ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 28
July 13, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Maneuver gains AO-40 a "safe" orbit
* +Hams help in wake of Appalachian flooding
* +Massachusetts kids quiz astronaut via ham radio
* +FCC probes test session irregularities
* +ARRL petition for 2.3 GHz primary allocation put on public notice
* +Comments due August 15 on revised Extra syllabus
* +Ham-sailor sitting out storm season in Trinidad
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Look for W1AW/6 in IARU HF Championship
     Boiled Owls to operate NU1AW
     July Emergency Communications Level I on-line course registration
     ARRL 2000 Annual Report now available
     Bennett L. Basore, W5ZTN, SK
     Tower fall claims the life of Texas amateur
     Ham Radio 2001 draws 18,000
     DX news e-mail address

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>AO-40 NOW IN LONG-TERM, "SAFE" ORBIT

AO-40's new orbit should be good for at least the next 20 years, according
to AMSAT-DL President Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, who heads the satellite's ground
team. Following maneuvers to shift the satellite's orbit, AO-40's perigee
now is "oscillating in a safe range between 810 and 1260 km," Guelzow said
this week. 

AO-40's height at apogee--58,971 km--was unchanged by the orbital
adjustment. The satellite's transponders remain off for now as ground
controllers reorient the spacecraft. Still in question is whether ground
controllers will be able to deploy the satellite's solar panels.

Ground controllers were able to change AO-40's orbit through successive
"cold" firings of the onboard arcjet motor--using only ammonia gas but not
energizing the arcjet. Initial plans called for raising the perigee to
around 500 km. The move raised AO-40 some 300 km higher than predicted,
however and apparently depleted the spacecraft's ammonia supply--something
that was not expected to happen. This makes it likely that AO-40 will remain
in its current orbit for the rest of its time in space.

Stacey Mills, W4SM, of the ground team said it's "quite possible" that an
ammonia leak accounted for the loss of fuel. "If we did have a slow leak, it
is very fortunate we did not wait any longer to use the remaining fuel," he
said. Mills said that AO-40's old orbital configuration, while stable, was
too close for comfort at perigee.

"I sincerely hope that nothing else malfunctions for a long, long time, but
this is, after all, rocket science," Mills said. "Nothing is guaranteed."

Ground controllers plan to check AO-40's momentum wheels prior to making any
decision to deploy the spacecraft's solar panels. Mills said the momentum
wheels are needed to provide three-axis control of the spacecraft, "and
there is no need to deploy the panels if we are not going to three-axis," he
said. 

Guelzow said he would "be surprised" if the momentum wheels work okay after
what he called "the possible destruction in the inner core of the
spacecraft" resulting from an onboard malfunction last December involving
the 400-newton propulsion system. "If everything goes well, we will
proof-test the three-axis control for a long time before we will deploy the
solar panels--if at all."

For more information on AO-40, visit the AMSAT-DL Web site,
http://www.amsat-dl.org/ or the AMSAT-NA Web site, http://www.amsat.org.

==>FLASH FLOODS BRING OUT THE BEST IN HAMS

Hams in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky mobilized this week after flash
flooding hit the Appalachian region. Amateur Radio Emergency Service teams
were activated after thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain in southern
West Virginia and in bordering regions of Kentucky and Virginia July 7 and
8. While West Virginia was most affected, amateurs in all three states have
cooperated in supporting the relief effort, which is expected to continue
for several more days.

A state of emergency was declared in Boone, Fayette, Raleigh, Summers,
Mercer, Wyoming, McDowell and Doddridge, counties. The heavy rains caused
mudslides in valley towns located in the mountainous region. At least one
flood-related death was reported.

West Virginia Section Emergency Coordinator Mac McMillian, W8XF, said the
affected region is largely comprised of rural coalfield counties, some
bordering Kentucky and Virginia. He estimated that 60 hams have participated
in the disaster response and relief effort.

West Virginia ARRL Section Manager Olie Rinehart, WD8V, said as many as 1000
homes were washed away. Rinehart said many of the affected residents have
moved in with relatives, but 100 or so took advantage of Red Cross shelters.
Amateurs have been supporting three Red Cross chapters in the current
crisis. Telephone service was affected as switching stations were inundated
by the floodwaters. "In a lot of places, you can call out but you can't call
in from outside the area," Rinehart said. 

Rinehart said water treatment plants along affected rivers were knocked out
and some 5000 residents remain without drinking water. Another 2500 still
have no electrical power, he said. The National Guard has been mobilized to
assist in the cleanup and also has been hauling in water for affected
residents.

