ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 37
September 19, 2003
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +Hams aid in Hurricane Isabel response
* +"Logbook of the World" goes live!
* +Astronaut revisits high school via ham radio
* +ARRL honors Amateur Radio Today production team
* +League seeks nominees for 2003 technical awards
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF:
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +Hoaxed!
    +W1AW 160-meter transmission to QSY slightly
     The 2003 DX Magazine "most wanted" survey under way
     John H. Sanders, WB4ANX, SK

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>AMATEUR RADIO RESPONDS EFFECTIVELY TO HURRICANE ISABEL

Downgraded to a tropical storm by week's end, Isabel vented much of her
fury on North Carolina and Virginia after coming ashore on North
Carolina's Outer Banks the afternoon of September 18. The flooding it
spawned in the Washington, DC, area also meant a two-day holiday for
federal workers.

Amateur Radio volunteers had been keeping an eye on the storm for several
days prior to its arrival, however, and they were ready to assist in
providing communication support and weather spotting. The Hurricane Watch
Net <http://www.hwn.org/> secured its operation September 18 after two
full days and nights of dealing with Isabel.

"Many thanks to the dozens of dedicated reporting stations in the path of
the storm for their support," said HWN Manager Mike Pilgrim, K5MP, "and
most of all to all Amateur Radio operators who patiently stood on the
sidelines while helping to maintain a clear frequency on 14.325 MHz during
this high-priority operation." The HWN worked with WX4NHC
<http://www.wx4nhc.org/> at the National Hurricane Center to provide
ground-level weather information for hurricane forecasters.

In North Carolina, ARES member Mike Langley, KD4MTT, spent three days at
ARES station NC4EB at the North Carolina Emergency Management's Eastern
Branch headquarters in Kinston--the primary emergency operation center
(EOC) for Isabel.

"Ham radio has been very busy throughout the storm," Langley said. He
noted that the Eastern Branch EOC operated with a staff of six, with two
on duty for two days or more and the others taking turns. "It's been a
pretty busy process."

NC4EB participated in the statewide Tarheel Net on 75 meters, which backed
up logistical communication between the state and county and local EOCs,
and sometimes provided a primary link when government communication
systems went down. Langley said telephone and power were "spotty at best"
in many areas of Eastern North Carolina.

"Right now in the after-action, we're still maintaining vigilance here
passing information back and forth from the different EOCs to Emergency
Management and the Red Cross," Langley said. Other communication has
involved helping state agencies to deploy needed resources, such as
chainsaw crews to remove downed trees. The Eastern Branch also monitored
the Hurricane Watch Net as well as several VHF and one HF frequency plus
e-mail and telephones, he said.

In Virginia, Section Emergency Coordinator Tom Gregory, N4NW, said he had
plenty of volunteers in the early going but could have used more as the
emergency wore on. "A few did a lot," he summed up.

The Virginia Beach Hamfest <http://www.vahamfest.com/> set for September
20-21 was among the storm's first victims. Sponsors called off the annual
event September 18.

Power outages were widespread in Virginia, and Gregory himself was running
an emergency generator. Ground already wet from previous rainfall caused
trees to topple, too, and that included several that uprooted and landed
across Gregory's driveway. He urged all involved in Amateur Radio
emergency communication to install emergency power systems in their homes
and on their repeaters.

The Old Dominion Emergency Net/Virginia Emergency Net Alpha activated on
HF to help support communication between the state EOC and local EOCs.
Gregory said the net had checkins from about half of the Commonwealth's
localities. "Our role was to provide a backup for their landline or
whatever communications, but very few of those lost that capability," he
said of the local EOCs. Areas most drastically affected, including Hampton
Roads and Northern Virginia, did need Amateur Radio support and had plenty
of volunteers, he said.

Amateurs also supported American Red Cross and Salvation Army relief
operations in Virginia.

Virginia SM Carl Clements, W4CAC, in the Tidewater Area lost commercial
power shortly after the storm struck and was powering his equipment with
an emergency generator. While he also has no telephone service, his cell
phone continues to operate. Clements also lost his HF antennas. Many trees
were down in his area, he said, in some cases blocking access.

Tidewater Area amateurs deployed at Red Cross shelters set up in schools.
"Amateur Radio is the only way for the shelters to get in touch with one
another," Clements said. Hams were handling some health-and-welfare
traffic for shelter clients.

