*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 05 January 30, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL files "Restructuring II" petition with FCC * +AO-40 satellite goes silent * +Oregon girl could be youngest Extra * +FCC fixes call sign error * +W1AW ready for all digital comers * +SSB pioneer Mike Villard, W6QYT, SK * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Emergency Communications course registration Help ARRL document public service activities Shuttle Columbia commemorative special event set +Supply rocket sans ham gear to arrive at ISS Top DXer turns 90! ARRL Board of Directors meeting minutes now available +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>LEAGUE FILES "A PLAN FOR THE NEXT DECADE" WITH FCC The ARRL has filed a Petition for Rule Making asking the FCC to amend its Part 97 rules to complete the Amateur Service restructuring the Commission left unfinished in 1999. The League wants the FCC to create a new entry-level license, reduce the number of actual license classes to three and drop the Morse code testing requirement for all classes except for Amateur Extra (see "ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access" <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2004/01/19/1/>). The ARRL says its petition follows in the footsteps of changes in Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations adopted at World Radiocommunication Conference 2003. Among those changes, WRC-03 left it up to individual countries to determine whether or not to mandate Morse testing for HF access. While several countries--including Germany, the UK and Australia--already have dropped their Morse requirements, the ARRL emphasized in its petition that Morse code is not the central issue. "Changes in Morse telegraphy are one aspect of the proposal, and it would be insufficient for the Commission to address those issues in a vacuum," the League said, calling its licensing proposal "a plan for the next decade." The ARRL said that plan's overall intention is "to encourage newcomers to the Amateur Service and to encourage those who enter its ranks to proceed further on a course of technical self-training and exposure to all aspects of the avocation." Last fall a total of 14 Morse-related petitions were filed with the FCC. Several called on the Commission to drop the Morse requirement altogether, while others proposed to keep and even expand the requirement or put forth various license restructuring schemes of their own. The petitions, RM-10781-10787 and RM-10805-10811, attracted thousands of comments from the amateur community. Beyond the Morse question, the ARRL says, the time is right--now that WRC-03 has finished its work--to follow through on the restructuring process the FCC began with its 1999 restructuring Report and Order (WT 98-143) <http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/wt98-143ro.pdf>. Among other things, that landmark Order, which became effective April 15, 2000, reduced the number of Morse code test elements from three to a single 5 WPM requirement for all license classes offering HF privileges. Simply dropping the Element 1 (5 WPM) Morse requirement, the ARRL asserted, would fail to address the critical need for an entry-level ticket other than the Technician. Calling the Technician license "a dead end" for many people, the ARRL said its proposed entry-level license--being called "Novice" for now--would offer newcomers a much wider sampling of Amateur Radio. It would require passing a 25-question written examination--but no code test--and offer limited HF phone, image, CW and data privileges at modest power output levels. "This structure provides a true, entry-level license with HF and other operating privileges which will both promote growth in the Amateur Service and integrate newcomers into the mainstream of Amateur Radio," the ARRL told the FCC. "It will better introduce newcomers to more seasoned licensees who will assist them." The League proposal also would consolidate current Technician and General licensees into General class without further examination. Future General applicants would not have to pass a code test, but the written exam would remain the same. Current Advanced licensees would be merged into Amateur Extra class without further testing, and the Extra exam would remain intact. The ARRL proposal would retain the Element 1 Morse exam for Extra class applicants. The ARRL said its overall plan dovetails with the FCC philosophy and goals stated in its 1999 Report and Order--to simplify the license structure and streamline the licensing process. The League said its plan would implement licensing requirements and privileges that are in harmony with each other and is designed to attract and retain "technically inclined persons, particularly the youth of our country" and encourage them to advance in areas "where the United States needs expertise." "Now, the issue is not merely whether there should or should not be Morse telegraphy as an examination requirement," the ARRL said, "but rather what is the best overall approach for positioning the Amateur Service for future growth and incentive-based self-training." A copy of the ARRL's Petition for Rule Making