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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 37
September 29, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


The next-generation Phase 3D Amateur Radio satellite is set for launch on Halloween! The launch agency Arianespace said that in addition to Phase 3D, an Ariane 5 rocket would attempt to orbit the PAS 1R communications satellite and two other payloads, STRV 1C and STRV 1D, on Tuesday, October 31. The launch will take place at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The Ariane 5 launcher that will carry Phase 3D into space as it appears in the Ariane 5 integration building at Kourou. The main cryogenic stage is in the center. Ariane 5's two large solid-fuel boosters flank the main stage. [Arianespace Photo]

AMSAT-Germany Executive Vice President Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, who's heading up the launch campaign, was a bit more tentative about the launch date. He called October 31 "the start of the launch window" and said it was the earliest date on which the launch could take place.

AMSAT officials were encouraged by the successful September 14 Ariane 5 launch that placed two communication satellites in orbit. A launch using an older generation Ariane-4 rocket is scheduled for October 7.

Guelzow reports launch preparations for the October 31 Ariane 507 Phase 3D flight officially got under way September 18 in Kourou and are proceeding "on target." Guelzow is pinch hitting for Phase 3D Project Leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, who was unable to make the trip.

AMSAT News Service says the RUDAK computer team, the RF team and members of the electronics team from AMSAT-NA already have completed their work and returned home. Electronics team members from Europe this week were wrapping up their tasks and preparing to leave. Five of the six bays around the satellite's circumference have been secured for the final time; the sixth bay has been prepared to load fuel. Thermal blanket additions have also been completed. Final tests have been made on several detectors--such as the sun sensor--and the solar cells were being mounted on the satellite and will be connected to the battery chargers.

Once everything is ready, the rocket and the satellite payload packages it will carry will be integrated in the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building.

The Phase 3D launch prep team conducts functional tests of all receivers and transmitters, and sensors as well as all experimental packages. [AMSAT-NA Photo]

Guelzow reminded operators planning to use Phase 3D after launch that it could be a few months after launch before Phase 3D is ready for routine operation. The actual time depends on several factors including orbital parameters and the work needed to nudge P3D into its final elliptical orbit. Guelzow said that satellite operators worldwide "can rest assured that every effort will be made to initiate operations at the first possible opportunity consistent with flight operations."

The launch team has established a Web site that includes photographs of the team preparing the satellite. For more information about Phase 3D, visit the AMSAT-NA Web site.


The ARRL has advised the FCC to put its ultra-wideband--or UWB--technology proceeding on hold until more evidence is available on UWB's interference impact. Saying the technology could have enormous benefits for public safety, consumers and businesses, the FCC last May proposed amending its Part 15 rules to permit the operation of ultra-wideband on an unlicensed basis. The League filed comments September 12 in the Commission proceeding, ET Docket 98-153.

UWB proponents claim the devices are capable of operating on spectrum that's already occupied by existing radio services without causing interference. The FCC says UWB deployment could permit scarce spectrum resources to be used more efficiently.

The ARRL said that while it does not object "as a general principle" to authorizing UWB devices under Part 15, "UWB devices cannot be authorized on a blanket basis at this point without making assumptions which could very well be erroneous, and with potentially disastrous results for licensed radio services." The League said the UWB proceeding should be put on hold until test results are available on the impact of UWB and a further round of comments sought. Specific rules need to take into account "empirical evidence of interference potential from UWB devices," the ARRL said, and it questioned why the proceeding was issued before test results and analyses were received.

The bulk of the League's comments focus on the potential for interference from UWB to Amateur Radio allocations. "Part of ARRL's reluctance is that some types of UWB operation will result in wideband noise across multiple amateur bands, something not likely to occur with most presently authorized Part 15 devices," the ARRL asserted. The League called upon the FCC to not authorize any UWB deployment below 2.5 GHZ. The ARRL also asked the FCC not only to determine reasonable operating conditions for UWB devices but to also consider how it will address cases of harmful interference that may result from UWB deployment. And the ARRL said it wants the FCC to consider extending the protections it's considering for safety services--such as GPS--to the Amateur Service.

The League attached to its comments rough calculations of the interference potential of various possible UWB configurations. It also offered to contribute to further studies now underway under the auspices of the NTIA and the Department of Transportation.

