Date: Fri, 11.09.20 11:05
The Weekly ARRL Letter
September 10, 2020
* Preparations Continue for World Radiocommunication Conference 2023
* Ham Radio Wireless Network Camera Detects Washington Wildfire
* Hams Provide Situational Awareness as Severe Weather Hits
* Air Force Research Laboratory Tracks Sporadic E
* ARRL Podcasts Schedule
* NCVEC Holds Its Annual Meeting via Teleconference
* The K7RA Solar Update
* Just Ahead in Radiosport
* North American CW Sprint is Great Practice for Fall Contesting
* K1USN Radio Club Announces New Weekly Slow-Speed CW Contest
* Maine Radio Amateur Dies after Fall from Tower
* Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions
Preparations Continue for World Radiocommunication Conference 2023
As preparations for World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23)
go forward, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) continues its
efforts to protect amateur and amateur-satellite allocations. The
international conferences, sponsored by the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU), typically take place every 4 years.
IARU participated in the first online meeting of Project Team A (PTA)
of the WRC-23 CEPT Conference Preparatory Group (CPG), reporting this
week that "a good start was made on items of interest to the amateur
and amateur-satellite services."
Agenda Item 1.12 addresses studies stemming from WRC-19 that are now
under way to consider a new secondary allocation to the Earth
Exploration-Satellite (active) Service (EESS active) for spaceborne
radar sounders in the 40 - 50 MHz range, taking into account the
protection of incumbent services (including in adjacent bands), which
would include 6 meters. A handful of countries have also allocated
secondary amateur bands in the vicinity of 40 MHz.
The WRC-19 Resolution (Res. 656), which ordered the studies, noted that
spaceborne-active RF sensors can provide unique information on physical
properties of the Earth, and that spaceborne-active remote sensing
requires specific frequency ranges depending on the physical phenomena
to be observed. Spaceborne radars are intended to operate only in
uninhabited or sparsely populated areas with particular focus on
deserts and polar ice fields, between the hours of 3 AM and 6 AM local
Agenda Item 1.14 addresses the Earth Exploration-Satellite (passive)
Agenda Item 9.1 will consider and approve the Report of the Director of
the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau on its activities since WRC-19. This
includes a review of the Amateur Service and the Amateur Satellite
Service allocations in the frequency band 1.240 - 1.300 GHz to
determine if additional measures are required to ensure protection of
the radionavigation-satellite (space-to-Earth) service (RNSS) operating
in the same band.
The 1.240 - 1.300 GHz band is allocated worldwide to the Amateur
Service on a secondary basis, and the Amateur Satellite Service
(Earth-to-space) may operate in the band 1.260 - 1.270 GHz. The primary
concern is the potential for interference to the Galileo Global
Navigation Satellite System (GPS) in ITU Region 1 (Europe, the Middle
East, and Africa). Read more.
Ham Radio Wireless Network Camera Detects Washington Wildfire
Nigel Vander Houwen, K7NVH, reported on September 8 that some HamWAN
users in the Puget Sound region of Washington, who were viewing the
network's camera feeds, spotted a large brush fire.
"They reported it to the DNR [Department of Natural Resources], which
thanked them for the first report they'd gotten on the fire, and
they've sent a team to try and keep it small and under control," Vander
Houwen said. "It's estimated currently at around 50 acres, southeast of
Enumclaw, along Highway 410." The fire was not said to be threatening
any homes. State Route 410 was reported closed between Enumclaw and
Greenwater, and drivers heading to Mount Rainier National Park were
advised to take another route.
A frame from video via a HamWAN camera of an air
tanker dropping water on the
HamWAN is a nonprofit organization developing best practices for
high-speed amateur radio data networks. It runs the Puget Sound Data
Ring. So far, HamWAN networks have been used for such applications as
low-latency repeater linking (including DMR), real-time video feeds,
APRS internet gateways (I-gates), providing redundant internet access
to emergency operations centers, and more.
Amateur radio licensees in the HamWAN service area can connect directly
to the network with a modest investment in equipment and no recurring
costs. The HamWAN Puget Sound Data Ring has cells deployed at numerous
wide-coverage sites, interconnected with 5 GHz radios. The HamWAN
technical team has been installing remotely controllable cameras at
HamWAN link sites, and one of these was used for the wildfire report.