In addition to assisting local emergency management officials and relief
agencies, hams have been handling health-and-welfare traffic for the
National Guard. McMillian said hams in five communities were using HF and
VHF to handle traffic between National Guard workers and their families back
home.

Across the Tug River in Kentucky, Lawrence County EC Fred Jones, WA4SWF,
said hams on both sides of the border worked together to pass
health-and-welfare traffic. "The damage that was done here is nothing like I
had ever seen before," he said. "In a time like this, you have to work fast
to get things done." 

==>MASSACHUSETTS KIDS QUIZ ASTRONAUT SUSAN HELMS VIA HAM RADIO

A group of elementary schoolers in Bourne, Massachusetts, had a chance this
week to chat via Amateur Radio with Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, aboard the
International Space Station. The July 12 contact was arranged as part of the
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or ARISS--program,
sponsored by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.

Wielding the NA1SS microphone aboard the ISS, Helms fielded 16 questions
from the fourth-grade students of Jan Butler at James F. Peebles Elementary
School. Butler said her students--who now are off for the summer--had
studied various space-related concepts and terminology.

Helms told the youngsters that, today, there are more opportunities than
ever for both men and women to become a part of the space program. "At this
age, for you, it's very exciting to think about all the things you're going
to get to do as you get older," Helms said. "There are going to be many many
more astronauts, and you could be one of them."

Students frequently have asked the astronauts what they liked most about
being in space, and this school contact was no exception. But another
Peebles pupil turned the classic question around, asking Helms what she
liked the least about being in space.

"The answer is, I can't bring everybody with me, and that's really sad,
because it's a really neat place to be," Helms said of her current home in
space. "I'd like to show it to everybody." She also said that being aboard
the ISS--without the TV, a telephone or the Internet--made for a very
peaceful and pleasant environment. "I'm a little worried about coming back
to Earth and hearing all the noise," Helms conceded.

In reply to another question, Helms described the very beginning of a space
flight as feeling like riding a roller coaster, "and you're going over the
crest of a hill and you're falling down the hill with the roller coaster,
and it never stops." She said astronauts get used to the sensation in time.

After the 10-minute contact, Butler said her students were overjoyed. "I
wish you could see the faces," she told Tim Bosma, W6ISS, and Roy Neal,
K6DUE. Bosma handled the Amateur Radio end of the contact from the Santa
Rosa Junior College Amateur Radio Club's W6SRJ in California. Neal moderated
the contact for the teleconference hookup. Audio was relayed via a WorldCom
audio teleconferencing bridge.

Among the next ARISS contacts is a schedule with K2BSA at the National Scout
Jamboree that gets under way later this month. Some 40,000 Scouts and Scout
leaders are expected to attend the Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill Virginia.

==>FCC PROBES DISCREPANCIES AT ARRL VEC EXAM SESSION

The FCC is auditing a May 10 ARRL VEC Amateur Radio examination session
after viewing documents that FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio
Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth said "reflect several alarming discrepancies
in testing procedures." The session was held in Trumbull, Connecticut. The
ARRL VEC referred the test documents to the FCC as part of its
responsibilities as a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. 

Ten volunteer examiners listed on the Test Session Report as having
participated in the Trumbull session have been suspended at least for the
duration of the FCC inquiry. The suspensions are standard procedure in such
cases, ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, said. 

In a June 28 letter addressed to the 10 VEs, Hollingsworth focused on
discrepancies in documents submitted on behalf of one applicant, Elvis
Mendez, KB1GPY, a Technician licensee from Revere, Massachusetts, who
attempted to upgrade to Extra at the May 10 session. "It appears that
Mendez, either before or during the examination, may have had access to the
answer key used by VEs for grading Morse code examinations," Hollingsworth
wrote. "In the alternative, his answer sheet may have been completed prior
to the examination."

Hollingsworth also noted "a significant number of erasures" on the answer
sheet, to VE grading marks and to the score of Mendez' Extra class written
exam. "When correctly graded, Mendez score was 36 out of 50 rather than 40
out of 50 to which you certified," Hollingsworth said. 

Mendez' Extra exam has been invalidated as a result of the discrepancies,
Hollingsworth said. The FCC also has requested that the ARRL VEC maintain
the VE suspensions until it completes its probe.

