ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 15
April 13, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Upper Midwest hams brace for flooding
* +Haynie addresses a ham industry gathering
* +Students in Kentucky chat with Jim Voss on the ISS
* +Space tourist Tito gets a ham ticket
* +Idaho governor signs ham antenna bill
* +White House names three to FCC
* +ARRL's Chuck Hutchinson, K8CH, retires
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Clarification
     World Amateur Radio Day set for April 18
    +ARISS packet system working, sort of
     Dayton Hamvention announces banquet MC, speakers, and entertainment
     Ham radio to be represented at NAB convention
     QRP pedestrian-to-pedestrian record trumped
     KPH coastal station gear to be on air for International Marconi Day
     N1IN, named to MARS PR post
     Wisconsin declares Amateur Radio Operator Recognition Day

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================
EDITOR'S NOTE: Because ARRL Headquarters will be closed Good Friday, April
13, The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News for that date are being posted a day
early.
===========================================================

==>RED RIVER VALLEY HAMS BRACE FOR SERIOUS FLOODING

Hams on both sides of the Red River in Minnesota and North Dakota are
bracing for the possibility of serious flooding. ARRL Minnesota Section
Manager Randy "Max" Wendel, KM0D, and North Dakota SM Kent Olson, KA0LDG,
say area amateurs are ready. The region was devastated by flooding in 1997.

"We learned a lot back in the floods of '97, and everyone is much more aware
of the needs that can arise with emergency communications as a result, so
we're much more prepared this time," Wendel said. "Right now, we're in a
standby mode." Wendel says he's touched bases with state emergency
management officials and said he could mobilize at least 100 hams at a
moment's notice, if needed.

"I think the point is, being prepared and organized and ready to go," he
said. "I think the floods of '97 were quite an eye-opener for a lot of
people."

In North Dakota, Olson said hams already are pitching in to assist by
helping to dispatch sandbagging teams, by doing house-to-house checks and
assisting the Salvation Army units on scene. "We're definitely ready," he
said. "Our guys sprang right in from the get-go."

Wendel says water levels in Minnesota are approaching the 1997 flood levels,
at the time dubbed a 500-year flood. "Rivers all across the state are rising
to levels predicted to come very near the disastrous levels of three years
ago," he said. But this time around, dikes and flood walls installed or
upgraded since 1997 are helping to reduce damage.

Locations affected are the Red River Valley along the Minnesota and North
Dakota border, the Minnesota River through the southern part of the state,
along with the St Croix and the Mississippi River on the east side of
Minnesota. Rain across the region at mid-week brought nearly two inches to
many areas already threatened by rising waters. 

"So far," Wendel said, "ARES has not been requested to assist with
communications, but we are ready for the call." He said State Emergency
Coordinator Gary Peterson, N0ZOD, has been in contact with the Minnesota
Department of Emergency Management and has reassured state emergency
officials that ARES is ready to go with just a phone call. 

"The people in Minnesota are known for their volunteerism, and once again,
they're proving it, one sandbag at a time," Wendel said. Both Wendel and
Olson note that this time around, temperatures have not been as cold,
eliminating ice from the rivers, and nearly all snow cover has melted.

==>HAYNIE ADDRESSES AMATEUR RADIO INDUSTRY GROUP

For the third year in a row, the ARRL has joined Amateur Radio equipment
manufacturers and publishers to exchange ideas and discuss issues facing the
ham radio industry. As the guests of AES owner Phil Majerus, the industry
representatives gathered last weekend near Milwaukee in conjunction with
Amateur Electronic Supply's "Superfest 2001."

ARRL president Jim Haynie, W5JBP, spoke to the group about ARRL activities
to promote Amateur Radio. Calling it "an exciting time in Amateur Radio,"
Haynie outlined plans for expansion of youth recruitment activities in
schools, involvement with ham radio aboard the International Space Station
and increased ARRL membership. He also highlighted ARRL's ongoing efforts in
Washington, DC, to protect the interests of the Amateur Radio Service. 

Among those attending from ARRL Headquarters were Advertising Manager John
Bee, N1GNV, and ARRL Marketing Coordinator Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R.

