*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 22, No. 13 March 28, 2003 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Georgia hams aid in tornado's aftermath * +FCC plans to hike vanity fee * +Humans "passengers on Earth," astronaut tells students * +FCC wants weekly reports from Maine ham * +ARRL to offer new "Beyond the Repeater" course * +Utah ham antenna bill gets governor's signature * Former astronaut fills in after missed ARISS contact * +ARRL Hiram Percy Maxim Award nominations due March 31 * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio Deadline looms for ARRL technical awards nominations ST0RY Sudan DXpedition continues apace Famous DXpeditioner Danny Weil, ex-VP2VB, reported ill ZL1AMO Air Ambulance Fund reaches goal Tom Atkins, VE3CDM, elected to Canadian Amateur Radio Hall of Fame +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>GEORGIA HAMS RESPOND IN AFTERMATH OF KILLER TORNADO Amateur Radio operators in southwestern Georgia this week helped their neighbors and relief agencies in the wake of a tornado March 20 that left six people dead and 200 or more injured--dozens seriously. Georgia Gov Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency in Mitchell and Worth counties--located south of the City of Albany. According to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), the tornado rendered dozens of houses uninhabitable and damaged many others. Upward of two dozen amateurs have been assisting responding organizations including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. Albany Metro Area SKYWARN had activated earlier in response to severe weather warnings. "ARES members of the Albany Amateur Radio Club--who are just about all Red Cross volunteers--have been taking emergency response vehicles (ERVs) to the affected areas to feed victims and provide vital communications," said ARRL Lee County Emergency Coordinator Bob Smith, K4PHE, who's also a Red Cross communications officer. Other hams helped with damage assessment, shelter communications and other duties. Several ARES members volunteered continuously for several days after the tornadoes struck. By week's end, ARES District 7 (Southwestern Georgia) Emergency Coordinator J.D. Goings, AA4P, reported that the amateurs' response to the tornado in Mitchell County--the worst hit area--was winding down. Goings was among those supporting the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief team as a communicator for the clean-up and recovery and cooking units. "There is a lot of damage, and it is widespread," he indicated, adding that ARES members did "a fantastic job" helping out in Mitchell and Worth counties. Two fatalities occurred in Worth County, and four others died in Mitchell County, according to GEMA. Dougherty County EC Arthur Shipley, N4GPJ, the disaster chairman for the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross, organized Red Cross and ARES operations. The Red Cross established a shelter at Mitchell County Middle School on March 21, and N4GPJ set up a 2-meter station to coordinate communications from there. The shelter closed March 22. Goings and Red Cross EC Dale Culp, W1BPP, deployed to the Baptist church in Camilla with the Georgia Baptist feeding unit. They set up a mobile communications trailer with radios on the Albany Repeater--the primary communications frequency. They also erected an antenna and a UHF repeater for local communication. Smith said the tornado took a northeasterly path from Camilla through Worth County, destroying several other homes in its path. "The devastation in Camilla was unbelievable," he said. "This tornado hit the same homes that were destroyed and then rebuilt when a tornado hit Camilla in 2000." The Valentine's Day 2000 storm claimed 11 lives. ==>FCC PROPOSES TO HIKE VANITY CALL SIGN FEE The FCC has proposed increasing the regulatory fee to apply for, renew or reinstate an Amateur Radio vanity call sign from $14.50 to $16.30 this fall. The Commission included the new fee in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2003" (MD 03-83), released March 26. The closing date for comments on the new fee schedule is April 25. Reply comments are due by May 5. "We estimate that 9800 applicants will apply for vanity call signs in FY2003," the FCC said in its NPRM. That's up by 800 from FY2002. The agency expects to collect revenues of nearly $160,000, an increase of almost $30,000 from FY2002. If all goes as it has in the past, the FCC will adopt a Report and Order on the FY2003 fee schedule this summer, and the new fee will become effective sometime in early September. The FCC NPRM also seeks comments on its efforts to review, streamline and modernize its fee assessment and collection processes and procedures. "We welcome comments on a broad range of options in this regard," the FCC said. Areas of particular interest include suggestions for improvement in the agency's electronic payment system. Applicants for amateur vanity call signs will continue to pay the $14.50 regulatory fee per call sign (per 10-year license term) until the FY2003 fee schedule becomes effective. The FCC has said in the past that because it continues to incur costs related to vanity call signs even after their issuance or renewal, it believes a regulatory fee at renewal is appropriate. Interested parties may comment