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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
April 18, 2019
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


ARRL Headquarters will be Closed on Friday, April 19

ARRL Headquarters will be closed on Friday, April 19. There will be no W1AW bulletin or code practice transmissions on Friday, and no edition of the ARRL Audio News podcast this week. ARRL Headquarters will reopen on Monday, April 22, at 8 AM EDT. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

"Mentoring the Next Generation" is Hamvention and ARRL 2019 National Convention Theme

With an eye toward helping new and inexperienced hams enjoy the full range of activities that Amateur Radio has to offer, Hamvention® and the ARRL 2019 National Convention will embrace the theme of "Mentoring the Next Generation." Hamvention hosts the National Convention May 17 - 19 at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. This will mark the third year for Hamvention at its new venue. A contingent of ARRL staff and member-volunteers will join forces to make available many ARRL exhibits and resources to Hamvention visitors. The centerpiece of ARRL's participation will be ARRL EXPO in Building 2. An extensive roster of exhibits and activities is available.

Instructors from the ARRL Teachers Institute for Wireless Technology will be on hand to bring wireless and electronics theory to life in hands-on demonstrations and lessons. They'll also touch on satellite communications, microcontrollers, and the fundamentals of robotics. At a Sunday forum called "Discovering Radio Communications" (10:30 AM - 11:30 AM in Room 2), presenters for the Teachers Institute will highlight a variety of instructional experiences and ideas.

As part of its mentoring focus, ARRL has invited members of the Nashua (New Hampshire) Area Radio Society to Hamvention and ARRL EXPO to share the club's effective and well-developed outreach program. The ARRL Special Service Club, which boasts more than 200 members and is being recognized as the 2019 Hamvention Club of the Year, caters to radio amateurs of all interests and experience levels. NARS will host an interactive exhibit that may serve as a model for other radio clubs to emulate as well as a Friday forum, "ARRL Spotlight on Radio Clubs and Mentoring" (11:50 AM - 1:05 PM) in Room 3. ARRL-sponsored forums will include:

  • ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, will present "The ARRL Lab: Trials, Tribulations and (Tall?) Tales," on Friday (9:15 AM - 10:30 AM) in Room 3.

  • ARRL Great Lakes Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, will moderate the popular ARRL Forum on Saturday (12 PM - 1:15 PM) in Room 3.

  • ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, will speak on "Engaging Today's Radio Amateur" on Saturday (1:30 PM - 2:30 PM) in Room 3.

  • Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, a familiar face to many Hamvention visitors from his days with the FCC, will be on hand Sunday (9:15 AM - 10:15 PM) in Room 2 to discuss "ARRL's New Volunteer Monitor Program and the FCC."

  • An ARRL Wouff Hong Ceremony will take place Saturday at 9 PM at the Marriott at the University of Dayton (Tradewinds Pavilion), sponsored by the ARRL Ohio Section. The traditional Wouff Hong ceremony is steeped in mystery and represents a tradition that goes back to the early days of ARRL history. Register online.

For more information, see the 2019 ARRL National Convention: Exhibit & Activities Guide. Read more.


ARRL and FCC Sign Memorandum to Implement New Volunteer Monitor Program

ARRL and the FCC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that paves the way to implement the new and enhanced Volunteer Monitor program. The memorandum establishes the Volunteer Monitors as a replacement for the Official Observers (OO) program. Current OOs have been encouraged to participate in the new program.

Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH.

"We are excited by the opportunity to codify our partnership with the FCC and to work together to achieve our mutual interests of protecting the integrity of our Amateur Radio bands," said ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR. "This Memorandum of Understanding will serve as the foundation for a new level of partnership on this very important issue."

ARRL has contracted with retired FCC special counsel and former Atlantic Division Vice Director Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, to oversee the ARRL's role in the development and implementation of the Volunteer Monitor program.

Approved by the ARRL Board of Directors at its July 2018 meeting, the new Volunteer Monitor program is a formal agreement between the FCC and ARRL in which volunteers trained and vetted by the ARRL will monitor the airwaves and collect evidence that can be used both to correct misconduct or recognize exemplary on-air operation. Cases of flagrant violations will be referred to the FCC by the ARRL for action in accordance with FCC guidelines.

The intent of this program is to re-energize enforcement efforts in the Amateur Radio bands. It was proposed by the FCC in the wake of several FCC regional office closures and a reduction in field staff.

"Under this program, the FCC will give enforcement priority to cases developed by the Volunteer Monitor program, without the delay of ARRL having to refer cases through the FCC online complaint process," Hollingsworth said.

Hollingsworth has committed to FCC and ARRL officials to ensure the adequacy of training for the new positions, to review the quality and utility of Volunteer Monitor submissions to the FCC for enforcement actions, and to advocate for rapid disposition of cases appropriately submitted to the FCC.

