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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
May 27, 2021
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Amateur Radio Gearing Up for Another Active Atlantic Hurricane Season

The Atlantic Hurricane Season, which starts on June 1, promises to be a busy time for amateur radio volunteers on the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) to report ground-level storm conditions in real time for use by National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters, and for SKYWARN volunteers, many of whom are hams. The National Oceanographic

and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 MPH or greater), of which six to ten could become hurricanes (winds of 74 MPH or greater), including three to five major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5, with winds of 111 MPH or greater) expected. NOAA projects these ranges with a 70% confidence level.

"2021 is looking to be another active season," said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. "We can only hope we don't have a repeat of 2005 or 2020. The sea surface temperatures throughout the normal areas of tropical cyclone activity are already near or just above 80 °F, just what storms like. The current forecast for 2021 is on the high side. The adjusted average is 14 named storms, with seven hurricanes and three of those at Category 3 or stronger."

When active, the HWN operates on 14.325 MHz during daylight hours and on 7.268 MHz after dark.

The net's primary mission is to disseminate tropical cyclone advisory information to island communities in the Caribbean, Central America, along the US Atlantic seaboard, and throughout Gulf of Mexico coastal areas. It collects observed or measured weather data from participating radio amateurs in storm-affected areas as well as any post-storm damage reports and passes that information along to forecasters at the NHC via its amateur radio station, WX4NHC. The HWN typically activates whenever a storm system has achieved hurricane status and is within 300 statute miles of a populated landmass.

"Of course, it takes only one land-falling hurricane to make for a bad year," Graves said, recalling Hurricane Andrew in 1992. "It was the only storm to make landfall that season, and it was a Category 5 storm that hit Homestead, Florida, just south of Miami."

Assistant Coordinator of the NHC's amateur radio station WX4NHC Julio Ripoll, WD4R, has announced that WX4NHC will conduct its annual station test on Saturday, May 29, 1300 - 2100 UTC. "This will be our 41st year of public service at NHC," he said.

VoIP Hurricane Net Director of Operations Rob Macedo, KD1CY, said his organization is ready for another busy hurricane season and will participate in the WX4NHC Communications test on Saturday, May 29. The VoIP Hurricane Prep Net meets Saturdays starting on June 5, at 0000 UTC. Contact Macedo for more information.

The National Hurricane Conference June 14 - 17 in New Orleans, Louisiana, will host its traditional Amateur Radio Workshop scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, from 1:30 to 5 PM. Macedo will moderate the virtual session, in which Ripoll will take part. Register online. Read an expanded version.

June 2021 Eclipse Festival Seeks Ham Participants

HamSCI is looking for radio amateurs to record time-standard stations during the June 2021 annular solar eclipse across the Arctic Circle as part of a citizen science experiment. Researchers

will use the crowd-sourced data to investigate the superimposed effects of auroral particle precipitation and the eclipse on HF Doppler shift.

Participants would collect data using an HF radio connected to a computer running open-source software. A precision frequency standard, such as a GPS-disciplined oscillator, is desirable but not required to participate. Radio amateurs and shortwave listeners around the globe are invited to take part, even stations far from the path of totality. Last year's eclipse festivals included more than 100 participants from 45 countries.

The experiment will run June 7 - 12. All participants will receive certificates as well as updates as the data is processed. This is a pilot experiment for HamSCI's Personal Space Weather Station project, which seeks to develop a global network monitoring the geospace environment. For more information and set-up instructions, visit the June 2021 Arctic Eclipse Festival page on the HamSCI website.

This eclipse will be an unusual annular or "ring of fire" eclipse. This occurs when the moon is too far from Earth to fully block the sun, but will fit entirely within it. The eclipse path will cross over the North Pole, so it first will travel north and then south.

While those living in parts of Canada and Russia will experience the full "ring of fire" effect of the eclipse, residents on the East Coast of the US may be able to briefly experience a partial solar eclipse -- a preview of the total solar eclipse that will cross the US in 2024.