via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) <http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/>. Enter "03-83" in the "Proceeding" field. The FCC said it expected to have the docket available by March 28 for the posting of electronic comments. Electronic comments by e-mail also are welcome. To receive filing instructions for e-mail comments, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the words "get form <your e-mail address>" in the message body. The ECFS will reply with a sample form and directions on filing comments. A copy of the FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making is available on the FCC Web site <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-64A1.doc>. ==>ASTRONAUT PHILOSOPHIZES ON MANKIND'S PLACE DURING ARISS QSO Astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT, told students at an Australian school that humans are more like passengers on Earth than stewards of the planet. Pettit commented during an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact March 19 with students at St Ursula's Girl's College in Toowoomba, Queensland. "Mankind's place in the universe, from this experience I believe, it reminds you that men are not the stewards of Earth but more like we are passengers on Earth," Pettit said via NA1SS, "and the planet will go about its business regardless of what human beings do, and we just need to make sure as human beings that we do things wisely and don't mess things up for ourselves." During the QSO, Pettit also confirmed that Earth is, indeed, a sphere and not flat. "If you view the earth with the unaided eye, it's difficult to detect the presence of humans," he said in response to another question. Pettit--who had served as crew spokesperson for most Expedition 6 ARISS contacts--also addressed the issue of privacy between male and female residents onboard the ISS. "Out of necessity, we can't have separate facilities up here," he explained. "So male and female astronauts have to share the same bathroom and the same shower and all those facilities. You have very little privacy up here." Pettit managed to answer 15 questions put to him by 11 St Ursulas's students, who ranged in age from 13 to 17. Teacher Jason Contarini said the students had competed to participate on the basis of questions submitted in advance. Handling the contact was ARISS Earth station veteran Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, in Kingston, South Australia. Tim Bosma, W6ISS, moderated, and WorldCom provided the teleconferencing circuit. ARISS is an international program with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site <http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/>. ==>FCC OFFICIAL REQUESTS WEEKLY REPORTS FROM MAINE HAM The FCC's Boston office has requested a Maine amateur to submit weekly reports detailing some of his on-the-air activities. FCC Boston District Director Vincent F. Kajunski wrote Glenn Baxter, K1MAN, on March 4. Kajunski said the FCC needed the information to determine if Baxter was operating his station in compliance with Part 97 and with rules regarding recording and broadcasting of telephone calls. "Your Amateur Radio station is apparently being used for broadcasting various 'programs,' 'talk shows,' children's shows and programs having nothing to do with Amateur Radio," Kajunski said in his letter. "Transmissions from your station are being used for deliberate interference and for communications in which you apparently have a pecuniary interest." Kajunski also alleged that transmissions from Baxter's station "start and end erratically, are sometimes repetitive and abruptly end with no identification as required by Commission rules." Such operation, he said, indicates the transmissions "are not under the control of a licensed operator." Kajunski's three-page letter also outlines other complaints and allegations involving transmissions from or operation of K1MAN. Starting March 17, Kajunski said he wants weekly reports from Baxter that, among other specifics, provide the name, address, telephone number and exact location of the control operator and the method of station control used when K1MAN transmits. He also requested dates, times and frequencies of broadcasts of telephone conversations; transmissions referencing the offer of a degree in electronics or an IARN (International Amateur Radio Network) credit card; transmissions referencing the IARN Web site; and transmissions soliciting donations of radio equipment or other items, including donations to "the Radio Peace Corps Foundation." Kajunski further asked for a record of CQs transmitted, including recorded or automated CQs and a description of any responses, including the call sign of responding stations. He also requested that Baxter provide within 30 days information on the alleged transmission of an "apparently continuous 'CQ' loop that the FCC says aired at approximately 10-second intervals for more than two hours on February 3, 2003, on 20-meter SSB. Within the same time frame, the FCC also wants a list of dates, length of time and frequencies "during which your amateur station has operated since February 15, 2002, without you at the transmitter location." If any, Kajunski asked for the name and address of the control operator, the location of the control operator and control point and the method of control used. In