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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
August 31, 2023
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Hurricane Idalia: Amateur Radio Serves Critical Functions

Hurricane Idalia made landfall Wednesday, August 30 on Florida's Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm sustaining winds of 125 miles per hour. The storm tracked across Georgia and into South Carolina, and on Thursday morning it had moved offshore of North Carolina.

A real time visible satellite image of Hurricanes Idalia and Franklin, downlinked on August 30 from NOAA-18 at W1AW.

ARRL volunteers staffed key positions across the affected region. Section Emergency Coordinator of the ARRL Northern Florida Section Arc Thames, W4CPD, led the activation of Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) volunteers within the Section. Thames said the ARES volunteers would be staffing the radio room at the state Emergency Operation Center (EOC) until 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 31 and will provide additional service if needed. "So far there does not appear to be a large communications impact that would require amateur radio support," he said.

FEMA personnel coordinate with their counterparts at Florida Division of Emergency Management in preparation of response efforts to Hurricane Idalia. ARES volunteers were staffing the same facility. [Photo: Johanna Strickland / FEMA]

The Florida Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) was the primary emergency communications system used during the storm. The system is a series of linked UHF repeaters that covers the entire state. There were also HF nets linking counties to the state EOC.

ARES Newsletter Editor Rick Palm, K1CE, surveys the damage after a tree fell on his car at his home. "Our cars were smashed under this big tree in our backyard. I am using my handheld to report into the Columbia County ARES net and EOC. Much damage here in our yard and the surrounding community, and we experienced a very scary (terrifying actually) morning yesterday, being so close to the eye as it made landfall," he wrote.

In a message to ARES leadership in the affected Sections, ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, reminded them of gear at ARRL Headquarters that can be deployed if necessary. "We have equipment assets in our Ham Aid program available to you for loan if you have a need to backfill. These can be used during - long term recovery efforts as needed," wrote Johnston.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an ARRL-requested emergency waiver to HF symbol rate limits, to allow higher speed data communications in the Amateur Radio Service response to Hurricane Idalia. Read the waiver (PDF)

Many counties in the ARRL Northern Florida Section were activated. Section Manager Scott Roberts, KK4ECR, was at the Clay County EOC for 27 hours. "We had a good number of our Northern Florida counties activated, as well as other places in the state. There were four shelters open here in Clay County alone," he said. As of press time, Roberts said the final information was still being tallied, but he knew of activations Duvall, St. Johns, Escambia, Marion, and Leon Counties.

In Ocala, the Marion County Emergency Radio Team (MERT) was activated to support shelter operations on Tuesday, August 29. Marion County ARES was placed on standby to support the MERT team and other served agencies. The county was spared the brunt of the impact. Marion County ARES Emergency Coordinator Hayden Kaufman, N2HAY, said the activation identified some opportunities for improvement in the area's disaster response. "We were very fortunate to have had little to do. However, the activation provided us some insight on factors that would impede communications in an emergency," he said.

Ham volunteers worked with the County Sheriff's office to ensure the amateur radio equipment onboard the Marion County Mobile Command Center was fully operational before it was deployed to Madison County, the area most heavily impacted by the storm.

Kaufman thanked the many local volunteers for their service during the hurricane. "I am personally proud to be a member of our increasingly tight-knit EmComm community," he said.

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the storm called for "all hands on deck". Ahead of impact, the intensity and track of the storm greatly concerned him. "I have been watching and plotting hurricanes for over 35 years. I have witnessed, many times, a Hurricane cross a state line into another as a hurricane...two states were hit by the same hurricane. Never have I seen a storm cross three States as a Hurricane," said Graves.

The WX4NHC amateur radio station at the National Hurricane Center was also active during the storm, as was the Hurricane VoIP Net.

Amateur radio operators continue to serve impacted communities through served agencies as the recovery phase begins. Check ARRL News for the latest updates.

