ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 18
May 4, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Space Tourist Tito on 2 meters from ISS
* +FCC WRC-03 advisory panel issues "preliminary views"
* +AO-40 transponders to open for experimenting
* +Trial set in ham radio interference case
* +Alaska the latest state to approve an antenna bill
* +ARRL comments on UWB test reports
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Clarifications
     Spectrum Protection bill attracts additional cosponsors
    +Wounded ham-sailor continues recovery
     Nevada antenna bill gets favorable committee vote
    +AMSAT president to be available at Dayton
     Kansas amateur named NOAA "Environmental Hero" for SKYWARN service

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>DENNIS TITO PHONES HOME VIA HAM RADIO

Having the time of his life aboard the International Space Station, US
businessman Dennis Tito, KG6FZX, this week made his first Amateur Radio
contacts from his perch in space. Tito arrived aboard the ISS on April 30.

The first "space tourist," Tito spoke May 1 via Amateur Radio with his
family as the ISS was passing over Hawaii. The audio was telebridged to the
mainland. On May 2, Farrell Winder, W8ZCF, in Cincinnati, reported snagging
two contacts with the ISS--the second time chatting with Tito for several
minutes. Tito used the NA1SS call sign for the contact. He reportedly made a
few other contacts this week as well.

Winder said Tito told him he loves space and was having a ball. "He said it
is the greatest experience of his lifetime," Winder said. He also said Tito
was eager to know what was being discussed about him on Earth. 

During Tito's visit, the crew of Russian Commander Yury Usachev, UA9AD, and
US astronauts Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, and Jim Voss, are undertaking a minimal
work routine and maintenance schedule. Winder says he also spoke with Helms
during another pass.

In a TV interview from space earlier this week, Tito said he was not nervous
at all about the launch. He reports suffering some space sickness early on
but has begun to get used to weightlessness. "I'll tell you, there is
nothing like this as an experience," Tito said. He said the ISS crew
welcomed him and gave him a tour of the spacecraft. 

Tito reportedly will pay Russia a total of some $20 million for the
privilege of going into space. He and two Russian cosmonauts launched April
28 from Kazakhstan on a 10-day Soyuz vehicle taxi mission. NASA initially
opposed Tito's visit, but Russia insisted. Last week, NASA relented and
agreed to the arrangement under certain conditions.

Tito, 60, took and passed the Technician exam earlier this month after a
volunteer examination session was set up for him in Russia.

==>7 MHZ "REALIGNMENT" AMONG WRC-2003 ADVISORY COMMITTEE PRELIMINARY VIEWS

The FCC's World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 Advisory Committee has
approved several "preliminary views"--or PVs--on expected WRC-03 agenda
items. Among these is a US preliminary view supporting a realigned 40-meter
amateur allocation at 6900-7200 kHz on a worldwide primary basis. The FCC is
soliciting public comment on all preliminary views by May 9.

The preliminary view was developed by Informal Working Group 6, which is
dealing with most issues of concern to amateurs. ARRL Technical Relations
Specialist Walt Ireland, WB7CSL, serves as vice chairman of IWG-6. The PV
says that, alternatively, the US could support a 7000-7300 kHz worldwide
primary amateur allocation.

Only amateurs in Region 2, which includes North and South America, have
access to 7000-7300 kHz; the rest of the world has only 7000-7100 kHz, with
the upper 200 kHz allocated for broadcasting. ARRL Technical Relations
Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, says the ARRL would prefer going back to the
pre-World War II worldwide 7000-7300 kHz scheme. Some broadcasters, on the
other hand, would like amateurs worldwide at 6800-7100 kHz, he said, so they
would not have to move. A Radio Conference Subcommittee backgrounder from
the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee--which reflects views of the
federal government--said the issue "is liable to be very controversial."

Further complicating matters, Rinaldo said, is the fact that international
HF broadcasters want to fold the 7 MHz realignment question into another
WRC-03 agenda item examining the adequacy of HF broadcasting allocations
from approximately 4 MHz to 10 MHz. Broadcasters are expected to seek
additional HF elbow room to accommodate digital transmissions to complement
their existing AM channels.

Any realignment scheme will involve having to move existing
occupants--broadcasters on one side or fixed and mobile services, mostly
government and Part 90 users, on the other.

"We want 300 kHz," Rinaldo said--reflecting the position of the
International Amateur Radio Union, "but, we have some flexibility as to
where it is."

