ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 35
September 15, 2000

IN THIS EDITION:

+Available on ARRL Audio News

ARISS HAM GEAR REACHES DESTINATION

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station initial station equipment plus supplies that the ISS Expedition 1 crew will need later this year were delivered to the ISS this week. After entering the station itself, astronauts and cosmonauts worked to unload the cargo--including the ham gear--from the shuttle Atlantis and from a docked Russian Progress rocket and to set the ISS up for its first crew.

There are three hams on the shuttle Atlantis mission. No Amateur Radio operation will take place from the ISS until the Expedition 1 crew arrives in early November, however, nor will there be any ham activity from the shuttle on this trip.

Astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko during Monday's space walk. [NASA]
Astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, checks supplies inside the shuttle prior to his spacewalk.

On September 11, US astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko completed a more than six-hour space walk. Lu and Malenchenko attached nine power, data and communication cables to the ISS's newest component, the Russian-built Zvezda service module, and to the Zarya control module. They also assembled a magnetometer boom on Zvezda's exterior.

Other amateurs aboard include astronauts Dan Burbank, KC5ZSX, and Richard Mastracchio, KC5ZTE.

Astronaut Dan Burbank, KC5WZX. [NASA Photo]
Astronaut Richard Mastracchio, KC5ZTE. [NASA Photo]

NASA reportedly located a small problem on the Zvezda--a jammed solar panel on one of its wings. The panel failed to unfold following the launch of the module, and NASA says it might have to repair the problem on a later mission. NASA also says one of eight Russian-made batteries used to power the ISS might be malfunctioning.

Atlantis blasted off on schedule last Friday from the Kennedy Space Center. It delivered amateur VHF and UHF hand-held transceivers for the multi-national ARISS program, as well as a TNC for packet, a specially developed headset and signal adapter module plus power adapters and interconnecting cables. The gear will be stowed aboard the ISS until the Expedition 1 crew of US astronaut Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, and Russian Cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Yuri Gaidzenko come aboard.

The ARISS initial station gear will be installed temporarily aboard Zarya and will use an existing antenna that's being adapted to support FM voice and packet on 2 meters. The gear will be re-installed in the Zvezda Service Module next year, and it will have both 2-meter and 70-cm capabilities. A Russian call sign, RZ3DZR, has been issued for the ISS ham radio station.

For more information about Amateur Radio on the ISS and SAREX, visit the ARISS Web site.

MORTON IS NEW ROCKY MOUNTAIN VICE DIRECTOR

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, this week appointed Warren G. "Rev" Morton, WS7W, of Casper, Wyoming, as Rocky Mountain Division Vice Director. He fills the vacancy left when former Rocky Mountain Director and Vice Director Marshall Quiat, AG0X, stepped down as Vice Director earlier this summer for health reasons. Morton's appointment is effective immediately.

Morton will complete Quiat's term of office, which runs through next year. The ARRL Board of Directors last month elected Quiat to be an ARRL Honorary Vice President.

Morton served two terms as Wyoming Section Manager, from 1993 until 1997. While in that office, he spearheaded the successful effort to enact a PRB-1 bill in his state. (Morton's efforts are detailed in "Wyoming Hams Corral City and County Antenna Restrictions," QST, July 1998.) The bill was signed into law in 1997.

Members may write Morton at 1341 Trojan Dr, Casper, WY 82609, call him at 307-235-2799, or e-mail him at ws7w@arrl.org.


AO-27 IS BACK ON THE AIR!

The AO-27 satellite has returned to analog Amateur Radio service. AO-27 ground controller Chuck Wyrick, KM4NZ, reports the satellite showed up on its first North American daylight pass on September 9.

Wyrick advises operators to wait until they hear the satellite in analog mode--ie, no data being sent--before transmitting on the 145.850 MHz uplink frequency. AO-27's downlink is 436.800 MHz.

