ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 8
February 23, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Canadian, UK hams span Atlantic on 136 kHz
* +WWV plans to survey users
* +Canadian youngsters chat with space station
* +Three ARRL sections to get new section mangers
* +Mobile hand-held devices bill killed in Maine
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Clarification
    +RTTY signal in AM window being investigated:
     ARRL Emergency Communications on-line course again fills up fast
     ARRL seeks RFI/EMC specialist
     China team to compete in first USA ARDF Championships
     D68C DXpedition at 126,000 Qs and counting
    +Jack R. Carter, KC6WYX, SK
     New chair appointed for NTS Eastern Area staff
     QCWA honors Bob Baird, W9NN
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award
     World Amateur Radio Day set for April 18

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>LF-TO-LF TRANSATLANTIC AMATEUR CONTACT IS HISTORY

Amateur Radio history was made this month when amateurs in Canada and the UK
completed what appears to be the first two-way transatlantic Amateur Radio
exchange on 136 kHz. Larry Kayser, VA3LK, and Lawrence "Laurie" Mayhead,
G3AQC, managed the LF feat using extremely slow CW that featured
90-second-long dits and 180-second-long dahs. The two-way contact took two
weeks to complete.

"We are the first to do a two-way QSO on LF across the North Atlantic as far
as I am concerned," Kayser said. "We are the ones who put the stakes in the
ground; others will build on what we have done."

The VA3LK-G3AQC contact began February 5 and was completed February 19 with
the reception and confirmation of VA3LK's report by G3AQC. Kayser said the
participants agreed in advance to a "firewall" between them for the duration
of the contact and that all QSO information was exchanged over the LF radio
link.

Mayhead said it was clear from the outset that, because of the relatively
short band openings, he and Kayser would have to spread the contact out over
several days. "It was not easy," he said. "I stayed up late most nights--3
AM on one occasion--changed blown fuses in my transmitter six times, and
reconfigured my receiver to include a narrow filter because of interference
that was desensitizing it." Kayser says he once had to climb the tower
supporting his wire antenna in total darkness.

The UK has authorized amateur operation on 136 kHz, with special
authorization and strict limits on radiated power. While Canada has not yet
authorized general Amateur Radio operation on 136 kHz, Kayser and a few
other Canadian amateurs have received special authorization to experiment
there.

Reception of weak LF signals typically is done using spectrographic software
like ARGO or Spectran. Signals are transmitted using dual-frequency CW--or
DFCW--or very slow-speed CW, also known as "QRSS." Using their particular
brand of QRSS, Kayser calculated that it took nearly 70 minutes for him to
send his call sign. "Certainly the information rate will improve," he said.
"We did the best we could with what we had to work with over the last two
weeks."

G3AQC and VA3LK were using a combination of commercial and surplus equipment
at their respective stations. G3AQC estimated his effective radiated power
at 350 mW, while VA3LK said he might have been at the 5 W ERP level.

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.

==>WWV SURVEY PLANNED

The National Institute of Standards and Technology plans to survey users of
WWV and WWVH later this year. The time and frequency-standard stations have
been airing occasional announcements about the upcoming poll in order to
start building a mailing list of survey recipients. The announcements state
that NIST "is seeking information on how listeners use the broadcast
services offered on the WWV broadcast," but the survey will not begin for at
least several weeks.

WWV Station Manager John Lowe says the announcements are being broadcast now
as a heads up and to encourage early mailing list signups. The survey itself
will not be released until approved by the Office of Management and Budget,
Lowe said, and he doesn't expect that to happen until May, although it could
be sooner. The survey period likely would extend through the summer, he
said.

According to Lowe, the last WWV-WWVH user survey was done in 1985. "We just
don't know who our user base is anymore," he said. Lowe confirmed that the
data collected ultimately could be used to determine whether WWV and WWVH
remain on the air--especially given the popularity of NIST's other outlets,
including its Web-based time server that gets in excess of 3 million hits a
day.

