ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 09
February 28, 2003
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +All-ham ISS crew returning via Soyuz capsule
* +ARRL concerned about proposed 70-cm changes
* +Hams aid debris search in Western states
* +FCC lifts ham ticket of Michigan pirate broadcaster
* +Hurricane conference looks ahead to stormy skies
* +Ham-concert pianist plans cancer run
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF:
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Seats still available for ARRL RFI course
    +4L4FN leaving North Korea
     Kentucky ARES teams have busy month
     Pioneer 10 spacecraft sends last signal
     Summits on the Air (SOTA) encourages portable hilltop operation

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>ISS CREW TO RETURN TO EARTH VIA RUSSIAN SOYUZ CAPSULE

The all-ham crew aboard the International Space Station will return to
Earth in early May via the Russian Soyuz escape vehicle. Appearing before
the US House Science Committee February 27, NASA Chief Sean O'Keefe said
that the 16 ISS partner countries have agreed to use the Russian capsule
to ferry a new two-person crew to the station--one American and one
Russian--and to bring the current three-man crew home. The shuttle fleet
remains grounded in the wake of the Columbia tragedy.

"There are no threats to the ISS or its crew in the near term, and we are
working options to be able to sustain both over the long term," O'Keefe
said in remarks prepared for delivery to the lawmakers. O'Keefe noted that
the ISS would run short of potable water by June and that the Soyuz 5S
vehicle now attached to the ISS will reach its lifetime limit in late
April or early May and need to be returned. The fresh crew would remain in
space until October, when a new crew would be sent up.

Additional unmanned Russian Progress cargo rocket flights will be
scheduled to keep the ISS supplied--the next arriving shortly after the
new crew in June. That Russian Progress supply mission will carry enough
food, water, fuel and other provisions to sustain the two-person crew in
space at least through October.

The implications of a two-person crew on the Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) program are not yet fully clear. A
successful ARISS school contact with Hochwald Gymnasium in Wadern,
Germany, was completed via DL0WR on February 27.

"Things continue to be very dynamic as the Columbia accident investigation
unfolds," ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said February
27 in reaction to O'Keefe's announcement. "Despite the reduction in crew
size, the ARISS team has been told that we will continue to perform one to
two ARISS school group contacts a week." Bauer said since less scientific
work will happen while the shuttle program is on hold, opportunities for
school contacts will remain the same.

Crew member Don Pettit, KD5MDT, also was reported on the air this week
seeking random contacts from NA1SS. Stan Vandiver, W4SV, in Indiana,
reports he worked NA1SS February 27, but added that he'd heard that Pettit
has been on the air on other occasions as well. The ISS downlink frequency
is 145.800 MHz.

But the substitution of the Russian Progress rockets for the shuttle as a
transportation system between Earth and the ISS will strictly limit the
amount and type of supplies and equipment carried to the space station.
The priorities will be food and water. This means that the ARISS
hardware--including SSTV and all-mode HF/VHF/UHF gear that was planned to
be flown this year--probably will be delayed, Bauer said.

O'Keefe meanwhile said that the ISS partnership was "committed to
maintaining crew on-orbit." He told the House Science Committee that the
new, two-person crew was training on Soyuz systems at Russia's Star City
cosmonaut training center.

Now onboard the ISS are Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, NASA
ISS Science Officer Don Pettit, KD5MDT, and Flight Engineer Nikolai
Budarin, RV3FB. The crew this week resumed a full schedule of maintenance
and research work on the space outpost. The Expedition 6 team will mark
100 days in orbit on March 3.

NASA has not yet revealed who the two new ISS crew members will be.
Originally set to replace the current crew next month was the Expedition 7
team of Commander Yuri Malenchenko, ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, and
Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri, U8MIR.  The back-up Expedition 7 crew
member is Mike Foale, KB5UAC. All four are now training in Russia.

Bauer said he considers the option to fly Lu and Malenchenko on Expedition
7 "the highest probable scenario, in my opinion. But is not definite yet."
Pedro Duque, KC5RGG, who planned to use the ARISS equipment on the
upcoming Soyuz flight, will probably fly in the fall, Bauer speculated.

Malenchenko and Lu have worked together in space before. During a shuttle
Atlantis mission in 2000, the Russian and the American conducted a
more-than-six-hour space walk to install equipment on the then-unoccupied
ISS. That same shuttle flight also delivered the initial ARISS VHF and UHF
hand-held transceivers, a packet TNC and other ham gear.

==>ARRL EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT HAM RADIO IMPACT OF 70-CM CHANGES

The ARRL says two FCC-proposed actions could negatively affect Amateur
Radio. One would substantially expand the geographical area in the US
subject to power limitations on 70 cm. The other would deploy National
Weather Service wind-profiler radars in the 448-450 MHz segment.

