*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 20, No. 01 January 5, 2001 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +AO-40 recovery continues * +FCC wraps up W5YI-VEC South Carolina probe * +Second ARISS school QSO a success * +"Mother of All Jamming Stations" plagues 40 meters * +Round-the-world ham-sailor reaches South Africa * +Hams asked to listen for Texas escapees * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio Correction +ARRL DXCC Desk announces new 17-Meter Award +New Oscar numbers assigned Hams, REACT members fill communication gap Gracey to grace LDG Lew E. Tepfer, W6FVV, SK Peter J. Gellert,W2WSS, SK W. Scudder Georgia Jr, KD3P, SK RTTY by WF1B now a free program FCC levies fine for illegal amplifier sales W2MTA ends tenure as NTS Eastern Area Staff chair Outgoing QSL Service tops 1999 stats +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>AO-40 COULD BE LEAKING AO-40 team member Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, says a small leak on AO-40 could account for the higher spin rate ground controllers have noticed since the satellite resumed telemetry transmissions on Christmas Day. Guelzow called on the amateur community to be patient during the AO-40 recovery. "The good thing is that AO-40 seems to be in a very stable condition, and there are no signs of further damage," Guelzow said this week in a posting to the AMSAT bulletin board. "However, there is a sign of a small leak." Ground controllers continue to look into the reason for the higher spin rate as well as into other items under investigation, Guelzow said, and the results will be reported when the AO-40 team reaches its final conclusions. He said the priority for now is to get AO-40 back to normal as soon as possible. AO-40 went silent December 13 while ground controllers were testing the onboard 400-newton propulsion system. Guelzow's posting did not indicate whether he thought that propulsion system fuel or some other substance was escaping through the suspected leak. A computer reset command Christmas Day brought the satellite back to life, but telemetry data suggest that AO-40 suffered some damage. Since Christmas, the AO-40 ground team has been analyzing telemetry sent via the 2.4 GHz beacon--the only transmitter now operating--to determine the status of AO-40's onboard systems. Guelzow said that once the AO-40 team has a handle on the antenna situation it might attempt to get the 2-meter and possibly the 70-cm transmitters working. Until then, he said, AO-40 will continue to use the 2.4 GHz downlink. Guelzow said that because of the currently limited downlink capabilities, uploading of new commands and analyzing the results is taking somewhat longer than it would under normal circumstances. The AO-40 team also is evaluating the satellite's magnetorquing attitude control system and wants to spin down the spacecraft and adjust AO-40's attitude for better sun and squint angles. In addition, ground controllers will be taking a close look at various other systems and experiments onboard, including the arcjet and the stabilization wheels. "Once this is completed and we have a complete overview, then we can declare the spacecraft to work normally and perhaps think about re-defining the mission of AO-40, whatever it will be," Guelzow said. AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, this week said critical decisions would be made over the next week or two "based on the results of the analysis and much discussion among the command team."--AMSAT-BB; AMSAT-DL ==>FCC COMPLETES W5YI-VEC SOUTH CAROLINA INQUIRY The FCC has wrapped up its probe into alleged irregularities at three 1999 South Carolina Amateur Radio exam sessions. The FCC says it found "nothing improper" at an October 9, 1999, W5YI-VEC test session in Iva, but it suggested the VEC could have avoided problems with forgeries at exam sessions in Clemson in July and August of 1999. The FCC initiated an audit of the W5YI-VEC last year, and the VEC has cooperated in the probe. In December, the FCC asked W5YI-VEC to detail how it screens and accredits VEs and its procedures for verifying the results of W5YI-VEC test sessions. In a letter to W5YI-VEC's Fred Maia, W5YI, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth said the forgeries and a Clemson "sub-session" where two volunteer examiners are alleged to have fraudulently upgraded themselves "constitute an alarming failure of oversight and integrity in the Volunteer Examiner program at those sessions." The "sub-session" followed a scheduled exam session