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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
September 16, 2021
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Next SpaceX Commercial Crew to ISS Comprised of Radio Amateurs

Four radio amateurs will head to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a commercial flight, thanks to Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). They are Raja Chari, KI5LIU; Tom Marshburn, KE5HOC; Kayla Barron, KI5LAL, and Matthias Maurer, KI5KFH, a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut. The targeted launch date is no sooner than October 31, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch will mark the third SpaceX Crew

The SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (L-R) Matthias Maurer, KI5KFH; Thomas Marshburn, KE5HOC; Raja Chari, KI5LIU, and Kayla Barron, KI5LAL, during pre-flight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket launch combination as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which provides transportation to and from the ISS. The crew is scheduled for a 6-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what's expected to be a seven-member crew.

The launch will be the first spaceflight for Chari, Barron, and Maurer, and the third for Marshburn.

NASA's SpaceX Crew-3 will be the third crew rotation mission to the ISS with astronauts on a US rocket and spacecraft and the fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020, the Crew-1 mission in 2020 - 2021, and the ongoing Crew-2 flight as part of the Expedition 65 crew.

Crew-3 astronauts plan to arrive at the station to overlap with NASA Astronauts Shane Kimbrough, KE5HOD, and Megan McArthur; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, KE5DNI, and ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet, KG5FYG, who flew to the station as part of the agency's SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021.

Mission teams have a target launch date of no earlier than April 15, 2022, for the launch of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission. "NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity's testbed for exploration," NASA said. "The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the moon and Mars."

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit the NASA website.

The 2021 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is Just Ahead

The weekend of October 2 - 3 is designated for holding the annual ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET), although local and Section-level exercises may take place throughout the fall.

The SET is ARRL's primary national emergency exercise and is designed to assess the skills and preparedness of Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers, as well as those affiliated with other organizations involved in emergency and disaster response. It encourages maximum participation by all radio amateurs, partner organizations, and national, state, and local officials who typically engage in emergency or disaster response.

In addition to ARES volunteers, those active in the National Traffic System (NTS™), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN®, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and a variety of other allied groups and public service-oriented radio amateurs are needed to fulfill important roles in this nationwide exercise.

The SET offers volunteers an opportunity to test equipment, modes, and skills under simulated emergency conditions and scenarios. Individuals can use the time to update a go-kit for use during deployments and to ensure their home station's operational capability in an emergency or disaster.

To get involved, contact your local ARRL Emergency Coordinator or Net Manager.

ARRL Podcasts Schedule

The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 21) features a discussion with Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, about the new edition of The ARRL Handbook and how it can be useful to new hams.

The latest edition of Eclectic Tech (Episode 42) features a conversation with Ed Hare, W1RFI, about the changes to the FCC RF exposure rules.

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.

VoIP Weather Net Handles Reports for Hurricane Larry

Amateur radio volunteers on the Voice over Internet Protocol Weather Network (VoIPWX), joined linked systems in Newfoundland, Canada, to collect ground-truth weather data for relay to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Environment Canada, as Hurricane Larry hammered the Canadian province on September 11. The Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH, was predicted to bring hurricane-force winds, dangerous storm surge, heavy seas, and heavy rainfall.

Scores of reports, including damage to schools and homes, power outages, and evacuations, were sent by a squad of hams that included Aaron Abbott, VO1IV, and Gareth Rowberry, VE3GJR.

More than 40 personnel hours of operation by Canadian and US radio amateurs were involved in providing the reports received on both systems.

Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net, said, "Through the exemplary efforts of VO1IV...and a number of amateur radio operators across Newfoundland and one amateur operator in Ontario who relayed a report from a non-amateur radio CANWARN Spotter [a volunteer organization of ham radio operators reporting severe weather to Environment Canada] in St. John's, Newfoundland, reports of damage to trees, power lines, power outages (including roof damage to a school and a home) were relayed from amateurs in the region."

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated on September 10 on 20 and 40 meters.

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.

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.

Working the Pileup, presented by Ron Delpiere-Smith, KD9IPO / Tuesday, October 5, 2021 @ 1:00 pm EDT (1700 UTC)

Ron Delpiere-Smith, KD9IPO, Vice President of the Chicago Suburban Radio Association and an ARRL Assistant Section Manager in Illinois, will offer an enlightening discussion on working a pileup from both sides of the contact. Whether your interest lies in ARRL Field Day, contesting, special events, or rare DX, this is a must-see presentation. Ron will discuss search-and-pounce and running techniques, when to use them, and some tips on working them to your advantage.

The ARRL Learning Network schedule is subject to change.

