*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 21, No. 15 April 12, 2002 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Ham radio praised at hurricane confab * +FCC nails vanity backlog * +Texas high schoolers query ISS crew member * +ARRL debuts HF Digital Communications course * +IMAX "Space Station" film to include ARISS school contact * +Amateur Radio represented at international conference * +Question Pool Committee releases draft Tech syllabus * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Club provides reimbursements for ARRL emergency communications course Cost of QSLing to rise again Dayton Hamvention announces 2002 banquet speakers Pacific Seafarer's Net handles emergency call PCsat back in the black +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>PRAISE FOR AMATEUR RADIO AIRS DURING NATIONAL HURRICANE CONFERENCE At the National Hurricane Conference <http://www.hurricanemeeting.com> April 1-5 in Orlando, Florida, representatives of Florida-based served agencies praised the role of Amateur Radio in hurricane-related communication emergencies. Meteorologists, emergency management professionals and disaster-relief organizations from hurricane-prone states use the annual conference to exchange ideas and learn about new developments and issues involving emergency preparedness. "Amateur Radio really shines during callouts," said John Fleming, the communications officer of the Florida Division of Emergency Management during an April 2 Amateur Radio training session organized by Mike Carter, N3PDK. Carter chairs the Amateur Radio Topic Committee for the conference. Fleming said his agency "just wants effective communication" during emergencies, and he described how Amateur Radio fits into Florida's emergency plans. Since the state capital of Tallahassee is in the ARRL Northern Florida Section, Fleming explained, his office follows the Northern Florida ARES plan to take advantage of Amateur Radio resources. Santa Rosa County, Florida, Director of Emergency Management Dave Ling echoed Fleming's sentiments to the Amateur Radio operators in attendance. "We really appreciate your efforts, and I got a whole lot out of this conference," he said. During the hurricane season, which starts June 1 and runs through November, the National Hurricane Center in Miami benefits from the support of a corps of Amateur Radio volunteers who staff the center's W4EHW <http://www.fiu.edu/org/w4ehw> amateur station. W4EHW Amateur Radio Coordinator John McHugh, KU4GY, and Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4JR, talked about their ongoing work and provided an update on the Caribbean Amateur Radio Meteorological Emergency Network, or CARMEN (See "Public Service," Jan 2002 QST, p 85). W4EHW gathers real-time storm data from members of the Hurricane Watch Net on 20 meters as well as from other sources, including the Internet. ARRL is among the many sponsors of the annual National Hurricane Conference. ARRL Field Organization/Public Service Team Leader Steve Ewald, WV1X, represented ARRL Headquarters during the event. Amateurs representing Florida's three ARRL sections were on hand for the conference. Attending from the Northern Florida Section were Section Manager Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, and Assistant SM Steve Richbourg, KO4TT. From West Central Florida were Section Manager Dave Armbrust, AE4MR, Section Emergency Coordinator/Assistant SM Paul Toth, NA4AR, and Public Information Coordinator Jack Doyle, WX1JAD. In attendance from Southern Florida was SEC and Assistant SM Jim Goldsberry, KD4GR. During the gathering, Jerry Herman, N3BDW, formally announced his retirement as manager of the Hurricane Watch Net <http://www.hwn.org>. Mike Pilgrim, K5MP, of Boca Raton, Florida, was introduced as the new net manager. Colorado State University hurricane expert Dr. Bill Gray announced his latest predictions for the upcoming season on April 5 at the Orlando conference. Gray predicted 12 "named" storms and 7 hurricanes--three of them major. ==>FCC VANQUISHES VANITY BACKLOG The longstanding vanity call sign application backlog that had built up as a result of mail problems last October is now history. The FCC issued another 328 vanity call signs this week. That completed the processing of applications received at the FCC's Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, office through March 25--right at the typical 18-day vanity application waiting period. "We are back on track for vanity processing," an FCC Private Wireless Division Licensing and Technical Analysis Branch staff member told ARRL. While not ruling out any problems down the road, she indicated that everything was working fine now and that the FCC would resume its normal nightly vanity runs. ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, congratulated the FCC's licensing staff on the accomplishment. "It's been a long time coming," he said. "A great deal of effort on the part of the FCC personnel in Gettysburg and some on the part of ARRL went into making this happen. Among the latest happy customers was ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, who traded in her government-issue KB1HYD for K1MMH, reflecting her initials. At its peak, the vanity backlog was estimated at more than 2000 applications. Routine vanity processing resumed in early March. With the exception of a four-day hiatus to deal with a processing anomaly later that month, the FCC has been slowly but surely whittling away the application stack. The processing of routine Amateur Service applications was unaffected by the vanity problems. The vanity holdup began after some two weeks of paper vanity applications sent off last October for anthrax decontamination were not returned to Gettysburg. Since FCC policy continues to give equal priority to paper and electronic vanity applications, vanity processing was halted when the paper applications didn't come back. FCC staffers--with help from the ARRL--used payment information to contact those who had filed and have them submit new applications. Last month, the FCC began receiving the applications that had been missing. The FCC has proposed increasing the regulatory fee it charges vanity call sign applicants from $12 to $14.50 for the 10-year license term. Comments on the proposal are due April 23, and reply comments are due May 3. The new, higher fee likely would go into effect in September. The vanity fee is paid at the time of application for a new, renewal or reinstated vanity license. ==>SPACE STATION COMES TO TEXAS CLASSROOM VIA HAM RADIO The teenaged daughter of International Space Station crew member Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, was among several juniors and seniors at Pflugerville High School in Texas who got to speak to the astronaut April 5 via Amateur Radio. The contact was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or ARISS--program. Emily Bursch declined, however, to submit a question to her dad, in deference to her fellow students. After he'd answered a few of the students' questions, Bursch took a moment to acknowledge his daughter's presence. "Hello, Emily! I miss you," he said. "Hi, Daddy," Emily Bursch replied--at that point, in the background. While her father replied to several more questions, a teacher escorted Emily to the speakerphone the class was using. "Hi, this is Emily. Over!" she said to her father, at the time some 200 miles above Earth over Australia. Bursh replied excitedly, "I love you, too, and I miss you." "I love you too," Emily responded. The students' questions then resumed. At the tail end of the contact, she attempted to speak with her dad again, but the spacecraft already had gone out of range by then. During an earlier ARISS contact with St Thomas the Apostle Episcopal School in Nassau Bay, Texas, last month, Bursch got to chat briefly with his two younger children--daughter Robyn, and son Jackson, both of whom also asked questions. "Emily admitted that she is able to talk to her father often through NASA provided 'phone calls' and e-mail, but it was fun to watch her friends as they experienced space communications for the first time," said Roy Walker, WA5YZD, who was on hand for the contact. More than 100 other Pflugerville High School students listened in as their classmates asked about life aboard the station and safety concerns relating to space travel--14 questions in all. Most of the students were enrolled in physics and science classes at the Texas high school. Bursch told student An Tong that his most favorite thing to do during his free time is look out the window and view Earth as it passes by. Several students asked about physical fitness and staying in shape while enduring long periods in microgravity. Others wanted to know what kind of education, training and experience it takes to become an astronaut. As for space tourists, Bursch said, he didn't have anything against the idea. He noted that South African Mark Shuttleworth is scheduled to visit the ISS soon. Providing Earth station facilities for the event was Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, in Australia--an ARISS veteran. Science Department Supervising Principal Larry Bradley expressed appreciation to all who made the experience possible for his students. Listening in on the conference connection during the contact were members of the ARISS international team, which was meeting in Montreal, Canada. "We broke out in grins and with sighs of relief at the start of the QSO and in simultaneous applause at the end," said ARRL's Rosalie White, K1STO, a member of the ARISS committee. ARISS is an international project with U.S. participation by the ARRL, AMSAT and NASA. More information is available on the ARISS Web site <http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov>.