"If we get only two people who say they're using WWV, then we've got a
problem," he said. Lowe added that he does not think WWV and WWV will be
shut down, and he vowed to "fight for the radio stations," if it came down
to that. "But the ultimate decision is not in my hands," he said. "We have
to look at our budget and our users."

Lowe strongly encouraged WWV users to get on the mailing list and to send in
a survey when the time comes. He suggested, however, that more weight will
be given to survey responses from corporate and institutional users of the
radio service as opposed to individual users.

To be added to the NIST WWV-WWVH survey mailing list, send your name and
postal address to the NIST Radio Station WWV, 2000 E County Road 58, Ft
Collins, CO 80524, or e-mail the information to nist.radio@boulder.nist.gov.
Lowe urged WWV-WWVH users to hold their fire until the survey begins.

WWV in Ft Collins, Colorado, and WWVH on Kauai, Hawaii, broadcast continuous
time and frequency information to millions of listeners worldwide. For more
information, visit the NIST Web site, http://www.nist.gov.

==>CANADIAN YOUNGSTERS SPEAK WITH COMMANDER SHEPHERD ON ARISS QSO

A dozen youngsters at Merivale Public School in Ottawa, Ontario, this week
became the first Canadian students to speak with Space Station Alpha
Commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, operating from space as NA1SS.
The successful Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or
ARISS--school contact February 22 likely will be the last for the Expedition
1 crew.

Amateur Radio coordinator Steve McFarlane, VE3TBD, worked in concert with
his wife, Lori--a teacher at the school--to make the contact a reality. Lori
McFarlane has been working with youngsters at the school for several weeks
in anticipation of the ARISS QSO.

After a few unsuccessful calls, VE3TBD raised NA1SS on the ARISS backup
frequency. Youngsters asked Shepherd about trash disposal and recycling
aboard the ISS, procedures for dealing with a sick crew member, and what the
crew does for exercise. 

One fourth grader wondered why building a space station was necessary, given
problems with pollution and poverty on Earth. Shepherd had a ready reply.
"We live on a planet that's really kind of an island, and it's not going to
last forever," he said. Shepherd said he thinks humans probably will one day
need to "go places other than Earth" and that the ISS made possible the
research needed to do that.

Shepherd said the crew members all missed their families and friends but he
said he gets to talk to his wife via Amateur Radio "every couple of days."
He also said he has photos and videos of his family aboard. Responding to
another student's question, Shepherd said the crew had exercise equipment
aboard, and that exercising was considered essential.

Near the conclusion of the contact, the students on hand hollered "73,
Commander Shepherd!" in unison. Looking on in addition to other students and
teachers were TV and newspaper reporters. It had been hoped that Canadian
Prime Minister Jean Chretien would be able to be on hand, but he was
occupied with a visit by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Merivale ARISS contact probably will be the last school QSO for the
current crew of Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko, and Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR. ARISS
spokesman Will Marchant, KC6ROL, said he expects it will be sometime in late
March--after the Expedition 2 crew arrives--before ARISS school contacts can
resume. 

For more information on the ARISS program, visit the ARISS Web site,
http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov.

==>THREE ARRL SECTIONS TO GET NEW SECTION MANAGERS

Three ARRL sections will get new section managers, while incumbents were
declared elected in six others. All new terms begin April 1.

The only contested race was in Kentucky, where challenger John D. Meyers,
N4GNL, of Butler, outpolled incumbent SM William L. "Bill" Uschan, K4MIS,
and another challenger, David W. Glass, WA4QAL. The final tally was 244
votes for Meyers, 236 for Uschan, and 137 for Glass. Ballots were counted
February 20 at ARRL Headquarters.

In Arkansas, Bob Ideker, WB5VUH, of Little Rock ran unopposed and was
declared elected to succeed Roger Gray, N5QS. Gray decided not to seek
another term. In North Texas, Larry Melby, KA5TXL, of Dallas--appointed to
take over the reins from Donald Mathis, KB5YAM, on March 1--ran unopposed
and was declared elected to a full term in his own right.

