Date: Fri, 21.08.20 11:05
The Weekly ARRL Letter
August 20, 2020
* IARU Announces HF Digital Mode Band Plan Review
* Amateur Radio Stood Ready for Isaias Throughout Storm's East Coast
* New Smartphone App Can Identify Unknown Data Modes
* ARRL Podcasts Schedule
* Rene Fonseca, NP3O, Elected as Puerto Rico Section Manager
* The K7RA Solar Update
* Just Ahead in Radiosport
* New Contest for Portable Stations to Debut
* Technology and Technique Making Ham Radio Testing Possible During
* Intrepid-DX Group Announces Winners of Youth "Dream Rig" Essay
* Past Puerto Rico Section Manager Victor Madera, KP4PQ, SK
* Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions
IARU Announces HF Digital Mode Band Plan Review
An International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) working group has been
formed to develop solutions to reduce congestion within very popular
mode segments while preventing mutual interference between
"incompatible modes" as much as possible. The working group includes
representatives of the three regional band-planning committees, marking
the first time the three IARU regions have joined together to directly
coordinate band-planning efforts.
"Because frequency allocations and amateur radio operating interests
vary in different parts of the world, the development of band plans --
voluntary guidelines on the use of the spectrum that is available to
radio amateurs -- is a responsibility of the three IARU regional
organizations," the IARU explained in announcing the working group.
"Each of the three regions has a band-planning committee to focus on
The IARU says this approach to band planning has generally kept pace
with the evolution of amateur radio operating, but the explosive growth
in HF digital modes, particularly FT8, has led to perceived
overcrowding of HF digital-mode band segments.
The new working group has already had fruitful discussions with the
WSJT Development Group headed by Joe Taylor, K1JT. ditional
discussions including other HF stakeholders will be held as part of a
fundamental review of the different HF digital modes, and how they can
best be categorized and arranged to share the limited spectrum
In recent years, moves have been made to bring the regional band plans
into alignment wherever possible. Final approval of any band plan
revisions typically occurs during regional conferences of IARU
member-societies, held every 3 years on a rotating basis.
Due to recent administrative changes, however, revisions can be
implemented without having to wait for the regional conferences.
Amateur Radio Stood Ready for Isaias Throughout Storm's East Coast
In a hurricane season now predicted to be worse than originally
thought, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaias was an opportunity for amateur
radio volunteers along the US eastern seaboard to exercise their
preparedness. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) initiated two sessions,
totaling more than 50 hours to track Isaias as it approached landfall.
In Southern Florida, Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) John Wells,
W4CMH, said Indian River County Amateur Radio Emergency Service had
operators at three shelters, and a few clients housed overnight on
August 1. St. Lucie County went to Level 1 (full activation) on August
1, but no shelters were opened, and no ARES members were deployed. "St.
Lucie County ARES was operational from a remote location, although they
were prepared to staff the radio room at the Emergency Operations
Center (EOC)," Wells said.
Northern Florida ARES was never called up, but members did monitor the
situation. "We are still early in the season, and I hope it will be a
quiet year, but time will only tell," said Northern Florida SEC Karl
"The New York City-Long Island Section had a lot of downed trees and
wires across the whole island," NYC-Long Island Section Manager Jim
Mezey, W2KFV, reported. "ARES was in standby mode for the Red Cross and
other served agencies. Many clubs had information nets helping people
to find needed supplies." Power was lost for a time in some areas.
"All is well for the most part in Southern New Jersey," Section Manager
Tom Preiser, N2XW, reported. "We were inundated with power outages. We
activated SKYWARN and made reports to NWS-Mount Holly. Many trees and
tree limbs are down, and there was a great deal of activity on the
Delaware SEC Dave Scott, KC3BEJ, reported nearly 5 inches of rain in
the northern part of the state. "Areas of central Delaware -- around
Dover Air Force Base and southern New Castle County -- got a good punch
in the nose, with several confirmed tornadoes," he said. Several
tractor trailer trucks tipped over on Route 1 in southern New Castle
County and some 60,000 people statewide lost power. "There was no call
for amateur radio assistance from any state, county, or municipal
emergency management authorities," Scott said. "Most of our regular
repeaters remained fully operational." An emergency frequency of 3.905
MHZ allowed good communication with southern Delaware.
