ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 19, No. 39
October 13, 2000
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Phase 3D launch delayed
* +FCC cuts a deal in amateur enforcement case
* +Two hams aboard 100th shuttle mission
* +FCC questions business transmissions on ham bands
* +ARRL HQ e-mail system recovering
* +Nominations open for ARRL Professional Media Award
* +N8UR is new TAPR president
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     DARA accepting scholarship applications
     FCC set to authorize MURS
     FCC extends filing period in UWB proceeding
     K2BSA/1 on the air from Connecticut's ScoutShow 2000
     ARDF World Championship special event
     Special event AX2GAMES

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================

==>PHASE 3D LAUNCH DELAYED

AMSAT News Service reports the launch of the next-generation Phase 3D
Amateur Radio satellite has been delayed until mid-November. The launch
agency, Arianespace, had tentatively planned to launch Phase 3D and three
other payloads on or about October 31 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. A new
tentative launch date for Ariane Flight 135 has not been announced.

AMSAT-DL Executive Vice President Peter Gülzow, DB2OS, has indicated to ANS
that one of the payloads scheduled to travel into space with Phase 3D has
not yet arrived at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, but was
due to be there "very shortly." Once on-site, the payload still must undergo
a detailed launch preparation campaign similar to the one Phase 3D now is
completing. In addition to Phase 3D, the Ariane 5 will attempt to orbit the
PanAmSat PAS 1R communications satellite and two British Space Technology
Research Vehicle microsatellites, STRV 1C and STRV 1D.

Gülzow says Phase 3D's fueling operations now are complete. Loading of
ammonia was the last step in the fueling process--Phase 3D is only the
world's second satellite to use ammonia in its fuel. The satellite also will
carry dinitrogen tetroxide, an oxidizer, and monoethylhydrazine, a fuel.
Loading each chemical fuel took approximately two days--the first to set up
the operation and the second for the actual fueling.

Phase 3D team members already have checked out the RF, computer, electronic,
and mechanical systems for the satellite before buttoning it up for the last
time prior to launch. Phase 3D's solar cells were fitted and tested using
high-intensity lights to verify electrical output and battery charging
capabilities. In addition, the satellite was fitted into the support bearing
structure--or SBS--that will cradle Phase 3D on its ride into space.

Phase 3D soon will be moved into the final assembly building at the European
Spaceport, where the satellite will be mated to the Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

The new satellite, at more than 1400 pounds and nearly 20 feet across, will
be the largest Amateur Radio payload ever put into space. Once in space,
Phase 3D will be nudged by its onboard thrusters into an elliptical orbit
that will put it at 4000 km (approximately 2485 miles) from Earth at its
nearest point and 47,700 km (approximately 29,900 miles) at its farthest.
The satellite, with an estimated ten-year lifespan, will provide Amateur
Radio coverage over North America, Europe and the Far East on several bands
from HF through microwave.

Gülzow has reminded satellite operators planning to use Phase 3D that it
could be a few months after launch before the satellite is ready for general
amateur use. 

For more information, visit the AMSAT-NA Web site, http://www.amsat.org/.

==>FCC CUTS DEAL IN TEXAS AMATEUR INTERFERENCE CASE

A Texas amateur facing an $8000 fine in a malicious interference case
instead will give up his Amateur Radio license for five years and make a
voluntary contribution to the US Treasury. In exchange, the FCC will drop
the fine. The FCC this week adopted a consent decree terminating the
forfeiture proceeding against Technician licensee Robert L. Meyers, N5WLY.

Last spring, the FCC affirmed $8000 fines levied on Meyers and General
licensee Paul E. Holcombe, K4TOF, both of Houston. The two were charged with
causing malicious interference on a local repeater and with failing to
identify. 

The terms of the agreement call for Meyers to turn in his amateur license
and to agree to not reapply for a period of five years. In addition, Meyers
has agreed to make a voluntary $1000 contribution to the US Treasury. In
return, the FCC will cancel its Forfeiture Order against Meyers--$7000 for
malicious interference and $1000 for failing to identify. 

The consent decree only affects the case against Meyers, who has
demonstrated to the FCC that he was financially unable to pay the fine. "We
are proceeding to collection of the Holcombe forfeiture," FCC Special
Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth said. He indicated
that Meyers now is cooperating with the FCC in its investigation.

Meyers and Holcombe each received a Forfeiture Order last May from the FCC's
Houston office. The fines followed an FCC investigation last year that
involved the use of direction-finding equipment to track interfering signals
to Holcolmbe's and Meyers' vehicles. As part of the consent decree, Meyers
agrees to not contest the findings of the Forfeiture Order, but he does not
admit that he committed the violations either.

