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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 27, No. 30
August 1, 2008


* + Amateur Station at Smithsonian QRT after 32 Years 
* + German Radio Manufacturer Halts Transceiver Production 
* + HF Digital Voice Programs Once Again Available for Download 
* + Dutch Amateur Radio Satellite Now Live 
* + MARS Lends a Hand with Hurricane Dolly Operations 
* + ARRL Membership Newsletters, Bulletins and Notifications 
*   Solar Update
*   IN BRIEF: 
      This Weekend on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
    + Steve Telenius-Lowe, 9M6DXX/G4JVG, Wins June QST Cover Plaque
    + W1AW/KL7 Now QRV 
      From the DXCC Desk 

+Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<>, then e-mail
==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane,


After more than 30 years on the air from the nation's capital, NN3SI
<>, the
Amateur Radio station at the National Museum of American History
<> -- part of the Smithsonian
Institution <> -- became silent on Thursday, July 31.
Originally located in the Nations of Nations exhibit, the station first
went on-the-air in 1976 in celebration of the US Bicentennial. The FCC
caught the patriotic spirit, giving the station a temporary call sign --
NN3SI -- standing for Nation of Nations, Smithsonian Institution. The
Commission later made the call sign allocation permanent.

According to NN3SI volunteer Carl Lagoda, W3CL, a Special Event
operation was planned for earlier this week, with certificates available
to those who contacted NN3SI. DX Summit <>
spotted NN3SI on 75, 40 and 20 meters SSB. 

NN3SI has been situated in several different exhibitions in the Museum;
it was most recently housed in the former Information Age exhibit. This
exhibit chronicled the birth and growth of the electronic information
age -- from Samuel Morse's invention of a practical telegraph in the
1830s through the development of the telephone, radio, television and
computer. The Museum has been closed since 2006 while undergoing a major
renovation and is scheduled to reopen to the public this fall.

The station participated in many special events throughout its history.
During the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall,
station operators made many contacts and taught children visiting the
Museum how to spell their names in Morse code. Over the years, operators
at NN3SI -- who hailed from the District of Columbia, Maryland and
Virginia (and the occasional guest operators from various parts of the
globe) -- have logged contacts with amateurs in all parts of the world
and with astronauts and cosmonauts in orbit. By operating the station,
NN3SI ops promoted Amateur Radio as a national resource for emergency
communications, trained operators, technicians and engineers -- as well
as an outstanding hobby -- to the more than 4 million people who visit
the Museum each year.

QSL via NN3SI, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American
History, 17701 Bowie Mill Rd, Derwood, MD 20855.


In a surprise move, Hilberling GmbH <> has
stopped production on the much anticipated PT-8000 series of HF/VHF
Amateur Radio transceivers. Apparently due to CE marking regulations
<>, Hilberling had to make constant
adjustments to the design of the radio and was unable to repeat the
performance of prototypes in production models and was not able to
justify the expense involved with further redesign work. The CE mark
certifies that a product has met European Union health, safety and
environmental requirements, ensuring consumer safety. Array Solutions
<> -- which had been set to be the North
American distributor for the transceiver series -- featured the PT-8000
at its booths at the 2008 Dayton Hamvention.

Hans Hilberling, DK7LG, explained in German on the company's Web site
why the company canceled production of the PT-8000 series:

"Production of the PT-8000 equipment series has been halted. Due to the
persistent challenges we've had to overcome in the process of bringing
the official EU-wide manufacturer's model to fruition, it became
necessary to make more and more adaptations in the design of this
cutting-edge transceiver. The lofty design goals of the PT-8000 could be
attained in some prototypes. We encountered difficulties that we could
not overcome at justifiable expense in guaranteeing, without
reservation, a high standard of mass production involving many
suppliers. We appreciate the great interest this project has attracted
over its entire course."  -- Translation by Rick Lindquist, WW3DE 

The PT-8000 was featured in a 4-page pull-out advertisement in the May
2007 issue of QST. The ad stated that Hilberling had not yet received
approval by the FCC to market the radio in the US. All digital devices
-- including Amateur Radio equipment -- must be approved by the FCC,
meeting the requirements of FCC Part 15 and RSS 210 (Radio Standards
Specifications, Industry Canada) to ensure its compliance as an
unintentional radiator and as a generic receiver. Approval was granted
in May 2008. Testing was done in April and May 2008 by Professional
Testing (EMI) of Round Rock, Texas.

