*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 19, No. 45 November 24, 2000 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Limited AO-40 use possible soon * +ARRL Board to consider Morse policy review * +First ISS ham contacts made * +ARRL VEC anticipates higher 2001 test fee * +SMs elected in 10 ARRL sections * +Nominations still open for ARRL awards * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio CQ WW CW announced operations list +ULS scheduled to be down +Hatfield announces retirement from FCC +Coast Guard to honor MARS operator Ham help solicited in owl searches Prairie DX Group on air from Vanuatu DSP satellite transceiver project reflector open Badger State Smoke Signals to be delayed +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== EDITOR's NOTE: Because ARRL Headquarters is closed November 23-24 for the Thanksgiving holiday, the November 24 editions of The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News are being posted Wednesday, November 22. The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will resume their normal Friday schedule on December 1. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday!--Rick Lindquist, N1RL =========================================================== ==> LIMITED AO-40 USE POSSIBLE IN NEAR FUTURE AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, says plans are in place to make AO-40 available for a limited period of general amateur use "possibly within a week or two." Launched November 16, the next-generation Amateur Radio satellite formerly known as Phase 3D remains for now in a geostationary transfer orbit while initial housekeeping and checkout procedures are under way. The satellite's final high elliptical orbit will not be established for another nine months. Just when and how the "limited operation" will occur is up to the ground controllers, Haigton said. The provisional operation would involve "one or two bands at a time," he said. Since the satellite's solar panels will not be deployed until AO-40 is in its final orbit, full power will not be available. Details of the limited test period will be announced via AMSAT bulletins and via the AO-40 telemetry beacon on 2 meters, which also is transmitting text messages. (For more information on receiving AO-40 telemetry, visit the AMSAT-NA "AO-40 Telemetry" page, http://www.amsat.org/amsat/sats/ao40/ao40-tlm.html.) In a bulletin released Monday, AMSAT stressed that the Phase 3D/AO-40 controllers were closely monitoring the power budget and the satellite's current orbital parameters. "These two areas will be among the most important factors that determine what happens with P3D in the near future," the AMSAT bulletin said. From all indications, most AO-40 systems are working properly at this point, with the possible exception of the 70-cm transmitter. According to a status report from Phase 3D Project Manager Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, "a problem with the 70 cm transmitter" led controllers to shift the telemetry downlink from 70 cm to 2 meters (145.898 MHz). Meinzer said AO-40's two 2.4 GHz transmitters were operated and are okay. Haighton said the most likely configurations for the limited test period would be Mode U/V (Mode B)--70 cm up and 2 meters down--and Mode L/S--1.2 GHz up and 2.4 GHz down, SSB and CW. AMSAT says there's still a lot of work to do until AO-40 will be fully ready for general Amateur Radio use. AO-40's geostationary transfer orbit puts it some 500 km from Earth at its nearest point, and 35,000 km at the farthest. AMSAT says that AO-40's attitude is being changed to prepare for the first motor burn. Meinzer's report says the 400-Newton motor will be used to put AO-40 into a 50,000 km apogee. The first orbital maneuver should be completed in a few days. Other orbital adjustments will follow over the next 270 days. AO-40's solar panels will not be deployed until the satellite is in its final orbital configuration. Once that happens, the satellite should become available for full Amateur Radio use. ==>BOARD TO CONSIDER MORSE CODE POLICY REVIEW The ARRL Board of Directors will review the League's position on the Morse code as an international licensing requirement when it gathers for its annual meeting in January. Because the issue is expected to come up at the IARU Region 2 Conference next October, the ARRL Executive Committee decided at its November 11 meeting in Irving, Texas, to place the issue on the Board's January agenda. The ARRL's Morse policy was formalized by Board resolution in 1993. It supports the retention in the International Radio Regulations of the provision obliging administrations to require that applicants demonstrate ability to send and receive Morse code before they may operate below 30 MHz. Consistent with that policy, ARRL International Affairs Vice President Rod Stafford, W6ROD, cast the lone dissenting vote earlier this year at the IARU Region 3 Conference in Australia on a motion calling for the eventual elimination of Morse as an ITU requirement for HF operation. In January, the Board may decide to reaffirm this policy, to modify it, or to seek additional input from members. In the past, a majority of members has supported the policy. The Executive Committee also proposed that the Board determine a process for soliciting membership input on possible repartitioning of the HF bands in restructuring's wake. As part of its original restructuring package, the League had proposed "refarming" the current Novice bands to allow for more efficient use of the most crowded HF allocations. The FCC has declined to take up any possible repartitioning, however, until it's had a chance to gauge the effects of restructuring. Amateur Radio license restructuring became effective last April 15. In other action, Stafford and ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, reported briefly on preparations for WRC-2003. Stafford is focusing on developing support for the Amateur Radio 7 MHz position within Region 2. The IARU seeks a 300-kHz worldwide amateur allocation in the vicinity of 7 MHz. Sumner has been named to the core IARU delegation to that conference. The Executive Committee also heard a wide-ranging update of other FCC matters, including the League's efforts to gain primary amateur status at 2400 to 2402 MHz and at 2300 to 2305 MHz. Sumner observed during the meeting that the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act bills--HR 783 and S 2183--were not likely to be enacted during the "lame duck" session of Congress that's just ahead. Principal sponsors of both bills are returning to Congress in January and may be asked to reintroduce the legislation. The Executive Committee also briefly discussed legislative restrictions on the use of cell phones that have been popping up in various localities. Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, noted that an effort is under way in New Jersey to exempt Amateur Radio operation from the effects of such legislation. ==>SHEPHERD MAKES FIRST CASUAL QSOs FROM ISS The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program has announced that Commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, made the first casual Amateur Radio contacts from Space Station Alpha last week. Details were not available. Shepherd reports that he was able to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule last Friday, November 17, to engage in contacts with a few lucky hams. Before then, the only Amateur Radio contacts involved engineering test passes between the ISS and Russian and US amateur facilities. ARISS spokesman Will Marchant, KC6ROL, says that with the recent arrival at ISS of a Progress cargo craft, the crew will have to redouble its work pace. The space shuttle Endeavour STS-97 mission to the ISS will launch November 30, so the Expedition 1 crew will continue to put in some long hours preparing for its arrival. Endeavour is carrying a large new solar panel for the ISS that will permit the station to be fully powered for the first time. More information about Amateur Radio on the International Space Station is available on the ARISS Web site, http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/ .--ARISS news release ==>ARRL VEC ANTICIPATES $10 TEST FEE FOR 2001 ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, says the ARRL VEC plans to set its test fee for calendar year 2001 at $10. The current fee of $6.65 is based on a provision in the Communications Act, adopted in 1984, that established a $4 cap on reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs with an annual adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index. More recent legislation removed this cap. An FCC announcement of changes in its rules, reflecting the change in the law, is expected toward the end of the year. ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, says the higher fee reflects the fact that the ARRL VEC is doing more of the work on behalf of the FCC than was envisioned at the time Congress set the original cap. "We're doing the data entry for all new and upgrade license applications that are handled by the ARRL Volunteer Examiners," Sumner explained. "Originally, we simply reviewed and organized the paperwork and the FCC staff did the data entry. The current system is better for the applicants because they get their licenses faster, but it's also more costly for us." Jahnke said a $10 ARRL VEC test fee will be formalized as soon as the FCC gives the word that it has made the necessary adjustments to Part 97 to bring it in line with the updated Communications Act. As soon as that happens, the ARRL VEC will make a formal announcement to establish the new fee. Until then, ARRL VEC volunteer examiners will continue to charge applicants at the 2000 test fee rate of $6.65. ==>SECTION MANAGERS ELECTED IN TEN ARRL SECTIONS The ballots have been counted, and ARRL section managers have been elected in races in Eastern Massachusetts and South Carolina. Incumbent SMs were returned to office in eight other ARRL sections without opposition. In the Eastern Massachusetts Section, Phillip E. Temples, K9HI, of Watertown outpolled Stan Laine, WA1ECF, 781 to 351. Temples replaces Joel Magid, WU1F, who did not seek re-election. In the South Carolina Section, Patricia M. Hensley, N4ROS, of Richburg topped a field of three candidates. She received 301 votes, to 229 for James Boehner, N2ZZ, and 188 for Laurie Sansbury Jr, KV4C. Hensley was tapped earlier this year to take over the South Carolina SM job when former SM Les Shattuck, K4NK, was elevated to Roanoke Division Vice Director. Candidates in eight other ARRL sections were unopposed. All were incumbents. Returning to office are Dale Bagley, K0KY, Missouri; Bill McCollum, KE0XQ, Nebraska; George Tranos, N2GA, New York City-Long Island; Thomas Dick, KF2GC, Northern New York; Jean Priestley, KA2YKN, Southern New Jersey; David Armbrust, AE4MR, West Central Florida; John Rodgers, N3MSE, Western Pennsylvania; and Bob DeVarney, WE1U, Vermont. Ballots were counted November 21 at ARRL Headquarters. The terms of office for all successful candidates are two years, beginning January 1, 2001. ==>NOMINATIONS CLOSE JANUARY 31 FOR ARRL INSTRUCTOR, RECRUITER, EDUCATOR AWARDS Nominations close January 31 for the ARRL Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year, Professional Educator of the Year, Professional Instructor of the Year, and Excellence in Recruiting awards for 2000. The ARRL Herb S. Brief Instructor of the Year Award goes each year to a volunteer Amateur Radio instructor. Last year's winner was ARRL Life Member Allen Wolff, KC7O, who has been teaching ham radio classes for 15 years. The ARRL Professional Educator of the Year award goes to a professional teacher who has incorporated Amateur Radio into his or her class curriculum. Dan Calzaretta, NX9C, was the 1999 winner. He's