--Roy Walker, WA5YZD, and Gene Chapline, K5YFL, provided information for this report ==>ARRL TO OFFER HF DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS COURSE The ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Program soon will introduce its newest on-line course--HF Digital Communications (EC-005). Registration for the new course opens Monday, April 15. It marks the fifth course in the growing list of continuing education offerings from ARRL. "Students will understand the scope of HF digital Amateur Radio communications as they exist today," said ARRL C-CE Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG. "This course will develop your awareness and skills for the HF digital modes and assist you to use and benefit from them." Students taking the course will become familiar with the scope of HF digital Amateur Radio communication modes available and learn how to use all of them. The curriculum was developed by QST Editor and digital enthusiast Steve Ford, WB8IMY, the author of ARRL's HF Digital Handbook. "Having a resident expert like Steve Ford is a definite plus!" Miller said. The course covers many of the topics contained in Ford's book as well as some new ones. Early in the ARRL HF Digital Communications Course, students will learn how to configure a station for HF digital work, then learn about such topics as chasing digital DX and HF digital contesting. Students will become acquainted with RTTY, PSK31, MFSK, Hellschreiber, PACTOR, PACTOR II, WinLink 2000, Clover and HF packet, and they will need no prior experience with any of them. Tuition for HF Digital Communications (EC-005) is $60 for ARRL members and $90 for nonmembers. Registration for the HF Digital Communications course opens Monday, April 15, at 4 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and there's a 50-seat class limit this month. Registration will remain open through the following weekend or until all seats are filled--whichever comes first. Students will have up to eight weeks to complete the course of study. More course information is available at the C-CE Course Listing Page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html>. The ARRL Certification and Continuing Education offered its first on-line class--in Amateur Radio Emergency Communications--in December 2000. Since then, the highly successful emergency communications series has expanded to three levels and benefited hundreds of amateurs. Last December, the program added its first technical offering, a class in Antenna Modeling (EC-004) that also has proven very popular. Additional details about the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program are on the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/>. To learn more, contact C-CE Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org. ==>AMATEUR RADIO HITS THE BIG SCREEN (AGAIN) IN NEW IMAX FILM Amateur Radio again is getting a role on the silver screen, this time in the new IMAX film called Space Station. The film includes a segment depicting the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program in action. ARISS team members will be on hand to demonstrate ham radio to the press and invited moviegoers when the film has its first screening Tuesday, April 16, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Several ham-astronauts also are expected to be in attendance. The movie opens to the general public Friday, April 19. US International Space Station crews have included at least one Amateur Radio operator. The current Expedition 4 crew--Commander Yury Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and astronauts Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE, is the first to have all three members licensed. The IMAX earthbound segments were filmed last August at Seabrook Intermediate School in Texas. Students there enjoyed an ARISS contact on September 4. The ISS segments was shot in January 2001 with Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL. The two segments were pieced together during editing. An international educational program, ARISS brings students from the US and throughout the world together with ISS astronauts via ham radio, which was one of the first payloads accepted aboard the ISS by NASA. ARISS is sponsored by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA. Coinciding with the IMAX film debut on April 16, second through sixth-grade students at The Quogue School in Quogue, New York, will get their turn behind the microphone to talk with either Bursch or Walz. In 2000, Amateur Radio had a featured role in the science fiction thriller Frequency.--Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY ==>AMATEUR RADIO REPRESENTED AT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE Amateur Radio was well-represented during the recent 2002 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-02) in Istanbul, Turkey. WTDC-02 was sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union. The International Amateur Radio Union delegation included IARU President Larry Price, W4RA; IARU Region 1 Vice Chairman Tafa Diop, 6W1KI; and IARU Region 1 Working Group on Promotion of Amateur Radio Chairman Hans Welens, ON6WQ. ARRL Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA, was a member of the US delegation to the conference, which wrapped up March 27. Chairing WTDC-02 was Turkish Telecommunications Authority Chairman and President Fatih Mehmet Yurdal, TA2MY. Amateurs from various parts of the world in other delegations represented the interests of their employers. WTDC-02 was the culmination of several years of work by the IARU. The conference recognized the Amateur Service's involvement in disaster communications, the ITU Development Sector Handbook on Disaster Communications--in which IARU and ARRL played an important role--and an ITU-D Recommendation on effective use of the Amateur Services in disaster communications. The conference included a report on the state of world telecommunication development. It also considered