ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 9
March 2, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Hams scramble following earthquake
* +A glimmer of hope for AO-40
* +FCC launches LA repeater review
* +Space station crew shift set
* +ARRL seeks greater flexibility at 219-220 MHz
* +Hiking hams claim pedestrian mobile record
* +ARRL gets call book collection
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL seeks articles for Antenna Compendium
     ARRL DXCC Desk approves ST0P operation for credit
     Tristani poised to exit FCC
     Taroh Yagi, JH1WIX, SK
     Jack Carter, KC6WYX, SK, to be buried at sea
     QRP EME QSO reported
     New BVI QSL Bureau address

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>AMATEUR RADIO MOUNTS QUICK QUAKE RESPONSE

Hams responded within minutes after an earthquake hit the Seattle area the
morning of February 28. The epicenter was some 35 miles southwest of
Seattle, but the quake was felt as far away as Salt Lake City. Washington
Gov Gary Locke declared a state of emergency for western Washington.

As of week's end, Amateur Radio had scaled back its response as power and
telephone service returned to the stricken region. Amateur Radio Emergency
Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) teams in
the quake zone were mobilized within minutes of the event. The Salvation
Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) and the Military Affiliate Radio
System (MARS) also activated.

Residents in the affected region now are picking up the pieces. Damage
estimates could top $2 billion. Upwards of 350 injuries--a few of them
serious enough to require hospitalization--were reported, but no deaths were
directly attributed to the earthquake.

ARRL Western Washington Section Manager Harry Lewis, W7JWJ, reported that
very soon after the quake struck, State RACES Officer Jim Sutton, WA7PHD,
was on the air, handling net control duties for the Washington State
Emergency Net on 75 meters from the State Emergency Operations Center at
Camp Murray. Western Washington Section Nets also activated on HF SSB, and
in the Seattle area, ARES volunteers had mounted an emergency repeater net
with King County EC Rich Hodges, KB7TBF, and Lt. Russ Reed, N7NOV, of the US
Coast Guard sharing NCS chores. Several other county ARES nets took to the
air.

Amateur Radio operators also set up a temporary 2-meter net to assist the
Red Cross with damage assessment. An unconfirmed report says one ham used an
ATV link from a helicopter to the State EOC--where Gov Locke was on hand--to
survey the damage below.

While Eastern Washington was not as badly affected, Spokane County
ARES/RACES activated to assist. Because the Spokane County Department of
Emergency Management had trouble maintaining contact with the State EOC at
Camp Murray, an auxiliary cross-state link was established via the
Washington Emergency Net. "This HF link was maintained by Spokane County's
off-site Official Emergency Stations, communicating with operators at the
County EOC by 2 meters," said Spokane County EC Nathan Jeffries, KI7QT, who
said the action drew later praise from a County emergency official.

Eastern Washington SM Kyle Pugh, KA7CSP, said "a loose information net" also
fired up on 40 meters to handle general inquiries and health-and-welfare
traffic.

The Alaska Pacific Emergency Preparedness Net also took the airwaves on 20
meters (14.292 MHz). "The net was opened within minutes of the quake, and
hundreds of messages were passed," said Bob Baker, NL7UH, in Anchorage,
Alaska. Baker praised net participants for their "very highly professional
manner. The net was formed after the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and it includes
several net control stations in Alaska and in the "Lower 48."

The SATERN Net activated for about six hours on 20 meters (14.265 MHz),
processing health-and-welfare information requests and handing out situation
reports from Washington and Oregon amateur stations. "Scores of stations
over the nation assisted in relay," said National SATERN Director Pat
McPherson, WW9E. SATERN's Web site, www.go.to/satern , remains available for
inquiries.

Lewis said he was "deeply impressed" by the speedy amateur response. 

==>A GLIMMER OF GOOD NEWS FOR AO-40

AMSAT reports that the sun began triggering AO-40's sun sensor as the
satellite emerged from Earth's shadow on orbit 147. The news has boosted
ground controllers' optimism that they might be able to regain control over
the satellite's spin rate and attitude sooner than had been predicted.

