*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 21, No. 06 February 8, 2002 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL Antenna Modeling course opens soon * +FCC plans precautionary anthrax check at Gettysburg mailroom * +Montana high schoolers get tough on astronaut * +Hams assist sailboaters * +Turkish amateurs muster following earthquake * +ARRL unveils new "Big Project" logo * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio School Club Roundup 2002 set Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration +Winter Olympics special event Celebrate the sunspots at the 53rd International DX Convention +ISS crew resumes normal activities following computer shutdown Not too late to become part of ARDF Team USA Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award YHOTY nominations invited New Zealand simplifies amateur licensing Correction +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>ARRL UNVEILS ANTENNA MODELING COURSE The ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program soon will offer its first technical course--Antenna Modeling. Written by the well-known author and historian L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, and edited by ARRL Senior Assistant Technical Editor--and antenna guru--Dean Straw, N6BV, the course offers students a hands-on tutorial. Registration for Antenna Modeling (EC-004) will open Monday, February 11. The course has been through extensive beta testing during the past several weeks, and even the experts found they'd picked up some new knowledge on the subject. "I've been modeling antennas using a computer for about 15 years, and I certainly learned a great many things in this course," Straw commented. ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, said the experts agreed that the best method to master the art and science of antenna design and analysis was to become familiar with the basic concepts of computerized antenna modeling and modeling software. "Using computer simulations--models--you will study the performance of a wide variety of antennas, without having to invest in a test range or a room full of test equipment," he said. "In this course, students will learn to master the basic techniques of constructing good models." Several excellent and affordable antenna modeling software packages are available. The course will illustrate the elements of modeling antennas using two of the most popular packages based on the NEC-2 core--EZNEC 3.0 by Roy Lewallen, W7EL <http://www.eznec.com/> and NEC-Win Plus by Nittany-Scientific <http://www.nittany-scientific.com/>. Beta testers offered positive feedback after completing the course. "What a gold mine of information!" said Dan Maguire, AC6LA. "I found myself looking forward to taking the next lesson just to see what new things I could learn." Former ARRL staff member Chuck Hutchinson, K8CH, also took a crack at the program. "Wow, I sure learned a lot about antenna modeling!" was his reaction. Students will have up to 12 weeks to complete the course material. "There are 31 lessons, and you should plan to spend one to two hours per lesson," Miller advised. The inaugural class begins Tuesday, February 26 and wraps up Tuesday, May 21. A sample lesson based on the actual Antenna Modeling course is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/cce/sample-lesson/>. Registration for the new Antenna Modeling course opens Monday, February 11, at 4 PM Eastern Time on the ARRL Course Registration page <https://www.arrl.org/forms/cce/>. The registration fee is $80 for ARRL members and $110 for nonmembers. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available for all ARRL C-CE courses. Answers to most questions are available on the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education home page <http://www.arrl.org/cce> and the associated C-CE links. To learn more, contact ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, email@example.com. ==>FCC TO CHECK GETTYSBURG MAILROOM FOR ANTHRAX The FCC says it's making arrangements to test for possible anthrax contamination at the off-site mailroom serving its Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, office. This week's announcement follows the suspension of US Postal Service deliveries to the FCC's off-site mail facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland, after "a scant amount of anthrax contamination" was detected January 29 during US Public Health Service testing. The Gettysburg testing would be "a further precaution," the FCC said. The FCC's Gettysburg office deals with Amateur Radio licensing and enforcement matters, including vanity call sign processing. Since last fall's anthrax scare, the Gettysburg office has been providing special handling for its own incoming mail at an off-site facility. Before arrangements were made for the offsite facility, some FCC-Gettysburg mail was sent to Washington for decontamination along with other FCC mail. Apparently waylaid in the process was mail containing paper Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications for the last couple of weeks in October, forcing the FCC to halt all vanity processing. The FCC reports it's been able to contact most vanity applicants and have them resubmit their applications. So far, the FCC has processed vanity applications received through October 22. (The FCC advises anyone who believes their paper vanity applications might have been affected and cannot locate the application on the ULS Application Search <http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls> should resubmit their application.) There is no indication that the Gettysburg mailroom testing announced this week would further complicate or delay vanity call sign processing or the handling of applications filed on paper. Since last fall, the Commission has been urging everyone to file applications and documents via e-mail or fax whenever possible. Vanity electronic and paper applications have equal processing priority, however. The Center for Disease Control this week completed follow-up testing of the anthrax trace discovered at Capitol Heights. The CDC reported to the FCC that the trace "showed a very slow platelet growth, which indicates a weak or very scant amount of anthrax consistent with cross-contamination of mail," the FCC said in a statement. As a result, the FCC said, it was making arrangements for the Capitol Heights mail processing area to be decontaminated and retested as soon as possible before permitting mail service to resume. The FCC moved its mail reception, processing and screening center out of FCC headquarters in Washington, DC, to the Maryland facility after the initial anthrax contamination incident on Capitol Hill last fall. The FCC has been updating a "Fact Sheet" posted on its Web site.--FCC ==>MONTANA HIGH SCHOOLERS POSE TOUGH QUESTIONS VIA HAM RADIO Tough questions posed by a high school group required some thoughtful and detailed answers from astronaut Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, February 1 during a Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact. Operating NA1SS, Bursch represented the ISS Expedition 4 crew during an interview with seven physics students at Butte High School in Butte, Montana. The Q-and-A session was the crew's second school contact arranged by ARISS--a cooperative effort of AMSAT, ARRL and NASA. Student Oliver Huang wanted to know whether chemical reactions that normally precipitate on Earth do the same in microgravity, and whether bones heal the same in space as on Earth. Bursch explained that aboard the ISS, some chemical reactions work differently because the densities of various compounds cause them to mix in unexpected ways. "For example, hot air doesn't rise," he pointed out. As for broken bones, Bursch speculated that that there might be a need to replicate the stress of gravity on a fracture in order to get broken bones to knit properly in microgravity. Student Lori Stenson wanted to know how long an astronaut's oxygen supply lasted during a space walk. Bursch said it depends in part on the type of suit used, but for the Russian suits, the outside limit was about nine hours. "The actual limitation is not the oxygen but the lithium hydroxide that scrubs out the CO2," he explained. In response to another student's question, Bursch explained that the spacecraft is equipped with oxygen-scrubbing devices supplemented by fresh oxygen from Earth. "We do try to recycle as much as we can," he said. In responding to a question from student Michelle Shannon about the detrimental effects of a lack of gravity, Bursch said he probably wouldn't notice them until he returned to Earth. The crew will spend about five and a half months in space. Bursch and his crewmates Yuri Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE, were passing over Australia at the time, and radio contact was made via Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI. The contact marked Bursch's debut in handling questions from students via ham radio. Bursch reportedly already has done some casual hamming during his tour. "This was absolutely fantastic!" enthused coordinating teacher Sandy Shutey after the contact. "It's one of the best things we've ever done!" She said the event was a hands-on culmination several-months' study of space topics on the part of her students. Since the first crew came aboard the ISS in November 2000, 40 schools and other educational institutions have made successful contacts via ham radio with ISS crew members. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site <http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov>.