"Storm Isaias moved rapidly through the Eastern and coastal areas of
Maryland," Maryland-DC (MDC) Section Manager Marty Pittinger, KB3MXM,
told ARRL. "From onset to conclusion, tropical storm conditions lasted
approximately 12 hours." Two Maryland counties more than 100 miles
apart received tornado damage, while high wind-driven rain soaked much
of the region. Pittinger reported, "The MDC Section was in touch with a
regional Red Cross representative and state emergency managers, and our
ARES [volunteers] maintained awareness." Hospitals and the health
department in Prince George County were advised that ARES was on
standby for them.
Eastern New York saw Isaias as a tropical storm that came directly up
the Hudson Valley from the Greater New York City area, said Section
Emergency Coordinator Dave Galletly, KM2O. On August 4, the NWS in
Albany issued a tornado watch for mid- and upper-Hudson River Valley
counties, and a SKYWARN net was initiated on a regional repeater. Two
more tornado warnings, several flash flood warnings, and high wind
advisories were issued before the net shut down. Radio amateurs filed
multiple reports of flash flooding, road closures, and wind damage.
"Record-setting rainfall was reported across the forecast area,"
ARES volunteers in the Eastern Massachusetts Section supported the
NWS-Norton office's SKYWARN program, with winds gusting to 70 MPH,
leading to downed trees and power lines. "Just to our west, conditions
were significantly worse," Eastern Massachusetts SEC Rob Macedo, KD1CY,
reported. The NWS-Norton SKYWARN program encompasses neighboring ARRL
New England Sections. "Connecticut had a top-five event for total
number of power outages," Macedo said, noting some 700,000 customers
without power. ARES/SKYWARN teams in Connecticut and Rhode Island
collaborated on damage assessment.
ARES members in Vermont, a state not typically associated with tropical
cyclones, initiated VHF and HF nets to share information on conditions.
"Participation by ARES and RACES members was high," reported SEC Cathy
James, NQ1B. "It was clear that storm conditions were not as bad as
predicted." [Editor's note: This article represents a select summary of
amateur radio activities during the passage of Isaias.]
New Smartphone App Can Identify Unknown Data Modes
An incredible number of digital-mode radio signals occupy the spectrum,
and it's not always possible to identify the particular mode of
operation. CW, PSK31, and FT8 are pretty easy, but how about CIS405,
STANAG, or CHIP64? A new smartphone app can simplify things. SignalID
can recognize about 20 signal modes (more may be on the way), in just 5
seconds of recording time. The app is open source and free.
Using it is simple. Once the frequency and bandwidth have been set, the
user places the cell phone's microphone near the receiver's speaker,
presses the large button, and waits for 5 seconds. The quieter the
external environment is, the fewer errors.
"The algorithm is based on frequency, [so incorrect tuning] will result
in an erroneous detection. The recording is limited to 5 seconds, for
practical reasons. Mode recognition may require several attempts, the
developer, Tortillum, said, and upgrades are already in the works. "The
easiest way to try [it] is RTTY or STANAG," the developer added.
The very few comments so far from users suggest some further work may
be needed, but they praised the concept. The developer invites
The application, which includes a complete list, could prove a valuable
tool in determining the types of emissions that may stray into amateur
radio bands. A demonstration video is available. -- Thanks to Southgate
Amateur Radio News via Stephen Walters, G7VFY
ARRL Podcasts Schedule
The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode features an
interview with brothers Andy, KK4LWR, and Tony, KD8RTT, Milluzzi about
the ARRL Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative. The On the Air podcast is
a monthly companion to On the Air magazine, ARRL's magazine for
beginner-to-intermediate ham radio operators.
The latest episode of the Eclectic Tech podcast (Episode 14) deals with
interference issues and features a chat with David Hodge, N6AN, about
his work at Caltech with the radio astronomy team.
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.