ARRL Awards Colvin Grant to Latest Bouvet Island DXpedition

ARRL has awarded a Colvin Grant of $5,000 to Amateur Radio DXpeditions (ARD), the Norwegian nonprofit organization that is sponsoring the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island in fall 2022. Co-leaders for the effort are Ken Opskar, LA7GIA; Rune Øye, LA7THA, and Erwann Merrien, LB1QI. A Colvin Grant in the same amount was returned after the Intrepid-DX Group had to drop its plans for an early-2023 Bouvet DXpedition that would have used the same call sign.

The multinational team plans to activate Bouvet in November 2022. A dependency of Norway, Bouvet is a sub-Antarctic island in the South Atlantic and the second-most-wanted DXCC entity, behind North Korea. The last Bouvet activation was 3Y0E, during a scientific expedition over the winter of 2007 - 2008.

Amateur radio DXpeditions would field a team of 12 operators for a 20-day stay on Bouvet, setting up at Cape Fie in the southeastern part of the island, which the DXpedition organizers called "the only feasible part where a DXpedition can safely set up camp on rocky ground." The DXpedition has set a goal of 120,000 contacts during its stay.

The Colvin Award is funded by an endowment established by the legendary DX couple Lloyd Colvin, W6KG, and Iris Colvin, W6QL, both now deceased. The Colvin Award is intended to support amateur radio projects that promote international goodwill in the field of DX. Grantees must be groups with a favorable DX track record and with experience directly related to the proposed enterprise. The proposed project must have as a goal a significant achievement in the field of DX. Preference is given to multinational groups, all of whom are members of their own national IARU member-societies.

In August, the Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF) donated $100,000 to the 3Y0J DXpedition, set for late 2022. The NCDXF is now the DXpedition's lead sponsor.

"We wish to recognize and thank the Northern California DX Foundation as the lead sponsor for our 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet," the 3Y0J team said. "Without the support of the NCDXF, operations to the world's rarest entities would be difficult."

On September 11, the 3Y0J DXpedition announced a donation of €10,000 (approximately $11,815) from the German DX Foundation (GXDF).

The 3Y0J team said that with its overall budget of $650,000, this DXpedition to Bouvet will be the most expensive ever.

Visit the 3Y0J DXpedition website or Facebook page for more information or to donate.

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.

ARRL Seeks New Treasurer

After 10 years of distinguished service to ARRL as its volunteer Treasurer, Frederick "Rick" Niswander, K7GM, has decided to step down when his current term expires in January 2022. ARRL is seeking qualified candidates from among its membership. The Board of Directors elects the Treasurer and other officers at its annual meeting in even-numbered years.

The Treasurer is a non-voting member of the Board of Directors and must be a licensed radio amateur and a full member of the ARRL for 4 continuous years prior to nomination. The ARRL Bylaws define the role of the Treasurer as follows:

  • In consultation with and subject to the general supervision of the Administration and Finance Committee, provides for the investment and reinvestment of the surplus funds of the League in any bonds, stocks, or other securities, as would be selected by a trustee with the care of a prudent investor.

  • Provides reports to and attends all regular meetings of the Board of Directors.

  • Serves as a member of the Administration and Finance Committee and, if assigned, subcommittees of the Board or Administrative and Finance Committee.

The position is unpaid; however, necessary expenses, including travel to meetings, are reimbursable. For further information, see the full position description.

A search committee has been established to recommend one or more candidates for Treasurer to the Board. Qualified members are invited to submit a statement of interest and qualifications via email to The deadline is November 12, 2021.

AMSAT Shifts to Virtual Format for 2021 Symposium and Annual Meeting

The AMSAT 39th Space Symposium and Annual Meeting, planned as an in-person event, will now be a virtual event on October 30, due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an opportunity for amateur-radio-in-space enthusiasts from around the world to learn more about AMSAT's Strategic Plan, the GOLF program, the CubeSat Simulator, and other exciting developments in the amateur satellite world.

AMSAT President Robert Bankston, KE4AL, said AMSAT members had voiced concern over the continued COVID-19 pandemic and the risks associated with long-distance travel, as well as attendance at large group gatherings.

"In the interest of everyone's comfort and safety, we have made the difficult decision to return to a virtual meeting platform," Bankston said. "[W]e know that last year's virtual Symposium event was well received and that we have the opportunity to repeat its success this year."

Those who have already registered for the Symposium will automatically receive refunds. Address questions regarding the Symposium to

AMSAT will host its 2021 AMSAT Virtual Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting via Zoom on Saturday, October 30, 1400 UTC - 2200 UTC. It will be available to the general public on AMSAT's YouTube channel at no cost. The event will be a combination of pre-recorded video segments along with live question-and-answer sessions.

