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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
December 22, 2022
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


A classic holiday cover from the December 1986 issue of QST.

Happy Holidays! ... from ARRL

ARRL Headquarters will be closed on Monday, December 26, 2022, and Monday, January 2, 2023.

There will be no W1AW bulletins or code practice transmissions on those days. ARRL HQ will reopen on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, and Tuesday, January 3, 2023, at 8 AM EST.

The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will be on hiatus, Thursday and Friday, December 29 - 30.

Rep. Lesko Introduces Bill to Replace Symbol Rate Limit with Bandwidth Limit

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ-08) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 9664) on December 21, 2022, to require that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) replace the current HF digital symbol rate limit with a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit.

After being petitioned by ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio® in 2013 (RM-11708) for the same relief, in 2016 the Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (WT Docket No. 16-239) in which it agreed that the HF symbol rate limit was outmoded, served no purpose, and hampered experimentation. But the Commission questioned whether any bandwidth limit was needed in its place. Most amateurs, including the ARRL, objected to there being no signal bandwidth limit in the crowded HF bands given the possibility that unreasonably wide bandwidth digital protocols could be developed, and since 2016 there has been no further FCC action.

In conjunction with introducing the legislation, Congresswoman Lesko stated that "With advances in our modern technology, increased amounts of data can be put on the spectrum, so there is less of a need for a regulatory limit on symbol rates. I am pleased to introduce this important piece of legislation to update the FCC's rules to support the critical role amateur radio operators play and better reflect the capabilities of our modern radio technology."

ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, hailed introduction of the bill. Roderick stated that "the FCC's delay in removing this outdated restriction has been incomprehensible, given that the biggest effect of the delay is to require totally inefficient spectrum use on the already-crowded amateur HF bands. I hope that the Commission will act to remove this harmful limitation without waiting for the bill to be passed."

ARRL Legislative Committee Chairman John Robert Stratton, N5AUS, added that "the symbol rate limit hampers experimentation and development of more efficient HF data protocols by U.S. amateurs. For all practical purposes the field has been ceded to amateurs outside the U.S., where there is no comparable limit. Removing the restriction not only will allow U.S. amateurs to use the most efficient data protocol suitable for their purpose, but it also will promote and incentivize U.S. amateurs to experiment with and develop even more efficient protocols."

ARRL is the National Association for Amateur Radio®. Founded in 1914 as The American Radio Relay League, ARRL is a noncommercial organization of radio amateurs. ARRL numbers within its ranks the vast majority of active radio amateurs (or "hams") in the U.S., and has a proud history of achievement as the standard-bearer in promoting and protecting amateur radio. For more information about ARRL and amateur radio, visit

A copy of this press release is available from ARRL:

Marines To Gain Radio Op Experience Via Amateur Radio

On Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 22 Communication Officers at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School (MCCES) in Twentynine Palms, California, became amateur radio operators. W6BA, the Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club (MARC) administered the exams and 21 candidates passed their Technician exam, and one passed their General exam. 14-year-old Kalynn Cossette, KN6WVD, was the youngest candidate who passed her Technician exam.

Retired Marine Corps Warrant Officer 4 Robert Cloutier, WO4ROB, and MARC President says it was a great event and he is excited to see so many new amateur radio operators. So, what drove the officers to want amateur radio licenses? Cloutier pointed out that all of the candidates already have a background in radio administration but not operating experience.

"Chief Warrant Officer (CWO3) Kalem Cossette, KK4KC, one of the training officers at MCCES, introduced amateur radio to the Communication Officers," said Cloutier. "Most of the students were curious on how to get their license, so CWO3 Cossette contacted the MARC to schedule an exam session."

Cloutier said that all new license holders were offered a free club membership but many of them will be deployed to other locations around the world and will be able to join other amateur radio clubs. He said they hope to conduct exams every three months.

The Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL Affiliated Club.

Ugly Sweater Activation in Massachusetts

The Western Massachusetts Chapter for Portable On The Air, POTA*413, recently conducted their 9th Annual Ugly Sweater Activation.

USPOTA*413 members (left to right) Daniel Vierno, K1VWQ; Jason Giguere, KC1ABT; Ralph Carpenter, KA1V; Todd Hoessler, N1GNX; Michael Favreau, N1LZF; John Ewell, N1JIE (not in photo, but attended). [Jason Giguere, KC1ABT, photo]

The event is held every year and known to the club members as USPOTA*413. The club welcomes this holiday, public-driven event that has the group activate a local state/national park (or SOTA summit, when possible), with several operators organized from several station setups.