After the FCC first sent a Notice of Violation and then a Notice of Apparent
Liability to each licensee, each responded by denying the allegations. The
FCC was unconvinced by their assertions, and said their denials were
contradicted by the observations of the FCC agent, who surreptitiously
observed each vehicle while the Memorial Emergency Repeater Association's
145.47 machine in Houston was being interfered with.

==>TWO HAMS ABOARD 100TH SHUTTLE MISSION

After delays due to bad weather, a possibly problematic retracting bolt, a
sluggish valve and a halted countdown to remove a stray tool, the shuttle
Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral the evening of October 11. The
launch was the 100th of the space shuttle program.

Two Amateur Radio operators are aboard Discovery. They include Mission
Commander Brian Duffy, N5WQW, and Mission Specialist Koichi Wakata, KC5ZTA,
who will represent NASDA, the Japanese Space Agency. No Amateur Radio
activity is scheduled for this mission, however. Others aboard Discovery
will include Pilot Pam Melroy, and mission specialists Leroy Chiao, Bill
McArthur, Jeff Wisoff, and Mike Lopez-Alegria.

Discovery is on the fifth shuttle construction mission to the International
Space Station and the last before the arrival of the ISS Expedition 1 crew
in early November. Two new segments of the ISS are in the shuttle's cargo
bay--a new docking port for use by future shuttle missions and a nine-ton
exterior framework.

Shuttle mission STS-92 had been scheduled to launch on October 5, but
inclement weather, concerns over a retracting bolt assembly, and a faulty
engine valve delayed the launch until this week. Then, with the crew aboard
and the countdown running Wednesday, NASA personnel spotted a stray metal
pin apparently left behind by a worker on a support strut between the
orbiter and the shuttle's giant fuel tank.

Launch managers decided to halt the countdown at T-minus 20 minutes and roll
the launch tower back into place to retrieve the pin. An investigation is
under way to determine how it was left behind and not accounted for.

The ISS exterior framework--called the Z1 truss--will be attached to the
expanding station. The Z1 will house gyroscopes and communications equipment
that will provide future "balance" for the outpost as well as enhanced voice
and television capability. A conical mating adapter called Pressurized
Mating Adapter 3 will be attached, providing an additional shuttle docking
port. During the 11-day mission, Wakata will use the shuttle's robotic arm
to attach the framework and mating adapter to the station's Unity module.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station initial station gear was
delivered last month by the shuttle Atlantis. The equipment has been stowed
aboard the ISS until the Expedition 1 crew of US astronaut Bill Shepherd,
KD5GSL, and Russian Cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Yuri Gidzenko
come aboard for a four-month stay. The Expedition 1 crew launch currently is
targeted for October 30 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.--from
NASA news releases and press reports

==>FCC QUESTIONS POSSIBLE "CORPORATE RAIDERS" ON HAM BANDS

With complaints involving Amateur Radio licensees on the decline, FCC
Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth has been
focusing more on unlicensed activity. In a few recent cases, he's questioned
businesses about transmissions monitored on amateur bands.

In late September, the FCC sent a Warning Notice to Friendly Tree Services
of Orange, New Jersey, after members of the amateur community there
monitored what appeared to be business-related communications on 2 meters.
Citing "information before the Commission," Hollingsworth dropped Friendly
Tree a line on September 29 to inquire about transmissions monitored on
144.085 MHz. Monitoring information provided to the FCC indicated that an
apparently unlicensed station was conducting business on 2 meters using a
"base station and at least four trucks." The amateurs made the connection
with the tree service after overhearing directions to a particular street
address given over the air. The amateurs drove to the address and spotted
one of the company's trucks and a worker at the site.

Another Warning Notice went out in late September to Inland Materials Inc of
Casselberry, Florida. That Notice cited information alleging that the
company was transmitting on 438.537 MHz without a license. According to
Hollingsworth, amateur reports indicated that one channel of the company's
business radio system transmits on an amateur frequency, but he said it was
unclear if this was by design or simply an error. 

Hollingsworth has advised the two companies that unlicensed operation is a
violation of federal law that could result in a fine of up to $10,000 and
jeopardize any FCC licenses the companies already hold. Hollingsworth
requested both firms to contact him within 10 days to discuss the matter.

The FCC also notified AT&T Wireless PCS in late September to inquire about
allegations that the PCS system's KNLF245 in Newport News, Virginia, may be
causing harmful interference to the KA4VXR Amateur Radio repeater in nearby
Hampton. The FCC requested that AT&T contact the repeater system's trustee
to "explore a solution to the problem" and to advise the FCC of its
findings.

The FCC is continuing to investigate allegations raised earlier this year
that the Citipage Plus paging system in Las Vegas, Nevada, has been causing
harmful interference to the N7OK repeater on 147.09 MHz.