AMSAT-DL's Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, said this week that as soon as the sensor
unit delivers good sun sensor data, controllers will be able to reduce
AO-40's spin and make it easier to adjust attitude. "This also will lead to
an improvement in reception of the S-Band telemetry," he said.

For the past few weeks, the AO-40 has remained in what AMSAT called "a
semi-hibernation state," because the satellite's high angle has prevented
the sensor from seeing the sun's light. Controllers had planned to work
around the sun sensor issue by using a software routine.

Once ground controllers can get accurate AO-40 attitude data, they should be
able to correctly aim AO-40's high-gain antennas for optimal reception on
Earth. Ground controllers have been relying on telemetry from AO-40's S-band
(2.4 GHz) downlink--the only transmitter now operating--but they are holding
out hope that at least some of the satellite's other transmitters still
function. Since the satellite went silent for about two weeks in December,
ground controllers have had no luck hearing the 2-meter, 70-cm or 1.2 GHz
transmitters using AO-40's omnidirectional antennas.

The next major step will be to bring AO-40 into an orientation where ground
controllers can fire the onboard arc-jet thruster--using only gaseous
ammonia and no electrical power. The test firing will allow checking out the
guidance electronics and the arc-jet valves. Guelzow said the thrust of the
test will be enough to lift the satellite's perigee by about 100 km.

Guelzow said plans call for optimizing the current orbit with a live arc-jet
firing. He said that several independent analyses--including one done by the
French space agency, CNES--confirm that the current orbit will be stable for
many years--longer than the spacecraft's anticipated lifetime.

For more information, visit the AMSAT-NA Web site, http://www.amsat.org.

==>FCC LAUNCHES REVIEW OF LA AREA REPEATER

The FCC has launched a review into the operation of the W6NUT repeater in
the Los Angeles area. The repeater, which has attracted a following of what
some observers call "nontraditional" amateur users, also was said to have
been radio home of Richard Burton, ex-WB6JAC, sentenced earlier this year to
prison for unlicensed operation.

"We've gotten more complaints about that repeater than any other repeater in
the country, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley
Hollingsworth said of the W6NUT machine, which operates on 147.435 MHz. "If
there's a control operator, we sure haven't seen any evidence of it."

Hollingsworth wrote the repeater's trustee, Kathryn Tucker, AA6TK, and two
W6NUT users regarding lengthy broadcasts made over the repeater in early
February. Hollingsworth told Tucker that the FCC has received complaints
that control operators and the repeater licensee "fail to address long
periods of jamming by users, broadcasting, music playing as well as a
plethora of other violations." 

He cited one transmission of more than two hours on the evening of February
1-2 that included music and commentaries on many of the songs. A similar
lengthy broadcast aired over W6NUT a few evenings later, he said. Both
transmissions repeatedly timed out the repeater, Hollingsworth said, and
there was no evidence that a control operator was present at any time.

In separate letters to Technician licensees Ted R. Sorensen III, KC6PQW, and
Gregory S. Cook, KC6USO, Hollingsworth cited monitoring information alleging
that Sorenson actually transmitted both broadcasts. On the first occasion,
on February 1-2, Sorenson is said to have acted in concert with Cook, who
was hooked in via phone patch. The second similar transmission February 4-5
was said to have featured only Cook, again via phone patch to Sorenson's
transmitter, Hollingsworth said.

Citing Sec 308(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, Hollingsworth requested
that all three licensees respond to the allegations within 20 days. In
addition, Hollingsworth asked Tucker to furnish specific details about the
W6NUT repeater system, including names of control operators on duty on the
two evenings in question.

Cook's license is due to expire May 7, 2001. Hollingsworth advised Cook that
his renewal application would "not be routinely granted unless these issues
are resolved" and that his renewal application could wind up being
designated for hearing. 

==>SPACE STATION SHIFT CHANGE SET WITH NEXT SHUTTLE LAUNCH

It's almost time for a shift change aboard the International Space Station,
and two hams are among the new crew members. Relieving the current ISS crew
will be the Expedition 2 team of Commander Yuri Usachev, UA9AD/R3MIR, of
Russia and US astronauts Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, and Jim Voss. The Expedition 2
crew is scheduled to head into space March 8 aboard the space shuttle
Discovery. The Expedition 1 crew has spent more than four months in orbit.

