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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 30
August 4, 2000

Editor's note: The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will be on vacation August 11, 2000. They will return Friday, August 18.--Rick Lindquist, N1RL


+Available on ARRL Audio News


Lew "Mac" McCoy, W1ICP, in a photo taken last May. [Neil Armann photo]

Amateur Radio legend and former ARRL Headquarters staff member Lew "Mac" McCoy, W1ICP, of Mesa, Arizona, died July 31. He was 84. His daughter, Marsha Ashurst, W1HAQ, said McCoy had not been feeling well for about seven weeks and was diagnosed as being seriously ill only three weeks before he died.

As a member of the ARRL Headquarters staff from 1949 until 1978, McCoy gained a national and international reputation primarily for his articles in QST and his early work to combat TV interference. "He became a hero of all the Novices and beginners because his stuff was so down to earth and easy to read," said retired ARRL Communications Manager George Hart, W1NJM, a good friend.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, described McCoy as "one of a kind" and "versatile." Sumner said McCoy "left his mark on future generations of amateurs as QST's 'Beginner and Novice' editor." When FM repeaters came along, Sumner said, McCoy made it his mission to educate his ARRL colleagues about their potential.

After authoring some 200 columns and articles, McCoy finally got a cover shot on QST for April 1963.

An ARRL Life Member, McCoy was first licensed as W9FHZ. He arrived at ARRL Headquarters in 1949, eventually landing in the Technical Department. There, he was able to take advantage of his ability to explain technical concepts in simple terms.

McCoy earned a reputation as a tireless traveler and goodwill ambassador for Amateur Radio. He first started hitting the road in the early 1950s after TVI had become troublesome for amateurs and soon became the League's TVI expert.

Ashurst recalls how the family toured with McCoy as he demonstrated TVI cures for hams and TV service personnel alike. "As children we also sat through many of his presentations and knew more about TVI than any other kids in the country," she said. "We were the first in town to have a TV set so that Dad could monitor interference. Having a TV also made us very popular with the other kids, especially when Ed Sullivan had Elvis Presley [on]."

ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, credited McCoy with providing the foundation for the ARRL's current RFI expertise in helping hams to deal with interference to consumer equipment and interference to hams from other sources. McCoy also was well-known for one of his projects, "The Ultimate Transmatch," an antenna tuner he described in a July 1970 QST article.

Tireless traveler: Even in his later years, McCoy made the rounds of conventions and hamfests. Here's McCoy (center) at the 1989 Dayton Hamvention chatting with CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA (left), and then-CQ Editor Alan Dorhoffer, K2EEK (SK). [CQ photo]

After leaving the ARRL Headquarters staff, McCoy continued as a QST contributing editor. He subsequently was a major contributor to other Amateur Radio publications, including CQ.

During his active years on the air, McCoy was an avid DXer. More recently, he was active in the Quarter Century Wireless Association, had served as QCWA president and a board member and had just been elected again to the QCWA's Board of Directors, something his daughters never got to tell him before he died. QCWA President Emeritus Leland Smith, W5KL, remembers McCoy as a proponent of a no-code license for beginners who also advocated the 5 WPM maximum code requirement subsequently adopted by the FCC.

McCoy's first wife (of 60 years), Martha, died in 1998. Survivors include his wife, Clara Gibbs McCoy, and his daughters, Marsha Ashurst, W1HAQ--licensed at age 8 and said at the time to be the youngest ham in the world--and Sharon Armann, ex-WN1GQR, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In accordance with McCoy's wishes, there will be no funeral. The family is planning a memorial service for McCoy in early December. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial donations in Lew McCoy's name to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E Flower St, Phoenix, AZ 85014-5656. Condolences may be sent to the family care of Marsha Ashurst, PO Box 2260, Lakeside, AZ 85929.


The way has been cleared for the Amateur Radio gear destined for use aboard the International Space Station to be launched into space. The initial amateur gear is scheduled go up to the ISS on mission STS-106 aboard the shuttle Atlantis on September 8. As part of the multinational Amateur Radio on the International Space Station project, the gear will be stowed aboard the ISS for use by the Expedition 1 crew, which comes aboard in late October.

"We have been working for years to bring the first ISS hardware to fruition," ARISS Administrative Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said this week. "It looks like the final issues that have held us back are now over, and we are moving ahead toward the launch of the initial hardware on STS-106."