==>ARRL HEADQUARTERS E-MAIL RESUSCITATED, RECOVERING

The ARRL Headquarters e-mail system appears to be on its way to a full
recovery. The system is again running--albeit sluggishly--and efforts
continue to clear remaining problems.

The system went down over the Columbus Day weekend. Although some e-mail
managed to trickle in and out of ARRL Headquarters during the week, the
system was shut down to users for the better part of four days. ARRL
Information Systems Department Manager Don Durand said that recovery
utilities used in the wake of the crash apparently did the trick. E-mail
service in and out of ARRL Headquarters was restarted at noon Thursday
Eastern Time. Staff members were still catching up on their e-mail traffic
by week's end.

Durand has emphasized that the problems with the Headquarters e-mail system
have not affected the ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service.

The e-mail system problems arose after a Headquarters staff member routinely
set up his ARRL account to forward e-mail to his personal AOL e-mail account
while he was out of town. When the staffer's AOL in basket became full and
refused to accept new messages, however, e-mail began bouncing back to his
ARRL account. At that point, the League's e-mail server attempted to send
the bounced traffic back to AOL, creating a "feedback loop" that eventually
led to the corruption of software on the League's e-mail server.

Because of the e-mail problems, ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson,
N1ND, has extended until October 18, 2000 the deadline to submit entries for
the ARRL September VHF QSO Party. He also has recommended that anyone who
submitted a log after October 5 should resubmit the entry.

==>NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 2000 PROFESSIONAL MEDIA AWARD

The ARRL is accepting nominations for the 2000 Professional Media Award,
which pays tribute to the late CBS News President Bill Leonard, W2SKE. The
award goes each year to a professional journalist whose coverage best
reflects the enjoyment, importance and public service value of Amateur
Radio. The deadline for entries is December 15, 2000. 

Nominations will be judged by ARRL's Public Relations Committee, and the
winner will be recommended to the Board of Directors for consideration at
its January 2001 meeting. The winner receives a plaque and a cash award of
$500.

Leonard was an avid Amateur Radio operator most active in the 1960s and
1970s. In Amateur Radio circles, he is remembered for his 1958 contribution
to Sports Illustrated, "The Battle of the Hams,"
(http://hamradio-online.com/1996/jan/hams.html) which covered the "sport" of
DX contesting. In addition to describing Amateur Radio and identifying some
of the notables of the day, the article details the K2GL operation during
the 1958 running of the ARRL International DX Contest. 

Leonard was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1996.

Last year's award went to Jeff Holland, staff writer for the Monroe, NC,
Enquirer Journal. 

For more information about the award or to obtain a nomination form and
entry rules, contact ARRL Media Relations Manager Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY,
jhagy@arrl.org ; 860-594-0328. 

==>TAPR ELECTS NEW OFFICERS

John Ackermann, N8UR, is the new president of TAPR--Tucson Amateur Packet
Radio. Ackermann was elected during TAPR's annual board meeting, held in
conjunction with the 19th ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference in
Orlando, Florida, September 21-24.

Ackermann, who had served as TAPR's vice president, succeeds Greg Jones,
WD5IVD, who had served as president since 1993. Steve Bible, N7HPR, was
chosen to replace Ackermann as vice president. Bob Hanson, N2GDE, was
re-elected secretary, and Jim Neely, WA5LHS, remains treasurer. Ackermann
credited Jones with leading TAPR through a period of growth and innovation.
"His retirement leaves a void in TAPR that will be hard to fill."

An ARRL member, Ackermann, who formerly was AG9V, lives in Dayton, Ohio, and
has served on the TAPR Board of Directors and as vice president since 1995.
Bible, a League member who lives in Kingsland, Georgia, has been a TAPR
Board member since 1996. He is leading TAPR's development of a road map to
develop software defined radio technology for amateur use.

Ackermann said that his primary objective will be to ensure that TAPR
remains on the cutting edge of radio technology, with a special emphasis on
emerging concepts such as software defined radios. The annual Digital
Communications Conference attracted 135 amateurs. The DCC includes a
presentation of technical papers, hands-on demonstrations, and beginner's
sessions.

Proceedings from the 19th ARRL/TAPR 2000 Digital Communications Conference
are available from ARRL for $15. Order Item 8144. DCC 2001 will be held in
Cincinnati, Ohio, September 21-23, 2001.--TAPR

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and
sunspot numbers were down again this week. Average sunspot numbers were down
by more than 66 points, and average solar flux by almost 43 when compared to
the previous week.

We are surely at the peak of this solar cycle. Since there is so much daily
variation in solar indices, we won't know until much later when the peak
actually occurred, however. Solar watchers and HF radio aficionados wonder
if during the final quarter the sun will give us some more activity,
yielding a later peak.

