*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 02 January 9, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL Board to meet * +Authorities pull the plug on Austrian BPL test * +Geography not dull from space, astronaut tells pupils * +Roll your own Cabrillo files via the Web * +California ARDFer brings home gold * +Big Project activity boards available to schools * +Columbia crew memorialized on Mars * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL 2004 VHF Sweepstakes dates correction ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Position opening at ARRL Headquarters NASA says ISS crew in no danger from apparent air leak AO-27 now semi-operational Norwegian clubs experimenting on 60 meters Alaska experimental LF beacon shuts down North Carolina club to host BPL seminar Ham Radio University 2004 set for January 18 Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>WRC-03 IMPLICATIONS FOR HAM RADIO ON ARRL BOARD AGENDA Draft proposals to implement changes in US Amateur Radio rules in the wake of World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) will be up for discussion when the ARRL Board of Directors convenes later this month. The Board also will elect officers for the next two years. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, has indicated that he plans to run for a third term. The Board will meet January 16-17 in Windsor, Connecticut. Among other significant changes, WRC-03 delegates agreed last summer to leave up to individual countries whether to require a Morse code test for access to amateur high-frequency allocations. Several countries already have dropped the Morse code testing requirement for HF access. In the US, the FCC last year invited public comments on 14 Morse-related petitions for rule making, but it has not yet acted on the issue. The ARRL Board is expected to discuss in detail recommendations in response to WRC-03 that were developed during last November's meeting of the ARRL Executive Committee. Amateur Radio-related matters still in the pipeline at the FCC also are expected to be a topic for discussion. ARRL's 2002 "omnibus" Petition for Rulemaking <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2002/03/22/4/>, which includes a request to eliminate the current Novice bands and "refarm" the spectrum, is among those proceedings seemingly stuck at the Commission. The FCC also has yet to act on other non-ARRL rule making petitions <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2002/01/10/3/>. The subject of Broadband over Power Line (BPL) also is on the Board's agenda. Among other actions, the Board also will elect members to the Executive Committee and appoint three directors to the ARRL Foundation Board. ==>AUSTRIAN AUTHORITIES PULL PLUG ON BPL PILOT PROJECT The Austrian Amateur Transmitter Federation (÷VSV--÷sterreichischer Versuchssenderverband) <http://www.oevsv.at/index.shtml> reports that a Broadband over Power Line (BPL) field test in the city of Linz has been cut short as a result of excessive radio interference. ÷VSV, Austria's International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) <http://www.iaru.org/> member-society, said in December that the Government Ministry for Commerce, Innovation and Technology closed down Linz Power Company's BPL pilot project because it was generating interference on the HF bands. Shortwave broadcaster Radio Austria's futureZone service <http://futurezone.orf.at/> says the case that brought the issue to a head was a Red Cross report that emergency services radio traffic during a disaster response drill last May was the victim of massive BPL interference. "The Commerce Ministry Order not only means the end of the Linz BPL pilot project," the Radio Austria report said, "but the end of the deployment of this technology in Austria, especially given the interference to radio communication in places of business." According to the broadcaster, measurements were said to have indicated that radiation from the BPL system exceeded permissible field strength levels by a factor of 10,000. ÷VSV says radio amateurs in Austria have opposed deployment of all BPL experiments as neither legal nor compatible with "vital, worldwide shortwave radiocommunication." Among other problems with BPL, ÷VSV has cited its potential to disrupt emergency communications and safety-of-life services as well as military operations on HF and navigation and aeronautical communication. Last fall, ÷VSV representatives and Linz amateurs got together with power company representatives in an effort to resolve BPL's incompatibility with HF radio operation. The meetings followed news reports of interference to emergency service communications and QRM complaints from several area hams. "Because of the racket, expensive installations, such as a 20-meter monobander on a high-rise building, become totally worthless," ÷VSV said. The utility agreed to look into the possibility of a 100-meter protective zone around each amateur's location, notch filters for amateur frequencies, network system filters and the use of 5 GHz wireless local area networks. ==>OHIO YOUNGSTERS ENJOY FIRST ARISS SCHOOL GROUP CONTACT OF 2004 While students sometimes consider geography a boring subject on Earth, International Space Station Expedition 8 commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, told some Ohio youngsters January 2 that it's anything but dull from his perspective in space. Foale spoke via Amateur Radio with a group of fourth through ninth graders at Gilmour Academy <http://www.gilmour.org/> in Gates Mills. Arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, the contact between Gilmour Academy club station ND8GA and NA1SS on the ISS marked the first school group QSO of the new year. "If I look at the Earth, I find the geography incredibly interesting," Foale enthused, "looking at how the cities are laid out, seeing the roads and the houses, or often, if it's desert--there's an awful lot of desert on the earth--peeking at the different rocks." Foale said he's especially fascinated with the people living below, and he always keeps a computer-based encyclopedia handy when he's viewing Earth from space. In responding to the dozen questions put to him by the youngsters, Foale also spoke about a cancer-related research project aboard the ISS. "Cancer cells can be developed in space in a very different way from the way they are on Earth," Foale said. "That allows researchers to develop new techniques for treating cancer cells on Earth. It's a long project, and it will go on for many years." Foale said he and crewmate Sasha Kaleri, U8MIR, eat well in space, but he also admitted that the ISS crew doesn't always go along with the program when it comes to what they consume. "We don't, of course, eat all the things they tell us to eat," he said. "I just love chocolate, so I've eaten all the chocolate that's aboard already." The Expedition 8 crew is not scheduled to return to Earth until April. Foale concluded the contact by wishing all at the school a happy new year. Gilmour Academy Amateur Radio Club President Caroline Greco, KC8WNY, handled control operator duty at the ND8GA Earth station. "Even though our contact wasn't perfect, it was about 75 percent solid, enough to provide some nice memories for the kids and parents," said faculty club moderator and back-up control op Ken Kane, KG8DN. "We were delighted with the results, and learned a lot from the effort." In space, Foale used the Phase 1 NA1SS equipment--a 5 W Ericsson handheld with an external antenna--for the Gilmour Academy contact. Although it's installed and has been checked out and used to make some casual QSOs, the higher-power ARISS Phase 2 ham gear has not yet been cleared for use during ARISS school group contacts. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/> is a joint educational outreach program with participation from ARRL, AMSAT and NASA. ==>WEB PROGRAM AVAILABLE TO CREATE CABRILLO FORMAT LOGS The ARRL Contest Branch has announced that a Web-based "applet" program <http://www.b4h.net/cabforms/> now is available that can create and e-mail contest logs in the Cabrillo file format ARRL requires for contest entries. "Thanks to Bruce Horn, WA7BNM, and the support of several other amateurs, it is now possible for all contest participants to create Cabrillo-format logs on the Web," said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. "These will allow participants who log on paper or whose logging software will not generate a Cabrillo file to create an electronic log to submit to the League." The first ARRL contest for which the Web applet is available is the recent 2004 RTTY Roundup <http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2004/rtty.html>. Henderson says Horn is developing templates for additional ARRL contests, and these will also become available via links from Horn's Cabrillo Web Forms page. The Web routine first prompts users to provide the required information to create a Cabrillo file header. This includes basic information such as ARRL/RAC section, call sign used, call signs of operators for a multi-op entry, entry class, the operator's name and address and possibly other data. Where appropriate, drop-down boxes allow submitters to select the correct information. A second screen allows users to input data for each QSO. Users may either manually keystroke the information for each contact or cut and paste it--band, date, time, call sign copied, received RST, received exchange--from another source. A space is necessary between each QSO data element, and each QSO belongs on a separate line. Once QSO data have been entered, click on the "SUBMIT QSO INFO" button. The program checks for formatting errors, and, if everything is correct, will display the completed file. At that point, users can check their information one last time. Click the "SUBMIT CABRILLO LOG" button to e-mail the entry automatically to the correct address for the contest. This also will send a record copy of the Cabrillo-formatted log to the user. Applet-created logs will be processed just as all other log submissions are. If the contest robot finds problems, it will send the appropriate e-mail message to the submitter. If the log is okay, the robot will send a numbered receipt. Users with questions about the Web applet routine should contact the ARRL Contest Branch via e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The ARRL thanks Bruce Horn, WA7BNM, for his work in developing this helpful and useful Web application. ==>CALIFORNIA HAM BRINGS HOME THE ARDF GOLD FROM "DOWN UNDER" Bob Cooley, KF6VSE, of