ARRL officials estimate that the first Volunteer Monitors will be in place and ready to begin their duties within 6 to 9 months. Read more.

New Tech: FCC Invites Comments on Waiver Request for 24 GHz Wireless Power Transfer Device

The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) is seeking comments in ET Docket 19-83 on a request by Auspion USA, Inc. to waive the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) rules' "local use" requirement (FCC Part 2 and Part 18 rules) for a 24 GHz wireless power transfer device over distance. On January 3, Auspion requested a waiver of FCC rules to allow it to obtain a grant of equipment authorization for the marketing and operation of a non‑consumer system using transmission of wireless power over distance. Auspion's "WiPod" system would provide power to, and/or charge, receivers located at various distances from the transmitter.

§18.107(c) of the rules defines ISM devices as "[e]quipment or appliances designed to generate and use [local] RF energy for industrial, scientific, medical, domestic or similar purposes, excluding applications in the field of telecommunication." Auspion requests that the Commission waive the "local use" condition, as specified in ISM Part 18 rules to allow its system to operate at distances greater than 1 meter between the transmitter and receivers, as long as the transmitted power is directed to very precise locations (called "power spots") where the receivers are sited. Auspion plans to market its system exclusively for industrial, retail, and enterprise applications, such as charging industrial robots, warehouse-based drones, and smartphones in conference rooms.

Parties should file all comments and reply comments in ET Docket 19-83 using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Comments are due by April 25, and reply comments are due by May 10.

New Episode of "So Now What?" Podcast

"All About Safety" is the focus of the new (April 18) episode of the So Now What? podcast for Amateur Radio newcomers. If you're a newly licensed Amateur Radio operator, chances are you have lots of questions. This biweekly podcast has answers! So Now What? offers insights from those who've been just where you are now. New episodes will be posted every other Thursday, alternating new-episode weeks with the ARRL The Doctor is In podcast.

So Now What? is sponsored by LDG Electronics, a family owned and operated business with laboratories in southern Maryland that offers a wide array of antenna tuners and other Amateur Radio products.

ARRL Communications Content Producer Michelle Patnode, W3MVP, and W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, co-host the podcast. Presented as a lively conversation, with Patnode representing newer hams and Carcia the veteran operators, the podcast explores questions that newer hams may have and the issues that keep participants from staying active in the hobby. Some episodes will feature guests to answer questions on specific topic areas.

Listeners can find So Now What? on Apple iTunes, Blubrry, Stitcher (free registration required, or browse the site as a guest) and through the free Stitcher app for iOS, Kindle, or Android devices. Episodes will be archived on the ARRL website.

Hamvention Opening Gates to All on Final Day of 2019 Show

Hamvention® has announced that it will open the gates to all, without charge, on Sunday, May 19, the final day of the annual gathering at Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. Hamvention 2019 General Chair Jack Gerbs, WB8SCT, said the idea is to encourage the curious to see what attracts some 30,000 visitors to Hamvention each spring.

Hamvention General Chair Jack Gerbs, WB8SCT.

"This will make it a little easier and cheaper for someone with just a little interest in Hamvention to see what all the excitement is about," Gerbs said.

In addition to the features and equipment that attract radio amateurs, non-ham visitors will get to see vendors selling a variety of other electronic equipment, including computers and accessories, security devices, networking supplies, tools, and other items of interest to the general public. Those visiting the flea market area may be surprised at what's available, often at a small fraction of its original cost.

Gerbs pointed out that Sunday is Hamvention's lightest traffic day, making it convenient for anyone who just wants check out what's there. Hamvention will be open on Sunday from 9 AM until 1 PM.

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, KX8GCS, has arranged to make text alerts possible again this year for those wanting up-to-the-minute mobile phone alerts regarding weather, traffic, parking, and other useful information affecting the event. Text "Hamvention19" to 888777 to sign up. Those who signed up for the text alerts in 2018 already are registered for this year's event.

The text alerts supplement the Hamvention talk-in station that has operated for many years on the Dayton Amateur Radio Association 146.94 repeater (123.0 Hz tone) to give directions and other assistance. Read more.

Registration Opens for USA ARDF Championships

Registration is now open for the 2019 USA and IARU Region 2 Championships of Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF), set for August 1 - 4. Competition venues will be near Raleigh, North Carolina.

"The USA ARDF Championships are an ideal opportunity to watch and learn from the best radio-orienteers in the US and from around the world, because visiting competitors from numerous other countries are expected to attend," said ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV. "Winners who qualify by citizenship or residence may be selected for positions on ARDF Team USA, which will travel to Serbia for the 2020 ARDF World Championships."