Wyrick says the AO-27 analog FM repeater will be turned off for a few days at a time over the next few months so ground controllers can gather whole orbital data to verify the health of the satellite.

AO-27's computer crashed July 31, and it took more than one attempt to reload the software and get the satellite up and running again.

"A lot of work has saved AO-27 for many more enjoyable amateur QSOs," Wyrick said in a posting to the AMSAT bulletin board.

US VICTIM OF WEST TIMOR VIOLENCE ALSO AN AMATEUR

It's been learned that not one but two of the victims of mob violence September 6 in West Timor, Indonesia, were Amateur Radio operators. Carlos Luis Caceres, KD4SYB, a Technician licensee from Jacksonville, Florida, was 33. He was an ARRL member and a native of Puerto Rico. Caceres' name had been misspelled in several media reports about the killings.

Caceres, Pero Simundza, 9A4SP, of Croatia, and Samson Aregahegn of Ethiopia--all United Nations relief workers--died September 6 when thousands of armed pro-Indonesian militiamen and their supporters stormed a UN office in Atambua, West Timor, killing the three and injuring several others. Witnesses say Indonesian security forces stood by and did nothing to stop the violence. The killings were believed to be related to the earlier murder of a militia leader the day before.

All three victims worked for the UN High Commission for Refugees, providing humanitarian aid to refugees from East Timor, which voted last year to break away from Indonesia and is now administered by the UN. An estimated 90,000 refugees remain in West Timor border camps after fleeing violence in East Timor a year ago.

In an eerie e-mail message reportedly sent to UNHCR Headquarters the day he was killed, Caceres spoke of the UN workers being barricaded at their stations waiting for "a wave of violence" to hit. "The militias are on the way," he wrote, "and I am sure they will do their best to demolish this office." Caceres told his colleague that the remaining UN staff members were "like bait, unarmed, waiting for the wave to hit."

Caceres' sister, Elba M. Caceres, was among those wanting to know why no one was there to protect the workers who stayed behind. "I could not comprehend how the United Nations was not there to protect them," she said in a message to several US Department of State officials in which she described her brother as "an extraordinary man" and demanded an explanation for what led to the killings.

Caceres' father, Gregorio Caceres, KA4UXJ, said his son was fluent in several languages and held degrees in journalism and law. "His ability with different languages and his vast legal knowledge helped him perform at the international level," the elder Caceres said.

Memorial Web sites for the two amateurs killed were established at http://www.qsl.net/kd4syb and http://www.qsl.net/9a4sp.

FCC CANCELS LICENSE OF "CAPTAIN TRUTH" SUSPECT

The FCC has cancelled the license of the individual it strongly suspects was "Captain Truth." The Commission notified John M. Yount of Newton, North Carolina, on September 5 that it was canceling his Amateur Extra class ticket because he failed to appear for re-examination. Yount had held the call sign K4QIJ.

The FCC zeroed in on Yount last spring as a prime suspect in its "Captain Truth" investigation into unidentified Amateur Radio transmissions and malicious interference. FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth wrote Yount on March 29, citing FCC and other close-in monitoring evidence that indicated Yount's station was the source of "malicious interference and jamming" on 20 and 75 meters.

Hollingsworth said this week that "Captain Truth" has not been heard on the air since the FCC's initial letter to Yount on March 29. After failing to get a satisfactory reply, Hollingsworth wrote Yount in July requesting that he retake his examinations under the supervision of an ARRL-VEC volunteer examiner team on or before September 1. "And he never showed up," Hollingsworth said.

The FCC says radio-direction finding bearings led to Yount's residence and antenna. Part of its monitoring evidence resulted from work done by the FCC's High-Frequency Direction Finding facility in Columbia, Maryland, the FCC said.

Yount suggested in his only reply to the FCC that there were a lot of vehicles and other houses on his property and that someone else could have been responsible for the transmissions the FCC had monitored and tracked.

Hollingsworth said he wrote Yount again on June 1 to seek clarification and additional information in the ongoing investigation before sending the retesting notice on July 17. "I never heard from him again," Hollingsworth said.