is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/news/restructuring2/restrux2-petition.pdf>. The FCC has requested that individuals refrain from contacting or attempting to comment to the FCC on the ARRL's restructuring proposal before the FCC issues a Rule Making (RM) number for the ARRL petition and invites public comments on it. Until that happens, it is premature to comment to the FCC. ==>AO-40 AILING Ground controllers for the AO-40 satellite are trying to figure out just what happened to cause a significant drop in the spacecraft's bus voltage, taking it off the air. The satellite remains silent in the wake of a precipitous voltage drop from around 26 volts down to 18 volts early on January 27 (UTC). AO-40 controllers are fairly certain that one or more shorted battery cells are at the root of the problem. Efforts to restart the satellite's 2.4-GHz downlink transmitter have been unsuccessful. "Our current best understanding is that we suffered a catastrophic failure of the main battery, which is clamping the bus voltage at a low level," Stacey Mills, W4SM, of the AO-40 command team said in a posting on the AMSAT-DL Web site. The AO-40 satellite was the result of AMSAT's ambitious international Phase 3D project. The AMSAT-NA Board of Directors met January 29 to review the current situation. "The next few weeks will be of great interest as the satellite is entering into a sun angle which is becoming increasingly favorable for charging the batteries," said AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH. Tests are under way on spare batteries in AMSAT's Orlando, Florida, lab in an effort to simulate the failure mode and determine what might be done to recover the satellite. "At this time, AMSAT engineers and scientists are optimistic about the chances of recovering but--like the NASA Spirit problem--this may take some time to accomplish," Haighton said. The AO-40 ground team has been sending blind commands to the spacecraft to activate its onboard computerized control system in order to switch in the auxiliary battery bank, which was tied to the main battery bank after a bus voltage drop January 26, and disconnect the main battery. Mills said that while ground controllers don't claim to fully understand what happened aboard AO-40, operator practices were not to blame. "AO-40 was designed to withstand all that you can throw at it," he said. Mills explained that the main AO-40 batteries consist of 20 40-Ah cells arranged on three of the radial support arms inside the spacecraft--two packs of seven cells and one pack of six cells. "It is entirely possible or even probable that the main batteries suffered some damage during the 400-N motor event," Mills said, referring to the onboard catastrophic incident that caused AO-40 to go dark less than a month after its November 2000 launch. While some systems were irreparably damaged, ground controllers were able to get AO-40 partially up and running again, and the satellite's transponders have been in active use since 2001. It was subsequently determined that an anomaly involving a fuel valve essentially had caused an onboard explosion. AO-40 had been operating with 435 MHz and 1.2 GHz uplinks and a 2.4 GHz downlink and beacon. "If it's at all possible to bring AO-40 back, we will," said Mills, who concedes that he's "lived and breathed AO-40" for more than four years. "No success for even weeks or months does not mean that we won't eventually be successful. We will sure keep trying." ==>LAST YEAR'S YOUNGEST GENERAL NOW THIS YEAR'S YOUNGEST EXTRA An Oregon girl considered a year ago as the youngest General class licensee <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2003/01/31/4/> in the US now may be the country's youngest Amateur Extra ticket holder. Seven-year-old Mattie Clauson, AD7BL (ex-KD7TYN and ex-KD7SDF), of Roseburg passed her Extra examination January 14 during a Valley Amateur Radio Club <http://www.valleyradioclub.org/home.htm> ARRL-VEC volunteer examination session in Eugene. The FCC granted her new ticket and Extra-appropriate call sign on January 20. "I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT! I PASSED MY EXTRA CLASS EXAM!!!!! YIPPEEE!!!" Mattie exclaimed loudly on the QRZ.com <http://www.qrz.com/detail/AD7BL> Web site. She also announced her accomplishment in a message routed via the RS0ISS packet system on the International Space Station. "Looks like a future astronaut to me," Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, remarked after learning of the post. Mattie says she'd at least like to talk with one of the ISS astronauts some day. She's also a member of the ISS FanClub <http://www.issfanclub.com/> and enjoys digipeating through RS0ISS. Mattie's proud papa, Tim Clauson, AC7SP, says his daughter missed only four of the questions on the Element 4 test, which Mattie described as "really, really hard!" Whether she is the youngest Extra in the US is difficult to determine since the FCC no longer makes date-of-birth information public. Several of the very youngest amateur operators in the US have been female. In 1948, Jane Bieberman, W3OVV (now Jane De Nuzzo and still holding the same call sign), made the December cover of QST for getting her General ticket when she was just