Date: Fri, 18.09.20 11:05
The Weekly ARRL Letter
September 17, 2020
* Storms Generate Busy Times for ARES and the Hurricane Watch Net
* ARRL to Seek Changes in FCC Draft Decision on Amateur 9-Centimeter
* ARRL Podcasts Schedule
* Analysis Determines We Are in Solar Cycle 25
* The K7RA Solar Update
* Just Ahead in Radiosport
* International Telecommunication Union Releases 2020 ITU Radio
* Ham Radio Exams are Not Going Away in Brazil After All
* In Brief...
* Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions
Storms Generate Busy Times for ARES and the Hurricane Watch Net
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated on Sunday, September 13, on
both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz as Hurricane Paulette was predicted to
make landfall on Bermuda the next day as a Category 2 storm. That tour
melded into an extended activation in anticipation of Hurricane Sally,
which came ashore on the Gulf coast in Alabama on September 16. The
slow-moving storm, which diminished to a tropical storm not long after
landing, at mid-week was causing "catastrophic and life-threatening
flooding" over portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama.
The HWN stood down at mid-week after 71 hours of continuous operation.
HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said it seem long activations such as
these are happening all too often. "I suppose Mother Nature hasn't been
getting the attention she desires," Graves quipped.
Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Karl Martin, K4HBN,
reported on September 17 that Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)
teams in his Section were standing down. "We had a total of 4 counties
affected by Sally," he said. "The hardest hit was Escambia county,
located at the Alabama/Florida border. The Atlantic is still very busy,
but I hope the rest of the season is quiet."
ARES teams went on alert in other Sections in the region.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Tuesday
that two 60-meter channels had been made available for interoperability
between US government stations and US amateur radio stations involved
in emergency communications related to the wildland firefighting
response in California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as to Hurricane
Sally. The interoperability
channels will remain active until the need for them no longer exists:
* Channel 1 -- primary voice traffic 5332 kHz channel center, 5330.5
kHz USB voice
* Channel 2 -- digital traffic 5348 kHz channel center, 5346.5 kHz
USB with 1.5 kHz offset to center of digital waveform
Frequencies may be modified or added to by FEMA Region 10 for their
area or operations due to existing 5 MHz/60-meter interoperability
plans for their region.
Amateur radio is secondary on the 5 MHz band and must yield to
operational traffic related to wildland firefighting and hurricane
response. Although the intended use for these channels is
interoperability between federal government stations and licensed US
amateur radio stations, federal government stations are primary users
and amateurs are secondary users.
The FCC has granted ARRL's request for a temporary waiver to permit
amateur data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently
permitted by section 97.307(f) of the FCC amateur service rules. The
FCC acted to facilitate hurricane and wildfire relief communications
within the US and its territories.
ARRL sought the waiver for amateur radio licensees directly involved
with hurricane and wildfire relief via HF using PACTOR 4 modems for
communication within the US and its territories, relative to several
impending hurricane situations and wildfires in the western US. ARRL's
petition noted that Section 97.307(f) of the amateur rules prevents the
use of PACTOR 4, a data protocol that permits relatively high-speed
data transmission. ARRL also noted that past FCC temporary waivers have
allowed this protocol during similar events. The waiver is limited to
The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) is following FEMA's lead on
the interoperability channel designations for the wildfire and
hurricane response. Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY,
says he has alerted all MARS members of the FEMA channel designations
and MARS members are prepared to support response efforts as needed.
WX4NHC at the NHC also activated on Sunday in advance of Paulette,
monitoring and gathering reports from the HWN on 14.325
and 7.268 MHz and via the VoIP-WX Net on EchoLink WXtalk 7203
Conference and IRLP 9219.
The Caribbean Basin has more in store during this hurricane season. "We
are now keeping a close eye on Hurricane Teddy," Graves said, noting
that Bermuda could be affected by another hurricane by late Sunday
night or early Monday morning. "Also, we are keeping a close eye on a
system that seems to be getting better organized in the southwestern
Gulf of Mexico."
The next named storm will be Wilfred, and after that storms will be
designated using the Greek alphabet, starting with Alpha. "If we reach
Alpha, it will be the second time in history to use that name," Graves
pointed out. "The first was in 2005."
