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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 17
April 27, 2001


* +AO-40 transponders could be up by summer
* +WRTC-2002 set for Finland
* +NASA relents on Dennis Tito flight to ISS 
* +Missionary-ham, infant die in Peru plane downing
* +Kansas hams volunteer for tornado duty
* +Astronaut making casual QSOs from NA1SS
* +Hudson delegation promotes antenna bill in capital visit
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARECC on-line course full
     McGan Award entry deadline looms
     A weekend's work compressed into two hours at Visalia
     Ham helps his "Elmer" in health emergency
     Hosstraders has moved!
     Submarines on the air
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award
     Smithsonian "Space Day" to include ham satellites

+Available on ARRL Audio News


AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, this week raised the possibility
that AO-40 could inaugurate transponder operation this summer, if tests and
orbital maneuvers between now and then go as planned. 

"We are learning how to fly this thing," Haighton said. "But I still think
we're going to end up with a darned good satellite."

The most likely initial transponder configurations, Haighton said, would be
Mode L/S--1.2 GHz up and 2.4 GHz down, Mode U/S--435 MHz up and 2.4 GHz
down, and possibly Mode V/S--145 MHz up and 2.4 GHz down.

Recent data suggest that the mid-December incident that silenced AO-40 for
two weeks and rendered some systems unusable also might have blown a hole on
the 400-newton motor side of the spacecraft. "Speculation is there could be
damage, and sunlight is getting right in," Haighton said. He noted that
ground controllers have detected a distinct rise in temperature when
sunlight strikes that side of the satellite. The speculated opening was not
causing any major problems, he said, but it could explain why efforts to
adjust AO-40's attitude via magnetorquing have been unpredictable. 

As the AO-40 recovery effort continues, Haighton said, ground controllers
plan to raise the height of the perigee in the very near future. That
process, using the onboard arc-jet motor, could take up to several weeks.
The AO-40 team hopes the maneuver will minimize or eliminate possible
effects on the satellite's orbit caused by atmospheric expansion at the peak
of the solar cycle.

AO-40 currently is approximately 320 km--almost 200 miles--above Earth at
perigee--its closest point--and some 51,000 km--some 31,600 miles--at
apogee. Plans call for raising the orbit at perigee to around 520 km, or
some 320 miles. The maneuver would "hardly affect" the satellite's apogee,
Haighton said. The arc-jet would be operated without electrically igniting
it, using the pressure of the ammonia fuel alone.

Once the orbit has been adjusted, ground controllers would orient the
spacecraft's attitude and check out the various onboard transmitter and
receiver systems to see what works and what does not. "We're still pretty
confident that the 2 meter and 70 cm transmitters are not there," Haighton
said, "but we're equally confident that the receivers for those bands still

The satellite has been transmitting telemetry on the 2.4 GHz (S-2) beacon,
and signals reportedly have continued to improve--although the beacon has
been out from time to time as needed to conserve power during eclipse


The next World Radiosport Team Championship--which some characterize as the
"Olympics of Amateur Radio"--will be held next year in Finland. A formal
announcement came April 21 during the International DX Convention in
Visalia, California.

WRTC 2002 will be jointly organized by Contest Club Finland and the Finnish
Amateur Radio League (SRAL). The on-air competition will take place July
13-14, 2002, in conjunction with the IARU HF Championship.

Last held in Slovenia in July 2000, the WRTC involves on-air contest-style
competition among two-person teams operating from the same geographical
vicinity at stations having equivalent capabilities. All operation is done
at 100 W with modest antennas.

The WRTC 2002 Organizing Committee Chairman is Jouko Hšyrynen, OH1RX.
Sharing duties in chairing the competition will be Martti Laine, OH2BH, and
Pasi Luoma-aho, OH2IW, both world-class contesters. Ari Korhonen, OH1EH,
who's handling WRTC 2002 publicity, was paired with OH1NOA on Team Finland,
which finished fifth at WRTC 2000.

Team selection will begin soon. Considered likely contenders next year are
WRTC 96 and WRTC 2000 winners Dan Street, K1TO, and Jeff Steinman, N5TJ.
Participants from all continents will be selected based on their
track-records in past contests. Korhonen said every effort would be made to
provide teams with comparable operating conditions. "Our plan is to have 45
to 50 station sites set up in locations around Helsinki, each equipped with
identical antenna systems," he said.

