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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 6
February 9, 2001


* +AO-40 future rests on spin, attitude control
* +Indian hams put available ham technology to work
* +ARRL open for business as Club Station Call Sign Administrator
* +A sad end to ham's round-the-world solo sail
* +SUNSAT goes dark
* +LF signals crossing Atlantic
*  League offering new five-year membership plan
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
    +ARRL Outgoing QSL Service announces revised rates
    +Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, recovering
     Call sign switcheroo
     W9NN to observe 80 years as a ham
     W1-QSL Bureau changes address
     Bill Orr, W6SAI, family posts letter of thanks

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The key to a successful AO-40 recovery continues to be a matter of reducing
spin and regaining the ability to adjust AO-40's attitude from the ground.
AMSAT says the current problem is a lack of accurate AO-40 attitude data. 

Only when ground controllers can accurately determine the satellite's
attitude will it be possible to change it and correctly aim AO-40's
high-gain antennas for optimal reception on Earth. Ground controllers have
had no luck hearing AO-40's transmitters on the omnidirectional antennas on
2 meters, 70 cm or 1.2 GHz. Since the satellite's computer was reset and
telemetry resumed December 25, the AO-40 ground team has been analyzing
telemetry sent via the 2.4 GHz beacon--the only transmitter now operating.

In its latest dispatch on AO-40, AMSAT-Germany waxed nearly poetic in
describing the satellite's present situation. "AO-40 is currently like a
ship that's lying on a sandbar in the fog at low tide," an update on the
AMSAT-DL Web site declared. AMSAT-DL said AO-40 was "in the fog" because its
high angle with respect to the sun temporarily prevents the sun sensors from
providing attitude data. It's "at low tide" because the steep solar angle
means less illumination of the solar panels and less energy produced. And
it's "on a sandbar" because the satellite can't be set free from its present
situation without some effort.

Ground controllers have been hoping that a previously announced "de-spinner"
programming routine could permit AO-40 spin control without having to rely
on the sun sensors. But even if the programming fix fails, by April,
controllers reason, the satellites sensors will again see the sun and
"thanks to magnetorquing, spin and attitude can be actively improved upon
the rising tide." Once the spin is reduced, sun angle improved, and antennas
pointed, testing can resume. Still outstanding are tests of the VHF and UHF
transmitters, the arc-jet motor, and the reaction wheels, among others.

Both AMSAT-DL President and AO-40 Project Leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, and
AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, have continued to be optimistic
that AO-40 will have a useful life of Amateur Radio service. AMSAT-DL says
the recovery effort has been slowed somewhat because of limited access time
on the part of the command team, due to AO-40's current orbital parameters. 


Hams assisting with earthquake relief operations in the Indian State of
Gujarat are even taking advantage of the UO-14 amateur FM satellite as they
continue providing communication from the stricken region. Hams within the
quake zone and those keeping touch from the outside also have found
themselves caught up in the human tragedy. The death toll from the quake now
is estimated at up to 50,000 and could rise higher. More than 600,000 were
left homeless.

Bangalore-based Guru Rao, VU2GUR, and Sandeep Shah, VU3SXE, a Gujarati
Bangalorean engaged in relief work in Gujarat have been using UO-14 to touch
bases. "Guru and Sandeep were quick to seize the opportunity and roped in
the amateur satellite UO-14 to maximize all possible communication routes,"
said Raj Kumar, VU2ZAP, another Bangalore ham who's been following the
Amateur Radio effort.

While some telephone service in the earthquake zone has been restored,
Amateur Radio was the primary link to the outside world in the immediate
aftermath of the January 26 earthquake.

Another Bangalore amateur, Chandru Ramachandra, VU2RCR--a former UNESCO
official--drove his SUV to Bhuj, 1700 km distant. Carrying a medical team
and some 400 kg of gear and supplies, he set up a station to establish a
link between Bhuj and Bangalore. As of a few days ago, 18 amateurs from the
State of Karnataka were handling communication regarding placement of
doctors and medical supplies as well as health-and-welfare inquiries into
areas where the telephone system is still out.