The FCC letter was sent to Kevin W. Cellini, N1GKM; Allen H. Silberstein,
N1RWE; Andres A. Rosado, KB1FKJ; Peter J. Keyes, N1GOJ; Arthur L. Cartier
III, N1VGT; Glenn J. Krieger, N1HAW; Freddy Martin, KB1FKI; Robert E.
Moreland, KA1ZMF; Donald W. Stowe, N1VNM; and Kenneth A. Frissora, N1JKA.
All are Extra class licensees.

Among other things, Hollingsworth has asked the VEs to explain their role in
the May 10 exam session, if any had communication with Elvis Mendez before,
during or after the exam session, if they graded Mendez' Morse or written
exam, if their signatures on the Test Session Report were authentic and if
Mendez' name was on the roster when they signed it. Hollingsworth also asked
each VE to explain the discrepancies he outlined in his letter. Replies were
due in 20 days.

==>COMMENTS DUE AUGUST 1 ON ARRL 2.3 GHz PETITION

The FCC has put the ARRL's petition seeking a primary amateur allocation at
2300 to 2305 MHz on public notice. It's been assigned a rulemaking number,
RM-10165. Comments are due by August 1. The League's petition, filed in May,
also requested that no commercial operations be introduced in the band. The
Amateur Service now is secondary at 2300-2305 MHz. There is no primary
occupant.

Comments also are due August 1 on a competing petition from AeroAstro
Inc--now designated RM-10166--that seeks a new Miscellaneous Wireless
Communication Service (MWCS) on the band and co-primary status with the
Amateur Service. AeroAstro has called on the FCC to grant its request
"subject to technical rules calculated to minimize harmful interference
between the two services and to protect NASA's Deep Space Network," which
operates below 2300 MHz.

Acknowledging the AeroAstro petition in its initial filing, the ARRL said it
would impose "severe operating constraints on the Amateur Service" if the
FCC were to grant it. The ARRL plans to file comments on the AeroAstro
petition as well as on its own. 

Last year, the ARRL opposed a petition seeking to include 2300-2305 MHz in a
list of potential bands sought by Microtrax for a personal location and
monitoring service.

This spring's ARRL petition marked the second time the League has sought
primary status on the band. The ARRL first asked the FCC in 1996 to upgrade
the allocation there to primary, but the Commission never acted on the
request. 

The ARRL has said that the segment 2300-2305 MHz is "of extreme importance
to the Amateur Service, especially for weak-signal communications and
propagation research." The Amateur Service has primary allocations in this
part of the spectrum at 2390-2400 MHz and 2402-2417 MHz. The ARRL last year
sought to have the segment 2400-2402 MHz elevated from secondary to primary,
but the FCC has yet not acted on that request either. The AO-40 satellite
has been successfully using that band for downlink telemetry and transponder
operation. Amateur Radio weak-signal work is centered near 2304 MHz.

In earlier proceedings, the ARRL has asked the FCC to create a primary
amateur allocation in the 2300 to 2305 MHz segment and to maintain the
secondary ham allocation in the 2305 to 2310-MHz band. The ARRL has called
sharing of the 2305 to 2310 MHz segment with other services "distinctly
problematic."

The ARRL has said that its latest petition would be "consistent with the
protection requirements for government and NASA operations immediately below
2300 MHz and the MWCS operation above 2305 MHz." 

Interested parties may comment on the proposal electronically using the
FCC's Electronic Comment Filing Service (ECFS) page,
<http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html;.

==>COMMENTS DUE AUGUST 15 ON EXTRA CLASS EXAM SYLLABUS

The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner
Coordinators has released a draft syllabus for the Amateur Extra class
examination (Element 4) question pool. Comments on the draft syllabus are
due August 15. The revised question pool will go into effect next July 1.

The draft syllabus is available for downloading on the ARRL VEC's Working
Syllabus--Element 4 Extra Class Question Pool Revision 2001 page,
<http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/el4-2001.html>. It covers topics included
within the various subelements in the Amateur Extra class examination and
the number of questions allocated on a given examination for each
subelement. There are 50 questions on an Amateur Extra examination.

Subelements include FCC rules, operating procedures, radio wave propagation,
Amateur Radio practices, electrical principles, circuit components,
practical circuits, signals and emissions, and antennas and feed lines.

Comments on the draft syllabus go to Scotty Neustadter, W4WW, w4ww@arrl.net;
Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, vec@arrl.org, and Fred Maia, W5YI, fmaia@prodigy.net.
Neustadter chairs the Question Pool Committee; Jahnke is the manager of the
ARRL VEC, and Maia operates the W5YI VEC.