on July 14, 1999, in Clemson. The FCC alleges that then-volunteer examiners William J. Browning, ex-AB4BB and AF4PJ, and James F. Chambers, KF4PWF--in Hollingsworth's words--"apparently awarded themselves upgrades to Extra class" at the ad hoc exam session at Browning's home by forging the signatures of other VEs. The FCC also says someone forged the signature of VE Grady Robinson, AK4N, on applications for all 10 examinees at an August 26, 1999, session in Clemson. Hollingsworth said that Robinson "was not present at the session and was in no way at fault." As a result of the Clemson inquiry, Browning forfeited his Amateur Radio license. Chambers has been called in for retesting and his role "is still under review," Hollingsworth said. Browning and Chambers handled all paperwork for both the regular exam sessions and the "sub-session" in Clemson. "It would appear that these forgeries and the upgrading of the volunteer examiners at their own 'sub-session' could have been detected by merely attempting to verify the presence of the volunteer examiners whose names and call signs appeared on the examination session documents," Hollingsworth told the W5YI-VEC. Hollingsworth said Maia has responded to the FCC's letter. When contacted, Maia offered no comment on the FCC's latest request for information about W5YI-VEC's examination procedures. In the past he has said his VEC screens volunteer examiner applicants as well as it can and carefully logs every exam session. ==>SECOND ARISS SCHOOL CONTACT A SUCCESS! Students at the Armstrong Fundamental Elementary School in Hampton, Virginia, got to interview Space Station Alpha Commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, via Amateur Radio on January 5.The contact was the second successful Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or ARISS--school contact. During the afternoon contact, about 10 students posed questions to Shepherd, who identified using the special NA1SS call sign. On the ground and using the Virginia Air and Space Center's KA4ZXW call sign, control operator Wally Carter, K4OGT, finally linked up with Shepherd about four minutes into the scheduled 10-minute pass. Signals were somewhat noisy but readable. Students seemed fascinated with the effects of launch and space flight. Being launched from Earth into space felt like "someone standing on your chest," Shepherd told Mandy, the first questioner. But after about eight minutes or so, he said, you become weightless and can go anywhere you want. Shepherd told another questioner, who asked if he'd gotten dizzy or sick during launch that being weightless was "a very nice experience." He told another youngster that keeping food down in a zero-gravity environment was not a problem. Students at Jan Sheldon Elementary School, Varysburg, New York, hope to complete their ARISS contact in the January 15-19 time frame, but all school QSO schedules are subject to change. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site, http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/.--ARISS ==>"MOTHER OF ALL JAMMING STATIONS" CONTINUES TO PLAGUE 40 METERS For some months now, regular users of the 40-meter band have been plagued from time to time by strong, very broad, frequency-hopping signals that somewhat resemble a slow-scan TV transmission. The signals, it turns out, originate from jamming stations in the Middle East. "We know exactly what this is," said ARRL Monitoring System Coordinator Brennan Price, N4QX. "This is a very high-power Iraqi jammer of a very high-power Iranian shortwave broadcast station." The loud buzzing signals have been heard on the 40-meter CW and phone bands and have even been "spotted" on packet. The jammers occupy about 10 kHz of spectrum. Price says the shortwave broadcast station involved is The Voice of the People of Kurdistan, transmitted via The Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran facility in Teheran. "The Iranian station has a daily transmission on 7100 kHz from the same facility, and Iraq has jammed that one also," he says. Price explains that the Iranian station--which broadcasts anti-Saddam Hussein propaganda, hence the jamming--jumps frequencies several times each broadcast in order to avoid the jamming. Unfortunately for 40-meter users, the Iraqi transmissions follow. This results in a situation where it's hard to predict when the jammers might show up on a given frequency block or how long they'll stay. Price said that neither station is transmitting where it is supposed to be. "The Iranian and Iraqi telecommunications