Pleasanton, California, struck gold twice at the Fifth International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 Championships of Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) in Australia. Hosted by the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) <http://www.wia.org.au/> and organized by the Victoria ARDF Group, the competition took place November 28 through December 3 near Ballarat--a historic gold mining town in northwestern Victoria province. Cooley competed in M60, the "Superveteran Category," for men 60 and older. On the 4.7-kilometer 2-meter course, he found the required three hidden transmitters in 1:30:25--seven minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. On the 5.6-kilometer 80-meter course, he did even better, finding all three foxes and reaching the finish line in 1:15:22. All three IARU regions hold ARDF championships in odd-numbered years. The Region 3 event drew 50 male and 9 female competitors from Australia, Japan, China, Korea and New Zealand, with KF6VSE as the only participant from North America. Complete results of the 2003 IARU Region 3 ARDF Championships are at the Victoria ARDF Group Web site <http://www.ardf.org.au/>. Information on ARDF events in the US is available on the Homing In Web site <http://www.homingin.com/> of ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV.--Joe Moell, K0OV ==>BIG PROJECT ACTIVITY BOARDS AVAILABLE TO SCHOOLS ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program Coordinator Mark Spencer, WA8SME, says "The Big Project" has 50 "activity board" suites available for schools on a first-come, first served basis. Described in Unit 9 of The Big Project curriculum <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/Curriculum-Materials.html>, the activity board provides teachers with a set of modules that can be used to teach about the five basic building blocks of wireless technology--oscillators, rectifiers, amplifiers, mixers and filters. The activity board kit is designed for construction by middle schoolers (with knowledgeable adult supervision) using basic tools (soldering iron and wire clippers). The suite, valued at approximately $350, includes the circuit board and components, three VOMs and a digital oscilloscope. The activity board was funded through various sources including the ARRL Foundation, the Newington Amateur Radio League and an anonymous donor. Interested schools should forward requests on school letterhead, signed by the school's principal and the lead teacher. Letters should certify that the lead teacher: * has reviewed Unit 9 of the Project Curriculum and will use in the classroom the concepts presented there and supported by the activity board. * has access to a computer with a CD-ROM and a USB port, which the digital oscilloscope requires. (An overhead computer projector is helpful for platform instruction and to project oscilloscope displays.) * can construct the activity board, either by having the students do the construction (preferred) or by obtaining the assistance of a local Amateur Radio club. * will critique the curriculum and provide feedback. Teachers are encouraged to provide additional curriculum material using the activity board if they develop their own materials. Spencer says the certification is necessary to ensure the kits are put to their intended use. Send requests to the ARRL Education and Technology Program, ATTN Mark Spencer, WA8SME, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. For additional information, contact Spencer <email@example.com>; 860-594-0396. ==>SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA CREW MEMORIALIZED ON MARS NASA this week announced plans to name the landing site of the Mars Spirit rover in honor of the astronauts who died in the tragic shuttle Columbia accident of February 1, 2003. The area in the vast flatland of the Gusev Crater where Spirit landed January 3 will be called the Columbia Memorial Station. Spirit also carries a memorial plaque dedicated to the Columbia astronauts and the STS-107 mission. "Spirit carries the dream of exploration the brave astronauts of Columbia held in their hearts," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. The plaque is mounted on the back of Spirit's high-gain antenna, which is used to communicate with Earth. The Columbia crew, headed by Commander Rick Husband, included Pilot Willie McCool and Mission Specialists Kalpana "KC" Chawla, KD5ESI; David Brown, KC5ZTC; Laurel Clark, KC5ZSU, and Michael Anderson, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. Since its historic landing, Spirit has been sending extraordinary images of its new surroundings on the red planet. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar swami Tad "The Sun King" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers rose slightly this week, while solar flux was down a bit. Except for January 2, geomagnetic conditions were active. A couple of coronal mass ejections went into space January 6 and 7, and these could mean small possibility of a solar flare over the next day or so. Otherwise, geomagnetic conditions are supposed to be moderate. The mid-latitude K index rose to five at 0900 UTC on January 9. It is no coincidence that the interplanetary magnetic field points south, leaving Earth vulnerable. Earth's active geomagnetic field could stabilize over the next couple of days, but things are expected to become unsettled to active again around January 12-13. January 14-15 are expected to be quiet, with a stable geomagnetic field. Solar flux is expected to rise slowly over the next few days, reaching 130 by January 13, then possibly peaking around 135 from January 19-21. Sunspot numbers for January 1 through 7 were 47, 51, 65, 80, 80, 78 and 93, with a mean of 70.