According to the QST ad, the PT-8000 was set to feature:
* An automatically tuned preselector
* Precision matched first and second mixers, designed by Synergy
Microwave, with third intercept points at 40+ dBm
* Three roofing filters at 2.7, 6 and 12 kHz
* Six hybrid amplifiers from LF to VHF with third intercept points at
50+ dBm
* Seven 16-pole ladder filters working in combination with DSP filters
in the 10.7 MHz second IFs of each filter
* 13.8 V HF MOSFETs (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor)
in the 100 W power amplifier; high efficiency (70 percent) SD3933 HF
MOSFETs in the 600 W final amplifier
* Three additional 70.7 MHz roofing filters in the transmitter stages
for clean output
* Designed with UHF and microwave transverters in mind, 1 Hz frequency
resolution with the ability to connect transverters to both receivers
* Taps at the first and second IFs for analysis, monitoring and
* Easily updatable firmware

The price for a 10 W PT-8000 started at $12,000, going up to $16,000 for
the 600 W model. Commercial and military grades were priced at an
additional $10,000.


Citing codec (coding/decoding) licensing issues, three free Windows
programs for sound card-based HF digital voice were yanked from their
download site for a short time recently, surprising hams who are
interested in HF digital voice operation; several online groups that
supported the software were also closed for a short time.

WinDRM, DRMDV and FDMDV, all written by Cesco Lanza, HB9TLK, used a
codec that was developed for the US Department of Defense and NATO.
Rights to various forms of the codec are held by several companies.
According to Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, the companies have "winked" at ham
radio use for several years, but a recent complaint caused the programs
to be pulled from the download site. "Lanza did a quick rewrite to use
an open-source codec, and now WinDRM and FDMDV are back," Pearce said.
"DRMDV, an intermediate program between the other two, has been
abandoned. WinDRM could always use the open-source Speex codec, but
FDMDV users will need to download the new version."

Pearce said these three programs all allow hams to transmit and receive
digital voice by connecting their PC sound card to an ordinary SSB
transceiver: "The result has been surprisingly high quality audio, with
virtually no noise -- sort of like listening to FM, but in the narrow
bandwidth of a sideband signal. WinDRM, the best sounding program, uses
2.5 kHz of spectrum. FDMDV sounds a little rougher, but uses only 1.1
kHz of spectrum. They both use OFDM modulation, a set of close-spaced
carriers that are each modulated with a little bit of data to add up to
the final digital signal. The main problem with HF digital voice is that
it needs fairly strong signals. FDMDV works better with weaker signals
than WinDRM."

Pearce said that none of the available open-source codecs work as well
as the old one: "MELP <>, or Mixed
Excitation Linear Prediction, was designed specifically for
high-quality, low data-rate voice communication. So the on-air audio
might suffer some with the new version. Digital voice users have been
waiting and hoping for someone to concentrate on developing a codec
optimized for ham radio use, but none has been forthcoming."

FDMDV and WinDRM can both be downloaded from Jason Buchanan's, N1SU, Web
site <>.

The AOR digital voice modems and D-STAR radios both use the AMBE 2020
vocoder, and are not affected by the coding changes; the AMBE 2020
vocoder is a proprietary chip that is embedded in each unit.

For more information on WinDRM, check out QST Editor Steve Ford's,
WB8IMY, article ["Life Could Be a DReaM," pages 38-40] in the April 2007
issue of QST.


The linear transponder aboard the new Dutch OSCAR 64 satellite
<> (otherwise
known as Delfi-C3 <>) is now open for CW and SSB

The spacecraft boots into transponder mode whenever it is in full
sunlight. Ground controllers will briefly switch the satellite to either
"basic" or "science" configuration once every two weeks; otherwise, the
linear transponder will be the default mode. The transponder uplink
passband is from 435.530-435.570 MHz with a downlink passband from
145.880-145.930 MHz. The transponder CW beacon can be heard at 145.870

Delfi C-3 was successfully launched April 28, 2008 from India aboard a
Polar launch vehicle
<> and was
successfully commissioned, currently transmitting telemetry on the 2
meter amateur band. In addition to its 2 meter downlink, Delfi C-3 has
an uplink on the 70 cm band. 

The satellite was developed by a team of some 60 students and facility
members from various polytechnic schools in The Netherlands. Delfi C-3
carries two experiments -- one involving thin film solar cells developed
by Dutch Space, and an autonomous wireless Sun sensor from the Dutch
Government Research Institute (TNO). E-mail reports are welcome


When Tropical Storm Dolly turned into Hurricane Dolly
<>, various
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications groups, such as WX4NHC at the
National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and the VoIP WX
Net (VOIPWX), began tracking the storm. One other group -- the Army's
Military Amateur Radio Service (MARS) -- also helped out with storm

According to Texas State MARS Director Dave Martin, MARS leadership
began to track the storm while it was still in the Atlantic. MARS
established a liaison with the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) and the
Texas State Operations Center (SOC). An Alert Notification message was
sent to all MARS members on July 18, informing Texas Army MARS that the
SOC was at full operations and would announce when they would request
full mobilization of all agencies. This decision was made just two days
later and an additional Alert Notification was sent to the membership to
begin emergency net operations on July 22 at 8 AM.