barely 10 years old. Rebecca Rich, KB0VVT--a very active amateur--got her Extra ticket in 1997 at age 8. The parents of both girls were amateur licensees. Mattie's own ham radio heritage also may have been a big plus. Her late great grandfather, S.A. "Sam" Sullivan, was W6WXU; his daughter, Joan Brady--Mattie's grandmother--now holds his former call sign. That makes her a fourth-generation ham. Mattie concedes that she would not have made it to Extra without a lot of study help and guidance from her parents (her mom, Charlotte, is AC7XM) and practice examinations on the QRZ.com Web site <http://www.qrz.com/p/testing.pl>. The Clausons all are ARRL members. Mattie says she continues to enjoy working HF SSB, especially DX. In addition to various HF nets, she also regularly checks into the Douglas County Amateur Radio Emergency Service Net as a visitor. Aside from ham radio, her dad says, Mattie--who is home schooled with two younger sisters--is "a regular kid who likes riding her bike, playing with her sisters and friends and flying her toy airplanes. She even likes to play in the mud." Mattie hopes to be sporting a new vanity call sign soon. Her father says she's applied for AE7MC--Amateur Extra 7 (year-old) Mattie Clauson, her dad explained. ==>FCC CORRECTS CALL SIGN GOOF The FCC has ordered that a Chesapeake, Virginia, amateur will have to give up the vanity call sign it erroneously granted him in August 2002. In an Order of Modification released January 22, the FCC said it would modify the license of Richard L. Smith, KC4USH, to return his call sign to KG4UKV--his former call sign. The FCC concluded that the grant of KC4USH as a vanity call sign "was defective because the call sign is included in the call sign block KC4USA through KC4USZ, which is available to the Department of the Navy for the use of amateur stations at US Navy Antarctic stations," the Order said. The FCC said it was unable to simply set aside the grant because it did not become aware of its error until more than 30 days after making the grant. After the FCC indicated its intention to pull back the call sign Smith protested, saying that he'd picked KC4USH because it was used at Cape Hallett Station, Antarctica, when his father was there during "Operation Deep Freeze 60." Smith further argued that he'd applied for the call sign in good faith and that he'd spent considerable personal funds to make others aware that he was assigned this call sign. He also pointed out that the US Navy had not used KC4USH for 30 years. The FCC turned Smith down, however, reaffirming that modifying his license to reflect his previously held call sign would serve the public interest by ensuring that the call sign block KC4USA-KC4USZ is only used to identify amateur stations that are located at US Navy Antarctic stations. The FCC said the reason a licensee requests a particular vanity call sign "is not a sufficient basis to allow a licensee to retain a call sign that is otherwise unassignable to the licensee's station" under the FCC rules. "We apologize for any inconvenience this error has caused Mr. Smith," the FCC said, adding that it's made necessary corrections to prevent a repeat of the mistake in the future. Signing the Order was D'wana R. Terry, chief of the Public Safety and Critical Infrastructure Division in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. ==>W1AW EXPANDS DIGITAL CAPABILITIES ARRL Maxim Memorial station W1AW has expanded its digital-mode capabilities. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, says all three W1AW operating suites now offer digital mode access for visiting operators. "When we first seriously computerized the station, we just had an interface that would let us do RTTY, AMTOR and packet," Carcia said. "When PSK31 came out a couple of years ago, [QST Editor] Steve Ford, WB8IMY, suggested that I try it out. I admit to being bit." Soon, Carcia had a PC in place running PSK31 software and interfaced with W1AW's ICOM IC-765. This winter, Carcia made it a priority to expand digital capability to other gear. That meant first installing sound cards in several of W1AW's computers. Then Carcia built custom digital mode interfaces for each radio that included the capability to sample the radio's frequency to make logging almost automatic. In addition to the IC-765, digital-ready transceivers at W1AW include a Kenwood TS-950S, an ICOM IC-756PROII and a Kenwood TS-2000. All four units can operate RTTY, AMTOR, PSK31, PSK63, MFSK16, Hellschreiber, packet, Throb, PACTOR I and MT63. The IC-765 and IC-756PROII are wired for FSK RTTY--to take advantage of their narrow filters--while the Kenwood radios add SSTV software to the plate. ARRL COO Mark Wilson, K1RO, says that the increased digital mode ability of W1AW allows the station to continue its tradition of technical excellence. "W1AW has always showcased Amateur Radio's capabilities, and keeping current with the latest digital modes is a logical extension of that," he said. "We're happy to have the opportunity to show the latest modes to visitors, who may not have been able to see or try them before." More information about digital modes can be found on the ARRL Technical Information Service Web pages <http://www.arrl.org/tis/>. Information