Another PV with implications for amateurs would oppose the use of 420-470
MHz for use by the Earth Exploration-Satellite Service for so-called
synthetic aperture radars, or SARs unless it can be shown that the
satellites "do not cause harmful interference to amateur systems and
stations." SARs are used to map regions on Earth's surface and are expected
to be deployed primarily over tropical rain forest areas.

Rinaldo emphasized that the preliminary views do not represent formal US
positions and are subject to change as preparations for WRC-03 move forward.

Comments on WAC preliminary views may be filed via e-mail to wrc03@fcc.gov.
The FCC's WRC-03 Web site, http://www.fcc.gov/wrc-03, includes additional
information as well as links to related documents.

WRC-03 is scheduled to begin June 9, 2003, and continue until July 4, 2003.
The conference is expected to take place in Venezuela.

==>AO-40 TRANSPONDERS TO OPEN FOR EXPERIMENTAL OPERATION

The AO-40 team has announced plans to inaugurate experimental transponder
operation on Saturday, May 5, at approximately 0800 UTC. The announcement
came in the wake of successful initial transponder tests last weekend. 

"We expect good conditions on Saturday morning over North and South America
and Europe," said AMSAT-DL President Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, an AO-40 team
leader. Guelzow said the 435 MHz and 1.2 GHz (L1-band) uplinks will be
connected to the 2.4 GHz (S2-band) downlink passband.

It's estimated that AO-40 will be available on May 5 in the Western
Hemisphere from 0800 until approximately 1400 UTC. Stations should use only
SSB and CW. Guelzow said it's expected the transponders will remain
available over a period of approximately 10 days.

"Needless to say, we're all very excited," he added.

The uplink frequencies are 435.550-435.800 MHz and 1269.250-1269.500 MHz.
The Downlink passband is 2401.225-2401.475 MHz. The transponders are
inverting, so a downward change in uplink frequency will result in an upward
frequency shift in the downlink. 

Users are asked to avoid the "middle" 2.4 GHz telemetry beacon and give it a
clearance of 5 kHz on either side. "If the beacon cannot be copied because
of interference from transponder users, the passband will be closed and the
transponder shut down," Guelzow warned.

He emphasized that the operation is experimental, the schedule subject to
change, and the transponders could be shut down at any time without warning.


AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, last week raised the possibility
that AO-40 could inaugurate transponder operation this summer, if tests and
orbital maneuvers between now and then go as planned.

AO-40 ground controllers also plan to test the problematic VHF and UHF
transmitters again.

In other AO-40 news, AMSAT-DL reported the RUDAK experiment was powered up
and made available to the RUDAK team for testing on May 1. The RUDAK--the
German acronym stands for "Regenerative Transponder for Amateur Radio
Communication"--is a digital transponder system that can be programmed to
perform a variety of functions.

Jim White, WD0E, in Colorado reports reliable command results with the
RUDAK-A processor on the L-band (1.2 GHz) uplink. This week White
successfully loaded the primary housekeeping task on RUDAK-A, which is now
sending telemetry and a pass-through of the IHU downlink. The RUDAK-B
software has not been loaded yet, and White said that a lot of testing
remains. He requested that hams not attempt to uplink to RUDAK until testing
is completed, and it is made available for general operation.

==>TRIAL DATE SET IN DELIBERATE INTERFERENCE, UNLICENSED OPERATION CASE

Monday, May 7, has been set as the tentative trial date in Federal District
Court in the case of William Flippo, arrested last summer for interfering
with Amateur Radio operations and for transmitting without a license. The
date could change, however. Flippo, of Jupiter, Florida, faces four counts
of operating without a license and four counts of deliberate and malicious
interference to a licensed service. He was taken into custody last July and
is free on bond.

The criminal charges set for trial cover violations allegedly committed
between June 1999 and April of last year. Each count carries a maximum
penalty of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Flippo, 58, already faces a $20,000 fine levied in 1999 for unlicensed
operation, willful and malicious interference to Amateur Radio
communications, and failure to let the FCC inspect his radio equipment. In
January 2000, the FCC referred the matter to the US Attorney after Flippo
failed to pay the fine, and the interference complaints continued.