Final papers for the Symposium Proceedings must be submitted by October 18. Send these to Dan Schultz, N8FGV. Symposium presentations should be limited to 15 minutes of pre-recorded video and be submitted by October 18 to Paul Stoetzer, N8HM. AMSAT asks that presenters be available to take questions via Zoom following their pre-recorded presentations. -- Thanks to AMSAT News Service

ARISS Receives Recognition from NASA Mission Directorate

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has received recognition from NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) for its accomplishments in promoting science, technology, electronics, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives through amateur radio. The HEOMD provides leadership and management of NASA space operations, such as developing rockets and spacecraft, that will contribute to human exploration in and beyond low-Earth orbit.

Astronauts Shannon Walker, KD5DXB, and Soichi Noguchi, KD5TVP, at NA1SS during an ISS contact with Hisagi Junior High School in Zushi, Japan.

"NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) networks enable NASA to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers -- even from 350 kilometers above Earth," said Kathryn Lueders, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, in a LinkedIn post. "In addition to connecting the science community on Earth with the groundbreaking research studies and experiments aboard the International Space Station, SCaN enables the space station to act as a unique platform for global STEM outreach and education efforts. For over 20 years, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, a nonprofit supported by SCaN, has connected classrooms on Earth with astronauts aboard the space station, allowing students to engage directly with astronauts in real time."

Working with an amateur radio club on the ground, the ham radio stations on board the ISS enable students to ask the crew questions about life in space and what it takes to become an astronaut. In preparation for their ARISS contact, tudents explore a variety of STEM activities through space exploration, radio communication, and wireless technologies.

"With tens of thousands of student participants each year, the ARISS program plays an important role in inspiring the Artemis Generation and encouraging students to pursue STEM careers," Lueders said.

  • On September 6, Paul Ewing, N6PSE, announced that Nigel Jolly, K6NRJ, has sold the SV Braveheart to a new owner who will make her available for amateur radio DXpeditions. The Braveheart's new home port will be Ushuaia, Argentina, the "gateway to Antarctica." The vessel is now in New Zealand.

  • ARRL Headquarters will be closed from 11 AM until 3 PM ET (1500 - 1900 UTC) on Friday, September 17, for a staff appreciation picnic.

  • North American QSO Party (NAQP) events in 2022 will add a Single-Operator Assisted category. The 2022 rules are posted on the NCJ website.

  • WSJT-X revision 2.5.0-rc6 (release candidate 6) is now available on the WSJT-X website. Microsoft Windows users may need to consult the Release Notes to install OpenSSL, one of its dependencies.

  • Seattle's Emergency Communication Hubs and The Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) radio amateurs will respond to simulated earthquakes on two Saturdays in September. The "Double Trouble" exercise will run 9 AM - 1 PM PT on September 18 and again on September 25.

  • K4MIA will be on the air to mark National POW/MIA Recognition Day on September 17. Look for K4MIA (or K4MIA/5, K4MIA/7 and K4MIA/8) on SSB, CW, FT8, and other digital modes.

In Brief...

Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, of Batesville, Mississippi, has joined the staff at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. He will serve as manager of the Education and Learning Department (formerly the Lifelong Learning Department). He had consulted for the department as an instructional designer and was instrumental in the implementation of ARRL's Learning Network webinars. Goodgame teaches middle school computer science and is in his second year of teaching amateur radio to students at his school. "I have been teaching ham radio in some form for 20 years," he said. "Over the past 3 years, we have had close to 60 middle and high school students earn their licenses, and several have upgraded." Goodgame's favorite ham radio activity is activating parks in the Parks on the Air (POTA) program with his daughter Jherica, KI5HTA. His wife, Cyndi, is K5CYN. Steve hosts the K5ATA Ham Radio YouTube channel. He is a Volunteer Examiner and a volunteer firefighter.

The Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) has announced the cancellation of Tokyo Ham Fair 2021 October 2 - 3. "We were hopeful to have Ham Fair 2021 with possible preventative measures against COVID-19, but another wave of infection came in this summer," said the announcement from Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP. "Considering the worse-than-expected COVID situation, JARL reluctantly decided to cancel Ham Fair 2021. We hope that Tokyo Ham Fair can come back in 2022 under safer conditions."