--Gene Chapline, K5YFL/ARISS ==>HAMS ASSIST AILING SAILBOAT PASSENGERS Amateur Radio operators have once again been instrumental in getting prompt assistance to sailboat passengers needing emergency medical attention. On January 30, Marsha Stone, XE2/KF6TIQ, was scuba diving at 77 feet off Mexico when she encountered problems while surfacing. It's believed that she developed a pulmonary embolism as a result of the dive. She also was exhibiting possible neurological symptoms. Stone was aboard her sailboat She Wolf with three other passengers at the time, including her sister. Other amateurs sailing in the vicinity came to Stone's aid. Members of the Intercontinental Net on 20 meters learned of the situation and offered to help. Bob Botik, K5SIV, in Austin, Texas, phone-patched Stone to her personal physician, who advised that she needed to get to facilities in Cabo San Lucas as soon as possible. Meanwhile, aboard the sailing vessel Spirit Quest, Kathy Brownell, W6ATM, and her physician-husband Doug rendezvoused with Stone's vessel, and the couple was able to provide oxygen and comfort to the victim as well as transport to the Naval Landing Station at Socorro Island, Mexico, for an airlift. Also rendering aid was Barb Campbell, XE2/KB0RIZ, a registered nurse aboard the sailing vessel Blue Chablis. Campbell's vessel reportedly stayed alongside Spirit Quest throughout the night to lend assistance when the victim's boat arrived at Socorro. The She Wolf and Spirit Quest maintained contact on marine VHF frequencies. "This was a wonderful group effort of humans who had ham radio," Botik said. Stone was transported to Cabo San Lucas the following day. Botik reported this week that he'd spoken to Stone and that her spirits were high. He said she had undergone treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, and, as of February 5, was able to stand and walk without assistance. "She continues her recovery," he said. On February 4 a woman identified as Miranda Middleton--an Australian national in her mid-20s--became seriously ill while aboard the sailing vessel Baggywrinkle in the Caribbean. Skipper Benjamin Shaw, KG4OAQ, got on 20 meters to seek assistance on the Intercontinental Net. Unable to copy Shaw well, Dave Franke, WA5EZW, alerted Ed Petzolt, K1LNC, in South Florida by telephone. No stranger to dealing with maritime emergencies via ham radio, Petzolt contacted the US Coast Guard in Miami, which patched him through to its San Juan, Puerto Rico, station. The US Coast Guard in turn contacted Coast Guard officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Coast Guard detachments in the US and in the Grenadines came up on frequency, and Petzolt was able to relay information between the Coast Guard and Shaw's vessel as necessary. Middleton was picked up by the St Vincent Coast Guard and was taken to Kingstown for treatment. "Score another one for ham radio!" Petzolt said. He noted that KG4BVR, W8LK and W3JMU and other stations stood by in case of problems. Shaw said that when Middleton arrived at the hospital, she was experiencing numbness and partial paralysis. He added that she was doing much better following treatment. Shaw expressed his gratitude to the amateurs who aided in Middleton's medical evacuation to St Vincent, and especially to Petzolt. "Miranda and I would like to extend a special thanks to Ed for his excellent help throughout the ordeal," Shaw said. "Not only did he assess and take control of the situation in a rapid and professional manner, but he also kept our spirits up as we communicated. Shaw expressed the hope that he and Middleton could be back on their way to Trinidad "in a week or so." Shaw maintains a Web site <http://www.baggywrinkle.com> and uses HF to access his e-mail while under way. ==>TURKISH AMATEURS FILL POST-QUAKE COMMUNICATION GAP Amateur Radio operators in Turkey were among the first responders following an earthquake in central Turkey February 3. More than 40 deaths and some 170 injuries were reported in the aftermath of the earthquake, which registered 6.0 on the Richter scale and shook the province of Afyon. "Our communication system was used by our members within the Civil Defense SAR [search-and-rescue] team for communicating with their HQ in Ankara and within the affected area," said Aziz Sasa, TA1E, president of the Turkish national Amateur Radio organization TRAC. "I must add that we were the only long and medium-range communication resource until normal communication facilities were restored." Sasa said telecommunications systems in the region brought back up "very rapidly," and that the amateurs were able to wrap up their response the same evening. Hams were at the scene in Afyon for about 10 hours. "HF was utilized only partly, most of the communication was handled on VHF and UHF with repeaters linked to each other," Sasa said. The terrain allowed wide coverage that included the capital city of Ankara--some 200 miles away. ==>ARRL ANNOUNCES "BIG PROJECT" LOGO WINNER, UNVEILS NEW DESIGN A design by an Illinois amateur--Chris Cieslak, KC9L, of Melrose Park--has been selected as the official logo for the ARRL Education Project, "The Big Project." ARRL Amateur Radio Education Project Coordinator Jerry Hill, KH6HU, said Cieslak's design best depicted the integration of education and technology--the foundation of The Big Project. "In the center, the shaking hands represent the partnership between Amateur Radio and education," Hill said. "The continents represent the global reach of Amateur Radio, the ones and zeros and circuitry represent technology." A ham since 1992 and an ARRL member, Cieslak says he does some design work for Web and print but mostly writes for a living. "I've been doing design for about seven years and am self-taught," he said. His amateur interests include homebrewing and kit building, as well as HF mobile and amateur television (ATV). When not hamming, Cieslak has been known to ham it up as an improv comic. ARRL Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG, presented Cieslak with a certificate January 27 during the Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs Hamfest in Chicago. Cieslak is the WCRA's current vice president. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation wonk Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers were up this week, rising 38 points over the previous week. Solar flux continued a decline from last week, with average daily flux down more than 18 points. Solar flux for the short term peaked January 29 and has declined since. Predicted solar flux for Friday through Monday is 190, 185, 180 and 175. Flux values should reach a minimum near 170 for the short term, then jump suddenly higher around February 16. Geomagnetic conditions are expected to be moderate. For the past few days the earth has been in a stream of solar wind from a coronal hole, causing some geomagnetic activity. Planetary K indices were as high as four. Also on March 1 there was another solar wind disturbance commencing around 0558 UTC, which caused some aurora activity and planetary K indices as high as five. This is generally bad for HF communications because of absorption, especially over polar paths. What HF operators generally want to see are many sunspots, such as we have currently at the peak of this solar cycle, but without flares or the accompanying geomagnetic effects. Sunspot numbers for January 31 through February 6 were 238, 256, 222, 273, 274, 286 and 226, with a mean of 253.6. The 10.7-cm flux was 242.6, 245.6, 240.6, 232.9, 234.6, 220.6 and 202.5, with a mean of 231.3. Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 11, 18, 5, 6, 16 and 16, with a mean of 11. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The ARRL School Club Roundup is February 11-16. The North American Sprint (CW), the Six Club Second Winter Contest, the CQ/RJ WW RTTY WPX Contest, the Utah QSO Party, the Asia-Pacific Sprint (CW), the Dutch PACC Contest, the YL-OM Contest (CW), the FISTS Winter Sprint, the RSGB 1.8-MHz Contest (CW) and the QRP ARCI Winter Fireside SSB Sprint are the weekend of February 9-10. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL International DX Contest (CW), the YLISSB QSO Party (CW) and the YL-OM Contest (SSB) are the weekend of February 16-17. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, <http://www.arrl.org/contests/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar, <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. * School Club Roundup 2002 set: School Club Roundup (SCR), sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Amateur Radio in the New York City Schools, the ARRL and its Hudson Division Education Task Force, will be held February 11-16. The idea of SCR is to foster contacts with and among school radio clubs, and the annual operating event is a great way for new or inexperienced operators to get on the air in a low-pressure contest environment. Operators are encouraged to take some time to chat beyond the contest exchange. Award certificates will be issued for separate Elementary, Middle/Intermediate/Junior High School, High School and College/University levels for USA and DX entries. SCR rules are available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/announcements/scr.html>. The Wake Forest University Amateur Radio Club is offering the "Deacon Challenge" as an incentive for other collegiate clubs to get on the air. The WFU ARC will operate a demonstration station for six hours on February 12, and it challenges other collegiate clubs to beat their score for the six-hour period. For details, contact Chris Plumblee, KG4CZU, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ken Hoglund KG4FGC, email@example.com. * Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration: February registration for the Level I ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-001) opened February 4 and will remain open through the February 9-10 weekend. Registration for the Level II course (EC-002) will open on Monday, February 11; registration for Level III (EC-003) will open February 18. 