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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
September 23, 2021
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


ARRL, RSGB Announce Joint Events to Celebrate Centenary of Ham Radio Transatlantic Success

ARRL and the Radio Society of Great Britain will jointly sponsor events to celebrate the achievement of transatlantic communications by radio amateurs 100 years ago.

In December 1921, ARRL sent Paul F. Godley, 2ZE, as its representative to listen for amateur signals from North America during the Second Transatlantic Tests. Setting up his listening station in Ardrossan, on the west coast of Scotland, Godley received the signals of more than 2 dozen US amateur radio stations, the first on December 12 (UTC) from 1BCG in Connecticut, operated by members of the Radio Club of America. The message read: "Nr 1 NY ck 12 to Paul Godley, Ardrossan, Scotland. Hearty Congratulations. (Signed) Burghard Inman Grinan Armstrong Amy Cronkhite."

These successful transatlantic tests and the ones that followed spurred technological advances and new global wireless distance records. Several amateur radio operating events this year and next will commemorate the centenary of these significant milestones that heralded the dawn of two-way international amateur radio communication.

ARRL and RSGB will activate special event stations for 6 hours (0200 - 0800 UTC) on December 12 for the 160-meter Transatlantic Centenary QSO Party. RSGB will activate GB2ZE from Scotland, with a team of stations from the GMDX Group sharing operating duties. ARRL will activate W1AW. The stations will operate only on CW. If transatlantic propagation holds up, the stations may continue to operate beyond 0800 UTC.

Paul Godley, 2ZE

The GMDX Group of Scotland will award a quaich -- a traditional Scottish drinking cup representing friendship -- to the first stations in North America and the UK to complete contacts with both W1AW and GB2ZE during the QSO party. A commemorative certificate will be available for download.

RSGB and ARRL are also organizing an international amateur radio marathon on the HF bands to commemorate transatlantic tests held between 1921 and 1923. The Transatlantic Centenary Marathon will take place in December 2022. The objective will be to mark these historic events by encouraging all radio amateurs to get on the air. Event details are pending.

ARRL and RSGB have assembled a list of stations and groups that are also organizing events and activities to celebrate 100 years of amateur radio transatlantic communication. For more information, visit and The sites also include links to many previously published articles and presentations covering the historic tests.

Additional events and commemorations include:

  • Radio Club of America (RCA) Transatlantic QSO Party, 1200 UTC on November 13 to 0400 UTC on November 14, 2021 (16 hours total). The QSO party commemorates the contribution of members of the Radio Club of America who constructed and operated the 1BCG transmitter site in Greenwich, Connecticut, that sent the first message received by Paul Godley, 2ZE, in Scotland.

  • W1AW Commemorative Transatlantic QSL Card. Stations making contact with the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW, between December 11, 2021, and December 31, 2022, qualify to receive a commemorative W1AW QSL card. US stations should QSL with a self-addressed, stamped envelope; international stations should QSL via the Bureau.

  • The 2021 ARRL 160-Meter Contest, 2200 UTC on December 3 - 1559 UTC on December 5. This 42-hour, CW-only contest is most similar to the original Transatlantic Tests of the early 1920s. Stations in the US and Canada work each other as well as DXCC entities. RSGB is planning to activate one of the original call signs used in the Transatlantic Tests, with up to seven different prefixes from the UK and Crown Dependencies. Look for G6XX (England); GD6XX (Isle of Man); GI6XX (Northern Ireland); GJ6XX (Jersey); GM6XX (Scotland); GU6XX (Guernsey), and GW6XX (Wales).

  • Special Event GB1002ZE, December 1 - 26, 2021. The Crocodile Rock Amateur Group (CRAG) based near Ardrossan, Scotland, will activate the special event station GB1002ZE to commemorate the successful reception of amateur transatlantic signals by Paul Godley, 2ZE, in 1921. The RSGB encourages stations in the UK and Crown Dependencies to append the suffix "/2ZE" to their station's normal call sign throughout the period, as authorized by UK regulator Ofcom.