about W1AW can be found at the station's home page <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw.html>. ==>SSB, RADAR PIONEER MIKE VILLARD, W6QYT, SK Renowned RF engineer, Stanford University researcher and author Oswald Garrison "Mike" Villard Jr, W6QYT, of Palo Alto, California, died January 7. He was 87. A pioneer of Amateur Radio single sideband (SSB) and meteor-scatter techniques, Villard authored some two dozen QST articles between 1946 and 1994. He also was the author of more than 60 technical papers and held a half-dozen patents. "His technical achievements were legendary," Dave Leeson, W6NL, a consulting professor of electrical engineering in Stanford`s Space, Telecommunications and Radioscience Laboratory (STARLab), told Stanford University News Service <http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/04/villardobit128.html>. "Stanford and the entire engineering community were enriched by his person and his accomplishments." The son of O.G. Villard Sr, a noted publisher and editor (The New York Evening Post and The Nation), Mike Villard developed an interested in radio while still a youngster. He was first licensed as W1DMV in 1932, while living in Connecticut. Since his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps, the younger Villard earned a bachelor's degree in English from Yale in 1938, but then headed to Stanford University to pursue his first love, electrical engineering. While at Stanford, he studied under Professor Frederick Terman (ex-6FT and 6AE)--later regarded as the "father of Silicon Valley." During World War II, Villard followed Terman to work at Harvard University's Radio Research Laboratory on enemy countermeasures research. He returned to Stanford after the war, joined the school's electrical engineering faculty in 1946 and completed his PhD in 1949. He taught and carried out research at Stanford for five decades, and he headed STARLab's predecessor--The RadioScience Laboratory--from 1958 until 1972. Among his Amateur Radio accomplishments, he experimented with and championed single-sideband, suppressed-carrier modulation in 1947, and the Stanford Amateur Radio Club's W6YX <http://www-w6yx.stanford.edu/w6yx/> is said to have been the first ham station to use SSB transmission. While a student, he also served as the club's president, and from the 1950s through the early 1980s he was the trustee of W6YX. An ARRL member for many years, Villard was also a past scientific advisor to the Northern California DX Foundation. During his career at Stanford (and later at Stanford Research Institute--SRI), Villard pioneered the concept and development of a program to design and build an over-the-horizon radar system to detect incoming military aircraft and high-altitude missiles. In addition, he demonstrated the feasibility of the "stealth aircraft" concept by using specially treated low-impedance surfaces. For those achievements he received the Department of Defense civilian Medal of Honor. Another accomplishment was the design of a simple, small high-frequency receiving antenna <http://users.erols.com/k3mt/hla/hla.htm> that aided in nulling out signals that jammed broadcasts of the Voice of America, the BBC and others. The family requests donations in support of the Mike Villard Memorial Fund to SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave, AD-114, Menlo Park, CA 94025.--some information from Stanford News Service ==>SOLAR UPDATE Heliophile Tad "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: There are no sunspots! The visible solar disk is blank. A spotless sun at this point in the solar cycle is normal, however, because there are big day-to-day variations. Is the solar cycle is near bottom? And, if so, how long will it be until conditions improve? Going by the January 6 issue of the NOAA Preliminary Report and Forecast of Solar Geophysical Data <http://www.sec.noaa.gov/weekly/pdf/prf1479.pdf> projection of future sunspot and solar flux values until December 2007--a rough guess based on previous solar cycles--the bottom of the cycle is expected to occur some time around the end of 2006. That said, we really won't know when the bottom occurs until some time after we've passed it. As for conditions, the best we can say is that a year from now they should be worse. The projected number for January 2005 doesn't rise back to the same level until December 2007. Conditions will likely improve somewhat over the next week. The weekly average of daily sunspots for this week was half what it was the week before. Average daily solar flux declined over 21 points. Projected solar flux for Friday through Monday, January 30 through February 2, is 90, 90, 100 and 100. Solar flux is expected to peak for the short term around February 8. Geomagnetic conditions may be rough over the next week, unsettled to active. Predicted planetary A index for January 30 through February 5 is 15, 20, 20, 25, 25, 15 and 10. Sunspot numbers for January 22 through 28 were 76, 62, 47, 48, 38, 0 and 0, with a mean of 38.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 121.8, 115.2, 107.5, 102.3, 98, 93.7 and 88.5, with a mean of 103.9. Estimated planetary A indices were 62, 38, 15, 33, 17, 16 and 19, with a mean of 28.6. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (CW) and the UBA DX Contest (SSB) are the weekend of January 31-February 1. JUST AHEAD: The North American Sprint (SSB), the Delaware, Minnesota and Vermont QSO parties, the QRP ARCI Winter Fireside SSB Sprint, the FYBO Winter QRP Field Day, the 10-10 International Winter Contest (SSB), the AGCW Straight Key Party and the Mexico RTTY International Contest are the weekend of February 7-8. 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, February 2, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open through the February 7-8 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, February 17. 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 175 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. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/>. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <email@example.com>; 860-594-0340. * Help ARRL document public service activities: Amateur Radio operators volunteer thousands of hours of their time each year to public service communication during emergencies, scheduled tests or drills and events such as parades and marathons. These activities help to show Amateur Radio in its best light. It's critically important that the ARRL be able to bring this public service work to the attention of Congress, the FCC and other public officials. The ARRL Public Service Activity Report Form (FSD-157) <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/forms/fsd-157-online-form.php> is a convenient way to document Amateur Radio public service and emergency-response activities. If you're an ARRL Emergency Coordinator, District Emergency Coordinator, Section Emergency Coordinator or other leader of an Amateur Radio public service communications organization, ARRL encourages you to submit this form on behalf of your group after each public service activity, emergency operation or alert. You may supplement your reports with photographs of radio amateurs in action or other supporting information. For more information, contact Steve Ewald, WV1X, <firstname.lastname@example.org> at ARRL Headquarters. * Shuttle Columbia commemorative special event set: The Nacogdoches Amateur Radio Club (NARC) in Texas will mark the first anniversary of the shuttle Columbia disaster February 1 with a daylong special event operation from W5NAC. The club says the operation will honor the lost Columbia astronauts, recovery workers and volunteers and agencies involved in the debris recovery effort. More than 350 Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and Deep East Texas SKYWARN volunteers assisted with the shuttle recovery effort by providing the other responding agencies with a unified radio communication system as well as providing up-to-the-minute weather information. "The amateur radio community really came together to serve during that time," commented NARC President Kent Tannery, KD5SHM. "That is what we train to do." Tannery said the special event is the club's way of showing respect to all of the volunteers and especially the Columbia crew members and their families. Details are available on the NARC Web site <http://www.andersoft.com/narc>. * Supply rocket sans ham gear to arrive at ISS: NASA says the next Russian Progress supply rocket will arrive at the International Space Station January 31. On hand to greet and unload the unmanned rocket, which carries 2.5 tons of food, fuel and supplies, will be Expedition 8 crew Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Sasha Kaleri, U8MIR. Not aboard the Progress will be additional Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) SSTV equipment and a Yaesu FT-100D HF/VHF/UHF multimode transceiver that ARISS had hoped might be able to go into space aboard this Progress flight. ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, says the gear likely will be transported to the ISS during an April Progress resupply flight instead. ARISS-JA made arrangements for the donation of the Yaesu transceiver and of a Kenwood TM-D700E VHF/UHF transceiver now on board the ISS and installed in a second NA1SS amateur station in the crew's quarters. Bauer expressed his gratitude to both manufacturers for donating the gear. * Top DXer turns 90! Top DXCC Honor Roller Ben Stevenson, W2BXA, of Colonia, New Jersey, celebrated his 90th birthday January 25. The ARRL DXCC Desk reports the new nonagenarian stands at 391 overall entities, in a tie at the top of the heap with Ed Hawkins, K6ZO, who will turn 90 himself in February 2005. "The most anyone could ever work is 393--335 current and 58 deleted," explains ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, "so 391 is currently the highest achieved." On phone, Stevenson is currently the DXCC top dawg at 389 total entities. * ARRL Board of Directors meeting minutes now available: The minutes of the 2004 Annual Meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors Meeting held January 16-17 in Windsor, Connecticut, now are available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/announce/board-0401/>. =========================================================== 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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