"The Commission has proposed two actions that have a potentially
substantial adverse impact on a large number of Amateur Radio operators in
this proceeding," the ARRL said in comments filed this month in ET Docket
02-305. "In each case, the Commission can minimize that impact."

In a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) late last fall, the FCC
proposed on behalf of the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) to--among other things--more than double the size of
the geographical area in New Mexico and Texas where amateurs in the
420-450 MHz band would be limited in power to protect military
radiolocation service operations. Amateur transmitters in certain
geographical areas already are limited to 50 W PEP "unless expressly
authorized by the FCC after mutual agreement, on a case-by-case basis"
between the FCC district director and the applicable military frequency
coordinator--ß97.313(f). The NPRM also reflects action by NTIA specifying
the operation of federal government wind profilers in the band 448-450
MHz.

Acknowledging that the Amateur Service is secondary to government services
in the band, the ARRL nonetheless asked the FCC to ensure that the
affected zone in Texas and New Mexico "is minimized as much as possible,
consistent with protection of military facilities." The ARRL also
requested the FCC to create "a streamlined procedure for case-by-case
exemptions" from the power restrictions.

"It is difficult for ARRL to address the contention of the Army that
amateur power in excess of 50 W PEP in the additional protected areas
requested by the Army would cause interference to military radiolocation
facilities involved in missile tracking," the League said in its comments,
"because the claim made by the Army is not substantiated by any technical
information." The proposed area would include all of New Mexico and all of
Texas west of 104 degrees W longitude. The ARRL said it was "not
intuitively obvious" that such a large restricted area was necessary.

The ARRL concluded that a 50-W power restriction was "not a substantial
burden" on many FM repeater users but that it could mean lowering the
outputs of some critical repeaters used for emergency and public service
work or taking them off the air altogether. It also could affect so-called
weak-signal, experimental and Earth-Moon-Earth operations, the ARRL said.
More than five dozen repeaters in the affected region could be affected,
the League estimated.

Concerning the wind profilers, the League said it had understood that the
National Weather Service--which operates the radars--would notify ARRL of
their locations as selected. "Ideally," the League said, "since the
amateur repeaters are incumbent in the band now, the National Weather
Service should select sites that minimize the effect on those repeaters."

The complete text of the ARRL's comments, the FCC NPRM and other documents
are available via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) site
<http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/>. Click on "Search for Filed Comments" and
enter "02-305" in the "Proceeding" field.

==>HAMS AID COLUMBIA DEBRIS SEARCH IN WESTERN STATES

Amateur Radio operators continued their involvement with efforts to locate
space shuttle Columbia debris, as NASA's search shifted focus to include
points west of Texas. According to NASA, the search for parts is running
along the shuttle's re-entry path--basically 60 miles north or south of a
line from San Francisco, California, to Lafayette, Louisiana.

New Mexico amateurs were among those helping to check in the Albuquerque
area. "Based on a number of sources and analysis, NASA had reason to
believe that debris from the shuttle Columbia may have impacted in
Embudito Canyon," read a statement on the New Mexico Search and Rescue
Support Team Web site <http://www.nmsarsupport.org/>. The team includes a
number of hams in its ranks.

NASA wanted to follow up on both radar and eyewitness reports of possible
shuttle debris in Embudito Canyon--in the Sandia Mountains east of
Albuquerque. Authorities asked the NM SAR Support Team to provide
communication and incident base support February 15 for a massive search
involving more than 150 searchers. Although several small objects were
found in the rugged terrain, none were attributed to the Columbia.

Keith Hayes, KC5KH, of the NM SAR Support Team estimates that more than 40
Amateur Radio operators participated in the effort, serving as incident
command staff, providing communications for tactical and logistics
support, and as members of field search teams.

"In addition to providing tactical and logistical support with its
specialized communications trailer, 14 ham radio members of the New Mexico
SAR Support Team provided additional APRS tracker and field team GPS track
data collection," Hayes said. "Bernalillo County ARES Search and Rescue
provided additional off-site logistical communications."

On February 24 near Caliente, Nevada, investigators continued to look for
possible debris from Columbia that was tracked by air traffic control
radar. Materials have been found in the area, but so far none have been
confirmed to be from Columbia, NASA said.

NASA has asked anyone in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah for help in
locating any material that may have fallen from Columbia as it was
re-entering Earth's atmosphere. "Everyone is asked to be on the lookout
for possible shuttle material 60 miles north or south of the re-entry
track," NASA said in a news release.

