ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 16
April 20, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Ham radio shows slight post-restructuring growth
* +Amateur antenna bills progress in Alaska, Nevada
* +Mississippi, Alabama students enjoy space chat
* +Senior ham-sailor back on the high seas
* +QST technical editor Paul Pagel, N1FB, retires
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Correction
     ARRL seeks chief development officer
    +Reminder
    +First Tuna Tin 2 WAS claimed
     CQ Contest and DX Hall of Fame inductees for 2001 announced
     SETI League bouncing signals off moon

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>HAM RADIO NUMBERS SHOW POST-RESTRUCTURING GROWTH SPURT

Amateur Radio is experiencing a bit of a growth spurt in the wake of amateur
license restructuring. FCC licensing statistics as of the end of March--the
most recent complete figures available--show a net gain of approximately
6600 current licensees, or about 1%, from last April, when restructuring
went into effect. Prior to that, the number of amateurs had remained
relatively stable since 1998.

ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, says the full impact of license
restructuring--including the elimination of the 13 and 20-WPM Morse
exams--is slowly making itself felt within the amateur community. "For the
first quarter of 2001, ARRL VEC test session statistics show that new and
upgrading amateurs continue to earn licenses at a rate stronger that that of
first quarter 1999 and first quarter 2000," he said. "This is a positive
trend that we expect will continue over the coming months."

As of the end of March, according to statistics compiled by Joe Speroni,
AH0A, the FCC showed 684,359 current licensees on its books, although the
number of active amateurs is believed to be far smaller. Speroni's figures
show that more than 20,000 new amateurs entered the hobby over the past
year, while attrition was on the order of 13,600.

Overall, statistics show growth in the number of Extra, General and
Technician licensees from year-earlier figures, while the number of
Advanced, Tech Plus and Novice licensees declined. 

Jahnke says comparing the ARRL VEC's first quarter 2001 numbers shows that
interest in the Extra class license is up by as much as 30% over the first
quarters of 1999 and 2000. "Extraordinarily, interest in the General license
is up 450% to 650%!" he said. 

With the change to a new, 50-question Extra class written element that
combines material formerly covered in the 90 questions contained within the
old Advanced and Extra tests, some predicted the Extra test would be easier
to pass. That's not proving to be the case this year--at least at ARRL
VEC-sponsored sessions, where the Extra pass rate has declined by nearly 7%
from 1999. Technician and General pass rates this year have been up on the
order of 10% to 12% from pre-restructuring rates, however, at ARRL VEC
sessions.

Licensee numbers compiled by Speroni show that the FCC issued nearly 5400
new licenses in the first quarter of this year--more than 2230 in the month
of March alone. That compares with around 3730 new hams in the same quarter
last year. As would be expected, the vast majority of the newcomers entered
the hobby as Technician licensees. March was one of only three months in the
past year where the number of new licensees exceeded 2000. For more
information, visit Speroni's Amateur Radio Education Web Site,
http://ah0a.org/AH0A.html.

==>AMATEUR ANTENNA BILLS MOVE FORWARD IN ALASKA AND NEVADA

Amateur Radio antenna bills have made significant legislative headway in
Alaska and Nevada. The Alaska bill is on its way to the governor, while the
Nevada measure has cleared the Assembly and is bound for the state Senate.

Alaska Section Manager Kent Petty, KL5T, reports that Senate Bill 78 passed
the House of Representatives 37-0 on April 19 after clearing the House
Community and Regional Affairs Committee. The measure now goes to Gov Tony
Knowles for his signature, and Petty says he's confident the governor will
sign the bill.

The Alaska Senate had passed SB 78 in March on a 20-0 vote. The bill, "An
Act Relating to Municipal Regulation of Radio Antennas," was introduced by
Sen Robin Taylor of Wrangell. It would incorporate the wording of the
limited federal preemption known as PRB-1--calling on localities to
"reasonably accommodate" amateur antennas--into Alaska's state statutes. It
also includes a schedule of antenna heights, below which municipalities
could not regulate, and it includes a "grandfather" provision to protect
existing towers should a municipality enact a restrictive antenna ordinance.

