ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 19, No. 48
December 15, 2000
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +AO-40 goes silent
* +First-ever ARRL continuing ed course fills fast!
* +Date, time pinned down for first ARISS school QSO
* +FCC turns down another late renewal application
* +FCC opens door to higher VEC test fees
* +Author Joe Carr, K4IPV, SK
* +FAR announces 2001-2002 scholarships
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL to accept non-Cabrillo CT files for 160-Meter Contest
    +ISS Expedition 1 crew's tour extended
     Maryland Special Event to honor Fessenden achievement
     Hamvention award nominations deadline is January 31
     More on postal rates for DXers
     Trojan horse program link posted via Usenet groups

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>AO-40, WHERE ARE YOU? SATELLITE'S BEACON GOES SILENT

AMSAT reports there's a problem aboard AO-40. The Amateur Radio satellite
has not been heard from since December 13, and for the AO-40 ground crew the
silence is deafening. AMSAT says the AO-40 development team is looking into
the problem, but it might not have any answers until December 16. That's
when the onboard computer is expected to automatically reset itself and,
it's hoped, restart the beacon transmission.

"All we know is we've got a problem," said AMSAT-NA President Robin
Haighton, VE3FRH. "I've got all my toes and fingers crossed." Haighton said
the problem may or may not be related to earlier difficulties getting
AO-40's 400-Newton motor to fire properly. Ground controllers adjusted the
satellite's orbit earlier this week, but as a result of fuel-valve problems,
AO-40 ended up in a higher-than-planned orbit.

Monday's orbit-adjusting burn lasted three minutes longer than planned,
sending AO-40 into a 60,000 km (37,200 mile) apogee rather than the planned
50,000 km (31,000 miles).

AMSAT reports that 2-meter telemetry transmissions from AO-40 stopped early
Wednesday, December 13, while work on the 400-Newton propulsion system was
in progress. "A lot of people are putting their heads together," Haighton
said, but until the telemetry transmission reappears, not much will be
known. "It's very frustrating," he said.

Earlier AMSAT reports indicated that the onboard IHU-2 computer could be
responsible for the missing telemetry. The IHU-2 has suffered several
crashes, and when the computer goes down, so does the telemetry, although a
weak, unmodulated carrier should remain. Haighton said the IHU-2 takes a
couple of days to time out and reboot, "and then we're in business, we
hope."

Monitors around the world are listening for any signal from AO-40. Maxim
Memorial Station W1AW and other amateurs have reported hearing a weak,
unmodulated carrier on the 145.898 MHz beacon frequency since the telemetry
stopped. It's not known for sure if the signals are coming from AO-40,
however.

AMSAT says onboard software events set to occur Saturday afternoon are
programmed to start a spacecraft emergency routine called "command-assist"
that attempts to re-establish communication. Once communication is
re-established, AMSAT says, ground controllers will have their best chance
to recover any evidence of the incident that made the telemetry
transmissions stop. 

In the meantime, it's a tense waiting game. "If we knew where the beacon
was, we wouldn't have a problem," Haighton said. 

The next-generation Amateur Radio satellite formerly known as Phase 3D was
launched in mid-November. For more information on AO-40, visit the AMSAT-NA
Web site, http://www.amsat.org.

==>ARRL'S FIRST CONTINUING EDUCATION COURSE FILLS PROMPTLY

Sorry, but this class is filled! All "seats" for the ARRL's
introductory-level on-line emergency communications course were taken within
24 hours of opening registration. ARRL Certification Specialist Dan Miller,
K3UFG, announced December 15 that registration for the ARRL's new on-line
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course has closed.

The ARRL is the first organization to offer a Web-based Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications course that qualifies for continuing education
course credit. Students lucky enough to get registered have up to eight
weeks to complete the interactive course, Level I: Introduction to Emergency
Communications. The ARRL will award a certificate bearing a handsome,
distinctive logo to those completing the course. The logo may be displayed
on QSL cards or stationery.

Starting in 2001, ARRL will offer its on-line course as an in-person class
to be held at various sites throughout the US. Advanced courses in emergency
communications also will become available next year. These include Level II:
NCS and Liaison Training and Level III: Emergency Communications
Management/Administration Issues.

Miller says he'll announce registration for future course offerings within
the next few weeks. He also will maintain a file with the names and e-mail
addresses of those requesting prior notification. Anyone wishing to be added
should send name, call sign and e-mail address to CCE@arrl.org.

Many individuals and organizations, including Red Cross national officials,
have expressed keen interest in the course. In the
imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery department, REACT International
has designed a similar course based on the ARRL's and tailored specifically
to its members' needs--but the REACT course is not available on-line.

The ARRL Board of Directors approved the development and implementation of
the self-education Continuing Education and Certification Program for radio
amateurs at its January meeting. The program is aimed at inspiring amateurs
to continue to acquire technical knowledge and operating expertise beyond
that required to become licensed. 