During his stay in Wisconsin, Haynie was interviewed by a Milwaukee
television station April 5 for the station's morning news show. Joining
Haynie during the interview was Chip Margelli, K7JA, of Yaesu USA, and
Gordon West, WB6NOA, of the Gordon West Radio School. As several ham radio
industry representatives looked on, the three answered general questions
about Amateur Radio, demonstrated equipment, and invited viewers to attend
Superfest 2001. AES Manager Ray Grenier, K9KHW, organized the interview,
which Haynie touted as a "great recruitment opportunity."

Superfest 2001, an ARRL-sanctioned hamfest, was held at the AES store in
Milwaukee April 6 and 7.

==>KENTUCKY STUDENTS CHAT WITH JIM VOSS ABOARD ISS

Youngsters at the Woodford County Middle School in Versailles, Kentucky,
showed up for school during their spring break to ask questions of astronaut
Jim Voss aboard the International Space Station. The contact April 9 was
scheduled through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or
ARISS, program. Voss used the space station's NA1SS call sign.

Voss' first outing on Amateur Radio from space as part of the ISS Expedition
2 crew got off to a shaky start because of difficult copy on Voss's part. A
solid contact for the southern hemisphere pass via Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI,
in Australia, eventually was established as precious seconds ticked by. As a
result, only eight students got to ask their questions. Students were
networked--or telebridged--with Hutchison via a WorldCom telephone
connection for the ARISS contact. 

During the question-and-answer session, one student asked about research
projects. "We've conducted a lot of experiments in space over time," Voss
said. "We grow crystals in space that help us to better understand the
structure of crystals." He said this research might have applications in
developing pharmaceuticals and other products. "We do a lot of things we
can't do on Earth by using the microgravity of space," he said, explaining
that eliminating gravity makes research a lot easier.

Food is a favorite question topic, and the Woodford students were no
exception in posing one on the subject. Voss said that half of the crew's
meals are Russian cuisine, the other half American. Voss signed off by
urging the students to work hard in school and to do their best.

"I think everybody enjoyed it," said the Woodford County Amateur Radio
Club's Steve McFadden, KA4TJD, following the contact. "It's been a learning
experience for all of us."

==>HOPEFUL SPACE TOURIST TITO IS NOW KG6FZX

Wealthy US businessman Dennis Tito, who hopes to be the first space tourist
aboard the International Space Station, now is an Amateur Radio operator.
Tito, 60, has been in Russia training to go into space. 

Last weekend a volunteer examination session was set up for Tito in Russia
and he passed the Technician exam. The FCC issued Tito the call sign KG6FZX
April 11. It's not clear at this point how Tito plans to use Amateur Radio
aboard the ISS.

Press accounts say Russia has given Tito the go ahead to visit the ISS as
part of a three-man team that will blast off April 28 on a 10-day mission.
Tito reportedly is paying the cash-strapped Russian space program some $20
million for the privilege of being the first space tourist. Accompanying
Tito into space will be Talgat Musabayev as team commander, and Yuri Baturin
as onboard engineer. Tito reportedly will handle communications systems
during the flight. 

Tito, the founder of a California investment firm, studied aerospace
engineering in college and later worked for five years at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Lab. He told a news conference that he's excited about the
prospect of going into space and he's looking forward to the experience.
Tito had hoped to visit the Russian Mir space station, but those plans had
to be scrapped when the Russians decided that it was time to deorbit the
aged spacecraft.

The prospect of Tito's visit aboard the ISS has generated some tension
between the US and Russian space agencies. NASA chief Dan Goldin has
suggested that Tito's planned visit this month would be a disruption to the
Expedition 2 crew during a complex mission. Russia's space agency director
general Yuri Koptev said the mission will go forward. He said Russia does
not need permission from its international partners to fly specific
individuals to the space station.

==>IDAHO GOVERNOR INKS AMATEUR RADIO ANTENNA BILL

Idaho Gov Dirk Kempthorne has signed an Amateur Radio antenna bill into law.
The bill, called "The Emergency Communications Preservation Act,"
incorporates the language of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1
into Idaho state law. Idaho Section Manager Mike Elliott, K7BOI, has
credited John Cline, K7BDS, and his staff at the Idaho Bureau of Disaster
Services with leading the effort to get the bill passed.

The new law will require local rules or ordinances involving placement,
screening or height of antennas or towers and based on health, safety or
aesthetic considerations to "reasonably accommodate" Amateur Radio
communication. Such laws also must represent "the minimum practicable
regulation to accomplish a legitimate purpose" of the municipal government.