Rene Fonseca, NP3O, Elected as Puerto Rico Section Manager
Rene Fonseca, NP3O, has been elected as ARRL Puerto Rico Section
Manager (SM), defeating two other candidates, including incumbent Oscar
Resto, KP4RF. Fonseca, of Fajardo, received 85 votes; Juan Sepulveda
Mercado, KP3CR, garnered 48 votes, and incumbent Section Manager Oscar
Resto, KP4RF, got 31 votes. Resto has been Puerto Rico's Section
Manager since 2016. An ARRL Life Member, Fonseca is returning as SM,
having served previously from 2012 to 2016.
The Puerto Rico SM election was the only contested election in the
summer round of voting. Ballots were counted on August 18 at ARRL
* In Minnesota, Bill Mitchell, AE0EE, of Minneapolis, will become the
new Section Manager this fall. Mitchell was the only nominee when
the nomination deadline arrived in early June. Incumbent Skip
Jackson, KS0J, chose not to run for a new term after a 16-year run
that began in 2004.
* In North Dakota, Richard Budd, W0TF, will begin a full 2-year term
of office after being appointed in June to succeed Nancy Yoshida,
K0YL. She stepped down to become vice president of the YL
International Single Sideband System.
The following incumbent SMs ran unopposed and were considered elected.
Chuck Motes, K1DFS (Connecticut); Dan Marler, K7REX (Idaho); Scott
Yonally, N8SY (Ohio); Kevin O'Dell, N0IRW (Oklahoma); Barry Porter,
KB1PA (Southern Florida); Fred Kleber, K9VV (Virgin Islands), and Laura
Mueller, N2LJM (Western New York).
All new terms begin on October 1.
James Armstrong, NV6W, Named Santa Clara Valley SM
James Armstrong, NV6W, of San Jose, California, was appointed as Santa
Clara Valley (SCV) Section Manager following the untimely death on July
28 of incumbent Bill Ashby, AA6FC, just 4 weeks after he took office.
An ARRL Life Member, Ashby, also of San Jose, was 66 and the only
nominee for the position when nominations closed in March. Ashby had
earlier served as the Affiliated Club Coordinator from 2007 to 2010.
Armstrong will fulfill the remainder of the term, which expires on June
His appointment by ARRL Radiosport and Field Services Manager Bart
Jahnke, W9JJ, followed consultation with ARRL Pacific Division Director
Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT. Armstrong served as an Assistant SM in the SCV
Section since 2013. A ham for more than 40 years, Armstrong also holds
a Second Class Radiotelegraph Operator certificate, a General
Radiotelephone Operator license, and a GMDSS Radio Operator/Maintainer
license, all with ship radar endorsements.
The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspots disappeared on 4 days of the
past week, but then returned. The average daily sunspot number declined
from 14.3 to 5.4, while average daily solar flux went from 73.8 to 71.
Geomagnetic indicators remain quiet. Average daily planetery A index
increased from 3.7 to 4.4.
Predicted solar flux is 70 on August 20 - 26; 71 on August 27; 72 on
August 28 - 29; 73 on August 30 - September 5; 72 on September 6 - 9;
71 on September 10 - 11; 70 on September 12 - 19; 71 on September 20 -
23; 72 on September 24 - 25; 73 on September 26 - October 2, and 72 on
Predicted planetary A index is 16, 8, and 5 on August 20 - 22; 8 on
August 23 - 25; 5 on August 26 - 28; 8, 16, and 8 on August 29 - 31; 5
on September 1 - 14; 10 on September 15 - 16; 5 on September 17 - 24;
then 8, 16, and 8 on September 25 - 27, and 5 on September 28 - October
Sunspot numbers for August 13 - 19 were 11, 0, 0, 0, 0, 12, and 15,
with a mean of 5.4. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 72.3, 70.8, 70.6,
70.9, 70.8, 71.3, and 70.5, with a mean of 71. Estimated planetary A
indices were 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 7, and 6, with a mean of 4.4. Middle
latitude A index was 5, 3, 3, 5, 3, 7, and 9, with a mean of 5.
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
* August 22 - 24 -- Hawaii QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* August 22 - 23 -- Ohio QSO Party (CW, phone)
* August 22 - 23 -- CVA DX Contest (Phone)
* August 22 - 23 -- 50 MHz Fall Sprint (CW, phone)
* August 26 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)
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.
New Contest for Portable Stations to Debut
A new amateur radio contest for portable operators -- the Fox Mike
Hotel Portable Operations Challenge (POC) -- will debut October 3 - 4.