The WRTC 2002 Web site is


The International Space Station Partnership has granted an exemption for the
flight of American businessman Dennis Tito, KG6FZX, to the ISS aboard a
Russian Soyuz 2 taxi mission. Russia already had given Tito the go ahead to
visit the ISS as part of a three-man team on the 10-day Soyuz mission,
scheduled to begin April 28. NASA has extended the shuttle Endeavour visit
to the ISS by at least a day as the space station crew resolves computer
problems and recommended that Russia postpone the Soyuz mission.

A NASA statement said that following "intense and extensive consultations"
among all space station partners, the Multilateral Coordination Board
"achieved consensus on the proposed Tito flight." A former Jet Propulsion
Lab engineer, Tito, 61, reportedly has agreed to pay the Russian space
program $20 million for the privilege of becoming the first "space tourist."

The public relations value of Tito's imminent visit was not lost on the
Board. "It is understood that Mr. Tito will contribute to the formation of
positive public opinion about the ISS program and the ISS partnership," its
meeting report concluded.

There are conditions to Tito's visit. He reportedly has agreed that neither
he nor his heirs will hold NASA liable for anything that might happen to him
on board and that he will pay for anything he might damage. A NASA task
force has recommended that Tito have an astronaut escort to visit the US
sectors of the ISS and that he sleep near the Soyuz escape vehicle in case
an emergency arises.

During Tito's visit, the crew of Russian Commander Yury Usachev, UA9AD, and
US astronauts Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, and Jim Voss, is expected to adopt a
minimal work routine and maintenance schedule.

Initially, NASA had vigorously opposed allowing Tito to fly to the ISS at
this time and had suggested putting the mission off until later this year.
NASA said the Board agreed that no ISS partner would propose to fly another
"non-professional crewmember" until the ISS partnership had finalized and
adopted detailed crew criteria. Those criteria are to be in place by June.

Tito has been in Russia training to go into space. He took and passed the
Technician exam earlier this month. 

NASA sources have said that Tito will have access to the ARISS amateur gear
on a "non-interference basis"--meaning that he must not interfere with the
crew's work or sleep schedules. At this point, the ham gear is installed in
the module that doubles as sleeping quarters for some of the crew. Tito is
not scheduled to be involved in any ARISS school contacts--such QSOs
normally are not scheduled during docked operations anyway, because the crew
is too busy--but it's expected that he may use ham radio to keep in touch
with his family. He's also indicated a preference for packet over FM voice. 


A missionary from Michigan, killed after the plane in which she was a
passenger was shot down last week in Peru, was an Amateur Radio operator.
The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Association of Baptists for World
Evangelism, identified the dead as Veronica "Roni" Bowers, 35, and her
infant daughter, Charity, seven months. Roni Bowers was KD4CKM, a Tech Plus

The Cessna 185 float plane ditched in the Amazon River after being fired
upon. Bowers' husband, Jim, and their son, Cory, 6, were not seriously
injured in the incident. Jim Bowers is KD4CKN, a General licensee. Pilot
Kevin Donaldson was shot in the leg in the incident but survived.

The Bowerses, from Muskegon, Michigan, had been serving in Peru since July
1993. News accounts say the Peruvian Air Force shot down the plane carrying
the missionaries in the Amazon jungle April 20. The Peruvian military said
it opened fire after the pilot ignored warnings to land, but that claim is

A communiquť from the Peruvian Ministry of Defense said that the Peruvian
Air Force "deeply regrets the loss of human life." It said its actions were
part of its anti-drug operations procedures. Reports say a US military
aircraft associated with anti-drug trafficking operations first spotted the
Cessna but told the Peruvians the plane might be legitimate.

An investigation continues. Funeral services for the mother and infant were
set for April 27 in Michigan.


Several dozen Amateur Radio Emergency Service members turned out to help in
the wake of an F4 tornado that ripped through the small Central Kansas town
of Hoisington April 21. The surprise twister left one dead, dozens injured
and millions of dollars in damage. A weather-spotting ARES net active prior
to touchdown had received reports of a funnel cloud at Hoisington, but the
National Weather Service had issued no tornado warnings. 