During a search of Flippo's property after he was taken into custody, the
FCC reportedly seized some three dozen items related to the alleged
offenses, including radio equipment. Flippo was released on $100,000 bond.
As a condition of his release, Flippo was prohibited from making any radio
transmissions and from contacting any witnesses in the case. Neither he nor
any of his family members may handle or possess firearms, and Flippo's
travel was restricted to southern Florida.

Personnel from the FCC's Tampa District Office followed up on complaints
from amateurs that Flippo--also known by his CB handle of "Rabbit
Ears"--regularly interfered with amateur operations, especially on 10 and 2
meters. 

FCC personnel visited the Jupiter area at least twice in 1999 as a result of
amateur complaints alleging malicious interference. The FCC said it was able
to track offending signals to Flippo's residence. At one point, an agent
monitored and heard taped portions of a 2-meter ham radio net earlier that
day being replayed on top of amateur communications on 10 meters, the FCC
has said.

==>ALASKA GOVERNOR SIGNS ANTENNA BILL

Alaska Gov Tony Knowles has signed that state's Amateur Radio antenna bill
into law. Alaska Senate Bill 78, An Act Relating to Municipal Regulation of
Radio Antennas, was signed April 27. It will become effective July 26.
Alaska becomes the 12th state to adopt such legislation.

The bill was approved by unanimous votes in the Alaska House of
Representatives and Senate. The measure goes beyond incorporating language
from the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into Alaska's state
statutes. It includes a schedule of antenna structure heights, below which
municipalities could not further regulate. It also contains a "grandfather"
provision to protect existing towers should a municipality enact a
restrictive antenna ordinance.

The new law will require localities in Alaska to "reasonably accommodate
Amateur Radio antennas" and impose "only the minimum requirements"
necessary, although they can require "reasonable and customary engineering
practices" be followed. 

The measure also will establish a three-tier minimum regulatory height
schedule that depends on the population density of the community in which
the antenna is installed and the size of the lot on which it is sited.
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 for a lot
size of an acre or larger. The top-tier 200 feet minimum regulatory limit
would apply in areas where the population density is 120 people or less per
square mile.

Alaska Section Manager Kent Petty, KL5T, said many of the state's hams
deserve credit for helping to obtain passage of the important legislation.
Petty said the letters, e-mails, and telephone calls and legislative
testimony "really paid off" and suggested that Alaska amateurs write their
representatives, senators and governor to thank them for their "unwavering
and unanimous support."

A copy of the Alaska legislation is available as a PDF file on the Alaska
legislature's Web site,
http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/22/Bills/SB0078B.pdf. More information on
PRB-1 and Amateur Radio antenna regulation, is at
http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/#local .

==>ARRL FILES ADDITIONAL ULTRA-WIDEBAND COMMENTS

The ARRL once more has recommended that the FCC take a "reasonably
conservative" approach in its plans to deploy ultra-wideband (UWB) devices
on an unlicensed basis under its Part 15 rules. The ARRL's latest comments
came in response to a late-March FCC request for comments on five reports
addressing UWB's interference potential. The comments were filed April 25.

The reports were submitted by Qualcomm, Time Domain, the NTIA, and the
Department of Transportation (two reports). Reply comments are due by May
10.

Citing the Qualcomm report, submitted March 5, the ARRL said "the broad
nature of the interfering signal . . . indicates that any interference would
extend to all VHF and UHF amateur bands." That particular report dealt with
lab tests to assess the impact of UWB emissions on PCS phones using code
division multiple access (CDMA).

The March 9 reports by Time Domain--a leading UWB proponent--and from the
NTIA dealt with interference potential from UWB devices operating below 2
GHz to GPS receivers at the L1 and L2 (1.5 and 1.2 GHz) frequencies.
"Considering the wide frequency range and roll-off characteristics assumed,
it is probable that interference to L1 or L2 will also adversely affect
amateur station receivers in the band 1240 to 1300 MHz," the ARRL said,
reacting to the Time Domain study.

The League has arranged with the University of Southern California's UWB lab
to test the interference potential of UWB devices to "typical Amateur Radio
station configurations." Those test results, the ARRL told the FCC, are
expected in the next few months.

The ARRL also took advantage of the latest comment round to reiterate its
opinion that the FCC has failed to provide either a specific definition of
UWB or key operating parameters and performance criteria. Neither has the
FCC proposed any rules or parameters, the ARRL said. 

The ARRL said the FCC must propose "specific definitional and operating
rules" for UWB and solicit additional comments from interested parties
before issuing a Report and Order in the proceeding.

