ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 12
March 23, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Hams help in high seas rescue
* +AMSAT details likely AO-40 failure scenario
* +QST to get new editor, publisher
* +New ISS crew on air, school QSOs set
* +Senate version of Spectrum Protection Act of 2001 introduced
* +Hamvention 2001 award winners announced
* +New York makes another antenna bill attempt
*  George Thurston III, W4MLE, SK
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     "Boing-Boing" Intruder Moves Off 12 Meters
     Europe Adopts 5 WPM as Morse Code Standard
     Alaska PRB-1 Bill Passes Senate
     AMSAT-NA 2001 Annual Symposium issues call for papers
     FCC chairman touts "enforcement model"

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>HAM RADIO AIDS RESCUE ON THE HIGH SEAS

Amateur Radio operators again have assisted in a high seas rescue operation
after pirates attacked a private sailing vessel March 20 off Venezuela. The
skipper, identified as Bo Altheden, reportedly was shot, and his female
companion, ViVi-Maj Miren, summoned help via the Maritime Mobile Service Net
on 20 meters. The victim was reported to be recovering in a Trinidad
hospital.

The incident in the Caribbean occurred some 3200 km east-southeast of a
similar pirate attack nearly a year ago. In that incident armed marauders
shot young Willem van Tuijl from the Netherlands, who was sailing with his
parents.

According to Coast Guard Lt Jose Diaz, KP3J, of the Rescue Coordination
Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the 44-foot ketch Lorna, of Swedish
registry, was enroute to Trinidad and Tobago when pirates attacked some
three nautical miles offshore. Altheden was shot once in the abdomen.

The pirates destroyed the VHF radio, so Miren activated an emergency locator
transmitter (ELT). The San Juan Rescue Coordination Center received ELT
"hits" from the Lorna and notified Venezuelan authorities. 

Word arrived at Miami Coast Guard some 90 minutes later from the Maritime
Mobile Service Net's Mike Pilgrim, K5MP, of a distress call from a woman on
the Lorna on 14.300 MHz. Miami Coast Guard forwarded the information to the
San Juan rescue center. Diaz tuned to 14.300, where Bobby Graves, KB5HAV,
Dave Dalziel, N4ICE, and Jim Hirschman, K4TCV--a physician who had assisted
in the van Tuijl pirate attack last year--already had activated an emergency
net. An amateur in Trinidad, Eric Mackie, 9Z4CP, also assisted in
communications. 

Among those standing by on frequency were Ed Petzolt, K1LNC, in Florida, and
Hector Godoy, HR3HGB, in Honduras, both of whom were instrumental in the van
Tuijl rescue operation a year ago. The amateurs on 20 meters were able to
calm the woman, and Hirschman provided medical counseling.

Diaz got permission from Venezuela to allow a vessel from Trinidad to
assist, and a Venezuelan Navy vessel arrived on scene simultaneously with a
Trinidad Coast Guard fast boat, with medical personnel. Trinidad medical
personnel and crew took control of the sailboat from the shaken and
exhausted Miren.

High seas made it too risky to move the victim. Instead, the Swedish
sailboat continued on to Trinidad escorted by the Venezuelan Navy vessel and
the Trinidad CG cutter.

Diaz credited amateurs with doing "a tremendous job" in helping to keep
Miren calm and to relay information for the US Coast Guard to her and for
maintaining order on frequency. 

"This is what it is all about," Diaz said. "Stay always ready, that others
may live."

Pilgrim called the afternoon rescue "one of the most rewarding experiences I
have had during my 45 years on ham radio."

==>AMSAT DETAILS LIKELY AO-40 FAILURE SCENARIO

AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, has issued a likely explanation
of why AO-40 suddenly went silent in mid-December. Haighton's March 16
statement outlines a three-part failure scenario theorizing that AO-40's
problems began with a fault in a helium valve.

"Initial thoughts were that the spacecraft was completely dead and that
chances of recovery were remote, with the possibility that AO-40 was in
multiple pieces," Haighton said. The satellite's 2-meter beacon quit while
ground controllers were testing the onboard 400-newton motor system after
anomalies with an orbit-shifting burn that lasted several minutes too long.
It was almost two weeks before ground controllers were able to reset the
onboard computers and restart a beacon on 2.4 GHz.

Ground controllers have been somewhat successful in regaining control of the
next-generation amateur satellite since telemetry transmissions resumed
Christmas Day, but Haighton concedes some onboard systems may not be
recoverable.

Haighton said that while the Phase 3D team may never know exactly what
happened, the likely scenario includes what Haighton told ARRL was "a minor
explosion" aboard AO-40, as out-of-place fuel mixed and then ignited as a
result of a blocked exhaust port on a helium valve.

