*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 20, No. 50 December 21, 2001 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL study panel advises Novice band elimination * +Antenna modeling course is next Certification Program offering * +First all-ham ISS crew settles in for a long stay * +FCC okays higher-power Part 15 devices for 24 GHz band * +"Santa Ham" special event a big hit with kids * +ARRL standardizes club names for electronic contest log submittals * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course January registration Ducie Island DXpedition set for March 2002 +FCC turns down request for special Winter Olympics prefix K3RXK appointed as a Solar System Ambassador KPH coast station ops to be on the air for ARRL Straight Key Night Special event commemorates ARRL transatlantic tests Special event station K1D will prime Kid's Day pump "The Big Project" logo designs due December 28 AMSAT-NA announces Elmer Award +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final edition of The ARRL Letter for 2001. The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will return Friday, January 4, 2002. ARRL Headquarters is closed Monday and Tuesday, December 24-25 and Tuesday, January 1. Important Amateur Radio news will be posted on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> and/or as a W1AW bulletin. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for the new year!--Rick Lindquist, N1RL =========================================================== ==>ARRL STUDY PANEL RECOMMENDS ELIMINATING NOVICE BANDS On the basis of nearly 5000 survey responses, the ARRL Novice Spectrum Study Committee has recommended that the ARRL petition the FCC to eliminate the Novice CW subbands and allow Novice and Technician with Element 1 credit licensees to operate CW on the General 80, 40, 15 and 10-meter CW allocations at up to 200 W output. The panel suggested setting aside portions of those bands for "slow CW operation" to aid new CW operators in enhancing their skills. The committee recommended refarming the current Novice/Tech Plus subbands in part to allow expansion of the phone allocations on 80, 40 and 15 meters. The committee's complete report will be presented to the ARRL Board of Directors for consideration during its annual meeting in January. The committee's determinations were based on opinions expressed by 4744 respondents to an ARRL Novice Spectrum Study survey launched in June. Those expressing their opinions included ARRL members and nonmembers. Nearly 61% of those responding were Extra class licensees. The committee, chaired by ARRL International Affairs Vice President Rod Stafford, W6ROD, has been studying the status and usage of the Novice/Technician Plus HF bands with an eye toward determining what changes to usage of that spectrum might be needed now that the FCC no longer issues new Novice licenses. The survey offered possible refarming options for each of the bands involved--including no change at all. Generally speaking, the predefined options proposed retaining Extra class CW subbands on the affected bands, setting aside expanded CW reserves for all license classes except Technicians lacking Element 1 credit, and dividing the remaining spectrum into expanded phone segments for General, Advanced and Extra class operators. A guiding principle was that no class of licensees would lose any privileges as a result of refarming. The committee recommended expanding the phone bands in accordance with the most popular of the survey choices offered--three for 80, 40 and 15 meters and two for 10 meters. Here's a summary: * On 80 meters, nearly 40% of those responding opted for a plan that would extend the US phone allocation to 3700 kHz, with Extras permitted on the entire subband, and with Advanced and General class subbands starting at 3725 and 3800 kHz respectively. * On 40 meters, nearly half of the respondents picked the plan to extend the primary US phone allocation to 7125 kHz, with Extra and Advanced licensees allowed on the entire segment and Generals from 7175 kHz and up. (The committee's report suggested no changes to the special allocations for amateurs on certain Pacific or Caribbean islands and in Alaska.) * On 15 meters, again, nearly half of those responding wanted the US phone allocation extended to 21,175 kHz, with Extras permitted on the entire allocation, and Advanced and General subbands beginning at 21,200 and 21,250 kHz respectively. * On 10 meters--where Novice and Tech Plus licensees already may operate CW, RTTY and data from 28,100 to 28,300 kHz, nearly 55% of the respondents favored a plan to retain the US phone allocation from 28,300 to 29,700 kHz and to extend CW access to Novice/Tech Plus operators to 28,000 kHz--an additional 100 kHz. The current Tech Plus 28,300 to 28,500 kHz phone segment would be retained. The committee's report says that if the ARRL Board adopts the plan, the League should include any request to the FCC to implement the changes within an omnibus filing encompassing other issues, rather than as a separate petition. Consideration of any necessary ARRL Band Plan changes would follow ultimate FCC approval. ==>ANTENNA MODELING IS NEXT ARRL CERTIFICATION PROGRAM OFFERING Building upon the success of its emergency communication courses, the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Program will offer an on-line course in computerized antenna modeling. Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, said the new course will open for registration soon. "This course is designed to assist students in mastering the art and science of antenna modeling using computer software," Miller said. The course was developed by L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, and course content was edited by ARRL Senior Assistant Technical Editor (and antenna guru) Dean Straw, N6BV. At least initially, the antenna modeling course will be offered once per month for up to 50 registrants. The course is scheduled to take 12 weeks to complete. The fee will be $80 for ARRL members and $120 for nonmembers. While Miller doesn't expect demand for the antenna modeling course to come anywhere near that for the emergency communications series, he's hoping it will be popular enough to eventually spin off a "live" classroom course. Since the introductory Level I emergency communication course was offered for the first time one year ago this month, the popular series has expanded to three levels, with the addition of the intermediate and advanced courses. Miller reports that more than 1600 students have signed up for seats in one or more of the series, and registrations for both on-line and live classes spiked in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. "It exceeded my expectations of one year ago," Miller said. He said he also was pleased to be able to offer the Level II and Level III classes this year. Next on tap for the ARRL C-CE Program is a course on HF digital communications, which will become available early next year. The Certification and Continuing Education Program is seeking HF digital mode aficionados to beta test the course and to serve as mentors to students taking the initial classes. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce> and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact C-CE Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org. ==>ALL-HAM CREW SETTLING IN ABOARD ISS; SCHOOL CONTACTS SCHEDULED For the first time, there's an all-ham crew aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 4 crew of Commander Yuri Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and flight engineers Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE, is settling into the ISS quarters that will be its home for the next six months. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station school contacts already are tentatively set for January and February. Expedition 3 crew members Commander Frank Culbertson, KD5OPQ, Mikhail Tyurin and Vladimir Dezhurov returned to Earth December 17 under heavy security aboard the shuttle Endeavour. Culbertson and his crewmates returned to a planet that's still trying to comprehend and adjust to the changes wrought by the September 11 terrorist attacks, which occurred while the crew was in space. The Expedition 3 crew had been aboard the ISS since August. Operating as NA1SS from aboard the ISS, Culbertson completed nearly two dozen successful ARISS school and educational contacts. Now it will be the Expedition 4 crew's turn. Penciled in on the ARISS schedule for the new crew are contacts with St Clare School in Waveland, Mississippi, during the week of January 7, and with Harrogate Ladies College (GB2HC) in Harrogate, England, the following week. Depending on the crew's work activities, an effort will be made to schedule one ARISS school or educational contact during a typical week. New Amateur Radio antennas carried into space for the ISS have been stowed for the time being. Current plans call for them to be installed around the perimeter of the Service Module by the Expedition 6 crew. The new antennas will allow future operation from HF to microwave frequencies, once additional ham gear is brought aboard the ISS. ==>FCC AMENDS PART 15 RULES TO ALLOW HIGHER-POWER DEVICES AT 24 GHZ Despite objections from the ARRL, the FCC has announced plans to amend its Part 15 rules to allow fixed point-to-point transmitters in the 24.05 to 24.25 GHz band to operate at field strengths of up to 2500 mV per meter. That's 10 times the level currently permitted. Among other interference safeguards, the FCC will require devices operating at these higher field strengths to use highly directional antennas. Amateur Radio is primary at 24.0 to 24.05 GHz and secondary on the rest of the band. The AO-40 satellite includes beacon, digital and analog transmitters in the vicinity of 24.048 GHz. "This band has accommodated unlicensed transmissions, government radar and amateur facilities with no major conflicts," the FCC said. "By allowing a greater variety of systems to occupy the band, we will provide the opportunity for innovative products and services to be made available to the American public as quickly as demand dictates." The FCC first proposed permitting the Part 15 devices at the elevated field strengths in 1998, in response to a Petition for Rule Making from Sierra Digital Communications Inc. Sierra had requested that its proposal be authorized to include a portion of the 24.0 to 24.05 MHz segment, but ARRL had argued that such a move would adversely affect amateur operations there, and the FCC agreed. The FCC finally acted in the three-year-old proceeding, ET Docket 98-156, on December 11 in a Report and Order that closely mimics its earlier Notice of Proposed Rule Making. Noting that Part 15 devices operate in a non-interference basis to licensed services and must accept interference from licensed services, the FCC said it was