"At this point, it is not reasonable to adopt rules for UWB devices," the ARRL concluded, "despite an apparent public interest in accommodating such devices." The ARRL's comments in the UWB proceeding are available.


Three Amateur Radio satellites were propelled into space September 26 aboard a converted Soviet ballistic missile. The launch reportedly took place at 1005 UTC from the Baikonur Cosmodrome .

Now in low-Earth orbit are SaudiSat-1A and SaudiSat-1B and TiungSat-1. The satellites appear to be functioning and are being commissioned by ground controllers. The launch vehicle, a Dnepr 1 rocket, is based on the Soviet SS-18 "Satan" ICBM--a ballistic missile reworked for peaceful purposes.

The SaudiSats will be able to operate 9600 baud digital store-and-forward as well as analog FM repeater mode. The uplinks will be on VHF and the downlinks in UHF (Mode J). The downlink for SaudiSat-1A is 437.075 MHz; the downlink for SaudiSat-1B is 436.775 MHz. The uplinks will be published after the satellites have been checked out and commissioned.

Jim White, WD0E, reports that both SaudiSats have been turned on and are running the initial housekeeping task. He says the downlinks are only on when the satellite is over ground stations that are participating in the commissioning process.

TiungSat-1 is Malaysia's first microsatellite. For amateurs, it 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 satellite also carries land and weather imaging payloads.

Chris Jackson, G7UPN, reports TiungSat was activated from the 9M2MCS command station on September 27. "Excellent telemetry was received showing that the spacecraft was in good health," he said in a posting to the AMSAT reflector. Jackson said the spacecraft currently is transmitting telemetry on 437.325 MHz. The flight software was to be loaded this week. "With only one pass night and morning over Malaysia it will take some time to get everything running," he said.

TiungSat--named after the mynah bird native to Malaysia--was developed as a collaborative effort between the Malaysian government and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of the UK.

The Dnepr 1 booster also launched a pair of Italian commercial satellites.--AMSAT News Service; Bruce Paige, KK5DO;; TiungSat


In an effort to better document the extent of unlicensed operation on Amateur Radio frequencies--particularly 10 meters--the International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 Monitoring System is surveying member societies about the extent of the problem. The ARRL is soliciting reports from US hams to supplement its response to the survey.

"At the peak of the sunspot cycle, CB-like operations become more and more apparent on the highest HF band," says Brennan Price, N4QX, administrator of the ARRL Monitoring System.

ARRL HQ staffers Brennan Price, N4QX, and John Hennessee, N1KB, troll 10 meters at W1INF, keeping an ear open for possible unlicensed operators. [ARRL Photo]

Price says that on September 28 alone, the ARRL received three reports of such activity on 10 meters. "John Hennessee, N1KB, and I took turns monitoring at headquarters station W1INF and noted 12 such stations in about 15 minutes of listening time--all using AM between 28.0 and 28.1 MHz," he reports.

In order to provide statistical backing for ARRL's survey response, Price is soliciting reception reports from amateurs for the two-week period October 1 to October 14. Observations should include date and time in UTC, frequency, mode of the transmission, language (if known), and any notes that might assist in identifying the source. Observations should also be limited to amateur frequencies, focusing on 10 and 12 meters.

Price emphasized that operations on the so-called "freeband" between 10 meters and the 11 meter Citizens' Band are not a topic of this survey.

Price urged monitors to use caution before documenting a transmission as probably unlicensed. "Most countries do not mandate a segregation of voice and digital modes, as the US does," he pointed out. "A phone transmission between 28.0 and 28.3 MHz is not necessarily illegal in the country where that transmission occurs, and if valid amateur call signs can be made out, the transmission should not be reported." Price notes, however, that lower sideband and AM transmissions between 28.0 and 28.1 MHz usually are unlicensed "and may be treated with suspicion."

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, said he believes the best short-term solution is for amateurs to get on the air and use their frequencies. "Illegal operation on 10 meters declines on a contest weekend," Sumner says. "If that volume of stations would operate more often, perhaps these intruders would look elsewhere for an open frequency."

E-mail reports to Brennan Price at All reports will be acknowledged, and respondents will receive a summary of the survey results via return e-mail.