ARRL to Seek Changes in FCC Draft Decision on Amateur 9-Centimeter Band
ARRL efforts are under way to preserve amateur radio access to the 3.3
- 3.5 GHz (9-centimeter) band. In an 80+ page draft Report and Order
and Further Notice of Proposed Rulelmaking (R&O) in WT Docket 19-348,
the FCC announced its intention to delete the 3.3 - 3.5 GHz amateur
secondary allocation, subject to a phased withdrawal tied to its
licensing of new primary users. According to the FCC, the 3.450 - 3.550
GHz spectrum will be put up for auction as early as December 2021.
Incumbent users will be permitted to continue operating in the band
until licensing to commercial interests -- presumably 5G -- begins.
That's estimated to be about 3 months after the spectrum auction
concludes, or around mid-2022. No alternative spectrum was proposed to
replace the 9-centimeter spectrum for amateur radio operations. In an
associated Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC said it seeks
comment "on whether it is in the public interest to sunset amateur use
in the 3.3 - 3.55 GHz band in two separate phases," -- first above 3.4
GHz, and later below 3.4 GHz.
"We find that removing the existing secondary non-federal allocations
from the 3.3 - 3.55 GHz band and clearing these non-federal operations
from the band is in the public interest, and therefore, we adopt this
proposal," the draft R&O says. "Because the [Department of Defense and
the National Telecommunications and Information Agency] agree that
commercial users operating pursuant to flexible use licenses can be
accommodated in the 3.45 - 3.55 GHz band at full power, and given
continued interest in the 3.3 - 3.45 GHz band for future sharing for
flexible-use licenses, we find that retaining the secondary non-federal
allocations across this spectrum would hinder the Commission's ability
to offer flexible-use licensing in the future and would undermine the
intensive and efficient use of valuable mid-band spectrum."
"Further, to prevent adjacent-channel issues and to preserve the
possibility of additional clearing for flexible use licensing below
3.45 GHz, we find that sunsetting the secondary amateur allocation from
the entire 3.3 -- 3.5 GHz portion of the band is in the public
interest," the FCC said.
Last February, ARRL filed comments opposing the FCC's proposal to
delete the 3.3 - 3.5 GHz secondary amateur allocation, pointing to
amateur radio's long history of successful coexistence with primary
users of the band.
The absolute deadline to submit additional comments on the draft R&O
and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking via the Electronic Comment
Filing System (ECFS) or to contact FCC staff on this issue is
Wednesday, September 23 -- 7 days before the full Commission's
consideration of the draft for final adoption -- in order to comply
with FCC "Sunshine Rules."
In August, the White House and the Department of Defense announced
plans to allow for commercial 5G systems to operate in the 3.45 - 3.55
GHz band throughout almost all of the contiguous US. The plan would
leave radio amateurs to "individually determine appropriate alternate
spectrum from existing available spectrum allocations."
The 3.45 - 3.55 GHz segment would be teed up for a spectrum auction
that's expected to commence by the end of 2021. This would mean
amateurs would have to cease all operations at 3.45 GHz and above by
the middle of 2022 at the earliest, based on an FCC estimate.
The 3.3 - 3.45 GHz segment is not immediately available for
reallocation and auction, because more work is needed to accommodate
the Department of Defense. Under the rules as proposed, amateur
operations will be permitted to continue in this spectrum until
sometime in the future, when FCC rulemakings establish new rules and
conduct a spectrum auction and commercial licensing.
ARRL Podcasts Schedule
The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 9) features a
discussion on how to tune HF signals and use transceiver tools to
enhance reception. The On the Air podcast is a monthly companion to On
the Air magazine, ARRL's magazine for beginner-to-intermediate ham
The latest episode of the Eclectic Tech podcast (Episode 16) features a
chat about the 222 MHz band, with QST's "The World Above 50 MHz"
columnist Jon Jones, N0JK. Also, Steve Ford, WB8IMY, offers some tips
on shopping for coaxial cable.
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.
Analysis Determines We Are in Solar Cycle 25
It's now official. The solar minimum between Solar Cycles 24 and 25 --
the period when the sun is least active -- occurred in December 2019,
when the 13-month smoothed sunspot number fell to 1.8. This is
according to the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, co-chaired by the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric ministration (NOAA) and the National
Aeronautics and Space ministration (NASA). We are now in Solar Cycle
25, with peak sunspot activity expected in 2025, the panel said. The
panel expressed high confidence that Solar Cycle 25 will break the
trend of weakening solar activity seen over the past four cycles.
