auction in 2019," said ARRL Advertising Sales Manager Janet Rocco, W1JLR.

Buzz for the New 2019 ARRL Handbook

The 2019 edition of The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications started shipping earlier this month. Already, the new edition is generating lots of interest across the Amateur Radio community - including positive reviews for the new format, which features The Handbook divided into a six-volume boxed set. Reviews have been posted on two popular ham radio YouTube channels. ARRL Life Member Alan Wolke, W2AEW, produces the w2aew channel, which focuses on radio electronic tutorials including test and measurement. Wolke's channel has over 94,600 subscribers. The Handbook was also reviewed by member George Thomas, Jr., W5JDX, on Ham Nation, as part of the show's "Smoke and Solder" segment.

The Handbook Six-Volume Boxed Set, ARRL Item No. 0895, ISBN 978-1-62595-089-5, is $64.95 retail. The Handbook soft-cover edition, ARRL Item No. 0888, ISBN 978-1-62595-088-8, is $49.95 retail. Order from the ARRL Store, from your ARRL Dealer, or call (860) 594-0355 or toll-free in the US, (888) 277-5289. The Handbook Kindle edition comes in six separate volumes, automatically delivered to your Kindle, for $9.99 per volume (Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4, Vol 5, Vol 6).

ARRL Says Wireless Power Transfer for Electric Vehicles Petition is Premature

ARRL is opposing a Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11815) by several vehicle manufacturers that calls on the FCC to "adopt field strength limits in Section 18.305 that will allow higher-power wireless charging technologies operating in the 79 - 90 kHz range" to accommodate what the petitioners call "next-generation" wireless power transfer for electric vehicles (WPT-EV). Comments filed on October 29 by ARRL contend that the petition is "woefully incomplete and inadequate" in its analysis of consequent out-of-band emissions from WPT-EV systems in the low- and medium-frequency ranges using upward of 11 kW of power. Given the high power levels, ARRL said harmonic emissions from WPT-EV systems could be appreciable, with the AM Broadcast Band and Amateur Radio as potential interference victims. "Interference potential from intentional radiators requires substantial evaluation," ARRL asserted in its remarks.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory test a wireless power transfer charger on a fully electric vehicle. [US Department of Energy photo]

The issue of WPT-EV is a World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) agenda item, for which studies are still under way. The Petition "quite obviously prejudges the outcome of WRC-19 Agenda Item 9.1.6," ARRL said, stressing that the Petition is simply premature at this point.

"The Petition is typical [of those that] tout a new application of old technology," ARRL commented. "So as to establish a sense of urgency, the bulk of the Petition is dedicated to establishing a public interest justification for making a rule change now, in order to accommodate the technology."

The Petition seeks a specific field strength limit of 74.4 dBµA/meter (at a distance of 10 meters), regardless of the charging system's operating environment. That works out to about 2.07 V per meter (at 10 meters) or 126 dBµV -- 126 dB above 1 µV. The Petition presumes that the optimum internationally harmonized frequency range for WPT-EV is already known to be 79 - 90 kHz and that the optimum field strength to minimize any impact on radiocommunication services has been established, ARRL commented.

"The problem, however, is that there is nothing in the four corners of the Petition that would justify those assumptions," ARRL told the FCC. ARRL said the rollout of WPT-EV "has profound implications in terms of its ubiquity in future years," and called on the Commission to deny the petition without prejudice or dismiss it altogether.

"Quite clearly, the petitioners have 'jumped the gun' by filing this Petition now," ARRL concluded. Read more.

Yasme Foundation Announces Supporting Grant to ARISS and Excellence Awards

The Yasme Foundation has announced "a significant grant" to Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) in support of ARISS's effort to upgrade Amateur Radio equipment and systems on the space station. ARISS mounted a fundraising campaign earlier this year to cover the costs of its next-gen Interoperable Radio System, which will replace the aging and intermittent ISS Amateur Radio gear now in space.

"Putting and keeping Amateur Radio in space is a significant expense and needs the support of the entire amateur community," Yasme Foundation President Ward Silver, N0AX, said in announcing the grant as well as several excellence awards. Silver noted that ARISS-International delegates learned recently that an ARISS plan is under consideration by NASA's Deep Space Gateway (DSG) program.

The Yasme Excellence Award is presented to individuals and groups who, through their own service, creativity, effort, and dedication, have made a significant contribution to Amateur Radio. The Foundation announced these Excellence Award recipients:

  • Brian Machesney, K1LI, and Michelle Guenard in recognition of their extraordinary efforts on behalf of Commonwealth of Dominica communities in the wake of the 2017 hurricane season.

