ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 19, No. 49
December 22, 2000
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Still no word from AO-40
* +ARRL goes to full FCC on PRB-1 issue
* +Alabama hams tackle tornado
* +ARISS success! Illinois kids talk to Space Station Alpha
* +FCC adopts consent decree in ham interference case
* +West Coast ham loses all but HF CW privileges
* +Willem van Tuijl home after US surgery
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Susan Ness gets recess FCC appointment
     Updated Volunteer Examiner manual now available
     ARRL welcomes W1DGM to ARRLWeb editorial staff
     Bouvet (3Y) is on the air!
     NORAD tracking Santa Claus
     Petition seeks increased privileges for Novices and Techs with Morse
credit
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================
A very happy holiday season to all of our members and readers,
and best wishes for 2001 from everyone at ARRL Headquarters!
===========================================================

==>AO-40 FAILS TO PHONE HOME

AMSAT OSCAR-40 remains silent, and command stations on the ground still have
been unable to reestablish contact with the Amateur Radio satellite. It was
hoped that onboard computer timeouts--so-called "command-assist" software
watchdog routines--would restart the beacon telemetry and give the ground
crew some clues as to why AO-40 suddenly stopped transmitting on December
13. That did not happen.

"There were no observations, and command stations tried to re-establish
communication by sending blind commands," AMSAT-DL's Peter Guelzow, DB2OS,
of the AO-40 team, said after the first watchdog routine date passed
December 16. A second watchdog date of December 21 also passed without any
apparent reset.

The second reset would have cycled the satellite through various receive,
transmit, and antenna modes. Guelzow said the watchdog routines only will
work if the onboard computer software has not crashed.

When and whether the satellite will be heard from again depends, in part, on
whether AO-40 has picked up any of the "blind commands" sent by ground
controllers. If AO-40 did pick up some commands, Guelzow said, the
command-assist watchdog would be reset for another 10 orbits. That could
extend the wait until Christmas.

Ground controllers want to avoid doing a hard re-boot of the main computer.
"If the IHU has crashed, then a reset command can be issued from the
ground," Guelzow said. "This would be the last resort." He said ground
controllers will thoroughly check out and analyze all other possibilities
before issuing a hard reset command. "There is no need to hurry, and the
command team doesn't want to miss any option," he said.

The AO-40 team is continuing to investigate reports of weak signals on the
2-meter downlink frequency of 145.898 MHz that seem to be coming from AO-40,
but it has discounted reports of telemetry heard there as a hoax. Other
reports persist of a weak, unmodulated carrier, however.

Guelzow said the AO-40 team was encouraged by a report from the North
American Aerospace Defense Command--NORAD--indicating that AO-40 was in one
piece, that the orbit was exactly where it should be, and that the radar
cross-section was as expected. Guelzow said the NORAD data counter rumors
that AO-40 might have exploded.

Guelzow also has found himself fending off criticisms that AO-40 was
launched with known problems in the helium valves that control fuel flow to
the onboard 400-Newton propulsion system. "There were no known problems,"
Guelzow said in a posting to the AMSAT bulletin board. He said a valve which
seemed not to operate correctly during ground testing was sent back to its
US manufacturer and repaired.

Guelzow said the valve and pressure regulator worked perfectly during
pre-launch testing. "All other subsystems worked perfectly, including the
70-cm TX," he said.

==>ARRL SEEKS FCC REVIEW, REVERSAL OF WIRELESS BUREAU PRB-1 DENIAL

The ARRL is asking the full FCC to review part of an FCC Order that declined
to include CC&Rs--covenants, conditions and restrictions--under the limited
federal preemption known as PRB-1. Imposed by private homeowners'
associations or by developers, CC&Rs--also known as "restrictive covenants"
or "deed restrictions"--often impede or prohibit the installation of outside
antennas.

"ARRL's petition relative to the application of its PRB-1 policy to private
land use regulations has not, to date, been afforded a thorough review or a
fair analysis," the ARRL said in its Application for Review, filed December
15. The ARRL maintains that the FCC should have the same interest in the
effective performance of an Amateur Radio station and in the promotion of
amateur communications regardless of whether the licensee's property is
privately or publicly regulated.