The Space Station Alpha crew is staying in space a couple of weeks longer
than planned because of a tight shuttle launch schedule and necessary
refitting on the Discovery. Expedition 1 Commander William "Shep" Shepherd,
KD5GSL, and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR,
arrived at the station November 2. During their stay, Shepherd has spoken
via ham radio with students at several schools as part of the Amateur Radio
on the International Space Station--or ARISS--program. 

In addition to ferrying the Expedition 2 crew, Discovery will have in tow an
Italian-made cargo carrier that's filled with laboratory experiments and
equipment. At the end of its almost 12-day flight, Discovery will transport
Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev back to Earth. Discovery is planned to land
March 20 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Commanding Discovery will be Jim Wetherbee. Jim Kelly, KC5ZSW, will be the
shuttle's pilot, and Andy Thomas, KD5CHF--a Mir veteran--and Paul Richards,
KC5ZSZ, will serve as mission specialists. No Amateur Radio activity from
the shuttle is scheduled.

==>LEAGUE SEEKS GREATER FLEXIBILITY AT 219-220 MHz

The ARRL is urging the FCC to retain the 219-220 MHz shared Amateur Radio
allocation and says it wants the Commission to make it a bit easier for hams
to use the segment. In comments filed February 6 in an FCC rulemaking
proceeding, the ARRL said it believes the 219-220 MHz band "must be
maintained and enhanced."

The League commented in PR Docket 92-257, released last November. The Third
Further Notice in that proceeding proposed to designate licensing regions
for the Automated Maritime Telecommunications System (AMTS) facilities at
216-220 MHz and to authorize a single licensee for each unassigned AMTS
frequency block on a geographic basis. The current AMTS system uses a
site-based licensing structure.

Current rules require that amateurs planning to operate within 80 km (50
miles) of an AMTS facility get written permission from the AMTS licensee,
but getting that consent has been difficult to impossible for hams in
coastal areas. "The Commission's intended flexibility in amateur station
operation at 219-220 MHz has not, in general, been realized," the League
commented.

The ARRL suggested letting amateurs seeking to use 219-220 MHz submit
computer-generated field strength contours that demonstrate a lack of
interference potential at the relevant AMTS boundaries in lieu of having to
get written permission.

"It is ARRL's intention that the Amateur Service be provided a practical
opportunity to make substantial, flexible use on a secondary basis of the
219-220 MHz allocation, taking into account expanded development of AMTS
stations," the League said. The FCC should "provide some flexibility in the
engineering of amateur systems in that band, to the extent consistent with
avoidance of interference to AMTS stations."

The 219-220 MHz amateur segment was created in 1995 as a result of an ARRL
petition for rulemaking. The FCC has designated the band on a secondary
basis for amateur fixed point-to-point digital message forwarding systems.

While the ARRL said it's unaware of any amateur interference to AMTS
stations, attempts by hams to use the band to construct digital backbone
systems "have been largely thwarted to date" because on the inability to get
consent from AMTS licensees within 50 miles of the proposed operation, as
rules now require.

A copy of the ARRL's comments is available at
www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/pr92-257/.

==>HIKING HAMS CLAIM PEDESTRIAN MOBILE DISTANCE RECORD 

Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, of San Mateo, California, and Max Pompe, ZL1BK, of
Auckland, New Zealand, are claiming the record for the longest direct-path,
pedestrian-to-pedestrian Amateur Radio contact. The two worked each other
February 18 on 10 meters using compact SSB transceivers and homemade
antennas. 

On the New Zealand end, ZL1BK used a 1.8-meter (5 feet 11 inches) homebrew
telescopic whip mounted on his Yaesu FT-817 running 5 W. Crystal had a
6-meter (19 feet 8 inches) fishing pole strapped to an aluminum pack frame
and ran 20 W using a Vertex/Standard VX-1200 HF Manpack transceiver, a radio
that's not marketed in the US. "Both of us used 3-meter insulated-wire
dragging counterpoises," said Crystal. 