For more information on the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program, contact ARRL Certification Specialist Dan Miller, K3UFG,
cce@arrl.org. 

==>ARISS PINS DOWN DATE, TIME FOR FIRST SCHOOL CONTACT

Tuesday, December 19, will be a banner day at Luther Burbank Elementary
School in Burbank, Illinois. The Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station--or ARISS--program has announced that a dozen youngsters at the
Burbank School will be the first to get a chance to talk to the ISS
Expedition 1 crew via Amateur Radio. The approximately 10-minute pass will
start at around 2100 UTC--or around 3 PM Central Time.

ARISS had announced two possible dates late last week. Getting the schedule
pinned down was not easy. "With multiple spacewalks, and lots of repairs on
the ISS, the schedulers and crews have been extremely busy," said ARISS
spokesperson Will Marchant, KC6ROL. With space shuttle Endeavour back on
Earth, NASA was able to turn its attention to working out a schedule for the
contact.

SAREX/ARISS veteran mentor Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, who's in charge of setting
up the Amateur Radio station at the Chicago-area school, said he, several
other amateurs, a few parents and the school's principal installed two
antennas on the school's roof over the past weekend. Sufana said this week
that recent heavy snow in the Chicago area was helping to keep the temporary
antennas in place.

The ISS downlink will be on 145.80 MHz. Marchant says efforts are under way
to set up a Web cast of the occasion. 

The Burbank School is located on the southwest side of Chicago and has a
population of 700 pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade. Another 18
schools are under consideration for ARISS school contacts.

Burbank teacher Rita Wright says she and her colleagues have been
incorporating ISS and space-related themes into the curriculum and have
developed a Burbank School/ISS "mission patch."

More information about requesting dedicated contacts is available on the
ARISS web pages, http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/. 

==>FCC DENIES ANOTHER UNTIMELY RENEWAL PETITION

The FCC has denied a Petition for Reconsideration from a former ham who
filed for license renewal beyond his two-year grace period. The FCC
ultimately turned down the petition from Richard Josslin, ex-W7CXW, of
Bainbridge Island, Washington, because Josslin had not properly filed his
reconsideration petition. But the FCC also told Josslin that ignorance of
FCC rules was no excuse and that he should have known he needed to renew his
ticket on time.

The FCC said that Josslin's ham ticket already had been expired for more
than two years when he attempted to register with the Universal Licensing
System. Josslin was informed that his W7CXW call sign no longer was in the
FCC database. The following month--nearly three years after his license had
expired--Josslin applied for renewal by writing his renewal request on the
Report he got back from the FCC instead of on the required FCC Form. The FCC
dismissed the renewal attempt because Josslin was well beyond the two-year
grace period. The FCC advised him that he had to take his exams again to
hold an amateur license.

Josslin attempted to get the FCC to change its mind, claiming that he failed
to renew his license because of an erroneous belief that his license was
good for life.

The FCC was unmoved, however. It said Josslin failed to file his petition
within 30 days of the release date of the Commission's action and, by
sending it to Gettysburg, did not send it to the right place. Petitions for
reconsideration must be timely filed with the FCC Secretary in Washington,
DC.

The FCC noted, however, that Josslin's application for renewal was properly
dismissed in the first place because it wasn't filed on the correct form.
Beyond that, the FCC said, Josslin's erroneous understanding about his
license term "is not sufficient justification" to reinstate his license. "As
Josslin concedes, the face of his license contained an expiration date," the
FCC said, "yet it is evident that he made no attempt to verify or
familiarize himself with the Commission's Rules." The FCC said Josslin's
reliance on something he'd read "was at his own peril."

==>FCC OPENS DOOR TO INCREASED TEST FEES FOR 2001

The FCC has suspended its regulatory limit on the reimbursement fee for
Amateur Radio examinations, and the ARRL VEC says a new $10 test fee will go
into effect January 1. An FCC Public Notice released December 4 explained
that the Commission did not plan to announce a maximum reimbursement fee for
2001 since the requirement to do so no longer appears in the Communications
Act. 

For now, the FCC says, it will suspend enforcement of the fee provision,
§97.527(b), which continues to appear in the FCC rules. Some, if not all, of
the nation's other Volunteer Examiner Coordinators are expected to follow
suit, although at least one VEC charges no test fee whatsoever.

ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, says the ARRL VEC's current fee of $6.65
was based on the 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. The new, higher fee reflects
the fact that the ARRL VEC is doing more of the work on behalf of the FCC
than was originally envisioned when the provision was included in the
Communications Act. That effort includes data entry for all new and upgrade
license applications once done by FCC staffers.

ARRL VEC volunteer examiners will continue to charge applicants $6.65
through the end of 2000.

