ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
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,
jwolfgang@arrl.org.

==>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, simon@creoch.freeserve.co.uk. 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
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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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