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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
May 6, 2021
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Ham-Firefighter Rescues Drowning Man from River

ARRL member and Edmonson County Emergency Coordinator Tim Skees, K9KSP, a firefighter in Brownsville, Kentucky, was among those responding to an April 23 fire dispatch call he heard on his ham station scanner reporting a possible drowning in the Green River. Radio traffic indicated that the potential victim was a 40-year-old male.

"After assessing the information provided by family members at the scene, [I] went downriver approximately 300 yards, located the victim in water, washed up on a shallow rock shoal in the river," Skees told ARRL. "[I] waded out to the victim, dragged him to the riverbank, and, as other responders showed up and came to where the victim was, he was pulled up the bank of the river. He was suffering exposure/hypothermia from being in the cold water for hours."

Skees said the man's family had at first called in the incident as a confirmed drowning. The man was first taken to the vehicle of Edmonson County Emergency Management Director Terry Massey and warmed up until an ambulance could arrive. Massey told local media that the local dispatcher paged the Brownsville Fire Department around 2 AM after a caller had reported a possible drowning at the Brownsville boat ramp.

Massey said he and Skees arrived at the area and saw two unoccupied vehicles. "In just a minute, we could hear some yelling down at the river and could tell it was downstream a good ways," he told The Edmonson Voice. Massey said he and Skees followed the commotion and found the man in about a foot of water, lying on his side, and Skees waded in to retrieve him. Massey said that according to others on the scene, the man had fallen into the water while trying to retrieve some fishing gear.

"I submit this as a testament to the need of hams to get involved with emergency services and foster good working relationships with [emergency managers] and local agencies," Skees said.

Returning Four-Ham ISS Crew Makes First Nighttime Splashdown Since 1968

The International Space Station SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts Michael Hopkins, KF5LJG; Victor Glover, KI5BKC; Shannon Walker, KD5DXB, and Soichi Noguchi, KD5TVP, splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico on May 2. It marked NASA's first nighttime splashdown since 1968, the first ever from the ISS, and the first operational mission for SpaceX. Launched last November to carry the crew to the ISS, the Crew Dragon spacecraft Resilience returned the crew to Earth. Crew-1 is the first of six crewed missions NASA and

(L - R) Expedition 64 Flight Engineers and SpaceX Crew-1 members Michael Hopkins, KF5LJG; Victor Glover, KI5BKC; Shannon Walker, KD5DXB, and Soichi Noguchi, KD5TVP. [Photo courtesy of NASA]

SpaceX will fly as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program, which worked with the US aerospace industry to return rockets, spacecraft, and launches with astronauts to the US.

"We welcome you back to planet Earth, and thanks for flying SpaceX," SpaceX mission control official Michael Heiman told the astronauts. "For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier program, you have earned 68 million miles on this voyage."

In advance of departure from the space station, Crew-1 astronaut and Station Commander Walker handed over command of the station to astronaut and Crew-2 member Akihiko Hoshide last week during a change of command and farewell event.

The Crew Dragon undocked and departed the space station autonomously. In addition to the crew, Resilience will also return important and time-sensitive research to Earth.

While still in space, some of the returning astronauts had hosted Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts with schools. ARRL is an ARISS sponsor.

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 16) focuses on Parks On The Air (POTA), one of the most popular activities taking place in amateur radio today. We chat with Audrey Hance, KN4TMU, a relatively new ham who recently operated from Panther Creek State Park in Tennessee.

The latest edition of Eclectic Tech (Episode 33) features a discussion of station troubleshooting with W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q.

The On the Air and Eclectic Tech podcasts are sponsored by Icom. Both podcasts are available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android), as well as on Blubrry -- On the Air | Eclectic Tech.

"A Clear Signal of Resilience:" Europe's HAM RADIO Goes Virtual Again This Year

The annual HAM RADIO show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, will once again be held virtually. The June event is sponsored by the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC), in cooperation with Friedrichshafen Fair (Messe Friedrichshafen).