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 116, 116.5, 116.1, 119.4, 123, 117.3 and 118.8, with a mean of 118.2. Estimated planetary A indices were 27, 13, 26, 24, 22, 20 and 32, with a mean of 23.4. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (CW), the Hunting Lions in the Air Contest, the UK DX Contest (SSB), the Midwinter Contest (CW), the NRAU-Baltic Contest (separate CW and SSB events), the Midwinter Contest (SSB) and the DARC 10-Meter Contest are the weekend of January 10-11. JUST AHEAD: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the 070 Club PSKFest, the LZ Open Contest (CW), the Michigan QRP January CW Contest and the Hungarian DX Contest are the weekend of January 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 2004 VHF Sweepstakes dates correction: The January 2004 QST "Contest Corral" reports incorrect dates for the 2004 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes Contest. The event starts January 24 at 1900 UTC and concludes at 0400 UTC January 26. Full (and correct) information on the 2004 ARRL VHF Sweepstakes is available on the ARRL Web <http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2004/jan-vhf-ss.html> (also click on the "General Rules" and "VHF Rules" links) and in December 2003 QST, page 97. ARRL regrets any inconvenience the error may have caused. * ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration opens Monday, January 12, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level II Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains open through the January 17-18 weekend or until all seats are filled--whichever occurs first. Class begins Tuesday, January 27. Thanks to our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National and Community Service and the United Technologies Corporation--the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will be reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During this registration period, approximately 50 seats are being offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-594-0340. [ARECC logo] * ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the ARRL Antenna Modeling Course (EC-004) opens Monday, January 12, 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration will remain open through Sunday, January 18. Classes begin Tuesday January 20. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) http://www.arrl.org/cce/ Web page. For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program Department email@example.com. * Position opening at ARRL Headquarters: ARRL Headquarters seeks an experienced Amateur Radio licensee to coordinate the ARRL's Affiliated Club/Mentor Program. An extensive background in at least one of these two areas is required: Service as an Amateur Radio club officer and/or experience in teaching ham radio licensing classes and mentoring new licensees. Excellent communication skills, successful customer service experience, participation in a wide range of ham activities and Microsoft Word/Office skills are a plus. This position is at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, and the selected candidate must be willing to relocate. For additional details on required skills and position responsibilities, contact ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO <firstname.lastname@example.org>. No telephone calls, please. ARRL is an equal opportunity employer. * NASA says ISS crew in no danger from apparent air leak: Expedition 8 commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and flight engineer Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, continued efforts this week to track down an elusive air leak onboard the International Space Station. After investigations in the US and Russian modules, the crew reported nothing unusual. Flight controllers on the ground had informed the crew that they have been monitoring a slightly larger-than-normal decay in air pressure on the ISS. NASA says the air pressure decay, measured at a rate of less than 0.04 pounds per square inch a day, is having no impact on station operations, and the crew is in no danger. Flight controllers on Earth are keeping an eye on the air pressure. In 1997, Foale was aboard the Russian Mir spacecraft when a collision with a Progress rocket punctured the spacecraft's Spektr laboratory module. In 2000, Kaleri was sent to Mir to help track down leaks aboard the then-aged space outpost. Kaleri and Foale (photo) recently conducted a teleconference with the Moscow Support Group to mark the new year. Audio and video of the occasion was relayed to Johnson Space Center. * AO-27 now semi-operational: The AO-27 ground controllers report that a new schedule has been uploaded to the satellite after the team tracked down several bugs. The schedule starts 3.5 minutes before the sub-satellite point crosses 39.0 north