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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
October 28, 2021
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


ARRL Concurs with Two FCC WRC-23 Advisory Committee Draft Positions

ARRL has said it agrees with the draft positions of the FCC's World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) Advisory Committee (WAC) on WRC-23 agenda items 1.13 and 9.1 (Topic A). ARRL is represented on the WAC and participating in its work. The FCC International Bureau issued a call for comments earlier this year.

With respect to agenda item 1.12, ARRL recommends that the US support "studies and possible consideration of a new allocation to the Earth Exploration-Satellite Service (Active) on a secondary basis within the frequency range of 40 - 50 MHz" for spaceborne radar sounders.

"Our support for the draft recommendation is conditioned on explicitly including in the recommendation the need to provide protection and not impose constraints on incumbent services in adjacent frequency bands," ARRL said. "Our expectation is that such studies will identify the capability and adequate means to protect the weak-signal operations of the Amateur Radio Service on the adjacent 50 - 54 MHz band without imposing any restraint on those operations, if the need to use this spectrum for spaceborne radar sounders is confirmed."

In its remarks, ARRL noted Draft Preliminary Views on WRC-23, WAC-23/034 (13.09.2021) appended to the FCC's Request for Comment that use of 50 - 54 MHz by radio amateurs was recently studied and documented in ITU-Radiocommunication Report M.2478-0, "Spectrum needs for the amateur service in the frequency band 50 - 54 MHz in Region 1 and sharing with mobile, fixed, radiolocation, and broadcasting services."

ARRL also expressed its support for the WAC's draft recommendation on Agenda Item 9.1, Topic A, Space Weather Sensors. The agenda item calls on the Conference to consider and approve the Report of the Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau reviewing the results of studies relating to space weather sensors "with a view to describing appropriate recognition and protection ... without placing additional constraints on incumbent services."

The WAC draft recommendation is that the view of the US be "that changes to the Radio Regulations are outside the scope of Agenda Item 9.1" and that the US express its support for "conducting the studies called for in Resolution 657 (Rev. WRC-19)."

"Completion and consideration of these studies are essential to achieving the desired objective of not placing any additional constraints on incumbent services," ARRL said.

ARRL represents the interests of radio amateurs through its participation on World Radiocommunications Conference and FCC advisory committees.

Read an expanded version.

President Names Rosenworcel FCC Chair, Announces Planned Nominations to FCC, NTIA

President Joe Biden this week designated FCC acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel as Chair and announced that he intends to re-nominate her and nominate another to fill the open seats on the Commission. Rosenworcel, a Democrat, is the first woman to head the Commission. She has served on the FCC since 2012.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

Prior to joining the FCC, Chairwoman Rosenworcel served as Senior Communications Counsel for the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Before entering public service, she practiced communications law. She is a graduate of New York University School of Law.

The President also announced that he plans to appoint Democrat Gigi Sohn to fill the other Democratic slot on the Commission. Sohn is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. She served from 2013 until 2016 as counsel to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Sohn earned her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Biden also announced his intention to nominate Alan Davidson as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the US Department of Commerce. Read an expanded version.

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 22) features a discussion with Chris Plumblee, W4WF, about contesting and what this activity has to offer new amateurs.

The latest edition of Eclectic Tech (Episode 45) features a discussion about the current status of amateur television with Jim Andrews, KH6HTV, as well as a brief description of an unusual "sound dampening screw."

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.

ARRL Foundation Scholarship Program to Accept Applications Starting on November 1

The ARRL Foundation will start accepting applications for its 2022 scholarship program on November 1. The submission deadline is December 31. More than 100 scholarships ranging from $500 to $25,000 will be awarded in 2022. The 2022 scholarship year totals an eligible amount of over $800,000 to be awarded.

All applicants must be FCC-licensed radio amateurs (active non-US radio amateurs are eligible for scholarships sponsored by ARDC), and many scholarships have specific requirements, such as intended area of study, or residence within a particular ARRL Division, Section, or state, and license class. Some scholarships also require additional documentation, such as letters of recommendation.

The ARRL Foundation will be utilizing a new Scholarship Management Platform for the 2022 ARRL Foundation Scholarships. Applicants no longer choose specific scholarships but will be matched with all scholarships for which they qualify. Transcripts and any additional required documents must be submitted with the application, not emailed separately as was done in the past. Applications without accompanying transcripts and applicable required documentation will not be considered.

The ARRL Foundation Scholarship Committee will review all applicants, and scholarship recipients will be notified in May 2022 via USPS mail and email. For more information, visit the ARRL Foundation Scholarship Program.