Clear Frequencies Requested for Possible Nicaragua Earthquake Traffic

IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Carlos Alberto Santamaría González, CO2JC, has requested that radio amateurs in Central America avoid 7098 and 7198 kHz in the wake of an earthquake at 0957 UTC Wednesday in Nicaragua.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude 6.5 earthquake has also affected Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The earthquake was followed by another 4.0 temblor and other aftershocks of less intensity, as confirmed by Juan de la Cruz Rodríguez Pérez, YN1J, President and National Emergency Coordinator of the Club de Radioexperimentadores de Nicaragua (CREN). CREN is the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society for Nicaragua.

The earthquake occurred offshore some 60 miles from Chinandega and approximately 52 miles southwest of the resort town of Jiquilillo, Nicaragua. The USGS said the quake occurred in the North Pacific at a depth of approximately 20 miles.

According to the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies, the event was related to the tectonic processes of the collision between the Cocos and Caribbean tectonic plates.

Emergency communicator Juan de la Cruz, YN1J, requested the frequency protection.

No tsunami warning has been issued, and there have been no immediate reports of damage.

According to the USGS, "Little or no landsliding is expected, but some landslides could have occurred in highly susceptible areas." And, "The number of people living near areas that could have produced landslides in this earthquake is low, but landslide damage or fatalities are still possible in highly susceptible areas. This is not a direct estimate of landslide fatalities or losses."

Radio Amateurs on Standby Following Volcanic Eruption in the Canaries

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palmas in Spain's Canary Islands erupted for the first time in 50 years on Sunday, September 19, following an increase in seismic activity over the previous 7 days. The lava flow has triggered the evacuation of more than 6,000 people so far. Authorities have deployed all the resources of the Canary Islands Government, as well as military support from the mainland, to manage the situation. In order to facilitate communication into and out of the area, EMCOM-SPAIN has asked that the IARU Emergency Center of Activity Frequencies be kept clear in case the situation worsens: 3.760 MHz; 7.110 MHz; 14.300 MHz, and 21.360 MHz. -- Thanks to IARU Region 1

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 21) features a chat with Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, about the new edition of The ARRL Handbook and how it can be useful to new hams.

The latest edition of Eclectic Tech (Episode 43) debuts on Thursday, September 23. It is a chat with Glen Popiel, KW5GP, about his new ARRL book More Arduino for Amateur Radio.

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.

Registration Opens for US Amateur Radio Direction Finding Championships

Registration is now open for the 2021 US and IARU Region 2 Championships of Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF), set for October 13 - 17. Competition venues will be near Asheboro, North Carolina. Postponed from 2020, these championships will be conducted in accordance with CDC COVID-19 guidelines.

"The US ARDF Championships are an ideal opportunity to watch and learn from the best radio-orienteers in the US," said ARRL ARDF Co-coordinator Charles Scharlau, NZ0I. "Winners who qualify by citizenship or residence may be selected for positions on ARDF Team US, which will travel to Serbia for the 2022 ARDF World Championships."

Wednesday, October 13, will be a model event for equipment testing and a competitor briefing. Thursday, October 14, will be devoted to the Sprint championship, a short course with 12-second fox transmissions instead of the usual 60 seconds.

Classic 2-meter and 80-meter competitions will take place on Friday and Sunday. Between the days of classic competitions will be Foxoring, a combination of radio direction-finding and classic orienteering, held on Saturday morning. An outdoor pizza picnic will be held on Saturday evening. Presentation of medals for foxoring, sprint, and Friday's classic event take place at the picnic. Awards for Sunday's Classic competition will be presented immediately after the competition.

Postponed in 2020, the 2021 ARDF USA Championships will take place October 13 - 17 in North Carolina.

Three optional practice days are planned for Sunday through Tuesday, October 10 - 12, just prior to the championships. A practice event on Sunday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, will provide the experience of a full ARDF course in a friendly environment, with the clock as the only opponent. The practices on Monday and Tuesday will be held in Durham, North Carolina, and will offer informal sessions in which the participants help with setting the transmitters in the woods.

