*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 20, No. 6 February 9, 2001 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +AO-40 future rests on spin, attitude control * +Indian hams put available ham technology to work * +ARRL open for business as Club Station Call Sign Administrator * +A sad end to ham's round-the-world solo sail * +SUNSAT goes dark * +LF signals crossing Atlantic * League offering new five-year membership plan * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio +ARRL Outgoing QSL Service announces revised rates +Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, recovering Call sign switcheroo W9NN to observe 80 years as a ham W1-QSL Bureau changes address Bill Orr, W6SAI, family posts letter of thanks +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>AO-40 FUTURE RESTS ON REDUCING SPIN, REGAINING ATTITUDE CONTROL The key to a successful AO-40 recovery continues to be a matter of reducing spin and regaining the ability to adjust AO-40's attitude from the ground. AMSAT says the current problem is a lack of accurate AO-40 attitude data. Only when ground controllers can accurately determine the satellite's attitude will it be possible to change it and correctly aim AO-40's high-gain antennas for optimal reception on Earth. Ground controllers have had no luck hearing AO-40's transmitters on the omnidirectional antennas on 2 meters, 70 cm or 1.2 GHz. 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. In its latest dispatch on AO-40, AMSAT-Germany waxed nearly poetic in describing the satellite's present situation. "AO-40 is currently like a ship that's lying on a sandbar in the fog at low tide," an update on the AMSAT-DL Web site declared. AMSAT-DL said AO-40 was "in the fog" because its high angle with respect to the sun temporarily prevents the sun sensors from providing attitude data. It's "at low tide" because the steep solar angle means less illumination of the solar panels and less energy produced. And it's "on a sandbar" because the satellite can't be set free from its present situation without some effort. Ground controllers have been hoping that a previously announced "de-spinner" programming routine could permit AO-40 spin control without having to rely on the sun sensors. But even if the programming fix fails, by April, controllers reason, the satellites sensors will again see the sun and "thanks to magnetorquing, spin and attitude can be actively improved upon the rising tide." Once the spin is reduced, sun angle improved, and antennas pointed, testing can resume. Still outstanding are tests of the VHF and UHF transmitters, the arc-jet motor, and the reaction wheels, among others. Both AMSAT-DL President and AO-40 Project Leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, and AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, have continued to be optimistic that AO-40 will have a useful life of Amateur Radio service. AMSAT-DL says the recovery effort has been slowed somewhat because of limited access time on the part of the command team, due to AO-40's current orbital parameters. ==>INDIAN HAMS PUT AVAILABLE HAM TECHNOLOGY TO THE TASK Hams assisting with earthquake relief operations in the Indian State of Gujarat are even taking advantage of the UO-14 amateur FM satellite as they continue providing communication from the stricken region. Hams within the quake zone and those keeping touch from the outside also have found themselves caught up in the human tragedy. The death toll from the quake now is estimated at up to 50,000 and could rise higher. More than 600,000 were left homeless. Bangalore-based Guru Rao, VU2GUR, and Sandeep Shah, VU3SXE, a Gujarati Bangalorean engaged in relief work in Gujarat have been using UO-14 to touch bases. "Guru and Sandeep were quick to seize the opportunity and roped in the amateur satellite UO-14 to maximize all possible communication routes," said Raj Kumar, VU2ZAP, another Bangalore ham who's been following the Amateur Radio effort. While some telephone service in the earthquake zone has been restored, Amateur Radio was the primary link to the outside world in the immediate aftermath of the January 26 earthquake. Another Bangalore amateur, Chandru Ramachandra, VU2RCR--a former UNESCO official--drove his SUV to Bhuj, 1700 km distant. Carrying a medical team and some 400 kg of gear and supplies, he set up a station to establish a link between Bhuj and Bangalore. As of a few days ago, 18 amateurs from the State of Karnataka were handling communication regarding placement of doctors and medical supplies as well as health-and-welfare inquiries into areas where the telephone system is still out. "This has become a practical exam showing our capability and preparedness in disaster management," said Bangalore