*************** 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, email@example.com. ==>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 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!): firstname.lastname@example.org ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, email@example.com ==>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. 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