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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 27
July 6, 2001


* +Ham LF signal spans the Pacific 
* +Susan Helms greets parents during ARISS contact
* +AO-40 has a new orbit
* +2001 ARRL/TAPR digital conference set
* +Guitarist Chet Atkins, W4CGP, SK
* +KC8BFD is Newsline's 2001 Young Ham of the Year
* +ARRL member wins design competition
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
    +ARRL Audio News shifts to single audio format
    +Outgoing QSL Service tops one million cards for 2001
     New York cell phone law does not apply to Amateur Radio
     Museum ship special event set for July 21-22
     New York amateur antenna bill a step closer to passage
     Ten-Tec solicits comments on pending transceiver
     July is IOTA Month
     French RAC Web site to close

+Available on ARRL Audio News



A signal transmitted on 184 kHz from ZL6QH--the Wellington, New Zealand,
Amateur Radio Club's Quartz Hill station--has spanned the Pacific. The
transmission, part of a series of announced transpacific tests, was received
on June 30 by Steve McDonald, VE7SL, of British Columbia, Canada.

"A claim is made for the confirmed reception of ZL6QH by VE7SL, on 184.4
kHz, over a path of 11,709 km," said Bob Vernall ZL2CA, who organized the
transpacific tests. "This is a one-way confirmation, as VE7SL does not have
transmitting capability." Vernall said that on June 30, seven New Zealand
stations--including ZL6QH--and one Australian transmitted test signals in
the 160-190 kHz band for the transpacific tests. Amateurs in New Zealand
have access to that band.

Reception of weak LF signals typically is done using spectrographic
software. McDonald used Argo software to capture the ZL6QH signal and very
likely that of ZL4OL, although no claim was being made for the latter. The
reception occurred right around the time of sunrise in British Columbia.

ZL6QH was transmitting dual-frequency CW with two-minute elements, one
frequency representing dits, the other dahs. The ZL6QH station was running
approximately 100 W into a longwire antenna.

Amateurs spanned the Atlantic in both directions earlier this year on 136
kHz. Efforts to make it across the Pacific on LF have been under way during
the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere.

The ARRL has petitioned the FCC to authorize Amateur Radio allocations at
136 kHz and in the 160-190 kHz band. The petition is pending.


Astronaut Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, briefly greeted her parents via Amateur Radio
June 27 before answering questions posed by youngsters visiting the New
Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. The contact was
arranged at Helms' request by the Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station--or ARISS--program.

"Hi, Mom, hi Dad!" Helms said to her parents, before turning to the
youngsters' questions. Patrick and Doris Helms live in Albuquerque and serve
as volunteers at the museum.

It took several calls to raise Helms at the NA1SS mike aboard the ISS. Once
contact was established, however, she reported being able to hear the Earth
station's calls for two or three minutes before NA1SS was heard on the
ground. Jerry Schmitt, KK5YY, who set up the Earth station, said part of the
museum building was in the signal path. Joe Huffman, KG5GM--also a museum
volunteer--was at the mike of the Earth station to establish the initial

Seven third, fourth and fifth-graders--all enrolled in the museum's Space
and Astronomy Day Camp--stood by with their questions in hand. Given the
tardy start and a mid-QSO change in frequency, not all youngsters had a
chance to ask their questions, however. Elementary pupils from a nearby
school also were on hand as visitors.

Helms told the youngsters that music sounds the same in space and that the
view from the ISS is "a spectacular sight," with the blue Earth and white
cloud cover surrounded by a layer of air--although space, by contrast, is
"absolutely dark, absolutely black," she said. The astronauts are able to
spot large physical features on Earth, she said. "You can see the Grand
Canyon and the Great Wall of China with no problem."

Schmitt, an engineer with Los Alamos National Labs, answered youngsters'
questions following the contact. Jim Baremore, K5QQ, Brian Mileshosky,
N5ZGT, and Paul Henckel, KA5H, assisted in the contact.

Helms also took the mike as RS0ISS on July 4 to speak with students at the
St Petersburg, Russia, Junior Technical Centre, RZ1AWO. This marked the
first European school contact arranged under ARISS. "It was really
successful," said earthbound chief operator Boris Kirshenblat, UA1AAF. Two
young hams were among the students asking questions.