Thursday, August 1, will be devoted to the foxoring championship. Foxoring is a combination of radio direction finding and classic orienteering. Friday morning will be the sprint, a short course with 12-second fox transmissions instead of the usual 60 seconds each, followed by a model event for equipment testing and a competitor briefing.

Classic 2-meter and 80-meter competitions will take place Saturday and Sunday, respectively. An awards banquet on Saturday evening will include presentation of medals for foxoring, sprint, and 2-meter classic events; awards for 80-meter classic will be given out on Sunday afternoon immediately after the competition.

Members of the Backwoods Orienteering Klub (BOK) will organize the 2019 USA and IARU Region 2 Championships. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) sets ARDF Championship rules. For scoring and awards, participants are divided into 11 age/gender categories.

The USA ARDF Championships are open to anyone who can safely navigate the woods by themselves. A ham radio license is not required. Each participant competes as an individual -- any teamwork or GPS use is forbidden.

Information bulletin #2 contains the complete schedule, technical details, lodging, T-shirts, fees, rule variations, and more. Bulletins and links for online registration are on the event web page on the BOK site. An email reflector is available for Q&A with the organizers as well as for coordinating transportation and arranging equipment loans.

Basic information on international-style transmitter hunting is on the "Homing In" radio direction finding website. Read more. -- Thanks to Joe Moell, K0OV

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • April 19 - 20 -- Holyland DX Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 20 -- ES Open HF Championship (CW, phone)

  • April 20 -- QRP to the Field (CW, phone)

  • April 20 -- Feld Hell Sprint

  • April 20 - 21 -- Worked All Provinces of China DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • April 20 - 21 -- YU DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • April 20 - 21 -- CQMM DX Contest (CW)

  • April 20 - 21 -- Nebraska QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • April 20 - 21 -- Michigan QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • April 20 - 21 -- EA-QRP CW Contest (CW)

  • April 20 - 21 -- Ontario QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • April 22 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • April 24 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)

  • April 24 -- 432 MHz Spring Sprint (CW, phone)

  • April 24 -- UKEICC 80-Meter Contest (CW)

  • April 25 -- RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (Digital)

See the ARRL Contest Calendar for more information. For in-depth reporting on Amateur Radio contesting, subscribe to The ARRL Contest Update via your ARRL member profile email preferences.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: New sunspot group 2739 appeared on April 17, and the daily sunspot number rose to 24. The new sunspot's polarity indicates that it's still part of Cycle 24, the current sunspot cycle. This reporting week (April 11 - 17) the average daily sunspot number rose from 6.9 to 14, while average daily solar flux increased from 75.4 to 76.4.

Geomagnetic indicators were quieter, with the average planetary A index declining from 10.6 to 6.4.

Predicted solar flux for the next 45 days is 76, 74, and 72 on April 18 - 20; 70 on April 21 - 23; 68 on April 24; 69 on April 25 - 26; 70 and 69 on April 27 - 28; 71 on April 29 - 30; 70 on May 1; 72 on May 2 - 3; 77 on May 4; 79 on May 5 - 6; 78, 79, and 77 on May 7 - 9; 78 on May 10 - 17; 71 on May 18 - 19; 69 and 68 on May 20 - 21; 69 on May 22 - 23; 70 and 69 on May 24 - 25; 71 on May 26 - 27; 70 on May 28; 72 on May 29 - 30, and 77 and 79 on May 31 - June 1.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on April 18 - 26; 10, 8, and 5 on April 27 - 29; 10 on April 30 - May 2; 7, 5, and 13 on May 3 - 5; 10, 14, and 7 on May 6 - 8; 8 on May 9 - 10; 5 on May 11 - 20; 10, 8, and 5 on May 21 - 23; 10, 8, and 5 on May 24 - 26; 10 on May 27 - 29, and 7, 5, and 13 on May 30 - June 1.

Jon, N0JK, reports that summer sporadic-E season began on April 14, when he copied K2PL and KE3QZ in Kansas on 6 meters.

Sunspot numbers for April 11 - 17 were 13, 14, 14, 11, 11, 11, and 24, with a mean of 14. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 78.5, 77.3, 77.9, 75.4, 75.4, 74.2, and 76.1, with a mean of 76.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 9, 8, 4, 8, 6, and 3, with a mean of 6.4. Middle latitude A index was 6, 7, 7, 3, 8, 6, and 3, with a mean of 5.7.

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 K9LA's Propagation Page.

A propagation bulletin archive is available. Monthly charts offer propagation projections between the US and a dozen DX locations.

Share your reports and observations.

ARRL Foundation Announces Dick Hanna, K3VYY, Memorial Scholarship

The ARRL Foundation has announced the Dick Hanna, K3VYY, Memorial Scholarship. Created through the generosity of the Hanna Family in memory of J. Richard "Dick" Hanna, K3VYY, of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, this scholarship is intended exclusively for educational use, to provide assistance with the cost of tuition, room, board, books, and/or other fees essential to the higher education of the recipient. Preference is given to applicants residing in western Pennsylvania or in eastern Kentucky.