Hams Provide Situational Awareness as Severe Weather Hits Maryland-DC
Amateur radio volunteers provided the ARRL Maryland-DC Section with
situational awareness and breaking information on September 3, as
severe weather, including at least one tornado, hit the region around
the nation's capital. ARRL Maryland-DC Section Manager Marty Pittinger,
KB3MXM, said Section staff and hams across Maryland joined a
Section-wide EchoLink *WASH_DC* node and linked repeaters to report
situational awareness as the eastern half of the state and Washington,
DC, were hit hard.
"Hams began reporting severe weather, sharing local situations across
several 2-meter SKYWARN^A(R) nets -- including W3ICF/R near Frederick,
Maryland, and KA2JAI/R in Anne Arundel County," Pittinger said. "These
repeaters were also linked through *WASH_DC* to extend reach of
critical information." For more than 3 hours, nets reported on wind
damage, power outages, flooding, and the impact to traffic across six
Several Maryland county emergency management agencies were at
heightened activation levels; Section-wide ARES^A(R) was in
monitoring-mode, and no ARES activations were requested by served
agencies. Bill Feidt, NG3K, in Kensington, said his town was under a
tornado watch for several hours.
"At one point, it went to a warning -- 'a tornado is headed your way,'"
said Feidt. "I suspect the cell that we were warned about was a
rotating wall cloud and a funnel never
Most of the severe weather took
place within an area that included
DC and Baltimore.
reached the ground, since there was little appreciable damage in our
immediate area. But that system was definitely a nail-biter."
The storms traveled more than 80 miles across Maryland with one passing
north of DC, spawning a brief tornado in Edgemere, not far from the US
Naval Academy. Another storm crossed over Baltimore. Earlier that day,
the Maryland-DC Section and ARES leadership collaborated to plan a
course of action. Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Montgomery, WB3KAS,
notified ARES teams of approaching storms. Section leadership released
information via social media and email.
"The timeliness, wide-area coverage, interoperability with selected VHF
and UHF repeaters, coupled with numerous hams in affected areas,
provided the best ground-truth," Pittinger said.
Air Force Research Laboratory Tracks Sporadic E
Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in New Mexico
have discovered a new way to track and characterize sporadic E, which
occurs when large structures of dense plasma form naturally in the
upper atmosphere. These plasma structures, which occur at mid-latitude
locations around the world, can affect radio wave propagation in both
positive and negative ways. VHF enthusiasts frequently take advantage
of sporadic-E propagation (or E-skip) to work stations outside of their
The Long Wavelength Array at
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge
is capable of imaging the entire sky
at once, allowing AFRL scientists to
track and characterize sporadic E.
The facility consists of 256
dual-polarization dipoles. [Ken
"Previous methods to observe these structures were insufficient for
identifying and tracking these structures over large regions," said Ken
Obenberger, a research physicist at AFRL. "It would be advantageous to
actively identify where these structures are, where they are going, and
how dense they are. And we thought we could find a better way."
The new method, developed by Obenberger and collaborators at AFRL and
the University of New Mexico, leverages unintentional RF emissions from
power lines. Using the broadband radio noise, they can map and track
dense sporadic-E structures.
"Since power lines are widespread, we can observe sporadic E over a
very large region surrounding our observatory, the Long Wavelength
Array (LWA), an asset of our collaborators at the University of New
Mexico," Obenberger said. "This technique could be used anywhere in the
world where there is an electrical grid and an instrument similar to
the LWA, and we are lucky because there are not many."
Climatology of sporadic E can provide a probability that it will occur,
but the actual presence of sporadic E can only be determined through
Chris Fallen, KL3WX, one of Obenberger's collaborators at AFRL, said,
"Ken's technique basically provides weather radar for sporadic E, only
using radio noise from power lines as the radar transmitter."
Having accurate "now-casting" of sporadic E could prove critical during
disaster situations, where hams may play a key role in supporting
communication of vital information. Read more. -- Thanks to Joanne
Perkins, Air Force Research Laboratory
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.