administrations have been advised of this," he said. Price says that such "politically motivated" intruders typically don't disappear until the political situation changes. "The 'woodpecker' went away when the Cold War did," he said. "This one will probably not go away until Saddam Hussein does." ==>ROUND-THE-WORLD HAM-SAILOR REACHES SOUTH AFRICA Round-the-world sailor David Clark, KB6TAM, has arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, aboard the sailing vessel Mollie Milar. Clark, who's trying to become the oldest person to sail solo around the world, has been using ham radio as a welcome link to the world he left behind and has been a daily check-in on the Maritime Net (14.313 MHz). Clark's wife, Lynda, reports that the 76-year-old Clark and his sailing companion, Mickey, a west highland terrier, arrived just before Christmas and have been relaxing and getting acquainted. "Several repairs are needed, and David will be playing his clarinet for the people of Cape Town to earn monies to accomplish these repairs," Lynda Clark said in an e-mail posting over the holidays. Clark plans to stay in Cape Town until mid-February. He and Mickey left Ft Lauderdale aboard his 44-foot steel-hulled sloop in December 1999. He hopes to celebrate the successful completion of his voyage at the Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before his 77th birthday on May 17. Clark already has sailed around the world once--in 1987 to 1991--although not completely alone. A previous solo attempt failed in 1995 when he was dismasted in the Indian Ocean and lost his boat and everything he owned. Clark is financing his latest adventure out of his own pocket, using his Social Security income. Detailed reports of Clark's adventures can be found on Clark's son David's Web pages, http://www.captainclark.com/Pages/Updates.html. --Lynda Clark ==>ESCAPEES MAY HAVE STOLEN RADIOS; HAMS ASKED TO MONITOR According to news reports, the seven Texas prison escapees still at large and now wanted in connection with the murder of Irving, Texas, police officer Aubrey Hawkins, KC5USI, also may have stolen radios from a Houston Radio Shack store. The radios are said to include Amateur Radio 2-meter H-Ts as well as Business Radio Service (programmed for 156.400 MHz) and Family Radio Service (462.5625-467.7125 MHz) radios. Hams have been asked to monitor these bands and report any suspicious activity any hour of the day to the Huntsville Command Center, 936-437-6735, and to their local law enforcement agency. Police advise that anyone spotting these suspects not try to approach them but contact local authorities immediately. More information on the escapees is at http://people.txucom.net/tdcj-iad/ .--Jerry Karlovich, KD5OM ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: On January 2 and 3 a large sunspot group--number 9289--crossed the center of the visible solar disk. This is the area that has the greatest effect on Earth. It covered 890-millionths of the solar disk, an area five times the surface of Earth. On January 4 around 0900 UTC, Earth reached perihelion--the closest it will be to the sun all year. Sunspot numbers and solar flux were down over the past week, with the weekly average sunspot number off more than 20 points and the average solar flux declining nearly 14. Geomagnetic conditions were very quiet, with Wednesday having only moderately unsettled conditions, a planetary A index of 11. Solar flux is expected to continue to fall over the next few days, and reach a short term minimum around January 9 or 10. The next solar flux peak is expected around January 18-21. Unsettled geomagnetic conditions are expected with a planetary A index of 15 for January 5 and 6, stabilizing slightly to an A of 12 for January 7 and 8. Now as promised in last week's bulletin, it is time to review the numbers for last year, and perhaps divine when the peak of this sunspot cycle occurred. The yearly averages of daily sunspot numbers for 1995-2000 were 28.7, 13.2, 30.7, 88.7, 136.3 and 174.4. The yearly averages of daily solar flux numbers for 1995-2000 were 77.1, 73.4 81, 117.9, 153.7 and 181.2. We can see that the minimum activity was centered around 1996 and that maximum was in 2000. Since there is so much daily variation in the data (even at the cycle peak), it is useful to look at averages. The monthly averages of daily sunspot numbers for 2000, January through December, were 140.8, 161.9, 203.6, 193.4, 188.8, 190.3, 236.7, 166.7, 169.9, 138.9, 149.9 and 146.4. The 236.7 number for July was the highest for the