Hosting member Dan Vierno, K1VWQ, noted, "We normally like to have at least two stations running multi operations, like 20 and 40 meters, simultaneously. However, we have also been known to operate the event on 17, 10, 6, and 2 meters." Vierno added, "[Being] portable on the air [means] welcoming all avenues of operations that are conducted outside. Even though this year was along the beach of Hampton Ponds State Park, we have been known in the past to hold an Ugly Sweater Activation from a SOTA summit, such as W1/CR-013, Quabbin Hill."

The POTA*413 club was established and began operating in 2012, while the annual Ugly Sweater Activation event was first launched in 2014 at the Mt. Tom State Reservation.

The annual event has occurred outdoors every year, with the exception of 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, when participants of USPOTA*413 wore their ugly sweaters and chased parks and summits from home. Though it was not as much fun, they updated contacts and photos via social media.

More US Schools Selected for Ham Radio Contacts with the International Space Station in 2023

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has announced a list of seven schools/host organizations selected to host scheduled amateur radio contacts with the astronaut crew on the International Space Station (ISS) from July to December 2023.

Earlier this year, nine schools and organizations were selected for contacts that will take place from January to June 2023 with the ISS.

The primary goal of the ARISS program is to engage young people in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) activities that raise their awareness of space communications, radio communications, space exploration, and related areas of study and career possibilities. ARISS does this by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students. Before and during these radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities take part in hands-on learning activities tied to space, space technologies, and amateur radio.

ARISS anticipates that NASA will be able to provide scheduling opportunities for these host organizations in the US between July - December 2023:

A.L. Burruss Elementary SchoolMarietta, GA
Augusta Preparatory Day SchoolAugusta, GA
Bowman Middle SchoolBakersville, NC
Camp William B. SnyderHaymarket, VA
Covenant Christian AcademyWest Peabody, MA
Orangeburg Christian Academy Orangeburg, SC
Webb Bridge Middle School Alpharetta, GA

The 16 schools and organizations selected for 2023 are now working to complete an acceptable plan that demonstrates their ability to execute a ham radio contact with the ISS. Once their equipment plan is approved by the ARISS Technical Mentors, the final selected schools/organizations will be scheduled as their availability and flexibility match up with the scheduling opportunities offered by NASA.

ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the ISS. In the US, participating organizations include ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio®, and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). Sponsors are NASA's Space Communications and Navigation program (SCaN), and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

NASA "Decodes" Secret Messages Onboard the Orion Spacecraft

NASA has a long history of hiding secret messages in its spacecraft and that tradition continued with the launch of the Orion crew capsule in November on top of the Artemis I rocket.

Five hidden messages were placed in the Orion capsule ranging from Morse Code to musical notes.

On the right side of the capsule below a window and next to the pilot's seat were the letters "C, B, A, G, F" - five musical notes for the first words in Frank Sinatra's song, "Fly Me to the Moon."

A Morse code symbol for "Charlie" commemorates the life of former Orion Deputy Program Manager Charlie Lundquist, who died in 2020. Photo courtesy of NASA.

In the middle of the capsule, above the cockpit control console, was a Morse Code message that spelled out the name "Charlie" in remembrance of former Orion Deputy Program Manager Charlie Lundquist, who died in 2020.

Other messages included a picture image of a cardinal to the right of the pilot seat as a tribute to former Orion Program manager, Johnson Space Center director, and St. Louis Cardinals fan Mark Geyer, who died in 2021.

The other two messages were on top of the pilot's seat including Binary code representing 18. This is in honor of NASA's history of travel to the moon with the Apollo Program and to celebrate a spacecraft's return to the Moon after Apollo 17 for the Artemis Generation. The final message was in front of the pilot's seat, the country codes of each country with the European Space Agency (ESA) that participated in developing and building the spacecraft's European Service Module.

Amateur Radio Operators Invited to participate in Asteroid Bounce Experiment

The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) will be conducting a research campaign/experiment on December 27, 2022, with transmissions between 1100 - 2300 UTC (0200 - 1400 AKST).