Experienced radio orienteers and event organizers from the Backwoods Orienteering Klub (BOK) will organize the 2021 US and IARU Region 2 Championships. An email reflector is available for questions and answers with the organizers, as well as for coordinating transportation and arranging equipment loans. -- Thanks to Joe Moell, K0OV Read an expanded version.

ARRL Learning Network Webinars

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

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.

Working the Pileup, presented by Ron Delpiere-Smith, KD9IPO / Tuesday, October 5, 2021 @ 1:00 pm EDT (1700 UTC)

Ron Delpiere-Smith, KD9IPO, Vice President of the Chicago Suburban Radio Association and an ARRL Assistant Section Manager in Illinois, will offer an enlightening discussion on working a pileup from both sides of the contact. Whether your interest lies in ARRL Field Day, contesting, special events, or rare DX, this is a must-see presentation. Ron will discuss search-and-pounce and running techniques, when to use them, and some tips on working them to your advantage.

The ARRL Learning Network schedule is subject to change.

Open-Source Amateur Satellite Work Not Subject to Export Administration Regulation

CEO Michelle Thompson, W5NYV, reports that Open Research Institute (ORI) received an advisory opinion from the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on September 2, confirming that public internet posts regarding open-source amateur satellite communications work are not subject to the Export Administration Regulation (EAR). ORI was founded in March 2018 by Bruce Perens, K6BP, in order to provide a formal structure for open-source satellite work. Prior work by ORI established that open-source amateur satellite communications work was free of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

"This is a significant regulatory success for open-source amateur satellite work and open source in general," Thompson said. In a later post on the ORI site, Thompson said ITAR and EAR have had a dramatic effect on both commercial and amateur satellite work since the 1990s. "The regulations are blamed for a significant decline in US market share for satellite systems and halted highly successful international amateur collaborations," she wrote.

ORI CEO Michelle Thompson, W5NYV.

Open-source work that is published as it is created and is freely available to the general public at no cost is not subject to ITAR or EAR, Thompson said.

ORI's work was funded by ARDC, with legal assistance provided by Thomsen and Burke LLP. All documents and links to presentations about the work are available.

"Thank you to those who have supported and assisted ORI during the many stages of this successful regulatory endeavor," Thompson said. "ORI will build upon this work to advance the aims and purposes of open-source amateur satellites."

Visit the ORI website's "Getting Started" page to get involved. Read an expanded version.

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.

IARU Region 3 Considers Significant Expansion of HF Digital Segments

The IARU Region 3 (Asia) online conference hosted by Thailand's IARU member-society RAST wraps up on September 23. One topic discussed was a proposed HF band plan. Among the problems the planners seek to address is the use of bandwidth as a defining transmission characteristic. Following the revision of the tools used to describe HF amateur band plans, a joint tri-region IARU committee developed a proposal for revision of the data segments of the HF amateur band plans.

The changes proposed include a significant expansion of digital mode segments. These revisions address several areas, including global HF amateur band plan segment harmonization.

Other factors include:

  • separation of "conversational" and time-synchronized digital activity

  • band plan segment expansions in support of time-synchronized transmission mode capacity demands (mostly trading with now lesser used RTTY subbands)

  • more effective separation of voice and data modes on 40 meters

  • relocation of the IARU Region 3 EmComm SSB frequency from 3600 to 3680 kHz

  • relocation of the global 20-meter slow-scan TV (SSTV) frequency from 14,230 kHz to 14,330 kHz

  • relocation of Japan's domestic 40-meter FT8 frequency from 7041 to 7037 kHz (dial) to provide for a global narrowband conversational modes (e.g., PSK) segment between 7040 and 7044 kHz in alignment with existing Region 1 arrangements to replace the 7070 - 7074 kHz segment in Region 2, and recognition of 7040 - 7060 plus 7065 - 7080 kHz as the new 40-meter data segment with voice operation, reduced to secondary status between 7060 and 7070 kHz.