[IMG]"We predict the decline in solar cycle amplitude, seen from Cycles
21 through 24, has come to an end," said Lisa Upton, panel co-chair and
solar physicist with Space Systems Research Corporation. "There is no
indication we are approaching a Maunder-type minimum in solar
At 11 years, Solar Cycle 24 was of average length and had the
fourth-smallest intensity since regular record-keeping began in 1755,
with what is considered Solar Cycle 1. It was also the weakest cycle in
a century. At solar maximum in April 2014, sunspots peaked at 114 for
the cycle, well below the 179 average.
Solar Cycle 24's progression was unusual. The sun's northern hemisphere
led the sunspot cycle, peaking more than 2 years ahead of the southern
hemisphere sunspot peak. This resulted in fewer sunspots at solar
maximum than if the two hemispheres were in phase.
For the past 8 months, activity on the sun has steadily increased,
indicating that we have transitioned to Solar Cycle 25, forecast to be
a fairly weak cycle -- about the same as Solar Cycle 24. Solar Cycle 25
is expected to peak in July 2025, with a predicted 115 sunspots.
"How quickly solar activity rises is an indicator on how strong the
solar cycle will be," said Doug Biesecker, the NOAA-NASA panel co-chair
and a solar physicist at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).
"Although we've seen a steady increase in sunspot activity this year,
it is slow."
"While we are not predicting a particularly active Solar Cycle 25,
violent eruptions from the sun can occur at any time," Biesecker added.
An artist's rendering of the Space
Weather Follow-On L-1 observatory.
Before Solar Cycle 25 peaks in 2024, NOAA is slated to launch a new
spacecraft dedicated to operational space weather forecasting. The
Space Weather Follow-On L-1 observatory (SWFO-L1) will be equipped with
instruments that sample the solar wind, provide imagery of coronal mass
ejections, and monitor other extreme activity from the sun in finer
detail than before. NOAA's next Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellite (GOES-U) is also scheduled to launch in 2024. GOES-U will
carry three solar monitoring instruments, including the first compact
coronagraph, which will help detect coronal mass ejections. Enhanced
observations of the sun from these satellites will help improve space
The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: As detailed elsewhere in this edition
of The ARRL Letter (see Analysis Determines We Are in Solar Cycle 25),
this week's big news was that scientists have pinned down the Solar
Cycle 24 minimum to December 2019 -- and the start of Solar Cycle 25.
The reason behind the delay in announcing this is the nature of moving
averages, which, in this case, is a smoothed sunspot number derived
from arithmetical averaging of sunspot numbers over 1 year -- i.e.,
half the numbers before December, and half after December -- to derive
a mid-point average.
Recent news stories, such as this article from SpaceRef, give
predictions for the next cycle.
Over the September 10 - 16 reporting week, the average daily solar flux
was 69.2 -- no significant difference from the previous week. Average
daily planetary A index was 5.3, up from 4.4 the previous week. Average
daily mid-latitude A index went from 4.9 to 5.4.
Predicted solar flux for the next 45 days (September 17 - October 31)
remains 70, the same as reported in recent bulletins.
Predicted planetary A index is 5 on September 17 - 22; 8, 10, 15, 10,
25, 15, and 10 on September 23 - 29; 5 on September 30 - October 14; 8
on October 15 - 16; 5 on October 17 - 19; then, as earlier, 8, 10, 15,
10, 25, 15, and 10 on October 20 - 26,and back to 5 on October 27 - 31.
Sunspot numbers for September 10 - 16 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, for
a mean of 0. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 69.3, 68.7, 69.3, 69.8, 68.9,
68.8, and 69.5, with a mean of 69.2. Estimated planetary A indices were
2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 7, and 3, with a mean of 5.3. Middle latitude A index
was 2, 2, 6, 7, 10, 8, and 3 with a mean of 5.4.