Geomagnetic indices were very quiet from October 6-9. Solar flux reached a
recent short term minimum of 139.6 on October 10. Activity is again
increasing. Planetary A index was expected to rise to 35 on Friday, October
13, then hit 15 the next day and 12 for Sunday and Monday. Solar flux values
for the same four days are predicted to be 170, 180, 195 and 205. The
current rise in geomagnetic activity is due to a full halo coronal mass
ejection October 9. 

Solar flux is expected to peak at 220 around October 18 and 19, and not dip
below 200 until October 28. The next short term solar flux minimum is
expected around November 5-7. Average solar flux predicted for the next 45
days is 191, which is a bit higher than the average for the first three
quarters of this year.

Sunspot numbers for October 5 through 11 were 145, 127, 94, 128, 106, 95 and
131, with a mean of 118. The 10.7-cm flux was 173.8, 158.1, 155.6, 148.9,
140.8, 139.6 and 151.4, with a mean of 152.6. The estimated planetary A
indices were 96, 6, 7, 5, 5, 12 and 14 with a mean of 20.7.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The Pennsylvania QSO Party, the FISTS CW Fall
Sprint, and the ARRL International EME Competition are the weekend of
October 14-15. JUST AHEAD: The Arkansas and Illinois QSO parties, the
VK/ZL/Oceania Contest (CW) and the RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest (SSB) are the
weekend of October 21-22. See October QST, page 100, for details. 

* DARA accepting scholarship applications: The Dayton Amateur Radio
Association now is accepting applications for its annual scholarships.
Applicants must be graduating high school seniors in 2001 and hold a valid
FCC Amateur Radio license of any class. The DARA scholarships are awarded in
varying amounts up to $2000, as determined by the scholarship committee, and
may be used for tuition at an institution of higher learning as outlined in
the application. To obtain an application, send a self-addressed stamped
envelope to DARA Scholarships, 45 Cinnamon Ct, Springboro, OH 45066.
Applications must be postmarked by June 1, 20001.--Stan Kuck, NY8F

* FCC set to authorize MURS: With no fanfare, the FCC is set to authorize a
new Citizens Band Radio Service to be called the Multi-Use Radio Service, or
MURS. The service, which came about as part of the biennial review of Part
90 of the FCC's rules, will deploy five former Private Land Mobile Radio
Service VHF "color dot" channels for voice, data and imaging transmissions.
The channels, 151.82, 151.88, 151.94, 154.57 and 154.60--will be authorized
for up to 2 W on an unlicensed basis under Part 95 of the FCC's rules. The
establishment of MURS was buried within a huge Report and Order and Further
Notice of Proposed Rule Making released this summer as WT Docket 98-182 and
PR Docket 92-235. The FCC said it will "revisit" the issue of allocating
additional MURS channels "at a later date should additional support
develop." The effective date to deploy MURS is pending completion of the FCC
proceeding.--FCC 

* FCC extends filing period in UWB proceeding: The FCC has extended the time
period to file reply comments in is proceeding to revise Part 15 regarding
ultra-wideband transmission systems (ET Docket 98-153). The deadline has
been extended to October 27.--FCC Daily Digest  

* K2BSA/1 on the air from Connecticut's ScoutShow 2000: The Boy Scouts of
America K2BSA station will be on the air October 13-15 from Connecticut
Rivers Council's ScoutShow 2000 on the Connecticut shoreline. Nearly 7000
Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Leaders are expected to attend
ScoutShow 2000 at Hammonasset State Park. Two stations will be on the air.
ARRL Headquarters staff member Larry Wolfgang, WR1B, will be among those on
hand.

* ARDF World Championship special event: Special event station BT4ARDF will
be on the air October 13-18 to commemorate the 10th Amateur Radio Direction
Finding World Championship in Nanjing, China. BT4ARDF will be active on 40
through 10 meters, SSB and CW. QSL via the operator's home call sign. The
Chinese Radio Sports Association will host this year's event from October 13
through 18 in Nanjing City. A dozen US entrants under team captain Dale
Hunt, WB6BYU, are competing for individual and team medals in separate
events on 80 and two meters. The ARRL is covering the entry fees and food,
lodging, and transportation expenses of Team USA while it's in China--The
Daily DX; Joe Moell, K0OV

* Special event AX2GAMES: Members of the Manly-Warringah Radio Society in
Sydney, Australia, activated the special call sign AX2GAMES during the
Olympics. AX2GAMES will reactivate for the Paralympics October 28-29.
Activity will be mostly on 20, 15 and 10 meters. QSL via VK2PS.--Richard
Murnane, VK2SKY

=========================================================== 
The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
http://www.arrl.org. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest
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The ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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