requiring directional antennas with gains of at least 33 dBi to minimize interference potential. For the same reason, the FCC also imposed more stringent frequency stability and spurious emissions requirements than initially proposed. The FCC said it disagreed with ARRL that permitting Part 15 devices at the higher field strengths would increase the risk of interference to amateur operations in the 24.05 to 24.25 GHz segment. The Commission said that Part 15 field disturbance sensors have been operating for years in the band at 2500 mV/m field strengths with no adverse affects to other users. The FCC took issue with ARRL's assertion that the FCC should acknowledge that Part 15 devices are only allowed under the Communications Act when they pose no interference potential to licensed services. The FCC called ARRL's interpretation "overly conservative." The FCC Order in ET Docket 98-156 is available on the FCC Web site <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-01-357A1.doc>. ==>"SANTA HAM" SPECIAL EVENT A THRILL FOR THE YOUNGER SET Several hams with young children report their kids have enjoyed the thrill of their lives talking with Santa via ham radio. The W6S "Santa's Workshop" special event operation by ARRL member Mickey Hicks, WO6T, in Bakersfield, California, now is in its 30th year of helping to make the season special for youngsters. "Hats off to WO6T!" enthused Peter Schipelliti, W1DAD, of Atkinson, New Hampshire, who says he bumped into the W6S Santa's Workshop station while he was tuning around on 20 meters the evening of December 19. He awoke daughter, Geena--at age 6 already a seasoned Kid's Day veteran--so she could talk to Santa. "She had a great time, especially when Santa recited our address and said that he would be coming next week," Schipelliti said. "Santa reinforced some basic values and reminded her that she should share her toys and continue to be good." Hicks, 71, says he started his Santa's Workshop as a one-night effort, but he soon realized he needed to expand it. The annual W6S special event now runs for 10 days each Christmas season and occupies 7 to 10 hours of his day, including preparation. "It's not scripted," he said. "I ad lib all the time." He said he spreads his effort out among several bands too--and notes that 17 meters has been great this year. Hicks estimates that he speaks with 400 to 500 youngsters each holiday season, and sometimes they include children of the youngsters he'd met years earlier. During his QSO with W1DAD, Santa mentioned his Web cam site <http://www.wo6t.com>. "It was great," Schipelliti said. "We saw Santa from the back and a whole bunch of equipment and computers." Hicks said the Web cam is a new twist the past couple of years that has proven to be a big hit with the kids. Schipelliti said he and Geena heard Santa talking with some other children too. "He started out by asking them their name and age. Then, he would ask them one thing they were looking forward to," he said. Santa also joked with the kids and tried to draw out the shy ones, usually with great success. Schipelliti said that when his son Luciano, almost 5, found out that his sister got to talk with Santa, he wanted to know if Santa would be on the air again. "He made me promise to wake him up so he could speak with Santa Claus on the radio," Schipelliti said. A ham for 41 years and a long-time Amateur Radio instructor, Hicks says his Santa's Workshop has been a great ham radio recruiting tool. One of his most memorable experiences was when a young girl he'd once spoken with on the air as Santa came by with her ham ticket in hand to thank him in person for getting her interested. "I had tears in my eyes, of course," he said. The W6S Santa's Workshop special event operates on or about 14.270, 18.135, 21.335 and 28.335 MHz. It continues through Christmas Eve, December 24. QSL via WO6T, who says Santa always appreciates a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the reply card. ==>ARRL STANDARDIZES CLUB NAMES FOR ELECTRONIC CONTEST SUBMITTALS The ARRL Contest Branch has released a list of standardized club designators to enable the ARRL contest robot to properly count electronically submitted contest scores toward a club's ARRL Affiliated Club Competition point total. ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, says a list of clubs that have participated in various ARRL operating events in recent years is posted on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/club-list.html>. ARRL-affiliated club members submitting contest scores for club credit should use their club's name as it appears on the list as a standard designator. In most cases, this means typing the name into the "club" field on the logging program used. Henderson says that clubs must be ARRL-affiliated to participate in the various ARRL Affiliated Club Competitions associated with the ARRL's contest program. Members of clubs that are not ARRL-affiliated should leave that field blank when submitting ARRL contest entries. "We can adjust the full club names when necessary," Henderson said. "We can edit the list to add new clubs." A standardized list of club abbreviations has not been developed at this point, Henderson explained, because some clubs might share an abbreviation. "While we realize it isn't the perfect solution to the problem or the solution some would have chosen, it is a system that works within the framework of the database programs we use at the Contest Branch," Henderson said. He invited questions, comments and suggestions. Contact Dan Henderson, email@example.com; 860-594-0232. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Today is the "shortest" day of the year! Check out the nighttime bands such as 160 and 80 meters. Solar flux and sunspot numbers were slightly lower this past week compared to the previous period. Average sunspot numbers were off by a little more than four points, and average solar flux was down by nearly eleven. The view of the sun currently shows a few spots, with not much activity. The current outlook shows solar flux rising slowly in the near term, reaching a peak in the period December 30 through January 2. Solar flux is predicted to be right around 215 for Friday through Monday, and then rising slowly after that. Sunspot numbers for December 13 through 19 were 212, 202, 198, 204, 215, 210 and 158, with a mean of 199.9. The 10.7-cm flux was 220.2, 245.8, 217.8, 209.1, 205.5, 211.8 and 208.2, with a mean of 216.9. The estimated planetary A indices were 4, 4, 11, 10, 15, 8 and 9 with a mean of 8.7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The AGB Party Contest is December 21, the DARC Christmas Contest is December 26 and the RAC Winter Contest (CW/SSB), the Stew Perry Topband Challenge (CW) and the Original QRP Contest (CW) are the weekend of December 29-30. Straight Key Night is January 1, 2002 UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html for more info. * Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course January registration: Beginning in January 2002, registration for the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level I course (EC-001) will open on the first Monday, January 7; registration for Level II (EC-002) will open on the second Monday, January 14; and registration for Level III (EC-003) will open on the third Monday, January 21. Courses must be completed in order, starting with Level I. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce> and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org. * Ducie Island DXpedition set for March 2002: With assistance from an ARRL Colvin Award, the Pitcairn Island Amateur Radio Association (PIARA) plans to mount a DXpedition to Ducie Island in March. Ducie--which became the newest ARRL DXCC entity as of November 16, 2001--has not yet been activated, making it the most-wanted DXCC entity. Poor weather scuttled the initial attempt to land a DXpedition team on Ducie Island in November. PIARA President Tom Christian, VP6TC, has announced that a DXpedition team now plans to depart by boat from Mangareva on March 12. Once on Ducie Island, the DXpedition will use a VP6 call sign to be announced at the start of the operation, which will include both SSB and CW and possibly RTTY on 160 through 6 meters. Six-meter QSLs go to JA1BK. Log checks will be available on the "DX Cluster from Japan" Web site, <http://www.big.or.jp/~ham/dx.html>. More information is available on the VE3HO QSL Manager Web page <http://www.ve3ho.com/ve3ho-qslmgr.htm> and on WD4NGB's DX Is Web site, <http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/ducie.htm>.--Tom Christian VP6TC * FCC turns down request for special Winter Olympics prefix: The FCC has denied a request from a Utah amateur to permit hams in that state to identify using a special prefix during the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. D'wana R. Terry, chief of the Public Safety and Private Wireless Division within the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, told Thomas M. Schaefer, NY4I, that his request was "inconsistent with the international Radio Regulations" and could not be granted. Schaefer had asked the FCC to authorize hams in Utah to substitute the numerals "02" or "2002" for the numeral "7" when identifying on the air (Schaefer, with a numeral "4" in his own call sign could not have taken advantage of his own proposal, had it been granted). He noted that a similar waiver of the FCC's rules was permitted in 1996 for the Atlanta Olympics. Terry pointed out that the special temporary authority granted for the Atlanta games covered all amateurs in Georgia, while Schaefer's proposal for the Salt Lake City games would only cover hams with a numeral "7" in their call signs. She said rules applying to waivers have changed significantly since then, and Schaefer's request doesn't fall under the newer guidelines. She recommended hams take advantage of the special event call sign system or the provisions of Section 97.119 (c) of the rules, which permits the use of self-assigned indicators. * K3RXK appointed as a Solar System Ambassador: ARRL Life Member and ARRLWeb Contributing Editor Tony Curtis, K3RXK, has been honored with the appointment as a NASA Solar System Ambassador for 2002. "The Ambassadors program is a NASA public-outreach effort designed to honor dedicated supporters of space research and exploration," said Curtis, who pens the Space&Beyond column that appears on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2001/12/16/1/>. He also is editor of Space Today Online <http://www.spacetoday.org/>. Space enthusiasts who have demonstrated deep commitment to the subject, the Ambassadors are selected from among the ranks of educators and others. The appointment is for one year and is renewable. Curtis says that last year, the various Ambassadors took part in some 600 events and were seen by more than one-half million people. An Extra