other enforcement news, the FCC has notified the Cadet Amateur Radio Seminar at the US Military Academy at West Point that its repeater appears to interfere with a coordinated repeater, NA1RA, in New Milford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Spectrum Management Association (CSMA) coordinated the NA1RA repeater, operated by the Northville Amateur Radio Association, on January 31, 2001. The FCC says the request was cross-coordinated--and "no objection received"--with the Upper New York Repeater Council (UNYREPCO), the coordinating entity for W2KGY. Hollingsworth wrote March 10 that UNYREPCO apparently did not coordinate with CSMA before issuing coordination to W2KGY, although the coordination request went to seven other adjacent repeater coordinating bodies. In light of the "failure or refusal" to inform CSMA of W2KGY's request, he said, "it is apparent that the Northville repeater, NA1RA, is the coordinated repeater" for 146.73, the channel both repeaters share. Hollingsworth said that according to the FCC rules, the licensee of an uncoordinated repeater has a primary responsibility to resolve the interference. He also asked the W2KGY owners to furnish any proof of coordination prior to 2001. If the FCC determines that both repeaters are coordinated, W2KGY's owners still would have to detail steps taken to minimize or eliminate interference to NA1RA, Hollingsworth explained. Selected FCC correspondence related to Amateur Radio enforcement and provided by the FCC is posted on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/news/enforcement_logs/>. ==>"BEYOND THE REPEATER" COURSE IS NEXT C-CE OFFERING The next ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Program course soon will be available. "VHF/UHF: Beyond the Repeater" delivers on the promise of its title, immersing students in the smorgasbord of operating in the world above 50 MHz beyond FM voice. Beta testing of the course now is under way. "Most of our testers went through the course fairly quickly, partly because it's such a good read," said C-CE Coordinator Howard Robins, W1HSR. "The input we've been getting has been very positive." Beta testing will continue through April 4. Initial registration for the first class is tentatively set for May 19. The course will be designated EC-008. One tester said the new course "covers a lot of ground and is very thorough." Another commented that the course had reinvigorated his interest in satellite operating and direction finding. A third found the APRS unit "very informative." QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, authored the course. He said its purpose is not only to reach out to Technician class licensees but to open new operating vistas for anyone who has not ventured beyond the local 2-meter machine. "This course shows what else there is to do with VHF and UHF," Ford said. "There's the challenge of 'weak-signal' operating, the novelty of amateur television (ATV) and new frontiers in meteor-scatter work and Internet radio linking. This brings new life to the old hand-held radio." The course features a variety of Internet resources, audio and visual materials, and even an on-the-rocket launch video utilizing ATV. Further, course activities were designed with the typical ham's budget in mind, recognizing that most amateurs have modest station equipment. The new course will join seven others now offered by ARRL's burgeoning Certification and Continuing Education Program. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce>. ==>UTAH GOVERNOR SIGNS AMATEUR RADIO ANTENNA BILL Utah Gov Michael Leavitt has signed that state's Amateur Radio antenna bill, HB 79. The bill unanimously passed a third reading in the Utah Senate February 14 on a 23-0 vote, less than a month after it was introduced. It had earlier passed the Utah House on a 65-8 vote. Leavitt signed the bill March 15. It becomes effective May 5. "Thanks to the hams who originated the bill and defended it in its committee hearings," said a comment on the Utah Amateur Radio Club's "News About UARC and Ham Radio in Utah" Web site <http://www.xmission.com/~uarc/anounce1.html#prb1bill>. "Thanks also to those who contacted their state senators and representatives and helped assure passage." Sponsored by Rep Neal B. Hendrickson, HB 79, "Regulation of Amateur Radio Antennas," prohibits municipalities and counties in Utah from enacting ordinances that fail to comply with the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1. The measure requires local ordinances involving placement, screening or height of an Amateur Radio antenna that are based on health, safety or aesthetics to "reasonably accommodate amateur radio communications" and to "represent the minimal practicable regulation to accomplish the municipality's purpose." ARRL Utah Section Manager Mel Parkes, AC7CP, has credited Mike Davis, KD7FQD, and John Hanson, KI7AR, for developing the bill and getting Hendrickson to sponsor it. A copy of the legislation is available on the Utah State Legislature Web site <http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2003/bills/hbillint/hb0079.htm>. Utah becomes the 17th state to enact an Amateur Radio antenna bill. PRB-1 bills are under consideration in several other states, including New York, New Jersey and California. For more information about PRB-1, visit the ARRL Web site's