ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 31
August 9, 2002
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +VECs support exams-via-teleconference experiment
* +Hams aid mountaintop rescue
* +Space campers get ham radio visit from US astronaut
* +FCC Enforcement Bureau backs Schoenbohm's return bid
* +Secret AO-7 controller comes out of the shadows
* +Michigan town may ease antenna restrictions
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF:
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program registration
    +Donations for "The Big Project" top goal
     Amateur wins NASA award
     ARRL technical relations manager participates in FCC workshop
     Nevada hams commended for fire duty
     The end of the line for Radio Amateur Callbook
     W1HQ assigned to HQ Operators Club

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>NCVEC ENDORSES TRIAL OF AMATEUR TESTING VIA VIDEOCONFERENCING

The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators has endorsed
experimental use of videoconferencing technology to conduct Amateur Radio
testing in remote areas of Alaska. Meeting July 26 in Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania, the NCVEC voted 6-3 with two abstentions to back a one-year
trial run to be conducted by the Anchorage Volunteer Examiner Coordinator.

Jim Wiley, KL7CC, of the Anchorage VEC told his VEC colleagues that it's
very expensive to provide Amateur Radio test sessions to the thousands of
Alaska residents who live in remote areas. The vote followed discussion on
whether having a VE team remotely monitor a test session while an
unlicensed individual proctored the exams on site would comply with FCC
Part 97 rules. Section 97.509(c) calls for three VEs to be "present and
observing" the examinees.

"It was a classic 'how to do something' discussion," the FCC's Bill Cross,
W3TN, of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, told ARRL. Cross was
among several FCC staff members attending the annual gathering. "I told
them that the VEC and the VEs are responsible for the proper conduct of
the exams and that no rule changes appeared to be necessary because the
rules do not address the 'how to' of exam administration." Cross said VECs
already have authority under Part 97 rules to determine the manner in
which their VE teams conduct examination sessions.

Cross emphasized no VECs would be required to coordinate exam sessions
using a testing method they were not comfortable with. He said the
conference seemed willing to allow the Anchorage VEC to conduct a trial of
the program, once it's described in greater detail.

Wiley said he believes ham radio tests can be administered using
videoconferencing technology without compromising exam integrity while
maintaining "the same level of confidence in the testing process" that now
exists. He agreed to provide progress reports to the NCVEC on the
videoconferencing trial.

ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, said he abstained from voting because
he did not believe a vote was necessary, since the FCC's Cross had
indicated that the concept could be applied under existing rules.

In other business, the NCVEC gathering turned back a proposal to bring
back multiple-choice format Morse code examinations. The vote was 9-2. The
NCVEC also decided unanimously to create a Web site over the next few
months to post news, question pools and other exam-related information.

John Creel, WB3GXW, of the Laurel Amateur Radio Club VEC in Maryland
chaired the NCVEC conference.

==>HAM RADIO INSTRUMENTAL IN MOUNTAIN RESCUE

Two stranded mountain climbers--one of them injured--have Amateur Radio to
thank for helping to rescue them from Montana's highest peak August 1. For
32 hours, hams and scanner buffs across Montana witnessed first-hand the
harrowing rescue operation, which was coordinated through Amateur
Radio--the climbers' only means of communication.

Sixty-one-year-old Roger Kaul, K3TM, of Maryland and his 35-year-old
nephew Clint Kaul of California--both seasoned climbers--were within 200
feet of the 12,799-foot summit of Granite Peak when a rock pulled loose,
sending the younger man down an extremely steep-faced slope of jagged
rock, injuring him. Stranded precariously on a ledge and without ropes
some 35 feet above his nephew, Roger Kaul used his hand-held transceiver
to call for help through a repeater in Billings.

Kaul's plea was heard across Montana via the Montana Repeater Link
Association system. Kent Grabau, N0SQM, a member of the Livingston (MT)
Fire Department, established the initial--and only--communication link
with the stranded climbers from the mobile unit in his pick-up truck,
parked next to the Livingston Sheriff's office. Later, Steve Longacre,
AB7MV, of Longacre Communications Equipment Service, set up his company's
communications trailer as a command center. Fortunately, K3TM was running
his radio off an external battery pack of 8 D-cells.

High winds on the mountain prevented an immediate helicopter rescue
attempt, so two search-and-rescue teams began the arduous trek up the
mountain (a third eventually headed in from the other side of the
mountain). In the meantime, Roger Kaul was able to maneuver himself and
his nephew to a more favorable rescue location.

