ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 3
January 19, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +ARRL Board meets in Texas
* +Radio rage could cloud ham radio's future
* +AO-40 may have suffered antenna system damage
* +Hams respond to El Salvador quake
* +FCC chairman steps down
* +Mir's execution date nears
* +Bill introduced to expand PRB-1 in Washington
*  ARRL second round emergency communications class fills fast
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     FCC changes e-mail address for auction site complaints
     Ham net summons help for stroke victim
     DXCC Honor Roll submittals due
     FCC announces new address to overnight fees
     First US direction-finding championships set for summer
     RSGB president gets new on-air identity
     Australian stations have special prefix available

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>ARRL BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETS IN TEXAS

The ARRL Board of Directors met in Irving, Texas, January 19 and 20. Among
other agenda items, the Board was scheduled to review the League's position
on Morse code as an international licensing requirement. It also hoped to
come up with a method to solicit membership input on the possible
"refarming" of the HF amateur spectrum in the wake of restructuring.

The meeting is the first of the new millennium and the first to be attended
by new ARRL Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG. Isely topped the
field in a three-way race last November, outpolling the incumbent Director
Ed Metzger, W9PRN, and a second challenger, Richard David Klatzco Jr, N9TQA.

The January meeting also will mark the return of former ARRL First Vice
President Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML, as Hudson Division Vice Director.
Mendelsohn ousted the incumbent Vice Director J.P. Kleinhaus, W2XX, in last
fall's balloting. Mendelsohn also had served previously as Hudson Division
Director and Vice Director.

The ARRL's Morse policy, formalized by Board resolution in 1993, supports
keeping the International Radio Regulations provision obliging
administrations to require that applicants demonstrate the ability to send
and receive Morse code before they may operate below 30 MHz. The Board may
decide to reaffirm its Morse code policy, to modify it, or to seek
additional input from members. In the past, a majority of ARRL members has
supported the policy.

The Board also planned to determine a way to solicit ARRL membership input
on a possible repartitioning of the HF bands, now that restructuring has
been in place since last April 15. As part of its original restructuring
package, the League had proposed "refarming" the current Novice bands to
allow for more efficient use of the most crowded HF allocations. In its
restructuring Order, the FCC declined to take any action on possible
repartitioning until it's had a chance to gauge restructuring's effects.

==>HOLLINGSWORTH SAYS "RADIO RAGE" HAZARDOUS TO HAM RADIO

Entering his third year spearheading the FCC's Amateur Radio enforcement
effort, Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth
says "radio rage" could become a bigger danger to the future of Amateur
Radio than rulebreaking.

"It's the infighting and arguments and juvenile spats," Hollingsworth said
this week. "That's going to come back to haunt us if we don't just grow up.
It will do the service in, if the ham community doesn't put a stop to it."

Hollingsworth said that he's encouraged that the FCC's enforcement program
has the support of "99.9%" of the amateur community and that the vast
majority of hams follow the rules. But, he said that radio rage in the form
of such things as on-air squabbles or frequency fights can degrade the bands
just as quickly as outright rulebreaking. "The FCC can't do anything about
that," he said. "It's up to the amateur community."

Hollingsworth said that while much radio rage technically is not illegal, it
reflects poorly on Amateur Radio and can balloon into an enforcement issue.
More important, he said, rude or intemperate on-air behavior might provide
just the sort of ammunition that an entity seeking additional spectrum will
use against Amateur Radio.

Hollingsworth predicted that the departure January 19 of FCC Chairman
William Kennard (see "FCC CHAIRMAN WILLIAM KENNARD RESIGNS" below) and the
changing of the guard the White House the next day will not alter the course
of the current amateur enforcement effort. He said he sees nothing but
positive changes ahead. 

"I'm willing to bet my SX-115 that we won't miss a beat," he said, referring
to one of his latest acquisitions of vintage ham gear, "as long as the
amateur community lets it be known it still wants enforcement."

Hollingsworth said it was pressure from the ARRL and individual amateurs
that prompted the resumption of amateur enforcement in 1998 during Kennard's
tenure, "and it's the type of program that needs that continual pressure to
keep it going," he added. Overall complaints are down, Hollingsworth said,
"but no one can be complacent."

