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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
March 28, 2024
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Amateur Radio Importance Highlighted at National Hurricane Conference

The National Hurricane Conference was held March 25 - 28, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. Amateur radio was well represented at the event. A series of workshops were held that focused on amateur radio's involvement in hurricane tracking, coverage, and recovery.

Among the presenters was the Assistant Amateur Radio Coordinator of WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) Julio Ripoll, WD4R.

Julio Ripoll, WD4R, serves as the Assistant Amateur Radio Coordinator for WX4NHC. [Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, photo.]

Ripoll gave a history of amateur radio's involvement in NHC, including the use of tube radios in the 1980s and the Yaesu FTDX-1200 used today. WX4NHC is also equipped with VHF/UHF radios to access the Florida Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet), as well as digital equipment to communicate with the VoIP Hurricane Net, IRLP, and Winlink to receive emails via amateur radio.

"We were the only means of communication between the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service Field Office in Slidell, Louisiana, during Hurricane Katrina," Ripoll said. He went on to highlight other instances of reports given by ham radio that provided mission-critical information that had a major impact on the way NHC handled a storm.

ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, gave a presentation to the crowd of hurricane experts, meteorologists, and emergency managers about the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®).

ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV. [Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, photo.]

He spoke of ARRL's role on the board of SAFECOM, a program managed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that sets the standards of interoperability procedures. Being a part of the group solidifies the Amateur Radio Service as a robust resource before and during times of crisis.

Johnston shared that in 2023, ARES volunteers contributed at least $21.8 million in volunteer hours to their local communities. "Is amateur radio still relevant? Absolutely! Are we still involved in the places that are doing things the right way? Amateur radio absolutely is," he said.

Johnston highlighted the relationship between ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as ARRL's position as a net control station within the SHAred RESources High Frequency Radio Program (SHARES) managed by CISA.

Among other presenters was ARRL's The ARES Letter Editor Rick Palm, K1CE.

The ARRL ARES Letter Editor Rick Palm, K1CE. [Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, photo.]

He shared a harrowing tale of his family riding out a direct hit from Hurricane Idalia in August 2023. The damage and impact he felt gave him a new perspective on emergency communications, as he went from a volunteer communicator to a storm victim. Read more about his experience in the "Public Service" column in the January 2024 issue of QST.

Watch a video of the amateur radio workshops at the 2024 National Hurricane Conference on YouTube, courtesy of Jim Palmer, KB1KQW.

World Amateur Radio Day is April 18, 2024

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is celebrated each year on April 18.

The theme for 2024 is, "A Century of Connections: Celebrating 100 Years of Amateur Radio Innovation, Community, and Advocacy." The global event covers all of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) regions and spans 2 days: Thursday, April 18, 2024, 0000 UTC to Friday, April 19, 2024, 0000 UTC.

On April 18, 1925, the IARU was formed in Paris and will celebrate its centenary in 2025. American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim was the organization's first president.

All radio amateurs are invited to take to the airwaves to enjoy the global friendship with other amateurs and to show their skills and capabilities to the public. WARD is not a contest but rather an opportunity to talk about the value of amateur radio to the public and fellow amateur colleagues. It is also a great opportunity to talk about local radio clubs and amateur radio in local media as a lead-up to ARRL Field Day, which is held each year during the fourth full weekend in June. You can also promote your personal WARD activities on social media platforms like X and Facebook by using the hashtag #WorldAmateurRadioDay.

For more ideas and information, visit World Amateur Radio Day (

Reminder: Solar Eclipse April 8

Amateur radio will play many roles in the upcoming solar eclipse that will cross much of North America. Radio amateurs are welcome to participate in ionospheric research that is being conducted. Find information about the Solar Eclipse QSO Party on the HamSCI web site.

Many emergency communications groups, including those affiliated with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) in the areas near totality are planning to be active surrounding the event. Hams will provide communications to served agencies, such as local governments, relief oranizations, and other groups that could benefit from resilient communications during a time when millions are expected to travel.

New Training Course Offered by the ARRL Puerto Rico Section

The ARRL Puerto Rico Section has a new online training course for prospective amateur radio operators. Fifty-three students have enrolled in the course, taught by ARRL Technical Coordinator and Instructor Carlos Roig, WP4AOH, who draws from the ARRL License Manual and the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators pool of questions for the Spanish Zoom course. The course is open to anyone who is interested in becoming an amateur radio operator. In advance of the course, on March 16, 2024, Assistant Section Manager (ASM) Leyda Rios, WP4RBK, offered a Technician training demonstration to 10 registered students at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.

Assistant Section Manager of the ARRL Puerto Rico Section Leyda Rios, WP4RBK, talks to the training course students. [Photo courtesy of Luis E. Collazo, WP4RAQ]

The session was an overview of amateur radio and its various activities. Students were most interested in the band plan, the phonetic alphabet, and how to communicate with others. The instruction session also included an introduction to amateur radio equipment and antennas, including how to operate and set up the equipment. There was also a demonstration of a VHF/UHF radio to establish a simple repeater contact. "The range of amateur communication and the capabilities astounded the students," Rios said.

Several students were also interested in learning more about how to utilize the radio equipment and how to establish their first contact, while others have an interest in emergency communications for this year's hurricane season.

For additional information about the training course, contact Leyda Rios, WP4RBK, at

For information on how to become an amateur radio operator, visit ARRL | Licensing, Education & Training | Getting on the Air.

Amateur Radio in the News

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

"Hamateur Hour: Radio operators prepare for total solar eclipse what-ifs" / WFIE (Indiana) March 21, 2024

"Fulton County Amateur Radio Club ready to assist during April 8 total solar eclipse" / WTOL (Ohio) March 25, 2024 -- The Fulton County Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL Affiliated Club.

