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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
March 9, 2023
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


ARRL International DX Contest a Success

Last weekend (March 4 - 5, 2023) was the phone segment of the ARRL International DX Contest.

Some of the operators hitting the airwaves for the 2023 ARRL International DX Contest included ARRL CEO David Minster, NA2AA (foreground) from PJ4G, "Radio Mountain Bonaire."

Although the deadline to submit logs is 2359Z on March 12, preliminary numbers already show an increase in submissions compared to the same period last year. Conditions were favorable for much of the world, and many operators took to social media to talk about their wins.

Italian ham Chris Diemoz, IX1CKN, wrote in to express his gratitude for the contest, saying, "I haven't come back to the US since 2001, but... I [count last] Sunday afternoon [as] a true trip to the States, from east to west." Diemoz made 80 contacts in the US.

From his parked car in Ozein, Itally, Diemoz operated during the contest using QRP power from a Xiegu G90 transceiver and an Outback-1899 HF antenna. He enjoyed making a lot of contacts on 10 and 15 meters, which are opening due to Solar Cycle 25. He made a video with some of his QSOs and posted it to YouTube. Click on the screenshot above or click here to view the YouTube video.

2023 Ulrich L. Rohde Award Call for Papers

The Software Defined Radio Academy (SDRA) has issued a call for papers for the 2023 Ulrich L. Rohde Award. This award, named after Dr. Ulrich L. Rohde, N1UL, was created in 2022 and is presented to those who have completed innovative research in the field of software-defined radio (SDR). It's a paper award that requires a written submission by applicants. There are first - second - and third -place winners who are awarded €500 ($527), €300 ($316), and €100 ($105) respectively.

All submitted papers are eligible for the award. The deadline for the abstract submission is April 30, 2023, and the acceptance notification date is May 15, 2023. The Award Committee for 2023 includes:

  • Dr. Michael Hartje, DK5HH, HS Bremen

  • Dr. Michael Niemetz, DG2RAM, OTH Regensburg

  • Dr. Hervé Boeglen, Univ. Poitiers (European GNURadio Days)

  • Dr. Jean-Michel Friedt, FEMTO-ST, Univ. Besancon (European GNURadio Days)

Dr. Rohde is an avid amateur radio operator, holding several licenses in the US and Germany. He has been licensed since 1956, and is mostly involved in technology and systems. In 2015, he won first place in the ARRL DX Contest in the Northern New Jersey Section. He also operates N1UL/MM on his yacht, the Dragonfly, and is Trustee of the Marco Island Radio Club, K5MI.

Rohde holds 50 patents, and in December 2016, he was invited to deliver the Sir J.C. Bose Memorial Lecture on "Next-Generation Networks: Software-Defined Radio -- Emerging Trends," at the IEEE meeting in Hyderabad, Telangana India, in the fourth edition of Communications Receivers: Principles and Design, Rohde and his co-authors set SDR at the core of modern communications systems design.

For additional information on the Ulrich L. Rohde Award, including how to send an award for submission and other award categories, visit the Software Defined Radio Academy website.

Amateur Radio Digital Communications Awards $420,000 to the FreeDV Project

Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) has awarded a $420,000 grant, one of the first for 2023, to develop and document FreeDV, an open-source amateur radio technology. The grant will be used to help advance the state of the art in HF digital voice and promote its use.

FreeDV is a graphical user interface application for Windows, Linux, and macOS that allows any SSB radio to be used for low-bit-rate digital voice. Speech is compressed down to 1600 bits/second, then modulated onto a 1.25 kHz wide 16 QPSK signal, which is sent to the microphone input of an SSB radio. The technology was initially developed by David Rowe, VK5DGR. Now, an international team of radio amateurs are working together on the project.

Among the many opportunities for FreeDV, the ARDC grant will also allow:

  • Experienced digital signal processing developers to work with the volunteer staff to improve speech quality and low signal-to-noise ratio operation, making FreeDV performance superior to SSB over poor HF channels.

  • Commercial HF radio companies to embed FreeDV into at least two commercial radios, greatly reducing set up effort and latency.

  • Widespread adoption of a truly open-source, next-generation digital voice system for HF radio.

  • A mature, open-source low-bit-rate codec that's useful for a variety of amateur radio and commercial applications.

  • A suite of high-performance, HF data modems for open-source data applications, usable by any radio amateur.

To learn more about the technical specifications of FreeDV, go to

ARDC is a California-based foundation with roots in amateur radio and the technology of internet communication.

Amateur Radio in the News

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

"Astronauts will be reached by students with Amateur Radio" / KHON (Hawaii), March 5, 2023 -- The Lana'i High and Elementary School.

"Steubenville-Weirton Amateur Radio Club donates books to library system" / Herald - Star (Ohio), March 8, 2023. The Steubenville-Weirton Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL Affiliated Club.

any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

ARRL Podcasts

On the Air
Sponsored by

Radio orienteering (aka Amateur Radio Direction Finding, or ARDF) is a radio sport like no other. It gets you out of your shack chair and bounding through the woods or a park, using a handheld receiver and directional antenna to find a transmitter that's located somewhere in the vicinity. People of all ages and skill levels can have fun with radio orienteering - and you don't even need a ham radio license to join in. In this episode, we talk to USA ARDF Co-coordinator Charles Scharlau, NZØI, about how to get involved in what he calls, "the only athletic radio sport."

ARRL Audio News
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.


The 2023 QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo will be held on March 25 - 26, and registration is still open. The event is a fully interactive virtual ham radio convention offering new content, networking opportunities, and more than 50 amateur radio presentations on a wide variety of subjects. Tickets are $15, and registration information can be found at the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo website. ARRL is a QSO Today Expo Partner.