Stuck on the mountain overnight in freezing or near-freezing temperatures
and with dwindling food and water, the climbers maintained an hourly
contact schedule with the command center in Livingston. A second
helicopter rescue attempt early on August 1 proved especially frustrating.
Although the climbers could see the helicopter, and K3TM was able to make
direct radio contact on 146.52 simplex, the steep terrain prevented the
chopper pilot from deploying a long-line extraction cable.

After the second failed attempt, a crack team of rangers from Grand Teton
National Park was called in from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to take the pair
off the peak. At around 6:30 PM on August 1, the rangers' helicopter was
able to land a rescue team near the stranded pair, remove them from the
mountainside and transport them to medical treatment.

Clint Kaul suffered a sprained ankle and knee and had broken three bones
in his right hand. From his hospital bed, he said he was very glad his
uncle had his ham radio along. "The alternative was to wait for someone to
stumble across us," he said. Both climbers expressed their gratitude to
the rescue workers and ham radio operators who had cooperated to get them
off the mountain.

In all, 30 people from the Gallatin County Ham Radio Club, Park and
Stillwater counties, and the National Forest Service helped in the
rescue.--The ARRL thanks Lyndel Thiesen, N7LT, for contributing
information used to develop this account.

==>EUROPEAN SPACE CAMPERS CHAT WITH US ASTRONAUT ABOARD ISS

US Astronaut Peggy Whitson, KC5ZTD, was the guest of honor via ham radio
August 7 of more than 100 youngsters attending space camp in Belgium. The
direct contact between NA1SS aboard the International Space Station and
ON4ESC at the Euro Space Center, which is hosting the camp, was arranged
and coordinated via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
(ARISS) program.

ARISS Vice Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, said that because the
youngsters spoke either Dutch or French, a computer program was used by
those translating the astronaut's English, which displayed the
translations on a screen. Campers ranged in age from 8 to 15.

Among other things, Whitson talked about what got her interested in
becoming an astronaut. "When I was nine, I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz
Aldrin walk on the moon," she told the youngsters, "and I thought that it
would be a very special job to be able to be an astronaut."

The ARISS contact got widespread media coverage in Belgium.

The space camp contact marked Whitson's third such QSO for ARISS. On
August 2, Whitson answered questions from 15 students via 8N3ISS at the
Kansai Ham Festival 2002 in Hirakata, Japan. On July 3, Whitson had a
successful direct contact with DN1SZA at the Progymnasium Rosenfeld in
Germany.

In other ARISS news, NASA has announced that it will deploy the last two
ISS Amateur Radio antennas during the second of two space walks set for
August. The two VHF-UHF flexible tape antennas will be installed August 23
along the perimeter of the aft end of the Zvezda Service Module--the
crew's living quarters.

Expedition 5 Crew Commander Valery Korzun, RZ3FK, and cosmonaut Sergei
Treschev, RZ3FU, will carry out the space walk. Installation of the new
antenna on the Zvezda Service Module will make possible two separate ham
stations aboard the ISS--one on 2 meters and the other on 70 cm. Plans
call for installing HF gear at NA1SS, as well as higher power VHF and UHF
equipment.

ARISS is an international project sponsored jointly by ARRL, NASA and
AMSAT. More information is available on the ARISS Web site
<http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov>.--Information for this report was provided by
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, and by NASA

==>FCC ENFORCEMENT BUREAU SUPPORTS GRANTING SCHOENBOHM'S AMATEUR
APPLICATION

Almost two years ago, when the US Supreme Court effectively ended his
battle to retain his Amateur Radio license, Herb Schoenbohm--formerly
KV4FZ--vowed to one day return to ham radio. Following a hearing earlier
this year to determine Schoenbohm's fitness to once again be an amateur
licensee, it appears that the FCC Enforcement Bureau is willing to grant
him another chance.

"The evidence supports granting Herbert L. Schoenbohm's application for a
station license and a General class operator license in the Amateur Radio
Service," the Enforcement Bureau said in its Proposed Finding of Fact and
Conclusions of Law in WT Docket 01-352. The Bureau said there's sufficient
evidence in the record to support a finding that Schoenbohm had
rehabilitated himself and would be unlikely to engage in future
misconduct.

The document--the equivalent of closing arguments in a jury trial--was
submitted in early July to FCC Administrative Law Judge Arthur I.
Steinberg.

Schoenbohm, who lives in the US Virgin Islands, told the ARRL that the
Enforcement Bureau's decision to support his application was
unprecedented. "It just does not work this way in the usual federal
litigation" he said. "When the government comes after you, they mean to
win their point."

The FCC put Schoenbohm's renewal application for KV4FZ up for hearing in
1994 following his 1992 felony conviction on federal fraud charges. The
Commission finally turned down his renewal application in 1998, the US
Appeals Court upheld the FCC's decision in 2000, and the US Supreme Court
declined to hear the case later that same year.