==>NOTED AMATEUR RADIO AUTHOR JOE CARR, K4IPV, SK

Amateur Radio author Joseph J. "Joe" Carr, K4IPV, of Annandale, Virginia,
died November 25. He was 57. Carr reportedly died at home in his sleep.

An ARRL member, Carr had contributed hundreds of articles over the years to
various publications, including QST, Popular Electronics, 73, Nuts and Volts
and others. At the time of his death, Carr was the "Antennas & Things"
columnist for Popular Communications. 

Carr was a prolific author and had written more than 100 books, including
Joe Carr's Loop Antenna Handbook, Practical Antenna Handbook, Receiving
Antenna Handbook, Radioscience Observing, Vol 1, and Practical Radio
Frequency Test & Measurement--A Technician's Handbook. Carr also authored
numerous non-Amateur Radio related books as well.

Book publisher and author Harry Helms, AK6C, of LLH Technology Publishing
knew Carr personally and professionally for more than 20 years. "Joe was a
first-rate technical writer and editor, a consummate professional in his
craft, and a pleasure to work with," he said.

Carr's wife, Bonnie, survives.

FOUNDATION FOR AMATEUR RADIO ANNOUNCES 2001-2002 SCHOLARSHIPS

The Foundation For Amateur Radio Inc, a non-profit organization with
headquarters in Washington, DC, plans to administer 67 scholarships for the
2001-2002 academic year to assist radio amateurs. FAR invites applications
from qualified amateurs.

The Foundation--composed of more than 75 local area Amateur Radio
clubs--fully funds 10 of these scholarships with the income from grants and
its annual Hamfest. The remaining 57 are administered by FAR without cost to
the various donors.

Amateur Radio operators holding a valid license may compete for these awards
if they plan to pursue a full-time course of studies beyond high school and
are enrolled in or have been accepted for enrollment at an accredited
university, college or technical school. The awards range from $500 to $2500
with preference given in some cases to residents of specified geographical
areas or the pursuit of certain study programs. Clubs--especially those in
Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and
Wisconsin--are encouraged to announce these opportunities at their meetings,
in their club newsletters, during training classes, on their nets and on
their world wide web home pages.

Additional information and an application form are available by letter or
QSL card request postmarked prior to April 30, 2001. Address requests to FAR
Scholarships, PO Box 831, Riverdale, MD 20738. 

The Foundation for Amateur Radio, incorporated in the District of Columbia,
is an exempt organization under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of
1954. It is devoted exclusively to promoting the interests of Amateur Radio
and those scientific, literary and educational pursuits that advance the
purposes of the Amateur Radio Service.


==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and
sunspot numbers for the past week were down from the previous week. Average
sunspot numbers were off by nearly 40 points, and average solar flux was
down by almost 18.

Current predictions for the next short term solar flux peak have tightened
up. The current data predict a peak of 200 centered on December 22-23
instead of 20-23. The next occurrence of unsettled conditions is supposed to
be December 23-24 with a planetary A index of 15, but this is based on
recurring conditions from active regions rotating into view. 

On Thursday sunspot groups 9267 and 9264 are fast growing, and 9267 lies
toward the center of the visible disk, posing a potential threat of solar
flares pointed toward earth. If solar flares do not erupt, the predicted
planetary A index should stay at a nice stable value around eight through
December 21. Solar flux is predicted to be about 185 on December 15-16 and
190 for December 17-21.

With winter approaching, the polar region is dark and this makes propagation
from North America over polar paths into Europe and Asia more difficult on
the higher bands. Maximum Usable Frequencies are much lower now than they
were during the peak conditions at the fall equinox. Nighttime activity
should be shifting from 20 meters to 40.

Sunspot numbers for December 7 through 13 were 125, 81, 73, 58, 101, 95 and
173 with a mean of 100.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 144.2, 138.3, 134.7, 146.6,
143.6, 149.8 and 164.6, with a mean of 146. The estimated planetary A
indices were 13, 17, 16, 9, 7, 5 and 4 with a mean of 10.1

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The Croatian CW Contest and the OK DX RTTY
Contest are the weekend of December 16-17. The W3T/W3F special event from
Cobb Island, Maryland, commemorating the first AM transmission by Reginald
A. Fessenden in 1900 will be December 16. (See below and the ARRL Special
Event Calendar http://www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html for details.) JUST
AHEAD: ARRL Straight Key Night, the RAC Winter Contest and the Stew Perry
Topband Distance Challenge are the weekend of December 30-31. See December
QST, p 97, for more information on contests.