Documents are available from the Region 1 Conference website. Special event station HS18IARU was on the air during the conference.

  • The International DX Association (INDEXA) will support the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island in November-December 2022 with a grant of $15,000.

  • PACIFICON 2021, which will host the ARRL Pacific Division Convention, is set for October 15 -17, sponsored by Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club. The event will take place at the San Ramon Marriott Hotel, 2600 Bishop Drive, San Ramon, California.

  • The Arizona Association for Summits on the Air (SOTA) will host the 4th annual 10-Point s2s Madness event on Saturday, October 2, 1400 - 2359 UTC. In this event, multiple hams simultaneously operate mountaintop portable on 10-point summits. Hams can participate as activators or chasers; add your information to the Alerts section on the SOTA website if you plan to activate. The same website will display the spots on the day of the event, if you are a chaser. In the past, 25 - 30 activators are on a 10-point summit at the same time. For more information, contact Pete Scola, WA7JTM, or search social media for the hashtag #TenPointMadness.

  • The Central Arizona DX Association will have the call sign K7UGA on the air October 4 - 8. K7UGA was the call sign of Arizona US Senator Barry Goldwater, who was also the 1964 Republican Party presidential candidate. K7UGA will be on all bands and modes. QSL via K7BHM with an SASE.

  • Lance Collister, W7GJ, will undertake a 6-meter DXpedition to the Austral and Marquesas Islands. He'll spend October 15 - 24 as FO/W7GJ on the Australs, and October 28 - November 7 as TX7MB on the Marquesas. He is planning to use the Q65-60A for all 6-meter moonbounce activity and FT8 for terrestrial contacts.

  • Members of the Russian Robinson Club will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty signing with special call signs R60ANT, RA60ANT, RB60ANT, RC60ANT, RG60ANT, RJ60ANT, RK60ANT, RL60ANT, RN60ANT, RT60ANT, RU60ANT, RZ60ANT, and RI60ANT, between October 1 and December 31.

AWA Video: SSB was Slow to Catch On as a Ham Radio Mode

Hams are often early adopters of new technology, such as FT8, but this was not the case with single sideband (SSB) amplitude modulation. First referenced in Major General George Squier's 1911 patent that had nothing to do with RF applications, SSB didn't really catch on as a popular ham radio phone mode until the 1960s.

Antique Wireless Association (AWA) museum curator Ed Gable, K2MP, recounted "The History of Single Sideband" as part of the inaugural "AWA Shares" program, presented on August 19. Gable described Squier as an "early idea man" in the history of SSB at a time when hams had hardly adopted AM in any form.

As Gable explained, John Renshaw Carson built on Squier's patents to define the principles of SSB radio transmission theory, using a balanced modulator and filters. AT&T went all in with SSB, basing its first long-haul telephone system on the technology. Its SSB voice service to Europe, which kicked off in 1923, lasted for more than 3 decades. A receiving site in Scotland took advantage of Beverage antennas put in place for the ARRL transatlantic tests.

Gable credited Robert M. Moore, W6DEI, with introducing SSB to the ham radio community, through an article in R9 Magazine in the early 1930s. The technology remained more of a curiosity, however, in part because of the Great Depression, cost, and technical difficulty. Besides, hams of that era saw no real advantage to narrowband modes, since bands were not that crowded.

The mood began to change after World War II, though. In 1948, Oswald Villard, W6QIT, engineered the airing of SSB signals via Stanford University's W6YX, re-introducing the mode to a burgeoning and more technically savvy post-war ham community that included a lot of veterans. A 1950 GE Ham News article by Don Norgaard, W2KUJ, described plans for a 5 W, three-tube SSB transmitter he dubbed "The SSB Jr."

The Central Electronics Model 20A.