In March 2001, not long after his authority to operate as KV4FZ had
expired, Schoenbohm took and passed the examination for a General ticket.
A couple of weeks later, he passed the Extra test. The FCC has refused to
act on the second application before dealing with the first, however, and
it subsequently designated Schoenbohm's General license application for
hearing on the basis of character issues. The Enforcement Bureau's
proposed findings and conclusions resulted from testimony at that hearing,
held May 7 in Washington, DC.

Schoenbohm testified that being denied amateur privileges for 15 months
had caused him "personal shame" and was an adequate sanction. He also
acknowledged "fatal mistakes" in hearing testimony during his renewal
fight, when the FCC had accused him of a lack of candor.

One sour note concerned Schoenbohm's participation in a DX contest
operation from his station conducted last October by Steve Reichlyn, AA4V,
under Reichlyn's call sign. Schoenbohm took the mike for about two hours
while Reichlyn was in the vicinity. The Enforcement said the hearing
findings "support, and it should be concluded" that Schoenbohm's operation
of Reichlyn's station violated federal law, because the station had to be
under the physical control of a licensed control operator, and Schoenbohm
no longer was licensed.

Acting as his own attorney, Schoenbohm submitted a similarly supportive
brief to Judge Steinberg. In his comments, Schoenbohm asserted that he's
kept out of trouble for the past 10 years, his criminal conviction was
based on actions that had occurred in 1987 and that he had not violated
FCC rules during his appeal.

Judge Steinberg could issue an opinion within a few months following a
period for reply comments. The FCC has the final say in the matter.
Documents in this proceeding are available via the "Search for Filed
Comments" page <http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi> on the
FCC Web site. Enter "01-352" in the "Proceeding" field and click on
"Retrieve Document List."

==>COVERT AO-7 COMMAND OPERATOR REVEALED

The mystery command operator of the recently resurrected AO-7 satellite is
none other than satellite veteran and AMSAT Principal Satellite
Investigator Mike Seguin, N1JEZ, of Burlington, Vermont. After being
inactive for more than 20 years, AO-7 was discovered back on the air in
June and at least semi-operational. Seguin subsequently stepped in to
handle Earth station duties but initially kept a low profile.

Seguin said he stayed undercover for a while because he did not want to
have to deal with "the inevitable flood of e-mail" while concentrating on
a critical phase of trying to command AO-7. "There were a number of
technical hurdles to overcome," he said, "not the least of which is
dealing with 30-year-old stuff." AO-7 was launched November 15, 1974. It
went silent in 1981.

Although Pat Gowen, G3IOR, first announced the reappearance of AO-7 on
June 21, Seguin now believes the aged spacecraft may already have been
back in operation for a year or so. Seguin said he's now convinced that
the CW he has heard--and continues hearing--during UO-14 passes is from
AO-7 in Mode B, transmitting on approximately 145.973, very close to
UO-14's 145.975 uplink.

Seguin says his job is to investigate which AO-7 commands still work after
more than two decades and which do not. He successfully commanded AO-7 for
the first time on July 11, changing the CW beacon speed. So far, the
satellite has been sent and has accepted at least seven different
commands. "At this point, there are things that don't seem to work," he
said. "I guess we have to expect that after 21 years."

Built by a multinational team under the direction of AMSAT-NA, AO-7
carries Mode A (145.850-950 MHz uplink; 29.400-500 MHz downlink) and Mode
B (432.180-120 MHz uplink; 145.920-980 MHz downlink) linear transponders
plus beacons on 29.502 and 145.973 MHz.

For those attempting to use AO-7, Mode A (2 meters up/10 meters down) is
not a problem, but Mode B (70 cm up/2 meters down) is. Because of changes
in the international Radio Regulations that went into effect in the 1970s
as AO-7 was under construction, the 432.1 MHz uplink frequency is no
longer authorized for space communications. There's some question as to
whether a 1974 FCC waiver might still cover operation on the original Mode
B uplink frequency.

AMSAT advises potential users that when uplinking to a satellite, they are
operating in the Amateur-Satellite Service. Sections 97.207(c)(2) and
97.209(b)(2) of the FCC's rules authorize space station and earth station
operation only in the 435-438 MHz segment. AMSAT has additional
information on AO-7 on its Web site
<http://www.amsat.org/amsat/sats/n7hpr/ao7.html>.