The event is aimed at leveling the competitive playing field between
fixed stations and portable stations. Scoring for the POC, based upon a
kilometers-per-watt metric, will be handicapped in favor of the
portables. The contest is the brainchild of Frank Howell, K4FMH.
Sponsors include National Contest Journal (NCJ) -- an ARRL publication
-- but the POC will not be an official NCJ or ARRL contest.
"NCJ's role is to encourage hams who don't contest to give it a try,"
NCJ Editor Dr. Scott Wright, K0MD, said. "It will encourage activity by
operators who are limited by real estate and do not have a full-blown
contest station. Events like this stimulate more interest in
contesting, and this will have an international scope to give chances
to snare some new DXCC entities."
The contest rules say scoring will be calculated using the distance
between stations (Maidenhead grid squares) in kilometers divided by
power output in watts. Fixed (QTH) stations will compete against
portable (P) stations on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters. Allowable modes
include phone, CW, and digital.
The exchange is call sign, station class (P or Q), consecutive serial
number, and four-character grid square.
Contact Howell for more information. Read more.
Technology and Technique Making Ham Radio Testing Possible During
Amateur radio license testing continues during the pandemic, with a
combination of remote Volunteer Examiner (VE) test sessions and careful
in-person session planning. In Hawaii, VE Team leader and Section
Manager Joe Speroni, AH0A, said he and his team passed the
100-candidate mark on August 10 for video-supervised remote test
sessions. Speroni said the most recent session administered exams to 10
"Candidates from all Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US
military bases in Okinawa have had an opportunity to sit for licenses,"
he told the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. "The high pass rate of
95% is most likely due to candidates having had time to prepare for the
exam." Speroni also said his VEs' willingness to contribute their time
has made the program a success and available to a wide geographical
"Zoom meeting video lends itself to handling three candidates per
session, and each requires three VEs," Speroni explained. "The 1:1
ratio of candidates to VEs makes planning important. Fortunately, the
team of 15 VEs has volunteers from Oahu, Maui, the Big Island,
California, and the Pacific. Often, hams from Okinawa and Guam are
helping to license and upgrade hams in Hawaii."
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected licensing numbers as well as testing
protocols. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, reports that through
the end of July, overall FCC license activity was down by 15% compared
to the same period last year. New amateur licenses are down by 12% so
far in 2020, with 15,849 new licensees compared to 17,947 in 2019.
"Upgraded licenses are down by a staggering 23% -- 6,501 versus 4,984,"
Somma said. "The year-end prediction of 7,500 upgrades is much lower
than in previous years, which have averaged around 9,500."
On the other side of the US, Rhode Island Section Manager and VE Bob
Beaudet, W1YRC, reports his club, the Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio
Club, conducted a "pandemic-compliant" open-air test session on August
"Our governor in Rhode Island has directed citizens not to congregate
in groups greater than 15 outdoors," Beaudet said, estimating that
group size remained at around that number at any given time as
candidates arrived and left. "Some came early and left as new people
arrived," he said. "Also, we were rather widely spread out in the
parking lot." Everyone wore masks and observed appropriate social
distancing. The VEs grading and processing applications were also
spread widely apart. "We planned to keep applicants a car width apart
from one another, but many applicants came in rather large trucks,"
Beaudet recounted. "That changed our parking pattern a little."
The session accommodated one candidate who was severely vision impaired
and successfully upgraded to a General-class license, with a VE reading
the questions and recording his answers. -- Thanks to Joe Speroni,
AH0A, and Bob Beaudet, W1YRC
Intrepid-DX Group Announces Winners of Youth "Dream Rig" Essay Contest
The Intrepid-DX Group has announced the winners of its first annual
Youth "Dream Rig" Essay Contest. "We received over 60 essays from young
amateurs from all over the world," said Intrepid-DX Group President
Paul Ewing, N6PSE. "The essays were unique in thought and very
well-articulated. Extra points were given for proper grammar,
punctuation, and spelling. Most of the essays gave unique perspectives
on how to reach out and connect with the youth of today. We will be
sharing those ideas in subsequent postings."