The Alaska bill's three-tier minimum regulatory height schedule depends on
local population density and lot size. Municipalities would not be permitted
to further regulate antennas shorter than 75 feet in areas with a population
density of more than 120 people per square mile. A minimum regulatory height
of 140 feet would prevail in areas with a population density of more than
120 people per square mile on a lot of an acre or more. The top-tier 200
feet minimum regulatory limit would apply where the population density is
120 people or less per square mile.

More information on SB 78 is available at the Alaska Legislature Web site,
http://www.legis.state.ak.us/.

There's good news and not-so-good news about Nevada's amateur antenna bill,
Assembly Bill 61. On April 12, the Nevada Assembly Government Affairs
Committee acted to remove sections of AB 61 that dealt with deed
restrictions. Those sections of the bill would have prohibited antenna
restrictions from future deed covenants, conditions and restrictions--or
CC&Rs--in Nevada. 

On the plus side, Nevada Assistant Section Manager Dick Flanagan, W6OLD,
reports that the Committee referred the amended bill to the full Assembly
with a recommendation to approve it. The Assembly passed the measure April
19 on a 40-0 vote. Left intact were sections that would add the wording of
the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 to the Nevada Revised
Statutes. The bill now goes to the Nevada Senate. "We'll be rounding up the
troops in support," said Nevada Section Manager Jan Welsh, NK7N.

Flanagan concurs that the battle isn't over. "While we have achieved a major
milestone by passing the Nevada Assembly, we are still anticipating a fight
from the local government associations in the Senate," he said. Flanagan has
urged amateurs there to make their feelings known on the bill by sending
e-mail or letters to their local lawmakers and by recording their opinions
with the Nevada Legislature's "Share Your Opinion" page,
http://www.leg.state.nv.us/71st/opinions/ or by telephone. 

The Carson Valley Radio Club Web site, http://www.cvrc.net/ab61/, and the
Nevada Legislature's Web site, http://www.leg.state.nv.us/, have more
information.--Kent Petty, KL5T; Dick Flanagan, W6OLD

==>MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA YOUNGSTERS ENJOY ARISS SPACE CHATS

Youngsters at schools in Mississippi and Alabama have had a chance to chat
via Amateur Radio with the two US crew members of International Space
Station. The contacts were arrange by the Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station--or ARISS--program. Astronaut Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, spoke last
week with Vicksburg (Mississippi) High School students, while her astronaut
colleague Jim Voss took a turn at the NA1SS mike this week during a contact
with youngsters at Admiral Moorer Middle School in his home state of
Alabama.

After a couple of false starts, nine Vicksburg High School students finally
got to meet Helms on the air on April 11. "The contact was near perfect,"
said Bill Ford, W5WAF, a member of the Vicksburg Amateur Radio Club
committee that helped set up the equipment for the contact. Two previous QSO
opportunities had to be scrubbed because of the ISS crew workload.

Initially anticipating a direct contact with NA1SS, the Vicksburg ARC had
installed antennas and equipment at the high school. As things turned out,
the contact ended up being telebridged through the Sacred Hearts Academy
station in Honolulu, Hawaii. Audio was handled via special telephone
circuits.

The students fired off 18 questions, ranging from the salary of an astronaut
to the sensation of riding the shuttle to orbit. One student who happens to
be 6 feet 3 inches tall asked about the height requirements for astronauts.
Helms told senior Christopher Withrow that the height restriction is 6 feet
4 inches. Withrow said he's still growing.

Vicksburg ARC President Eddie Pettis, N5JGK, called the contact a very
successful community-wide effort. The event also got excellent media
coverage.

On April 16, youngsters at Admiral Moorer Middle School in Eufaula, Alabama,
worked the ISS through a telebridge with ground station NN1SS at the Goddard
Space Flight Center in Maryland. Youngsters managed to complete their entire
list of two dozen questions, several focusing on the health effects of being
in space.

One youngster asked what Voss would do if he got sick during his stay aboard
the ISS. He explained that he and Helms were the medical team during the
Expedition 2 crew mission and that if one became ill, the other would
provide treatment. Voss said the crew can talk with a physician on Earth if
they need help. 

Voss also told the students in Alabama that the body adjusts to the lack of
gravity by using visual cues rather than the inner-ear to determine balance.
Voss also said that he considered research in the field of radiation
monitoring very important to opening the way for colonizing space. 