Kansas District 5 Emergency Coordinator Bob Haneke, WG0Q, says storm spotter
Larry Bruce, KC0IFO, called in a report of extensive damage in Hoisington
and said help was needed. Haneke first checked on his brother, who lives in
Hoisington, then headed out. Barton County Emergency Coordinator Carl
Anderson, N0ORS, activated an ARES emergency net on the 146.76 repeater.
Then, accompanied by his wife and two sons--all hams--Anderson and several
other amateurs established initial emergency communications from Hoisington.
Others helping in Hoisington included ARRL Midwest Division Vice Director
Bruce Frahm, K0BJ.

The town of about 3000 is located some 100 miles northwest of Wichita and
just north of Great Bend in Barton County. The storm took the roof off the
Hoisington High School auditorium, and gutted a strip mall, the town's only
grocery store, and a Dairy Queen where some people took shelter in a walk-in
freezer. Also heavily damaged was Hoisington's hospital. Its patients had to
be relocated to Great Bend or to the local nursing home, which had no power
or telephone. Later, severe flooding swamped sections of the town that the
tornado had skipped. 

At one point early on, Haneke said, the only link parts of Hoisington had
with the outside world was via Amateur Radio VHF to the emergency operations
center in Great Bend. "The outgoing phone line trunk had been damaged," he
said, "and cellular phones in the area were useless, as the system was

Amateurs assisted in several ways during the relief effort. Haneke says hams
provided communication support to several responding agencies, including the
American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Adventist Community Services.
Hams also provided primary or back-up communication for hospital facilities
and shelters and assisted the Red Cross with damage assessment. In addition,
HF and VHF links were established to handle health-and-welfare traffic. The
Golden Belt Amateur Radio Club dispatched its emergency communications bus.

Haneke says that as power and telephone service were restored to the
community on April 24, amateur operators were able to stand down from active
duty, and the ARES emergency net was deactivated that afternoon. A
contingent from the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN)
remained in Hoisington to handle additional requests and to support
Salvation Army relief efforts. Frahm said amateurs also still were assisting
at the nursing home, municipal building and hospital area.


Astronaut Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, recently put smiles on the faces of a number
of US hams. Reports from several amateurs indicate that she's made several
casual voice contacts from her perch aboard the International Space Station.

Mike Seguin, N1JEZ, was one of the stations who made contact with Helms on
April 20. He reports she had a great signal. Also reporting contacts were
Tom Blubaugh, N7HXP, Samuel Danner, N3MPE (who worked NA1SS for the second
time), and Stan Vandiver, W4SV (who posted audio from his QSO on his Web
site, Helms also was active on April 23. Several
stations have managed to connect with the ISS packet system, still operating
as "NO CALL". Bruce Paige, KK5DO, reports he worked a male operator at the
NA1SS mike on April 25.

As of April 27, the ARRL had received QSL card requests for two Expedition
One FM voice contacts and four Expedition Two FM voice contacts (along with
several dozen SWL reports for both missions), plus eight "NO CALL" packet

With the STS-100 mission under way, four of the five space agencies involved
in building the space station are now represented on board. Endeavour's crew
includes Italian Umberto Guidoni of the European Space Agency, Russian Yuri
Lonchakov--who's been granted the call sign RS1ISS--and Canadian Chris
Hadfield as well as US astronauts Kent Rominger, Jeffrey Ashby, John
Phillips and Scott Parazynski, who's KC5RSY. 

Endeavour docked with the ISS April 21. It's return flight was delayed at
least a day and possibly two because of the ISS computer difficulties. It's
not known if either of the hams from Endeavour planned to do voice QSOs
while aboard the ISS. There is no amateur gear installed aboard the shuttle.

Here are the QSL routes for W/VE stations working NA1SS: US stations QSL to
Margie Bourgoin, KB1DCO, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Canadian
stations QSL to Radio Amateurs of Canada, 720 Belfast Rd--Suite 217, Ottawa,
ON K1G 0Z5. A self-addressed, stamped envelope is required to get a QSL in
return.--ANS; news reports


A delegation of four from the ARRL Hudson Division recently trekked to the
state capital of Albany on April 17 to garner support for New York's Amateur
Radio antenna bill. Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, reports the
group met for nearly five hours with Assembly and Senate members and
staffers as well as with Gov George Pataki's assistant counsel Greg Allen.