The 6500-mile contact began on 15 meters but ended on 10, because conditions
were better there for that path. "Other stations in the HFpack group here in
the US had been trying to make a go of it, but we just lucked out," Crystal
said. 

For his part, ZL1BK said, "I still can hardly believe we did it, but the
Pacific gods smiles on us as we rode the airwaves today." 

The HFpack Web site has more information at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hfpack/ . More information on Bonnie Crystal,
KQ6XA, is available on her Web site, http://www.qsl.net/kq6xa/. 

==>CALL BOOK COLLECTION DONATED TO ARRL HEADQUARTERS

Amateurs are known to be collectors, but Al Hall, W9IVA, who became a Silent
Key last year at the age of 93, was the collector's collector! Not only did
he collect radio gear but also Call Books dating back to the 1940s and other
call sign directories going back even further. Now, his collection has been
donated to ARRL Headquarters by the ham who inherited it.

A longtime resident of Madison, Wisconsin, and an ARRL member at the time of
his death, Hall left his Call Book collection to Jim Green, KG9MM, who
donated and shipped the entire collection to ARRL Headquarters last month.
The volumes will augment the League's Call Book and call sign directory
collection, and some of the books will replace directories that have
deteriorated with age or become dog-eared through use.

Green said Hall--who first used the call of 9BOX at the age of 12 around
1920--"still had his first rig, his last rig, and according to him, every
rig in between." Hall's equipment now is on display in a private museum in
Madison, Wisconsin, he said.

The Hall Call Book collection now is archived in the Field and Educational
Services offices at League Headquarters. ARRL Regulatory Information
Specialist John Hennessee, N1KB, maintains the small, but expanded, library.
He says the League now has 165 call sign directories in its archive,
including a complete Call Book collection from the late 1940s. Some gaps
remain between 1932 and 1955, however.

Hennessee said the ARRL invites donations of needed Call Books to the ARRL
collection. Contact Hennessee at 860-594-0236 or by e-mail at n1kb@arrl.org.
He asks that donors not ship books but check with him first to ensure that a
particular edition is needed.

In addition to its historical significance, the collection of directories
also is in demand for research purposes.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Sun watcher Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Greetings from
Seattle, where we just lived through an exciting earthquake on Wednesday. No
damage at K7VVV, but it has had everyone a bit rattled.

Average sunspot numbers were lower last week, but average solar flux was
about the same, when compared to the previous week. Sunspot numbers were
down to 88 on Wednesday, the lowest since January 17. Average daily solar
flux for the months of December, January and February were 173.6, 166.6 and
147.2, indicating a decline in activity. Average sunspots over the same
period were 146, 143 and 131.

The next short term peak in activity is expected around March 8, with a
solar flux of 155. Predicted flux values for the next few days, Friday
through Monday, are 135, 140, 145 and 150. Moderate geomagnetic conditions
are expected for the ARRL International DX Phone Contest this weekend, with
planetary A index of 12 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. This estimate is based
on the 80 percent chance that a full halo coronal mass ejection Thursday
will not have a large effect on Earth.

We are moving toward spring conditions, which means better DX openings
between the northern and southern hemispheres. Watch for the upper HF
spectrum to open toward the east and south early in the day, then peak north
and south in mid day, and then toward the west and south toward the evening.

Sunspot numbers for February 22 through 28 were 135, 135, 99, 111, 91, 90
and 88 with a mean of 107. The 10.7-cm flux was 145.8, 145.2, 137.3, 134.9,
135.4, 130.6 and 131.8, with a mean of 137.3. Estimated planetary A indices
were 6, 11, 5, 3, 10, 13 and 7 with a mean of 7.9.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL International DX Contest (SSB) is
March 3-4 (see December 2000 QST, page 110 for rules). JUST AHEAD: The North
American Sprint (RTTY) and the Wisconsin QSO Party are the weekend of March
9-11. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ for
more info.