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
* September 19 -- QRP Afield (CW, phone, digital)
* September 19 -- Wisconsin Parks on the Air (Phone)
* September 19 -- Feld Hell Sprint
* September 19 -- VHF FOC QSO Party (CW)
* September 19 - 20 -- Collegiate QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* September 19 - 20 -- ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest (CW, phone,
* September 19 - 20 -- SARL VHF/UHF Digital Contest
* September 19 - 20 -- Scandinavian Activity Contest (CW)
* September 19 - 20 -- All Africa International DX Contest (CW,
* September 19 - 20 -- Iowa QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* September 19 - 20 -- New Jersey QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* September 19 - 20 -- New Hampshire QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* September 19 - 20 -- Washington State Salmon Run (CW, phone,
* September 20 -- North American Sprint, RTTY
* September 20 -- BARTG Sprint 75 (Digital)
* September 20 - 21 -- Run for the Bacon QRP Contest (CW)
* September 21 -- 144 MHz Fall Sprint (CW, phone, digital)
* September 23 -- SKCC Sprint (CW)
* September 24 -- RSGB 80-Meter Autumn Series, Data
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.
International Telecommunication Union Releases 2020 ITU Radio
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published the 2020
ITU Radio Regulations -- the international treaty governing the global
use of RF spectrum and satellite orbits. The publication contains the
complete texts of the Radio Regulations adopted during World
Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), held last year in Sharm El
Sheikh, Egypt. Available in all six of ITU's official languages, the
2020 ITU Radio Regulations are in effect for all signatory parties on
January 1, 2021. Electronic versions are free, and the "traditional
four-volume boxed set," as well as a multilingual DVD, will be
available for purchase in the coming weeks, the ITU said.
"The publication of the Radio Regulations is the culmination of the
hard work and intense deliberations that took place during WRC-19,"
said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "Efficient and economical use
of the naturally limited radio-frequency spectrum is key to ensuring we
bring the benefits of connectivity and digital transformation to people
everywhere. The ITU Radio Regulations are a vital vehicle for this
The ITU said that, when it comes to allocating radio frequencies,
including sharing and harmonizing their use for different purposes, the
Radio Regulations are the ultimate tool. "They ensure the use of the RF
spectrum is rational, equitable, efficient, and economical, all while
aiming to prevent harmful interference between different radio
services," the ITU said.
The Radio Regulations govern 40 radiocommunication services, and are
designed to protect existing radio services while enabling the
introduction of new and enhanced services.
* CQ World Wide Contest Director John Dorr, K1AR, has announced some
rule changes effective with this fall's contests. Multi-Single,
Multi-Two, and Multi-Multi will be the standard entry category
names; amplifiers will be included in the 500-meter diameter circle
of the station location, and logs must be uploaded online.
* The Fox Mike Hotel Portable Operations Challenge on October 3 - 4
permits operation as a portable station from backyard, garden, or
patio, using portable equipment.
* The FCC has announced that the Anchorage Amateur Radio Club VEC has
joined the list of authorized Club Station Call Sign ministrators
* Radio Amateurs of Canada has announced that it will hold its Annual
General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, September 20. It will be a virtual
* The Collegiate QSO Party this weekend provides bonus points for
alumni working their alma maters, or an alumnus/alumna working
other alumni. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, rules have been
relaxed to allow a campus radio station to be operated remotely by
college club members, some entry classes have been changed, and
scoring has been modified.
* [IMG]Weatheradio Canada has announced that it's considering
shutting down 48 of its 230 VHF weather information transmitters
across the country -- about 20% of the network. The Canadian
government says most of the sites are in urban areas with ample
access to other sources of weather information. -- Thanks to The
Ham Radio Exams are Not Going Away in Brazil After All
Amateur radio examinations are not being eliminated in Brazil. A notice
that the country's telecommunications regulator ANATEL released
recently was intended to prompt discussion and elicit comment on the
idea, but it prompted confusion too. On September 10, ANATEL responded
to a letter from Brazil's national amateur radio society, LABRE, that
expressed concern regarding the proposal to scrap amateur radio exams.
ANATEL told LABRE that no such change is in the works, although the
regulator did say that some rules and regulations will be revised and
modernized in due course.
"With respect to the merit presented in the correspondence, this will
be analyzed and considered by the technical team of this agency [i.e.,
ANATEL] in the finalization of the regulatory impact analysis report
and the respective regulatory proposal, if any," ANATEL told LABRE.
Henrique Gravina, PU3IKE, contacted ARRL to offer his take on the
confusion. He said many people have complained to ANATEL over the years
about amateur exams. When ANATEL considers that a particular issue
raised represents a problem area, it selects a complaint to use as a
starting point for discussion. This is akin to a Petition for
Rulemaking (PRM) that the FCC might "put on notice" to invite comment
after a suggested change in the rules.