"Under the current circumstances, HAM RADIO can no longer take place in June, as planned," said Messe Friedrichshafen CEO Klaus Wellmann. He said to remedy the situation -- and send a clear signal of resilience -- the virtual "Ham Radio World" will take place from June 25 until June 27, the original show dates. Admission and participation will be free.

The annual ham radio gathering, known popularly as simply "Friedrichshafen," typically draws between 15,000 and 17,000 visitors from all over Europe and around the world. ARRL has traditionally sent a contingent to staff a booth at HAM RADIO each summer.

This is the second virtual presentation of HAM RADIO due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "This year, Ham Radio World will offer a completely new virtual world in 2D, and its unique live character will be impressive," DARC said.

DARC Chair Christian Entsfellner, DL3MBG, said the live character of the event's virtual environment will be recreated in great detail, opening up new possibilities and offering plenty of space for community networking and virtual meetings, in addition to an online lecture program and commercial offerings.

To allow participants a more personal experience, individual hams represented as customizable avatars "will move around the virtual exhibition grounds and video chat with each other," explained Messe Friedrichshafen Project Manager Petra Rathgeber. Messe Friedrichshafen and DARC are working closely together "to ensure that a diverse line-up of ham radio products, trends, and innovations will await our visitors at the 3-day digital event," she said.

Ham Radio World will offer presentations and discussions on ham radio topics, as well as a program presented on DARC's virtual stage. Further details are forthcoming.

ARRL Learning Network Webinars

Visit the ARRL Learning Network (a members-only benefit) to register, check on upcoming webinars, and to view previously recorded sessions.

HF Noise Mitigation -- ARRL Northwestern Division Director Mike Ritz, W7VO / Thursday, May 6, at 3:30 PM EDT (1930 UTC)

An educational seminar to help both new and experienced HF operators who find themselves plagued with noise. We'll learn what "noise" is, discuss the various noise sources, and talk about how to mitigate those noises using a variety of techniques.

W1AW Antenna Farm -- W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q / Tuesday, May 18, at 1 PM EDT (1700 UTC)

Experience a bird's-eye view and description of the antennas used by W1AW for the station's scheduled transmissions and visiting operator activity. All the antennas used at W1AW are single-band Yagis. Viewers will also see the 5 GHz sector antennas that are part of W1AW's AREDN system.

The above Learning Network presentations are sponsored by Icom.

Ask the Lab: How ARRL's Technical Information Service Can Help You -- ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI / Tuesday, June 8, at 1 PM EDT (1700 UTC)

Learn all about the ARRL Technical Information Service (TIS) and the expert ARRL Laboratory staff who answer thousands of questions each year from members. Get tips about projects, suggestions to address various station installations, and help for some of your most pressing ham radio questions. You'll discover how to search ARRL's extensive Periodicals Archive, find helpful articles, read test reports, access technical forums, and find answers to technical questions.

This Learning Network presentation is sponsored by PreppComm.

ARRL members may register for upcoming presentations and view previously recorded Learning Network webinars. ARRL-affiliated radio clubs may also use the recordings as presentations for club meetings, mentoring new and current hams, and discussing amateur radio topics.

The ARRL Learning Network schedule is subject to change.

IEEE Committee Webinar "RF Exposure in the Time of Conspiracies" Set for May 12

The IEEE Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR) has issued an invitation to its webinar, "RF Exposure in the Time of Conspiracies." The 1-hour event is set to get under way at 1800 UTC on Wednesday, May 12. COMAR is a group of experts on health and safety issues related to electromagnetic fields, from power line through microwave frequency ranges. Its primary focus is on biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation.

"The real idea behind the webinar is to highlight some of the news articles, comments, etc. that purport to declare the hazardous nature of exposure to weak RF fields, such as those posed by new 5G wireless communications base stations, explain how they are not scientifically based and, possibly, some ideas on how to better communicate what we really know about potential health effects," said COMAR chair Ric Tell, K5UJU.

Presenters are professional engineer Matt Butcher, KC3WD, and Jerrold Bushberg, a clinical professor of radiology and radiation oncology at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine. He is an expert on the biological effects, safety, and interactions of ionizing and nonionizing radiation; a specialist in risk communication, he holds multiple radiation detection technology patents. Both are COMAR members. Butcher and Tell are also members of the ARRL RF Safety Committee.