Antenna Restrictions page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/antenna-restrictions.html>. ==>FORMER ASTRONAUT FILLS IN FOLLOWING FAILED ARISS CONNECTION Former NASA astronaut and Mir veteran Dr Norm Thagard, ex-K4YSY, did yeoman's duty answering youngsters' questions about life in space after an effort to contact the International Space Station via ham radio failed March 22. Thagard spent about 15 minutes during the grand opening celebration for the Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee answering youngsters' questions originally intended for ISS Expedition 6 crew commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP. NASA said Bowersox had priority duties aboard the ISS that prevented him from being on hand at NA1SS for the scheduled Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) QSO. "For astronauts in low-Earth orbit, the main entertainment is going to be just looking out the window," Thagard said in response to one of the questions posed by teams of 12 middle school students. Thagard serves as board chairman for the center and is associate dean of College Relations at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering. The 32,000-square-foot Challenger Learning Center in downtown Tallahassee is a kindergarten through grade 12 outreach facility of Florida A&M. Thagard also explained that surface tension of liquids helps to keep foods in place while eating. "You have to be real careful," Thagard added, recalling a time he accidentally released some hot chocolate into zero gravity. Because there's no atmosphere in space, the weather is "always sunny if it's day," he said. A "day" in space consists of 50 minutes of light and 40 minutes of darkness, as the spacecraft orbits Earth approximately every 90 minutes. "It certainly does foul up your circadian rhythm, your normal sleep-wake cycle," Thagard said. Astronauts can see weather on Earth below, however, such as clouds and storms, he added. Thagard said he knows Bowersox and Expedition 6 crew member Nikolai Budarin, RV3FB, with whom he trained for his Mir stint in 1994 and spent five days aboard the Russian space station during a crew transition in 1995. He told another pair of student questioners that "folks get along pretty well in space." The Challenger Center, named to honor the shuttle Challenger crew lost in 1986, uses an aerospace theme to foster interest in math, science and technology and motivate students to pursue careers in those fields. ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said he appreciated the fact that Thagard stepped up to the plate to handle the questions. The College of Engineering's club station KF4LOA also was on the air for the grand opening celebration. ==>ARRL HIRAM PERCY MAXIM AWARD NOMINATIONS DUE MARCH 31 Time is running out to nominate an exceptional young Amateur Radio operator for the ARRL Hiram Percy Maxim Award. Nominations are due to section managers by March 31! The HPM Award winner receives an engraved plaque and a check for $1500. The award goes each year to an enthusiastic and active amateur licensee aged 21 or younger whose contributions to Amateur Radio and the community are of the most exemplary nature. An ideal nominee may be involved in recruiting new hams through demonstrations as well as by example to his or her peers; on the air and/or public service activities; employing technical ingenuity to further Amateur Radio; public relations activities; and participating in organizations on a local, state or national level. Details are available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/awards/hpm.html>. To nominate a deserving young amateur for the Hiram Percy Maxim Award, visit the ARRL Competitive Award Nomination Form page <http://www.arrl.org/ead/award/application.html>, fill in the contact information and forward the form to your ARRL Section Manager <http://www.arrl.org/sections/>. Section managers also may nominate young hams for this award. For more information, contact Jean Wolfgang, WB3IOS <email@example.com>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation wonk Tad "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and sunspot numbers declined again this week. Average daily solar flux was down more than 31 points to 100.6, and average daily sunspot numbers were down nearly 30 points to 62.4. Solar flux was lowest on Saturday, March 22 at 89. Solar flux has not been this low since 1998, when it was 89 on May 21 and 87.4 the following day. Geomagnetic conditions were still active this week but finally settled down after March 23. Currently on Thursday the earth is again in a solar wind stream from a coronal hole. The best guess is for unsettled geomagnetic activity over the next few days but no severe storm. Predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday is 15, 12, 12 and 15. A few days ago the sun was almost devoid of spots, but more have now rotated into view. Predicted solar flux for Friday through Monday is 150, 155, 155 and 150. Unless new activity emerges, based upon the current solar rotation solar flux values below 100 may return by mid-April. Propagation relative to recent conditions should be fairly good for the CQ World Wide SSB WPX Contest this weekend. Sunspot numbers for March 20 through 26 were 45, 40, 40, 43, 64, 89 and 116, with a mean of 62.4. The 10.7-cm flux was 97.4, 91, 89, 93, 97.8, 108.8 and 127.2, with a mean of 100.