Amateur Radio Club President Lion Ajoy, VU2JHM. Most of the earthquake-related traffic continues to be handled via HF on 40 and 20-meter SSB, although some VHF FM links have been established for local work in Gujarat. Horey Majumdar, VU2HFR, says hams in Calcutta, where he lives, have been able to locate and pass along information about the well being of several individuals. "However, the best option would have been to have our own team from Calcutta at Bhuj," he said. Majumdar says handling some of the H&W inquiries has been tough. In one case, the information he got via ham radio from the quake zone was not good news. "It was extremely difficult for me to convey to their family that this person, his wife and 7-month-old daughter didn't make it," he said. "There must have been thousands of families like this." Late word from Prem Manani, VU2XMX, in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, is that reliance on amateur communication has ended with the restoration of normal communication channels, although he said some stations were still in action at the request of the Indian government. "The untiring job done by all hams was appreciated by one and all in the government," he said. ==>ARRL OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS CLUB STATION CALL SIGN ADMINISTRATOR The ARRL is open for business as an FCC-designated Club Station Call Sign Administrator. ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, reports that the ARRL CSCSA has received 10 club station applications to date since the program officially began January 22, the date the FCC stopped accepting club station applications. "Beginning this program has been a relatively painless and very straightforward process," Jahnke said. "Keeping the procedures simple has played a big role in how smoothly things have gone." Once an application is received at the ARRL-CSCSA, processing typically takes two business days, Jahnke said. All but one of the applications received by the ARRL CSCSA have been processed and granted by the FCC. "The remaining application was faxed to us, and we need the original signed application rather than a fax in order to process such requests," Jahnke pointed out. Last month, the FCC designated the ARRL-VEC, the W5YI-VEC and the W4VEC Volunteer Examiners Club of America as Club Station Call Sign Administrators. Club station applicants may file via any of the three FCC-designated CSCSAs using either NCVEC Form 605 or W4VEC Form CSCSA to file. The new CSCSAs receive and process hard-copy applications and submit the information electronically to the FCC. The three FCC-designated Club Station Call Sign Administrators do not charge for their services. Club Station Call Sign Administrators do not handle requests for vanity call signs. Amateurs may seek a new club or military recreation station license, or may file for modification, renewal or duplicate (requesting another hard copy license, if the original was lost) of a club or military recreation station license using NCVEC Form 605 or W4VEC Form CSCSA. NCVEC Form 605 is available from the ARRL Web site, http://www.arrl.org/fcc/forms.html . RACES stations may file modification or duplicate requests, but RACES licenses may not be renewed, and the FCC is no longer granting new RACES licenses. The FCC requires applicants to obtain and use an Assigned Taxpayer Identification Number--or ATIN--on their club station applications--although a club that already has registered with the FCC's Universal Licensing System may use its Licensee ID Number instead of its ATIN. If a club has its own IRS-issued Entity Identification Number, or EIN, that number also may be used instead. ==>A SAD END TO ROUND-THE-WORLD SOLO SAIL ATTEMPT An attempt by 76-year-old David Clark, KB6TAM, to become the oldest person to sail solo around the world came to a sad end this week when Clark's vessel, the Mollie Milar, sank two days after leaving Cape Town, South Africa. Clark was rescued, but his "constant companion" Mickey, a west highland terrier, was lost at sea during the rescue attempt. Clark was on the final leg of his journey. "David has been rescued by a container ship and is okay, although I have not been able to talk with him yet," said his wife Lynda, in an e-mail posting. "The ship is heading for East London, South Africa, and I am waiting for a phone call from him, hopefully tomorrow." David Clark's 44-foot sailboat went down the evening of February 7. Lynda Clark said that she got the news via ham radio. "According to the ham operator who contacted me, the boat sprang a leak and the pump could not cope," she said. "It was very heavy weather, so when he realized that the situation was hopeless he called for help and a passing container ship sent a lifeboat to pick him up, and