*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 27, No. 30 August 1, 2008 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * + 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 Award + W1AW/KL7 Now QRV From the DXCC Desk +Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail <email@example.com> ==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, <firstname.lastname@example.org> =========================================================== ==> AMATEUR STATION AT SMITHSONIAN QRT AFTER 32 YEARS After more than 30 years on the air from the nation's capital, NN3SI <http://americanhistory.si.edu/events/programdetail.cfm?newskey=48>, the Amateur Radio station at the National Museum of American History <http://americanhistory.si.edu/index.cfm> -- part of the Smithsonian Institution <http://www.si.edu/> -- 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 <http://www.dxsummit.fi/> 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. ==> GERMAN RADIO MANUFACTURER HALTS TRANSCEIVER PRODUCTION In a surprise move, Hilberling GmbH <http://www.hilberling.com/> has stopped production on the much anticipated PT-8000 series of HF/VHF Amateur Radio transceivers. Apparently due to CE marking regulations <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_mark>, 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 <http://www.arraysolutions.com/> -- 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 simultaneously * Taps at the first and second IFs for analysis, monitoring and experimentation * 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. ==> HF DIGITAL VOICE PROGRAMS ONCE AGAIN AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD 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 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 <http://www.n1su.com/>. 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. ==> DUTCH AMATEUR RADIO SATELLITE NOW LIVE The linear transponder aboard the new Dutch OSCAR 64 satellite <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/05/22/10117/?nc=1> (otherwise known as Delfi-C3 <http://www.delfic3.nl/>) is now open for CW and SSB operation. 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 MHz. Delfi C-3 was successfully launched April 28, 2008 from India aboard a Polar launch vehicle <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/04/28/10067/?nc=1> 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 <email@example.com>. ==> MARS LENDS A HAND WITH HURRICANE DOLLY OPERATIONS When Tropical Storm Dolly turned into Hurricane Dolly <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/07/22/10221/?nc=1>, 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 communications. 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 emergency." 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 capability. 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 ==> ARRL MEMBERSHIP NEWSLETTERS, BULLETINS AND NOTIFICATIONS 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 E-Letter. 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 <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/memdata.html>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE 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 <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/propagation.html>. To read this week's Solar Report in its entirety, check out the W1AW Propagation Bulletin page <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/prop/>. 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. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * 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 <http://www.arrl.org/contests/>, the ARRL Contest Update <http://www.arrl.org/contests/update/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. Looking for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL Special Event Station Web page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html>. * 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 <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html> or contact the Continuing Education Program Coordinator <firstname.lastname@example.org>. * 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 <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/QSTvote.html>. * 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 <http://www.akhamfest.com/arcticcirclespecial.php> 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 <email@example.com> 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; <http://www.arrl.org/>. 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 <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news updates. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> also offers informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> 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!): firstname.lastname@example.org ==>Editorial questions or comments: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, email@example.com ==>ARRL News on the Web: <http://www.arrl.org/> ==>ARRL Audio News: <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for e-mail delivery: ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site <http://www.arrl.org/members/>. You'll have an opportunity during registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW bulletins, and other material. To change these selections--including delivery of The ARRL Letter--registered members should click on the "Member Data Page" link (in the Members Only box). Click on "Modify membership data," check or uncheck the appropriate boxes and/or change your e-mail address if necessary. (Check "Temporarily disable all automatically sent email" to temporarily stop all e-mail deliveries.) Then, click on "Submit modification" to make selections effective. (NOTE: HQ staff members cannot change your e-mail delivery address. You must do this yourself via the Members Only Web Site.) The ARRL Letter also is available to all, free of charge, from these sources: * ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/>. (NOTE: The ARRL Letter will be posted each Friday when it is distributed via e-mail.) * The QTH.net listserver, thanks to volunteers from the Boston Amateur Radio Club: Visit Mailing Lists@QTH.Net <http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/letter-list>. (NOTE: The ARRL cannot assist subscribers who receive The ARRL Letter via this listserver.) Copyright 2008 American Radio Relay League, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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