US and Region 2 Amateur Radio Direction Finding Championships Results are In

The results are in for the 20th US ARDF Championships and 11th IARU Region 2 Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF). Four days of competitions were held October 14 - 17 in North Carolina. The results will help determine the makeup of the US ARDF team at the 20th ARDF World Championships, set for summer 2022 in Serbia. The US Championships and the World Championships were rescheduled from 2020 after they had to be canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors from outside the US were unable to attend this year's competition due to continued travel restrictions.

Competitors ranged in age from 14 to 74. Competitive events were held in the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness Area just south of Asheboro, North Carolina. Events began on October 14 with sprint events, a fast-paced competition in which two sets of five transmitters operating on two different 80-meter frequencies transmit nonconsecutive 12-second bursts every minute. Two elite competitors completed the sprint course in just over 15 minutes, a world-class time.

Adalia Schafrath-Craig (W19) finishes her golden performance in 2-meter classic ARDF. [Imre Polik, KX4SO, photo]

Two classic events were held on October 15. The longer courses for the younger adult categories took place on 2 meters, and the shorter courses for the older adult and youth categories took place on 80 meters.

Foxoring, a combination of radio direction finding and classic orienteering on 80 meters, followed the next day. "Foxoring tests the map-and-compass navigation skills of the participants," ARRL ARDF Co-coordinator Gerald Boyd, WB8WFK, explained. Competitors try to hear the weak signals of very-low-power transmitters until they arrive very close to the marked locations and make a quick sprint to find its exact location."

Classic ARDF competitors. [Imre Polik, KX4SO, photo]

Competitions concluded on October 17 with a different map and two more classic events, this time with the bands swapped for those on the longer and shorter courses.

"Two standout youth competitors turned in impressive times on adult courses in the womens' W19 category," Boyd said. Youths included Adalia Schafrath-Craig (14 years old) of North Carolina who picked up classic and foxoring golds, and Elizabeth (Lisa) Afonkin (15 years old) of Massachusetts who won the sprint gold.

For more information on amateur radio direction finding, visit the ARRL ARDF website. 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.

More webinars are coming soon!

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.

ARRL members interested in presenting a webinar can complete the online Speakers Form.

3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island Confirms November 2022 Activation

The 3Y0J Bouvet Island DXpedition team says that with its first deposit on its contract to have the SS Marama provide transportation to Bouvet, it has confirmed its plans to activate the second most-wanted DXCC entity in November 2022.

"It is a huge task and undertaking to go to Bouvet, and we still critically need additional upfront support to close the budget," said the amateur radio DXpeditions team of co-leaders Ken Opskar, LA7GIA; Rune Øye, LA7THA, and Erwann Merrien, LB1QI. The DXpedition announced that two more operators will join the adventure, taking the number to 13.

Dave Jorgensen, WD5COV, is an avid DXer and experienced DXpeditioner. He is vice president of the Intrepid-DX Group, which had hoped to mount a DXpedition to Bouvet before its plans broke down.

The second new team member, identified as Peter, is described as "an experienced captain and expedition leader." He will oversee the Zodiac landings and serve as a digital mode (FT#) operator.

"Our preparation for Bouvet includes planning, constructing, and testing a system for landing Zodiacs safely, [and] this will be tested in rough sea in Norway before and after Christmas," the 3Y0J team said in its news release.

Bouvet Island. [Courtesy of the Norwegian Polar Institute]

"We plan for safely landing the Zodiacs in different manners also with some swell, unmanned, and with less risk for operators. And we prepare for the event that Zodiacs are capsizing, and we still can retrieve the equipment. We have done the first prelim sea trials of the Zodiac equipment in Norway and will continue sea trials to further mature the concept."

According to the announcement, the team plans to use a gasoline-engine powered winch to lift equipment up a cliff to the operating site. This will also be tested in Norway. "We plan to access the 25-foot cliff with professionals means and, if needed, prepare for climbing and bolting a short route to gain access."

Follow the DXpedition team's plans from its website and the 3Y0J Facebook page. 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.

  • The San Francisco Radio Club has announced it will be running its second club OTA Trifecta event this year on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay on November 6. Special event station W6P will be on the air. The OTA-Trifecta is single event that combines simultaneous Parks on the Air (POTA), US Islands on the Air (US Islands OTA), and Summits of the Air (SOTA) activations. Separate stations will be on the air 1830 - 2130 UTC to represent the three activities. All stations will be battery operated.

  • Finnish radio operators OH2BH, OH2TA, OH5BM, and OH5LLR will join the Amateur Radio Society of Kosovo (SHRAK) team at Z60A for the CQ World Wide SSB Contest. They will activate two stations on all bands.

  • Arunava Dey, VU3XRY, has reported what he is calling the first-ever Parks on the Air (POTA) activation from India. He and Abhrajit Das, VU3YDA, operated from Kanchanjungha National Park (VU-0081), he said.