NCVEC Holds Its Annual Meeting via Teleconference
ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM,
reports that the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators
(NCVEC) held its annual meeting via teleconference on August 21. Somma
is the NCVEC Vice Chair. NCVEC Chair Larry Pollock, NB5X, presided at
the 35th annual meeting. The NCVEC functions to facilitate
communication between the FCC and VECs. Representatives of all 14
FCC-certified VECs took part in the conference, while nine FCC staff
members were on hand.
FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) Special Counsel Laura Smith advised VEC
delegates that the FCC has been on lockdown since March and that staff
members will be teleworking indefinitely. This includes staff at FCC
Headquarters in Washington, DC; the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania location,
and the other field offices. Smith said field engineers aren't going
out unless the issue involves safety or if lives are in danger.
FCC Mobility Division (MD) Deputy Chief Tom Derenge explained that one
of his areas of responsibility is processing paperwork for applicants
answering "yes" to the basic qualification question (BQQ) that asks if
they've ever been convicted of a felony. Derenge said that paperwork
from his office goes to the FCC General Counsel and the Investigations
and Hearings Division (IHD). Those divisions are responsible for
resolution in non-compliant conduct. Paperwork in these instances may
take a while to be processed, Derenge said.
Derenge recommended that VECs make it clear to applicants that their
address will be public information when the new license is issued. He
pointed out that once an address is in the FCC database, it's nearly
impossible to be permanently removed.
Dorothy Stifflemire, the Associate Division Chief of the WTB
Technologies Systems and Innovation Division, told VECs that new
license applicants should create an FCC user account and register their
Social Security number (SSN) in the FCC Commission Registration System
(CORES) before attending exam sessions. Registrants will be assigned a
Federal Registration Number (FRN), which will be used in all license
transactions with the FCC.
She explained that auto-registration in CORES at exam sessions using a
Social Security number will be going away. In addition, because no mail
is being sent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants will not receive
their auto-created password and FRN and will not be able to access the
Universal Licensing System (ULS), the FCC license records database.
Going forward, she said, VECs should make sure all applicants have an
FRN before exam day.
Remote administration of amateur radio exam sessions was the hot topic
of discussion, Somma said. Since April 1, ARRL VEC, W5YI-VEC, and the
Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group VEC (GLAARG) have remotely
tested more than 4,000 applicants using videoconferencing and online
examinations. Proof-of-concept and procedural information were
discussed for the benefit of other VECs that might be interested in
pursuing remote testing. Exam candidates can search for upcoming remote
online examination dates on the HamStudy website.
Somma and Assistant ARRL VEC Manager Amanda Grimaldi, N1NHL,
represented ARRL at the virtual gathering. Read more.
The K7RA Solar Update
Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: An extended lull in solar activity
persists. The smoothed sunspot minimum occurred last December, but the
flurry of moderate sunspot activity in August has not continued.
When the autumnal equinox occurs at 1330 UTC on Tuesday, September 22,
we should see a seasonal improvement in HF propagation around that
date. This is because the northern and southern hemispheres are bathed
in roughly equal solar radiation, enhancing north-south propagation.
Wednesday, September 9, was the 19th consecutive day with no sunspots,
but Spaceweather.com reported that a small sunspot with a Solar Cycle
25 magnetic signature may be forming in the sun's southeastern
Average daily solar flux barely budged, moving from 69.6 to 69.7.
Geomagnetic indicators were very quiet, with average daily planetary A
index declining from 13.1 to 4.4.
As with last week's forecast, predicted solar flux is 70 on every day
over the next 45 days, September 10 - October 24.
Predicted planetary A index is 5 on September 10 - 17; 8 on September
18 - 19; 5 on September 20 - 22; 8, 10, and 15 on September 23 - 25;
10, 25, 15, and 10 on September 26 - 29; 5 on September 30; 8 on
October 1; 5 on October 2 - 14; 8 on October 15 - 16; 5 on October 17 -
19, and 8, 10, 15, 10 and 25 on October 20 - 24.