For more information on the ARISS program, visit the ARISS Web site,


AO-40 now is in a new orbit. Recent efforts to raise the satellite's orbit
at perigee--its point closest to Earth--were somewhat more successful than
originally anticipated. Ground controllers had planned to lift the perigee
from 280 km to around 500 km. Successive firings of cold arcjet ammonia fuel
resulted in an orbit that's 851 km at perigee, however.

"Indeed, the good news is that AO-40 is now in a safe and stable orbit!"
said AMSAT-DL President Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, on behalf of the AO-40 team.
"The bad news: All 53 kg of ammonia probably has been used up." This means
further orbital adjustments--at least using the arcjet--are unlikely.
Guelzow said ammonia stopped flowing after orbit 302, "and the pressure
indicators in the telemetry show no more pressure in the motor and in the
ammonia tanks, while the perigee clearly is higher than anticipated."

AO-40's height at apogee--58,971 km--was unchanged by the orbital

Guelzow said stored telemetry was being downloaded and analyzed. Shut down
prior to the start of the orbital adjustment, AO-40's transponders remain
off the air. They will stay off as ground controllers adjust the satellite's
attitude using on-board magnetorquing.

AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, has said it's hoped that a
slightly higher perigee for AO-40 will eliminate the effects of what he
described as "a mysterious force" that alters the satellite's attitude when
it comes through perigee. One theory, he said, is that atmospheric expansion
caused by the current sunspot cycle peak was influencing the satellite's
orbit in some way. The higher perigee should eliminate any atmospheric

For more information on AO-40, visit the AMSAT-DL Web site,
<>; or the AMSAT-NA Web site,
<>;.--thanks to AMSAT News Service


The 20th ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference will be held
September 21-23 in Cincinnati. The annual gathering provides an
international forum for radio amateurs involved in digital communication,
networking, and related technologies to meet, publish their work, and
present new ideas and techniques for discussion.

Papers are invited for publication in the conference Proceedings.
Presentation at the conference is not required for publication. Submit
papers by August 6 to Maty Weinberg, KB1EIB, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington,
CT 06111 or via the Internet to Paper submission
guidelines are available on the TAPR Web site, <>;.

The DCC is for digitally oriented amateurs of all experience levels to
exchange ideas and learn about recent hardware and software advances,
theories, experimental results, and practical applications. Sessions at the
beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels will be offered in selected
areas of digital communication. For those interested in attending only a
session or two, registration for the conference is not required.

This year's fifth annual Automated Position Reporting System (APRS) National
Symposium will be an all-day Friday event moderated by Steve Dimse,
K4HG--the developer of javAPRS and

Conference presentations, meetings, and seminars will be held at the Holiday
Inn Cincinnati--Airport and Conference Center
<>;; 859-371-2233. A special DCC room
rate of $89/ (single or double) per night is available until September 1.

Conference registration includes the conference Proceedings, sessions,
meetings, and lunch on Saturday. Registrations received before September 1
are $45. After September 1 or at the door, registration is $55. The Friday
APRS National Symposium is $25; the Saturday banquet is $30; the Sunday
seminar is $20.

Full information is available from Tucson Amateur Packet Radio
<>; ; 940-383-0000; e-mail:


Guitar picker, music legend and Amateur Radio operator Chester B. "Chet"
Atkins, W4CGP, of Nashville, Tennessee, died June 30. He was 77. Atkins
reportedly died of cancer complications. Known as "Mister Guitar,"
Atkins--from East Tennessee--began his musical career in the 1930s playing
fiddle. He earned his reputation as a guitarist, however, and went on to
become the most-recorded solo instrumental musician in history.

Formerly WA4CZD, Atkins, a General licensee, in 1998 obtained the vanity
call sign W4CGP--"certified guitar picker." He was an ARRL member. He won 14
Grammy awards during his career and was elevated to the Country Music Hall
of Fame in 1973. He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993
by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in part to recognize
his guitar-picking technique as well as his wide influence on music. He had
more than 100 albums to his credit.