HAARP antenna array at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

This experiment will reflect HAARP transmissions off of Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) 2010 XC15, and the echo will be received by the Owens Valley Radio Observatory Long Wavelength Array (OVRO-LWA) at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and by the University of New Mexico's Long Wavelength Array (UNM-LWA). The target asteroid will be roughly two lunar distances away from Earth at the time of transmission. Characterizing the interior structure and composition of NEAs is critical for advancing the understanding of solar system evolution and aiding in planetary defense.

Actual transmit times are highly variable based on real-time ionospheric conditions and all information is subject to change. Currently, the Asteroid Bounce (2010 XC15) experiment will take place Dec. 27, 2022, from 1100 UTC to 2300 UTC; 9.6 MHz, LFM (linear FM), 0.5 Hz WRF (waveform repetition frequency), 30 kHz bandwidth. Reports recording echo are encouraged; demodulated recordings in .wav or .mp3 are recommended.

For real-time ionospheric conditions in Gakona, please consult ionograms from the HAARP Diagnostic Suite at

Amateur radio and radio astronomy enthusiasts are invited to listen to the transmissions/echoes and submit reception reports to the HAARP facility at and request a QSL card by mailing a report to:

P.O. Box 271
Gakona AK 99586

Give the gift of fun, community, advocacy and much more!

Share the benefits of ARRL membership with a ham you know. By purchasing a gift membership this holiday season, you'll be helping a ham become more active and involved in amateur radio.

They'll appreciate the many benefits that ARRL has to offer all year long - including exclusive access to ARRL periodicals, online tools and resources, and so much more!

ARRL membership is the perfect gift for that special amateur radio operator on your list.

To purchase a gift membership, please call 860-594-0200 and speak with a Member Services Representative (during business hours). Or reach out to ARRL Membership Manager, Yvette Vinci, KC1AIM via phone 860-594-0257 or email Mention code X22 and we will send the gift recipient a beautiful W1AW season's greetings card.

Amateur Radio in the News

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

"Amateur radio donation impacts local food center during time of need" / The Portager (Ohio), December 12, 2022 -- The Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS) is an ARRL Affiliated Club.

"Radio club recognizes members for running nightly ham system" / Houston Herald (Missouri), December 19, 2022 -- The Ozark Mountain Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL Affiliated Club.

"Goderich Air Cadets speak with astronaut aboard the International Space Station" / Goderich Signal-Star (Canada), December 19, 2022 - Thanks to the 532nd Royal Air Cadet Squadron for their help in preparation for this event.

Share any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

ARRL Podcasts

In the latest episode of the ARRL On the Air podcast, Ginger Wilder, KI5TJE, discusses her first time running an amateur radio net. Get ready to be the next Net Control operator for your local net.

Listen to ARRL Audio News, available every Friday. ARRL Audio News is a summary of the week's top news stories in the world of amateur radio and ARRL, along with interviews and other features.

The On the Air podcast is available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android). The On the Air podcast and ARRL Audio News are also on blubrry -- On the Air | ARRL Audio News.


ARRL Straight Key Night (SKN) is January 1, 2023, from 0000 UTC through 2359 UTC. In the US, SKN begins on New Year's Eve. Many hams look forward to SKN as one of the highlights of their operating year. Operators participate using Morse code (CW). All you need is your favorite straight key or bug. Many participants dust off vintage radios and keys and put them back into service each year, just for SKN. SKN is not a contest, so there's no need for quick exchanges. However, all hand keys, regardless of age, are welcome. The number of contacts you make is not important. The reward is meeting many new friends as you get together on the air. Send a list of stations contacted, SKN stories and photos, and your votes for Best Fist and Most Interesting QSO to by January 31, 2023. More information at

On January 1, 2023, an international year-long amateur radio contest to honor Guglielmo Marconi will begin, and is appropriately titled, "Marconi was here!"
The main objective of the contest is to historically commemorate some of the most important and significant Italian cities where Marconi performed scientific experiments. Marconi conducted experiments in radio engineering, long-distance communications, radio direction finding, and many others. Overall, the experiments were crucial to the technical and scientific advancement and progress of wireless communications. Each month is dedicated to a specific Italian city connected to the story of Marconi and is paired to a different special call sign. The "MARCONI WAS HERE!" award is an international amateur radio award organized by A.R.I. Fidenza Radio Club in collaboration with A.R.I. Associazione Radioamatori Italiani and the Marconi Museum. Further details about the special call signs, special certificates, and all of the rules are available on the official website