In November, FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Deputy Chief Kathleen
O'Brien Ham--acting under "delegated authority"--turned down an ARRL
Petition for Reconsideration that--among other things--called on the FCC to
declare that PRB-1 applies to amateurs governed by CC&Rs or condominium
regulations just as it does to hams regulated solely by local zoning laws.
The ARRL now wants the full Commission to review--and reverse--O'Brien Ham's
decision.

The ARRL has argued that since PRB-1 was promulgated in 1985, the FCC has
made it clear that it has Congressional authority to prohibit restrictive
covenants that could keep property owners and even renters from installing
antennas to receive TV, satellite and similar signals. The same principle
applies to Amateur Radio, the ARRL asserted.

The FCC cannot use the private contractual nature of covenants "as a
justification for the arbitrary and disparate treatment of radio amateurs
similarly situated," the League said.

The ARRL made it clear, however, that it's not seeking any kind of
preferential treatment from homeowners' associations, architectural
committees or condominium boards. "It would be entirely consistent with
PRB-1, for example, for a homeowners association to permit only a relatively
small antenna in a planned community, such as a backyard, ground-mounted
vertical antenna or one of the small Yagi configurations similar to an
outdoor television antenna," the ARRL said. 

The ARRL said that since the FCC already has jurisdiction to apply PRB-1 to
all types of land-use regulation and has said it's willing to "encourage"
private land-use authorities to apply PRB-1, "there is no legal or policy
reason for continuing the distinction" between private and public land-use
regulation with respect to amateur antennas. The ARRL asserts that Amateur
Radio operators should be able to negotiate "reasonable accommodation"
provisions with local homeowner's associations just as they now may do with
governmental land-use regulators. 

Many amateurs now say it's impossible to find desirable housing that comes
without CC&Rs. The League's Regulatory Information Branch reports that the
topic of restrictive covenants and antennas is one of the most frequently
raised by members contacting the ARRL for information. 

A copy of the ARRL's Application for Review is available on ARRLWeb at
http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/prb-1/prb1afr.html

==>ALABAMA HAMS TACKLE TORNADO

Alabama amateurs took time out from holiday preparations to help their
neighbors last weekend after tornadoes ripped through the state leaving 11
people dead, 65 injured and dozens of homes damaged or destroyed. Unusual
December weather patterns spawned a strong F4 tornado in western Alabama
that struck Tuscaloosa December 16 around midday.

The West Alabama Emergency Net was activated on the Tuscaloosa Amateur Radio
Club's W4KCQ repeater with ARRL member Cal Davis, KF4LAR, as net control at
the emergency operations center. 

"This is my fourth tornado that I've been involved with in one way or
another since I became a spotter, and this by far was the worst I've seen,"
Davis said. He reports that some three dozen hams played a role in storm
spotting, disaster recovery, and damage assessment. Davis says several hams
with emergency medical training entered the stricken areas on foot to render
first aid as well as to establish a triage center at a local church. 

A state of emergency was declared in the stricken area. Tuscaloosa Emergency
Coordinator Kirk Junkin, KC4ZMP, set up an Amateur Radio communication link
with the Tuscaloosa Fire Department's incident commander on the scene and
relayed information to Davis at the EOC via W4KCQ. Amateurs activated the
West Alabama Amateur Radio Association's W4WYN and the Druid Amateur Radio
Association's WS4I repeaters. They established communication with the West
Alabama Chapter of the American Red Cross and with three shelters in the
stricken area. By 8 PM Saturday, the Red Cross had consolidated all the
shelters into one at a local community college. The Red Cross estimated that
up to 500 residents initially took advantage of the shelters.

By 10 PM, all amateurs but one at the Red Cross chapter house and one at the
shelter were released from duty. Davis said most hams were back over the
next few days to assist with damage assessment efforts.