In addition to his own success as a performer, Atkins helped launch the
careers of other notable performers. He is given primary credit for
developing the uptown "Nashville Sound" that helped country music to compete
with pop music. 

In his later years of performing, he sometimes paired up with musicians from
the pop and jazz worlds and was a frequent guest on the radio program "A
Prairie Home Companion."

A funeral service for Chet Atkins was held July 3 in Nashville's Ryman
Auditorium, which formerly served as the home of The Grand Ole Opry where
Atkins performed for many years.

More information on Chet Atkins is on the Chet Atkins, Mister Guitar Web
site <>;.


Patrick Clark, KC8BFD, a 17-year-old ARRL member from Elkview, West
Virginia, has been named the 2001 Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the
Year. Award Administrator Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, says Clark is heavily
involved in public service, emergency communications and youth recruitment.

The Young Ham of the Year Award is jointly sponsored by Pasternak's Los
Angeles-based Amateur Radio Newsline, Vertex Standard USA (Yaesu) and CQ
magazine. The award is presented each year to a radio amateur 18 or younger
who has provided outstanding service nationally or locally or has
contributed to the betterment of the state of the art in communication
through Amateur Radio.

A licensee since age 10, Clark comes from an all-ham family. His father,
Jeff, and mother, Tina, are K8JAC and N8TSY respectively; his sister, Erin,
is KC8PZZ. Patrick Clark has been involved in emergency service work from
the day his ham radio ticket arrived in the mail. He was among amateurs who
responded in the wake of the West Virginia Field Day floods of 1998--when
the annual emergency preparedness drill turned into the real thing as the
skies unexpectedly opened up. 

In addition to his Amateur Radio Emergency Service activities, KC8BFD is
also a certified severe weather spotter with SKYWARN. Clark has twice spoken
at the Dayton Hamvention Youth Forum, and he promotes Amateur Radio to other
youngsters through personal appearances.

Among those supporting Patrick Clark's nomination was ARRL West Virginia
Section Emergency Coordinator Morris "Mac" McMillian, W8XF. "I have always
been able to rely on Patrick's ability to think on his feet in a drill or
actual ARES activation," McMillian said, adding that he believes that the
future of ham radio is in good hands with amateurs like Patrick Clark,

The 2001 Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award will be presented on Saturday,
August 18, at the Huntsville Hamfest in Huntsville, Alabama. As Young Ham of
the Year, Patrick Clark will receive--courtesy of Vertex Standard USA--an
expense-paid trip to the 2001 Huntsville Hamfest, along with a gift of Yaesu
ham radio equipment. CQ magazine will treat Clark to an expense-paid week at
Spacecamp Huntsville and other gifts. Amateur Radio Newsline will present a
commemorative plaque at the award ceremony.

For more information, visit <>; .--Amateur Radio
Newsline press release


ARRL member Indranil "Kitchu" Majumdar, VU2KFR, of Calcutta, India, is the
overall winner of the Texas Instruments Analog Design Challenge
<>. The competition carries a
$100,000 top prize. An independent panel judged Majumdar to be the overall
winner as well as the winner for Asia.

A member of the Calcutta VHF Amateur Radio Society, Majumdar won the top
prize for designing a railway collision-avoidance system. His design
incorporated a variety of Texas Instruments' power-management, interface,
RF, logic and microcontroller products. The TI competition called on
engineers to come up with real-world designs that utilized Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments said that Majumdar's Railway Collision Avoidance System
2001, or RACAS, "uses paired digital transponders for radio ranging and
quasi-packet connectivity."

Licensed since 1984, Majumdar is a founding member of the Calcutta VHF
Amateur Radio Society and a life member. He's been an ARRL member since
1989. He's also a member of the Amateur Radio Society of India and of IEEE.