been teaching ham radio for more than 20 years. The ARRL Professional Instructor of the Year award is presented to a paid, non-state certified ham radio instructor, such as those teaching classes offered through adult education programs. The ARRL Excellence in Recruiting Award goes to a ham who exemplifies outstanding recruiting enthusiasm and technique and has gone the extra mile to introduce others to Amateur Radio. Activities include, but are not limited to, school and public ham radio demonstrations, participation in the Jamboree On The Air or similar activity, or assuming a non-teaching role in organizing ham radio licensing classes. All winners receive beautifully engraved plaques, which may be sponsored by clubs. Complete information and nomination forms are available on the ARRL Web site at http://www.arrl.org/ead/award/. Completed forms go to section managers before January 31. For more information on any of these awards, contact Jean Wolfgang, WB3IOS, email@example.com. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation prognosticator Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: This bulletin is written a day and a half earlier than usual because of the Thanksgiving holiday. For that reason, the projected solar flux and A indices expected for this weekend will not be quite as up to date as usual. Also, it is too early to include the sunspot number for Wednesday, the end of our normal reporting week, so next week's bulletin will have two week's worth of solar flux, sunspot numbers and planetary A indices. Geomagnetic indices have been very quiet this week, with both the planetary and Boulder A indices in the single digits. The quietest day was Thursday, November 16, when the Boulder A index was one, and the Boulder K index was zero for most of the day. This indicates a very stable geomagnetic environment. The planetary A index was four on that day and on the next. Solar flux has been rising after reaching a near term minimum on November 14. It was 173.7 on Monday, 185.4 on Tuesday, and today on Wednesday, the three daily readings were 192.4, 194.9 and 203.5. The noon reading of 194.9 is the official number. The current projection has the 10.7 cm flux rising above 200 on Thanksgiving, peaking at 210 on Friday, then 205 on Saturday and 200 on Sunday through next Thursday. This looks good for the big DX contest this weekend, although generally the Maximum Usable Frequency is more dependent upon the average solar flux for the previous week or 10 days rather than a value on the day of interest. The predicted planetary A index also looks good, which currently is projected to be ten for Thursday through Saturday, and twelve for Sunday and Monday. There was a full-halo coronal mass ejection November 16, but it was on the back side of the sun, projecting the energy away from Earth. The region that produced that activity will be rotating into view sometime soon, but not soon enough to affect the contest weekend. N0AX pointed out that last week's bulletin mentioned something called a solar "flair." Of course, your author was only demonstrating a "flair" for erroneous homonyms. That thing coming out of the sun is still a flare, no matter what's written here. Senior moments seem to be increasing weekly, solar flares notwithstanding. Happy Thanksgiving to all! __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of November 25-26. See October QST, page 101, for more information. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL 160 Meter Contest is the weekend of December 2-3. See November QST, page 98, for the rules. Also the weekend of December 2-3 are the QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint (CW), the Ninth Annual TARA RTTY Sprint, and the TOPS Activity 3.5 MHz CW Contest. See December QST, p 97, for more information. * CQ WW CW announced operations list: Contest watcher Bill Feidt, NG3K, offers his annual listing of announced operations for the CQ Worldwide DX Contest (CW) November 24-25 weekend at http://www.ng3k.com/Misc/cqc2000.html. * ULS scheduled to be down: The FCC Universal Licensing System and Antenna Structure Registration will be unavailable from noon (Eastern) Wednesday, November 22, until 8 AM (Eastern) Monday, November 27 and again from 5 PM (Eastern) Friday, December 1 until 8 AM (Eastern) Monday, December 4. Both outages are to accommodate the Land Mobile Phase 3 conversion. The task involves the conversion of more than 350,000 licenses and 5200 pending applications. * Hatfield announces retirement from FCC: Dale Hatfield, W0IFO, the head of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has announced plans to retire from that post December 8. Hatfield hopes to return to academia at the University of Colorado at Boulder, teaching graduate courses in telecommunications. Hatfield spent much of his time at the FCC working on spectrum issues, including the possible establishment of a secondary market for underused channels. Earlier this year, Hatfield predicted a bright future for Amateur Radio but said that amateurs "will be under a certain amount of pressure" to justify their free use of the radio spectrum. As a result, he said, it will be more important than ever that hams actually fulfill their service, good will and educational roles--not just talk about them. He offered those observations June 17 as keynote speaker for AMRAD's 25th anniversary dinner. Hatfield is not slowing down. A few days before his departure from the FCC, he'll take part in a The Federal Communications Bar Association seminar on technology issues facing the FCC, "Technology and the FCC: What Every Advocate Should Know," on December 5. This marked Hatfield's second stint at the FCC. For the past three years, he's been commuting between Colorado and Washington, DC, while his family continued to live in Boulder.