ARISS mentor Randy Becnel, W5UE, worked with both the Vicksburg and Moorer
ARISS teams.

The Moorer school QSO was scheduled at Voss's request. Helms and Voss have
participated in several ARISS school contacts since coming aboard the ISS in
March. The Expedition 2 Commander is Russian cosmonaut Yury Usachev, UA9AD.
The next tentatively scheduled ARISS contact is with Parkway Central High
School in Chesterfield, Missouri, later this month.--thanks to Bill Ford,
W5WAF, Allen White, WB4MIO, Will Marchant, KC6ROL; The Vicksburg Post, and
MSNBC

==>DAVID CLARK, KB6TAM, IS BACK ON THE HIGH SEAS

Call him persistent, even stubborn, but don't call him a quitter, and don't
count him out. Rebounding from the February 7 disaster that sank his first
sailboat, the Mollie Milar, David Clark, KB6TAM, again set sail April 11
from Cape Town, South Africa, in a new boat. His goal is to become the
oldest person to sail solo around the world. Clark will turn 77 on May 17.

The February maritime disaster in which his sailboat sank also claimed the
life of his beloved canine companion, Mickey, who was lost at sea during the
rescue. Clark has named his new vessel Mickey in the dog's memory. The new
boat is a 34-foot fiberglass hull vessel.

Now some 800 miles out of Cape Town, Clark has been keeping a daily ham
radio schedule with the Pacific Seafarer's Net on 20 meters, according to
Bob Reed, N6HGG. The net has been running phone patches so that Clark can
speak with his wife. Clark's next port of call is St Helena, where he will
take on water and supplies. He expects to reach there in about 10 days. Reed
says Clark has been keeping a daily schedule on 14.245 MHz at around 1400
UTC. He's also keeping in touch with South African hams at 1500 UTC on
14.195 MHz.

Clark says he expects to be back in Ft Lauderdale, Florida--where his
journey began in December 1999--sometime between the middle of June and the
first of July. While Clark has some corporate sponsors, he's been funding
his trip largely out of his Social Security income and his occasional
clarinet gigs. 

For more information on David Clark's journey, visit http://www.dclark.com
and http://www.captainclark.com.

==>QST TECHNICAL EDITOR PAUL PAGEL, N1FB, RETIRES

ARRL Headquarters staff member and well-known QST technical editor Paul
Pagel, N1FB, has retired. Pagel, who turned 63 this month, was on the HQ
staff for nearly 22 years. In his capacity as a senior assistant technical
editor, Pagel prepared much of QST's technical content for publication. He
also handled the popular "Technical Correspondence" column.

Outgoing QST editor Mark Wilson, K1RO, who's now ARRL's chief operating
officer, says the QST editorial team won't be the same without Paul Pagel.
"He's helped countless authors polish their articles for the magazine,"
Wilson said. "He also helped train a number of ARRL technical editors over
the years--including me. I still remember Paul's patient advice and guidance
as I worked on my first articles for the magazine. We'll miss him."

A ham since 1958--when he went from ground zero to Conditional class (K1KXA)
in one leap--Pagel says he can't remember when he was not interested in
Amateur Radio. Growing up in New Britain, Connecticut, he taught himself the
Morse code at age 16. "I got a J-38 key for $1 at a rundown radio-TV shop,"
he said, "and I learned the Morse code by listening to the clicks of the
key, because I didn't have a code oscillator." This gave him a leg up when
he joined the Air Force right out of high school and became a ground radio
operator in Germany. While overseas, he also met his wife, Karin. The couple
now lives in Enfield, Connecticut. Their son, Eric, is a police officer.
Following the service, Pagel went to the FCC office in Boston one day and
upgraded all the way to Amateur Extra in a single sitting. After graduation
from Ward School of Electronics in Hartford, he went to work for IBM.

Prior to coming to work in the old Technical Department at ARRL, Pagel spent
12 years as an engineer at WWLP-TV in Springfield, Massachusetts. He learned
of that opening from a fellow ham. Pagel said that making the jump from his
TV job to ARRL in June 1979 meant "a huge cut in pay," but writing and
editing in a ham radio environment were what he'd always wanted to do.