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. * Winter Olympics special event: The West Desert Amateur Radio Club will sponsor special event station W7U to commemorate the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. W7U will be on the air from February 8 until February 24. Look for W7U on or around 3.768, 14.250, 21.300 and 28.400 MHz. QSL to W7EO, PO Box 98, Grantsville, UT 84029. * Celebrate the sunspots at the 53rd International DX Convention: Mark your calendars for the International DX Convention, April 26-28, 2002 at the Holiday Inn Visalia, California. This event attracts attendees and presenters from around the world, offering an opportunity to catch up on the latest DX events, such as Ducie Island and Logbook of the World, and perhaps catch a glimpse of new products before Dayton! With a full slate of programs plus vendors, a banquet, contest dinners, famous DX, friends and that famous convention patch, there's something for everyone. For more information, visit the International DX Convention Web site <http://www.qsl.net/visalia2002/index.html> or contact Don Bostrom, N6IC, <email@example.com>. * ISS crew resumes normal activities following computer shutdown: NASA reports that operations have returned to normal aboard the International Space Station after a computer crash. The crew's routine was interrupted the morning of February 4 when a main computer in the Zvezda Service Module unexpectedly went off-line, disrupting for a few hours the system that controls the spacecraft's orientation. The crew and flight controllers spent several hours correcting the problem. Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and flight engineers Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE, have resumed their everyday activities--including working with the space station's science operations. NASA says the crew was never in any danger, but quickly powered down backup equipment and several experiments in case the power generated by the station's solar arrays began to drop. All station systems now are operating normally, and the computer is on line. Russian controllers continue to analyze the problem to determine its cause. Information on the crew's activities aboard the space station, future launch dates and times, as well as station sighting opportunities from anywhere on Earth, is available on the NASA Human Spaceflight Web site <http://spaceflight.nasa.gov>. * Not too late to become part of ARDF Team USA: ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, says he has submitted Team USA's Letter of Intent to Participate in the 11th ARDF World Championships, September 2-7 in the Slovak Republic. Twelve stateside ARDFers ranging in age from 11 to 60 have expressed interest in attending, but Moell says it's not too late to add your own name for Team USA consideration. He said the divisions for males under age 40 and for all females still have several openings. Those interested should contact Moell via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the World Championships Web site <http://www.ardf.sk>. For more information on Team USA, radio-orienteering in the US, and the upcoming USA Championships near Atlanta, visit Moell's Homing In Web site <http://www.homingin.com>. * Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for January was Dick Stroud, W9SR, for his article "Six Meters from Your Easy Chair." Congratulations, Dick! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the Cover Plaque Poll Web page, <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html>. As soon as your copy arrives, cast a ballot for your favorite article in the February 2002 issue of QST. Voting ends February 28. * YHOTY nominations invited: Nominations are open for the Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award for 2002. Created in 1986, the award recognizes one young radio amateur under the age of 18 in the continental US for his or her contributions to society through Amateur Radio. Nominating forms and additional information are available at the Amateur Radio Newsline Web site, <http://www.arnewsline.org>. All nominations and materials required by the official rules must be received by Amateur Radio Newsline before May 30, 2002. * New Zealand simplifies amateur licensing: New Zealand has streamlined the route to obtain an Amateur Radio license. New Zealand now offers just two license classes, Limited and General. The Novice and the Novice/Limited licenses no longer are issued, although holders may retain them and continue to operate; some also may be eligible for an almost-instant upgrade. The New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART) administers the volunteer examination program there, and examinations are supervised by examiners from NZART branches. Candidate get two hours to complete a 60-question test and must answer 40 questions correctly to pass. The Morse code speed to qualify for the General-grade license has been lowered to 5 WPM. The General License provides access to all Amateur Radio bands with full privileges. A Study Guide and full information on the New Zealand licensing system is available via the NZART Web site <http://www.nzart.org.nz/nzart/>. * Correction: A table of contents entry in The ARRL Letter, Vol 21, No 05 (Feb 1, 2002), was incorrect. W8YRB, a ham dealing the RFI complaints, lives in Michigan. =========================================================== 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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