More information on the Alabama amateurs' response to the tornado is
available on the Alabama Emergency Response Team page,
http://www.alert-alabama.org/ .--thanks to ALERT; Cal Davis, KF4LAR/TARC;
press reports

==>ARISS SUCCESS! ILLINOIS KIDS ENJOY HAM RADIO SPACE CHAT

It was a historic moment for Amateur Radio. Several hundred youngsters,
teachers, parents, and news media representatives were on hand at Luther
Burbank Elementary School near Chicago December 21 for the first successful
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station school contact.

The third time was indeed the charm, as several pupils plus one teacher got
to chat with Space Station Alpha Commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL,
via ham radio. Earlier attempts to contact Shepherd on December 19 had not
worked out, despite the extensive technical preparations.

On December 21, however, Shepherd, using the special NA1SS call sign, came
right back to a call from veteran SAREX/ARISS mentor Charlie Sufana, AJ9N,
at the school. Braving repeated snowstorms and frigid temperatures, Sufana
and his ARISS team had spent the better part of two weeks setting up gear
and antennas for the scheduled contact. The effort paid off.

"I'm happy that we were able to pull it off," Sufana said. "The kids were
bouncing off the walls."

During the 10-minute pass, 14 first through eighth graders plus science and
math teacher Rita Wright got a chance to pose questions about life aboard
Space Station Alpha to Shepherd. 

"I think the most favorite thing about being on space station is just the
ability to float around in space," Shepherd said in response to one
student's question. "It's like you're not moving at all. You're just like in
a pool and you can move anywhere you want, but there's no water in it."

Shepherd said the crew is keeping detailed logs about life on the space
station. He said the crew was enjoying taking pictures of Earth from space,
"because you can see things that you can't see from the ground."

At the conclusion of the successful contact, the grateful crowd applauded
loudly and offered up a hearty "thank you!" and "73!" to Shepherd and his
Russian crewmates. Shepherd signed off by saying that he enjoyed the chat
and was looking forward to more school QSOs with youngsters around the
country. Another two dozen schools are under consideration for ARISS school
contacts. Schools in Virginia and New York are tentatively scheduled for
contacts next month.

==>FCC ADOPTS CONSENT DECREE IN AMATEUR INTERFERENCE CASE

The second amateur cited by the FCC in a 1999 malicious interference case in
Pennsylvania has cut a deal with the FCC to avoid paying a $7500 fine. The
FCC this week adopted a consent decree terminating its proceeding against
Michael E. Gallagher, KB1DTA (ex-KB3DHX), of West Concord, Massachusetts. In
exchange for not having to pay the fine, Gallagher agreed to turn in his ham
ticket and not reapply for five years. He also must stay out of further
trouble with the FCC.

The Commission said Gallagher had provided financial statements supporting
his claim that paying the $7500 forfeiture would cause him financial
hardship.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the December 18 consent decree wraps
up the FCC's malicious interference investigation of Gallagher and Kornwell
H. Chan, W3CI, of Dresher, Pennsylvania. Also facing a $7500 fine, Chan
worked his own deal with the FCC last year. He agreed to give up his ham
ticket until 2003 and cooperated with the FCC in its investigation. In
exchange, the FCC waived the fine, provided there are no further violations.

In March 1999, Chan and Gallagher each were fined in connection with
malicious interference to the Phil-Mont Mobile Radio Club VHF and UHF
repeaters on two occasions the previous month. FCC personnel had monitored
interfering signals that included transmissions of classical music and a
person talking with a disguised voice. Using direction-finding gear, FCC
agents tracked the signal to a vehicle in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania,
occupied by Chan and Gallagher and equipped with amateur gear.

In the consent decree, Gallagher agrees to not contest the findings of the
Notice of Apparent Liability that he violated FCC rules in February 1999,
although the findings may not be used against him in any current or future
proceedings--provided Gallagher does not violate FCC rules or the consent
decree provisions.

SAN FRANCISCO HAM LOSES ALL BUT HF CW PRIVILEGES FOR TWO YEARS

San Francisco amateur licensee Danny Kenwood, WA6CNQ, has again come in for
FCC enforcement action. In an unusual enforcement twist, the FCC has
modified Kenwood's General ticket to prohibit all amateur operation but HF
Morse for a period of two years.