Tell said that Webex, the platform on which the webinar will be held, imposes a limit of 1,000 simultaneous connections. Those interested may check in at 1730 UTC, a half-hour before the webinar is scheduled to start.

ARRL RF Safety Committee Chair Greg Lapin, N9GL, said the committee devotes a lot of time examining the science to help keep people safe, but, he added, "there remains considerable fear in our society about that exposure. It would be to our benefit to understand what people are thinking."

ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, said radio amateurs are often asked by neighbors about their stations -- either out of curiosity, or concern that the antennas may pose a safety hazard. "This webinar will help amateurs and the public understand why radio energy at exposure levels found in standards and regulations is safe," Hare said.

Topics on the COMAR webinar agenda include "What is RF?" and "What are the applicable exposure standards?" as well as discussing how to address concerns on the part of the general public, and how to improve communication.

COMAR is a technical committee of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. The webinar is free.

  • NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, KG5GNP, is scheduled to make a ham radio contact from the ISS on Friday, May 7, at 12:36 UTC, with students at Green Bank Elementary School, in the shadow of Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia via Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). Follow the live stream via Facebook or Zoom starting around 30 minutes before the scheduled contact.

  • Bringing attention to National Police Week to Honor All Law Enforcement's Fallen Heroes, K3FBI will be on the air from multiple US call districts May 9 - 15.

  • Icom America has named Senior Sales Manager of its Amateur Division Ray Novak, N9JA, to also lead its Marine and Avionics Divisions. In its news release, Icom added, "Ray has an extensive background in the amateur radio industry spanning 32+ years... Throughout his tenure at Icom America, he has managed and worked across multiple divisions and maintains a close working relationship with teams at Icom Japan." Novak is an ARRL Life Member.

  • The 2020 ARRL 160 Meter Contest results reflect more than a half-million contacts across nearly 1,700 logs, despite the fact that conditions were "down."

  • The ARRL November Sweepstakes Phone Results show that entries were up by from 1,600 in 2019 to more than 2,000 logs last fall, and the contact count was up by some 81,000. Prince Edward Island (PEI), a new multiplier in 2020, was rare. The single log submitted by VY2NA had 260 contacts, although at least two PEI stations showed up in other logs.

Wireless Institute of Australia Committee Seeks More HF Ham Radio Spectrum

The Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) Spectrum Strategy Committee has called for more amateur radio spectrum in the 3 - 12 MHz range. The committee raised the issue in its response to regulator ACMA's Five Year Spectrum Outlook 2021.

"Global demand for HF amateur spectrum has grown, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," the panel said. "Congestion (particularly on the 7 MHz band) from both legitimate and unauthorized illegal transmissions is often severe during times of increased ionospheric propagation." The committee pointed out that heightened global tensions have increased the use of high-power HF radars, "which frequently disrupt HF amateur communications across large segments of spectrum, particularly on the lower-frequency bands."

The committee said increasing HF spectrum access is vital to support sufficient frequency agility, "so that communications can be maintained when large amounts of spectrum are suffering interference from international radar-based intruders."

The WIA -- Australia's IARU member-society -- intends to seek expansions to amateur bands in the 3 - 12 MHz segment over the next 5 years, at least for Australian amateurs, in alignment with international allocations, although the WIA acknowledges that this is a lower priority than other items it has proposed.

The 3 - 12 MHz spectrum is already home to four amateur allocations: 80/75 meters, 60 meters, 40 meters, and 30 meters.

IARU Region 1 Seeks Opinions on the Future of Amateur Radio

International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1 (Europe, Africa, Mideast, and Northern Asia) is encouraging radio amateurs everywhere to express their opinions on the future of amateur radio.

A survey is under way in advance of an IARU Region 1 Workshop on the subject later this year. The workshop will urge Region 1 member-societies to formulate their views on the future direction for amateur radio and the programs needed to ensure that amateur radio develops successfully.

"As a first step, work is already under way to develop an understanding of the current state of amateur radio in each country," IARU said. "The input of the amateur community is vital for the success of the workshop."