Expanding on this, Central Electronics' Wes Schum, W9DYV, built the first SSB exciter, the 10A, in 1952, and it became the company's first product, spawning a series of successor products that included a VFO based on a modified BC-458 military surplus transmitter, an "SSB slicer" for receiving, and even a linear. SSB equipment was neither inexpensive nor accessible, however.

"Cheap and Easy S.S.B." by Anthony Vitale, W2EWL, which appeared in QST in 1956, spoke to hams' attitudes, helping to advance the adoption of SSB among radio amateurs. Byron Goodman, W1DX, addressed receiver improvements with his QST article, "The Product Detector."

The Collins KWM-1 is considered the first "true" transceiver, sharing receive and transmit circuitry.

In the same decade, General Curtis LeMay, K3JUY/K4RFA, promoted the advantages of SSB to the military, heralding a phase-out of AM as the dominant voice technology. Many hams were not convinced of SSB's advantages, deriding the signals as sounding like Donald Duck. Adoption didn't really take off until the Collins KWM-1 came along in 1957. It was the first SSB transceiver to share receiver and transmitter circuitry. Heathkit, Viking, and B&W produced SSB adapters for use with current AM gear.

Other manufacturers including National and Swan came along to further boost adoption of the mode, and it wasn't that many years before SSB eclipsed AM as the predominant voice mode on the HF bands.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Last week, we reported a big increase in solar activity with the daily sunspot number reaching 124, but by the end of that week, all the sunspots had disappeared. The sun was blank for several days, but then, sunspots returned on September 19.

Average daily sunspot numbers were 28.7 this week, below the 58.3 average reported a week earlier. Average daily solar flux was down by nine points, from 87.4 to 78.4.

Geomagnetic indicators were higher, with the highest activity on September 17, when the planetary A index was 24 due to a minor geomagnetic storm triggered by a weak coronal mass ejection (CME). Average daily planetary A index for the week increased from 7 to 9.1, and average middle-latitude A index went from 6.9 to 8.4.

Predicted solar flux for the next month is 90 on September 23; 95 on September 24 - 25; 98 and 95 on September 26 - 27; 90 on September 28 - 29; 84 on September 30 - October 5; 82 on October 6; 80 on October 7 - 8; 78 on October 9 - 11; 75 on October 12 - 20; 80 on October 21 - 22; 82 on October 23 - 25; 84 and 82 on October 26 - 27, and 84 on October 28 - November 1.

Predicted planetary A index is 12, 8, and 15 on September 23 - 25; 8 on September 26 - 27; 12 on September 28; 10 on September 29 - 30; 5 on October 1 - 3; 8 and 12 on October 4 - 5; 5 on October 6 - 9; 12 on October 10; 5 on October 11 - 17; 8 on October 18 - 19; 10, 8, and 12 on October 20 - 22; 10 on October 23 - 24, and 5 on October 25 - 30.

The northern autumnal equinox occurred at 1920 UTC on September 22, which means Earth is bathed in approximately equal amounts of solar radiation over the Northern and Southern hemispheres, always a good sign for HF propagation.

Here is a new forecast from Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW.

Sunspot numbers for September 16 through 22 were 0, 0, 11, 13, 51, 50, and 76, with a mean of 28.7. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 73.2, 73.4, 73.7, 75, 80, 84.9, and 88.5, with a mean of 78.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 3, 24, 11, 3, 3, 8, and 12, with a mean of 9.1. Middle latitude A index was 3, 19, 14, 2, 4, 6, and 11, with a mean of 8.4.

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 the Propagation Page of Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA.

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

Share your reports and observations.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • September 23 -- RSGB 80-Meter Autumn Series (digital)

  • September 25 -- AGCW VHF/UHF Contest (CW)

  • September 25 -- Masonic Lodges on the Air (phone)

  • September 25 - 26 -- CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY

  • September 25 - 26 -- Maine QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • September 27 -- RSGB FT4 Contest Series

  • September 28 -- MHz Fall Sprint (CW, phone)

  • September 29 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (CW)

For more information, visit the ARRL Contest Calendar.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

Some conventions and hamfests may 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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