Kenwood lost his VHF and UHF privileges for 90 days in October 1999
following allegations of profanity, obscenity, and deliberate interference
directed at users of the K7IJ Grizzly Peak repeater and of failure to
properly identify. Last spring, the FCC issued a Warning Notice to Kenwood
on the basis of reports from the K7IJ repeater system control operator that
the repeater had to be shut down due to Kenwood's alleged "interference and
harassment to other operators on the repeater system." 

According to a December 5 letter to Kenwood from FCC Special Counsel for
Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth, Kenwood voluntarily agreed to
the HF CW-only modification, which begins November 30 and continues through
November 2002. The prohibition extends to Kenwood's operation of any other
amateur station as well as to operation of his own station by himself or
anyone else.

Hollingsworth told Kenwood that if he violates FCC rules or the terms of the
agreement, the FCC will initiate revocation and suspension proceedings
against Kenwood and could also levy a fine.

==>WILLEM VAN TUIJL, FAMILY HOPEFUL FOLLOWING SURGERY IN US

Willem van Tuijl, the boy wounded during a pirate attack off the coast of
South America earlier this year, is back home in the Netherlands after a
short visit to the US for additional surgery. Willem, 13, and his parents,
Jacco and Jannie van Tuijl, KH2TD and KH2TE, now are looking forward to
Christmas.

The van Tuijls had been sailing around the world when the attack occurred
last March. The Amateur Radio community rallied on 20 meters in response to
Jacco van Tuijl's frantic call for help following the incident. Several
amateurs assisted the family in keeping the badly wounded teenager alive as
they sailed for a safe harbor in Honduras.

Through the efforts of ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, Willem was
transported to the US for further surgery and rehabilitation. The youth was
paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his injuries, however. The van
Tuijls returned to the Netherlands in June.

Willem and his family quietly returned to the US in early November so he
could undergo advanced nerve-graft surgery that might help restore the
proper function of some of his internal organs. "They don't know what the
outcome will be," Jacco van Tuijl told the ARRL.

In a bold move, Van Tuijl said, surgeons at Jackson Memorial Hospital in
Miami, took nerves from both of Willem's legs and attempted to graft them
between the severed nerves. It's the first time such a procedure has been
attempted, and it will be several months before it's known whether the
surgery was at all successful. 

Van Tuijl said the best possible outcome of the 18-hour-long operation would
be a return of Willem's ability to flex his hip and knee joints--something
that could tremendously improve his quality of life. Just as important could
be the restoration of Willem's bladder and bowel function as a result of the
repair.

Many of the expenses of the surgical visit were paid for out of the Willem
Fund, established after the youth came to the US for additional medical
treatment. Neurosurgeons James Guest and Bart Green and other assisting
physicians donated their services, van Tuijl said.

Van Tuijl said his son was now back in the equivalent of middle school in
the Netherlands. "He seems to be doing pretty well," van Tuijl said. "He's
been taking good care of himself." Jacco van Tuijl now is working in the
Gulf of Mexico on a vessel that lays pipelines, and he occasionally gets on
the air from his ship to talk with friends.

An article about Willem appears in People magazine's year-end issue.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar scholar Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average solar
flux and sunspot numbers were up sharply this week. Solar flux average for
the week was up more than 47 points, and sunspot numbers rose more than 85
points. It has been a quiet week geomagnetically, with planetary A indices
in the single digits.

Solar flux probably peaked at 2200 UTC on December 20, when it reached
207.7. Solar flux is predicted over the next few days, Friday through Monday
at 195, 195, 190 and 190. Planetary A index for those days is predicted at
12, 15, 15 and 12. The reason for the unsettled geomagnetic condition is a
coronal mass ejection on December 18 that is expected to cause a weak
disturbance.

Beyond this weekend look for solar flux to drop to a short term minimum
around January 3-5 at 140. The next peak is expected from January 16-19.