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 17) features a discussion with Ward Silver, N0AX, about the importance of station grounding.

The latest edition of Eclectic Tech (Episode 34) features a discussion with Philip Gladstone, N1DQ, the creator of the popular PSKReporter website.

The On the Air and Eclectic Tech podcasts are sponsored by Icom. Both podcasts are available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android), as well as on Blubrry -- On the Air | Eclectic Tech.

Radio Amateur's Vintage Film Footage Sheds Light on Hindenburg Disaster

Vintage film footage provided by New Jersey radio amateur Bob Schenck, N2OO, was the highlight of a PBS documentary about the Hindenburg disaster. The film, shot by his uncle, Harold Schenck, may provide clues as to what initiated the disastrous 1937 fire that destroyed the airship Hindenburg and claimed 35 lives as the German zeppelin was landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Harold Schenck tried to interest government investigators in his film, shot from a different angle than newsreel footage that begins only after the fire was well under way, but it was largely overlooked. "Nobody ever asked for it," Bob Schenck explains in the documentary.

The Schenck film is the highlight of a PBS NOVA documentary, Hindenburg: The New Evidence, that investigates the issue in considerable depth in an effort to unlock the secrets of the cold case. The program aired on May 19 and remains available for streaming.

"My dad had bought this nifty Kodak camera -- a wind-up movie camera, 8 millimeters -- and he couldn't come [to the Hindenburg landing] because he worked," Bob Schenck recounted during the documentary. "So, he asked my uncle and my mom if they would take some shots and see the Hindenburg land."

Bob Schenck approached Dan Grossman, an expert on airships, including Hindenburg, in 2012 during a commemoration of the disaster that forever memorialized radio reporter Herbert Morrison's plaintive on-air reaction, "Oh, the humanity!" The NOVA documentary not only shares Schenck's footage, which provided new clues to re-examine the cause of the explosion, it also reviews scientific experiments that helped investigators come to a fresh understanding of what set off the fire.

The original investigation only concluded that the fire resulted from leaking hydrogen ignited by a spark, but it was never determined what caused the spark. Witness accounts suggested the fire started near the airship's tail, but supporting evidence was hard to find until the Schenck footage was examined.

"The Hindenburg remains vivid in our collective memories all these years later because of the searing images and film of the explosion," said NOVA co-executive producer Chris Schmidt in a Manchester Patch article. "We feel honored to share this new footage with the world and to bring the NOVA audience behind the scenes of this pivotal new investigation into the crash." -- Some information from Manchester Patch; thanks to Pete Varounis, NL7XM

Amateur Radio in the News

ARRL Public Information Officers, Coordinators, and many other member-volunteers help keep amateur radio and ARRL in the news.

Share any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

ARRL Learning Network Webinars

Visit the ARRL Learning Network (a members-only benefit) to register, check on upcoming webinars, and view previously recorded sessions.

Ask the Lab: How ARRL's Technical Information Service Can Help You -- ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI / Tuesday, June 8, at 1 PM EDT (1700 UTC)

Learn about the ARRL Technical Information Service (TIS) and the expert ARRL Laboratory staff who answer thousands of questions each year from members. Get tips about projects, suggestions to address various station installations, and help for some of your most pressing ham radio questions. You'll discover how to search ARRL's extensive Periodicals Archive, find helpful articles, read test reports, access technical forums, and find answers to technical questions beyond the Lab.

Improving Your Club's 2021 Field Day Score -- Paul Bourque, N1SFE, ARRL Contest Program Manager / Thursday, June 10, 8 PM EDT (0000 UTC on Friday, June 11).

Learn how your club or group can take advantage of the 2021 ARRL Field Day rules waivers while operating as Class D or E from home. We'll discuss how individuals or groups can boost their scores by earning bonus points, review how to use the Field Day web applet to submit your score, and go over how to attribute your score to your club's aggregate score. This presentation highlights all you need to know to operate as a group for ARRL Field Day 2021.