After consideration by the House Business Committee, the measure passed the
Idaho House 66-1 and the Senate 34-1. Kempthorne signed the measure into law
on April 4. When the new law goes into effect July 1, 2001, Idaho will
become the eleventh state to have an Amateur Radio antenna bill on its
books.

For more information on the Idaho Amateur Radio antenna legislation, visit
the Idaho legislature Web site, http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/H0232.html .

==>WHITE HOUSE TAPS THREE FOR FCC SEATS

President George W. Bush has tapped Republicans Kevin Martin and Kathleen
Abernathy and Democrat Michael Copps for seats on the FCC. All three White
House choices are described as experienced Washington players. The
nominations are undergoing FBI background checks before being submitted for
Senate confirmation.

Martin, a telecommunications attorney and former adviser to Republican
commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, left the FCC to join the Bush-Cheney
campaign. He has been nominated to serve until 2006 in the seat vacated
January 19 by former FCC Chairman William Kennard, a Democrat.

Abernathy, also an attorney and a former aide to former Democratic FCC
member James Quello and a former lobbyist for US West, was nominated to
serve until 2005. She'll taking over the seat of Furchtgott-Roth, who
announced earlier this year that he would not seek reappointment.

Copps is a former aide to South Carolina Sen Ernest "Fritz" Hollings and
former assistant secretary of commerce for trade development in the Clinton
administration. He will replace Democratic commissioner Susan Ness and can
serve until 2004.

Yet to be named is a nominee for the seat now filled by Democratic
Commissioner Gloria Tristani, who has not said when she plans to leave the
FCC. Among the suggested replacements is Andy Levin, counsel to Democratic
US Rep John Dingell of Michigan.

No more than three members of the FCC may be from the same political party.

==>ARRL HQ STAFFER CHUCK HUTCHINSON, K8CH, RETIRES

ARRL Headquarters staff member Chuck Hutchinson, K8CH, has retired.
Hutchinson, 60, began his League career in 1981 as a technical editor. He
served as Membership Services Manager from 1991 until 1998, when, for
medical reasons, he moved into a part-time editorial role. Hutchinson has
been working from his home in Michigan for the past several months.

"Our community is indebted to Chuck for the contributions he made to both
the technical and the operating sides of Amateur Radio during his 20-year
career with the ARRL," said ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner,
K1ZZ, who's known Hutchinson for many years.

A long-time SWL and a ham since his late teenage years, Hutchinson was first
licensed as KN8UDJ in 1960. He says the first thing he did after getting
licensed--even before buying equipment--was to join ARRL. He's now a Life
Member.

Hutchinson said short-wave listening and ham radio were major influences on
his educational and work careers. Before coming to ARRL, Hutchinson worked
as a studio engineer for international short-wave broadcaster HCJB in Quito,
Ecuador, in the mid 1970s. He says Amateur Radio legend Doug DeMaw, W1FB,
interviewed him for his first job at ARRL. 

Hutchinson's first major project at HQ was editing the 1985 Handbook. As
manager of the Membership Services Department, he oversaw the early
transition from paper to computerized DXCC records. He also reorganized
contest rules into the present format and was responsible for reinvigorating
the A-1 Operator's Club. Hutchinson also contributed dozens of columns and
articles for QST.

Hutchinson says he and his wife, Sylvia, K8SYL--whom he married in 1961--now
are enjoying their new home on a hill in Michigan's Ionia County, where both
are active in the local ARES organization. The couple has two sons,
including Scott, N1DSF, who serves in the US Air Force.

"It's been very satisfying to work for ARRL," Hutchinson said. "I'm looking
forward to a continuing relationship as I work on special projects." One of
those "special projects" will be a book on his favorite subject--antennas.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Propagation prognosticator Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports:
High solar activity continued this week. Although the actual sunspot numbers
and solar flux values have generally declined, new active areas on the sun
have rotated into Earth's view, bringing flares and coronal holes--and with
them geomagnetic storms and dramatic auroral displays.

Average sunspot numbers for the week declined more than 100 points, and
average solar flux was off more than 62 points. Again this week, on April 5
and 6, the 10.7 cm solar flux value had to be adjusted because the
observatory in Penticton, British Columbia was overwhelmed by energy from
solar flares. Daily values for last Thursday and Friday were flare enhanced
at 398.7 and 563.5, but were adjusted downward and reported by NOAA as 210
and 192.