==>AO-40 REPORT SUGGESTS DAMAGE TO ANTENNA SYSTEMS

The latest information from the AO-40 recovery effort suggests that the
satellite might have suffered antenna system damage when it went silent last
December 13. The satellite stopped transmitting while ground controllers
were testing the 400-newton propulsion system aboard AO-40.

Since the satellite's computer was reset and telemetry resumed December 25,
the AO-40 ground team has been analyzing telemetry sent via the 2.4 GHz
beacon--the only transmitter now operating.

AMSAT-DL Vice President and AO-40 team member Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, said
this week that efforts to restart the 2-meter transmitter were unsuccessful.
The satellite was sending telemetry via the 2-meter transmitter when it went
quit transmitting last month. Guelzow said telemetry seemed to indicate that
the VHF transmitter was working during the test, but no signal was heard.
Additional tests are scheduled

Guelzow reiterated this week that while the 2-meter, 70 cm and 1.2 GHz
receivers are working on the high-gain antennas, none of them will receive
signals using the omnidirectional antennas. "Either the omni antennas are
damaged or the cabling or the antenna relays," Guelzow concluded.

The satellite's 70-cm transmitter--problematic since launch--will be tested
on both the high-gain and omnidirectional antennas once the spacecraft's
spin rate has been reduced and AO-40's heat-dissipation mechanism--the
so-called "heat pipes--start working again.

Guelzow said that AO-40's attitude control system is fully
functional--something that would be critical to keeping the satellite in
orbit on a long-term basis. Guelzow explained that because the sun angle is
now about 60 degrees, the sun sensor's electronics are temporarily disabled.
"Without sun and attitude information, no magnetorquing can be performed,
thus no further attitude or spin change was done," he said. AO-40 team
leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, is developing a software fix that does not rely
on data from the sun sensor.

Guelzow expressed the hope that once the sun angle and antenna-pointing
capabilities have been established, the ground crews will have a better
chance to check out the status of the 2 meter and 70 cm transmitters through
"better-controlled and suitable experiments." He indicated that AO-40's
arcjet thrusters and the reaction wheels also will undergo testing as soon
as possible.

Meinzer recently expressed confidence that, despite its problems, AO-40 will
be functional in the future--although its mission likely will be different
from the one planned prior to launch. 

AMSAT-UK's Richard Limebear, G3RWL, has suggested that AO-40 could at least
be used for "some kind of 400 baud PSK digital communication" via one of the
onboard computers. Limebear said that if the IF matrix is functional, then,
SSB or CW via a linear transponder would be possible. "If AO-40 reaches such
a state, we will get as much or more than AO-10 and AO-13 offered, only on
more state-of-the-art frequencies," he concluded.

==>HAMS RESPOND TO EL SALVADOR EARTHQUAKE 

Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network Director Pat McPherson, WW9E,
reports that health-and-welfare requests continued to flow in from El
Salvador this week. SATERN is maintaining its routine daily net on 14.265
MHz at 1500 UTC but will continue to monitor the frequency at other times.
McPherson says that if it becomes necessary, SATERN will run a formal net to
handle traffic. The earthquake January 13 claimed upwards of 700 lives in El
Salvador and Guatemala. Hundreds of aftershocks and landslides have
compounded the disaster.

"Quent Nelson, WA4BZY, our coordinator for health-and-welfare continues to
process these requests," McPherson said. "Contact has been made with Richard
Webster, YS1/K9ULW, in El Salvador, who has been one of the primary amateurs
assisting the endeavor." Relief traffic reportedly was being handled on 7090
kHz as necessary.

Health-and-welfare inquiries may be directed through the SATERN Web site,
http://www.qso.com/satern .

McPherson said the level of traffic in the wake of the earthquake disaster
has not been overwhelming, "but each message is important to the requestor,"
he added.

At week's end, Nelson relayed information from Salvation Army International
Disaster Services Coordinator Maj Mike Olsen, who heads an assessment team
in El Salvador. Olsen reported  that The Salvation Army is serving more than
18,000 hot meals per day, plus offering medical treatment to earthquake
victims. Olsen reported that local telephone service is unreliable because
of earthquake damage, but the local cellular network is operating. 