--reported by Reuters * Coast Guard to honor MARS operator: An ARRL member will receive the Coast Guard's second highest civilian award later this month for his MARS service. Richard C. Johnson, W3BI/NNN0GKF, will receive the USCG's Meritorious Public Service Award in a ceremony November 28 in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The award is in recognition of Johnson's 37 years of voluntary service as a Military Affiliate Radio System operator. The award, reserved for civilians not employed by the Coast Guard who make a significant contribution to the service, will be presented by Capt Wayne K. Gibson, Chief of Operations for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command in Portsmouth, Virginia. Johnson is being honored for his participation in the Department of Defense-sponsored MARS program. MARS participants provide auxiliary or emergency communications on a local, national and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications. Since 1963, Johnson has conducted thousands of ship-to-shore phone patches for deployed Coast Guard men and women. Last January, Johnson also volunteered to join the MARS High Frequency e-mail program supporting Atlantic Area Coast Guard cutters. Since then, he has processed 500 to 600 e-mails a day supporting crews aboard the Coast Guard cutters Mohawk, Decisive, Forward, Tampa, and Thetis. Department of Defense MARS coordinators say Johnson's efforts have recently inspired other MARS operators in Virginia, Georgia and Texas to join the HF e-mail program. The program allows Coast Guard personnel at sea aboard cutters to send and receive e-mail messages to and from family and friends. The Coast Guard says the program "greatly improves the quality of life for shipboard crews" and has been "a welcomed benefit for crews stationed aboard cutters operating in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and throughout the Caribbean." Johnson is the only MARS operator participating in the e-mail program in the Atlantic Area and has operated nearly around-the-clock to meet the needs of Coast Guardsmen at sea.--USCG news release * Ham help solicited in owl searches: ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, says hams in the Central US found an unusual form of ham radio public service this fall. Many have been listening intently just above 172 MHz for brief transmissions from radio tags on 52 endangered burrowing owls. The rare birds have left Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada for warmer weather in the south, probably in southern Texas and northern Mexico. Burrowing owls were seen in Texas in late October, according to the latest report from Canadian biologists, but no leg bands have been spotted. Now that the fall migration is complete, hams in Texas and surrounding states are being asked to monitor for the tags this winter. Meanwhile, biologist Scott Weidensaul of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Pennsylvania wants hams from Maryland to South Carolina and points west to listen for tags now being put on northern saw-whet owls. For details of both owl-tracking efforts, visit Moell's Web site, http://www.homingin.com. The site lists all of the tag frequencies as well as histories of the monitoring efforts and interesting information about these bird species, plus suggestions for equipment for monitoring and direction-finding on 172 MHz. * Prairie DX Group on air from Vanuatu: Mike Wolfe, N9WM, reports from Vanuatu that the Prairie DX Group is on the air for its fully wired DXpedition that features real-time logs and even a live Web cam. The Prairie DX team plans to operate through November 29 including operation as YJ0V during the CW Worldwide CW contest. At other times, the group will use YJ0PD. Wolfe says the group arrived in Vanuatu with no casualties and is now on the air using two rigs. "Internet connections are active and stable with logging application working beautifully," he said. "Also the Web cam is on line and is currently pointed at our CW position." In 1998, The Prairie DX Group operation as FP/N9PD from St Pierre et Miquelon became the first--and still the only--DXpedition to have its logs available on the Web in real-time. QSLs go via N9PD direct (include SASE, IRC or cash to help defray costs) or via the bureau. For details, visit the Prairie DX site, http://www.n9pd.com. * DSP satellite transceiver project reflector open: An e-mail reflector for those interested in designing a DSP-based satellite communications transceiver project has been established. To join the list, visit http://www.qth.net. The list name is dsp-radio. Technical skills are not a prerequisite for membership. The list is a discussion area for RF, software, and other system-related project discussion. For more information, contact Simon Lewis, GM4PLM, firstname.lastname@example.org. For starters, the list will collect information on previous and current work done on software-defined radios and DSP radios, then focus on a wish list of features and specifications.--Simon Lewis, GM4PLM, and Darrell Bellerive, VE7CLA, via SpaceNews =========================================================== 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 to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb at http://www.arrl.org for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRLWeb Extra at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/extra offers ARRL members access to informative features and columns. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, firstname.lastname@example.org ==>ARRL News on the Web: http://www.arrl.org ==>ARRL Audio News: http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/ or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for e-mail delivery: ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site, http://www.arrl.org/members/. You'll have an opportunity during registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW bulletins, and other material. 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