==>MICHIGAN PIRATE BROADCASTER BANNED FROM HAM RADIO FOR FIVE YEARS

The FCC has canceled the license of a Michigan Amateur Radio operator and
told him he may not apply for another ham ticket until 2007. The
Commission took the action against Thomas A. Brothers, ex-KI8BE, of
Berkley, because he'd been the operator of an unlicensed FM "pirate" radio
station.

FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth wrote Brothers February 14 to
confirm receipt of his amateur license--which Brothers had agreed to
surrender. The FCC also had imposed a $10,000 fine against Brothers, who's
in his early 20s, but rescinded the forfeiture last December because of
Brothers' demonstrated inability to pay. Brothers' Advanced class ticket
was cancelled December 5, 2002. He had been licensed since 1997 and
formerly held the call sign KC8CRI. Hollingsworth said he requested the
five-year reapplication hiatus.

FCC sources say the Commission's Detroit Field Office became aware as
early as 1998 that Brothers was operating an FM pirate radio station on
88.3 MHz from his home. On multiple occasions, an FCC agent used
direction-finding gear to track the signal to Brothers' residence and sent
Brothers Warning Notices ordering him off the air. Brothers ceased the
pirate broadcasting in 1998, but by 2000 he was back on the air, and an
agent from the Detroit Field Office again traced the broadcast signal to
Brothers' home at least twice in 2000 and 2001, following up with Warning
Notices.

In January 2002, the FCC issued Brothers a Notice of Apparent Liability
for $10,000 for repeatedly violating Section 301 of the Communications Act
by operating an FM station without a license. In a subsequent Petition for
Reconsideration, Brothers did not dispute that he willfully and repeatedly
has violated Section 301, but he asked the FCC to cancel the fine
because--among other factors--of his inability to pay. The Detroit Field
Office turned the case over to Hollingsworth late last year to consider
sanctions against Brothers' Amateur Radio license.

==>AMATEUR RADIO HURRICANE CONFERENCE LOOKS AHEAD TO STORMY WEATHER

The upcoming 2003 hurricane season was the focus earlier this month as
Amateur Radio volunteers, the National Hurricane Center's W4EHW Amateur
Radio Group, representatives of the Hurricane Watch Net and emergency
officials gathered for the eighth annual Amateur Radio Hurricane
Conference. Among the approximately 50 attendees February 1 at the
National Hurricane Center (NHC) <http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/> in Miami were
representatives from the US as well as from throughout the Caribbean.

"The presentations, post-season analysis and discussions are very helpful
in preparing for the coming hurricane season," said Julio Ripoll, WD4JR,
the NHC's assistant Amateur Radio coordinator.

ARRL Public Service Team Leader Steve Ewald, WV1X, highlighted the latest
news in emergency communication training from ARRL through the Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications courses
<http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html>. He also explained how the federal
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) grant was expanding
opportunities for hams nationwide to take the Level I Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications course. Ewald also discussed how the ARRL Field
Organization serves as a ready resource during emergencies.

National Hurricane Center Amateur Radio Coordinator John McHugh, KU4GY,
and Ripoll organized and led the annual event. Among other things, they
brought attendees up to date on the latest news and activities of the
36-member team of Amateur Radio Station W4EHW. The station will adopt a
new call sign, WX4NHC, on June 1 at the start of the new hurricane season.
Ripoll said the new call sign would give "better on-the-air recognition,
as WX is understood to mean weather, and NHC is well-known for National
Hurricane Center."

W4EHW celebrates its 23rd year of continuous service this year. Calling
upon a staff of trained volunteers, the NHC's amateur station activates
during tropical storms or hurricanes and gathers and disseminates
real-time, surface-level weather data from hams and other volunteer
observers. NHC forecasters use the data and information to develop their
forecasts. During the 2002 hurricane season, W4EHW was on the air for more
than 140 total hours, gathering over 300 reports via 20 meters (14.325
MHz) and, for the first time, via the Internet Radio Linking Project
(IRLP) VHF/UHF repeater network. Hurricane Watch Net Manager Mike Pilgrim,
K5MP, told the conference that he expects the HWN to explore the
possibility of accepting hurricane reports via EchoLink in the coming
season.