McPherson expressed his appreciation to all amateurs who have been helping
in the earthquake relief effort. "This kind of operation continues only
through the great support of the Amateur Radio community and the dedication
of folks driven to help those in need," he said. "Thanks to you all!"

Meanwhile, a team of 22 Turkish rescue personnel was dispatched to the
disaster scene last week. Turkey was hit by a devastating earthquake in the
summer of 1999, and Amateur Radio played a role in providing emergency
communication in the aftermath. Heading up communications for the Turkish
rescue team is Serdar Demirel, TA2NO. The team reportedly is equipped with
an INMARSAT telephone and VHF and UHF amateur gear.

==>FCC CHAIRMAN WILLIAM KENNARD RESIGNS

FCC Chairman William E. Kennard stepped down from that post January 19.
Kennard, a Democrat, said he was leaving the office with great pride in the
FCC's accomplishments and with deep gratitude for having had an opportunity
to serve the American public.

Kennard's resignation was expected, once the AOL-Time Warner mega-merger had
received FCC approval. That happened January 11. It's been widely speculated
that President George W. Bush will name Republican FCC commissioner Michael
Powell--the son of Secretary of State-Designate Gen Colin Powell--to replace
Kennard as FCC chairman.

The agency's first African-American chairman, Kennard presided over the FCC
during a period when the FCC implemented legislation to bring competition to
communications markets. During his three-year tenure, Kennard promoted
competition and consumer choice, encouraged the rollout of broadband and
digital technologies, expanded access to technology and streamlined and
revamped the FCC, including creation of the Enforcement Bureau.

Kennard made bridging the Digital Divide a top priority. During his tenure,
the FCC implemented the E-Rate program, which connected 95% of the nation's
schools and more than one million classrooms to the Internet. Kennard also
worked to expand access to all Americans. 

"We must bring the benefits of the Digital Age to all Americans," said
Kennard. "From the business districts to the barrios; from those with every
advantage to those with disabilities; from the young to the old; from
suburban enclaves to the rural heartland."

His achievements include establishing a Disabilities Rights Office at the
FCC, bringing telephone service to over one million new low-income Native
Americans on tribal lands, and creating the new Low-Power FM radio service
for school, church, and community use. 

For the next few months, Kennard will serve as a senior fellow of the Aspen
Institute Communications and Society Program in Washington, DC.--FCC news
release and press reports

==>MIR'S EXECUTION DATE SET

According to news reports, two Russian space agencies have agreed that March
6 will be D-Day for the Mir space station--"Deorbiting Day," that is.

The Russian space station has had Amateur Radio gear aboard. Over the years,
countless hams on Earth have spoken directly with the crew--which, at times,
has included US astronauts--or have accessed Mir's packet messaging system.
Pictures transmitted via an SSTV experiment installed aboard Mir a few years
ago also delighted earthbound amateurs. 

While the ham gear was installed in part to help boost crew morale, it
became a vital communication link after a nearly disastrous fire broke out
and--not long after--when the space station's hull was pierced in a
collision with a cargo rocket.

The more than 130-ton spacecraft will be pushed out of Earth orbit using
Progress rockets. According to the Russian Aviation and Space
Agency--Rosaviacosmos--and RKK Energia--Mir's operator--a Progress cargo
ship with increased fuel capacity will be launched to Mir January 18. It
will displace a Progress rocket already docked to Mir. 

The second Progress--heavily loaded with fuel for the deorbiting
missions--will dock January 22. In the event of docking problems, Russia is
prepared to send up an emergency cosmonaut crew to complete the job. 

Mir's attitude control system will be disabled. Then, on March 4 and 5, the
Progress will fire its engines and brake the station's orbital velocity. On
March 6, the Progress will deliver the killer blow, firing to decrease Mir's
velocity to the point where it will drop out of orbit. What's left of the
space station after it passes through Earth's atmosphere will plunge into
the Pacific later that day. It's expected that the scuttling of Mir will
generate a shower of debris that could reach Earth's surface. 