"It's a true disaster," Clements said.

In West Virginia, ARRL Section Manager Hal Turley, KC8FS, said ARES/RACES
support of the West Virginia EOC ended September 19. "All in all, Isabel
was kind to us," he said. "As anticipated, the Eastern Panhandle sustained
the brunt of the storm." Heavy rain caused some flooding, and the state
also suffered power outages.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), handled
health-and-welfare inquiries via its SATERN Net on 14.265 MHz and via its
Web site <http://www.satern.org/>.

ARES teams in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey also
activated for Isabel. The storm made itself known as far north as Southern
New England and as far west as Eastern Ohio.

==>ARRL "LOGBOOK OF THE WORLD" GOES LIVE!

The long-awaited QSL-cardless ARRL awards and contact credit system
"Logbook of the World" (LoTW) officially opened for business this week.
Within its first five days of operation, the system--which is open to
all--already had attracted more than 1000 requests for a digital
certificate, the essential pass key to LoTW.

"Although Logbook of the World is a tremendous resource for hams chasing
DXCC, VHF/UHF Century Club (VUCC), Worked All States (WAS) and other
awards, we hope it will appeal to hams who are not currently active in
these awards programs," said ARRL Chief Operating Officer Mark Wilson,
K1RO. "The proliferation of logging software has stimulated activity and
interest in contesting, and submitting log data and verifying award
credits online is a logical next step."

Data integrity has been a watchword of the LoTW since the project's
conception, and that starts with a digital certificate. Obtaining a
digital certificate involves a combination of on-line filing and good
old-fashioned snail mail. The first step is to visit the ARRL Logbook of
the World Web page <http://www.arrl.org/lotw>, download the LoTW software
and request a digital certificate that ties the participant's identity to
a digital key.

"We will need to verify you are who you say you are," ARRL Membership
Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, explains. "The security of the entire
system depends heavily on the method used for verifying the user's
identity." This first step is called authentication. Everyone who plans to
use LoTW first must obtain a digital certificate. There are no exceptions.
For US amateurs, this process relies on your mailing address in the FCC
database, which must be current.

For non-US amateurs, authentication will rely on other documentation,
primarily a copy of the participant's Amateur Radio license and another
official identifying document. Mail these copies to ARRL, Logbook of the
World Administrator, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 USA.

Assuming everything goes smoothly, US licensees requesting a digital
certificate soon will receive a postcard in the mail that contains a
password."The first batch of postcards has been mailed, and some people
have uploaded their passwords," Wilson said. "Those will be checked, and
the first batch of digital certificates should be e-mailed to users
September 22."

Users then should go to the LoTW Web site and enter the password to
complete the processing of their certificate request. Once the password
has been entered, the digital certificate will be e-mailed within a
working day or two. Non-US stations will receive their digital
certificates via e-mail once their documentation has been received at ARRL
Headquarters and authenticated.

Participants will use their digital certificates to "sign" and upload
either Amateur Data Interchange Format (ADIF) or Cabrillo-formatted files.
Participants also may use their primary digital certificates to obtain
additional certificates necessary to submit log data and obtain award
credit for contacts made under formerly held call signs.

At the heart of the Logbook of the World concept will be a huge repository
of log data provided by operators--from individual DXers and contesters to
major DXpeditions--and maintained by ARRL. Mills says the system will
benefit big and little guns alike by providing quick QSO credit for
ARRL-sponsored awards, especially DXCC.

Obtaining a digital certificate and uploading log data are free of charge.
There will be a per-QSO charge for each contact credit used, but Mills
expects it will be much less than the typical costs involved with
exchanging paper QSL cards. When you use an LoTW confirmation for an award
credit, the fee will be added to your account and shown in the user's
record. The user will be able to pay for these charges on-line using a
credit card.

Mills' article, "Introducing Logbook of the World," appears in the October
issue of QST. LoTW news and announcements will be posted to the Logbook of
the World Web site <http://www.arrl.org/lotw/>.

Wilson commended ARRL Web and Software Development Department Manager Jon
Bloom, KE3Z, and the other contributors to the project "for their
dedication and hard work that made Logbook a reality."