Introduction to Remote HF Operation -- Davide Lanfranconi, W6DGE, and Kevin Shin-Wheeler, N7KSW, Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club / Tuesday, June 22, 1 PM EDT (1700 UTC).

Lanfranconi and Shin-Wheeler will discuss the idea, process, and challenges encountered while getting their club's remote HF station on the air, as well as some methods and resources available for those with a similar interest. A Q&A session and live demo are included.

ARRL members may register for upcoming presentations and view previously recorded Learning Network webinars. ARRL-affiliated radio clubs may also use the recordings as presentations for club meetings, mentoring new and current hams, and discussing amateur radio topics.

These Learning Network presentations are sponsored by PreppComm.

The ARRL Learning Network schedule is subject to change.

East Bay SM Jim Siemons, W6LK, Stepping Down; Mike Patterson, N6JGA, Appointed

ARRL East Bay Section Manager (SM) Jim Siemons, W6LK, is stepping down because he is relocating to Wyoming. Siemons has served as East Bay SM since July 2018. Mike Patterson, N6JGA, has been appointed to succeed him, effective June 1.

Siemons said, "There really is not a greater honor for a ham like me than to watch so many people get their licenses, learn the code,

Mike Patterson, N6JGA.

program a radio for the first time, win some 'wallpaper,' or just enjoy each other's company over a cup of coffee. I get to constantly witness this as SM. ARRL afforded me the opportunity to have experiences and gain memories that will last me forever!"

An ARRL Life Member, Patterson will serve the balance of Siemons' term, which extends to the end of 2021. His amateur radio background is strong in mentoring, emergency communications, public service, and club leadership. He is a Volunteer Examiner and the Treasurer of the Northern Amateur Relay Council of California -- the repeater coordination body for the area that covers about two thirds of California. Patterson is also on the Board of the Pacific Division annual convention (Pacificon), active in the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), including trustee of the group's repeater; past president of the Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club (MDARC), and a member of several clubs within and outside the Section.

Patterson has been very active in MDARC's education and training programs, and has helped many people prepare for their first license and to upgrade.

ARRL Radiosport and Field Services Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, made the appointment based on the recommendations of Siemons and ARRL Pacific Division Director Kristen McIntyre, K6WX.

CQ Announces 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees

CQ has announced six new members inducted into its Amateur Radio Hall of Fame, and two new members each to the DX Hall of Fame and the Contest Hall of Fame. This year's inductions were conducted online due to event cancellations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made significant contributions to amateur radio and radio amateurs who have made significant contributions either to amateur radio, their professions, "or some other aspect of life on our planet," CQ said.

The 2021 CQ Hall of Fame inductees are:

  • Archibald Doty, W7ACD (SK), engineer, inventor, researcher into efficient radial systems for vertical antennas, and pioneer of college radio

  • Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, founder of HamSCI (Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation)

  • Lorin Hollander, WA1PGB, world-renowned classical concert pianist

  • Christopher Imlay, W3KD, ARRL Counsel and General Counsel from 1982 to 2018

  • Cathryn Mitchell, M0IBG, Academic Director of the University of Bath Doctoral College (UK) and recipient of the 2019 Edward Appleton Medal

  • Admiral Charles "Chas" Richard, W4HFZ, commander of USSTRATCOM, the United States Strategic Command

The CQ DX and Contest Halls of Fame honor those radio amateurs who not only excel in personal performance in these major areas of amateur radio, but who also give back to the hobby in outstanding ways.

CQ DX Hall of Fame 2021 inductees are:

  • Jacky Calvo, ZL3CW/F2CW, a veteran of the French Air Force and the International Committee of the Red Cross, with postings that took him (and his ham station) to a dozen countries around the world.

  • Francesco Valsecchi, IK0FVC/HV0A, who has regularly activated Vatican City for the past 30 years using HV0A and other call signs, as well as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) as 1A0KM.