Over the years, Mir has become a fixture in orbit and the focal point of
pride for the Russian space program. The initial module of the space station
was launched February 20, 1986. Recently, the Russian government confirmed
its intention to continue its cooperation with the US, Canada, ESA, and
Japan in the development of the International Space Station.--Roy Neal,
K6DUE, and AMSAT News Service, contributed information for this report

==>BILL INTRODUCED TO AMEND PRB-1 IN STATE OF WASHINGTON

Two State of Washington lawmakers have introduced a bill to amend sections
of the Revised Code Of Washington to strengthen that state's PRB-1 law.
Washington incorporated the federal preemption known as PRB-1 in 1994. The
proposed amendment would specify that local governing bodies could not
restrict antenna height to less than 70 feet without a clearly defined
health, safety, or aesthetic reason. 

Washington is one of 10 states that have adopted PRB-1 laws of their own.
Only three states--Oregon, Virginia, and Wyoming--include minimum regulatory
height limits.

Republicans Pam Roach and Dan Swecker introduced Senate Bill SB 5002 for a
first reading on January 8 on behalf of ARRL member George B. Hutchison,
W7KSJ, of Auburn. Hutchison has been promoting the PRB-1 amendment through
an organization called "Hamtowerlaw" (http://www.hamtowerlaw.com). SB 5002
has been assigned to the Economic Development and Telecommunications
Committee. 

Washington's current PRB-1 law says any ordinances or regulations that
localities adopt with respect to Amateur Radio antennas must "reasonably
accommodate amateur communications" and "represent the minimal practicable
regulation" to meet the local authority's legitimate purpose. Hutchison
wants to add wording that would keep cities, counties or towns from
restricting an Amateur Radio antenna's height to less than 70 feet, "unless
the restriction is necessary to achieve a clearly defined health, safety, or
aesthetic consideration."

For more information on PRB-1, visit the ARRL PRB-1 page,
http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/PRB-1_Pkg/index.html .

==>ARRL ROUND 2 EMERGENCY COMMS COURSE FILLS FAST

Once again, registration for the on-line Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Course (EC-001) wrapped up within 24 hours of the opening
announcement. The Round 2 classes are filled.

"With approximately 350 folks waiting to take the course, registration is
first-come-first-served," said ARRL Certification Specialist Dan Miller,
K3UFG. Miller explained that in order to maintain a ratio of 15 students to
each mentor, each class can hold only 45 students. "As more folks are added
to our mentor list, more on-line classes can be offered," he said. 

Miller said that after this week's classes, he anticipates a new class will
begin approximately every four weeks. "Live" classes also could become a
reality later this year. He suggested that those planning on taking the
on-line course first check out the sample course offered on the Connecticut
Distance Learning Consortium Web site (http://www.ctdlc.org/), by logging in
as a guest. "It's an excellent way to prepare for participation in the
future," he said. 

Advanced courses in emergency communications also will become available this
year. These include Level II: NCS and Liaison Training and Level III:
Emergency Communications Management/Administration Issues.

For more information on the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program, send your request to CCE@arrl.org. The Web address is:
www.arrl.org/cce .

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Propagation guru Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average
solar flux dropped a little more than two points, and average sunspot
numbers declined 22 points over the past week. On Wednesday the sunspot
number dropped below 100 for the first time since December 12. The outlook
for the near term is for continued low activity.

Last week's update mentioned a predicted short-term solar flux peak around
200 on January 17, but instead it was only 151.9. The near-term outlook is
for solar flux to continue declining for the next few days to a minimum of
140 on January 21. It then should rise to 170 on January 25, and stay around
175 from January 26 through February 1, peaking at 180 on February 2 or 3. 

These numbers are far below recent values of more than 200 and are another
sign that we have passed the peak of the solar cycle. But along with this
decline in activity come stable geomagnetic conditions. With the longer
winter nights, things looks good for DX on 160, 80 and 40 meters.

In the northern hemisphere, atmospheric noise is also at a seasonal low. The
higher bands remain good during the day, but because of the season 20 meters
is not open late into the evening as it was in the fall.

On January 20, Earth is expected to move through a solar wind coming from a
small coronal hole, but no geomagnetic disturbance currently is predicted.