"We think it was a human error thing," Haighton conceded in an interview
with the ARRL. He did not elaborate.

Ground controllers have used AO-40's magnetorquing system to reduce the
satellite's spin rate to around 5 RPM and are optimistic that they'll be
able to re-orient the satellite for communication with Earth. The
satellite's omnidirectional antennas appear to be lost, but ground
controllers hope the high-gain directional antennas still work and that
reorienting the spacecraft will bring about a resumption of signals from
other transmitters.

AO-40's heat pipe system--which could not work at the higher spin rates--has
begun operating again too, considerably reducing internal temperatures. But
ground controllers are pessimistic about being able to restore AO-40's
2-meter and 70 cm transmitters.

Yet to be tested is the onboard arc-jet motor, which ground controllers hope
to use to reorient the satellite so that the high-gain antennas will face
the Earth.

"Following the reorientation it will be possible to test the remaining
systems on board the spacecraft and to determine which systems and bands
will be available for future operations and under what conditions," Haighton
said.

==>QST TO GET NEW EDITOR, PUBLISHER

Steve Ford, WB8IMY, will become the new editor of ARRL's official journal
QST effective April 2. Ford, who's now QST managing editor and supervises
the magazine's editorial staff, will succeed Mark Wilson, K1RO, as QST
editor and Editorial and Production Department manager, ARRL Executive Vice
President and CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, announced today. 

Ford said that under his leadership QST will maintain its current editorial
direction. "QST has been very successful," he said. "The membership clearly
enjoys the magazine, and I don't foresee any changes in the near future."

Wilson, who was designated earlier this year as ARRL's chief operating
officer, will become QST publisher, a title Sumner now holds.

Ford, 46, came to ARRL Headquarters in 1991 as an editor on the Book Team,
and he is the author of several League publications. He became assistant
managing editor of QST in 1993 and managing editor in 1995.

In his new role, Ford will be responsible for the QST and ARRL book
editorial teams, as well as production of CD-ROM publications and the
graphics and editorial production areas at ARRL Headquarters.

Taking over as QST managing editor and editorial team supervisor will be
Book Team Supervisor Joel Kleinman, N1BKE, a 25-year HQ veteran. 

"QST is Joel's first love, and we're looking forward to putting his
excellent editorial and organizational skills to use there," Sumner said.
"We believe that he and Steve will make a great team."

==>ISS EXPEDITION 2 CREW TRIES OUT HAM GEAR; SCHOOL QSOS SET

Expedition 2 crew member Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, had barely settled in aboard
the International Space Station when she apparently felt the urge to do a
little hamming. Helms, who traveled to the ISS last week aboard the shuttle
Discovery with crewmates Yury Usachev, UA9AD--the Expedition 2
commander--and fellow US astronaut Jim Voss--worked a couple of US stations
March 18 and 19 and was monitored by another in Australia.

The ham who had snagged the first-ever casual ham contact with the
ISS--Randy Shriver, KG3N, of Hanover, Pennsylvania--got lucky again with the
Expedition 2 crew. Shriver heard Helms calling CQ early on the morning of
March 18 and gave her a call. "Using NA1SS she came back to me," he reports.
"I was able to talk to her for 45 seconds." On November 13, Shriver worked
Expedition 1 crew commander William Shepherd, KD5GSL.

Samuel Danner, N3MPE, of Smithsburg, Maryland, had his police scanner set to
a ISS 2-meter downlink frequency on the off chance he might hear
something--and he did. Danner reports he wasn't prepared for the shock of
hearing Helms' voice calling CQ. Danner says he ran out to his car, equipped
with a scanner programmed with ISS frequencies, to listen further. "It was
29 degrees in the car; I didn't care." he said, adding that he could even
see the space station overhead at the time. "It was fantastic!" Danner also
was able to make contact with NA1SS.

Gordon Williams, VK6IU, reports that he heard Helms calling while the ISS
was over Western Australia on March 18.

Helms likely will handle on-air duties next week when the first Amateur
Radio on the International Space Station school contacts for the Expedition
2 crew are scheduled to occur. Students at the John B. Reible School in
Santa Rosa, California, are scheduled to speak with the crew March 26 or 27,
while students at Vicksburg High School in Mississippi are scheduled for
April 4 or April 6.

The Expedition 1 crew of William Shepherd, KD5GSL, Yuri Gidzenko, and Sergei
Krikalev, U5MIR, arrived back on Earth this week aboard the Discovery.
Usachev, Helms and Voss were reported to be adapting to the new quarters
they'll call home for the next four months.