CQ Contest Hall of Fame 2021 inductees are:

  • Robert Wolbert, K6XX, a "renaissance man" of contesting, advancing the state of the art in designing amateur equipment at Elecraft.

  • David A. Pruett, K8CC (SK), author of the NA contest logging program as well as a log-checking program and host of many multi-multi operations from his Michigan contest station over 30 years. Read an expanded version.

  • The Radio Society of Great Britain has designated ARRL authors Jack Purdum, W8TEE, and Al Peter, AC8GY, as winners of the 2020 Bennett Prize G8PF, for their article, "Double-double Magnetic Loop," published in the February 2020 edition of RadCom. The award recognizes "any significant contribution or innovation which furthers the art of radio communications."

  • Radio Club Argentino (RCA), Argentina's IARU member-society, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The RCA Awards Committee says special call sign L21RCA will be on the air throughout the year, operating from various provinces. Various downloadable certificates are available. Visit the RCA centennial website for more information.

  • The Southwest Ohio DX Association (SWODXA) has named the VP8PJ South Orkney Island DXpedition as its 2021 DXpedition of the Year. The award recognizes excellence in planning and execution from most-wanted DXCC entities. "Winners of the DXpedition of the Year Award have overcome significant access, licensing, and logistical challenges to deliver a large number of contacts to a broad swath of the global amateur community," SWODXA said in announcing the award. "They represent the pinnacle of DXpeditioning."

  • CWops has designated the K1USN Radio Club as the 2021 recipient of its Award for Advancing the Art of CW. As CWops noted in making the announcement, the K1USN Radio Club has created and managed the K1USN Weekly Slow Speed Test (SST) that provides a place for new and unpracticed CW operators to gather and operate at relaxed speeds in a friendly and encouraging manner that helps them continue to improve their CW skills.

Researcher and Past Arecibo Observatory Director Gordon Pettengill, W1OUN, SK

Renowned physicist, astronomer, and past Arecibo Observatory Director Gordon Pettengill, W1OUN, of Concord, Massachusetts, died on May 8. An ARRL member, he was 95.

"He was instrumental [as Arecibo Observatory Director] in getting some 'telescope time' at that facility for hams to do EME (moonbounce) on 432 MHz, giving a lot of hams with modest stations a shot at making a QSO via moon reflection," said Chip Taylor, W1AIM. "He was the first person to use that big dish to do radar mapping of the surface of Venus, Mercury, Mars, and various asteroids and comets. And he was a mentor to many of us interested in microwave communication."

A World War II combat veteran, Pettengill completed his bachelor's degree at MIT after the war, then received a doctorate in high-energy physics at the University of California-Berkeley. His career in radio astronomy took off when he joined MIT Lincoln Laboratory, using the Millstone Radar in Westford, Massachusetts, for astronomical observations.

In 1963, he moved to the newly opened Arecibo Observatory. He was named its director in 1968. In 1977, he was Principal Investigator of the radar aboard the Pioneer Venus Orbiter that created the first near-global topographic map of any planet, and in the 1990s he was the Principal Investigator of the Magellan mission to Venus.

Pettengill was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1979, and served as Director of MIT's Center for Space Research from 1984 until 1989. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980 and spent his sabbatical at the University of Sydney, Australia. He retired in 1995. He was active on the air until recently.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: The 10.7-centimeter solar flux rose this week, reaching 88 on Wednesday, May 26. That's the highest value since December 7, 2020, when it was 89.5. The official flux value is always the local noon reading at Canada's Dominion Radio Astrophysical Research Facility in Penticton, British Columbia, which provides solar flux readings three times a day.

Average daily solar flux rose this week to 77.8, down from last week's average of 74.2, while the average daily sunspot number increased from 20.3 to 24.9. Let's hope this signals a return to the enhanced activity and HF conditions we saw at the end of 2020.

Predicted solar flux over the next month is 88 on May 27 - 28; 80 on May 29 - 30; 76 on May 31 - June 3; 74 on June 4 - 10; 75 on June 11; 77 on June 12 - 15; 79 on June 16 - 23, and 76 on June 24 - 29.