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 21, 29, 16, 24, 10, 6 and 8, with a mean of 16.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (SSB) is the weekend of March 29-30. JUST AHEAD: The SARL 80-Meter QSO Party is April 3. The MARAC County Hunters Contest (SSB), the SP DX Contest, the EA RTTY Contest, the Missouri QSO Party and the QCWA QSO Party are the weekend of April 5-6. 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. * Deadline looms for ARRL technical awards nominations: The deadline is March 31 to receive nominations for three ARRL technical awards: The Technical Service Award, the Technical Innovation Award and the Microwave Development Award. Complete information and a description of the awards is available on the ARRL Technical Awards Web page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/instructor/instructor/awards.html>. A nomination form is available on the ARRL Competitive Award Nomination Form page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/award/application.html>. Any ARRL member may submit nominations for these ARRL awards that recognize Amateur Radio technical achievement and accomplishment. Send nomination forms to Jean Wolfgang, ARRL Field and Educational Services, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>. * ST0RY Sudan operation continues apace: Despite dust storms, heat and nearby civil unrest, the ST0RY DXpedition continues in full swing on most intended bands with more than 17,000 QSOs now logged--6000 of them between 40 and 10 meters on March 25 alone. ST0RY plans to be on the air for the CQ World Wide WPX SSB Contest March 29-30 weekend. According to The Daily DX <http://www.dailydx.com>, several West Coast DXers reported hearing big signals from ST0RY on 17 and 15 meters for several hours during the afternoon of March 25. ST0RY operator Chris Sauvageot, DL5NAM, says all the antennas now are up, and the operators are in good shape. "We have to be careful about local demonstrations here in town (Khartoum) from students," he said. "We have a safe place here at the River Nile; the hosts are great here." So far, 40 and 30 meters have yielded the most CW QSOs, with more than 2000 logged on each band. Op Dietmar Kasper, DL3DXX, says the team will attempt more 20-meter CW activity. "It's really hot during the day," he reports, with temperatures in the 100+F range. DL3DXX says it's nearly impossible to get past the wall of East Coast stations on 40 and 80 meters to work stations further west, but the team has worked a number of W6 and W7 stations. The operators have been experiencing high noise levels on 160 meters. Six-meter activity also is planned. The team reports its getting used to living in the sand, but there was a dust storm all day on March 25. More information and an on-line log search engine is available on the ST0RY Web site <http://www.df3cb.com/st0ry/>.--some information provided by The Daily DX * Famous DXpeditioner Danny Weil, ex-VP2VB, reported ill: DXpeditioner Danny Weil, ex-VP2VB, of YASME fame, reportedly is in a nursing facility after suffering a stroke late last year. Now 84, Weil would welcome cards and notes from his friends and acquaintances around the world. He was active under a variety of call signs in the 1950s and early 1960s from various ports of call while sailing one of the three YASME yachts. His address is Danny Weil, Regency Care at Medical Center, Room 101, 3935 Medical, San Antonio, TX 78229. More information is available on the Danny Weil, VP2VB, Page <http://www.qsl.at/common/weil.html>. ARRL soon will publish the book YASME: The Danny Weil and Colvin Radio Expeditions by Jim Cain, K1TN, which includes many tales of Weil's DXing adventures.--Jim Cain, K1TN, and The Daily DX <http://www.dailydx.com> * ZL1AMO Air Ambulance Fund reaches goal: International DX Association (INDEXA) President Judy Rousch, AA7UC, reports that INDEXA has reached its goal of $20,000 for the Ron Wright, ZL1AMO, Air Ambulance Fund. "We are also pleased to announce that INDEXA absorbed all administrative costs, so that 100 percent of each donation went directly to the fund," she said. Wright, who does not have medical insurance, fell ill last year, and a fund was set up to help defray the cost of an air ambulance to take him to a hospital in Fiji. "It is a great tribute to the DX/Amateur Radio community that it could come together as a team to provide humanitarian assistance to a colleague in need," Rousch said. "This spirit is what makes Amateur Radio truly great!" ZL1AMO is now recuperating "slowly but surely," Rousch reports, and he has been back on the air. * Tom Atkins, VE3CDM, elected to Canadian Amateur Radio Hall of Fame: Former International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 President Tom Atkins, VE3CDM, has been elected to the Canadian Amateur Radio Hall of Fame. In making the announcement, Board of Trustees Chairman James R. Hay, VE2VE, cited Atkins' extensive contribution over many years to Canadian and international Amateur Radio activities. Current Region 2 President Pedro Seidemann, YV5BPG, called Atkins' election "a very deserved honor indeed!" =========================================================== 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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