ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
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 dxcc@arrl.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 dxcc@arrl.org. 

* 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,
sewald@arrl.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

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