Predicted planetary A index is 20, 10, and 5 on May 27 - 29; 8, 5, and 8 on May 30 - June 1; and 5 on June 2 and into July.

Sunspot numbers for May 20 - 26 were 13, 13, 19, 30, 29, 36, and 34, with a mean of 24.9. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 72.3, 73.7, 75.6, 79, 72.7, 83.5, and 88, with a mean of 77.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 24, 7, 5, 4, 4, 3, and 13, with a mean of 8.6. Middle latitude A index was 17, 8, 5, 4, 2, 3, and 12, with a mean of 7.3.

A comprehensive K7RA Solar Update is posted Fridays on the ARRL website. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service, read "What the Numbers Mean...," and check out K9LA's Propagation Page.

A propagation bulletin archive is available. For customizable propagation charts, visit the VOACAP Online for Ham Radio website.

Share your reports and observations.

In Brief...

The San Francisco Amateur Radio Club (SFARC) will activate a sailboat on San Francisco Bay as the inaugural event in Boats on the Air (BOTA). The event is set for Saturday, June 5, 1 - 4 PM PDT. Inspired by the success of programs like SOTA, POTA, and IOTA, BOTA will feed into the passions of amateur radio and boating. The sailing vessel Auriah is a 37-foot-long Beneteau Oceanis with a home port of Sausalito, California. "The main rule of BOTA is that the boat must be under way during the activation. No anchoring, mooring, or tying to a dock is allowed," said Kent Carter, AJ6NI. "The plan is for us to be moving 100% under sail power during that time. In addition to being a fun activity, it is hoped that BOTA will further emergency preparedness and experimentation with amateur radio." Activation frequencies are 7.115 MHz (CW); 14.325 MHz (SSB); 18.100 MHz (FT8), and 146.52 MHz (FM simplex). For more information or to post your own activation, contact BOTA.

The FCC is seeking comment on the impact of the continuing global shortage of semiconductors. The FCC's May 11 Public Notice stated its concern is focused on the impact the shortage could have on the communications industry, agency initiatives, and the nation's continued advancement in next-generation technologies. FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel commented: "The communications sector is one of the fastest-growing segments of the semiconductor industry. These tiny pieces of technology are the basic building blocks of modern communications -- including 5G, Wi-Fi, satellites, and more. That is why we are seeking to better understand the current shortage, its consequences for the communications sector, and steps we can take to ensure that FCC priorities and initiatives remain on track." Interested parties may file comments online using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System. Initial comments are due on June 10, and reply comments are due on June 25.

The first virtual rapprochement between the Radio Club Dominicano and the Radio Club D'Haiti took place on May 9. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. The primary language in the Dominican Republic is Spanish, while the primary language in Haiti is French. During this meeting, a protocol for presentation to members was developed, followed by a few words from both presidents, and a short dialogue directed toward the need for future meetings to face emergency and disaster mitigation. Both presidents, Hugo Ramón Sánchez, HI8VRS, and Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, emphasized the need for the two member-societies to coordinate efforts in order to maintain communication channels between them. Five representatives of the Radio Club D'Haiti and four representatives of Radio Club Dominicano took part in the meeting, which was coordinated by Douglas Lapin, HH2OY/K1OY. Two individuals from the Dominican Republic were guests at the session. As a next step, a virtual meeting was contemplated. Both presidents exchanged messages of praise for all radio amateurs.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • May 29 -- Feld Hell Sprint

  • May 29 - 30 -- CQ World Wide WPX Contest (CW)

  • June 1 -- Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest (Phone)

  • June 1 -- RTTYops Weeksprint

  • June 2 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW)

  • June 2 -- VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest

  • June 2 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW)

  • June 3 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW)

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

  • June 3 -- SKCC Sprint Europe (CW)

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

Many conventions and hamfests have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Check the calendar of canceled events on the ARRL website.

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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