FCC DENIES AMATEUR PETITIONS

The FCC this week denied three petitions for reconsideration filed by Amateur Radio operators. All of the petitions were turned down because the FCC said they had not been filed properly.

In separate orders released September 11, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, dismissed the petitions of Lawrence Gutter, ex-WA2YTO, and Richard E. Jamison, KG6ARN and ex-K1OTO. Both had sought reconsideration of the FCC's denial of their license renewal applications.

Gutter's and Jamison's licenses both expired in late 1997, and the two filed for renewal in late 1999. Both filed at or near the end of their two-year grace periods. Neither included their Taxpayer Identification Number--typically a Social Security Number for an individual--on his renewal application, and the FCC promptly dismissed both applications.

Citing their earlier ignorance of the FCC's TIN requirement, Gutter and Jamison sent second applications that included their TINs to Gettysburg after their grace periods had expired.

In an Order released September 12, the FCC also turned down the Petition for Reconsideration filed by Charles W. Heard, W4CO and formerly W2FLA. Heard had sought reconsideration of the October 1999 denial of his application for the vanity call sign W4FX. The call sign went instead to another applicant, Robert C. Williams, formerly KA4H. Both had filed electronic applications for W4FX on August 16, 1999. Heard contended that the FCC erred in assigning W4FX due to a handling error and because of misuse of the system. The FCC Order said Heard's allegations "lack merit" and that the ULS "processes mutually exclusive vanity call sign applications received on the same day in random order." The system selected Williams as the recipient on October 28, 1999.

But in the end, the FCC dismissed all three petitions as "improperly filed," because they were sent to the FCC's office in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, rather than to Washington, DC, and were not received by the FCC Secretary's office within 30 days, as FCC rules require.

In footnotes to the Gutter and Jamison rulings, however, the FCC strongly suggested that their petitions would have been denied even if they had been properly filed. The Commission said the fact that Gutter and Jamison were unaware of the TIN requirement was not sufficient justification for the reinstatement of their licenses.

The FCC also said Gutter and Jamison could have avoided problems by not waiting until the end of their grace periods to file for license renewal. Jamison got licensed again in March after taking the Amateur Extra-class exam battery over from scratch. Gutter, who had held a General ticket, remains unlicensed.

UK-CANADA CROSSBAND LF QSO COMPLETED

In the spirit of the early transatlantic tests, a crossband LF-HF contact between the United Kingdom and Canada was completed September 10. The contact involved well-known LFer Dave Bowman, G0MRF, operating on 135.711 kHz and John Currie, VE1ZJ, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, operating on 20 meters.

"Dave had a surprisingly strong signal into FN95, Cape Breton Island," Currie said in an e-mail message to André Kesteloot, N4ICK, who's involved with the AMRAD LF experiment in the US.

Using spectral software, Currie reports that he observed "weak dashes" from G0MRF just after 2205 UTC on September 9. He says noise was extremely low. Shortly after sunset on Cape Breton Island he observed a lot of dashes. "It looked like G0MRF was coming across the pond," he said. Bowman's signal was never audible in Canada.

Currie said he had "solid copy on G0MRF" by 2245 UTC, and the crossband QSO was completed on September 10 at 0008 UTC. "I could see every dot and dash," he reported. By 0100 he could no longer copy the signal, and by 0250 UTC they were fading. "I did not see them on the spectrogram again," he reported.

Bowman says he was operating from a 15th floor West London apartment, the home of Sean Griffin, 2E1AXK. The antenna was two sloping 250-foot long wires about 80 degrees apart. Grounding was via the building's plumbing. Loading involved fixed and variable inductors. Bowman estimated maximum power into the antenna at 700 W, but at one point, he dropped his power to about 320 W and VE1ZJ was still copying. "Even allowing for the large antenna, I believe this shows that many UK/EU stations will be able to make the transatlantic path this winter," Bowman said.