Sunspot numbers for January 11 through 17 were 173, 173, 146, 181, 154, 115
and 71 with a mean of 144.7. The 10.7-cm flux was 165.9, 178.3, 184.3,
176.3, 169.2, 161.9 and 151.9, with a mean of 169.7. The estimated planetary
A indices were 5, 7, 5, 8, 7, 6 and 7 with a mean of 6.4.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes and the North
American QSO Party (SSB) are the weekend of January 19-21. JUST AHEAD: The
CQ Worldwide 160-Meter DX Contest (CW), the REF French Contest (CW), the UBA
Contest (SSB), and the Kansas QSO Party are the weekend of January 26-28.
See January QST, page 99, for details.

* FCC changes e-mail address for auction site complaints: The FCC has
requested that complaints about the sale of possibly illegal equipment on
eBay, Yahoo and other auction or sales site be sent to fccinfo@fcc.gov.

* Ham net summons help for stroke victim: Jay Leonard, WB4DCP, of Clyde,
North Carolina, is grateful for his Amateur Radio friends. Leonard is
paralyzed except for some use of his hands, and his wife Joann helps him
with routine tasks. On January 14, Jay Leonard was enjoying a roundtable on
75 meters along with hams from several states when his wife suffered an
apparent stroke. Not having access to a telephone, he issued an urgent call
to those on frequency to contact his daughter, who lives some eight miles
away. Dave Baker, AF4NB, in Mt Sterling, Kentucky, immediately fielded the
request, and Leonard's daughter, Renee, alerted 911 and headed for her
parents' house. Joann Leonard subsequently was hospitalized. ARRL Assistant
Kentucky Section Manager Tom Lykins, K4LID, says he's been advised by Jay
Leonard that his wife suffered paralysis on her left side and will be in
treatment for some time. Jay Leonard's daughter and brother will be helping
him out in the meantime.--thanks to Tom Lykins, K4LID, and Dave Smith, W8YZ 

* DXCC Honor Roll submittals due: Submittals for the ARRL DXCC Honor Roll
are due March 31, 2001. For more information, contact ARRL DXCC Manager Bill
Moore, NC1L, bmoore@arrl.org.

* FCC announces new address to overnight fees: There's a new address to
submit fees via overnight courier to the FCC's fiscal agent, Mellon Bank.
The bank has moved its Global Cash Management headquarters to a new Client
Service Center, where all of the FCC's fee-related applications are
processed. Only Mellon Bank's street address will change. The FCC says the
following address should be used for all overnight deliveries: Federal
Communications Commission, c/o Mellon Bank, Mellon Client Service Center,
500 Ross St--Room 670, Pittsburgh, PA 15262-0001. The FCC lockbox address to
receive routine vanity fees has not changed. Applicants may submit FCC Form
605, FCC Form 159 (Fee Remittance form) and the required application fee to
the FCC Bank Contractor address at: FCC Wireless Bureau Applications, POB
358130, Pittsburgh PA 15251-5130.--FCC

* First US direction-finding championships set for summer: ARRL Amateur
Radio Direction Finding Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, has announced the first
US National Championships of Radio Direction Finding this summer. The
Albuquerque Transmitter Hunters, part of the Albuquerque Amateur Radio Club,
will host the event July 31 through August 4 in Albuquerque New Mexico. The
championships are open to all ages at any level of foxhunting experience.
Main events on 2 and 80 meters will feature five fox transmitters to be
found in accordance with standard rules of the International Amateur Radio
Union. Lodging, meals, and ARDF training will be available. For additional
event information, visit the 2001 USA ARDF Championship Web site,
http://www.egroups.com/files/abqardf/web/index.html . For general
information on ARDF, visit Moell's "Homing In" Web site,
http://members.aol.com/homingin/ .

* RSGB president gets new on-air identity: RSGB President Don Beattie has
changed his call sign from G3OZF to G3BJ. He recently learned that a
deceased relative had held the pre-World War II call sign, so he applied to
the RA to take it as his own. He commented that G3BJ is a much better call
sign to send on CW than G3OZF was!--RSGB

* Australian stations have special prefix available: On January 25 and 26,
Australian stations may use the prefix AX to mark Australia Day. This year
marks Australia's 100th anniversary.

=========================================================== 
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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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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