* ARRL seeks articles for Antenna Compendium: ARRL is looking for original,
unpublished articles for the next volume of the extremely popular book
series The ARRL Antenna Compendium. Articles should be about antennas,
propagation, transmission lines, antenna tuners, towers--anything dealing
with antennas! Submit articles to Dean Straw, N6BV, c/o ARRL HQ, 225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111.

* ARRL DXCC Desk approves ST0P operation for credit: Last summer's ST0P
DXpedition by Jeff Hambleton, G4KIB/5B4YY/KF9BI, in Khartoum, Sudan, has
been approved for DXCC credit. The DXCC Desk has reviewed and accepted ST0P
documentation, and stations now can now receive DXCC credit for ST0P.
Rejected ST0P submittals can be updated without having to re-submit a QSL by
contacting the DXCC Desk, dxcc@arrl.org. QSL information for ST0P is on the
Web at http://www.qsl.net/st0p. 

* Tristani poised to exit FCC: FCC member Gloria Tristani reportedly will
join three present and former colleagues in exiting the Commission.
According to Dow Jones Newswires, Tristani will leave the FCC by the end of
the year, possibly to pursue elective office in her home state of New
Mexico. Nominated to the Commission by President Clinton, Tristani joined
the FCC in 1997. Her term expires June 30, 2003. Tristani, a Democrat, joins
former FCC Chairman William Kennard--who left the FCC January 19 and was
replaced by Commissioner Michael Powell--and commissioners Harold
Furchtgott-Roth, a Republican, and Susan Ness, a Democrat, who plan to leave
but remain on the FCC for now.

* Taroh Yagi, JH1WIX, SK: Well-known JA DXer and Amateur Radio pioneer Taroh
Yagi, JH1WIX (ex-J1DO, J2GX) died January 29. He was 93. First licensed in
1924, Yagi, often was the first JA contact for many new hams. Among the
founding members of the original JARL, founded in 1926, Yagi in his later
years made most of his contacts on CW and spent a lot of time on the
15-meter Novice band handing out JA to newcomers. Bill Acito, W1PA,
remembers when he first worked JH1WIX. "I was 15, with an NC300 receiver and
a Heath DX-60 transmitter, and tried patiently to work him over several
nights," he wrote. "When I finally did, I think I was more excited than when
I made my first QSO." ARRL Membership Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG,
said he remembered Yagi very well, but for a different reason. "For some
reason he remembered my name--"Wyne"--many, many times when I worked him in
a contest. He never forgot, and he misspelled my name each time. I will miss
him." Yagi has belonged to ARRL, JARL, QCWA, FOC and the Tokyo Old Timers
Club.--thanks to Bernie McClenny, W3UR; Bill Acito, W1PA

* Jack Carter, KC6WYX, SK, to be buried at sea: A memorial service for Jack
Carter, KC6WYX, was held March 1 and burial was expected to be at sea from a
US Navy vessel. Carter died February 20. He was the 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, where it will
become a museum. Carter had ham radio gear aboard and used the WW2LST call
sign of the USS LST Amateur Radio Club while under way. The family invites
memorial donations to the American Cancer Society. The Palos Verdes Amateur
Radio Club has assumed QSL responsibility for contacts Jack Carter made
during his WW2LST/MM voyage.--Herb Clarkson, KM6DD/PVARC 

* QRP EME QSO reported: A posting on the EME reflector reports that Ernie
Manly, W7LHL, and Larry Liljequist, W7SZ, both in Washington, successfully
completed an Earth-Moon-Earth (moonbounce) contact February 25 while running
5 W on 1296 MHz. "This was using the PUA43 mode with their DSP-10
transceivers and transverters," said Bob Larkin, W7PUA. This marked their
first attempt at using the 5-W level for a QSO. The DSP-10 was a QST
construction project by Larkin that appeared in three parts in the
September, October and November 1999 issues of QST. The antennas for the QRP
contact consisted of 10 and 12-foot TVRO-type dishes. Details are available
at Larkin's Web site, http://www.proaxis.com/~boblark/dsp10.htm . 

* New BVI QSL Bureau address: The British Virgin Islands has a new QSL
Bureau address effective immediately. It's BVI QSL Bureau, PO Box 4, West
End, British Virgin Islands.

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