*************** 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. 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