  • Fred Kleber, K9VV, in recognition of his leadership and technical skills that support the Virgin Islands' emergency communication capabilities. "Fred has been a key player long before hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands," Yasme Foundation said. Kleber serves as ARRL US Virgin Islands Section Manager.

  • Zorro Miyazawa, JH1AJT, for his extensive promotion of Amateur Radio in developing counties. The Yasme Foundation Board said governments and telecommunication administrators in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Eritrea, and Myanmar "have benefited from Zorro's patient and skillful efforts."

  • Stu Phillips, K6TU, for contributions to Amateur Radio through his Propagation and DX Strategy website. The Foundation singled out Phillips' innovative tools, free for amateur use.

  • Randy Wright, W6CUA, in recognition of his long service as Yasme Foundation Awards Manager.

The Yasme Excellence Award is in the form of a cash grant and an individually-engraved crystal globe. Read more.

In Brief...

Well-known contester and "antenna farmer" the Reverend Paul Bittner, W0AIH, of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, has died. An October 31 tower maintenance mishap claimed Bittner's life at his well-known antenna farm. The ARRL Life Member and Maxim Society member was 84. The accident occurred as Bittner was getting ready for this weekend's ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW). A member of the CQ Contesting Hall of Fame, Bittner -- a retired Lutheran pastor -- was a well-known and respected figure within the Amateur Radio community and a prolific contester. News of his tragic death and accolades quickly rippled out among those who knew him best. Read more.

ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, has been re-elected as IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society Vice President for Standards. "Amateur Radio must be represented at the tables where these standards are conceived and written," Hare said. "ARRL is uniquely positioned to be able to fill that role in a way that is seen by industry as being a good representation of Amateur Radio, but also of radio communication in general. One side effect of technology that poses a real risk and has an actual present-moment impact on Amateur Radio and other radio services is noise that causes radio-frequency interference (RFI)." The EMC Society Board of Directors met from October 26 - 28 in Saint Louis. As IEEE EMC Society Vice President for Standards, Hare oversees and leads the EMC standardization work of the EMC Society and a number of oversight committees working on various aspects of standardization. "I am honored to be part of this work," Hare said.

Weather has forced an early shutdown of the VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition. The team announced just after 1600 UTC on October 31 that, "due to an expected worsening in landing conditions," it would cease operations. The final contact count was 121,136. Most contacts -- 67,686 -- were on CW, with 28,736 on SSB, and 24,714 on digital modes. "It's been raining all night, with 20+ knot winds," an October 31 news bulletin from the team said. "The ship is about 300 meters off shore, the forecast indicates continuing 20+ knot winds, 2 - 3 meter seas. We want to thank everyone for their support, and hope we met your expectations."

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Another week passed with no sunspots. The average daily solar flux declined from 70.4 to 68.6. Geomagnetic indicators were quiet, up only slightly over the previous 7 days. The planetary A index rose from 3.3 to 4.4, and middle latitude A index from 2.1 to 3.4.

Solar activity will probably bottom out in the next couple of years, but where are we compared to the previous solar minimum? For October, the average daily sunspot number was only 4.5. The average October sunspot numbers for 2007 - 2018 were 1.3, 5.2, 7, 35, 116.9, 73.8, 127.2, 92.1, 59.6, 29.1, 12.9, and 4.5. So, it appears we are at about the same level of activity today.

Predicted solar flux for the short term is 69 on November 1 - 7; 70 on November 8 - 17; 69 on November 18 - 19; 68 on November 20 - December 2; 70 on December 3 - 14, and 69 on December 15.

The predicted planetary A index is 5 on November 1 - 2; 23, 20, 16, 12, and 8 on November 3 - 7; 5, 12, 8, and 10 on November 8 - 11; 5 on November 12 - 13; 12 on November 14; 5 on November 15 - 24; 8, 12, and 10 on November 25 - 27; 5 on November 28 - 29; 20 on November 30; 15 on December 1 - 3; 8, 5, 12, 8, and 10 on December 4 - 8, and 5 on December 9 - 15.

Sunspot numbers for October 25 - 31 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, with a mean of 0. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 69.4, 69.2, 69.3, 68.3, 68.8, 67.1, and 68.1, with a mean of 68.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 6, 4, 4, 3, 4, and 4, with a mean of 4.4. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 5, 6, 3, 2, 1, 4, and 3, with a mean of 3.4.

Share your reports and observations.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • November 3 -- IPARC Contest, CW

  • November 3 - 4 -- Ukrainian DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • November 3 - 5 -- ARRL November Sweepstakes CW

  • November 4 -- IPARC Contest, SSB

  • November 4 -- EANET Sprint (CW, phone, digital)

  • November 4 -- High Speed Club CW Contest

  • November 6 -- ARS Spartan Sprint CW

  • November 7 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (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 email 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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