An effort to incorporate the wording of the limited federal preemption known
as PRB-1 into New York's statutes fell short of its mark last year. Fallon
says he's more optimistic this time around, now that companion bills have
been introduced in the Assembly and Senate, designated A 1565 and S 2893.
Accompanying Fallon on the visits were Assistant Hudson Division Directors
Gerry Agliata, W2GLA, and Diane Ortiz, K2DO, and Eastern New York Local
Government Liaison Ray Wemple, KA2DVM.

During the visits, Fallon said, the delegation explained that a state
antenna bill was needed to supplement PRB-1, since many local town and
villages seem unaware of PRB-1 or ignore its provisions. "We explained how
our bills would save local governments time and money and avoid
confrontation among neighbors over a very technical issue few local
legislators fully understand," he said. Fallon said the group likened
Amateur Radio operators to volunteer firemen who, rather than responding to
fires "respond to communications emergencies when the lights go out and
phones go dead." 

"Those we spoke to seemed receptive to our arguments," Fallon said, "and one
assemblyman said that his committee would again report our bill out as it
had done last year." Fallon predicted that Gov Pataki--a former ham
(ex-K2ZCZ)--will almost certainly sign the bill when he receives it." 

Fallon encouraged support from New York amateurs. "Letters, phone calls and
visits are much more effective than e-mails," he said. The Hudson Division
Web page has a copy of the bill, links to find
names and addresses of state representatives, and copies of sample letters.


Heliophile Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: After bottoming
out on April 16 at 123.4, solar flux is on the rise. Average flux values for
this week were up more than 50 points, and activity continues to rise with
the return of sunspot region 9393. 

Solar flux is expected to peak this weekend around 210, but a rise in
geomagnetic activity due to a large M7-class solar flare on April 26 is
expected on Sunday. This flare was from sunspot 9393, which also hurled a
full-halo coronal mass ejection. This sunspot covers about half the area
that it did when it was on our side of the sun last month, but it is still
quite large. Last month it produced the largest solar flare ever
recorded--which fortunately was not pointed toward Earth.

On Monday an enormous prominence--a filament of cool dense gas suspended
above the sun--extended over the sun's southwestern limb. You may still be
able to view a photo from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory at .

Sunspot numbers for April 19 through 25 were 85, 103, 156, 164, 140, 175 and
182, with a mean of 143.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 144.5, 180.4, 191.1, 192.5,
196.4, 193.5 and 193.9, with a mean of 184.6. Estimated planetary A indices
were 7, 8, 7, 28, 21, 8 and 7 with a mean of 12.3.



* This weekend on the radio: The Florida and Nebraska QSO parties and the
Six Meter Sprint are the weekend of April 28-29. JUST AHEAD: 
See the ARRL Contest Branch page, and for more info.

* ARECC on-line course full: The April ARRL on-line Emergency Communications
Level I classes now are closed to further enrollments. If you missed out,
two new classes will open in mid-May. In the meantime, watch the ARRL Web
site for the latest information on the ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education Program. 

* McGan Award entry deadline looms: The deadline to receive nominations for
the 10th annual Philip J. McGan Memorial Silver Antenna Award is 5 PM,
Friday, May 25. The McGan Award goes to an individual who has achieved
volunteer public relations success on behalf of Amateur Radio, exemplifying
the efforts of Phil McGan, WA2MBQ (SK). Nominating someone for this award is
the perfect way to recognize an ARRL Public Relations Coordinator, Public
Relations Officer or club PR appointee for his or her dedication to the
promotion of ham radio on the local, regional or national level. For more
information about the McGan Award, see February QST. Entry forms and the
award program guidelines are available on the ARRL Web site, 

* A weekend's work compressed into two hours at Visalia: Three ARRL staffers
and 18 volunteers from California DX clubs combined their talents to field
check 83 DXCC applications during the 52nd annual International DX
Convention in Visalia, California, April 20-22. The task of checking the
approximately 5000 QSL cards typically would take the equivalent of an
entire weekend. But this year, 21 card checkers showed up and whittled a
weekend's work down to an astonishing two hours! Ken Anderson, K6TA,
organized the project. The Northern California DX Club-this year's
convention sponsor-and the Southern California DX Club take turns organizing
the convention. The Redwood Empire DX Association assisted. More than 600
registered for this year's event. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP,
encouraged those assembled to stress membership recruitment in their
respective clubs. Other ARRL officials attending included Vice President
John Kanode, N4MM, Southwestern Division Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, and
Pacific Division Director Jim Maxwell, W6CF, plus other section and division
volunteers. Membership Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, participated in
the DX Forum moderated by DXAC representative Jack Troster, W6ISQ. ARRL
Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, participated in the Contest
Forum moderated by Bob Wilson, N6TV.