latitude on an ascending (south to north) pass. At that point AO-27 will turn on for a one minute digital telemetry download followed by six minutes of analog repeater operation. In addition to the analog repeater operations in the evening, there will be a one minute digital telemetry transmission in the morning starting when AO-27 crosses 39.0 north latitude on a descending pass. AMSAT News Service reports that the command team will up the analog transponder time once it has a better handle on the satellite's battery condition. The AO-27 command team seeks telemetry downloads. Visit the Logging AO-27 Telemetry page <http://www.umbrasi.com/AO27/tlm.shtml> for more information. AO-27 was launched: September 26, 1993. Its FM uplink is 145.850 MHz, and its downlink is 436.795 MHz. The satellite is considered semi-operational. Additional information is on the AO-27 Web page <http://www.ao27.org/>. An AO-27 question-and-answer page is available on the AMSAT-NA Web site <http://www.amsat.org/amsat/intro/ao27faq.html>. * Norwegian clubs experimenting on 60 meters: Norwegian Radio Relay League International Liaison Officer Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, reports that registered club stations there have enjoyed special permission to test on 5 MHz for the past three years. Almost all of these club stations have one-letter call sign suffixes and, in some situations, they may use the LE prefix. The authorization is restricted for use in emergency communication or training, and Norwegian stations may not work stations outside of Norway on 5 MHz. Garpestad said Norway's elongated shape makes it impossible to communicate from one end of the country to the other on 80 meters, while 40 meters "has its shortcomings" during hours of darkness. "We are only allowed to use the two frequencies 5.410 and 5.420 MHz, all modes, 100 W," he said, "but only for communication between Norwegian club stations engaged in emergency communication or training for such communication, so this does not include any station outside of Norway." * Alaska experimental LF beacon shuts down: Laurence Howell, KL1X, in Anchorage, Alaska, reports that his experimental (Part 5) WD2XDW beacon on 137.77356 kHz ceased transmitting at 1400 UTC on January 6. Howell--who is also GM4DMA--is relocating to "The Lower 48" in the near future. Until his tower comes down, he says he'll continue to listen for very slow-speed CW (QRSS) signals and publish receive captures on his Web site <http://www.kl1x.com/>. KL1X hopes to reestablish the LF beacon at his new plains (Oklahoma or Kansas) location, pending FCC approval. "The beacon's 1 W ERP signal has been successfully heard down the Pacific coast and recently in Minnesota," Howell said, with partial call sign reports from England and Europe. Howell also reports that he was delighted to receive the Radio Society of Great Britain/Nevada 2003 Nevada LF Experimenter's Cup. * North Carolina club to host BPL seminar: ARRL North Carolina Section Manager John Covington, W4CC, has announced that the Cary Amateur Radio Club will host a seminar on Broadband over Power Line (BPL). The seminar will be held Thursday, January 15, at 7:30 PM, at the Herbert Young Community Center in Cary (the same location as the CARC's Mid-Summer Swapfest). Radio Amateurs from the Wake County area are invited, but seating is limited. Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, and Frank Lynch, W4FAL, will conduct the seminar. "The BPL landscape is changing almost every day," Covington said. "You need to attend this meeting to get on board with this latest threat to the spectrum." Talk in will be available on the 146.88 MHz repeater. * Ham Radio University 2004 set for January 18: Adopting a theme of "Spreading ham radio knowledge and know-how," Ham Radio University (HRU) 2004 <http://www.hudson.arrl.org/nli/hru2004.htm> takes place Sunday, January 18 as part of the ARRL New York City/Long Island Section Convention. It will be held at East Woods School, 31 Yellow Cote Road, Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. The primary sponsor, the Long Island Mobile Amateur Radio Club (LIMARC) <http://www.limarc.org/>, says HRU 2004 is a cooperative effort among more than 20 clubs and organizations in the New York City-Long Island area. LIMARC describes the fifth annual event as a day of education to share ideas, experiences, knowledge and fellowship among Amateur Radio operators. Forums are geared to nonhams and experienced operators alike. New this year is a seminar that will describe the range of on-line ARRL Certification and Continuing Education <http://www.arrl.org/cce> courses now available. * Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for December is Chip Margelli, K7JA, for his article "Field Day 2003 from Cuba." Congratulations, Chip! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author--or authors--of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html>. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the January issue of QST. Voting ends January 31. =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President. The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> offers access to news, informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter. 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