Canada has not yet authorized Amateur Radio operation at 136 kHz, but some stations have been given permission to experiment there. Larry Kayser, VA3LK, and Mitch Powell, VE3OT, completed the first two-way LF contact in Canada on July 22 on 136 kHz, using very slow-speed CW (dubbed "QRSS"). Kayser is testing equipment and processes in preparation for the TransAtlantic II attempt on LF set to occur November 10-27 from Newfoundland. TransAtlantic II will attempt to span the Atlantic in both directions on LF. Details on the project are available.

Bowman's "G0MRF Projects Web-Site" is at http://www.g0mrf.freeserve.co.uk/.

The Amateur Radio Research and Development Corporation--AMRAD--has been involved in a low-frequency experimental beacon project in the Northern Virginia-Washington, DC vicinity. AMRAD has been conducting tests on 136.75 kHz from 12 Northern Virginia sites using the experimental call sign WA2XTF. Visit the AMRAD Web page for more information.

The ARRL has petitioned the FCC (51,929 bytes, PDF file) for two low-frequency amateur allocations.

SOLAR UPDATE

Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: The sun has been almost spotless this week, which seems odd for what is supposed to be the peak period of activity for solar Cycle 23. The Boulder Sunspot Number went all the way down to 27 on Monday, and the average sunspot number for this reporting week (Thursday through Wednesday) was a tiny bit over half of last week's average. Monday's index was the lowest sunspot number of this year. What we are experiencing now is the wide variation in activity that can be observed even at the peak of the solar cycle.

Activity for the past few days has been picking up, and the latest solar flux forecast for Friday through next Thursday is 160 for Friday and Saturday, and 170 for Sunday through Thursday. Solar flux is expected to stay above 150 until October 5, then reach the next minimum around 125 on October 10 or 11.

Planetary A indices predicted for Friday through next Thursday are 45, 12, 12, 10, 12, 12 and 10. The high A index forecast for Friday is probably due to the M-Class solar flare which erupted at 1213 UTC on Tuesday. Shortly after this flare, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded a spectacular and fast-moving full-halo coronal mass ejection. The result may be mid-latitude auroral displays, along with a minor to major geomagnetic storm.

Next week is the autumnal equinox, a time when HF conditions should be at their best. Let's hope that the sun cooperates, and gives us more sunspots and less solar flares.

Sunspot numbers for September 7 through 13 were 160, 115, 116, 69, 27, 38 and 96 with a mean of 88.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 173.2, 163.4, 150.9, 140.6, 134.9, 132.6 and 133.2, with a mean of 147. The estimated planetary A indices were 16, 21, 7, 5, 5, 20 and 10 with a mean of 12.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The ARRL 10 GHz and Up Cumulative Contest, the QCWA QSO Party, the Air Force Anniversary QSO Party, the Washington State Salmon Run, the Scandinavian Activity Contest (CW) and the Tennessee QSO Party are the weekend of September 16-17. Just ahead: The Scandinavian Activity Contest (SSB), the CQ/RJ WW RTTY Contest, the Alabama Heart of Dixie QSO Party, and the 2000 Fall Classic (and Homebrew) Radio Exchange are the weekend of September 23-25. See September QST, page 102, for details.

  • Emergency Communications course site moved: The Emergency Communication (EmCom) Certification pilot project outline and related materials have been moved. If you experience any problems with the new URL or have any other questions or concerns, contact ARRL Certification Specialist Dan Miller, K3UFG, k3ufg@arrl.org; 860-594-0340. Miller says the program is proceeding on target, and Part 1 of Level I is expected to debut in late October.

  • Alpha/Power to cease linear manufacturing: Amateur linear amplifier manufacturer Alpha/Power Inc of Longmont, Colorado, has announced plans to cease engineering and manufacturing operations once the current run of Alpha 87A and 99 amplifiers is completed.