Incumbent section managers were re-elected without opposition in six other
ARRL sections. They include Cliff Hauser, KD6XH, Arizona; Jim Lasley,  N0JL,
Iowa; Randy "Max" Wendel, KM0D, Minnesota; Malcolm Keown, W5XX, Mississippi;
Joe H. Brown, W6UBQ, Orange, and Robert Williams, N7LKH, Wyoming. Wendel
agreed to run again last year when no other candidates came forward, and he
has remained in office in the interim. As a result, his term will run
through September of next year.

In Montana, a resolicitation for candidates will be announced in April QST.
Incumbent Darrell Thomas, N7KOR, will remain in office at least through
September.

==>MAINE LAWMAKERS KILL MOBILE HAND-HELD DEVICES BILL

A Maine legislative committee has killed a bill that would have made it
illegal to use hand-held electronic devices such as cellphones and two-way
radios while driving. ARRL State Government Liaison Zane Keeler, AA1WV,
reports the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation on February 21
reported out an ought-not-to-pass recommendation for LD 95. 

The bill would have restricted the use of hand-held cellular telephones as
well as "computers, Citizens Band radios, dictaphones, microphones and other
electronic devices" not essential to the operation of a vehicle on Maine's
highways.

The same legislative panel also turned away a similar, but less restrictive
bill, LD 102. Both bills would have permitted the use of hands-free
accessories for cellular telephones used on the road. 

The committee's vote on both bills was 7-1. Keeler said both bills are dead
for the current session. Those opposing the bill included several Maine
Amateur Radio operators, cellular telephone providers, emergency medical
service providers, and the American Automobile Association. The state
Highway Safety Bureau took "a neutral position" on the measures.

Several hams, including Maine Section Manager Bill Woodhead, N1KAT, were on
hand February 12 for a public hearing before the legislature's
Transportation Committee. Keeler said a half-dozen Maine hams showed up for
the February 21 legislative workshop.

In Maryland, a bill to ban the use of hand-held cellular telephones while
driving was killed February 15 by a House of Delegates committee on a 14-7
vote. Several other states are considering similar measures. While no states
have banned cellular telephone use altogether, California, Florida and
Massachusetts impose some restrictions on their use. Nearly 40 states have
considered such legislation since 1995. Five municipalities require drivers
to use hands-free technology within their borders.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Heliophile Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: The sun continues
to be quiet, and this really looks like a significant decline in activity.
Average daily sunspot numbers for the first and second weeks of this month
were 149.1 and 143.7, and it was 124.1 for this past week. The average solar
flux for each of those same weeks also declined. It was 164.9, 150.7 and
136.1. 

Solar flux last Friday was 129.6. Flux values have not been this low since
May 6, 2000, when the flux was 126.8, and on January 29, 2000 when it was
127.7. If the peak in the cycle was in mid-2000, then these numbers possibly
were on the other side of the cycle peak.

The forecast for the next few days shows solar flux values of 150 for Friday
and Saturday and 145 for Sunday and Monday. Planetary A index is predicted
to be a very quiet five on all of those days. Solar flux is expected to dip
again to around 135 on the last day of this month--next Wednesday--then rise
to around 165 for the first week of March.

We are about a month away from the spring equinox, when some of the best
seasonal HF conditions prevail. Look for 20-meter openings later into the
evening. Ten meters will probably be good for only another two months or so,
so now through the equinox is probably the best time to work that band. 

Sunspot numbers for February 15 through 21 were 113, 133, 95, 143, 147, 119
and 119 with a mean of 124.1. The 10.7-cm flux was 135.1, 129.6, 129.8, 132,
137, 145.5 and 143.6, with a mean of 136.1. Estimated planetary A indices
were 5, 3, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 6 with a mean of 5.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio:  The CQ WW 160-Meter SSB Contest, the REF
French Contest (SSB), the UBA Contest (CW), the RSGB 7 MHz Contest, the CQC
Winter QRP QSO Party, and the North Carolina QSO Party are the weekend of
February 23-25. JUST AHEAD: the ARRL International DX Contest (SSB) is March
3-4 (see December 2000 QST, page 110 for rules). See the ARRL Contest Branch
page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ for more info.