"This has become a practical exam showing our capability and preparedness in
disaster management," said Bangalore Amateur Radio Club President Lion Ajoy,

Most of the earthquake-related traffic continues to be handled via HF on 40
and 20-meter SSB, although some VHF FM links have been established for local
work in Gujarat.

Horey Majumdar, VU2HFR, says hams in Calcutta, where he lives, have been
able to locate and pass along information about the well being of several
individuals. "However, the best option would have been to have our own team
from Calcutta at Bhuj," he said. Majumdar says handling some of the H&W
inquiries has been tough. In one case, the information he got via ham radio
from the quake zone was not good news. "It was extremely difficult for me to
convey to their family that this person, his wife and 7-month-old daughter
didn't make it," he said. "There must have been thousands of families like

Late word from Prem Manani, VU2XMX, in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat,
is that reliance on amateur communication has ended with the restoration of
normal communication channels, although he said some stations were still in
action at the request of the Indian government. "The untiring job done by
all hams was appreciated by one and all in the government," he said.


The ARRL is open for business as an FCC-designated Club Station Call Sign
Administrator. ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, reports that the ARRL
CSCSA has received 10 club station applications to date since the program
officially began January 22, the date the FCC stopped accepting club station

"Beginning this program has been a relatively painless and very
straightforward process," Jahnke said. "Keeping the procedures simple has
played a big role in how smoothly things have gone."

Once an application is received at the ARRL-CSCSA, processing typically
takes two business days, Jahnke said. All but one of the applications
received by the ARRL CSCSA have been processed and granted by the FCC. "The
remaining application was faxed to us, and we need the original signed
application rather than a fax in order to process such requests," Jahnke
pointed out.

Last month, the FCC designated the ARRL-VEC, the W5YI-VEC and the W4VEC
Volunteer Examiners Club of America as Club Station Call Sign
Administrators. Club station applicants may file via any of the three
FCC-designated CSCSAs using either NCVEC Form 605 or W4VEC Form CSCSA to
file. The new CSCSAs receive and process hard-copy applications and submit
the information electronically to the FCC. The three FCC-designated Club
Station Call Sign Administrators do not charge for their services. Club
Station Call Sign Administrators do not handle requests for vanity call

Amateurs may seek a new club or military recreation station license, or may
file for modification, renewal or duplicate (requesting another hard copy
license, if the original was lost) of a club or military recreation station
license using NCVEC Form 605 or W4VEC Form CSCSA. NCVEC Form 605 is
available from the ARRL Web site, . 

RACES stations may file modification or duplicate requests, but RACES
licenses may not be renewed, and the FCC is no longer granting new RACES

The FCC requires applicants to obtain and use an Assigned Taxpayer
Identification Number--or ATIN--on their club station applications--although
a club that already has registered with the FCC's Universal Licensing System
may use its Licensee ID Number instead of its ATIN. If a club has its own
IRS-issued Entity Identification Number, or EIN, that number also may be
used instead.


An attempt by 76-year-old David Clark, KB6TAM, to become the oldest person
to sail solo around the world came to a sad end this week when Clark's
vessel, the Mollie Milar, sank two days after leaving Cape Town, South
Africa. Clark was rescued, but his "constant companion" Mickey, a west
highland terrier, was lost at sea during the rescue attempt. Clark was on
the final leg of his journey.

"David has been rescued by a container ship and is okay, although I have not
been able to talk with him yet," said his wife Lynda, in an e-mail posting.
"The ship is heading for East London, South Africa, and I am waiting for a
phone call from him, hopefully tomorrow."

David Clark's 44-foot sailboat went down the evening of February 7. Lynda
Clark said that she got the news via ham radio. "According to the ham
operator who contacted me, the boat sprang a leak and the pump could not
cope," she said. "It was very heavy weather, so when he realized that the
situation was hopeless he called for help and a passing container ship sent
a lifeboat to pick him up, and he had Mickey with him."

Lynda Clark said that the lifeboat capsized on the way back to the ship, and
everyone ended up in the water. "It would have been pitch dark, and in all
the trauma Mickey got lost. I'm sure David is heartbroken, as am I," she
said. "All of you who have met Mickey along the way know what a special
little guy he was."