The first-place winner and recipient of an Icom IC-7300 transceiver is
Faith Hannah Lea, KD3Z. She will also receive a vertical flagpole
antenna from Greyline Performance Antennas, a deluxe headset from Heil
Sound, a Powerwerx switching power supply donated by Steve Jones, N6SJ,
and a QRP Nano Morse Key-25-811P from GigaParts.
In second place was Charlie Meadows, N4VTI, who received a Yaesu FT-65
handheld transceiver donated by Ewing. In addition, he'll get a $50 DX
Engineering gift card from David Jorgensen, WD5COV.
Patrick Gawthrop, W9GGG, was the third-place winner and recipient of a
BaoFeng BF-F8HP handheld transceiver donated by Ewing. He will also
receive a $50 DX Engineering gift card from Jorgensen.
"Having read over 60 essays this week, we can tell you that our youth
are full of great ideas and they are brimming with enthusiasm to keep
our hobby alive well into the future," Ewing said. The Intrepid-DX
Group will publish several of the essays on its Facebook page. Read
* The Japan Telecommunications Ministry (MIC) announced that
effective August 20 all stations permitted to transmit on Japan's
160-meter allocation may now use SSB. The current Japan Amateur
Radio League (JARL) band plan suggests 1848 - 1875 kHz carrier
frequency for LSB. -- Thanks to Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX/N6BDX
* Veteran QRZ.com moderator Glen E. Zook, K9STH, of Richardson,
Texas, has died. QRZ.com president and founder Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ,
said Zook had been a content moderator on the popular site for at
least 20 years.
* The Radio Club of America (RCA) is inviting leadership nominations
for 2021. The nomination application is online. Individuals may
self-nominate by completing the form and emailing it to the
executive secretary. The nomination deadline is September 8. Direct
questions to Chip Cohen, W1YW.
* The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) website
has had a makeover. The facility, operated by the University of
Alaska Fairbanks, can light up the ionosphere with 3.6 MW between
2.7 and 10 MHz and has been the subject of numerous conspiracy
theories. In this vein, HAARP "Area 49" T-shirt and glassware sales
support research. -- Thanks to Ward Silver, N0AX, via The ARRL
* Australian telecommunications regulator ACMA has approved the
issuance of 2 * 1 contest call signs with VJ, VK, and VL prefixes
to vanced-class licensees and to club stations for contest
* Despite civil unrest in Mali, Jeff Dorsey, TZ4AM, reported on
August 17 that he was safe and very active on the air. He's been
spotted on 40, 20, and 17 meters, CW and SSB. Dorsey had reported
gunfire in his neighborhood. -- Thanks to The Daily DX
Past Puerto Rico Section Manager Victor Madera, KP4PQ, SK
Victor Madera, KP4PQ, who served as Puerto Rico's Section Manager from
2000 until 2007, died on July 23. An ARRL Life Member, he was 90 years
old. Madera was instrumental in translating amateur radio study guides
and test materials into Spanish. Upon his retirement as Section
Manager, Madera was awarded the Knight Distinguished Service Award in
recognition of his outstanding service as a Section Manager.
First licensed in 1951, Madera served in the US Army Signal Corps
during the Korean War. He held a Bachelor's degree in electrical
serving as the director of manufacturing for Westinghouse in Puerto
Rico and Haiti. He retired early due to health issues.
Madera held several ARRL Field Organization appointments over the
years, including Official Observer, Public Information Officer, State
Government Liaison, and Assistant Director for the ARRL Southeastern
Division. He served as team liaison/coordinator for the ARRL Volunteer
Examiner team in Puerto Rico and was International Amateur Radio Union
Region 2 auxiliary monitor.
Madera was a member of the Radio Club of America (RCA), the Quarter
Century Wireless Association (QCWA), and the Puerto Rico Amateur Radio
founder and first president and secretary of the Puerto Rico Amateur
Radio League (PRARL) -- an ARRL Special Service Club. Read more.
Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions
Note: Many conventions and hamfests have been canceled or postponed due
to the coronavirus pandemic. Check the calendar of canceled events on
the ARRL website.
* August 21 - 23 -- West Virginia State Convention, Weston, West
Virginia (now a free, Zoom-based online event)
* October 3 -- Kentucky State Convention, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Find conventions and hamfests in your area.
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