Hurricane Hunter aircraft pilot Capt Dave Tennesen, NL7MT, told the
conference that he's never without ham radio onboard, and he's been known
to occasionally check into the Hurricane Watch Net during his Hurricane
Hunter flights. "Ham radio serves as a vital backup link to NHC if other
means of communications fail," he said.--information from Julio Ripoll,
WD4JR, and Steve Ewald, WV1X

==>CONCERT PIANIST-HAM'S RUN TO BENEFIT CANCER RESEARCH

Combining music, athletics and Amateur Radio to raise funds and awareness
for cancer research, Martin Berkofsky, KC3RE, is set to run from Tulsa,
Oklahoma, to Arlington Heights, Illinois, this spring and summer. An
internationally known concert pianist and music scholar, Berkofsky plans
to celebrate his 60th birthday and his recovery from cancer with the
700-mile "Celebrate Life Run." Along the way, he hopes to contact as many
hams as possible on VHF and UHF as he navigates the back roads of the
Midwest.

"The plan is to cover 10 miles a day, six days a week," Berkofsky said.
"Of course, there will be days of bad weather and stubbed toes, but there
is more than sufficient time allowed."

The run starts on his birthday, April 9, at the Cancer Treatment Centers
of America Hospital in Tulsa, where he was treated. Berkofsky expects to
reach his destination--the headquarters of the Cancer Treatment Research
Foundation in Illinois--in late August. He plans to kick off his run with
a free piano concert in Tulsa.

Berkofsky said he's obtained a copy of ARRL's TravelPlus for Repeaters
CD-ROM to determine the locations of repeaters along his route. He'll
raise funds through donations at his three performances and through
per-mile sponsorships from groups and individuals. All proceeds from the
events go to the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation.

Berkofsky suggested those interested should check the Web site of his
Cristofori Foundation < http://cristoforifund.tripod.com/>. Once the run
is under way, Cancer Treatment Centers of America plans to track
Berkofsky's progress on its Web site.

Throughout his life, Berkofsky has enjoyed a parallel fascination with
electronics and music. A child prodigy at the piano, he was licensed in
1957 at age 14, first as KN3HDW, later K3HDW. Berkofsky has performed,
taught and operated from more than 25 countries and is renowned in the
music world for his Liszt performances and scholarship.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar sage Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, fills in this week for Tad "Sunshine,
Sunset" Cook, K7VVV: Solar activity during the reporting period, Friday,
February 21, through Thursday February 27, was very low to low. The
largest X-ray flare was a C5 event on Saturday. There were no radio
blackouts (R in the WWV announcement) or proton events (S in the WWV
announcement) during the period.

Geophysical activity was quiet to active from Friday through Wednesday and
ranged from unsettled to minor storm on Thursday. There were no
significant geomagnetic storms (G in the WWV announcement) during the
period. The minor storminess on Thursday only lasted about nine hours.

Solar Cycle 23 continues its descent. Cycle 23 peaked in April 2000 with a
smoothed sunspot number of 121. A second peak occurred in November 2001 at
a smoothed sunspot number of 116, which gave 6-meter aficionados worldwide
F2 propagation. Cycle 23 is predicted to reach its minimum in the
2006-2007 timeframe.

This weekend is the ARRL International DX Contest (SSB). For the contest
period, solar activity is expected to be low, and the geomagnetic field is
expected to be unsettled. This translates to generally decent propagation.
Cycle 23's decline will take its toll on 10 meters, however. The East
Coast should still have decent 10-meter openings into Europe, and the West
Coast should still have decent 10-meter openings into Asia. But 10-meter
openings from the East Coast to Asia and from the West Coast to Europe,
along with openings to Europe and Asia from the Midwest, could be tough.
So enjoy 10 while you can. This contest is also a good opportunity to work
new countries for your DXCC award.

Sunspot numbers for February 20 through 26 were 66, 87, 53, 41, 44, 48 and
45, with a mean of 54.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 118.3, 119.6, 106.6, 104,
102, 101.6 and 109.4, with a mean of 108.8. Estimated planetary A indices
were 16, 13, 11, 11, 6, 5 and 16, with a mean of 11.1.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL International DX Contest (SSB), the
Open Ukraine RTTY Championship and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are
the weekend of March 1-2. JUST AHEAD: The South African Radio League
(SARL) Field Day Contest, the RSGB Commonwealth Contest (CW), the North
American Sprint (RTTY), the UBA Spring Contest (CW), the NSARA Contest and
the Wisconsin QSO Party are the weekend of March 9-10. 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 Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens
Monday, March 3, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0500 UTC), for the on-line Level I
Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open
through the March 8-9 weekend or until all available seats have been
filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, March 18. Thanks to
the federal homeland security grant from the Corporation for National and
Community Service, the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will be
reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During this
registration period, approximately 200 seats are being offered to ARRL
members on a first-come, first-served basis. Senior amateurs are strongly
encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. A new service now allows
those interested in taking an ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
(C-CE) course to be advised via e-mail in advance of registration
opportunities. Send an e-mail to prereg@arrl.org. On the subject line of
your message, include the name or number (eg, EC-00#) of the course you'd
like to take. In the message body, include your name, call sign, e-mail
address and the month you want to start the course. 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 Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller,
K3UFG, dmiller@arrl.org; 860-594-0340.