In Brief...

It is with deep sadness that we report that ARRL Michigan Section Manager Les Butler, W8MSP, passed away on March 8, 2023. Butler, of Gregory, began serving his first term as Section Manager in January 2022. "Les was attending Michigan's Statewide Interoperable Communications Conference and, in the evening, became ill," reported ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, in a message sent to Division members. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Les' wife Karen, the family, and all of his many friends in amateur radio." More information will follow as it becomes available.

The National Capitol DX Association (NCDXA) Board of Directors has appointed Jack Ference, W3KX, as the new ARRL Third Call Area (W3) Incoming QSL Bureau Manager. He fills the position of the late Fred Laun, K3ZO (SK), who passed away on January 3, 2023. There were some delays in the transition, and QSLs that were forwarded to the old PO Box were not able to be collected. Incoming QSLs that were sent between December 2022 and March 2023 were returned to the senders by the US Postal Service. Please send any returned QSLs and new shipments to the new address:

W3 QSL Bureau
PO Box 190
Glenelg, MD 21737-0190

Amateurs who are in contact with active foreign QSL bureaus or international QSL managers are asked to pass this information along to them. Foreign bureau managers and international QSL managers are asked to contact Ference by email, so their mailing address and contact information can be updated for future business. All questions and inquiries sent to the new PO Box will be answered. Ference can be contacted directly at: Jack J. Ference, W3KX, Bureau Manager, ARRL Third Call Area Incoming QSL Bureau,

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, reports for this week's ARRL Propagation Bulletin, ARLP010:

Solar disk image taken March 9, 2023, courtesy of NASA SDO/HM.

So far this month, two new sunspot groups appeared on March 1, one on March 2, three on March 3, one on March 5, two on March 6, and one on March 7.

The average daily sunspot numbers rose from 126.3 to 143.6.

The average daily solar flux changed from 158.2 to 181.6.

The average daily planetary A index declined from 27.7 to 14.6, and the average middle latitude numbers went from 18.9 to 10.7, reflecting the quieter conditions following the upsets of the week before.

The Dominion Radio Observatory, the source for solar flux data, is way up at 49.5 degrees north longitude in eastern British Columbia in Penticton. For much of the year the sun is low in the sky, so all winter they do their thrice daily readings at 1800, 2000, and 2200 UTC. But on March 1, they shifted over to 1700, 2000, and 2300 UTC. The local noon (2000 UTC) reading is the official solar flux for the day.

You can see the data and the dates here:

The vernal equinox, when the Northern and Southern hemispheres are bathed in equal solar radiation, is less than 2 weeks away.

Predicted solar flux shows values peaking now, and again on March 16 - 19.

Flux values are expected at 178, 175, 172, and 165 on March 9 - 12; 170 on March 13 - 15; 175, 180, 180, 175, 170, and 165 on March 16 - 21; 160 on March 22 - 23; 155 on March 24 - 26; 150 on March 27 - 28; 145 on March 29 - 30; 140, 145, 150, 155, and 160 on March 31 through April 4, and 165 on April 5 - 8.

The predicted planetary A index is 8, 5, 8, 10, and 8 on March 9 - 13; 5 on March 14 - 15; 8 on March 16 - 17; 5, 8, and 16 on March 18 - 20; 5 on March 21 - 23; 12, 16, 26, 18, and 10 on March 24 - 28; 8, 24, and 16 on March 29 - 31; 20 on April 1 - 2; 16 and 8 on April 3 - 4, and 5 on April 5 - 10.

Dr. Tony Phillips of posted this animation of sunspot AR3245 splitting, which was captured by NASA's SDO:

AR3245 is seen in the SE quadrant (lower left).

Sunspot numbers for March 2 through 8 were 103, 133, 122, 137, 173, 191, and 146, with a mean of 143.6. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 168.8, 190.9, 181.6, 179.8, 188, 180.3, and 181.9, with a mean of 181.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 9, 22, 15, 22, 15, 11, and 8, with a mean of 14.6. The middle latitude A index was 8, 16, 10, 17, 11, 7, and 6, with a mean of 10.7.

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

Year-long -- ARRL Volunteers On the Air (VOTA). See the State Activations Schedule for weekly W1AW Portable Operations including:

  • March 8 - March 15 -- Kentucky, W1AW/4

  • March 8 - March 15 -- Idaho, W1AW/7

  • March 15 - March 21 -- Virginia, W1AW/4

  • March 15 - March 21 -- Ohio, W1AW/8

Upcoming Contests:
  • March 11 -- YB DX RTTY Contest (digital)

  • March 11 - 12 -- RSGB Commonwealth Contest (CW)

  • March 11 - 12 -- EA PSK63 Contest (digital)

  • March 11 - 12 -- South America 10 Meter Contest (CW, phone)

  • March 11 - 12 -- SKCC Weekend Sprintathon (CW)

  • March 11 -- AGCW QRP Contest (CW)

  • March 11 - 12 -- Stew Perry Topband Challenge (CW)

  • March 11 - 12 -- Oklahoma QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • March 11 - 12 -- Tesla Memorial HF CW Contest (CW)

  • March 11 - 12 -- Idaho QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • March 12 -- North American Sprint, RTTY (digital)

  • March 12 -- UBA Spring Contest, 2m (CW, phone)

  • March 12 -- FIRAC HF Contest (CW)

  • March 12 - 13 -- Wisconsin QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • March 13 -- 4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint (CW, phone)

  • March 13 -- OK1WC Memorial (MWC) (CW)

Visit the ARRL Contest Calendar for more events and information.

Upcoming Section, State, and Division Conventions

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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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.

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