AMSAT-NA President Keith Baker, KB1SF, says he plans to step down when his term ends next month. In what AMSAT News Service called "a surprise announcement," Baker said he will not seek re-election his current term expires at the upcoming AMSAT annual meeting in Portland, Maine.

"It's been a great ride," Baker said this week. "My term is up, and it's time to step aside and give someone else a chance to lead."

AMSAT-NA Keith Baker, KB1SF, speaking at Dayton Hamvention 2000. [ARRL Photo]

If Baker has his way, that "someone else" will be Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, the current AMSAT-NA executive vice president and an AMSAT-NA board member. Baker said that Haighton has agreed to serve as president come October, and that Ray Soifer, W2RS, has agreed to step back into the job of executive vice president. Soifer now serves as international affairs VP for AMSAT-NA. Baker said he's been encouraging Haighton and Soifer to assume expanding roles in AMSAT's daily operation and that both have "risen to the challenge and have been doing an exceptional job."

Baker became AMSAT-NA president in 1998, succeeding Bill Tynan, W3XO. Prior to becoming president, Baker had served four years as executive vice president. He also serves as a member of the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors and recently was re-elected to serve another two-year term. Baker said AMSAT-NA is "very strong, very healthy" and that he's pleased to see the Phase 3D project close to fruition.

Baker says his personal corporate consulting and training business along with a second, highly successful family enterprise have been taking a significant amount of his available time. The AMSAT-NA presidency involves a lot of work, Baker said, adding "the Board really runs AMSAT," and the organization won't skip a beat with the transition to a new leader at the helm.

Baker also said he was pleased and gratified at the level of support for the Phase 3D project. The bulk of the money for Phase 3D has been in small donations of $5, $10 and $20, he said, "which is, to me, phenomenal, and the real miracle of Phase 3D."--AMSAT News Service


The man believed to have been the oldest Amateur Radio operator in the US and the oldest member of ARRL has become a Silent Key. Wilbur "Bill" Dearing, W5QN, of Bonham, Texas, died September 20 at a Dallas hospital. He was 101. Dearing succumbed to complications resulting from a fall in which he broke his hip.

First authorized to operate a spark-gap transmitter by the US Department of Commerce in 1913 or 1914, Dearing remained an active amateur until the day of the accident that led to his death. He obtained his W5QN call sign in 1927, the year the Federal Radio Commission--the predecessor to the FCC--was established.

Dearing had succeeded George "Dewey" Wilson, W7HF, of Aberdeen, Washington, as the ARRL's most senior member and oldest US ham when Wilson died on July 8 at the age of 102. It's not known who holds senior honors at this point, but Dearing may have been the last US Amateur Radio operator to have been born in the 19th century. A 100-year-old Pennsylvania ham and League member, John E. Wilcox, NO3R, died earlier this year.

A CW operator, Dearing in later years got on 20 meters almost daily to chat with friends and acquaintances. He was a member of DXCC and had been an ARRL member for more than 60 years.

Graveside services for Bill Dearing were held September 23 in Bonham. His sister, Aleene, died September 17 at the age of 99 and was buried the day her brother passed away. Survivors include a son and three daughters as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The family has invited memorial donations to the Dr M. B. Nelson Scholarship Fund, c/o Educational Administration, Texas A&M University, College Station TX 77843.


Solar seer Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and sunspot numbers were up over the past week, while average geomagnetic indices were lower--always a happy condition for HF radio enthusiasts. Solar flux peaked at 232.2 on September 22 and sunspot numbers peaked at 255 on September 24. Average sunspot numbers for the week were up nearly 87 points, and average solar flux rose by almost 39 points, when compared to the previous week.

Geomagnetic indices should remain stable over the next few days, with planetary A indices predicted at around 10. On Monday through Wednesday, October 2-4, the A index is forecast at 12, 15 and 12, probably based on the previous solar rotation. This indicates an unsettled to active geomagnetic conditions, with higher absorption of HF radio signals, particularly in the higher latitude or polar paths.

Solar flux is expected to decline over the next few days, with Saturday, September 30, at 190 and Sunday, October 1, around 180. For the short term, flux values should reach a minimum near 155 around October 7-9, then head above 200 again around mid-month.