    Alpha/Power said that that warranty and post-warranty service will continue to be available. Dick Ehrhorn, W0ID/W4ETO, says that "a combination of health issues and family obligations" has made it impossible for John Brosnahan, W0UN, the president and technical director of Alpha/Power, to continue at his present pace with Alpha/Power. Ehrhorn said he's "not willing to risk that Alpha legacy" with someone else, "Nor am I aware of any person or entity with the desire, the proven ability, the commitment, and the resources to acquire Alpha and perpetuate the standards to which we've been dedicated for thirty-one years." Ehrhorn says the company remains open to "serious discussions," however. In 1996, Ehrhorn and Dave Wilson, AA0RS/G3SZA, bought back the Alpha amplifier business from ETO, which had merged with Applied Science and Technology in 1995. Ehrhorn founded ETO in 1970 and designed all the early Alpha linears. By 1995, it was a $20-million company. For more information, visit the Alpha/Power Web site.--Alpha/Power news release

  • Coordinator steps into the void in New York, New Jersey: A new, independent agency has been formed to provide Amateur Radio frequency coordination for the New York City/Long Island, Northern New Jersey, and downstate New York region. The Metropolitan Coordination Association Inc--or MetroCor--was organized by a volunteer group of concerned Amateurs. MetroCor intends to address spectrum usage issues in one of the most densely populated areas of the country, which has been without such services for several years. MetroCor has notified the FCC, the National Frequency Coordinators' Council Inc, the ARRL, and the spectrum management councils in adjacent states of its intention to voluntarily provide coordination services for facilities operating on frequencies above 29.5 MHz. The ARRL's Brennan Price, N4QX--the League's point man for repeater and coordination issues--says MetroCor is the only entity that has notified the ARRL of its intention to provide coordination services for the region. But he points out that the ARRL does not certify frequency coordinators. "Frequency coordinators derive their authority from the voluntary participation of the local amateur community that they serve," he said. MetroCor has defined its service area to include Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties in New York, and the Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren counties in New Jersey. These areas, along with Dutchess County in New York, and the entire state of Connecticut, formerly were served by the Tri-State Amateur Radio Club. TSARC has been inactive for several years. Additional details are available on MetroCor's Web site or by calling MetroCor evenings before 10 PM at 973-875-4772; e-mail metrocor@qsl.net.--MetroCor news release; ARRL

  • Florida ham is 2000 State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year: ARRL member David Myers, W4USA, of Orange Park, Florida, has been selected as the 2000 Florida State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. He was honored at the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association conference in August.

    Dave Myers, W4USA

    Myers heads the Fraudulent Identification Program through the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco under the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The program is known nationally, and Myers is recognized as one of the nation's leading experts in fraudulent identification Internet issues. "Some 30 percent of the fake IDs authorities now see in Florida are produced on the Internet, up from 5 percent last year and 1 percent two years ago," said Myers. He says some fake ID sites get more than 10,000 inquiries a day, and that operators can generate more than $1 million a year. Frequently sought out by news media for his expertise, Myers testified last May before the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on fraudulent identification and credentials on the Internet. He has closed 33 Internet sites and has an impressive record of 310 arrests for possession of false IDs.--Department of Business & Professional Regulation news release.

  • SETI League receives moonbounce grant: The SETI League Inc has received a small equipment grant from the American Astronomical Society to help it construct a transmitter to bounce microwave signals off the moon's surface.

    The project, "A Lunar Reflective Test Beacon for Radio Astronomy and SETI," will enable amateur and professional radio astronomers to calibrate their receiving systems by providing a stable reference signal from a known point in the sky. "We should be ready to start bouncing interesting microwave signals off the lunar surface early in 2001," said Paul Shuch, N6TX, the SETI League's executive director. The SETI League, a nonprofit organization that's spearheading a privately funded search for evidence of extraterrestrial life--has 1200 members in 59 countries. Many of them also are Amateur Radio operators. For more information, visit the SETI League Web site or email info@setileague.org.--SETI League news release

  •  

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