class operator, Curtis holds a doctorate in mass communication and has authored 72 books about space, astronomy, computers and electronics. He's associate dean for academic information services at the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Solar System Ambassadors Program is sponsored by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California. * KPH coast station ops to be on the air for ARRL Straight Key Night: Maritime Radio Historical Society club station K6KPH will use the transmitters, receivers and antennas of former RCA coast station KPH during ARRL Straight Key Night (SKN), which takes place January 1, 2002, UTC (ie, starts New Year's Eve in US time zones and continues for 24 hours). ARRL sponsors Straight Key Night <http://www.arrl.org/contests/announcements/skn.html> each year to promote the use of Morse code. K6KPH will take to the airwaves at 0000 UTC, and continue operation into the evening Pacific Time. Anticipated operating frequencies are 3545, 7050 and 14,050 kHz. K6KPH will use 1950s-vintage RCA transmitters. Also listen for the KPH call sign on medium frequency, 426 and 500 kHz. QSL to Maritime Radio Historical Society, K6KPH, 435 Utah Street 4, San Francisco, CA 94110. More information is available on the Maritime Radio Historical Society Web site <http://www.radiomarine.org>.--Dick Dillman, W6AWO * Special event commemorates ARRL transatlantic tests: Special event station GB2ZE will operate until January 2, 2002, from Ardrossan in southwestern Scotland to mark the 80th anniversary of the successful Amateur Radio transatlantic listening tests of 1921. The tests culminated on December 12, 1921, when ARRL's special representative Paul F. Godley, 2ZE, confirmed reception of 1BCG in Greenwich, Connecticut, which had been erected especially for the tests. Listening between 200 and 400 meters, Godley also heard several other Amateur Radio transmissions from North America during his stay (Godley used a superheterodyne receiver and a Beverage antenna--Ed). GB2ZE will operate CW and SSB on a variety of bands, conditions depending. For more information, contact Andy Goldie, GM0DEX, email@example.com. * Special event station K1D will prime Kid's Day pump: Special event station K1D, operated by Peter and Jeanne Schipelliti, W1DAD and K1MOM, in New Hampshire, will be on the air starting Saturday, December 22, 2001, and continuing for the next two weeks to encourage participation in Kid's Day <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/kd-rules.html>. The next Kid's Day is January 5, 2002, 1800-2400 UTC. Look for K1D on or around 3895, 14,270, 21,370 and 28,370 kHz. QSL to 7 Dearborn Ridge Rd, Atkinson, NH 03811. A free (via e-mail) K1MOM Amateur Radio Coloring Book for children--including operating aids for Kid's Day, log sheet, WAS map to color in and phonetic alphabet--is available from Jeanne Schipelliti, firstname.lastname@example.org. * "The Big Project" logo designs due December 28: There's still time to submit your suggested logo design for the ARRL's Amateur Radio Education Project-- "The Big Project." The deadline is December 28. "The theme is using Amateur Radio in education," says The Big Project Coordinator Jerry Hill, KH6HU. "This is your opportunity to show off your creativity." All entries should incorporate the ARRL diamond, portray the proper image in both black-and-white and in color, and be the same size as other standard patches, such as ARES--typically 3.5 inches in diameter. Entries should be submitted electronically at a resolution suitable for QST publication (at least 300 dpi when the image is sized at 4x5 inches or larger; see The ARRL Author's Guide <http://www.arrl.org/qst/aguide/>). The creator of the logo selected as a permanent symbol for The Big Project will receive a handsome wall certificate, and the winner's name will be announced in QST, in The ARRL Letter and on the ARRL Web site. E-mail entries no later than Friday, December 28, 2001, to The Big Project Coordinator Jerry Hill, KH6HU <email@example.com>. Resubmit your entry if it's not acknowledged within two business days. * AMSAT-NA announces Elmer Award: AMSAT-NA Awards Manager Bruce Paige, KK5DO, has announced a new Elmer Award to recognize those who encourage and assist satellite newcomers. The award offers three levels--beginner, intermediate and expert. For example, Paige said, to qualify for the beginning level, a satellite operator would need to work: one school club station; four female (YL) operators; four operators age 16 or younger; and 10 operators who have been licensed for less than two years at the time of contact. Paige said qualifications for the intermediate and expert levels build on the beginner level. Any Amateur Radio satellite may be used for contacts, but contacts should be voice or CW only, and QSOs with the ISS, shuttle or any other manned spacecraft are not eligible for this award. Contacts must be made on or after November 1, 2001. For more information, contact Bruce Paige, KK5DO, firstname.lastname@example.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 The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb at http://www.arrl.org for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRLWeb Extra at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/extra offers ARRL members access to informative features and columns. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. 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