Frank Donovan, W3LPL, forwarded a video about big solar events of 3
Sunspot numbers for September 3 - 9 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, for a
mean of 0. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 70, 69.7, 69.2, 69.5, 70.2,
69.9, and 69.7, with a mean of 69.7. Estimated planetary A indices were
4, 8, 6, 4, 4, 4, and 1, with a mean of 4.4. Middle latitude A index
was 3, 9, 7, 5, 5, 4, and 1, with a mean of 4.9.
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
* September 12 -- Ohio State Parks on the Air (Phone)
* September 12 -- Russian RTTY WW Contest
* September 12 - 13 -- ARRL EME Contest (CW, phone, digital)
* September 12 - 13 -- WAE DX Contest, SSB
* September 12 - 13 -- SARL Field Day Contest (CW, phone, digital)
* September 12 - 13 -- SKCC Weekend Sprintathon (CW)
* September 12 - 13 -- Texas QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* September 12 - 13 -- Alabama QSO Party (CW, phone)
* September 12 - 13 -- Russian Cup Digital Contest
* September 12 - 14 -- ARRL September VHF Contest (CW, phone,
* September 13 -- North American Sprint (CW)
* September 14 -- 4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint (CW, phone)
* September 16 -- RSGB 80-Meter Autumn Series (CW)
* September 17 -- NAQCC CW Sprint
* September 17 -- BCC QSO Party (CW, phone, digital)
* September 18 -- AGB NEMIGA Contest (CW, phone, digital)
See the ARRL Contest Calendar for more information. For in-depth
reporting on amateur radio contesting, subscribe to The ARRL Contest
Update via your ARRL member profile email preferences.
North American CW Sprint is Great Practice for Fall Contesting
The September edition of the North American CW Sprint, sponsored by
National Contest Journal (NCJ), is this weekend. The often-frantic
4-hour event gets under way on Sunday, September 13, at 0000 UTC
(Saturday, September 12 in North American time zones). CW Sprints take
place twice a year, in September and February; RTTY Sprints are in
March and September.
"The CW Sprint can seem intimidating, particularly the first couple of
times with its loud signals and high code speed, but there are some
secrets to getting the hang of things," said veteran contester and
contest manager Ward Silver, N0AX. A unique feature of the CW Sprint is
the "QSY rule," which rewards operating agility as much as signal
strength. Larger stations can't sit on a single frequency racking up
contacts, and more modest stations can make that work in their favor.
"Participation in the year's CW contests has been on the upswing, as
people are staying home due to the pandemic," Silver added, noting that
the September contest offers some solid practice ahead of the various
fall contests, especially ARRL November Sweepstakes.
Silver notes that band conditions during the September Sprint are an
incentive for operators to put more emphasis on 20 meters than in the
February Sprint, because sunset is much later in September. "We will
also be just a week from the equinox, a time when conditions are
usually pretty good on 20 and 40 meters," he pointed out. Eighty meters
will be less noisy than in mid-summer, and if the thunderstorms take a
day off, we can expect coast-to-coast activity."
Silver urged Sprint veterans to encourage fellow hams and club members
to give it a try. "Teams are fun, too, especially for new contesters
and contest club members," he noted. Teams do not have to be associated
with formal clubs.
The QSY rule can be daunting for newcomers. In short, a station calling
CQ on a new, clear frequency may work one responding station on that
frequency and then must move at least 5 kHz before calling CQ again,
and at least 1 kHz before initiating another contact, either by calling
CQ or by responding to another station. The responding station inherits
the initial frequency.
The exchange is both call signs, a consecutive serial number, name, and
state/province/DX. Listening stations can tell which station in a
contact to call by listening to call sign placement in the exchange, as
Silver describes in "Conversation: Having Fun in the North American CW
Sprint," in the September 2 issue of the ARRL Contest Update. Read
K1USN Radio Club Announces New Weekly Slow-Speed CW Contest
The K1USN Radio Club in Massachusetts is launching a new weekly,
hour-long, slow-speed contest, the K1USN SST. The inaugural session
will be on Monday, September 14, from 0000 - 0100 UTC (Sunday,
September 13, in North American time zones). K1USN trustee Pi Pugh,
K1RV, said the decision to embark on sponsorship of a new operating
event involved surveying some 2,000 radio amateurs to gauge their
enthusiasm for such an event. Pugh said the club worked with a group of
CWops members within the club, with the blessing of the CWops CW
Academy visor Group. CWops is not involved in sponsoring the K1USN
The 800 who responded indicated an overwhelming need for some sort of
slow-speed activity as a follow-up to CW Academy, Pugh told ARRL. "It
was a lot of work, but we hope this will prove to be a valuable tool
within the CW community," Pugh said.