"I immediately took over the 'Product Review' column," he said. "That was
scary!" He cites as one of his major contributions convincing then-ARRL
General Manager Dick Baldwin, W1RU, to purchase state-of-the-art test gear
for the ARRL Lab to conduct routine evaluations of new Amateur Radio
products. "That was the turning point for 'Product Review'," he said.

Over the years, Pagel has enjoyed several facets of hamming, including
CW--his first love--AM, SSB, RTTY and weather satellites. During his ARRL
tenure, he collaborated with ARRL Technical Advisor Ralph Taggart, WB8DQT,
on the first edition of the Weather Satellite Handbook. He also enjoyed
building his own gear. An ARRL Life Member, Pagel said he hopes to get back
into the hobby, now that he has more time and isn't involved with it
professionally.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Sun watcher Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and
sunspot numbers have been declining, but still there is plenty of activity
to keep geomagnetic conditions active. Mean daily sunspot numbers declined
by nearly 60 points this week over last, and average solar flux was down
nearly 44 points. Sunspot numbers were down to the double instead of triple
digits this week, with Tuesday through Thursday sunspot numbers at 89, 63
and 85. Sunspot numbers were last in the double digits about a month ago.

The large sunspot that caused so much excitement a few weeks ago now is
visible again and about to rotate into full view. Daily solar flux probably
bottomed out on Monday at 123.4, and the latest forecast has solar flux for
Friday through Monday at 155, 165, 175 and 185. Solar flux is expected to
peak somewhere around April 27 or 28 at 230. Of course, new activity could
change this. After all, when solar flux peaked at 273 and 274 on March 27
and 28 the best guess a week earlier was that solar flux would peak around
180 on those dates.

Last Friday a strong geomagnetic storm was triggered by an interplanetary
shock wave. This followed a couple of days of similar effects from coronal
mass ejections. Then on Sunday, one of the most powerful solar flares ever
recorded was observed, but it was near the sun's western limb and aimed
mostly away from Earth. Some bands closed down entirely! 

Another interplanetary shock wave struck Earth on Tuesday. This has been
quite a week for auroras. The most disturbed day this week was Wednesday,
when planetary A index was 50 and the planetary K index reached 7 over two
periods. This came one week after another severe disturbance, when the
planetary A index was 60 and the high latitude College A index was 100.

Sunspot numbers for April 12 through 18 were 159, 138, 149, 100, 107, 89 and
63 with a mean of 115. The 10.7 cm flux was 149, 137, 138.7, 134.2, 123.4,
126.1 and 131.8, with a mean of 134.3. Estimated planetary A indices were
38, 36, 15, 13, 7, 7 and 50 with a mean of 23.7.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: 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. JUST AHEAD: The Florida and Nebraska QSO
parties and the Six Meter Sprint are the weekend of April 28-29. See the
ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and
http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html for more info..

* Correction: Operation from K6KPH for International Marconi Day from the
original transmitting and receiving stations of ex-RCA coast station KPH.
Operation will begin at 2100 UTC Saturday, April 21. The time was reported
incorrectly in The ARRL Letter, Vol 20, No 15 (Apr 13, 2001). Details about
International Marconi Day are available on the Cornish Radio Club Web site,
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~straff/ . More information about the
Maritime Radio Historical Society is at http://www.radiomarine.org .

* ARRL seeks chief development officer: The ARRL seeks an experienced
fund-raising professional to serve as its chief development officer. This
position is at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. Reporting to
Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, the CDO will create fund-raising
strategies, implement and solidify structure and provide experienced
leadership and vision in support of program development, advocacy and
ongoing operations. This individual will involve and educate the
organization's CEO, Board of Directors, staff and volunteers as well as the
Foundation Board in attaining philanthropic support for ARRL. Emphasis will
be placed on strategic planning, annual fund activities, planned giving,
major gifts and corporate relations. Candidates must have at least 5 to 10
years of professional fund-raising experience. This is a unique opportunity
to build a development program, to make a crucial difference to the ARRL
community and to strengthen its position well into the 21st century.
Qualified candidates should e-mail or mail a resume and a letter of interest
to executive recruiter Belinda Benincasa, bbenincasa@astbryant.com or
Stefanie Borsari, sborsari@astbryant.com, or write c/o AST/BRYANT, 1
Atlantic St, Stamford, CT 06901.