year. Monthly average of daily solar flux for the year was 159, 174.1, 208.2, 184.2, 184.5, 179.8, 200.5, 163.1, 201.7, 167.7, 178.8 and 173.6. This gives us three peaks--in March, July and September. The quarterly daily sunspot averages were 168.9, 190.8, 193.1 and 145, and quarterly solar flux was 180.5, 182.9, 188.3 and 173.3. These suggest a maximum in the third quarter, July through September. Ultimately the solar physicists who represent the real scientific expertise will come up with an approximate date for the peak using a smoothed moving average, but the data are not all in yet. Sunspot numbers for December 28 through January 3 were 159, 150, 140, 153, 119, 143 and 128, with a mean of 141.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 185.4, 181.5, 182.1, 169.5, 171, 176.1 and 169.9, with a mean of 176.5. The estimated planetary A indices were 5, 6, 2, 2, 3, 4 and 11 with a mean of 4.7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The ARRL RTTY Roundup is the weekend of January 5-7, and Kid's Day is January 6 (see December 2000 QST page 45 for more information on Kid's Day). JUST AHEAD: The Japan International DX Contest (CW), the North American QSO Party (CW), and the Hunting Lions in the Air Contest are the weekend of January 13-14. See January QST, page 99, for details. . [NOTE: Dates for the Japan International DX Context are incorrect in QST.] * Correction: A news item "New section managers take office January 1" that ran in The ARRL Letter, Vol 19, No 50, and on ARRLWeb, contained incorrect information about the South Carolina section manager election. Incumbent South Carolina Section Manager Patricia Hensley, N4ROS, was elected in November 2000 with opposition from two challengers.--Rosalie White, K1STO * ARRL DXCC Desk announces new 17-Meter Award: The ARRL DXCC Desk now is accepting applications for its new 17-Meter Single Band DXCC Award. The 17-Meter DXCC certificates will be dated but not numbered, and 17-meter credits also will count toward the DeSoto Cup competition for 2001. To determine prior credits on 17 meters, contact DXCC for an update to help avoid duplicates and additional costs. Copies of DXCC records are available (in Adobe PDF format) by contacting the DXCC Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org (if requesting via US mail, include $1.50 for postage or an SASE with $1.50 in postage). For more information, contact DXCC at email@example.com. * New Oscar numbers assigned: SaudiSat 1A and 1B are now officially OSCAR 41, or SO-41, and OSCAR 42, or SO-42. AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton,VE3FRH, has delegated to past president Bill Tynan W3XO, the task of assigning OSCAR numbers. In a letter to Turki Al Saud, director of Space Research at the King Abdullazziz City for Science and Technology--the sponsoring agency--Tynan congratulated all involved with the two spacecraft. "I am sure that the world's Amateur Radio community will very much appreciate having SO-41 and SO-42 available for use," he said. SaudiSat 1A and 1B were launched September 26, 2000, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, aboard a converted Soviet ballistic missile. Both satellites are in the commissioning stage, with initial housekeeping tasks under way. Each satellite will operate as a 9600-baud digital store-and-forward system as well as an analog FM (bent-pipe) repeater.--AMSAT News Service * Hams, REACT members fill communication gap: Amateur Radio and REACT radio operators provided emergency communication service to the Schenectady, New York, area after the Verizon telephone office was flooded December 28, 2000, by a water main break. Telephone service was disrupted to 60,000 customers in Schenectady, Saratoga, Fulton, and Montgomery counties in upstate eastern New York. A state of emergency was declared. ARES Schenectady County Emergency Coordinator George Chapek, N2AIG, reports that Amateur Radio operators from Schenectady ARES/RACES staffed the Schenectady Emergency Operations Center. The Schenectady County Emergency Communications Net was called up on a local repeater and remained in continuous operation for about eight hours. In addition to staffing the EOC station, Amateur Radio and REACT operators also deployed mobile stations to 14 strategic locations in Schenectady, displaying signs indicating that they had the capability to relay emergency calls for the public. Communications were carried out on amateur VHF and UHF bands plus GMRS and 11-meter CB. More than 75 hams and REACT operators volunteered time and equipment to the effort, some of them traveling from surrounding counties to help.