ARRL New Jersey Sections Sign Agreement with American Red Cross

On Friday, August 25, 2023, Section Manager of the ARRL Northern New Jersey Section Robert Buus, W2OD, and Section Manager of the ARRL Southern New Jersey Section Tom Preiser, N2XW, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with representatives from the

Pictured left to right: American Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer Ed Blanchard, Section Manager of the ARRL Northern New Jersey Section Robert Buus, W2OD, and Section Manager of the ARRL Southern New Jersey Section Tom Preiser, N2XW. [Photo Courtesy of Tom Devine, WB2ALJ]

American Red Cross (ARC) New Jersey Region. The MOU focuses on disaster planning and response for communities within New Jersey during and after a disaster event.

"For the first time in a long time, both the Northern and Southern New Jersey Sections will be working together," said Preiser. "It's critically important we know who we're working with and develop a good relationship to help make our responses effective every time."

Buus agreed, stating, "It's really a win-win for everyone. We've worked with the Red Cross for many years [and] this goes a long way to strengthen relationships and provide help in all types of situations," he said.

As part of the MOU, Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) teams in New Jersey will aid with communications in support of disaster relief through training, testing, and exercises, and by providing emergency communications to support local shelter operations. This is especially important when normal communications are disrupted or overloaded.

ARES teams throughout New Jersey have supported ARC shelter disaster operations and operated ARC emergency communications. For example, the ARC Princeton office is maintained and operated by the Mercer County team, and the Gloucester County team supports the ARC Pennsauken office. Other joint ARES, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services, and auxiliary communications teams have provided ARC shelter services during past emergency activations.

Former ARRL Oregon Section Manager John Core, KX7YT, SK

ARRL is sad to announce that John Core, KX7YT, Section Manager of the ARRL Oregon Section from 2016 - 2018, passed away suddenly on August 11, 2023. He was 80 years young.

John first earned his Novice-class license in 1970 with the call sign WN7PQL. He subsequently upgraded to his General-class license in 1971 with the call sign WA7PQL, his Advanced-class license in 1976, and finally, to his Amateur Extra-class license in 2000 with the call sign KX7YT. While involved in consulting work abroad from 1998 - 2006, he was licensed in Bangladesh as S21YV and later licensed in India as VU3DXY. Most recently, John was active in the Department of Homeland Security CISA SHARES program as NNB0EC.

John was a passionate DX hound and contester. He was an active member of the Willamette Valley DX Club and a huge Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) activist for Oregon amateurs. As the ARRL Oregon Section Manager, he was instrumental in coordinating Oregon ARES operations during the Cascadia Rising Simulated Emergency Test (SET) in 2016, which was a multi-state and multi-jurisdictional simulation of the anticipated catastrophic Pacific coast subduction zone 9.0-magnitude earthquake. John wrote an article for QST that was published shortly afterward, highlighting the SET results. In all, John penned no less than five articles for QST between 2001 and 2016, mostly related to Oregon ARES activities and his experiences operating in Bangladesh.

In 2017 - 2018, John worked with his ARES leadership team to produce a set of standardized statewide ARES Amateur Radio Operator (ARO) training materials that were used for many years. He was also instrumental in establishing a special website to enable amateurs across the state to receive their ARO training virtually.

During his tenure as Section Manager, John was a key part in ensuring reasonable amateur radio legislation related to distracted driving laws that were under consideration in Oregon. He provided expert testimony before several legislative committees, which resulted in a positive outcome for Oregon amateurs.

Among the many tributes from hams that knew him, one from the State Communications Officer for the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (ODEM) Doug Jimenez, W7DMJ, stands out:

"I met John many years ago, while he was the ARRL Section Manager for Oregon. He was a good friend and volunteer for ODEM. One of his recent projects [had] been [to coordinate the] setup of VARA FM digipeaters to ensure contact between ODEM and the north coast of Oregon in the event of disaster. I really enjoyed working with John and learning new things from him. This is a huge loss to the community. He will be missed."