In its initial comments filed last September, the ARRL advised the FCC to
put its UWB proceeding on hold until more evidence was available on the
technology's interference impact. More recently, the ARRL joined an industry
coalition in calling on the FCC to issue a further Notice of Proposed Rule
Making before it takes final action to authorize UWB equipment.

The League has said that its own review supports a conclusion that UWB has
potentially beneficial applications that should be accommodated under the
FCC's Part 15 rules "subject to appropriate interference avoidance
regulations." Based on test results to date, the ARRL said, "the Commission
should restrict UWB operation in existing crowded bands to operation above 6
GHz."

All of ARRL's comments in the UWB proceeding are available at
http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/et98-153/index.html.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar maven Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspot activity
and solar flux were both up, with average sunspot numbers for the week
increasing by thirty points and average solar flux up by almost seven
points. Solar flux peaked on Tuesday at 209.7. 

Saturday was the most disturbed day, with planetary A index at 28, and the
Fairbanks, Alaska, high-latitude College A index at 46. This was from an
interplanetary shock wave produced by a flare on April 26. The energy from
this flare was expected to arrive Sunday, but showed up a day earlier. The
peak in solar flux, last week expected to be on the weekend, arrived two or
three days later than expected.

Currently the solar disk is covered with sunspots, although they are small
fairly non-complex regions, not like the recent sunspot 9393 which caused so
much excitement over the previous two solar rotations. There is some
possibility of flare activity from sunspot 9445.

The latest forecast shows solar flux declining over the next few days, 170
on Friday, 165 on Saturday, 160 on Sunday and 155 on Monday. Flux is
expected to reach a short term minimum around 130 between May 13-15, then
peak again from May 20-29. The next peak is expected to be lower than recent
activity, and not reach a flux value of 200.

Geomagnetic indices should be unsettled to active this weekend, with a
planetary A index of 15 on Friday and Saturday, 12 on Sunday and 10 on
Monday.

Sunspot numbers for April 26 through May 2 were 193, 181, 173, 161, 178, 152
and 179 with a mean of 173.9. The 10.7-cm flux was 196.2, 190.8, 187.8,
191.7, 187.8, 209.7 and 176.2, with a mean of 191.5. Estimated planetary A
indices were 7, 6, 28, 15, 5, 4 and 6 with a mean of 10.1.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The North American HSMS Contest continues
through May 9. The MARAC County Hunters Contest (CW), the Danish SSTV
Contest, the IPA Contest (CW + SSB), the 10-10 International Spring Contest
(CW), the 903 MHz and Up Spring Sprint, the Indiana, Connecticut and
Massachusetts QSO parties and the ARI International DX Contest are the
weekend of May 5-6. JUST AHEAD: The Nevada and Oregon QSO Parties, the VOLTA
WW RTTY Contest 1200Z, the FISTS Spring Sprint, the CQ-M International DX
Contest and the 50 MHz Spring Sprint are the weekend of May 12-13 See the
ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and
http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html for more info.

* Clarifications: AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, said he erred
concerning the location of a suspected hole in AO-40, mentioned in "AO-40
Transponder Operation Possible This Summer," The ARRL Letter, Vol 20, No 17
(Apr 27 2001). Haighton said he should have described the hole as being on
"the bottom or Z axis" of the spacecraft. ### Commenting on the item
"Hosstraders has moved!" in the same edition, Ted Donnell, K1HD, said the
original Hosstraders was held in Seabrook, New Hampshire, before it moved to
Deerfield. The hamfest will be held in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, May 5-6.

* Spectrum Protection bill attracts additional cosponsors: ARRL Legislative
and Public Affairs Manager Steve Mansfield, N1MZA, reports that the House
and Senate versions of the Spectrum Protection Act are collecting cosponsors
from both sides of the aisle. The House bill, HR 817, introduced by Rep
Michael Bilirakis of Florida now has 18 cosponsors including Assistant
Majority Whip Doc Hastings of Washington--part of the House Leadership.
Other cosponsors include representatives John Baldacci of Maine, Tammy
Baldwin of Wisconsin, Dan Burton of Indiana, John Conyers of Michigan, John
Doolittle and Gary Miller of California, Virgil Goode of Virginia, Johnny
Isakson of Georgia, William Jenkins of Tennessee, Walter Jones and Mike
McIntyre of North Carolina, George Nethercutt of Washington, Ted Strickland
and Patrick Tiberi of Ohio, Charles Stenholm of Texas, and Lee Terry of
Nebraska. The Senate companion bill, S 549, introduced by Sen Michael Crapo
of Idaho, currently has five cosponsors. These include senators Daniel Akaka
of Hawaii, Susan Collins of Maine, Larry Craig of Idaho, Jesse Helms of
North Carolina, and Bob Smith of New Hampshire. 