Bauer said three events over the past couple of weeks were key to moving the ARISS project forward. The first was the launch and docking of the Russian-built Zvezda service module that eventually will house the ARISS gear. In addition, Bauer said, a series of RF, power-up and other tests on the amateur equipment were successfully completed in Russia, thanks to Lou McFadin, W5DID, of ARISS and AMSAT and Carolynn Conley, KD5JSO, of NASA. He said NASA also signed off on the required flight safety package, giving the go-ahead to release the amateur hardware for flight aboard the upcoming shuttle mission.

The Expedition 1 crew will consist of three amateurs: US astronaut Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, and Russian Cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and the recently licensed Yuri Gaidzenko, whose call sign was not available.

The ARISS initial amateur gear in a NASA "soft stow" bag that protects the gear during flight and transfer from the shuttle to the ISS. The initial ham gear--primarily Ericsson commercial-grade hand-held transceivers--eventually will support amateur operation from the ISS on voice and AFSK packet on 2 meters and 70 cm. [NASA photo]

So that the station will be available to the first crew, the ARISS initial station gear will be installed temporarily aboard the ISS functional cargo block and use an existing antenna that's being adapted to support FM voice and packet on 2 meters but not on 70 cm. Eventually, the ARISS gear will find a more-permanent home aboard the Zvezda service module.

A Russian call sign, RZ3DZR, has been issued for the ISS ham radio station. A German call sign, DL0ISS, also has been issued, and a US call sign will be applied for.

The ARRL and AMSAT have been providing leadership and consulting services for ARISS. ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO--a member of the Space Amateur Radio EXperiment Working Group--says this is an exciting moment for the project, which has one goal of letting students on Earth communicate with the ISS inhabitants via Amateur Radio.

"All of the hard work from the many volunteers is starting to pay off," she said. "We have so many people to thank--all of the AMSAT volunteers, ARRL people, the NASA folks--so many of whom are hams. But seeing the youth of the United States and other countries benefit is our reward."

Bauer says the astronauts and cosmonauts plan to take some time off for educational outreach contacts with schools, even during the busy years of ISS construction that lie ahead. "NASA's Division of Education is a major supporter of the Amateur Radio activity," he said. Bauer says access to Amateur Radio also is considered a morale booster for ISS crew members by providing family and general contacts "for people who will be in space many weeks at a time." The initial crew will be aboard the ISS for three to four months.

As the International Space Station takes its place in the heavens, Bauer said, "the Amateur Radio community is prepared to do its part by helping to enrich the experience."

For more information about Amateur Radio on the ISS and SAREX, visit the SAREX Web site.


The FCC has confirmed that fewer than one-fifth of US Amateur Radio licensees--including club stations--are registered on the Universal Licensing System. The FCC deployed the ULS for the Amateur Service just under a year ago, although registration has been available far longer.

The question of how many hams now were ULS-registered arose during the July 21 meeting of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Not even the FCC officials on hand had an answer. After the meeting, RC Smith, W6RZA, of the Greater Los Angeles VEC crunched some numbers to see if he could supply one for his colleagues.

Starting with the 717,629 licensees in the FCC database at that point, Smith subtracted the 31,449 determined to be expired but within the two-year grace period. Sorting on the Licensee ID Number field, Smith came up with 129,947 ULS registrants, or 18.9% of the remaining 686,180 licensees.

The FCC's Steve Linn, N4CAK, says the Commission ran its own numbers and came up with a similar figure--although without subtracting for those within the two-year grace period. "The quick run done here looked at all active records--717,314--and how many had Licensee ID numbers, giving 18.1%," Linn said this week. "Take out the grace records and we're in the same ballpark."

During his comments at the Dayton Hamvention FCC forum, Linn encouraged amateur licensees to register with ULS to "lock in" their FCC records. ULS registration, he said, "protects your call sign within the system" and could prevent it from inadvertently being deleted or reissued due to a filing error.

All amateurs must be registered with the ULS in order to file applications with the FCC, even for such routine matters as a change of address or a license renewal. Registration requires that licensees supply a Taxpayer Identification Number, or TIN--a Social Security number for an individual. Some amateurs have protested that requirement citing privacy concerns, but the FCC has maintained that it's bound by the Debt Collection Improvement Act to require it.

Last month, the FCC announced that it has begun implementing the new Commission Registration System, or CORES. Registration in CORES eventually will replace ULS registration, although the FCC has not indicated just when the switch will occur. CORES registration also will require registrants to supply a TIN. Those already registered in ULS need not register again in CORES, however. The FCC says the ULS will continue to be the primary Amateur Radio licensee database and the only means to file applications and updates.