As this bulletin is being written on Thursday, two clouds of charged
particles are headed our way. The last is from another X-class solar flare.
This one erupted near sunspot group 9415 at 1025 UTC, and caused a radio
blackout across the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and parts of Western Asia.

On Wednesday energy from a pair of coronal mass ejections hit Earth and
triggered a severe G4-category geomagnetic storm between around 1500-1800
UTC. G4 category is severe, one step below the top G5 category, which is
extreme. This may cause problems with power distribution systems, with
surges in voltage and tripping of circuit breakers. On Wednesday the
planetary K index hit 8, and the planetary A index was 60. Middle latitude A
index was 69.

On the bands expect long periods of very little HF propagation, but look for
auroral propagation on VHF. Current predictions call for solar flux to
decline below 150 this weekend and bottom out around 140 on Sunday. Then, it
is expected to rise to 180 around April 20, and peak around 185 after April
23 and toward the end of the month.

Sunspot numbers for April 5 through 11 were 214, 136, 153, 188, 185, 170 and
178 with a mean of 174.9. 10.7 cm flux was 210, 192, 179.5, 169.2, 164.8,
169.7 and 159.6, with a mean of 177.8, and estimated planetary A indices
were 19, 12, 16, 41, 19, 9 and 60 with a mean of 25.1.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The DX YL to NA YL Contest (CW) is Apr 11-13;
the Lighthouse Spring Lites Rites QSO Party is April 13-23; the EU Spring
Sprint (SSB) is April 14; the Japan International DX Contest, the MARAC
County Hunter Contest (SSB), the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party, and His Majesty
King of Spain Contest are the weekend of April 13-15. JUST AHEAD: The 222
MHz Spring Sprint is April 17; the TARA Spring Wakeup PSK31 Rumble, the YU
DX Contest; the EU Spring Sprint (CW), the Michigan and Ontario QSO parties,
and the Holyland DX Contest are the weekend of April 21-22. The 432 MHz
Spring Sprint and the Harry Angel Memorial Sprint are April 25; the DX YL to
NA YL Contest (SSB) is April 25-27. See the ARRL Contest Branch page,
http://www.arrl.org/contests/ for more info.

* Clarification: An announcement concerning in-person Level I Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications Courses that ran in The ARRL Letter, Vol 20, No 14
(Apr 6 2001), was premature. At this point, ARRL is seeking volunteers to
serve as Certification Instructors and Certification Examiners for the
in-person courses. Certification Instructors will come from the ranks of
those amateurs who have successfully completed the Level I course, which has
only been offered on-line until now. To learn how to qualify for these
positions, see http://www.arrl.org/cce/admin-criteria.html. As in-person
courses are scheduled, details and contact information will be announced.
For more information on the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program, see http://www.arrl.org/cce/ or e-mail cce@arrl.org.

* 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. ARRL co-founder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, was its first president.

* ARISS packet system working, sort of: ARISS Board Chairman Frank Bauer,
KA3HDO, says the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station packet
system is operational, but because of a failed RAM backup battery, the
system at present has no call sign. "We have been waiting for the crews to
connect a laptop to the packet module to check out the packet system and
re-install the packet parameters," he said. Some tests were run to see if
the system worked with only PROM parameters. "We have determined from our
ground tests that one can connect to the packet system using 'nocall' and
digi through it." Bauer said he recently ran tests on two passes to validate
that the packet system was still operational, but with a dead battery. He
was able to successfully connect to "nocall" on one pass and digipeat on a
second pass. Bauer says the ARISS team will continue to work with the
Expedition 2 crew to get the packet parameters installed, so that the packet
system fully configured.--ARISS 

* Dayton Hamvention announces banquet MC, speakers, and entertainment: Carl
Nichols, N8WFQ, will be back this year as Banquet Master of Ceremonies for
the 2001 Dayton Hamvention. Nichols is Chief Meteorologist for WDTN Channel
2 news in Dayton. The featured banquet speakers are Bob Heil, K9EID, of Heil
Sound Ltd; FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley
Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, and Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX) Working
Group Chairman Roy Neal, K6DUE. Their topic will be "Amateur Radio, Past,
Present and Beyond." Post-banquet entertainment will be provided by Jim
Whitter and Jude Johnson of Canada--The Hammer Band. For more information,
visit the Hamvention Web site, http://www.hamvention.org/ .--Dayton
Hamvention 