==>MICHIGAN TOWN COULD EASE AMATEUR ANTENNA RESTRICTIONS

ARRL Great Lakes Vice Director Dick Mondro, W8FQT, reports that the City
of Troy, Michigan, appears poised to loosen restrictions on Amateur Radio
antenna structures. Mondro attended a meeting of the Troy City Council
August 5 at which he and five other hams spoke. As a result, city council
voted unanimously to send the current ordinance back to the planning
commission. Council requested the planning commission rewrite the
ordinance to allow a higher minimum antenna support structure without the
need for a zoning hearing.

"The mayor was convinced that this was essential due to the services
afforded by Amateur Radio operators," Mondro said.

The current ordinance in Troy--at 81,000 inhabitants Michigan's 12th most
populous city--only allows an antenna structure 25 feet above grade or 12
feet above the roof, if roof-mounted. Anything higher requires the amateur
to demonstrate that the allowed limit would "preclude communications."

Hazel Park Amateur Radio Club President Phil Ode, AA8KR, said he, club
members and individual amateurs have been working with city officials over
the past few months to gain a more liberal interpretation. He said he's
hoping to secure at least a 75-foot minimum for antenna support structures
before a zoning hearing is needed.

In his remarks to council, Mondro mentioned the recent federal grant to
ARRL that will support emergency communications training and
certification. He also explained the ARES and RACES programs and the
involvement of amateurs in public service in the community and the state.
Mondro said there were no dissenters present. Approximately 60 to 70
amateurs attended the meeting, which lasted until midnight.

"Another victory for Amateur Radio in Michigan!" Mondro declared.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Sun watcher Tad "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" Cook, K7VVV, Seattle,
Washington, reports: After the previous week's heightened activity, solar
flux and sunspot values rolled back quite a bit. Average daily sunspot
numbers for this week were down 120 points, and average daily solar flux
was off nearly 70 points.

Solar flux values fell since reaching 241.5 on July 16 but should rise
again next week. Solar flux values predicted for August 10-16 are 135,
140, 145, 145, 150, 150 and 160. Solar flux is expected to peak in the
vicinity of 215 around August 23-24, based on the previous solar rotation.

Geomagnetic conditions should be quiet for the next few days, but it sure
wasn't quiet August 1-3, when planetary K indices reached 6, indicating a
geomagnetic storm complete with dramatic aurora displays at northern
latitudes.

Day by day we will gradually move away from summertime to fall
propagation. We will especially notice a change on 10, 12 and 15 meters,
which are affected by thinning of the ionosphere during the summer. The
most reliable DX band right now is 20 meters.

Sunspot numbers for August 1 through 7 were 259, 220, 218, 150, 144, 135
and 141, with a mean of 181. The 10.7-cm flux was 192.6, 180.3, 167.8,
150.9, 141.9, 144.6 and 136.2, with a mean of 159.2. Estimated planetary A
indices were 26, 37, 20, 16, 8, 9 and 8, with a mean of 17.7.

Editor's note: SpaceWeather.com reported August 8 that the annual Perseid
meteor shower should intensify--perhaps impressively so--on August 12 and
13, when the shower peaks. Visit SpaceWeather.com
<http://www.spaceweather.com> for more information and to see a movie of
two bright Perseid meteors recorded on August 8.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The WAE DX Contest (CW) and the Maryland-DC
QSO Party are the weekend of August 10-11. JUST AHEAD: The North American
QSO Party (SSB), the SARTG WW RTTY Contest, the ARRL 10-GHz Cumulative
Contest, the Keyman's Club of Japan Contest, the SEANET Contest
(CW/SSB/digital) and the New Jersey QSO Party are the weekend of August
17-18. 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 Program registration: No
national-level Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level I (EC-001)
classes will open in August. Registration for the Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Level II (EC-002) and Antenna Modeling (EC-004) courses
opens Monday, August 12, at 4 PM Eastern Time. Updates on the federally
funded Amateur Radio emergency communications training program will be
posted as soon as information becomes available. 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 the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program, cce@arrl.org.

* Donations for "The Big Project" top goal: ARRL Chief Development Officer
Mary Hobart, K1MMH, reports that donations from 3400 ARRL members to the
Education and Technology Program--more commonly known as "The Big
Project"--have nearly topped $200,000--well beyond the original $150,000
goal. Hobart said she was gratified to find the supportive notes that
sometimes accompanied contributions. "The future of Amateur Radio may lie,
in part, in the hands of educators who recognize the power of Amateur
Radio and are eager to use it as a catalyst in the classroom, in
enrichment classes and in after school programs," Hobart said. She also
cited the teachers who already use Amateur Radio in their classrooms who
now are helping ARRL to develop curricula and methodologies to ensure the
national program's success.