* Ham helps his "Elmer" in health emergency: Kansas Section Emergency
Coordinator Joseph Plankinton, WD0DMV, reports that a new ham in his section
recently got to return a favor for the amateur who'd helped him get his
license--his "Elmer." On April 5 Conrad Lauck, KC0JUV, of Topeka was
enjoying a QSO on a local repeater with his old friend Wayne Peterson,
KB0AMY, 55 miles away in Horton. Both hams are blind, and Peterson is a
diabetic. During the contact, Peterson mentioned that he was not feeling
well, and, as the conversation progressed, his speech began to slur.
Finally, Lauck heard Peterson key his microphone but not speak, and he knew
his friend was in trouble. He contacted authorities in Horton to check on
Peterson, who apparently had suffered a health emergency. An ambulance was
called, and the crisis was averted.

* Hosstraders has moved! The popular Hosstraders event--considered the
premier hamfest in New England--has moved again. Originally held in
Deerfield, New Hampshire, the Hosstraders event shifted venue to Rochester,
New Hampshire, several years ago. Starting with the May 4-5 event, the
Hosstraders will move to the Hopkinton State Fairgrounds, located off I-89
(Exit 7), in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. "We are excited about this big step
forward," says organizer Joe DeMaso, K1RQG. "Those of you who miss the old
days at Deerfield will be especially happy with the look of our new home."
The Hosstraders location change to Rochester led many hams to dub the event
"Deerchester." Now, some are starting to call it "Deerkinton" as a result of
the latest move. More information is available on the Hosstraders 2001 Web

* Submarines on the air: The Submarine Veterans Amateur Radio Association
will sponsor its fifth annual Submarine Memorial Radio Reactivation Day
April 28-29 in honor of the 101st anniversary of the US Navy Submarine
Service. More than 50 subs were on the air around the world for last year's
event. Submarines on the Air will run from April 28 at 0600 UTC until April
29 at 2359 UTC. Among subs which will be "radio-active" are the Cobia in
Manitowoc, Wisconsin, with the ManCoRad Radio Club, Fred Neuenfeldt, W6BSF,
operating, the German U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry in
Chicago, and the WA3KEY/2 operation from the conning tower of the nuclear
guided missile submarine USS Growler (SSG-577) in New York's Hudson River.
Suggested operating frequencies: AM/SSB, 3.943, 7.243, 14.243, 21.313, and
28.343 MHz; CW up 43 kHz from the lower band edge. For a Submarine Veterans
Amateur Radio Association certificate, send copies of at least four QSLs
from participating subs to Jim Flanders, W0OOG, 1539 California Trail,
Plano, TX 75023-4300; e-mail Visit Jim Flanders' Tubes
Forward Web site, . 

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winners of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for April was Frank N. Musso, WA5QHV, for his article "Laser Generated
Antennas." Congratulations, Frank, for a great April Fool spoof! 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--is determined by a vote of
ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the ARRL Members Only Web
site at As soon as your copy
arrives, cast a ballot for your favorite article in the May issue of QST.
Voting ends May 15. 

* Smithsonian "Space Day" to include ham satellites: Amateur Radio
satellites will be on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space
Museum in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the museum's "Space Day"
activities on May 3. Young people who attend The Radio Amateur Satellite
Corporation's (AMSAT) display, can take a crack at building their own
MicroSats as they learn more about Amateur Radio and amateur satellites.
"Our goal is to interest students in entering careers in the technical
fields," says AMSAT Vice President Perry Klein, W3PK. The AMSAT display will
be located in the Air and Space Museum's Space Race Gallery 114 and will run
from 11 AM until 3 PM.

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
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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.

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