* Ham radio to be represented at NAB convention: Amateur Radio will once
again have a presence at the National Association of Broadcasters'
convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 21-26. NAB donates booth space to
ARRL, and local hams volunteer for booth duty. This year's "booth
coordinator" will be Ed Terrell, KB5FNX. The ARRL booth attracts broadcast
professionals who are hams, as well as other visitors with technical
backgrounds and interests. The annual and very popular Amateur Radio
reception will be held April 25 at 6 PM at the Las Vegas Hilton. NAB Vice
President for Science and Technology John Marino, KR1O, will host. ARRL
donates selected publications for door prizes. Approximately 1000 amateurs
are expected to attend. ARRL Southwestern Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, and
Pacific Director Jim Maxwell, W6CF, plan to be among them.

* QRP pedestrian-to-pedestrian record trumped: Amateurs in Greece and New
Zealand have raised the bar for the longest low-power
pedestrian-to-pedestrian contact. On February 28, Max Pompe, ZL1BK, worked
Demetre Valaris, SV1UY, over a distance of more than 17,500 miles long-path.
Both operators carried compact, portable low-power transceivers and portable
antennas. Valaris credited the sun with providing good propagation
conditions. When contact was established February 28 at 0625 UTC on 20-meter
CW and later on SSB, ZL1BK was hiking in a park near his home in Auckland,
New Zealand, while Valaris was hiking on Mt Ymittos in Greece. Both were
running Yaesu FT-817s at 5 W. SV1UY used a 2-meter-tall center-loaded whip,
while ZL1BK used a hand-held 5-meter long center-loaded dipole. Both
operators are members of a group of backpack radio enthusiasts called
"HFpack." For more information on HFpack, visit
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hfpack/. Visit SV1UY's Web site,
http://www.athnet.ampr.org/~sv1uy .--Demetre Valaris, SV1UY 

* KPH coastal station gear to be on air for International Marconi Day:
Amateur Radio station K6KPH will be on the air for International Marconi Day
from the original transmitting and receiving stations of ex-RCA coast
station KPH. Operation is set to start at 0700 UTC Saturday, April 21. The
frequencies of operation will be 7050 and 14,050 kHz. KPH traces its history
back to the days of Marconi operation at the Bolinas transmitting site.
K6KPH will be operated using the original transmitters, receivers and
antennas of KPH. The operators will be at the Point Reyes receiving station,
remotely keying the transmitters in Bolinas, just as was done when the
station was in commercial operation. Members of the Maritime Radio
Historical Society--which include several original KPH operators--will be at
the key. Details about International Marconi Day are available on the
Cornish Radio Club Web sit, http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~straff/ .
Visit the Maritime Radio Historical Society Web site,
http://www.radiomarine.org .--Dick Dillman, W6AWO 

* N1IN, named to MARS PR post: Retired journalist Bill Sexton, N1IN, of
Richmond, Massachusetts, has been named as public awareness coordinator for
the Military Affiliate Radio System, or MARS. Sexton succeeds Lori Matthew,
N4ZCF, whose public relations coordinator title was retired after her death
last September. In the volunteer position, Sexton reports to Army MARS Chief
Bob Sutton, N7UZY, and is responsible for disseminating information about
MARS member activities. "MARS may be among the most active sectors of
amateur radio but it's also among the least known," Sexton said. "The fact
that we operate on frequencies outside the ham bands accounts in good part
for the lack of public familiarity." Sexton explains that in all three
branches--Army, Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps MARS--the primary mission is
maintaining readiness for emergency communications support to the Defense
Department and other government agencies. "Training is constant and
demanding," he said, and has overtaken the traditional MARS function of
handling health-and-welfare traffic between service members and their
families. A former newspaper and wire service journalist, Sexton joined MARS
in 1992. Write him at William C. Sexton, N1IN, PO Box 428 Richmond, MA
01254-0428; e-mail sextonw@juno.com. 

* Wisconsin declares Amateur Radio Operator Recognition Day: Wisconsin Gov
Scott McCallum has signed a proclamation declaring April 19 as Amateur Radio
Operator Recognition Day in Wisconsin. The proclamation cites Amateur
Radio's role in providing emergency communication "at no cost to Wisconsin
taxpayers" and singles out RACES, ARES and SKYWARN, as well as the clubs
throughout the state that provide Amateur Radio training and school
programs. Included as well was Amateur Radio's support for the annual run of
the Great Circus Train.--Mack Brophy, N9NTB

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