The Greater Cincinnati Amateur Radio Association
(GCARA) 1936 Net will host its annual AM night on Thursday December 29th, 2022, on 1936 kHz. The activities get underway with pre-net check-ins beginning at 6:30 PM EST. The official net begins at 9:00 PM EST (0200 UTC) and typically lasts two hours. The net control station is Bill Donnermeyer Jr., NM4A, located in Union, Kentucky. The net typically attracts about 65 stations from across the United States during the course of the evening. All AM check-ins are welcome. This is a great opportunity to hear some classic AM rigs, heavy metal military and broadcast AM transmitters, and state-of-the-art software defined radio AM. Thanks to net manager Geoffrey "Geoff" Mendenhall, W8GNM, and other members of the GCARA, an ARRL Affiliated Club.

On Christmas Eve, 1906, Canadian inventor, experimenter, and entrepreneur Reginald Fessenden claimed to have made his first voice -- and music -- broadcast from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, although his account of the event over the years has been disputed. Nonetheless, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, will make his annual program recreation on 486 kHz to commemorate Fessenden's accomplishments. Justin will broadcast for 24 hours beginning at 1800 UTC on December 24, with a repeat transmission on New Year's Eve, beginning at 1800 UTC, as Fessenden was reported to have done on both nights in 1906. Justin will transmit on 486 kHz, under authority of his FCC Part 5 Experimental License WI2XLQ, using equipment substantially more modern than Fessenden's gear. Justin will use a home-brew setup to achieve Heising modulation similar to what was used in amplitude modulation (AM) transmissions during World War I. Justin explained that Fessenden's transmitter was a high-speed alternator, a predecessor to the Alexanderson Alternator still in use today at the historic Grimeton Radio Station in Sweden. Modulation then was achieved using a carbon microphone, but Justin will use a laptop computer for his audio broadcast. Justin said there is a cult-like following of amateur radio and shortwave listeners who tune in for the annual broadcast. Justin has been licensed since 1976 and is an ARRL Life Member.

The Grimeton Christmas Eve message has been cancelled. The Alexander Grimeton Friendship Association, in southern Sweden, has announced the cancellation due to Covid-19. The radio station will be closed for visitors and SK6SAQ will not be QRV or on the air.

In Brief...

The Intrepid DX Group has announced the winners of the 3rd annual Youth "Dream Rig" Essay Contest. Essays were received from young amateurs from all over the world and gave interesting perspectives on how to reach out and connect with the youth of today. First Place -- Maria Polyanska, VE3OMV, and receiving an Icom IC-7300 tranceiver. Second Place -- Ryan Kocourek, N7RSK, and receiving a Yaesu FT-65R VHF/UHF handheld. Third Place -- Toby Latino, AG5ZM, and receiving a Yaesu FT-65R. Intrepid DX Group President Paul S. Ewing, N6PSE, added, "Having read your many essays this week, we can tell you that our youth are full of great ideas, and they are brimming with enthusiasm to keep our hobby alive well into the future." Ewing also thanked Robert Chortek, AA6VB, for providing the funds for this year's prizes.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, reports for this week's ARRL Propagation Bulletin:

I am writing this, my penultimate bulletin of 2022, about seven hours after the start of Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere on Wednesday December 21, 2022, at 2147 UTC. It is very cold in Seattle, about 17 degrees Fahrenheit on the longest night of the year.

Solar disk image taken December 22, 2022, courtesy of NASA SDO/HMI.

Solar activity was down a bit from the previous week, although it was one of those odd occasions when average daily sunspot numbers and solar flux changed in opposite directions.

Average daily sunspot number declined from 136.9 to 124.1, while solar flux rose from 150 to 153.8.

Geomagnetic indicators were a bit lower, with average planetary A index changing from 7.7 to 6.7, and middle latitude numbers from 6 to 5.1.

Due to missing data, I had to fudge one of the numbers (the December 16 middle latitude A index), which I pegged at 7 by eyeballing trends.

Predicted solar flux appears to reach a short-term peak of 160 on January 4 - 7, 2023. Starting December 22, 2022, the forecast shows 140 and 135 through December 23; 130 on December 24 - 25; 135 on December 26 - 28; 130, 135, and 138 on December 29 - 31; 140, 150, and 155 on January 1 - 3, 2023; 160 on January 4 - 7; 158, 156, 154, 154, and 152 on January 8 - 12; 150 on January 13 - 15; 145, 130, and 120 on January 16 - 18; 118 on January 19 - 20; and 120, 125, and 127 on January 21 - 23.