"Our mission was to support the TXMF and the SOC with HF communications
by expanding the normal net schedule and establishing a full-time
liaison," Martin said. "In addition, requests were sent to the other
MARS services in the region asking for liaison stations to participate
in the Army nets. Fortunately, a hurricane exercise had been completed a
week before and the exercise operations order was used to execute this
mission. We reacted to the storm the same way we trained for the

Beginning on July 22, Texas MARS opened E-nets at 8 AM, 1 PM, 7 PM and
10 PM, with a 6 AM net opening the next day. While the Net Control
Stations were in Texas, support was received from Oklahoma and Louisiana
Army MARS. TXMF was notified that Texas Army MARS had received
permission from Army MARS Headquarters to deploy HF communications teams
with their deploying elements as was done during a previous exercise.
During the emergency, the nets had an average of 25-30 check-ins; all
traffic was sent via MT63 or Winlink 2000.

Martin said that all MARS stations in the affected area were off the air
during the height of the storm. MARS member Tom Whiteside, N5TN/AAR6CQ,
was able to facilitate the use of the Winlink network, exchanging
traffic with the Harlingen Emergency Operations Center; Harlingen is
about 27 miles north of the Mexican border, in Texas's southern tip.
This area was one of the hardest hit areas in the state.

As Hurricane Dolly approached Harlingen, Sergeant Gerald Manthey,
KC6CNN, Harlingen's Director of Emergency Communications, was on duty at
the EOC. Manthey has been the driving force in the Rio Grande Valley for
Winlink, as well as pushing amateur voice capabilities in the area with
surrounding agencies. Harlingen became the South Texas ARES' fifth
EMCOMM PMBO in December of 2007 with both local VHF Packet and HF PACTOR

Due to a localized power failure, the EOC was soon running on generator
power. During the storm, Manthey kept in touch with both the SOC and the
Emergency Operations Center in San Antonio. He also kept in touch with
other hams in the valley via both voice and Winlink.

"Winlink is the perfect tool for this sort of thing," said Manthey. "You
can send messages and get them when you have time. The system works very
well even without the Internet."

Manthey communicated with the City of Brownsville EOC, the Cameron
County EOC, the Valley Baptist Medical Center and individual amateurs
via Winlink throughout the storm. One of those hams was ARRL West Gulf
Division Vice Director David Woolweaver, K5RAV, who operates a Winlink
RMS Packet station in Harlingen. The AE5R station was the first test of
the new RMS Relay program that provides for local message hubbing during
an Internet outage.

MARS emergency operations continued until 10 PM on July 24 when Kevin
Lemon, the State RACES officer, stood down the Amateur Radio operation.
Army MARS also ceased operations at the SOC, but remained on call in
case of a flooding event. "Hurricane Dolly was a serious but not major
storm," Martin said. "Even at that, there were times when communications
were out due to winds or flooding. Volunteers in MARS and the Amateur
Radio community provided what was needed to get through the storm and
are standing by for any after effects." -- Thanks to Texas State Army
MARS Director Dave Martin, K5YFO/AAA6TX, and Tom Whiteside, N5TW/AAR6CQ,
for the information


Did you know the ARRL offers more newsletters than The ARRL Letter? One
of the many ARRL membership benefits includes other newsletters, such as
the ARRL Contest Update (a bi-weekly contest newsletter), the ARES
E-Letter (sent monthly, containing public service and emergency
communications news), the ARRL Club News and the ARRL Instructor/Teacher

You can also elect to receive news and information from your Division
Director and Section Manager (keep in mind that not all
Divisions/Sections send notices), as well as W1AW bulletins that relate
to DX, propagation, satellites and Keplerian reports. The ARRL also
offers a free notification service to members, letting them know when
their membership and license are due to expire. 