* ARRL to accept non-Cabrillo CT files for 160-Meter Contest: ARRL Contest
Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, says that the ARRL is making a
one-time-only exception and will accept non-Cabrillo files generated by the
CT contest logging program for the recent ARRL 160-Meter Contest. CT
apparently was not upgraded to generate Cabrillo files for this operating
event. Henderson says he understands that CT plans to get a program fix to
its users as soon as feasible. "It is not our goal to penalize those who are
making a good-faith effort to implement the Cabrillo file standards but run
into a snag because of problems from their software," Henderson said.
"Because of this, for this contest and only if you are a CT user, you may
submit your entry in non-Cabrillo format." Henderson says applicable contest
participants should send both the old-style summary sheet and log files
(<callsign>.sum and <callsign>.log) created by entering the WRITEARRL
command in the program. Send entries via e-mail to 160Meter@arrl.org.
Entries are due by January 3, 2001.

* ISS Expedition 1 crew's tour extended: Space Station Alpha's first
resident crew will get to stay in space a couple of weeks longer than
planned because of a tight shuttle launch schedule. Expedition 1 crew
commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, says he's OK with the extension,
however. The launch of the new ISS crew on shuttle Discovery has been pushed
back from February 15 to March 1. That's because Discovery was delayed in
returning from space in October and because NASA needs to replace 10
thrusters. Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei
Krikalev, U5MIR, arrived at the station November 2. Replacing them in space
will be Russian cosmonaut Yury Usachev and US astronauts James Voss and
Susan Helms, KC7NHZ. Shepherd said he and his crew have more than enough
food and water to make it through the additional two weeks. On its last
mission in October, Discovery's landing was delayed two days because of bad
weather and had to land at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Discovery
didn't return to Kennedy Space Center until November 3, eating into the time
it takes NASA to prepare the shuttle for another launch. During standard
post-flight inspections, NASA workers found problems with some of
Discovery's thrusters that require their replacement.

* Maryland Special Event to honor Fessenden achievement: The Charles County
Amateur Radio Club and the Southern Maryland Amateur Radio Club will operate
as W3T and W3F respectively from Cobb Island, Maryland (IOTA MD020R),
December 16 from 1500 to 2300 UTC. The operation will celebrate the
centennial of the first radiotelephone transmission by Reginald Aubrey
Fesseden from Cobb Island in 1900. Fessenden--assisted by Frank W. Very--and
Alfred Thiessen made radio contact over a distance of one mile. "One, two,
three, four. Is it snowing where you are Mr. Thiessen?" were the first words
sent by voice using a radio transmitter--in this case an AM-modulated spark
gap--on December 23, 1900. "Yes, it is," Thiessen responded using Morse
code--marking, as well, the first cross-mode QSO. Fessenden's spark gap
transmitter, powered by a steam-driven generator, ran at 10,000
interruptions per second and is said to have sent raspy but intelligible
speech. Two 50-foot masts placed one mile apart served as antennas.--J.D.
Delancy, W3SMD 

* Hamvention award nominations deadline is January 31: The Dayton Hamvention
is accepting nominations for its Amateur of the Year, Special Achievement,
and Technical Excellence Awards until January 31, 2001. All amateurs are
eligible for these awards that are aimed at recognizing outstanding Amateur
Radio operators. Awards are determined by the Awards Committee based, in
part, on the information accompanying nominations. Magazine articles,
newsletters, newspaper clippings, videos and other documentation can better
inform the Awards Committee of a nominee's particular accomplishments. The
Amateur of the Year Award goes to a well-rounded licensee who is committed
to the advancement of Amateur Radio and has made an outstanding
contribution. The Special Achievement Award typically goes to an individual
who has spearheaded a significant Amateur Radio project. The Technical
Excellence Award recognizes outstanding Amateur Radio technical advancement.
Nominations go to Hamvention Awards, PO Box 964, Dayton, OH
45401-0964.--Dayton Hamvention

* More on postal rates for DXers: The cost of an international Reply Coupon
(IRC) will increase from $1.05 to $1.75 on January 7. A one-ounce letter
sent via air mail to anywhere in the world (except Canada and Mexico) will
cost 80 cents. A two-ounce air mail letter will cost anywhere from $1.55 to
$1.70, depending on where it's going. The complete rate schedule is
available on the USPS Web site,
http://www.usps.gov/news/2001rate.htm.--Dennis Egan, NB1B, via Bernie
McClenny, W3UR 

* Trojan horse program link posted via Usenet groups: Rick Ruhl, W4PC,
reports that a "Trojan horse" program recently was posted as a "freeware ham
program" on many Usenet groups, including rec.radio.amateur.dx. The program
apparently is designed to grab passwords and possibly other confidential
information from the computer of a person who downloads and runs the
program. Those who checked it out report the program, once executed, will
dial into the Internet and upload passwords and possibly other data from the
user's computer. The individual posting the message, apparently from Sweden,
identified himself as "Jonas." The questionable file was said to be on the
"27 MHz WorldWide" home page (at http://home.swipnet.se/27mhz/) but the file
was unavailable as of December 12.

=========================================================== 
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
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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.

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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.

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