" 'So close, and yet so far away,' I guess the quote goes," she concluded.
Lynda Clark said she would post additional information as soon as she hears
from her husband. 

During his journey, which began in late 1999, Clark had been keeping in
touch with his wife and family via ham radio, and he was a regular check-in
on the Maritime Net on 20 meters. His vessel, which was named for his
mother, also had satellite communication gear aboard.

Clark had been hoping to return to Ft Lauderdale, Florida, in mid-May, in
time for his 77th birthday.


SUNSAT SO-35 has ceased operation, and ground controllers at South Africa's
Stellenbosch University, where the satellite was built, say SO-35 appears to
be off-the-air for good. The satellite had served as a popular and easily
accessible FM-mode repeater.

"Unfortunately, little hope remains after two weeks of recovery attempts,"
said Stellenbosch University's Johann Lochner, ZR1CBC, in a posting to the
AMSAT bulletin board. "Thanks to all who shared in our fun. Your feedback
and encouragement made most of it happen."

A statement ( from
Stellenbosch University's Electronic Systems Laboratory said the last
communication with SUNSAT was on January 19 at 1522 UTC. "We are certain,
after having performed several tests since the last contact, that an
irreversible, probably physical, failure has occurred on the satellite," the
statement said. "It is therefore unlikely that we will have any further
contact with SUNSAT, apart from the occasional visual sighting by

Built by Stellenbosch grad students, SO-35 was launched February 23, 1999,
from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a Delta II rocket.

Ground controllers say it's unlikely that battery failure was the cause of
the shutdown. It's believed the failure resulted from multiple internal
problems or possible collision with an external object resulting in major
physical damage. 

The SUNSAT Web site is at


While efforts to complete a transatlantic LF QSO still have not been
successful, things have been looking up lately in the nether reaches of the
radio spectrum. Amateur Radio activity in the vicinity of 136 kHz has
resulted in several recent "sightings" of signals from the UK here in North
America. The first such signals were heard in the US in late January and
early February. A report that the AMRAD WA2XTF 136-kHz beacon in Virginia
had been heard in the UK turned out to be in error, however.

The most recent report came February 6 from Sandy Sanders, WB5MMB, in
Oakton, Virginia, who says he was able to copy Lawrence Mayhead, G3AQC, and
"dashes" from Jim Moritz, M0BMU, in the vicinity of 136 kHz. Sanders'
monitoring station is in a three-story office building.

Such weak LF signals are not actually heard but seen. Reception of weak LF
signals typically is done using spectrographic software. Signals are
transmitted using dual-frequency CW--or DFCW
( )--or very slow-speed CW, also known
as "QRSS." LF enthusiast Dexter McIntire, W4DEX, says that in DFCW the dot
and dash elements are sent with the same duration in time being separated by
frequency, making it easier to identify a signal from weak-carrier QRM.

From his QTH in coastal North Carolina, McIntire also has copied G3AQC on
136 kHz, possibly marking the first time an amateur LF signal from the UK
has been heard and verified in the US. He also received M0BMU's LF
transmissions for a possible distance record.

"My best reception of M0BMU, Jim Moritz, occurred at 0100 UTC on the 31st of
January," McIntire said. For LF reception, he ties together both legs of his
160-meter dipole and tuned the antenna for resonance with a small
ferrite-core inductor. Moritz estimated his effective radiated power at 1 W.

McIntire's reception of M0MBU might have set a new distance record. He
calculated the distance at nearly 6394 km, and Moritz figured it at 6371
km--apparently edging out what's believed to be the record of 6311 km set by

Mayhead said he'd been receiving "excellent signals" from John Currie,
VE1ZJ, and Larry Kayser, VA3LK, so he decided to run his own series of
beacon tests with the idea of encouraging stations in North America to

McIntire says that on January 27, he captured some of G3AQC's DFCW
transmission--including the letter "Q"--and sent him a screen shot, which
Mayhead confirmed as his. On a subsequent evening, W4DEX copied G3AQC's
entire call sign.