We have now passed the autumnal equinox and are experiencing fall HF conditions. 10 and 12-meter operators should expect great propagation, at least when the K index as reported by WWV is three or less. As the northern hemisphere moves further from the summer season, 160 and 80 meters should improve with shorter days and less of the static commonly associated with summer.

Sunspot numbers for September 21 through 27 were 198, 248, 216, 255, 215, 223 and 233, with a mean of 226.9. The 10.7-cm flux was 225.1, 232.2, 225.2, 224.5, 225.6, 223.6 and 204.7, with a mean of 223. Estimated planetary A indices were 9, 7, 7, 10, 16, 21 and 11 with a mean of 11.6.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The Louisiana and Texas QSO parties are the weekend of September 30-October 1. Just ahead: The California QSO Party, the VK/ZL/Oceania Contest (phone), the RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest (phone), the YLRL YL Anniversary Contest (CW), and the TARA PSK31 Rumble are the weekend of October 7-9. See October QST, page 100, for details.

  • Another long-distance FRS rescue: An 11-year-old Marysville, Washington, girl helped rescue a stranded and injured hiker 100 miles away on September 24 when she picked up his call for help on her Family Radio Service UHF H-T. Mikayala Whitley was playing Sunday with the little transceiver outside her home in north of Seattle when she heard the call for help and responded. She was able to keep in contact with injured hiker Michael Wyant, 49, throughout the afternoon. The girl's parents called authorities, who launched a rescue with the youngster acting as a communication relay between the hiker and rescuers. Wyant was picked up by a helicopter later that afternoon, treated at a hospital and released. He also called to thank his radio rescuer. The FRS units--which operate in the 462-MHz range--have a typical range of a couple of miles. In June, two young Oregon brothers were credited with quick thinking after they intercepted a plea for help transmitted via an FRS UHF transceiver by some injured mountaineers more than 80 miles away. Those hikers also were rescued as a result. REACT International has suggested the adoption of FRS channel 1 (462.5625 MHz) with the CTCSS tone disabled as a national call channel. REACT says it came up with the idea after lost hikers in Southern California spent 40 minutes calling on 14 different FRS channels using 38 different tones. In that case, an 11-year-old boy, Kristofer Moore, heard the distress call on his FRS H-T while camping with his family.--news reports; REACT

  • New North American 24-GHz record claimed: A new North American distance record at 24 GHz is being claimed by Ron Smith, K6GZA and Gary Lauterbach, AD6FP. The contact occurred September 16 during the 2000 10 GHz and Up Cumulative Contest. The 24 GHz contact took place between Mt Oso (CM97hm) in Northern California and Mt Frazier (DM04ms) in Southern California. The calculated distance of 375 km is believed to be a new North American record. Both stations used SSB with signals peaking to S7 on the Frazier end and S5 on the Oso end of the path. At the time conditions on 10 GHz over the path were reported excellent. Signal levels were good enough for K6GZA and AD6FP to converse for several minutes before each went back to working other stations in the contest.--thanks to Gary Lauterbach, AD6FP, and Ron Smith, K6GZA

  • FCC upholds forfeiture for illegal amplifier sales: The FCC has denied a Petition for Reconsideration and upheld a $7000 fine against The Two Way Shop of Kennewick, Washington. The shop was fined for willful and repeated violation of the Communications Act of 1934 and FCC rules by offering illegal linear amplifiers for sale. In a May 3, 2000, response to the FCC's earlier Forfeiture Order, the Two Way Shop alleged that neither its owner-operator nor his wife had spoken with FCC agents in the shop and, accordingly, could not have offered to sell linear amplifiers to the agents. "The Two Way Shop apparently overlooks our statement in the Forfeiture Order that the investigating agents posed as 'members of the general public'," the FCC responded in a Memorandum Opinion and Order released September 14. The FCC said the agents' decision to go under cover had no bearing on The Two Way Shop's culpability, and it denied the Petition for Reconsideration. The Two Way Shop was given 30 days to pay the fine.--FCC

  • Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for September was David Blaschke, W5UN, for his article "MBA: The Mighty Big Antenna." Congratulations, Dave! ARRL members are reminded that the winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author(s) of the best article in each issue--now is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the ARRL Members Only Web site. As soon as your copy arrives, cast a ballot for your choice as the favorite article in the October issue of QST. Voting ends October 15.