he had Mickey with him." Lynda Clark said that the lifeboat capsized on the way back to the ship, and everyone ended up in the water. "It would have been pitch dark, and in all the trauma Mickey got lost. I'm sure David is heartbroken, as am I," she said. "All of you who have met Mickey along the way know what a special little guy he was." " 'So close, and yet so far away,' I guess the quote goes," she concluded. Lynda Clark said she would post additional information as soon as she hears from her husband. During his journey, which began in late 1999, Clark had been keeping in touch with his wife and family via ham radio, and he was a regular check-in on the Maritime Net on 20 meters. His vessel, which was named for his mother, also had satellite communication gear aboard. Clark had been hoping to return to Ft Lauderdale, Florida, in mid-May, in time for his 77th birthday. ==>SO-35 SATELLITE FAILURE BELIEVED PERMANENT SUNSAT SO-35 has ceased operation, and ground controllers at South Africa's Stellenbosch University, where the satellite was built, say SO-35 appears to be off-the-air for good. The satellite had served as a popular and easily accessible FM-mode repeater. "Unfortunately, little hope remains after two weeks of recovery attempts," said Stellenbosch University's Johann Lochner, ZR1CBC, in a posting to the AMSAT bulletin board. "Thanks to all who shared in our fun. Your feedback and encouragement made most of it happen." A statement (http://sunsat.ee.sun.ac.za/news/20010201.html) from Stellenbosch University's Electronic Systems Laboratory said the last communication with SUNSAT was on January 19 at 1522 UTC. "We are certain, after having performed several tests since the last contact, that an irreversible, probably physical, failure has occurred on the satellite," the statement said. "It is therefore unlikely that we will have any further contact with SUNSAT, apart from the occasional visual sighting by telescope!" Built by Stellenbosch grad students, SO-35 was launched February 23, 1999, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a Delta II rocket. Ground controllers say it's unlikely that battery failure was the cause of the shutdown. It's believed the failure resulted from multiple internal problems or possible collision with an external object resulting in major physical damage. The SUNSAT Web site is at http://sunsat.ee.sun.ac.za. ==>LF SIGNALS CROSSING THE POND, BUT NO QSO YET While efforts to complete a transatlantic LF QSO still have not been successful, things have been looking up lately in the nether reaches of the radio spectrum. Amateur Radio activity in the vicinity of 136 kHz has resulted in several recent "sightings" of signals from the UK here in North America. The first such signals were heard in the US in late January and early February. A report that the AMRAD WA2XTF 136-kHz beacon in Virginia had been heard in the UK turned out to be in error, however. The most recent report came February 6 from Sandy Sanders, WB5MMB, in Oakton, Virginia, who says he was able to copy Lawrence Mayhead, G3AQC, and "dashes" from Jim Moritz, M0BMU, in the vicinity of 136 kHz. Sanders' monitoring station is in a three-story office building. Such weak LF signals are not actually heard but seen. Reception of weak LF signals typically is done using spectrographic software. Signals are transmitted using dual-frequency CW--or DFCW (http://www.qsl.net/on7yd/136narro.htm )--or very slow-speed CW, also known as "QRSS." LF enthusiast Dexter McIntire, W4DEX, says that in DFCW the dot and dash elements are sent with the same duration in time being separated by frequency, making it easier to identify a signal from weak-carrier QRM. From his QTH in coastal North Carolina, McIntire also has copied G3AQC on 136 kHz, possibly marking the first time an amateur LF signal from the UK has been heard and verified in the US. He also received M0BMU's LF transmissions for a possible distance record. "My best reception of M0BMU, Jim Moritz, occurred at 0100 UTC on the 31st of January," McIntire said. For LF reception, he ties together both legs of his 160-meter dipole and tuned the antenna for resonance with a small ferrite-core inductor. Moritz estimated his effective radiated power at 1 W. McIntire's reception of M0MBU might have set a new distance record. He calculated the distance at nearly 6394 km, and Moritz figured it at 6371 km--apparently edging out what's believed to be the record of 6311 km set by VA3LK and IK1ODO. Mayhead said he'd been receiving "excellent signals" from John Currie, VE1ZJ, and Larry Kayser, VA3LK, so he decided to run his own series of beacon tests with the idea of encouraging stations in North America to listen. McIntire says that on January 27, he captured some of G3AQC's DFCW