"I think that we can reasonably claim that these events constitute the first
sighting of a UK station in the US," Mayhead concluded. He estimated that
his setup generates an ERP of about 350 mW.

For a while, it had been thought that an Amateur Radio Research and
Development Corporation (AMRAD) WA2XTF experimental 136-kHz beacon in
Vienna, Virginia, had been spotted in the UK. John Sexton, G4CNN, had
reported copying the AMRAD experimental beacon on 136.750 kHz on February 5
and 6, momentarily raising the excitement level at AMRAD. That turned out
not to be the case. Sanders announced this week that it was determined the
signal heard in the UK was about 5 Hz high and did not have a characteristic
"chirp" that distinguishes the WA2XTF beacon.

Like several other countries in Europe, the UK has an amateur band at 136
kHz. Experimental amateur operations have been authorized in Canada; the
AMRAD beacon in the US is licensed under the FCC's Part 5 experimental

In October 1998, the ARRL petitioned the FCC to create two amateur LF
allocations at 135.7-137.8 kHz and 160-190 kHz. The FCC has not yet acted on
the request.

McIntire is among those who'd like to see a new LF band become reality. "I'm
champing at the bit to transmit on 136 kHz!" he said.


With a membership dues increase going into effect July 1, 2001, the ARRL is
offering a special five-year membership plan until then, so members can lock
in at the current, lower dues rates. Effective immediately, current or
prospective ARRL members in the US and US possessions can obtain a five-year
renewal or membership for $146 ($122 for those 65 or older)--a saving of $24
($18 for those 65 or older) from the cost of year-to-year renewal at current

Due to postal considerations, this offer cannot be extended to those living
in other countries. The special five-year membership offer expires June 30,
2001, the last day the present dues schedule is in effect. After that,
annual dues will increase to $39 for individuals ($34 for those 65 and

Another option is to apply for an ARRL Life Membership for $850. Special
discounts apply to senior and visually impaired applicants. A complete rate
schedule and application form is available on ARRLWeb, .


Helio honcho Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily
sunspot numbers were up almost 10 points, and solar flux was up about 1
point for the past week, when compared to the previous week. This seems to
be a period of quiet sun, and the trend is expected to continue. Projected
average daily solar flux for the next 45 days is expected to be about 163.
This is in line with current daily values.

Solar flux peaked at 170 on Tuesday, and is expected to drop over the next
few days. Projected flux values for Friday through Monday, February 12 are
155 for Friday, and 150 for the next three days. Flux values are expected to
meander between 155 and 165 until February 21-24, when they are expected to
rise to 170 again. Another peak just above these values is expected around
March 7, although it is really too early to tell.

Even with a quiet sun, there have been some unsettled geomagnetic
conditions, but no real geomagnetic storms. February 6 was a bit unsettled,
but the planetary K index only briefly reached 4. Planetary A index for the
day was 11, which was also the mid- latitude A index. Projected planetary A
index for the near term is mostly in the single digits. A forecast received
today from the Solar Department of the Astronomical Institute in Ondrejov,
Czech Republic shows quiet conditions on February 11, 14 and 15, and quiet
to unsettled conditions on February 9, 10, 12 and 13.

Sunspot numbers for February 1 through 7 were 141, 109, 149, 164, 157, 161
and 163 with a mean of 149.1. The 10.7 cm flux was 160.9, 166.3, 163.6, 164,
165.3, 170 and 164, with a mean of 164.9. The estimated planetary A indices
were 7, 5, 2, 2, 3, 11 and 5 with a mean of 5.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (CW), the YL-OM
Contest (SSB), the Winter Fireside SSB Sprint, the WorldWide RTTY WPX
Contest, the PACC Contest, and the FISTS CW Winter Sprint are the weekend of
February 9-11. JUST AHEAD: The 15th annual School Club Roundup is February
12-16; the ARRL International DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of February
17-18. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, for
more info.