The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau recently announced expanded hours for ULS technical support. ULS users may now reach the FCC Technical Support Hotline, 202-414-1250, from 7 AM to 10 PM weekdays. Weekend service is newly available. On Saturdays the Hotline will be available from 8 AM until 7 PM and on Sundays from noon until 6 PM (all times Eastern). Users also may contact tech support via e-mail at

For more information, to access the ULS or to register, visit the FCC's ULS site.


Former ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Guillermo M. Schwarz, KP3S, and his wife, Hildelisa, died July 29 after Schwarz's experimental aircraft crashed in Ohio. The mishap is said to have occurred as the single-engine, two-seat kit plane was attempting a final landing approach at Wayne County Airport near Wooster. The couple died after being taken to separate hospitals. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. The couple had flown to the mainland on vacation.

Schwarz, 49, was Puerto Rico's Section Manager from October 1994 until September 1998 and had been serving as a Southeastern Division Assistant Director since 1996.

Former ARRL Field Services Manager Rick Palm, K1CE, remembered Schwarz as an enthusiastic volunteer who inspired others. "He was a friend and a gracious host during my visits to Puerto Rico," he said. Puerto Rico SM Victor Madera, KP4PQ, called Guillermo Schwarz "an excellent ham, a good friend." He said that Schwarz, who had piloted B-52s in the service, had only completed building the aircraft a few weeks earlier.

Joe Schmidt, W4NKJ, the former volunteer coordinator for W4EHW at the National Hurricane Center said Schwarz was "a good friend and vigorous supporter of the Amateur Radio work at the Center." he said Schwarz HF APRS weather signal served as a regular beacon from Puerto Rico and helped to validate the technology in its early years. "The sudden death of Guillermo and his wife Hildelisa is both a personal tragedy and a great loss to the Amateur Radio community," Schmidt said.

Survivors include the couple's four children, Guillermo, Jose, Laura and Carlos, and Guillermo Schwarz' father, William Schwarz, KP4EEB. Services were August 2 in Santurce, Puerto Rico.


New amateur satellites are reported on the way as payloads from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are set to launch later this month from Russia.

SAUDISAT-1A and SAUDISAT-1B, the first Amateur Radio satellites from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are under construction at the Space Research Institute in Riyadh. Tentatively set to launch August 25 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, the two satellites will be capable of 9.6 kB digital store-and-forward operation as well as FM bent pipe mode.

SAUDISAT 1A will have a downlink on 437.075; SAUDISAT-1B will downlink on 436.775 MHz. VHF uplinks will be announced after commissioning.

"Amateur Radio is in its infancy in Saudi Arabia," said Dr Turki Al Saud, director of the Space Research Institute. "With these satellites we hope not only to add satellites to the space resources available to hams worldwide, but to increase the awareness of the value of Amateur Radio in the Kingdom."

The first Malaysian amateur satellite, TIUNGSAT-1, is also to be launched on the same vehicle. The new bird will offer FM and FSK (at 9.6, 38.4, and 76.8 kB) with uplinks at 144.46, 145.85, and 145.86 MHz and downlinks at 437.300, 437.325, 437.350, and 437.375 MHz. The package also includes the Multi-Spectral Earth Imaging System and Meteorological Earth Imaging system payloads. The Malaysian spacecraft is the result of a technological collaboration between Astronautic Technology and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. An animation of the TIUNGSAT-1 launch is available at the SSTL site.--AMSAT News Service


View larger image The progress of Cycle 23 to date, along with a comparison to Cycle 22 and Cycle 20. Cycle 23 appears to be similar to--but just a bit higher than--Cycle 20. This level of activity, while not approaching that of Cycles 22 and 21, will still give us excellent conditions on the higher HF bands as we progress from summer to fall and into winter. (View larger image.)

Propagation promulgator and Solar Update substitute correspondent Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, reports this week from Fort Wayne, Indiana: Solar activity for July 28 through August 3 was mostly at low levels. A minor M-class flare occurred on July 28. There was a C7 flare and associated coronal mass ejection (CME) on August 2.

The 10.7-cm solar flux, following the sun's 27-day rotation period, decreased to a minimum of about 155 at the beginning of last week. Solar flux is forecast to steadily climb to a maximum of about 240 around mid-August. Solar activity for August 4 through August 10 is expected to be at moderate to high levels. Isolated M-class flares are expected, along with a chance for an isolated major flare.