==>ASTRONAUT RELIVES HIGH SCHOOL DAYS VIA AMATEUR RADIO

It was old home week via ham radio earlier this month for NASA
International Space Station Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ. Lu spoke
September 4 with students at his college alma mater, Cornell University.
The following week, he linked up with his old high school, Webster Thomas
High School in Webster, New York, from which he graduated in 1980. In late
May, Lu chatted with youngsters at Webster's Klem Road South Elementary
School, which he'd attended three decades ago. All three contacts were
arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
program.

"The whole school was inspired by this event!" said Peter Fournia, W2SKY,
who headed up the team of nine hams that set up and operated the station
from the Webster Thomas High School library. Video was distributed
schoolwide. "Every student was riveted to their classroom monitor,"
Fournia said.

Ten students got to ask questions of Lu--who was at the controls of
NA1SS--about life aboard the ISS, and one of them asked his opinion of
civilian "space tourists" who buy a trip into space.

"We don't actually have any plans whatsoever to sell seats on the space
shuttle," Lu emphasized. He explained that the Russians have sold seats on
their Soyuz spacecraft, "but that's a different thing altogether," he
added.

Space tourists who have flown aboard the Soyuz and spent about 10 days
aboard the ISS have included businessman Dennis Tito, KG6FZX, in 2001, and
South African Mark Shuttleworth in 2002. Pop singer Lance Bass, KG4UYY, of
the group 'N Sync had been in line to become the third--and youngest--such
space tourist last fall, until arrangements with the Russian space program
fell apart.

"I do think that space tourism, in general, is a good thing," Lu went on
to say, "and in the future, I think--hopefully--the price will come down
at lot, and a lot more people will get a chance to visit space." He said
he thinks that in the long run, such space tourism will benefit space
exploration by making it more commonplace and easier to do.

Webster students also wanted to know what skills and traits make for a
good astronaut.

"One thing that being an astronaut really requires is to be adaptable," Lu
said. He said this includes being able to "get by" in different
situations, learn new languages and accommodate to staying in other
countries.

"Getting to fly, getting to spend time in space, getting to see the earth
from space and to feel like your doing something useful, not only for
myself but for people around the world," are among the rewards of being an
astronaut aboard the ISS, he told the high schoolers.

"It's been a great pleasure talking to everyone down there in Webster," Lu
said as his signal faded.

Fournia said everyone from the principals and teachers to the students
were in high spirits after the contact, which attracted media coverage.
"Everyone had big smiles," he said. "This was an excellent exposure to ham
radio, particularly to the aspects of our hobby that appeal to young
people." ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/> is an international project with
support from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.

==>ARRL HONORS AMATEUR RADIO TODAY PRODUCTION TEAM

The ARRL has honored the individuals responsible for bringing the Amateur
Radio Today CD presentation from concept to reality. The formal
recognition came over the September 6-7 weekend during the ARRL
Southwestern Division Convention in Long Beach, California.

Receiving ARRL Special Service awards for their contributions to the
Amateur Radio public relations effort were director Dave Bell, W6AQ,
scriptwriter Alan Kaul, W6RCL, editor Keith Glispie, WA6TFD, and Bill
Pasternak, WA6ITF, who assisted in producing Amateur Radio Today along
with Bell, Kaul and Bill Baker, W1BKR. The video presentation has been
widely distributed--including to all 535 members of the US Congress. ARRL
Southwestern Division Director Art Goddard, W6XD, presented the plaques to
the team members on hand at the convention.

Former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD, narrated Amateur Radio
Today, which runs approximately six minutes. Designed for presentation to
nonhams and civic clubs, Amateur Radio Today focuses on Amateur Radio's
role in emergency communications, including Amateur Radio's role in the
September 11, 2001, response.

The League also honored Bell--a Hollywood TV producer and past chairman of
the ARRL Public Relations Committee--with a Lifetime Achievement Award. At
its July meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors cited Bell's "many
significant contributions" to the ARRL, his role as chairman of the Public
Relations Committee and his work in the production of films and videos
promoting Amateur Radio. His film and video repertoire includes The Ham's
Wide World, Moving Up to Amateur Radio, This is Ham Radio, The New World
of Amateur Radio and Ham Radio Olympics.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, said the idea for the Amateur Radio
Today video stemmed in part from his desire to "leave behind more than my
business card" when talking with members of Congress, their staff members
and others who are not licensees but who "stand to influence or affect the
future of Amateur Radio in some way." Haynie said he and Bell discussed
the project, and Bell agreed to take it on, donating a lot of his own time
and effort in completing the project.