* Reminder: Amateurs attending the National Association of Broadcasters
Convention in Las Vegas next week are invited to the 2001 Amateur Radio
Operator's Reception. This year's reception, sponsored by Kenwood
Communications Corp and CQ magazine, will be held Wednesday, April 25, 6-8
PM, in Ballroom C of the Las Vegas Hilton. Hundreds of amateurs involved in
all areas of the broadcast industry get together at this annual event,
organized by John Marino, KR1O, NAB Vice President, Science & Technology.

* First Tuna Tin 2 WAS claimed: When the Tuna Tin 2 low-power transmitter
article appeared in QST in 1976
(http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/pdf/7605014.pdf), its author Doug DeMaw, W1CER
(later W1FB), envisioned it as a weekend project that could be used for
short-range contacts. Now, a quarter of a century later, a Canadian amateur
has claimed the first Tuna Tin 2 Worked All States Award! Steve McDonald,
VE7SL, got caught up in "Tuna Tin 2 Mania" and bought one of the popular TT2
kits. After working about 30 states with the little rig, WAS suddenly seemed
plausible. McDonald realized his dream several months later when he turned
in his cards for WAS. All contacts for the award had been completed while he
was running about 400 mW from a Tuna Tin 2. As far as the ARRL awards folks
know, this marked the first time WAS was achieved with a Tuna Tin
2--although there is no special endorsement for having done so. "Doug DeMaw
knew in his heart that the rig would be useful and popular, but I don't
think he ever envisioned that this little transmitter would still be working
its QRP magic over 25 years after it first appeared in the pages of QST,"
said ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI--himself a QRP and TT2 aficionado
who has promoted the Tuna Tin 2 Revival and was McDonald's Connecticut
contact for WAS. Congratulations to VE7SL on a tremendous operating
accomplishment.--Ed Hare, W1RFI  

* CQ Contest and DX Hall of Fame inductees for 2001 announced: CQ magazine
has announced its 2001 inductees into the CQ Contest and CQ DX halls of
fame. Algis Kregzde, LY2NK, and Ron "Sig" Sigismonti, N3RS, were named to
the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. Robert Allphin, K4UEE, and Robert Eshleman,
W4DR, join the roster of the CQ DX Hall of Fame. Kregzde is a coach, leader
and coordinator of the Lithuanian National HF Team, president of the
Lithuanian Radio Sports Federation and vice president of the international
European Radio Sports Federation. Sigismonti has been contesting for four
decades and is past president of the Frankford Radio Club, which nominated
him. Allphin, a member of the 1996 and 2000 US WRTC teams, was nominated by
the Southeastern DX Club. Eshleman, the recipient of the 2000 ARRL Clinton
DeSoto DXCC Challenge Cup, is a past chairman of the ARRL DX Advisory
Committee. He holds Five-Band DXCC certificate No 1. He was nominated by the
Tidewater DX Club, the Flanders DX Club, and UBA--Belgium's national Amateur
Radio society. Induction ceremonies will be held at the Dayton DX and
Contest banquets.--CQ news release 

* SETI League bouncing signals off moon: With financial assistance from the
American Astronomical Society, The SETI League Inc has placed on the air a
transmitter that bounces microwave signals off the moon's surface for use in
testing Earth-based radiotelescopes. Operating on 1296 MHz under the call
sign W2ETI, the EME beacon enables amateur and professional radio
astronomers to calibrate their receiving systems by providing a stable
reference signal from a known point in the sky. The SETI League's EME beacon
received its first shakedown in March, providing scientists at the Arecibo
Observatory in Puerto Rico with a weak, well-calibrated test signal for use
in conjunction with the Project Phoenix targeted search for extraterrestrial
intelligence. Project Phoenix scientists had formerly used a microwave
transmitter aboard the Pioneer 10 spacecraft for this purpose. Twenty nine
years after its launch, Pioneer 10 is now outside our solar system, seven
billion miles from Earth, and its 8 W beacon is too weak to be
received--even by Arecibo. The SETI League promotes a privatized search for
extra-terrestrial intelligence. The organization boasts more than 1200
members in 60 countries, many of the Amateur Radio operators. Its executive
director is Paul Shuch, N6TX. For more information, visit the SETI League
Web site, http://www.setileague.org/ . 

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