Sunspot numbers for December 14 through 20 were 157, 181, 217, 229, 174, 163
and 183 with a mean of 186.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 182.2, 187.8, 190.5,
196.7, 198, 198.6 and 201.3, with a mean of 193.6. The estimated planetary A
indices were 4, 3, 4, 8, 10, 5 and 4 with a mean of 6.3.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: ARRL Straight Key Night, the RAC Winter Contest
and the Stew Perry Topband Distance Challenge are the weekend of December
30-31. JUST AHEAD: The CCCC Millennium Contest,is January 1-2. The ARRL RTTY
Roundup and the Japan International DX Contest (CW) are the weekend of
January 5-7. See December QST, p 97, and January QST, page 99, for details.

* Susan Ness gets recess FCC appointment: Calling the position "vital to the
daily operation of the FCC," the White House this week announced the recess
appointment of Susan Ness as a member of the FCC. Ness has served on the FCC
since 1994 and has been the senior member of the Commission since November
1997. She also was the FCC's senior representative at the 1995, 1997 and
2000 World Radiocommunication Conferences. Her nomination for another term
has been held up in the Senate. With Congress adjourned, Clinton was able to
make the recess appointment, avoiding the possibility of a tie on pending
FCC issues, including the AOL-Time Warner merger. The reappointment gives
the FCC a Democratic majority for the next few months until President-Elect
George W. Bush either nominates Ness for another term or names a
replacement.

* Updated Volunteer Examiner manual now available: The revised edition of
The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Manual now is available in PDF format from the
ARRL Web site, http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/veman2000finalpdf.pdf . Hard
copies of the manual, which was prepared by ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke,
W9JJ, and his staff, will be shipped soon to prospective Volunteer Examiners
who requested the updated manual. An initial stock of manuals was expected
at ARRL Headquarters by December 22.

* ARRL welcomes W1DGM to ARRLWeb editorial staff: Dave Mello, W1DGM, an ARRL
Life Member, has joined the ARRL Headquarters Web site editorial staff.
Dave's career has spanned the fields of radar, rockets, inventions, and
"blue sky" programs. His Amateur Radio interests include SSTV, RTTY,
building projects from The ARRL Handbook, RCC, and WAS. His primary work at
ARRL will involve writing and editing news and features for the ARRL Web
site. 

* Bouvet (3Y) is on the air! Astronaut Chuck Brady, N4BQW, is on the island
of Bouvet (3Y) and on the air using the call sign 3Y0C. Bouvet is the 10th
most-wanted entity on The ARRL DXCC List. Brady, a group of scientists from
South America and a team leader from Norway will be there for three months
for scientific studies. This is not a DXpedition, but Brady expects to find
some time to operate and has been on 20 meters SSB. QSL via WA4FFW. For more
information, visit the Amateur Radio Infoline site,
http://www.qsl.net/zr1dq.--Bernie McClenny, W3UR

* NORAD tracking Santa Claus: The North American Aerospace Defense Command
tracks Santa's journey around the globe each year. The fun begins Christmas
Eve. Visit the NORAD tracking site for details, http://www.noradsanta.org/ .


* Petition seeks increased privileges for Novices and Techs with Morse
credit: The FCC has put on public notice a petition from Joseph Speroni,
AH0A, that calls on the FCC to modify its rules to permit current Novice and
Tech Plus or Technician with Morse credit licensees to operate CW in
expanded subbands on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters. Speroni proposes permitting
Novices and Technicians with Element 1 credit to operate on CW on 3525-3750
kHz; 7025-7150 kHz, 21,025-21,200 kHz and 28,000-28,500 kHz, maintaining the
current power limitation of 200 W PEP on those segments. The FCC has
assigned his petition Rule Making number RM-10018.

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for December was Phil Salas, AD5X, for his article "A Simple HF-Portable
Antenna." Congratulations, Phil! ARRL members are reminded that the winner
of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author(s) of the best article in
each issue--now is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place
each month on the ARRL Members Only Web site at
http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html . As soon as your copy
arrives, cast a ballot for your choice as the favorite article in the
January issue of QST. Voting ends January 15. 

=========================================================== 
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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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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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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