The applicant must:

  • be a US citizen, but without regard to gender, race, national origin, handicap status, or any other factor.

  • be performing at a high academic level (grade point average of 3.0 or higher).

  • hold a valid FCC-issued Amateur Radio license, with preference given to applicants holding a General-class license or higher.

  • be enrolled in an accredited 4-year college or university and pursuing a degree in a science-, math-, engineering-, or technology-related field, or in an accredited program in aviation or fire science.

Dick Hanna, K3VYY.

The grant will be $1,000 annually, with the first scholarship expected to be awarded in 2020. The ARRL Foundation Board of Directors will disperse the scholarship funds to the recipient's school of choice. Scholarships are for the exclusive use of the recipient.

Hanna was first licensed in 1962 as KN3SVL. He died in 2017. Survivors include his wife Pamela, WB3BHJ, and sons Doug, N4YKQ, and Brian, KF7ORO.

Including the new Hanna scholarship, the Foundation will be awarding 98 scholarships from 77 funds in 2020, totaling $142,650.

Astronaut and Pioneer for Amateur Radio in Space Owen Garriott, W5LFL, SK

Owen K. Garriott, W5LFL, the US astronaut who pioneered the use of Amateur Radio to make contacts from space, died April 15 at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. He was 88. Garriott's ham radio activity ushered in the formal establishment of Amateur Radio in space, first as SAREX (the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment), and later as ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station).

"Owen inspired legions of Amateur Radio operators worldwide to support human spaceflight Amateur Radio endeavors and for countless individuals to become ham radio operators," observed ARISS-International President Frank Bauer, KA3HDO.

Garriott, an Oklahoma native, thrilled radio amateurs around the world by making the first contacts from space during 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 during a 1983 Space Shuttle Columbia mission. Thousands of hams listened on 2-meter FM, hoping to hear him or to make a contact. Garriott ended up contacting stations around the globe, among them such notables as the late King Hussein, JY1, of Jordan, and the late US Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA.

"I managed to do it in my off-duty hours, and it was a pleasure to get involved in it and to talk with people who are as interested in space as the 100,000 hams on the ground seemed to be," Garriott recounted during an interview published in the February 1984 edition of QST.

Garriott simply used a handheld transceiver with its antenna in the window of Spacelab-1. His first pass was down the US West Coast.

"[A]s I approached the US, I began to hear stations that were trying to reach me," he told QST. "On my very first CQ, there were plenty of stations responding." His first contact was with Lance Collister, WA1JXN, in Montana.

Garriott shared a Hamvention Special Achievement Award in 2002 with fellow Amateur Radio astronaut Tony England, W0ORE. His son, Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, was a private space traveler to the ISS, flown there by the Russian Federal Space Agency, and he also carried ham radio into space.

In Brief...

ARRL has rolled back Outgoing QSL Bureau rates to 2011 levels. Effective May 15, 2019, the new rates will be: $2 for 10 or fewer cards in one envelope; $3 for 11 - 20 cards in one envelope, or 75 cents per ounce for packages with 21 or more cards. For example, a package containing 1.5 pounds of cards -- 24 ounces, or about 225 cards -- will cost $18. There are no transaction service fees. Any cards received before May 15 will be charged the current rate. There will be no adjustments for cards received before May 15. More information is on the ARRL website.


A new billboard on Interstate 40 in Tennessee promotes ARRL and Amateur Radio. Working with ARRL Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, and Communications Manager Dave Isgur, N1RSN, ARRL Graphic Designer Sue Fagan, KB1OKW, completed a design for a new 10 × 20 billboard, owned by ARRL Life Member Cliff Segar, KD4GT. Segar says the average daily traffic count for the area along I-40 west bound, mile marker 336, is on the order of 6 million vehicles per year.


American Honda has announced a voluntary recall of some 200,000 portable generators sold in the US, due to a potential fire and burn hazard. The recall includes the EU2200i, EU2200i Companion, and EB2200i generators. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says the affected portable generators can leak gasoline from the fuel valve. Users should stop operating the recalled generator and contact an authorized Honda dealer for a free repair. Honda is also contacting users directly. For more information, visit the CPSC website. A similar recall has been issued in Canada.

Getting It Right

The item "FCC Agrees to 90-Day Pause in Consideration of WT Docket 16-239" in the April 11 edition of The ARRL Letter contained an error. It should have said, "The Commission's proposed changes differed from the ARRL's initial filing and caused ARRL to be concerned about possible interference to current users resulting from the deletion of ARRL's requested 2.8 kHz bandwidth limitation."

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

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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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