* Seats still available for ARRL RFI course: Seats remain available for
the Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006) and Satellite Communications
(EC-007) courses <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html>. Registration will
remain open through Sunday, March 2. Classes begin Monday, March 3. 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 Howard Robins, W1HSR, hrobins@arrl.org.

* 4L4FN leaving North Korea: Ed Giorgadze, 4L4FN, the first amateur to
operate extensively from North Korea and to earn DXCC from that entity,
will leave for his next duty assignment March 1. Last fall, after about
one year of operation, Giorgadze--an employee of the United Nations World
Food Program who had been operating as P5/4L4FN from Pyongyang--was
ordered off the air by North Korean authorities. The ARRL accredited SSB
and RTTY operation of P5/4L4FN for DXCC, and Giorgadze himself earned a
mixed DXCC Award during his stay. As of the end of his operation last
November 22, P5/4L4FN had logged a total of 16,194 QSOs (12,170 unique
call signs) that included 167 DXCC entities worked. More information on
P5/4L4FN is available on the AMSAT Net Web site <http://www.amsatnet.com>
of QSL Manager Bruce Paige, KK5DO. Click on "P5 North Korea."

* Kentucky ARES teams have busy month: Amateur Radio Emergency Service
members stood ready to help February 20 after an insulation factory
exploded near Corbin in southern Kentucky. The blast killed one worker and
injured 43 others. With the area still reeling from an ice storm and
flooding earlier in the month, commercial communication and power system
delivery were spotty. Kentucky Section Emergency Coordinator Ron Dodson,
KA4MAP, said there were initial reports that burn victims from the factory
fire also possibly suffered cyanide exposure. He said Kentucky ARRL
Official Emergency Station Ron Nutter, KA4KYI, was instructed by Lexington
Emergency Management to help with getting vital chemical information from
the affected area to treating hospitals, so doctors would be prepared for
the injured and implement decontamination procedures. Nutter contacted two
other Lexington hams--William DeVore, N4DIT, and Joseph Leitner, WD4EJA,
both of whom still had power at their residences--to call into Corbin-area
repeaters and ask for information on the chemicals. It was determined
subsequently that there was no chemical contamination of the injured. The
factory disaster apparently began near a furnace, where raw fiberglass is
mixed with a resin. The blaze sent black smoke billowing through
residential areas, forcing hundreds of people to temporarily evacuate. On
February 24, operations ceased for amateurs involved Lexington-Fayette
County ARES in response to the weather emergency. ARES members were on
duty for more than a week.

* Pioneer 10 spacecraft sends last signal: Talk about weak-signal DX! NASA
says that after more than 30 years, it appears the venerable Pioneer 10
spacecraft has sent its last signal to Earth. Pioneer's last, very weak
signal was received on January 22. NASA engineers report Pioneer 10's
radioisotope power source has decayed, and it may not have enough power to
send additional transmissions to Earth. NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN)
did not detect a signal during the last contact attempt February 7. The
previous three contacts, including the January 22 signal, were very faint
with no telemetry received. The last time a Pioneer 10 contact returned
telemetry data was last April 27. NASA plans no additional contact
attempts for Pioneer 10, which is 7.6 billion miles from Earth. At that
distance, it takes more than 11 hours 20 minutes for the radio signal to
reach Earth. More information is available on the Pioneer 10 Web page
<http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/tmp/1972-012A.html>.

* Summits on the Air (SOTA) encourages portable hilltop operation: Richard
Newstead, G3CWI, is encouraging participation by US amateurs in the
Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, which promotes portable, hilltop
operation. "It started about a year ago, and, so far, seven countries have
schemes running," Newstead told ARRL. "The scheme is based on a core set
of rules, and each country adds its list of summits to enable it to
participate." Newstead says the list of summits need not be comprehensive
but must include a mix of easy and difficult peaks. He says there are
awards for both activators and chasers. Details are available on the SOTA
Web site <http://www.sota.org.uk> or by contacting SOTA General Manager
John Linford, G3WGV, <g3wgv@aol.com>;.

===========================================================
The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
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OS X Mail (Mac)

Use the "View/Message/Plain Text Alternative" menu item.

GMail

Use the "Message text garbled?" link in the drop-down menu at the upper right of the displayed message block. pine, alpine Set "prefer-plain-text" in your ~/.pinerc configuration file: feature-list=..., prefer-plain-text, ...