Cycle 23 continues its march upward, with a peak forecast by the end of the year. The latest smoothed sunspot number is 113 for January 2000. The estimated smoothed sunspot number for the month of August is 120.

Sunspot numbers for July 27 through August 2 were 174, 163, 183, 138, 123, 139 and 153 with a mean of 153.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 162.4, 157.8, 153.2, 149.9, 147.9, 149.4 and 150.6, with a mean of 153. The estimated planetary A indices were 9, 30, 27, 10, 19, 15 and 14, with a mean of 17.7.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The ARRL UHF Contest, the Ten-Ten International Net Summer Phone Contest, the QRP ARCI Summer Daze SSB Sprint, and the YO-DX Contest are the weekend of August 5-6. Just ahead: The Maryland-DC QSO Party, the W/VE Island Contest and the Worked All Europe DX Contest (CW) are the weekend of August 12-13. The ARRL 10 GHZ and Up Cumulative Contest, the New Jersey QSO Party, the North American QSO Party (SSB) and the SEANET Contest are the weekend of August 19-20. See August QST, page 104, for details.

  • Getting it right: The ARRL Letter Vol 19, No 29, used the incorrect name for the Girl Scouts. The correct name is Girl Scouts of the USA. At its July meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors voted to expand the ARRL's relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA, reaffirming the League's commitment to the nation's youth.--thanks to Tom Mitchell, KG7U, and Karen Mitchell, KB7CEN

  • Outgoing QSL Service marks a million: On July 28, the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau topped one million cards sent so far this year. QSL Service Assistant Tammy Krauss, K1TLK, says the year-to-date total is 1,103,535. That number is ahead of the same date last year by 22,215 cards.--Tammy Krauss, K1TLK

  • Microwave Update 2000 set for September: The Mid-Atlantic States' VHF Conference--Microwave Update 2000--will be held September 28-30 at the Holiday Inn Select, Bucks County just north of Philadelphia, with the Mt Airy VHF Radio Club "Pack Rats" as hosts. Anyone wishing to present and/or submit papers equipment design, construction, and propagation at frequencies above 900 MHz for inclusion in the printed copy of the Proceedings should contact Conference Chairman John Sortor, KB3XG, at The deadline to submit papers is Monday, August 7, 2000. Activities are planned for nonamateur family members. The Microwave Update will include the traditional surplus tour and evening flea markets at the hotel (the Pack Rats' Hamarama hamfest follows on Sunday, October 1 at the Middletown Grange Fairgrounds in Wrightstown, Pennsylvania). Noise figure testing will be provided as well as an equipment tune-up clinic. Advance Registration is $40 with forms available at the Packrats Web site. Send registration to Microwave Update, PO Box 682, Hatboro, PA 19040. Hamarama and dinner tickets will be available at the door. A block of 100 rooms is being held until September 7 for Microwave Update. Contact the Holiday Inn Select, Bucks County, 4700 Street Rd, Trevose, PA 19053; 215-364-2000; 800-HOLIDAY. For more information on Microwave Update 2000, contact John Sortor, KB3XG, or visit the Web site.--Harry Brown, W3IIT

    Andy Shefrin of the ARRL Information Systems Department installs new Compaq servers for the ARRL Headquarters information technology upgrade. [ARRL Photo by Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

  • HQ information technology upgrade under way: Hot on the heels of ARRL Board approval of up to around $1 million for an information technology upgrade, Information Systems Department personnel were installing new heavy-duty equipment. Ready to go on-line pending development of updated database software are two Compaq Proliant 5500 servers, each containing four Pentium Xeon processors. Each server has 1 GB of memory, four 18.2 GB hard drives, and a 1 Gb network card. The new computer software and hardware not only will enhance the ARRL's e-commerce capabilities but update membership information and accounting systems. It also eventually will enable such services as electronic QSLing, member Web access to DXCC records, nearly real-time updates of DXCC listings, and expanded, detailed contest results. The Board also agreed to provide additional financial support for the popular ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service.

  • Mir to be permanently manned: AMSAT News Service reports that MirCorp's board of directors recently approved a permanently manned operation of the Russian Mir space station beginning next year. The announcement signaled a major milestone in the company's plan to use the unique facility as the world's first commercial orbital space station. A schedule of privately financed MirCorp flights begins with the launch of an unmanned resupply spacecraft to Mir this fall, followed by two long-duration missions with cosmonauts in 2001. The implications for Amateur Radio operation from the station remain unclear.--Florida Today/ANS


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