Watch the short video, "What do YOU think about the future of Amateur Radio?" with Raisa Skrynnikova, R1BIG.

Amateur Radio in the News

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

Share any amateur radio media hits you spot with us.

Russian Robinson Club Announces Activation of Rare IOTA Islands in the Aleutians

The Russian Robinson Club (RRC) has resumed its plans to activate rare Kiska Island (IOTA NA-070) and Adak Island (IOTA NA-039) in Alaska's Aleutian Islands chain in July for Islands On The Air (IOTA) enthusiasts. Plans to activate these islands in 2020 were called off because of COVID-19 concerns.

The uninhabited Kiska Island (52.06° N, 177.57° E) lies in the North Pacific's treacherous Bering Sea, which RRC calls one of the most intense patches of ocean on Earth and where strong winds, freezing temperatures, and icy water are the norm. The island also features the prominent conical Kiska volcano. Kiska Island is a National Historic Landmark and part of the Aleutian Islands World War II National Monument and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR). Permission to visit is required from both Alaska's Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The KL7RRC team plans to have a minimum of two stations on the air on 40 - 6 meters, SSB, CW, and FT8. Operators will place special emphasis on the difficult trans-polar path to Europe.

The 56-foot aluminum sailing vessel Seal will make the 1,000-mile journey along the Aleutians to Kiska with a stop at Dutch Harbor to pick up Tim, NL8F, and the gear sent in advance to his location. The team will continue sailing west to Adak Island, where some team members will activate Adak Island on June 30 - July 3. The SV Seal will pick up the entire crew there, which will have flown in by July 3. Then, they hope to arrive at Kiska and be on the air as KL7RCC on July 7 - 12, before the return sail to Adak and flights home. Additional KL7RRC activity may take place from Adak July 14 - 16.

Donations are welcome. QSLs for KL7RRC (Kiska Island NA-070) and KL7RRC (Adak Island NA-039) are via N7RO. All donors will receive direct QSLs.

Updates will be posted on the Russian Robinson Club website. -- Thanks to Hal Turley, W8HC, via The Daily DX

A slot is open for a fifth operator. Contact team leader Yuri, N3QQ, if interested.

In Brief...

Members of the Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) will activate the historic NSS call sign on Saturday, May 8, during the 2021 Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test. For more than 60 years, military and amateur stations have taken part in this exercise, during which military stations transmit on military frequencies and listen for radio amateurs on adjacent amateur bands. It will take place May 7 - 8, 2021. NSS operation will be from the location of the former US Navy High-Power Radio Station at Greenbury Point in Annapolis, Maryland. NSS began operation in 1918 on VLF, using a pair of Federal Telegraph Company 500 kW Poulson arc transmitters and four 600-foot towers. NSS began operations on HF in the 1920s, and operations there continued until 1976. NSS was dismantled in 1999, but three of its 600-foot towers remain on Greenbury Point. A commemorative NSS QSL card is available via K3LU (SASE appreciated). -- Thanks to Frank Donovan, W3LPL

The semiannual Radio Club of America (RCA) QSO Party takes place on May 8. "Band conditions are still not their best, but we still expect plenty of QSOs," RCA Executive Vice President Chip Cohen, W1YW, said. "Come join the fun and contact other club hams and the club's station, W2RCA. All are welcome." The QSO party is open to RCA members and non-members and is SSB only. Activity begins at 1800 UTC and continues until Sunday, May 9, at 0300 UTC. Suggested frequencies are 14.280, 7.240, and 3.800 MHz.

Former Dayton Hamvention Venue Hara Arena is now a pile of rubble Hara Arena originated as a ballroom in 1956. Dayton Hamvention began using Hara Arena in 1964, when the main 5,500-seat arena was built. Six buildings were added later. Over the years, Hara Arena was home to sports teams, concerts, conventions, and social activities. It closed in August 2016, due to ongoing financial issues and a 20-year-long legal fight over the unresolved estate of founder Harold Wampler. Eventually a new owner was found. In May 2019, Hara was severely damaged by a tornado and considered not worth rebuilding. The building's iconic logo as well as bricks from the structure were to be auctioned for charity. The site has since been cleared for redevelopment, and only piles of rubble remain of the original Hara Arena facility.