proposals for reform of the Telecommunication Development Sector and reviewed the ITU-D strategic plan. The conference provided a backdrop for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunication Commission) and CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations), which could lead to mutual recognition--or possibly a combining--of CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01 and the CITEL International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP). Such an arrangement would facilitate operation by European amateurs throughout the Americas and by operators in Organization of the American States (OAS) countries in Europe. The conference provided an opportunity for IARU to renew its contacts with the African Telecommunication Union (ATU). Agreement was reached for IARU and ATU to sponsor training of regulators of the Amateur Services in the near future. Attending WTDC-02 were more than 1000 delegates from around the world, including representatives of the FCC and other regulatory agencies. ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi told the conference's opening session that the telecommunications sector must take urgent steps to bring basic telecommunications to all the world's inhabitants. "We must take a fresh look at our policies and modify them to fast-track our objectives," he said. The Turkish Amateur Radio Club--Telsiz Radyo Amatorleri Cemiyeti--or TRAC--marked WTDC-02 with an Amateur Radio special event station, TA1KA/ITU, at the conference site.--Paul Rinaldo, W4RI ==>DRAFT ELEMENT 2 SYLLABUS RELEASED FOR COMMENT The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators has released a draft syllabus for the Element 2 (Technician) Amateur Radio examinations. The QPC is inviting comments on the document. The syllabus is an outline of 10 question topic areas--called "subelements"--from which actual examination questions will be developed. For Element 2, these include FCC rules, methods of communication, radio phenomena, station licensee duties, control operator duties, good operating practices, basic communications electronics, good engineering practice, special operations, and electrical, antenna structure and RF safety practices. Subelement T0, Electrical, Antenna Structure and RF Safety Practices, has been expanded to include all safety issues--electrical, antenna/tower and RF. A question pool based on the revised syllabus will be released later this year to take effect July 1, 2003. The QPC will invite public input on the Technician questions as well. A new Amateur Extra class question pool released last November takes effect in the exam room on July 1 of this year. QPC chairman Scotty Neustadter, W4WW, requested comments to the committee by May 9. The draft Technician (Element 2) syllabus <http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/tech-syllabus.html> is available on the ARRL Web site, which also includes all current question pools <http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/pools.html>. The amateur community may e-mail comments to the Question Pool Committee at email@example.com. Commenters also may e-mail individual members directly: Scotty Neustadter, W4WW, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, email@example.com; Fred Maia, W5YI, firstname.lastname@example.org and John Johnston, W3BE, email@example.com. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Peerless propagation pro Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspot numbers and solar flux rose again this week. Average daily sunspot numbers for April 4-10 were up nearly 40 points, and average daily solar flux rose by more than 11 points, when compared with the seven-day period that ended April 3. Solar flux is expected to decline over the short term--to below 190 after this weekend, and below 180 after next Wednesday. There is a chance of geomagnetic unrest this weekend due to a solar flare and coronal mass ejection on April 10 at 1230 UTC. This wasn't aimed exactly at Earth, so the effects are a little hard to predict, but Thursday morning's forecast from the US Air Force has the planetary A index at 12 on Friday, 15 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. Sunspot numbers for April 4 through 10 were 176, 200, 234, 227, 245, 212 and 220, with a mean of 216.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 216.2, 217.4, 206.3, 207.9, 206.2, 205 and 194.3, with a mean of 207.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 8, 6, 5, 7, 5, 6 and 7 with a mean of 6.