The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators will hold its
annual VEC conference July 27 and 28 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Current
Amateur Radio examination question pools are available on the ARRL VEC's
Amateur Exam Question Pools Web page,
<http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/pools.html>.

==>HAM-SAILOR SITTING OUT HURRICANE SEASON IN TRINIDAD

Round-the-world ham-sailor David Clark, KB6TAM, arrived June 25 in Trinidad
and now is settling in there for the duration of the Atlantic hurricane
season. He plans to complete his trip this fall, scheduling his arrival in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to coincide with his wife Lynda's birthday,
November 18.

Clark, 77, hopes to become the oldest person to sail solo around the globe.
He says he'll use his time in Trinidad to rest, work on his book and "play
some music for the people he meets in Trinidad," said Lynda Clark. David
Clark has occasionally subsidized his journey's expenses by taking on
clarinet gigs at his various ports of call.

Clark's ham rig failed before he got to Trinidad, but he expects to repair
it there with the help of some local hams. During his long journey, Clark
has maintained regular radio schedules with hams that made phone patches to
wife in California.

In a recent dispatch to family, friends and supporters, Clark said he plans
to start the final 1500-mile leg to Fort Lauderdale in October. Clark
survived a disaster in early February that sank his original sailboat, the
Mollie Milar. Mickey, his canine first mate, was lost during the rescue
effort. Clark secured a new boat--which he named Mickey--in South Africa and
resumed his around-the-world quest in April.

Clark called his high-seas adventure "truly been one of the most exciting
times of my life...but also one of the most difficult and certainly, at
times, the most lonely." He admitted that there have been times when he was
tempted to quit, but others when "it was really quite pleasant, and I knew I
was in the right place."

For more information Clark's journey, visit http://www.dclark.com and
http://www.captainclark.com.--Archie McKay, K4GA

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Sun watcher Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and
sunspot numbers declined again this week. Average sunspot numbers were down
by nearly 21 points, and average solar flux was off by more than 10 points.
There were no big geomagnetic upsets this week.

The most active day was Sunday, when the planetary A index was 16, and the K
index went to four toward the end of the UTC day. There were reports of
interesting VHF sporadic E skip on Sunday.

The latest forecasts look fairly good for the IARU HF World Championship
this weekend. There was an eruption on the sun on Thursday morning, but it
was aimed away from Earth, and the geomagnetic outlook for the next week
looks stable. Solar flux forecast for the next few days, Friday through
Monday, is 135, 140, 140 and 145. Recent forecasts had flux values peaking
near 200, but there are no substantial new sunspots visible via helioseismic
holography on the sun's far side. Current forecasts place the short-term
peak near 170 around July 20-22.

Sunspot numbers for July 5 through 11 were 101, 68, 77, 101, 109, 116 and
115, with a mean of 98.1. The 10.7-cm flux was 119.6, 116.4, 117.8, 126.3,
130, 130 and 131.9, with a mean of 124.6. Estimated planetary A indices were
13, 10, 7, 16, 11, 11 and 9, with a mean of 11.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The IARU HF World Championship, the FISTS
Summer Sprint, the CQ Worldwide VHF Contest and the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew
Sprint are the weekend of July 14-15. JUST AHEAD: the Colombian Independence
Day Contest, the Pacific 160-Meter Contest, the AGCW QRP Summer Contest, the
North American QSO Party (RTTY), the Georgia QSO Party and the Six Club
Sprint are the weekend of July 21-22. See the ARRL Contest Branch page,
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/> and
<http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html> for more info.


* Look for W1AW/6 in IARU HF Championship: The Northern California Contest
Club will operate as W1AW/6 during the IARU HF World Championship July
14-15. NCCC will attempt to top the IARU HQ competition category in this
event. W1AW/6 will be active on 160-10 meters, SSB and CW. More information
is available in the July NCCC club report on the Northern California Contest
Club Web site, <http://www.nccc.cc/>. Contest rules are available on the
ARRL Web site, and in April 2001 QST, p 111.--Ken Keeler, N6RO/NCCC 

* Boiled Owls to operate NU1AW: Members of the Order of Boiled Owls contest
club and a few guest ops will activate IARU Headquarters station NU1AW
during the IARU HF Championship, July 14-15. The operation will use the
facilities of W2AX and K2LE in Readsboro, Vermont, to make this Headquarters
multiplier available on all bands, both CW and SSB. Contest rules are
available on the ARRL Web site,
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/announcements/rules-iaru.html> and in April
2001 QST, p 111.--Mel Granick, KS2G

* July Emergency Communications Level I on-line course registration: July
registration for the Level I--Introduction to Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications on-line course (EC-001) will open Monday, July 16, at 4 PM
Eastern Time. Two classes of 50 students will be processed during the week,
and the on-line classes will begin the following week. After 4 PM Monday,
the registration form can be found on the ARRL Course Registration page,
<https://www.arrl.org/forms/cce/> until all seats are filled. The ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Home page <http://www.arrl.org/cce>
and the C-CE FAQ page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/faq.html> should answer most
typical questions. For more information, e-mail Dan Miller, K3UFG,
cce@arrl.org. Registration for Level II--Intermediate Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications (EC-002) will begin Monday, July 30.