Written by ARRL Northwest Division Director Mike Ritz, W7VO.

Changes to the ARRL Oregon Section

Section Manager of the ARRL Oregon Section Jonathan Wanzer, KK6GXG, has decided to step down from the role citing personal reasons. Jonathan assumed the role on July 1, 2023, with the intent of serving for the remainder of the term. ARRL Field Services Manager Mike Walters, W8ZY, has appointed Scott Rosenfeld, N7JI, to complete the term.

Rosenfeld, from Eugene, Oregon, has served as a Volunteer Examiner as well as an amateur radio instructor. He will continue as Section Manager of the Oregon Section through the current term ending June 30, 2024.

ARRL Headquarters Closed Labor Day

ARRL Headquarters will be closed on Monday, September 4, 2023, in observance of the Labor Day federal holiday. There will be no W1AW bulletin or code practice transmissions. ARRL Headquarters will reopen on Tuesday, September 5, at 8 AM EDT (1200 UTC).

Visit the ARRL Special Events Stations database to find on-the-air events and commemorations this weekend.

ARRL wishes its members and friends a safe and enjoyable holiday!

Amateur Radio in the News

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

"Do you copy?': Radio club communicates with Texas missile silo" / Press-Republican (Texas) August 26, 2023 -- Champlain Valley Amateur Radio Club.

"North Carolina students speak with astronaut in space" / WJHL-TV (North Carolina) August 28, 2023 -- Bowman Middle School

"Amateur radio operators share Sabine Pass Lighthouse restoration story" / The Orange Leader (Texas) August 30, 2023 -- International Lighthouse - Lightship Weekend.

"Part Social Media And Part Preppers' Paradise, Ham Radio Is The Perfect Hobby" / The Federalist August 30, 2023 -- Roy Maynard, KJ5BVP, is an ARRL member.

any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

ARRL Podcasts

On the Air
Sponsored by

This month, we talk with Steve Simons, W1SMS, the Technical Coordinator for the Connecticut Section, who shares his experiences as a TC, from coordinating with Emergency Operations Centers during an emergency, to presenting technical papers at ham club meetings, to working with the Section's Technical Specialists to help local hams with troubleshooting and other technical matters.

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 16th annual Ohio State Parks On The Air (OSPOTA) contest will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2023. This contest is always held on the first Saturday following the Labor Day holiday. This year, 75 Ohio state parks will be open for the event. Operating hours will be from 1400 UTC to 2200 UTC (10 AM to 6 PM ET). To sign up and read the full list of rules, visit

On September 11, 2023, the Handiham Radio Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will operate a Day in the Park special event QSO party to honor the 56th anniversary of the Courage Kenny Handiham Program and Handiham Radio Camp. The Courage Kenny Handiham Program provides tools for people with disabilities to learn amateur radio and technology skills, and to earn their amateur radio licenses. The goal is to contact as many stations as possible throughout the United States and beyond. The exchange for this special event will be your name, state or province, and your country. Contacts will be confirmed via a commemorative Handiham special event QSL card, if requested. For a list of frequencies, times, and QSL card information, visit the ARRL Special Event Stations database at

In Brief...

The Liga Colombiana de Radioaficionados (the Colombia Amateur Radio League, LCRA) will host a worldwide special call sign activation for their 90th anniversary. The event will begin at 17:00 UTC on Saturday, November 18, and will conclude at 23:59 UTC on Sunday, November 19, 2023. Female hams will activate 11 official stations with the following special call signs: 5K0LR, 5K1LR, 5K2LR, 5K3LR, 5K4LR, 5K5LR, 5K6LR, 5K7LR, 5K8LR, 5K9LR, and 5J3L. QSL card information and more information on the bands, frequencies, and modes can be found at Liga Colombiana de Radioaficionados - LCRA - Alma mater of Colombian amateur radio since 1933.