Radio station WBZ in Boston (1030 kHz) is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021. It is the oldest broadcast station in New England and one of the oldest stations in the US. The Billerica Amateur Radio Society and the Hampden County Radio Association will commemorate the anniversary with a special event, starting on September 17 at 1300 UTC and wrapping up on September 20 at 0359 UTC. Look for W1W, W1B, W1Z, and WB1Z on all bands, SSB, AM, CW, and digital modes. New England operators interested in operating one of the special event stations should contact Larry Krainson, W1AST.

RTTY Service Station K6KPH, operating from the Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS), is officially back on the air. K6KPH also transmits W1AW Qualifying Run texts and the W1AW Field Day Bulletin. The station was off the air due to COVID-19 restrictions and antenna damage. Repairs to the transmitter site in Bolinas, California, were performed under a US National Park Service grant and support from the MRHS. Years of damage from decaying poles, failing crossarms, and falling trees necessitated the repairs, MRHS said. The next West Coast Qualifying Run to be transmitted from K6KPH is scheduled for Saturday, September 25, 2021, at 2100 UTC on 3581.5, 7047.5, 14047.5, 18097.5, and 21067.5 kHz.

In cooperation with the Finnish Amateur Radio League (SRAL), the Finland Museum of Technology in Helsinki hosted an exhibition of equipment built by radio amateurs. The exhibit, "A Spark Started it -- 100 years of Finnish radio amateur construction," ran through August. SRAL co-designed the exhibit as part of its 100th anniversary celebration. "At the Finnish Museum of Technology, we are particularly excited about the exhibition, because experimenting with new forms of cooperation is rewarding," the museum said. "As a national special museum in the field of technology, we are able to provide a good setting for the exhibition and a wide audience that might not otherwise find its way to the topic." SRAL centenary special event station OH100SRAL will be on the air through year's end.

The K7RA Solar Update

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot numbers started strong at 124 on this reporting week, September 9 - 15, but ended at 0. Average daily sunspot numbers went from 64.6 to 58.3. Average daily solar flux declined from 92.9 to 87.4.

Geomagnetic indicators remained moderate, with last week's average daily planetary A index unchanged at 7, and average daily middle latitude A index changed from 7.7 to 6.9.

Predicted solar flux is much lower than last week's report. Solar flux is predicted at 75 on September 16 - 23; 76 on September 24 - 26; 78, 80, and 82 on September 27 - 29; 86 on September 30 - October 10; 82 on October 11 - 12; 80 on October 13; 78 on October 14 - 17, and 76 on October 18 - 23. Solar flux is expected to rise to 89 by the end of October.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on September 16; 15 on September 17 - 18; 8 on September 19 - 20; 5 and 8 on September 21 - 22; 5 on September 23 - October 3; 8 and 12 on October 4 - 5; 5 on October 6 - 17; 8 on October 18, and 5 on October 19 through the end of the month.

Marty, KB0QZ, in Tulsa called CQ on 28.040 at noon on September 12 on an apparently dead band. LU4HK came back, and they exchanged 599 reports both ways over the 5,094-mile path. He continued to tune the band and call CQ through the afternoon with nothing else heard.

There's a great solar image in this local California newspaper (page down).

Sunspot numbers for September 9 - 15 were 124, 99, 93, 47, 32, 13, and 0, with a mean of 58.3. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 99.7, 96.3, 91.8, 87.7, 83.3, 78.1, and 75.2, with a mean of 87.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 9, 7, 6, 9, 6, and 6, with a mean of 7. Middle latitude A index was 7, 9, 8, 6, 7, 5, and 6, with a mean of 6.9.

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 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.

Just Ahead in Radiosport
  • September 16 -- NAQCC CW Sprint

  • September 16 -- BCC QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 17 -- AGB NEMIGA Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 -- QRP Afield (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 -- Wisconsin Parks on the Air (CW, phone)

  • September 18 -- Feld Hell Sprint

  • September 18 -19 -- All Collegiate QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 - 19 -- SARL VHF/UHF Digital Contest

  • September 18 - 10 -- ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 - 19 -- Scandinavian Activity Contest (CW)

  • September 18 - 19 -- Iowa QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 - 19 -- Texas QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 - 19 -- New Jersey QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 -19 -- All New Hampshire QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 18 - 19 -- Washington State Salmon Run (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 19 -- North American Sprint, RTTY

  • September 19 -- BARTG Sprint PSK63 Contest

  • September 19 - 20 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)

  • September 20 -- 144 MHz Fall Sprint (CW, phone, digital)

  • September 22 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)

  • September 23 -- RSGB 80-Meter Autumn Series (digital)

For more information, visit the ARRL Contest Calendar.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

Some conventions and hamfests may 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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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.

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