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

==>AMATEUR RADIO SPECTRUM PROTECTION ACT OF 2001 INTRODUCED IN SENATE

The Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 2001, introduced earlier this
month in the US House, now is officially a Senate bill, S.549. Republican
Sen Michael Crapo of Idaho introduced the bill in the upper chamber March
15.

Democratic Sen Daniel Akaka of Hawaii was a cosponsor. The bill has been
referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. In
introducing the Senate measure again this year, Crapo and Akaka referred to
the importance of Amateur Radio in providing communication in times of
disaster

S.549 is identical in its wording to H.R.817, introduced in the House of
Representatives March 1 by Rep Michael Bilirakis of Florida. If approved by
both chambers and signed by Pres George W. Bush, the Spectrum Protection Act
would require the FCC to provide equivalent replacement spectrum should it
ever reallocate primary Amateur Radio spectrum to another service. The same
requirement would apply if the FCC acted to diminish any secondary amateur
allocations or to make additional allocations in ham bands that diminish
their utility. 

Bilirakis and Crapo introduced the Spectrum Protection Act in a past session
of Congress at the request of the ARRL. The League's Legislative and Public
Affairs Manager Steve Mansfield, N1MZA, says he's encouraged by the fact
that the Spectrum Protection bill is getting a head start with early
introduction in both chambers this time around.

More information on the Spectrum Protection Act, including a copy of the
House and Senate versions of the bill, is available on the ARRL Web site,
http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/arspa.html .

==>GEORGE JACOBS, W3ASK, IS DAYTON HAMVENTION'S AMATEUR OF THE YEAR

Dayton Hamvention has named broadcasting engineer and propagation guru
George Jacobs, W3ASK, as its Amateur of the Year. Hamvention also announced
the winners of its Special Achievement and Technical Excellence awards.

A renowned international broadcast engineering pioneer, Jacobs has authored
hundreds of technical articles and is a co-author of a handbook detailing
shortwave radio propagation characteristics. Jacobs is perhaps best known in
the amateur community as propagation editor for CQ for 50 years, and as a
contributing editor for World Radio-TV Handbook for 39 years. 

"His contributions to Amateur Radio, both technical and fraternal, have
furthered the state-of-the-art for half a century." said a Hamvention news
release. Jacobs is credited with pioneering and developing the worldwide
Voice of America system and with overseeing the post-1974 modernization of
Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. He's also served as a delegate on
international regulatory conferences.

Frank Bauer KA3HDO, has been chosen to receive Dayton Hamvention's Special
Achievement award for 2001. Bauer's countless hours of behind-the-scenes
work with the Space Amateur Radio EXperiment and Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) programs have made these very
high-profile activities world-wide successes. Bauer, who chairs the ARISS
Board, organized and led the teams that provided the links to schools so
that students could talk with astronauts as they orbited the earth. He
developed band plans for spectrum utilization for Amateur Radio space
operations and continues his leadership role as a technical liaison between
the Amateur service and NASA.

Peter Martinez, G3PLX, has been chosen to receive Dayton Hamvention's
Technical Excellence award for 2001. Martinez, active on RTTY since the
1960s, is recognized as the father of PSK31, an increasingly popular mode of
digital communication. PSK31's elegant and effective design has helped
revitalize interest in HF digital modes.

All three awards will be formally presented at the Dayton Hamvention banquet
on May 19. This year's Dayton Hamvention, May 18-20, will be the 50th.

==>NEW YORK MAKES ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT HAM ANTENNA BILL

True to their word, supporters of an Amateur Radio antenna bill in the State
of New York are back this year with new bills introduced in both houses of
the legislature. ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, says
measures to incorporate the essence of the limited federal preemption known
as PRB-1 into state law have been filed in the Senate as S.2893, with four
sponsors, and in the Assembly as A.1565.

If approved, the companion measures would require localities to "reasonably
accommodate" Amateur Radio antennas and would prevent localities from
restricting antenna structures to less than 95 feet above ground level or
from restricting the number of support structures. The bills have been
referred to the Local Government Committee.

An effort to get an antenna law on the books in the Empire State last year
failed to make it through the legislative process despite gaining
significant support. This year's bills are identical to last year's.

Fallon said he's hoping that support for last year's campaign will carry
over to this year's effort, and he's calling on New York amateurs to "help
make ham radio history in New York" by getting behind the bills.

In addition to contacting their Assembly representatives and state senators,
Fallon said, hams should contact the two chairs of the Local Government
Committee, Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli, Senator Mary Lou Rath, as well as
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno.