  • ARRL Audio News© is available free each Friday, providing a look at the week's ham radio news happenings. Contact ARRL Audio News with questions and comments. The webcast is available on the ARRL website as well as on Blubrry and may be transmitted freely via repeater at no cost.

Indian Radio Amateurs Help to Coordinate Disaster Relief in the Wake of Flooding

The administration of the Thrissur District in Kerala, India, sought the service of radio amateurs to support communications during disaster relief operations in the wake of incessant rain and resultant flooding that disrupted lives across central Kerala, The Economic Times has reported. The hams have set up stations in the district to overcome the possibility that conventional telecommunications may fail.

"Communication turns out to be a major challenge when natural calamities strike," Sarachandran C. S., VU2SCV, told the Press Trust of India news agency. "During heavy floods, there are chances that the power supply will be down for days, which will affect the communication systems, including the mobile phones." Sarachandran, a former merchant navy officer, was one of 10 operators volunteering to help the Thrissur administration to handle emergency communication.

CNN reports that at least 27 people were killed after heavy rain triggered floods and landslides in southern India. According to their report, torrential rain in mid-October caused rivers to swell and flooded roads, leaving vehicles submerged in muddy water. Some houses were "reduced to rubble," CNN said.

Ham radio volunteers have been recruited to assist during previous natural disasters in India, including an August 2018 flood that ravaged Kerala state. Sarachandran recounted that during the August 2018 event, as the state flooded and power outages affected communication, the district administration sought the assistance of radio amateurs.

Well-Known Amateur Radio Contester and DXer Will Roberts, AA4NC, SK

An experienced and successful member of the amateur radio contesting and DX community lost his life on October 21 as the result of a small plane crash. ARRL Life Member William "Will" Roberts, AA4NC, of Apex, North Carolina, was piloting the plane, which went down not long after take-off in a wooded area of Onslow County, North Carolina, near the Holly Ridge/Topsail Island Airport, killing Roberts and another passenger, identified as Willie Hobbs, Jr. Two children were hospitalized with injuries. Roberts, 61, was the owner of the Mooney M20J aircraft and held a commercial pilot's license.

A licensed radio amateur since 1976, Roberts became interested early on in contesting and DXing and enjoyed being "on the DX end of the pileup," as he said in his profile. Over the years, Roberts operated from many locations, including some in South and Central America and others in more exotic locales. He was a regular at the Dayton Hamvention®. He is on the DXCC Honor Roll, had achieved nine-band DXCC on HF, and VUCC on 6 meters. He also enjoyed RTTY. AA4NC took part regularly in events like the ARRL 160-Meter Contest and ARRL November Sweepstakes. He participated in the first World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) event in 1990 in Seattle and served as a judge at WRTC 2018 in Germany.

A member of the Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC), Roberts was the trustee of W4MR, used occasionally in contests from his home contest station.

Roberts was also a guitarist and vocalist who played solo acoustic shows in the coastal Carolinas and belonged to the Flying Musicians Association (FMA).

A graduate of North Carolina State University, Roberts was an electrical engineer, specializing in telecommunications.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are looking into the cause of the crash.

In Brief...

Watch those Band Edges! With the CQ World Wide SSB Contest this weekend, it's an appropriate time to remind phone contesters to pay attention to band edges. If you're operating near the upper or lower band margins (or near the limits of your operating privileges), be aware that your signal's bandwidth may extend beyond the frequency displayed on your radio. For example, if your radio reads 7.125 MHz on lower sideband phone, your signal will extend outside of the US phone band (and into the CW portion of the band). In the quick pace and excitement of a contest, it's easy to lose track of upper and lower band edges, as well as of your license privileges. It's always best to review the amateur allocations before a contest and to keep a copy at hand. If using spotting assistance, be aware that operators in other countries often have frequency allocations that differ from those in the US, and they may spot stations on frequencies that are off limits for US amateurs. Always check that the frequencies of the spots you click on are within your privileges. ARRL offers a handy, printable US Amateur Radio Bands chart for quick reference. For additional HF contesting tips, ARRL members can enjoy the special insert in the November issue of QST magazine for the 2021-2022 Contest Season, sponsored by Ham Radio Outlet.

The WSJT-X development team has announced the general availability release of WSJT-X version 2.5.1. This release mainly contains improvements and repairs defects related to Q65 and JT65 when used with nonstandard and compound call signs. Those planning to use Q65 or JT65 to make weak-signal contacts involving a nonstandard call sign should upgrade to this version. Also included is a new feature for microwave aircraft scatter, as well as repairs for bugs detected since the general availability release of version 2.5.0. A complete listing of changes is available in the Release Notes. Links to WSJT-X 2.5.1 installation packages for Windows, Linux, and Mac are available.