* Wounded ham-sailor continues recovery: Sailboat skipper Bo Altheden,
SM7XBH, shot and wounded after pirates attacked his vessel March 20 off
Venezuela, continues his recovery in Trinidad. Following the incident, hams
on the Maritime Mobile Service Net assisted Altheden and his wife, ViVi-Maj
Miren, after Miren put out a call for help on 20 meters. Miren reports that
Altheden had to be hospitalized for additional surgery after he developed an
infection. The couple plans to fly to Copenhagen later this month. The
couple and their 44-foot ketch Lorna were en route to Trinidad and Tobago
when pirates--later described by Miren as six men in a fishing boat--pulled
along side. Miren said the Lorna will be hauled out and stored in Trinidad
for the next six months. "I hope Bo will recover during these months so we
can come back and start sailing again," she told Eric Mackie, 9Z4CP, who was
among the amateurs assisting in the rescue operation.--Eric Mackie, 9Z4CP 

* Nevada antenna bill gets favorable committee vote: Nevada Assistant
Section Manger Dick Flanagan, W6OLD, reports that the Nevada Senate
Government Affairs Committee this week referred that state's pending Amateur
Radio antenna legislation, Assembly Bill 61, to the full Senate with a "Do
Pass" recommendation. The committee aired the bill April 30 in a public
hearing. "Even though only three people showed up to voice their support of
the bill, there was no one in opposition, and the committee members appeared
open to our presentations," Flanagan said. The bill, sponsored by
Assemblyman Bob Beers, WB7EHN, passed the Assembly last month on a 40-0-2
vote. Flanagan said all Nevada amateurs can record their opinions via the
Legislature Message Center at http://www.leg.state.nv.us/71st/opinions/ or
by telephone or fax. For updates and Senate contact information, visit the
Carson Valley Radio Club Web site, http://www.cvrc.net/ab61/. 

* AMSAT president to be available at Dayton: AMSAT-NA President Robin
Haighton, VE3FRH, says he'll make time available for one-on-one visits with
AMSAT members during Dayton Hamvention. Haighton has set up specific times
when he plans to be present at--or near--the AMSAT booth "to meet as many
AMSAT members as I can and to hear your thoughts and ideas." Haighton says
he'll be available Friday, May 18, 10-11:30 AM and 2-3PM; Saturday, May 19,
11 AM-noon and 2-3 PM; and Sunday, May 20, 10-11 AM. In addition, Haighton
will be at the AMSAT dinner at the Amber Rose Restaurant Friday evening and
will appear at the AMSAT Forum on Saturday, 8:30-10 AM. "AMSAT is always
looking for volunteers, people like you, who would enjoy contributing to the
hobby," Haighton said, "and if you feel that there is something within the
AMSAT organization that you would enjoy doing, please let me know when we
meet."--AMSAT News Service 

* Kansas amateur named NOAA "Environmental Hero" for SKYWARN service: ARRL
member Mike Albers, K0FJ, of Colby, Kansas, is the recipient of a 2001
Environmental Hero award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration. Albers was recognized for his outstanding service to the
National Weather Service--a NOAA agency--as the volunteer director of the
Thomas County SKYWARN network. NWS Meteorologist Scott Mentzer, N0QE, on
April 26 presented a certificate and letter from Acting NOAA Administrator
Scott Gudes to Albers during a special meeting of the Trojan Amateur Radio
Club. Mentzer heads the National Weather Service office in Goodland, Kansas.
NOAA Environmental Hero awards go to approximately 25 Americans each year in
support of Earth Day. SKYWARN volunteers relay real-time severe weather data
to National Weather Service via Amateur Radio. Mentzer said the SKYWARN
network in Thomas County "has become a key source of weather data" for his
office. As examples of SKYWARN's contribution, Mentzer cited the July 21,
1996, Colby tornado and a April 6, 2001, severe weather outbreak. More
information about NOAA's Environmental Award is available at
http://www.noaa.gov/earthday/heroes.htm .

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