* Clarification: A story in The ARRL Letter, Vol 20, No 7, FCC Queries
Wireless 'Net Provider About Interference To Hams, quoted an FCC enforcement
letter to the effect that Darwin Networks' Part 15 devices "apparently were
installed in the apartment complex to provide Internet service using
wireless 2.4 GHz nodes by Cisco Systems Inc." FCC Special Counsel for
Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth said his inquiry letter was
not intended to suggest any defective operation on the part of the Cisco
Systems nodes. "This inquiry was directed at Darwin Networks," he said. "The
mention of the node manufacturer was incidental to the inquiry and was never
intended to suggest that Cisco Systems equipment was faulty or that the
company is part of this FCC inquiry."

* RTTY signal in AM window being investigated: In its periodic report to the
FCC Notifications Branch, The ARRL Monitoring System has asked the FCC to
help identify the source of a RTTY transmission near 3.885 MHz, the 75-meter
AM calling frequency. "We received numerous reports of this signal from AM
enthusiasts on February 22," said Monitoring System Administrator Brennan
Price, N4QX. "We have asked the FCC HF Direction Finding Facility in
Maryland to determine the origin of the signal." Price said this was the
first step in resolving the situation, but he notes that the signal may not
be illegal. "US hams are fortunate to have access to 3800 to 4000 kHz," he
said. "In many countries, this segment is used by a variety of fixed,
mobile, and broadcasting services." He said that if the RTTY transmission is
not coming from the US, it may be legal in its country of origin. "In that
case, any resolution will have to be achieved through negotiation rather
than through enforcement," he said.

* ARRL Emergency Communications on-line course again fills up fast: The ARRL
course, Introduction to Emergency Communications, was fully subscribed
within 72 hours of the opening announcement earlier this week. A ham in
Italy has been added to the growing list of foreign students "attending"
this on-line course. Plans call for offering a new course every four weeks,
and a "live" classroom version of the course is now in beta testing. For
more information on this on-line course, visit the ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education page, http://www.arrl.org/cce . 

* ARRL seeks RFI/EMC specialist: The ARRL Laboratory has a job opening for
an RFI/EMC specialist. The successful candidate will work at ARRL
Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, on a variety of technical projects
and programs relating to radio frequency interference and its effect on the
Amateur Radio service. An Amateur Radio license and experience is required
for this position. This job is a unique opportunity to work with ARRL
members, the FCC, industry groups and standards organizations to make a real
difference in this critical area for Amateur Radio. Some additional duties
of this position are: Work with amateurs to find solutions to RFI problems;
maintain and improve ARRL's RFI information; write articles, book material
and papers about RFI; and develop and maintain a database for tracking and
documenting RFI problems. The ideal candidate will have one or more of the
following qualifications or experience: Experience in EMC engineering at the
design, system or field level EMC testing or field measurements; RFI
troubleshooting and debugging; authoring published papers, articles or
reports related to EMC; experience with industry committees and/or standards
organizations; BSEE or equivalent degree or experience. To be considered for
this position, send a resume and salary expectations to Bob Boucher,
Personnel Manager, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Resumes can be
accepted by e-mail at rboucher@arrl.org. No telephone calls, please. ARRL is
an equal opportunity employer. For information on other ARRL openings, visit
the "Employment at ARRL" page, http://www.arrl.org/annnounce/jobs. 