"GEARS promotes radio use for emergencies in Butte County, preparing for future events" / KRCR (California) March 27, 2024 -- The Golden Empire Amateur Radio Society is an ARRL Affiliated Club.

any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

ARRL Podcasts

On the Air
Sponsored by

Contribute to Science While You Operate

The Solar Eclipse QSO Party (or SEQP) is an on-air event coming up on April 8, the same day as the next total solar eclipse. The SEQP is a great opportunity for hams to contribute data to studies of Earth's ionosphere, the part of our atmosphere that makes radio communications possible, and all you have to do is get on the air and operate as you normally would. The lead organizer of Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI), Dr. Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, joins us in this episode to explain how to get involved.

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 and ARRL Audio News are available on blubrry, iTunes, and Apple Podcasts -- On the Air | ARRL Audio News.


If you're a Parks on the Air activator or hunter, there are two events occurring the first week of April that might be of interest. Georgia State Parks on the Air begins at 1200 UTC on Saturday, April 6, and concludes at 2359 UTC on Sunday, April 7. Also, Florida State Parks on the Air begins at 1400 UTC on Saturday, April 6, and concludes at 2200 UTC on Sunday, April 7. For more information, visit the individual sponsors' websites.

In Brief...

Blind amateur radio operator, tower climber, and Southeastern Repeater Association (SERA) President Wade "Danny" Hampton Jr., K4ITL, passed away February 28, 2024.

Wade "Danny" Hampton Jr. K4ITL, (SK) [Photo courtesy of Bill Morine, N2COP]

While attending the North Carolina State School for the Blind (now known as Governor Morehead School for the Blind) in Raleigh, Hampton met several sighted friends involved in the amateur radio community and began attending radio club meetings with them. As a result, he became a licensed amateur radio operator at the age of 12, despite the requirement that an operator must be able to read, copy, and send Morse code, all of which he learned by ear. After graduation from Wake Technical Community College, Hampton founded a company that maintained commercial two-way radio systems across the southeastern US. For many years, he was a broadcast engineer for WRAL-TV in Raleigh, often working at the top of the station's 2,000-foot tower. Hampton made his last climb in 2023 at the age of 79. He was named Hamvention® Amateur of the Year in 2009 for his design of the Piedmont Coastal Repeater Network, which links more than 40 repeaters. He was also awarded North Carolina's highest civilian award, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, in recognition for adding broadcast translators to the fringe service area of the Raleigh National Weather Service office. He leaves behind his wife Rose, six children, 11 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, reports for this week's ARRL Propagation Bulletin, ARLP0013:

This solar disk image was taken on March 28, 2024. [Photo courtesy of NASA SDO/HMI]

A dramatic increase in solar activity emerged over the past week, and geomagnetic activity reacted as well.

Two new sunspot groups appeared on March 21, then one new group emerged each day over March 22 - 25.

The average daily solar flux rose from 153.3 to 191.9, and the average daily sunspot numbers increased from 94.3 to 147.

The highest sunspot number over last week was 171 on March 22, which was the highest sunspot number since November 22 - 25, 2023, when the numbers were 174, 176, 184, and 179.

The average daily planetary A index jumped from 5.9 to 25.4, and middle latitude numbers rose from 5 to 19.

On March 24, the college A index in Fairbanks, Alaska, reached 100! The planetary A index was 64.

Looking ahead, the solar flux is predicted to reach a peak of 210 on April 23 - 24. The projected solar flux is 180 and 175 on March 28 - 29; 170 on March 30 - 31; 175 on April 1 - 3; 180 and 185 on April 4 - 5; 190 on April 6 - 7; 185, 180, 175, and 180 on April 8 - 11; 185 on April 12 - 13; 190, 185, 190, 185, and 180 on April 14 - 18; 175 on April 19 - 20; 200 and 205 on April 21 - 22; 210 on April 23 - 24, and 205, 190, and 180 on April 25 - 27.

The planetary A index forecast shows 5, 10, and 8 on March 28 - 30; 10 on March 31 through April 1; 8 and 5 on April 2 - 3; 12 on April 4 - 5; 5 on April 6 - 8; 8 on April 9 - 11; 5 on April 12 - 18; 8, 10, 10, and 8 on April 19 - 22, and 5 on April 23 - 29.

Sunspot numbers for March 21 - 27, 2024, were 141, 171, 146, 145, 163, 149, and 114, with a mean of 147. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 196.9, 197.6, 210.7, 195.1, 190.1, 178.2, and 174.6, with a mean of 191.9. Estimated planetary A indices were 27, 11, 36, 64, 22, 11, and 7, with a mean of 25.4. The middle latitude A index was 20, 10, 25, 43, 17, 11, and 7, with a mean of 19.

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
  • March 28 -- RSGB 80m Club Championship SSB (phone)

  • March 29 - 30 -- Sasquatch Stomp (CW)

  • March 30 - 31-- CQ WW WPX Contest SSB (phone)

  • April 1 -- DARC Easter Contest (CW, phone)

  • April 1 -- 144 MHz Spring Sprint (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 4 - 5 -- Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • April 4 -- SARL 80m QSO Party (phone)

  • April 4 -- 10m Activity Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- PODXS 070 Club PSK 31 Flavors Contest (digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- EA RTTY Contest (digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- RSGB FT4 International Activity Day (FT4)

  • April 6 - 7 -- Georgia State Parks on the Air (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- Louisiana QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- Mississippi QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- VHF/UHF Missouri QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- Florida State Parks on the Air (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 6 - 7 -- SP DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • April 7 -- WAB 3.5/7/14 MHz Data Modes (digital)

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 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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