The Hudson Division Web page http://www.arrlhudson.org has a copy of the
bill, links to find names and addresses of state representatives, and copies
of sample letters.

"As one of the ARRL Directors who has been dealing with this issue for a
number of years I am very happy about all the efforts in the other states
and now again in New York," Fallon said. 

==>GEORGE THURSTON III, W4MLE, SK

Broadcast journalism pioneer, Amateur Radio writer and ARRL field volunteer
George Thurston III, W4MLE, of Tallahassee, Florida, died March 20. He was
75. Thurston was editor of the first ARRL Radio Amateur's Operating Manual,
the author of QST "Public Service" columns and at least 10 other QST
articles from 1951 to 1994. He also won a QST Cover Plaque award.

A Virginia native and a victim of tuberculosis as a teenager, Thurston was
first licensed in 1947. He went on to become a respected broadcast news
reporter and print journalist who covered stories of national and
international interest during his career. 

Retired ARRL Communications Manager George Hart, W1NJM, who collaborated
with Thurston on the first ARRL Operating Manual, called him "a great guy."

In the 1960s, Thurston and Andy Clark, W4IYT--now a Silent Key--who was then
SEC of Southern Florida, put into place what is now the Amateur Radio
Emergency Service in Florida and established close ties with the National
Traffic System. ARRL Southeastern Division Director Frank Butler, W4RH--then
a section manager--had appointed Thurston as Section Emergency Coordinator
for the old Western Florida Section. "Thurston did a great job in Florida,"
he said. "He was an all-around good ham, and an excellent CW operator."

Thurston later served as SEC of the Northern Florida Section--from July 1990
through November 1996--and is credited with helping to strengthen the ARES
organization in the section. W4MLE also was an ARRL Official Relay Station
and a past president of the Tallahassee Amateur Radio Society.

ARRL Southeastern Division Vice Director Evelyn Gauzens, W4WYR, called
Thurston "a backbone in emergency communications in Florida."

Northern Florida Section Manager Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, said Thurston was
dedicated to Amateur Radio and an experienced and knowledgeable operator. 

As a free-lance broadcast journalist, Thurston spent two decades in the
state capital press corps, including many years as bureau chief for the
Washington Post-owned stations in Florida.

Thurston's obituary in the Tallahassee Democrat notes that in 1959 Thurston
was the first broadcast journalist to cover the Florida Legislature
full-time. He also inaugurated the first live television broadcasts from the
legislative chambers. Thurston later covered the arrest, conviction and
execution of serial killer Ted Bundy. He also worked as a correspondent for
Time.

His wife, Maryjane, four children and seven grandchildren survive. A funeral
service is set for March 24, 11 AM, at Bevis Funeral Home in Tallahassee.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Heliophile Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: This week we've
seen a major geomagnetic storm, which began on Monday. The disturbance
reached a peak on Tuesday, with a planetary A index of 66 and planetary K
indices of 5, 6 and 7. The high-latitude college A index was 105, and the K
index reached 8.

The energy released produced dramatic auroral displays. Check out the images
at http://spaceweather.com/aurora/gallery_20mar01.html . 

With the equinox this week, springtime HF conditions should be at a peak,
when the southern and northern hemispheres each gets an equal amount of
solar radiation. Average solar flux this week was 144.2 which is slightly
lower than it was during this week in 1999, when it was 147.5. Last year at
this time it was 207.8. So we are currently still enjoying the peak of cycle
23, but conditions are more like they were at this time two years ago.

Solar flux rose sharply to 183 on Thursday, and the latest projection shows
solar flux around 180 for the next week. There may be unsettled geomagnetic
conditions this weekend for the CQ WW WPX Contest. Current projections show
the planetary A index for Friday through Monday at 15, 10, 12 and 12. 

Sunspot numbers for March 15 through 21 were 126, 86, 90, 91, 85, 98 and
136, with a mean of 101.7. The 10.7-cm flux was 136.1, 139.9, 134.2, 139.8,
147, 153.3 and 159.4, with a mean of 144.2. Estimated planetary A indices
were 3, 2, 4, 7, 22, 66 and 19 with a mean of 17.6.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW WPX Contest (SSB) is the weekend of
March 24-25. The Spring QRP Homebrewer Sprint is March 26. JUST AHEAD: The
SP DX Contest, the EA RTTY Contest, the QCWA QSO Party are the weekend of
April 7-8. The UBA Spring Contest (SSB) is April 8. The VHF/UHF Spring
Sprints are April 9. See the ARRL Contest Branch page,
http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and
http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html for more info.