Sign up for these newsletters, bulletins and notifications on the Member
Data page of the ARRL Web site


Tad "Lost in a shaft of sunlight" Cook, K7RA, this week reports: July
ended with no sunspots at all -- save for three days, July 18-20, when
one weak sunspot group appeared and faded from view. Sunspot numbers for
those days were 11, 12 and 11. Sunspot numbers for July 24-30 were 0, 0,
0, 0, 0, 0 and 0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7 cm flux was 65.4, 65.8,
66.1, 66.3, 66.3, 66 and 66.5 with a mean of 66.1. Estimated planetary A
indices were 11, 3, 5, 7, 7, 3 and 5 with a mean of 5.9. Estimated
mid-latitude A indices were 7, 2, 4, 4, 6, 2 and 4 with a mean of 4.1.
The outlook from the US Air Force Space Weather operations for many
weeks now has shown a predicted solar flux of 66; their prediction from
July 31 shows the same for the next 45 days. This tells me that there
isn't any period where we might expect more sunspot activity, or at
least no way to foresee it. They predict the next geomagnetic activity
of any note for August 10, with a planetary A index of 20. They predict
a planetary A index of 8 for August 1, then 5 for August 2-6 then 8
again on August 7. Geophysical Institute Prague echoes that prediction
with quiet to unsettled conditions for August 1 and 7, and quiet
conditions August 2-6. For more information concerning radio
propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation
page <>. To read this
week's Solar Report in its entirety, check out the W1AW Propagation
Bulletin page <>. This week's "Tad
Cookism" brought to you by "The Dry Salvages," one of the poems by T. S.
Eliot known as The Four Quartets. 



* This Weekend on the Radio: This weekend, look for the the ARRL UHF
Contest August 2-3. The TARA Grid Dip Shindig and the European HF
Championship are on August 2. On August 2-3, look for the 10-10
International Summer Contest (SSB), the National Lighthouse Weekend QSO
Contest and the North American QSO Party (CW). The RSGB RoPoCo 2 and the
SARL HF Phone Contest are both August 3. Next weekend, the WAE DX
Contest (CW) and the Maryland-DC QSO Party are August 9-10. The SKCC
Weekend Sprintathon is August 10 and the NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint
is August 13. All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See the ARRL
Contest Branch page <>, the ARRL Contest
Update <> and the WA7BNM Contest
Calendar <> for more
info. Looking for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL
Special Event Station Web page <>.

* ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration: Registration remains
open through Sunday, August 24, 2008 for these online course sessions
beginning on Friday, September 5, 2008: Technician License Course
(EC-010); Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level 1 (EC-001); Radio
Frequency Interference (EC-006); Antenna Design and Construction
(EC-009); Analog Electronics (EC-012), and Digital Electronics (EC-013).
Each online course has been developed in segments -- learning units with
objectives, informative text, student activities and quizzes. Courses
are interactive, and some include direct communications with a
Mentor/Instructor. Students register for a particular session that may
be 8, 12 or 16 weeks (depending on the course) and they may access the
course at any time of day during the course period, completing lessons
and activities at times convenient for their personal schedule. Mentors
assist students by answering questions, reviewing assignments and
activities, as well as providing helpful feedback. Interaction with
mentors is conducted through e-mail; there is no appointed time the
student must be present -- allowing complete flexibility for the student
to work when and where it is convenient. To learn more, visit the CCE
Course Listing page <> or contact
the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <>;.

* Steve Telenius-Lowe, 9M6DXX/G4JVG, Wins June QST Cover Plaque Award:
The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for June is Steve
Telenius-Lowe, 9M6DXX/G4JVG, for his article "The FSDXA 3B7C St Brandon
DXpedition." Congratulations, Steve! 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 on the QST Cover Plaque
Poll Web page <>. 

* W1AW/KL7 Now QRV: Special event station W1AW/KL7 will be on the air
from grid square BP56 July 26-August 10 on all bands from 160-6 meters.
This ARRL 2008 Alaska State Convention Special Event Station
<> plans to run two HF
stations operating CW, SSB and digital, one satellite station and one
station devoted to 146.52 MHz. The Convention itself runs from August
1-4 in Anchorage. 

* Notes from the DXCC Desk: Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, reports that the
5X4X operations in Uganda -- from 2007 to present -- have been approved
for DXCC credit. "If you had cards rejected for this operation, please
send an e-mail to the ARRL DXCC Desk <>; to have your DXCC
record updated," Moore said. 

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the
American Radio Relay League: ARRL--the National Association for Amateur
Radio, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax
860-594-0259; <>. Joel Harrison, W5ZN, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential and general
news of interest to active radio amateurs. Visit the ARRL Web site
<> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news
updates. The ARRL Web site <> also offers
informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News
<> is a weekly "ham radio newscast"
compiled and edited from The ARRL Letter. It's also available as a
podcast from our Web site.

Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole
or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be
given to The ARRL Letter/American Radio Relay League.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA,
==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
==>ARRL Audio News: <> or call

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All Rights Reserved


The ARRL Letter

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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

Back issues published since 2000 are available on this page. If you wish to subscribe via e-mail, simply log on to the ARRL Web site, click on Edit Your Profile at the top, then click on Edit Email Subscriptions. Check the box next to The ARRL email newsletter, the ARRL Letter and you will receive each weekly issue in HTML format. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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