Ham Census is inviting all radio amateurs to take part in a unique survey. The project's organizers are hoping to hear from hams in the US, Canada, and around the world. Survey questions deal with operating preferences, gear, your shack, views on regulations, clubs and associations, and the future of amateur radio. Cemil "Jim" Alyanak, K3MRI, the co-administrator of Ham Census and Ham Community, says the aim of the census is to give operators a louder voice to better inform club leaders, associations, manufacturers, and regulators. "We all want the amateur radio community to grow organically and collaboratively, and for that, we need to know what operators are thinking," he said. Divided into six parts, Ham Census runs year-round, delivering constant updates. Taking and using the survey is free, but only those completing all six sections get access to the complete results.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Our sun seems to have fallen back into a very quiet phase, far different from the way it looked in November 2020. Sunspots disappeared after May 1, and solar flux naturally declined as well.

Sunspots were visible only for the first 3 days of the April 29 - May 5 reporting week, so average daily sunspot number declined from 47.6 last week to 11.9 in the current period. Average daily solar flux slipped by 7 points from 79.2 to 72.2. It's odd, but both the average daily planetary and middle latitude A index remained the same for both weeks, 10.7 and 9.9, respectively.

Predicted solar flux for the next month appears listless: 72 on May 6 - 7; 74 on May 8 - 9; 76 on May 10 - 11; 75 on May 12 - 13; 77 on May 14; 79 on May 15 - 17; 77 on May 18 - 21; 75 on May 22 - 24; 74 on May 25 - 26; 72 on May 27; 70 on May 28 - 31, and 72 on June 1 - 4.

The planetary A index projection shows 5 on May 6 - 11; 8, 20, and 30 on May 12 - 14; 15, 15, and 12 on May 15 - 17; 5 on May 18 - 19; 15 and 10 on May 20 - 21; 5 on May 22 - 29; 12 on May 30 - 31; 10 on June 1, and 5 on June 2 - 6.

Contester Frank Donovan, W3LPL, says about twice as many geomagnetic storms occur during March and April, as compared to June and July. The ratio of severe (Kp = 8 or 9) storms is much greater. But, he points out, the end of "geomagnetic storm season" doesn't mean the end of geomagnetic storms; two of the most severe (Kp = 8+) geomagnetic storms during Solar Cycle 24 occurred on June 22 and 23, 2015.

Sunspot numbers for April 29 through May 5 were 37, 35, 11, 0, 0, 0, and 0, with a mean of 11.9. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 76.9, 72.9, 71.6, 72, 71.6, 70.6, and 69.5, with a mean of 72.2. Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 15, 10, 20, 14, 8, and 3, with a mean of 10.7. Middle latitude A index was 4, 15, 10, 16, 12, 8, and 4, with a mean of 9.9.

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. For customizable propagation charts, visit the VOACAP Online for Ham Radio website.

Share your reports and observations.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • May 7 -- NCCC RTTY Sprint

  • May 7 -- NCCC Sprint (CW)

  • May 7 -- K1USN Slow Speed Test (CW, maximum 20 WPM)

  • May 8 - 9 -- Day of the YLs Contest (CW, phone)

  • May 8 - 9 -- SARL VHF/UHF Digital Contest

  • May 8 - 9 -- CQ-M International DX Contest (CW, phone)

  • May 8 - 9 -- VOLTA WW RTTY Contest

  • May 8 - 9 -- SKCC Weekend Sprintathon (CW)

  • May 8 - 9 -- Arkansas QSO Party (CW, phone)

  • May 8 - 9 -- 50 MHz Spring Sprint (CW, phone, digital)

  • May 9 -- WAB 7 MHz Phone/CW

  • May 10 -- 4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint (CW, phone)

  • May 10 -- RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (SSB)

  • May 12 -- VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

Many conventions and hamfests have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Check the calendar of canceled events on the ARRL website.

Find conventions and hamfests in your area.

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