* China team to compete in first USA ARDF Championships: The Chinese Radio
Sports Association has announced that it plans to send a team to the first
USA ARDF Championships to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, July 31
through August 4. The USA ARDF Championships invite all ARDF enthusiasts, at
any skill level, from any country. ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV,
says registration is now open, and a 10% discount is offered to those who
register before March 1. For more information on the event, sponsored by the
Albuquerque Amateur Radio Club, visit
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/abqardf/files/web/index.html . For more
information on Amateur Radio Direction Finding, visit Moell's ARDF Web site,
http://www.homingin.com .--Joe Moell K0OV USA ARDF Coordinator 

* D68C DXpedition at 126,000 Qs and counting: The D68C DXpedition to Comoros
reports logging more than 4650 QSOs in the recent ARRL International DX
Contest (CW), probably topping the current the Africa multi-two record by a
significant margin. D68C has been active on 30, 17 and 12 meters as well as
on 14 and 28 MHz RTTY and PSK31. The D68C will not do any satellite
operation, as originally planned. The team reports occasional high noise
levels on the lower bands. "We are working all we can hear. Sometimes it is
really hard to hear anything at all with all the static," said John Linford,
G3WGV. As of February 20, the team had 126,000 QSOs in the log, and Linford
said he anticipates when all is said and done, the D68C operation will hold
several new records, including total number of QSOs.--John Linford, G3WGV 

* Jack R. Carter, KC6WYX, SK: Jack Carter, KC6WYX, of Rancho Palos Verdes,
California, died February 20. He was 71. An ARRL member, Carter served as
executive officer of the World War II Tank Landing Ship LST-325, which
recently completed a 4200-mile journey from the Greek island of Crete to
Mobile, Alabama, and gained extensive news coverage en route. Carter had ham
radio gear aboard and used the WW2LST call sign of the USS LST Amateur Radio
Club while under way. According to a report in Stars and Stripes, 29
sailors--men in their 60s, 70s and older--signed on to deliver the ship to a
permanent berth to be used as a floating museum. Most of the sailors were US
Navy retirees. Carter, an electrical engineer, was past president of the
Palos Verdes Amateur Radio Club. For details of Carter's "voyage of a
lifetime," photos of the voyage, and information on the PVARC, visit the
club's Web site, http://palosverdes.com/pvarc/index.htm . 

* New chair appointed for NTS Eastern Area staff: Marcia Forde, KW1U, has
been appointed as chair of the Eastern Area Staff of the ARRL National
Traffic System. From Edgartown, Massachusetts, Forde was nominated by fellow
Eastern Area staff members for the two-year term. She continues as
Transcontinental Corps director for Cycle 2, a position that she has held
since 1984. A member of the ARRL for 19 years she also holds Official Relay
Station and Official Emergency Station appointments in the League's field
organization. 

* QCWA honors Bob Baird, W9NN: Some 30 hams and friends gathered February 17
in Mosinee, Wisconsin, to honor and recognize a ham of 80 years, Bob Baird,
W9NN. Baird, who turned 95 February 18, was one of the founding fathers of
the Quarter Century Wireless Association in 1947. He also founded the W9DXCC
gathering, which attracts hundreds of hams, DXers and DX each year. In his
younger years, Baird was an engineer for WGN Radio, Chicago. He still
frequents HF CW.--Badger State Smoke Signals 

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for January was Murray Greenman, ZL1BPU, for his article "MFSK for the New
Millennium." The winner of the February award was Larry Scheff, W4QEJ, for
his article "How to Maximize Your Receiver's Effective Selectivity" (Part
1). Congratulations, Murray and Larry! ARRL members are reminded that the
winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author(s) of the best
article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes
place each month on the ARRL Members Only Web site at
http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html. As soon as your copy arrives,
cast a ballot for your choice as the favorite article in the March issue of
QST. Voting ends March 15. 

* World Amateur Radio Day set for April 18: The Administrative Council of
the International Amateur Radio Union has selected the theme "Providing
Disaster Communications: Amateur Radio in the 21st Century" for World
Amateur Radio Day, April 18, 2001. IARU has been the watchdog and spokesman
for the world Amateur Radio community since its founding in Paris, France,
in 1925. Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, was its first president. In a related item,
the International Telecommunication Union has approved publication of the
Disaster Communications Handbook for Developing Countries. The role of the
Amateur Radio service in disaster communications is one of the main points
of the Handbook. IARU is the principal contributor to the Handbook. This
event will coincide with the 76th anniversary of the founding of the
IARU.--Fred Johnson ZL2AMJ/IARU Region 3 

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