--George Chapek, N2AIG * Gracey to grace LDG: Amateur Radio industry veteran Everett L. Gracey, WA6CBA, of Reno, Nevada, has joined LDG Electronics Inc of St Leonard, Maryland, as its worldwide Amateur Radio dealer sales representative. LDG Electronics makes automatic antenna tuners, digital wattmeters and other amateur products that are available through the dealer network. Gracey has a long career in the Amateur Radio business. In addition to being the author of several books (including My 20 Years of RV Adventures), Gracey co-founded Mirage Communications in 1979 and co-founded RF Concepts in 1986.--LDG news release * Lew E. Tepfer, W6FVV, SK: Well-known SSTVer Lew E. Tepfer, W6FVV, of Weed, California, died December 22, 2000, as a result of an auto accident. He was 79. An ARRL member, had recently announced that he was stepping down after 20 years as the head of the International Visual Communication Association. Well-known in the amateur Slow Scan TV community, he was awarded a plaque inscribed to "Mister IVCA" at the Dayton Hamvention a few years ago. His wife, Lila, survives. * Peter J. Gellert,W2WSS, SK: National Traffic System veteran Pete Gellert, W2WSS, of New York City died December 23, 2000. He was 74. An ARRL member, Gellert was manager of the Empire Slow Speed Net for more than 25 years. Veteran traffic handler and ARRL Official Relay Station Gary Ferdinand, W2CS--himself a former NTS net manager--says Gellert's monthly bulletin always contained words of encouragement and interesting commentary on the art of traffic handling. "I know of no other single individual who has contributed so much to nurturing traffic handling and who has affected the lives and operating habits of so many others," Ferdinand said. * W. Scudder Georgia Jr, KD3P, SK: W. Scudder Georgia, KD3P, of Bethesda, Maryland, died December 26, 2000. He was 86. An Amateur Radio operator in his teens, Georgia became a covert communications officer during World War II, training clandestine radio operators behind enemy lines for the Office of Strategic Services. Georgia received the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for his wartime service. He continued after the war as a covert operative for the CIA, from which he retired in 1973. At age 74, Georgia took up scuba diving, and he celebrated his 78th birthday with a 78-foot dive in the Caribbean. On his 80th birthday, he parachuted out of an airplane in Delaware. Survivors include his wife, Gladys, and three children, Willis, Jeffrey (N1DZT), and Jennifer. * RTTY by WF1B now a free program: Just in time for the ARRL RTTY Roundup January 5-7, (see the 2001 ARRL RTTY Round-Up Rules or December QST, page 111) Ray Ortgiesen, WF1B, has changed the way his RTTY contest software is distributed. From now on, RTTY by WF1B will be available free via the Internet. Users will pay a fee for support, however. WF1B is making the program's source code available and is soliciting suggested changes from programmers. For details, visit the RTTY by WF1B Web page, http://www.wf1b.com/. * FCC levies fine for illegal amplifier sales: The FCC has fined Stephen Fowler, doing business as Exports R US in Pineville, Louisiana, $7000 for marketing an unauthorized external radio frequency power amplifier. The FCC's New Orleans field office issued a Notice of Apparent Liability last September against Fowler d/b/a/ Exports R Us; the FCC says Fowler has not responded. The forfeiture is due within 30 days of the Forfeiture Order, adopted December 28, 2000. * W2MTA ends tenure as NTS Eastern Area Staff chair: Bill Thompson, W2MTA, has announced that he will not seek another term as chairman of the National Traffic System Eastern Area Staff. An ARRL Life Member, Thompson has served in that position since 1989. Thompson says he plans to continue as an NTS Official, managing operations related to the Second and Thirteenth Regions of the National Traffic System (Atlantic Region Net). Nominations for Eastern Area Staff chair for the next two years go to Steve Ewald, WV1X, firstname.lastname@example.org at ARRL Headquarters. * Outgoing QSL Service tops 1999 stats: ARRL Outgoing QSL Service Manager Martin Cook, N1FOC, reports that in 2000 the bureau shipped 1,868,895 QSL cards to various QSL Bureaus around the world. This is 15,025 more cards than during 1999. =========================================================== 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. 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