transmission--including the letter "Q"--and sent him a screen shot, which Mayhead confirmed as his. On a subsequent evening, W4DEX copied G3AQC's entire call sign. "I think that we can reasonably claim that these events constitute the first sighting of a UK station in the US," Mayhead concluded. He estimated that his setup generates an ERP of about 350 mW. For a while, it had been thought that an Amateur Radio Research and Development Corporation (AMRAD) WA2XTF experimental 136-kHz beacon in Vienna, Virginia, had been spotted in the UK. John Sexton, G4CNN, had reported copying the AMRAD experimental beacon on 136.750 kHz on February 5 and 6, momentarily raising the excitement level at AMRAD. That turned out not to be the case. Sanders announced this week that it was determined the signal heard in the UK was about 5 Hz high and did not have a characteristic "chirp" that distinguishes the WA2XTF beacon. Like several other countries in Europe, the UK has an amateur band at 136 kHz. Experimental amateur operations have been authorized in Canada; the AMRAD beacon in the US is licensed under the FCC's Part 5 experimental rules. In October 1998, the ARRL petitioned the FCC to create two amateur LF allocations at 135.7-137.8 kHz and 160-190 kHz. The FCC has not yet acted on the request. McIntire is among those who'd like to see a new LF band become reality. "I'm champing at the bit to transmit on 136 kHz!" he said. ==>ARRL OFFERS NEW FIVE-YEAR MEMBERSHIP PLAN With a membership dues increase going into effect July 1, 2001, the ARRL is offering a special five-year membership plan until then, so members can lock in at the current, lower dues rates. Effective immediately, current or prospective ARRL members in the US and US possessions can obtain a five-year renewal or membership for $146 ($122 for those 65 or older)--a saving of $24 ($18 for those 65 or older) from the cost of year-to-year renewal at current rates! Due to postal considerations, this offer cannot be extended to those living in other countries. The special five-year membership offer expires June 30, 2001, the last day the present dues schedule is in effect. After that, annual dues will increase to $39 for individuals ($34 for those 65 and older). Another option is to apply for an ARRL Life Membership for $850. Special discounts apply to senior and visually impaired applicants. A complete rate schedule and application form is available on ARRLWeb, http://www.arrl.org/join.html . ==>SOLAR UPDATE Helio honcho Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers were up almost 10 points, and solar flux was up about 1 point for the past week, when compared to the previous week. This seems to be a period of quiet sun, and the trend is expected to continue. Projected average daily solar flux for the next 45 days is expected to be about 163. This is in line with current daily values. Solar flux peaked at 170 on Tuesday, and is expected to drop over the next few days. Projected flux values for Friday through Monday, February 12 are 155 for Friday, and 150 for the next three days. Flux values are expected to meander between 155 and 165 until February 21-24, when they are expected to rise to 170 again. Another peak just above these values is expected around March 7, although it is really too early to tell. Even with a quiet sun, there have been some unsettled geomagnetic conditions, but no real geomagnetic storms. February 6 was a bit unsettled, but the planetary K index only briefly reached 4. Planetary A index for the day was 11, which was also the mid- latitude A index. Projected planetary A index for the near term is mostly in the single digits. A forecast received today from the Solar Department of the Astronomical Institute in Ondrejov, Czech Republic shows quiet conditions on February 11, 14 and 15, and quiet to unsettled conditions on February 9, 10, 12 and 13. Sunspot numbers for February 1 through 7 were 141, 109, 149, 164, 157, 161 and 163 with a mean of 149.1. The 10.7 cm flux was 160.9, 166.3, 163.6, 164, 165.3, 170 and 164, with a mean of 164.9. The estimated planetary A indices were 7, 5, 2, 2, 3, 11 and 5 with a mean of 5. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (CW), the YL-OM Contest (SSB), the Winter Fireside SSB Sprint, the WorldWide RTTY WPX Contest, the PACC Contest, and the FISTS CW Winter Sprint are the weekend of February 9-11. JUST AHEAD: The 15th annual School Club Roundup is February 12-16; the ARRL International DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of February 17-18. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ for more info. * ARRL Outgoing QSL Service announces revised rates: The ARRL Outgoing QSL Service has announced a new and simplified rate structure, effective March 1, 2001. The new basic rate will be $4 per one-half pound (8 ounces, or approximately 75 cards) or any portion of a half-pound, a change from the current rate of $6 per pound or any portion. DXers still may ship 10 cards for $1, but the 20 and 30-card rates are being discontinued. The new rate structure will help to cover basic handling costs for smaller packages while actually offering a price break to moderate-volume users submitting up to one-half pound of cards. Under the current rate schedule, a half-pound of cards would cost $6, but it will be $4 under the new schedule. The new rates are in response to the recent postal rate increase and price restructuring. The Outgoing QSL Service is available to ARRL members. The last rate increase was in January 1999. For information on using the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service, visit ARRLWeb, http://www.arrl.org/qsl/qslout.html. * Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, recovering: ARRL Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, is said to be doing well following bypass surgery on February 2. All indications are that he should be able to return home this week. Well wishers may contact Bernie via his home address, 17668 Price Rd, Saegertown, PA 16433.--thanks to ARRL Atlantic Division Vice Director Bill Edgar, N3LLR * Call sign switcheroo: A Florida ARRL member has a new call sign he doesn't want because he erroneously checked off the wrong box while changing his address on-line via the FCC's Universal Licensing System. The amateur, who shall remain anonymous, sought ARRL assistance to correct what he thought was an FCC error. ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, looked into the matter. As it turns out, the applicant apparently answered in the affirmative on Schedule D of Form 605 where it asks "Is this a request to change a station call sign systematically?" The FCC accordingly changed the call sign. Jahnke points out that applicants seeking to change their addresses in the FCC's database do not need to use Schedule D, and even if it were used, the correct answer would have been "no" unless the applicant wanted a new sequential, or systematic, call sign. Jahnke said the applicant could attempt to plead his case to the FCC, which often is reluctant to correct such errors by applicants. He also suggested that the applicant could recover his old call sign by applying for it under the vanity program as a former holder and paying the $14 fee. Late word is that the licensee is going the vanity route. * W9NN to observe 80 years as a ham: Bob Baird, W9NN, of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has been a ham for 80 years and is one of the founding fathers of the Quarter Century Wireless Association. He also turns 95 on February. Friends will gather for a "dual-celebration" luncheon February 17, 2001 (11 AM-1 PM, at the Stage Coach Inn at Mosinee; contact Wayne Johnson, K9MIF, firstname.lastname@example.org for details). Bob Baird's work in founding the QCWA took place about 1921. He's a member of Chapter 174. A QCWA plaque presentation is on the program. Baird was engineering supervisor at Chicago's WGN radio for 36 years. He also was the founder of the W9DXCC. He continues to be active on CW and possibly other modes.--Badger State Smoke Signals * W1-QSL Bureau changes address: Effective immediately the address of the ARRRL W1 Incoming QSL Bureau has changed. The new address is: W1 Incoming QSL Bureau, YCCC, PO Box 7388, Milford, MA 01757-7388. Mail sent to the Springfield address will be forwarded for up to one year. * Bill Orr, W6SAI, family posts letter of thanks: The family of the late Bill Orr, W6SAI, has expressed its appreciation to those in the amateur community who wrote following Orr's death on January 24. "The entire Orr family wishes to express our deep gratitude for all of your kind condolences upon the death of our father William I. Orr, W6SAI. We have received e-mails from all over the world, and are proud that our father's legacy will live on through people like you, his treasured Amateur Radio family," the letter said in part. "It is of great comfort to us to know that you will miss him too. He was our hero and will be forever missed." The Orr family invited donations to The ARRL Foundation in his memory.--thanks to Bill Fizette, W2DGB =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; http://www.arrl.org. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb at http://www.arrl.org for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRLWeb Extra at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/extra offers ARRL members access to informative features and columns. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. 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