Saturday, September 2, marks the 85th anniversary of the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW. It also marks the 154th anniversary of Maxim's birth. The station is located on the ARRL Headquarters campus in Newington, Connecticut. It transmits bulletins and code practice sessions and is usually the highlight of a member's visit to ARRL. There are guest operating hours each business day, and ARRL welcomes members to come operate under the historic call sign. Look for the 2024 ARRL wall calendar, featuring images from this iconic station, available soon.

The power switch and key to "Old Betsy", ARRL Founder Hiram Percy Maxim's spark gap transmitter that sits on his old executive desk, preserved in the entrance to W1AW. A framed photo of Maxim looks on. [Photo: Joe Buglewicz for ARRL]

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, reports for this week's ARRL Propagation Bulletin, ARLP035:

Solar activity was down again this week, with average daily sunspot

Solar disk image taken August 31, 2023. [Photo courtesy of NASA SDO/HMI]

numbers dropping from 105.9 to 78.7, and the average daily solar flux dropping from 149.4 to 140.9.

Only three sunspot groups appeared, occurring on August 25, 28, and 30.

There has been a gradual transition from summer to fall conditions, with 10 and 12 meters opening more frequently. The autumnal equinox is only 3 weeks away.

Geomagnetic indicators were a little lower. The average planetary A index went from 8.4 to 7, and average middle latitude numbers went from 10.1 to 8.9.

Predicted solar flux shows a peak around 168 on September 18 - 21.

Forecast values are 145 on August 31 through September 1; 150, 150, and 145 on September 2 - 4; 150 on September 5 - 6; 156 on September 7 - 8; 150 on September 9; 147 on September 10 - 11; 145, 150, 155, 150, 155, and 160 on September 12 - 17; 168 on September 18 - 21; 165, 160, and 148 on September 22 - 24; 150 on September 25 - 26, and 152, 150, 145, and 140 on September 27 - 30.

Predicted planetary A index is 5, 10, and 10 on August 31 through September 2; 5 on September 3 - 6; 8 on September 7 - 8; 5 on September 9 - 13; 12, 10, 10, and 8 on September 14 - 17; 5 on September 18 - 22; 10, 10, and 8 on September 23 - 25, and 5 on September 26 to October 2.

Read about India's solar mission at

Check out a video about solar flares at

Sunspot numbers for August 24 through 30, 2023, were 86, 77, 75, 69, 68, 82, and 94, with a mean of 78.7. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 144.1, 138.9, 139.3, 141.5, 141.7, 142.2, and 138.6, with a mean of 140.9. Estimated planetary A indices were 9, 5, 7, 11, 6, 5, and 6, with a mean of 7. The middle latitude A index was 9, 7, 9, 13, 8, 7, and 9, with a mean of 8.9.

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

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

  • August 30 - September 5 -- Ohio W1AW/8

  • August 30 - September 5 -- Arizona W1AW/7

  • September 6 - September 12 -- Oregon W1AW/7

  • September 6 - September 12 -- Maine W1AW/1

Upcoming Contests:
  • September 2 - 3 -- All Asian DX Contest, Phone (phone)

  • September 2 -- Wake-Up! QRP Sprint (CW)

  • September 2 - 3 -- SARL Field Day Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 2 - 3 -- Colorado QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 2 - 3 -- IARU Region 1 Field Day, SSB (phone)

  • September 2 - 3 -- RSGB SSB Field Day (phone)

  • September 2 - 3 -- IARU Region 1 145 MHz Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 2 -- AGCW Straight Key Party (CW)

  • September 2 - 3 -- PODXS 070 Club Jay Hudak Memorial 80m Sprint (digital)

  • September 2 -- CWOps CW Open (CW)

  • September 3 -- WAB 144 MHz QRO Phone (phone)

  • September 3 - 4 -- Tennessee QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 4 -- RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB (phone)

  • September 4 - 5 -- MI QRP Labor Day CW Sprint (CW)

  • September 5 -- ARS Spartan Sprint (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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  • 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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