Individuals may order a copy of the Amateur Radio Today CD-ROM from the
ARRL on-line catalog <https://www.arrl.org/catalog/?item=8861> or download
it for free. Amateur Radio Today also is available in VHS videotape
format. A subtitled (open-captioned) version also is available.

==>ARRL SEEKS NOMINEES FOR 2003 TECHNICAL AWARDS

Nominations now are open for the 2003 ARRL technical awards--the Technical
Service, Technical Innovation and Microwave Development awards.
Individuals may nominate themselves or others for these awards, aimed at
recognizing technical service accomplishments within the Amateur Radio
community. Nominations should include contact information for the nominee
and for the person submitting the nomination. Submissions should include a
nomination letter, endorsements of ARRL-affiliated clubs and League
officials and additional supporting material. All nomination forms
<http://www.arrl.org/ead/award/application.html> are available on the ARRL
Web site.

The ARRL Technical Service Award is offered annually to a licensee whose
service to the amateur community and/or society at large is of the most
exemplary nature within the framework of Amateur Radio technical
activities. These include, but are not limited to leadership or
participation in technically oriented organizational affairs at the local
or national level; service as an official ARRL technical volunteer, such
as a Technical Advisor, Technical Coordinator or Technical Specialist; and
service as a technical advisor to a club that sponsors licensing classes.

The Technical Service Award winner receives an engraved plaque and a $100
credit toward the purchase of ARRL publications or products.

The ARRL Technical Innovation Award goes each year to a licensee whose
accomplishments and contributions are of the most exemplary nature within
the framework of technical research, development, and application of new
ideas and future systems. These include, but are not limited to promotion
and development of higher-speed modems and improved packet radio
protocols; promotion of personal computers in Amateur Radio applications,
activities to increase efficient use of the amateur spectrum, and digital
voice experimentation.

The Technical Innovation Award winner receives a cash award of $500 and an
engraved plaque.

The ARRL Microwave Development Award goes annually to the amateur or group
of amateurs whose accomplishments and contributions enhance and augment
the field of microwave development. The award recognizes research into and
development of new and refined uses for the amateur microwave bands. This
includes adaptation of new terrestrial and satellite communication modes.

The Microwave Development Award winner receives an engraved plaque and a
credit of up to $100 toward ARRL publications or products.

Nominations go to ARRL Technical Awards, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
All nomination forms and support information must be received at
Headquarters by March 31, 2004.

For more information, contact Jean Wolfgang, WB3IOS <jwolfgang@arrl.org>;.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Propagation guru Tad "Black Hole Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Last week's bulletin called for stable geomagnetic conditions
over the weekend--which we got. Planetary A indices, a measure of
geomagnetic stability for the day, were 11, 11, 7 and 6 for last Friday
through Monday, September 12-15. There was a strong solar wind, but a
north-pointing interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) kept any destabilizing
effects to a minimum. The IMF continued to point north through Sunday,
September 14, but then pointed south. This led to the geomagnetic storm
and high planetary A index of 37 and 61 on Tuesday and Wednesday,
September 16 and 17.

The IMF continues to point south, and we are now entering a stronger solar
wind stream. The predicted planetary A index for Friday, September 19,
through Monday, September 22, is 35, 25, 20 and 15.

Solar flux this week was down and average daily sunspot numbers were up
slightly. The sun has appeared nearly blank this week, with any sunspots
toward the edge of the disk, not pointing radiation at Earth as spots in
the center do.

Solar flux was lowest in the past couple of weeks at 94.4 on Friday,
September 12. Recent daily sunspot numbers were lowest on September 10 at
42. As the solar cycle declines over the next couple of years, we will
eventually see long periods with sunspot counts of zero. Solar flux is
currently rising as we progress toward the fall equinox September 23. The
current solar flux forecast for the short term shows flux values of 110
for September 19-21, and 115 for September 22-23.