The Russian-Ukrainian "radio war" on and around 7055 kHz continues to be a major source of frustration. That was the word from the International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS). IARUMS Region 1 Coordinator Peter Jost, HB9CET, reports in the IARUMS September newsletter that the on-the-air conflict "has been bothering us to an unbearable extent for a very long time and is still continuing." Earlier this year, IARUMS reported that the Russian-Ukrainian radio war had escalated. "In June, they used more frequencies than before, affecting our bands very hard." Jost recounted. "It is a great annoyance and a big shame." Jost has pointed out that the IARU Monitoring System has little opportunity to stop the on-the-air conflict. "Only national authorities can hopefully do something against international complaints," he said. "It is very important and very helpful that many other [IARU] member-societies also observe these frequencies and make complaints to their regulators." The long-standing conflict has also affected 7050 and 7060 kHz.

The federal government is accepting applications until November 10 for a telecommunications specialist. The position is at the FCC's high-frequency direction finding (HFDF) facility in Columbia, Maryland. This is a full-time position, and no travel is required. The individual hired would perform watch duty and serve as a technical authority for communication systems users in resolving radio interference complaints and problems, among other responsibilities. This position requires US citizenship, a security clearance, and education transcripts. Anyone hired to fill this position would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination. A resumé is considered an integral part of the process to determine if an applicant meets the basic qualifications for the position and if the applicant is among the best qualified. To learn more and to apply, visit the USAJobs website.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot activity was up this week, with the average daily sunspot number increasing by nearly five-fold from 11.3 to 54.9. Average daily solar flux rose from 78.6 to 95.7. The sunspot number peaked on Tuesday at 95, and daily solar flux peaked on Wednesday at 110.9.

Geomagnetic indicators were quiet. Daily average of planetary A index went from 8.4 to 4.4, and average daily middle latitude A index declined from 5.4 to 3.6.

Predicted solar flux looks quite promising at 111 and 112 on October 28 - 29; 110 on October 30 - 31; 108 on November 1 - 3; 90 and 88 on November 4 - 5; 86 on November 6 - 7; 85 on November 8 - 9; 83 on November 10; 82 on November 11 - 15; 85 on November 16 - 20; 94 on November 21; 95 on November 22 - 23; 96 on November 24; 95 on November 25 - 29, and 92, 90, 88, and 86 on November 30 - December 3.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 and 8 on October 28 - 29; 10 on October 30 - 31; 5 on November 1 - 5; 12, 10, and 8 on November 6 - 8; 5 on November 9 - 14; 10 and 8 on November 15 - 16; 5 on November 17 - 22; 8 on November 23 - 24; 10 on November 25 - 26; 5 on November 27 - 28; 8 on November 29, and 5 on November 30 - December 2.

This weekend is the CQ World Wide SSB DX Contest. The CW weekend is November 27 - 28. ARRL November CW Sweepstakes is next weekend, November 6 - 8.

Sunspot numbers for October 21 through 27 were 11, 28, 32, 46, 81, 95, and 91, with a mean of 54.9. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 81.9, 86.9, 86.8, 93.2, 100.6, 109.3, and 110.9, with a mean of 95.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5, and 3, with a mean of 4.4. Middle latitude A index was 9, 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, and 2, with a mean of 3.6.

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.

Getting It Right!

A news brief in The ARRL Letter for October 14, 2021, regarding operations from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), should have mentioned that operations by Romeo Vega, 3W3RR (aka Romeo Stepanenko), are invalid for DXCC credit. The ARRL Awards Committee voted in 1996 to disqualify him from participation in the DXCC program.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • October 30 - 31 -- CQ World Wide DX Contest (SSB)

  • November 1 -- K1USN Slow Speed Test (CW, 20 WPM max)

  • November 1 -- Silent Key Memorial Contest (CW)

  • November 1 -- RSGB 80-Meter Autumn Series (digital)

  • November 2 -- Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest

  • November 2 -- ARS Spartan Sprint (CW)

  • November 2 -- RTTYops Weeksprint

  • November 3 -- Phone Weekly Test - Fray

  • November 3 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW, two events)

  • November 3 -- VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest

  • November 3 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (phone)

  • November 4 - 5 -- Walk for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW, 13 WPM max)

  • November 4 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test (CW, two events)

  • November 4 -- RTTYops Weeksprint

  • November 4 -- NRAU 10-Meter Activity Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • November 4 -- EACW Meeting (CW)

  • November 4 -- SKCC Sprint Europe (CW)

  • November 6 - 8 -- ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW)

Upcoming Section, State, and Division Conventions

Search the ARRL Hamfest and Convention Database to find events 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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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