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The JIDX HF CW Contest, the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party, the EU Spring Sprint (SSB), His Majesty the King of Spain Contest, the Yuri Gagarin International DX Contest and the UBA Spring Contest (SSB) are the weekend of April 13-14. JUST AHEAD: YLRL DX to NA YL Contest (SSB), the 432 MHz Spring Sprint, the Holyland DX Contest, the TARA Spring Wakeup PSK31 Rumble, the ES Open HF Championship, the YU DX Contest, the GACW CW DX Contest, the EU Spring Sprint (CW), and the Michigan and Ontario QSO parties are the weekend of April 20-21. The Harry Angel Memorial Sprint is Apr 25 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. * ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the new HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and for the Level III Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (EC-003) courses opens Monday, April 15, at 4 PM Eastern Time. Registration for the Level II ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-002) and for the Antenna Modeling Course (EC-004) will remain open through Sunday, April 14, or until all available seats are filled. Registration for the Level I Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-001) opens Monday, May 6, at 4 PM. Emergency Communications 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 C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org. [C-CE graphic] * Club provides reimbursements for ARRL emergency communications course: The Northern Lakes Amateur Radio Club of Itasca County, Minnesota, has approved reimbursements of $40 apiece to the first 20 members who complete the ARRL's Level I Emergency Communications course. "I recently completed Level I and recognize the obvious benefit this course would have in getting our club members on the same track toward being good communicators," said club president Bruce Aiton, K0NII, who made the reimbursement recommendation to the club. "I'm pleased to say the plan was met with enthusiasm and received unanimous approval." 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 Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, email@example.com. * Cost of QSLing to rise again: The United States Postal Service has announced that new postal rates will go into effect June 30. The single-piece, one-ounce first-class mail rate will increase three cents--from $0.34 to $0.37. The additional ounce rate for single-piece first-class mail will remain at $0.23. The single-piece card rate (eg, QSL cards) will increase by two cents--from $0.21 to $0.23. For details, visit the USPS Web site <http://www.usps.gov/ratecase/>. * Dayton Hamvention announces 2002 banquet speakers: Dayton Hamvention has announced that the Bill Cross, W3TN, of the FCC and Paul Reid, N4EKW, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will share the podium as speakers at the Hamvention grand banquet, Saturday, May 18. Cross is a senior program analyst in the Public Safety and Private Wireless Division and is the FCC's point person for Amateur Radio regulatory issues. He'll also appear at the Hamvention FCC Forum. Reid is responsible for managing FEMA's worldwide HF radio system--FEMA National Radio System (FNARS). He is also a senior communications advisor to the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Returning as master of ceremonies for the 2002 Hamvention banquet is Carl Nichols, N8WFQ, a Dayton TV meteorologist. For more information, visit the Dayton Hamvention Web site <http://www.hamvention.org>. * Pacific Seafarer's Net handles emergency call: Clark Lowry, N7AAC, in Arizona reports that the Pacific Seafarer's Net <http://www.tidepool.com/~psn/> handled an emergency call that came in April 9 during the net's roll call on 20 meters. Roll call was moved to another frequency, and Lowry (as net control), Jim Donaldson, VE7ZVT, and Fred Moore, W3ZU, remained on the net's 14.313 MHz frequency to handle the call with help from Jeff Nelson, N6NXL; Martin Stitt, KD6RGV/XE2 and Peter Bowman, VE7YAP/XE2. Lowry said the initial call, without a call sign, indicated that the vessel Sunrise had struck a log off the Baja Peninsula and was sinking. "The caller indicated that he was busy transferring the crew and passengers to another vessel and could not give us a better position report," he said. A subsequent transmission indicated that everyone had been transferred safely. Lowry called the US Coast Guard, which, in turn, contacted Mexican naval authorities. He later ascertained from a YOTREPS <http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/index.asp> report that all four passengers had been rescued by the vessel Fisher II. * PCsat back in the black: Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, reports that over the April 6-7 weekend, PCsat (NO-44) made it back into a positive power budget and achieved a full charge on its batteries. This allows the spacecraft to remember its commands for more than the one hour sunshine of each orbit, he said. Bruninga also expressed thanks to the various command stations around the world that attempted commands on more than 400 orbits since the problem began March 10. PCsat had been resetting and running the batteries dead on every eclipse. In addition, the satellite has one faulty solar panel. "We have enabled the digipeater again for limited operations probably through 10 May," Bruninga said. Because PCsat's batteries were severely weakened, Bruninga has requested that operations be limited to daylight only and that operators cease when telemetry packets display "11111111." Bruninga advised users to be conservative, and minimize the number of packets they digipeat. He also requested no routine automatic unattended operations. For more information, visit the PCsat Web site <http://www.ew.usna.edu/~bruninga/pcsat.html>. =========================================================== 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. 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