Predicted planetary A index is 12, 8, 5, 14, and 10 on December 22 - 26; 8, 5, 12, 10, and 12 on December 27 - 31; 8, 5, and 18 on January 1 - 3, 2023; 10 on January 4 - 5; 8, 10, and 6 on January 6 - 8; 5 on January 9 - 14; 12, 10, and 20 on January 15 - 17; 12, 8, 5, and 18 on January 18 - 21; and 20 on January 22 - 24.

In Friday's bulletin look for a 6-meter report from Jon Jones, N0JK, the columnist of "The World Above 50 MHz" in QST magazine, and any other interesting observations you and others may send my way.

Sunspot numbers for December 15 through 21, 2022 were 140, 108, 139, 128, 132, 119, and 103, with a mean of 124.1. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 165.9, 163.1, 154.6, 155, 6, 152.4, 146.4, and 138.7, with a mean of 153.8. Estimated planetary A indexes were 5, 9, 3, 4, 11, 6, and 9, with a mean of 6.7. Middle latitude A index was 4, 7, 2, 2, 9, 5, and 7, with a mean of 5.1.

Send your tips, questions, or comments to

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.

A weekly, full report is posted on ARRL News.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • December 21 -- NAQCC CW Sprint (CW)

  • December 21 -- VHF-UHF FT8 (digital)

  • December 26 -- DARC Christmas Contest (CW, phone)

  • December 28 -- Sprint (CW)

  • December 30 -- YOTA Contest (CW, phone)

  • December 31 -- Bogor Old and New Contest (phone)

  • January 1 -- AGB New Year Snowball Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • January 1 -- SARTG New Year RTTY Contest (digital)

  • January 1 -- AGCW Happy New Year Contest (CW)

  • January 1 -- AGCW VHF/UHF Contest (CW)

  • January 2 -- K1USN Slow Speed Test (CW)

  • January 3 -- Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest (phone)

  • January 3 -- ARS Spartan Sprint (CW)

  • January 4 -- QRP Fox Hunt (CW)

  • January 4 -- CWops Test (CWT) (CW)

  • January 4 -- VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest (digital)

  • January 4 -- CWops Contest (CW)

  • January 4 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (phone)

Visit the ARRL Contest Calendar for more events and information.

Upcoming Section, State, and Division Conventions
  • January 7 | Ham Radio University, hosting the ARRL New York City-Long Island Section Convention, an online event

  • January 20 - 21 | Southwest Florida Regional Hamfest, hosting the ARRL Southern Florida Section Convention, Fort Myers, Florida

  • January 20 - 21 |Cowtown Hamfest, hosting the ARRL North Texas Section Convention, Forest Hill, Texas

  • January 27 - 28 | Capital City Hamfest 2023, hosting the ARRL Mississippi State Convention, Jackson, Mississippi

  • January 28 | Winterfest, hosting the ARRL Midwest Division Convention, Collinsville, Illinois

  • February 10 - 12 | Orlando HamCation, hosting the ARRL Southeastern Division Convention, Orlando, Florida

  • February 25 | HAM-CON, hosting the ARRL Vermont State Convention, Colchester, Vermont

  • March 3 - 4 | BirmingHamfest, hosting the ARRL Alabama Section Convention, Trussville, Alabama

  • March 3 - 4 | Greater Houston HamFest, hosting the ARRL Texas State Convention, Rosenberg, Texas

Search the ARRL Hamfest and Convention Database to find events in your area.

Have News for ARRL?

Submissions for the ARRL Letter and ARRL News can be sent to -- John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, ARRL News Editor

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Amateur Radio News and Information

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  • Listen to ARRL Audio News, available every Friday.

  • The ARRL Letter is available in an accessible format, posted weekly to the Blind-hams email group. The group is dedicated to discussions about amateur radio as it concerns blind hams, plus related topics including ham radio use of adaptive technology.

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The ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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

Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

Back issues published since 2000 are available on this page. If you wish to subscribe via e-mail, simply log on to the ARRL Web site, click on Edit Your Profile at the top, then click on Edit Email Subscriptions. Check the box next to The ARRL email newsletter, the ARRL Letter and you will receive each weekly issue in HTML format. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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