* Amateur wins NASA award: ARRL member Nancy Rabel Hall, KC4IYD--a
scientist at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio--has won NASA's
Exceptional Achievement Medal for exceptional and exemplary contributions
in educational outreach. A presentation was made in Ohio August 2 at the
15th International YLRL Convention, which Hall chaired. The medal is
granted to government employees for a significant, specific accomplishment
or substantial improvement in operations, efficiency, service, financial
savings, science, or technology that contributes to NASA's mission. The
award citation said Hall has demonstrated "unmatched initiative,
dedication and volunteer service in educational outreach to the
pre-college student and teaching community not only in the greater
Cleveland area but throughout the United States." Hall also won the 1999
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-College Community Service
Award.

* ARRL technical relations manager participates in FCC workshop: ARRL
Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, was a panelist August 5 at
the first of four public workshops held by the FCC's Spectrum Policy Task
Force. Other amateurs also took part. Co-chairing the session were Richard
Engelman, N4COP, of the FCC, and David Weinreich, WA2VUJ, of Globalstar.
In addition to Rinaldo, panelists included C.K. Toh of TRW; Ulrich Rohde,
KA2WEU, of Synergy Microwave; S. Merrill Weiss, K2MW, of Merrill Weiss
Group; Charles Trimble of the US GPS Industry Council; Steve Gillig of
Motorola; and Stephen Blust, W4SMB, of Cingular Wireless. "The panelists
were invited to give their views on spectrum efficiency, how it should be
defined, how to improve it, and what FCC rule or policy should be changed
to improve spectrum efficiency," Rinaldo said. "There were several themes
of value to the Amateur Services: some kind of receiver immunity
standards--particularly for consumer devices, global harmonization of
frequency bands and the need for some standards to facilitate sharing in
certain bands." According to Rinaldo, Rohde recommended that the FCC use
the Amateur Service more for experimentation and work with the ARRL and
the ARRL Lab. Rinaldo pointed out that ARRL has "a continuing dialog on
interference matters" with the FCC and has successfully cooperated with
the Commission in enforcement issues. More information on the FCC Spectrum
Policy Task Force workshops is available on the FCC Web site
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-02-1863A1.doc>.

* Nevada hams commended for fire duty: Clark County (Nevada) ARES/RACES
was honored August 6 by the Clark County Board of Commissioners for their
support to firefighters responding to the Lost Cabin wildfire July 17.
Clark County's emergency manager had contacted ARES/RACES Coordinator
Charlie Kunz, AA5QJ, to request fire department radio operators to support
firefighters. The Lost Cabin fire consumed more than 4000 acres July
14-17. Eighteen ARES/RACES members responded to the call and provided
24-hour coverage for four days, handling communications on radio and
telephone, logging messages or activities and cloning hand-held radios for
use on the fire line. A proclamation was presented August 6 by the Clark
County Commissioners. More information and photos are available at the
Clark County ARES/RACES Web site <http://www.qsl.net/ccnvares>.--Jim
Bassett, W1RO/7

* The end of the line for Radio Amateur Callbook: Radio Amateur Callbook
is throwing in the towel and will cease publication of its CD-ROM Callbook
product effective with its winter 2003 edition, which will come out in
November. "Due to accessibility to the FCC database via the Internet,
sales have declined to levels that make it unprofitable to publish future
editions," publisher Bob Hughes announced in a recent news release. In
1997, citing "rising costs and increasing demand for electronic
publishing" the company phased out its telephone-book-size paper North
American and international editions in favor of its CD-ROM product. The
1997 Callbook--the 75th edition--was the last hard-copy version available.
The Callbook began publishing in 1920.

* W1HQ assigned to HQ Operators Club: W1HQ, the call sign of the late
Laird Campbell, a former ARRL staff member who died April 26, has been
granted--with the blessings of Campbell's family--to the Laird Campbell
Memorial HQ Operators Club at ARRL Headquarters. The trustee is ARRL Lab
Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI. "It will be the primary call sign used by ARRL
Headquarters staff members as they operate the HQ club station," Hare
explained. W1HQ will supplant the W1INF call sign now in use for the ham
station inside ARRL Headquarters (and separate from Maxim Memorial Station
W1AW, which is in another building adjacent to the ARRL HQ parking area).
Hare says to keep an ear open for W1HQ on the air during lunch hours and
after normal business hours. The W1INF call sign will be used by the ARRL
Laboratory staff for on-the-air operations and tests, Hare said.
Campbell's ARRL career spanned 35 years. He served in a variety of roles
at ARRL Headquarters including QST managing editor and ARRL advertising
manager. He was an ARRL Charter Life Member.

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