Although predicated on the desires of the CW Academy community, Pugh
stressed that the weekly activity will be open to all looking to
improve their CW skills. It can also provide a more comfortable entry
point for those just getting started in CW contesting.
"The weekly 20 WPM or slower SSTs can build confidence to find open
frequencies and begin calling CQ," Pugh suggested. Participants are
advised to be patient, supportive, and willing to slow down as
Suggested frequencies are 3.532 - 3.539 on 80 meters; 7.032 - 7.039 MHz
on 40 meters, and 14.032 - 14.039 MHz on 20 meters. Stations exchange
name and state/province/country. Read more.
* The WA2NYC 9/11 special event commemorates the World Trade Center
attack 19 years ago, when more than 2,900 lost their lives. WA2NYC
will be on the air from September 10 until September 14. Operation
will center on or near 28.450, 21.350, 14.300, and 7.238. QSL cards
are available with an SASE to the club address. Contacts will be
uploaded to Logbook of The World (LoTW).
* Comments are being accepted on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which proposes application fees for
radio amateurs. Formal deadlines for comments and reply comments
will be determined once the NPRM appears in the Federal Register.
Comments may be filed now, however, by using the FCC's Electronic
Comment Filing System (ECFS), posting to MD Docket No. 20-270.
* The Citrus Belt Amateur Radio Club will sponsor its 21st "Route 66
on the Air" special event September 12 - 20, with 21 stations, each
with a 1 A* 1 call sign -- W6A through W6U -- from cities along the
highway. Route 66 is famous in American history as a major highway
from the midwest to the west coast and is associated with American
car culture as well as with the vintage Route 66 television program
in the early 1960s.
* To celebrate their club's 50th anniversary, members of the Texas DX
Society (TDXS) will operate K5DX/50 September 14 - October 13 on
CW, SSB, and FT8 on 1.8 - 28 MHz.
* During September, VE3NOO will operate special event station XM3A to
commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
* Members of the London [Ontario] Amateur Radio Club (LARC) are using
the call sign VE3LON100 through September to mark the centennial of
LARC, one of Canada's oldest amateur radio clubs.
Maine Radio Amateur Dies after Fall from Tower
James Larner, N1ATO, of Bangor, Maine, died on Wednesday, September 2,
after apparently falling a reported 80 feet from an amateur radio tower
in the rural Knox County town of Union. The incident happened just
before 1 PM local time. Said to have been a tower professional who had
done a lot of work for many Maine broadcasters, Larner, an ARRL member,
According to news accounts, Larner was disassembling an antenna on a
tower located on Olson Farm Lane. The Knox County Sheriff's Office and
Union Fire and Rescue responded, and the rescue squad pronounced Larner
dead at the scene. The deceased was equipped with a harness and
carabiner, a close friend on the scene told authorities.
Larner worked part-time as an engineer at News Center Maine's outlet in
Bangor. A News Center Maine article paid tribute to Larner. "Jim was a
lot of fun, always happy to talk, share a story. A smart, hard-working,
real Maine guy," said News Center reporter Don Carrigan. "One of those
people the audience never sees, but whose work was critical to them
being able to watch TV for many, many years."
The Occupational Safety and Health ministration was contacted and
will conduct a follow-up investigation along with the Maine Medical
Examiner's office. -- Thanks to the Bangor Daily News, News Center
Maine, the Rockland Courier-Gazette, and to Norman Blake, W1ITT
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 21 -- Alabama State Convention, Montgomery, Alabama
* December 11 - 12 -- Florida State Convention, Plant City, Florida
Find conventions and hamfests in your area.
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