"Portuguese is a difficult language, even for natives, and it gets
worse when we speak and write in legal terms and in bureaucratic
processes that are very complicated," Gravina allowed. "Hams who are
not law students or lawyers read the [proposal] and did not understand
what was happening."
LABRE has said it was satisfied with ANATEL's response and will
continue to collaborate with the agency to help modernize the
regulatory framework that governs amateur radio in Brazil. ANATEL said
it's considering extending the deadline for public comment on the group
of proposals that included the suggestion to eliminate ham radio exams.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some changes have already come about in
the form of online exams for two license classes -- A and C. Brazil
retains a 5 WPM Morse code requirement for the class B license, and
that has not been made available online. Applicants must have 1 year of
experience as a class B licensee to sit for the class A exam. The Morse
code exam can only be taken at an ANATEL agency office, available in
most Brazilian states. -- Thanks to Henrique Gravina, PU3IKE
The ARRL Board of Directors has named James W. Brown, K9YC, as the
recipient of the 2019 ARRL Technical Service Award. The Board cited
Brown's frequent contributions to -- and presentations at -- amateur
radio forums at conventions including Dayton Hamvention^(R), Pacificon,
and the International DX and Contesting Convention in Visalia,
California. Brown, of Santa Cruz, California, has also collaborated
with the ARRL Lab, contributed to various ARRL publications, including
The ARRL Handbook, The ARRL Antenna Book, and others, and shared his
technical and educational expertise in the fields of audio engineering,
RFI, and other aspects of electronics and engineering. He shares his
knowledge and expertise with the amateur radio community via his
informational website. The Board said, "Brown continues to provide his
expertise as a means of 'giving back' to the amateur community, in the
spirit of the amateurs that worked with him when he was first licensed
at the age of 13."
Former Federal Emergency Management ministration (FEMA) ministrator
Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, recently encouraged the use of mesh networking.
He said mesh networking can empower volunteers during natural
disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires. Fugate was the keynote
speaker for the International Wireless Communications Expo's (IWCE)
virtual event. "By building these types of networks, you can put people
back into communication and put people to work where they're needed,"
he said. He encouraged public safety agencies to work with local
amateur radio groups and commercial providers to create solutions that
can build these mesh networks when the main network goes down. --
Thanks to The ARES Letter
Past New England Division Director Bill Burden, WB1BRE, of Strafford,
Vermont, died on July 29. An ARRL Life Member, he was 84. Burden served
as ARRL New England Division Director from 1992 to 1996. Prior to that,
he was New England Division Vice Director (1991 - 1992) and New
Hampshire Section Manager (1985 - 1991). He served as the emergency
management director for the Town of Strafford. A graduate of Lowell
Tech with a degree in electrical engineering, Burden worked for
Lockheed-Sanders, retiring in 1991.
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.
* November 14 - 15 -- Central Division Convention, Fort Wayne,
* November 21 -- Alabama State Convention, Montgomery, Alabama
* December 11 - 12 -- Florida State Convention, Plant City, Florida
Find conventions and hamfests in your area.
ARRL -- Your One-Stop Resource for
Amateur Radio News and Information.
* Join or Renew Today! Eligible US-based members can elect to receive
QST or On the Air magazine in print when they join ARRL or when
they renew their membership. All members can access digital
editions of all four ARRL magazines: QST, On the Air, QEX, and NCJ.
* Listen to ARRL Audio News, available every Friday.
* NCJ -- National Contest Journal. Published bimonthly, features
articles by top contesters, letters, hints, statistics, scores, NA
Sprint, and QSO parties.
* QEX -- A Forum for Communications Experimenters. Published
bimonthly, features technical articles, construction projects,
columns, and other items of interest to radio amateurs and
Free of charge to ARRL members...
* Subscribe to the ARES E-Letter (monthly public service and
emergency communications news), the ARRL Contest Update (biweekly
contest newsletter), Division and Section news alerts -- and much
* Find ARRL on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram!
The ARRL Letter is published Thursdays, 50 times each year. ARRL members
and registered guests may subscribe at no cost or unsubscribe by editing
Copyright (c) 2020 American Radio Relay League, Incorporated. Use and
distribution of this publication, or any portion thereof, is permitted for
non-commercial or educational purposes, with attribution. All other
purposes require written permission.
--- Squish/386 v1.11
* Origin: Outpost BBS@bbs.outpostbbs.net:10123 (1:18/200)