* ARRL 2000 Annual Report now available: The ARRL 2000 Annual Report is hot
off the press and available--while supplies last--by request. And, it's
free! Enjoy a look back over the millennium year, with information on ARRL
activities, HQ staff efforts, messages from ARRL President Jim Haynie,
W5JBP, and ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ and more. To
obtain a copy of the 2000 Annual Report, contact Media Relations Manager
Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY, jhagy@arrl.org; 860-594-0328. The 2000 Annual Report
is now available on the web as a PDF file on the web at:
<http://www.arrl.org/announce/annualreport/00ar.pdf;. Past reports from 1996
to date are available at <http://www.arrl.org/announce/annualreport/>.

* Bennett L. Basore, W5ZTN, SK: Bennett Basore, W5ZTN, of Stillwater,
Oklahoma, died July 7. He was 78. Basore served as ARRL Section Emergency
Coordinator for some 30 years until January 2001, when he was appointed as
an Assistant Section Manager. He also was net manager for the Oklahoma Phone
Emergency Net, served as an advisor to the Oklahoma State University Radio
Cub, W5YJ, as a trustee for the Stillwater Amateur Radio Club repeater and
as a member of RACES. "He had been part of the Amateur Radio scene in
Stillwater since the 1960s," said Martin McCormick, W5AGZ, a longtime
friend. "The service aspect of Amateur Radio was always topmost on his list
of priorities." A decorated veteran of World War II and an electrical
engineer, Basore worked at Sandia National Laboratories and later taught at
Oklahoma State. During the Kennedy administration, Basore was instrumental
in designing the "Hot Line" between the US and the Kremlin. He ran for
Congress in 1974. Survivors include his wife, Linda. Memorial donations are
invited to the Bennett Basore Scholarship Fund at Oklahoma State University.
For more information, visit the Stillwater Amateur Radio Club site,
<http://www.stillwaterarc.org/w5ztn.html>.

* Tower fall claims the life of Texas amateur: A fall from an Amateur Radio
tower July 8 claimed the life of ARRL member Bob Smart, W5TBV, of
Georgetown, Texas. Smart reportedly fell from his 75-foot tower while
adjusting his beam antenna. His wife, Ellice, N5RRO, who had been assisting
him from inside the house, came outside to find him on the ground. His
climbing belt reportedly was not attached to the tower.--thanks to Phil
Duff, NA4M

* Ham Radio 2001 draws 18,000: The Ham Radio 2001 gathering at
Friedrichshafen, Germany, June 29-July 1 attracted some 18,000 visitors. The
Deutscher Amateur Radio Club says that's about the same as last year's
attendance. DARC said dealers reported a buying trend this year toward
complete stations, receivers or scanners as opposed to parts and kits. ARRL
Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, was among those who attended
the DARC convention--which is the largest ham gathering in Europe and the
most international event of its type anywhere. Also in the ARRL contingent
were First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, International Affairs Vice
President Rod Stafford, W6ROD, and HQ staffers Mark Wilson, K1RO, and Dave
Patton, NT1N. As in the past, ARRL had a booth in the exhibit area. "We were
busy in the ARRL booth from the opening at 9 AM Friday right through early
afternoon Sunday, with Friday and Saturday being the busiest," Sumner
reported. "The DXCC side was even busier, with about 32,000 cards examined
by Sunday afternoon! This is about twice the volume of the previous year."
Sumner said the increase appeared mainly to be the result of The DXCC
Challenge. While in Germany, Sumner and Patton visited DARC Headquarters.
Ham Radio 2002 will be June 28-30. In 2003 Ham Radio will move to a new,
more spacious facility near the airport.--DARC; David Sumner, K1ZZ 

* DX news e-mail address: A new e-mail address has been established for
amateurs to submit DX news for the W1AW DX bulletin. The e-mail address is
dx-news@arrl.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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