  • California ARES teams draw fire duty: Sacramento Valley (North) Section Emergency Coordinator David Thorne, K6SOJ, reports that ARES teams in Northern California responded after a wildfire erupted September 19 near Concow Reservoir. The wind-driven fire, located a few miles east of Paradise, California, spread rapidly. ARES teams in Butte County and several surrounding areas were called up to provide auxiliary communication for the Red Cross and the California Department of Forestry. The Concow Fire consumed 1800+ acres, destroyed 14 homes and damaged five others. One resident died after refusing to evacuate, five were injured, and 200 people were displaced.

  • Continuing Legal Education Seminar set for Pacificon 2000: ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, and California Pacific Division Volunteer Counsel Coordinator Harry Styron, K6HS, will conduct a Continuing Legal Education Seminar in Concord, California, in conjunction with PACIFICON 2000. The session will be held at the Sheraton Concord (Airport) Hotel October 20 from 8 AM until noon. The cost of the seminar for attorneys seeking CLE credit is $50. If CLE credit is not needed, the cost is $10. It is free for those attending for less than an hour. It is open to all, lawyers and laymen alike. The seminar covers in-depth state and local antenna regulation with the focus on amateur issues and other legal topics affecting Amateur Radio. Attendees also will get an overview of the structure of federal telecommunications regulation in the US. Contact John Hennessee, N1KB,; 860-594-0236; fax 860-594-0259 to reserve a seat and course materials. Payment may be made before the seminar. Complete information on Pacificon is available.

  • FCC puts a new face on ULS home page: The FCC has spiffed up the Universal Licensing System home page. But beyond the shiny, new façade--which simplifies and clarifies navigation and minimizes confusion--it's the same ULS we have come to know and love--or hate. Check it out!

  • Local TV stations provide repeater facility upgrade: The National Weather Service says two TV stations serving the Springfield, Missouri, area--KOLR and KDEB--have donated antenna and tower facilities valued at $250,000 for use by Amateur Radio SKYWARN and other emergency groups. Quorum Broadcasting, parent company of KOLR and KDEB, provided the facilities, and the 145.49 repeater was scheduled to move to the new site on September 1. The 145.49 repeater trustee and club president Michael Blake, N0NQW, called the occasion "an important day, not only for the National Weather Service SKYWARN nets, but for the other emergency service groups in the region." The donation includes a five-year unlimited-use contract between the repeater group and the broadcaster, guaranteeing a location for Amateur Radio SKYWARN and emergency operations.--National Weather Service/Springfield news release

  • Timothy S. Smith, KF6AUE, SK: Tim Smith, KF6AUE, of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, died September 7. He was 47. An ARRL member, Smith was heavily involved in public service and emergency communication activities. He was a member of the South Orange Amateur Radio Association as well as a Disaster Action Team volunteer for the American Red Cross--a role in which he responded to numerous local emergencies to assist victims of disasters. In addition, was president of the Santa Margarita Amateur Radio Team--an ARES unit--and chairman of the Rancho Santa Margarita disaster preparation committee.--Bill Westfall, KD6NJP

  • Vera Woodland, WD5BOW, SK: Vera Woodland, WD5BOW, of Saginaw Michigan, and formerly of Arlington Texas, died September 23. She was 88. Woodland and her late husband Paul, W8EEY, who died in 1982, were the only husband-wife team ever to win the Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year Award, which they received in 1982. For many years The Paul (W8EEY) and Vera (WD5BOW) Woodland Award was presented to the Outstanding Ham of the Year in the North Texas Section. They also taught Amateur Radio classes and are said to have helped dozens of newcomers to get their licenses in North Texas.--Tom Anderson, WW5L

  • UK abolishes age restriction: After discussions with the Radio Society of Great Britain, the UK Radiocommunications Agency has to drop the age restriction to obtain a "full" Amateur Radio license. Previously, applicants had to be 14 years of age or over, or to have held a Novice license for a least a year. Now, applicants who have passed the radio amateur examination and either the 5 WPM or 12 WPM Morse code test for a Class A/B or Class A license respectively, may apply for a full license.--RSGB

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