Sunspot numbers for September 11 through 17 were 55, 58, 57, 58, 68, 89
and 83, with a mean of 66.9. The 10.7-cm flux was 96.7, 94.4, 96.1, 94.7,
97.3, 99.3 and 105.9, with a mean of 97.8. Estimated planetary A indices
were 15, 11, 11, 7, 6, 37 and 61, with a mean of 21.1.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL 10 GHz Cumulative Contest, the SARL
VHF/UHF Contest, the Scandinavian Activity Contest (CW), the Collegiate
QSO Party, the South Carolina QSO Party 1300Z, the QRP Afield Contest, the
Washington State Salmon Run, the Panama Anniversary Contest, the Fall QRP
Homebrewer Sprint and the AGB NEMIGA Contest are the weekend of September
20-21. JUST AHEAD: The CQ/RJ Worldwide DX Contest (RTTY), the Scandinavian
Activity Contest (SSB) and the Texas and Alabama QSO parties are the
weekend of September 27-28. 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 Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006) course opens
Monday, September 22, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC). Registration will remain
open through Sunday, September 28. Classes begin Tuesday afternoon,
September 30. Registration for the ARRL HF Digital Communications (EC-005)
and VHF/UHF--Life Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses remains open
through Sunday, September 21. Those interested in taking an ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) course in the future can
sign up to be advised via e-mail in advance of registration opportunities.
To take advantage, send an e-mail to prereg@arrl.org. On the subject line,
indicate the course name or number (eg, EC-00#) and the month you want to
start the course. In the message body, provide your name, call sign, and
e-mail address. Please do not send inquiries to this mailbox. 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.

* Hoaxed! Along with many others, QST was snookered by a bogus satellite
photo <http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_blackout_photo.htm> that
purported to depict the US as seen from space during the August 14
electrical power outage in the Northeast. The image on page 80 of the
October issue accompanied a story, "Hams a Bright Spot During Power
Blackout," which deals with ham radio's response to the blackout
emergency. Widely circulated via the Internet, the image apparently was a
retouched composite of old satellite photos with fake identification
added. As several astute members have pointed out, among other things, the
faked photo shows the blackout zone as totally dark--which it was not--and
the area shown is geographically inaccurate. Real power blackout satellite
images available on the Internet include these from a US Air Force Defense
Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite
<https://afweather.afwa.af.mil/news/black_out.html>. The DMSP satellites
have a low-light sensor on board that is sensitive enough to see city
lights from space. The capability is unique to the Air Force's weather
satellites. There's also a NOAA image on the Universe Today Web site
<http://www.universetoday.com/html/archive/2003-0818.html>. Another image
is available on NASA's Earth Observatory site
<http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16
273> (courtesy of Chris Elvidge, US Air Force). ARRL regrets the error.

* W1AW 160-meter transmission to QSY slightly: Starting Monday, September
29, W1AW will shift its 160-meter code practice and bulletin transmission
frequency from 1818 kHz to 1817.5 kHz, starting with the 4 PM EDT (2000
UTC) code practice run. The change not only brings W1AW's Top Band
frequency in line with those the station uses on other bands, it also
should help to eliminate possible interference from broadcast station
harmonics and birdies--something that's more likely on an integer (ie,
whole number) frequency. W1AW has been conducting code practice and
bulletin transmissions on 1818 kHz since 1982. Prior to that, W1AW
transmitted both CW and phone bulletins on 1835 kHz.

* The 2003 DX Magazine "most wanted" survey under way: The 2003 DX
Magazine "most wanted" survey <http://www.dxpub.com/dx_survey2003.html> is
under way. The deadline to respond is October 15. The survey helps
DXpeditioners decide where to go next. DX Magazine Publisher Carl Smith,
N4AA, says not all DXCC entities are listed--just the most likely ones.
Respondents are asked to select entities they do not have confirmed for
DXCC. There's an opportunity to comment, where respondents may list needed
countries not appearing on the list. The results will be released in early
2004.--The Daily DX <http://www.dailydx.com/>

* John H. Sanders, WB4ANX, SK: ARRL has learned that former Delta Division
Vice Director John H. Sanders, WB4ANX, of Kingsport, Tennessee, died July
11. He was 82. Sanders served as Vice Director from 1974 until 1976. He
also was a director and later vice president of the ARRL Foundation. An
ARRL Life Member, Sanders rose to become president of Eastman Chemical
Products in Kingsport and later was appointed assistant general manager,
Eastman Chemicals Division and vice president of Eastman Kodak Company--a
position he held until his retirement. He was a graduate of Auburn
University and a veteran of World War II, in which he served with the US
Army artillery and was awarded the Purple Heart. He was a fellow of the
East Tennessee Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and
a past national AIChE president. In Kingsport, he was active in Junior
Achievement, the American Red Cross and the Kingsport Area Chamber of
Commerce. Survivors include his wife Mary Helen and two sons.

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