* "Boing-Boing" Intruder Moves Off 12 Meters: Some said it sounded like a
squeaky spring; others said it sounded like marching. However one's ears
interpreted the recent intruder on the 12 meter amateur band, it was gone by
Monday, March 19, thanks to successful direction-finding, identification and
diplomatic efforts by the FCC. Acting on numerous amateur reports--including
one from ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP--the FCC agreed to utilize its HF
direction-finding facility in Columbia, Maryland, to locate the source of
the periodic, broadband transmission. The HFDF facility isolated the
transmissions to Honduras. It also promptly identified the transmissions as
Coastal Ocean Dynamics Applications Radar (CODAR), an ocean current-mapping
technology used in meteorological and commercial applications. A quick phone
call and e-mail to the provider of the CODAR equipment at the Honduras site
set the wheels in motion to make the signals disappear from 12 meters. "As
is often the case in many intrusions, the operator dialed in the wrong
frequency," said Brennan Price, N4QX, administrator of the ARRL Monitoring
System. "Fortunately, the equipment provider and operator of the CODAR
equipment were very cooperative and wanted to do the right thing. We
appreciate their efforts." 

* Europe Adopts 5 WPM as Morse Code Standard: The Conference of Postal and
Telecommunications Administrations--CEPT--has effectively lowered the
Amateur Radio Morse code test speed to 5 WPM for all European countries. The
CEPT Radio Regulatory Working Group (WGRR), meeting last month in The Hague,
adopted a revision of Recommendation 61-02 to include the 5 WPM standard.
The European Radiocommunication Office published the revised version of T/R
61-02 this month. The revision, which establishes requirements for the
issuance of a Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate (HAREC),
reduces the Morse requirement from 12 WPM. "In revising what is known as the
CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-02, it has in effect recommended to 44 European
countries to adopt the 5 WPM standard," said Wireless Institute of
Australia-Victoria President Jim Linton, VK3PC, who closely follows global
developments in Amateur Radio Morse code trends. Additional information is
available on Linton's Morse code watch site, http://www.wiavic.org.au/mcw .
More information on CEPT is on the ERO Web site, http://www.ero.dk .

* Alaska PRB-1 Bill Passes Senate: Alaska's Amateur Radio antenna bill,
Senate Bill 78, was approved by the Alaska Senate this week in a 20-0 vote.
Last week, SB 78 got approval from the Senate Community and Regional Affairs
Committee. The measure now goes to the Alaska House for consideration. ARRL
Alaska Section Manager Kent Petty, KL5T, encouraged amateurs in his section
to thank the Senate lawmakers for their votes. "They certainly listened to
our requests, and deserve our thanks," he said. "The next challenge will be
to convince our representatives in the House to take the same important
action, and to send this bill to Gov Knowles to sign into law." House
members' names and contact information are available on Alaska's legislative
Web site, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/. More information on PRB-1 and
Amateur Radio antenna regulation, is on the ARRL Web site,
http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/#local .

* AMSAT-NA 2001 Annual Symposium issues call for papers: The first call for
papers has been issued for the AMSAT-NA 2001 Annual Symposium, set for
October 5-6 in Atlanta, Georgia. Papers may be presented by the author
during the symposium or simply offered for inclusion in the Symposium
Proceedings. Subject matter should be of general interest to Amateur Radio
operators involved in satellite communications. Suggested topics include
operating techniques, antenna design and construction, spacecraft design and
construction, current mission status, proposed satellite missions, telemetry
acquisition and relay, satellite microwave projects, etc. An outline
abstract of the proposed paper should be submitted as soon as possible. The
final date for abstracts is June 30, 2001. Completed papers must be received
no later than August 15. Electronic submittal is preferred. The format must
be either MS Word-compatible or plain text. For security purposes, Symposium
Chairman Steve Diggs, W4EPI, asks authors to send files as e-mail
attachments to w4epi@amsat.org.--AMSAT News Service 

* FCC chairman touts "enforcement model": Speaking at the CTIA 2001 Wireless
show in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said the
FCC is rethinking its business model. According to an Infoworld.com report
(http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/01/03/20/010320hnpowell.xml?0321we
am), Powell told the gathering that the FCC is "reviewing the optimal
organization and structure" with an eye toward a more-responsive FCC. "We
are putting increasing emphasis on an enforcement model as opposed to a
regulatory model," he said, in order to speed up the FCC's decision-making
process. "When you cheat, we'll get you at the back end." Powell also said
there's a delicate balance for agencies such as the FCC between fostering
innovation but not imposing it.

=========================================================== 
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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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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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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