* ARRL Outgoing QSL Service announces revised rates: The ARRL Outgoing QSL
Service has announced a new and simplified rate structure, effective March
1, 2001. The new basic rate will be $4 per one-half pound (8 ounces, or
approximately 75 cards) or any portion of a half-pound, a change from the
current rate of $6 per pound or any portion. DXers still may ship 10 cards
for $1, but the 20 and 30-card rates are being discontinued. The new rate
structure will help to cover basic handling costs for smaller packages while
actually offering a price break to moderate-volume users submitting up to
one-half pound of cards. Under the current rate schedule, a half-pound of
cards would cost $6, but it will be $4 under the new schedule. The new rates
are in response to the recent postal rate increase and price restructuring.
The Outgoing QSL Service is available to ARRL members. The last rate
increase was in January 1999. For information on using the ARRL Outgoing QSL
Service, visit ARRLWeb, 

* Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, recovering: ARRL Atlantic
Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, is said to be doing well following
bypass surgery on February 2. All indications are that he should be able to
return home this week. Well wishers may contact Bernie via his home address,
17668 Price Rd, Saegertown, PA 16433.--thanks to ARRL Atlantic Division Vice
Director Bill Edgar, N3LLR 

* Call sign switcheroo: A Florida ARRL member has a new call sign he doesn't
want because he erroneously checked off the wrong box while changing his
address on-line via the FCC's Universal Licensing System. The amateur, who
shall remain anonymous, sought ARRL assistance to correct what he thought
was an FCC error. ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, looked into the
matter. As it turns out, the applicant apparently answered in the
affirmative on Schedule D of Form 605 where it asks "Is this a request to
change a station call sign systematically?" The FCC accordingly changed the
call sign. Jahnke points out that applicants seeking to change their
addresses in the FCC's database do not need to use Schedule D, and even if
it were used, the correct answer would have been "no" unless the applicant
wanted a new sequential, or systematic, call sign. Jahnke said the applicant
could attempt to plead his case to the FCC, which often is reluctant to
correct such errors by applicants. He also suggested that the applicant
could recover his old call sign by applying for it under the vanity program
as a former holder and paying the $14 fee. Late word is that the licensee is
going the vanity route.

* W9NN to observe 80 years as a ham: Bob Baird, W9NN, of Stevens Point,
Wisconsin, has been a ham for 80 years and is one of the founding fathers of
the Quarter Century Wireless Association. He also turns 95 on February.
Friends will gather for a "dual-celebration" luncheon February 17, 2001 (11
AM-1 PM, at the Stage Coach Inn at Mosinee; contact Wayne Johnson, K9MIF, for details). Bob Baird's work in founding the QCWA took
place about 1921. He's a member of Chapter 174. A QCWA plaque presentation
is on the program. Baird was engineering supervisor at Chicago's WGN radio
for 36 years. He also was the founder of the W9DXCC. He continues to be
active on CW and possibly other modes.--Badger State Smoke Signals 

* W1-QSL Bureau changes address: Effective immediately the address of the
ARRRL W1 Incoming QSL Bureau has changed. The new address is: W1 Incoming
QSL Bureau, YCCC, PO Box 7388, Milford, MA 01757-7388. Mail sent to the
Springfield address will be forwarded for up to one year.

* Bill Orr, W6SAI, family posts letter of thanks: The family of the late
Bill Orr, W6SAI, has expressed its appreciation to those in the amateur
community who wrote following Orr's death on January 24. "The entire Orr
family wishes to express our deep gratitude for all of your kind condolences
upon the death of our father William I. Orr, W6SAI. We have received e-mails
from all over the world, and are proud that our father's legacy will live on
through people like you, his treasured Amateur Radio family," the letter
said in part. "It is of great comfort to us to know that you will miss him
too. He was our hero and will be forever missed." The Orr family invited
donations to The ARRL Foundation in his memory.--thanks to Bill Fizette,

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest
to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise,
and readable. Visit ARRLWeb at for the latest news,
updated as it happens. The ARRLWeb Extra at offers ARRL members access to
informative features and columns.

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.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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==>ARRL News on the Web:
==>ARRL Audio News: or call

==>How to Get The ARRL Letter

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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.

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