Majumdar was active during the Orissa cyclone disaster operation in 1999 and
took part in the Sagar mobile operation last year (see "Sagar 2000: Public
Service in India," QST, May 2001, written by Kitchu's brother, Nilanjan
"Horey" Majumdar, VU2HFR). In addition to public service and VHF and
satellite activities, he's an avid DXer and HF CW, PSK31, and digital-mode
operator.--thanks to CVARS


Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: It has been a
quiet week. There were no active or disturbed days, and solar activity
declined. Average daily solar flux, compared the past week to the previous,
declined over 51 points and average sunspot numbers were down more than 86

Activity will probably reach a short-term minimum on Friday and Saturday,
when solar flux is around 115, then it is expected to rise back to 130 by
July 10, and near 200 around July 13-20. No increased geomagnetic activity
is forecast, but the emergence of new sunspots could change that.

With summer here, MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) is depressed. About the
only openings on 10 meters are E-layer skip, which is somewhat sporadic and
doesn't offer the longer distances of F layer communications. Twenty meters
is open well into the night.

Sunspot numbers for June 28 through July 4 were 143, 98, 115, 108, 130, 132
and 106, with a mean of 118.9. The 10.7-cm flux was 140.2, 139.9, 136.6,
135.4, 134.3, 131.9 and 127, with a mean of 135. Estimated planetary A
indices were 5, 7, 10, 12, 8, 9 and 8 with a mean of 8.4.



* This weekend on the radio: The annual run of The Great Circus Train (W9D)
with operation on 7.240 or 14.240 plus 146.55 MHz FM simplex (details at and the Venezuelan Independence Day Contest (SSB) are
the weekend of July 7-8. JUST AHEAD: The IARU HF World Championship, the
FISTS Summer Sprint, the CQ Worldwide VHF Contest and the QRP ARCI Summer
Homebrew Sprint are the weekend of July 14-15. See the ARRL Contest Branch
page, <; and
<>; for more info.

* ARRL Audio News shifts to single audio format: Starting with the July 6
edition, ARRL Audio News will be available only in MP3 format, which is
compatible with currently available media software, including RealPlayer.
ARRL Audio News will continue to be available for playback directly from the
ARRL Web site <; or for downloading as
an MP3 file. ARRL Audio News--a weekly Amateur Radio newscast--is available
for personal or repeater playback without charge or special permission. ARRL
Audio News will remain available as a dial-up telephone service at
860-594-0384. ARRL Senior News Editor Rick Lindquist, N1RL, produces the
program. He said the change to MP3-only will mean consistently superior
audio quality and eliminate the duplication of effort involved with
producing the newscast in two audio formats. 

* Outgoing QSL Service tops one million cards for 2001: The ARRL's Outgoing
QSL Service Manager Martin Cook, N1FOC, reports that as of June 29, 2001,
the service had shipped 1,041,316 QSL cards. This includes cards going to US
incoming bureaus and cards sorted and mailed by contractor. "This is an
increase of 135,456--15%--more cards than we had mailed at this time last
year," Cook said. The Outgoing QSL Service handled 1,868,895 cards in 2000.
For more information, visit the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service Web site,

* New York cell phone law does not apply to Amateur Radio: The widely
reported New York bill banning the use of hand-held cell phone while driving
should have no affect on Amateur Radio mobile operation, according to ARRL
General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD. "There is no ambiguity in the bill," he
said. The bill, A.9280, was signed into law recently by Gov George Pataki, a
former amateur. It requires cell phone users to use hands-free devices when
calling. The measure specifies "mobile telephone" use, and defines a "mobile
telephone" as a device used by subscribers to a wireless telephone service.
That, in turn, is defined to specify a commercial two-way wireless
telecommunications service that accesses the public switched telephone
network. The bill also specifies "using" as holding the mobile telephone
"to, or in the immediate proximity of, the user's ear." The new law will be
phased in starting November 1. It calls for fines of up to $100. The measure
also calls upon the New York Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to study the
effects of the use of mobile telephones "and similar equipment" in
conjunction with the operation of a motor vehicle and report back to the
legislature in four years. The full text of the measure is available on the
New York legislature's Web site
<> . A similar measure
requiring hands-free cellular telephones recently passed the Rhode Island

* Museum ship special event set for July 21-22: Amateur Radio stations
aboard or associated with some 60 historic vessels will be on the air July
21-22 for the annual museum ship special event. The yearly outing is
sponsored by the USS Salem Radio Club, K1USN, in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Warships, submarines and various motorized vessels from WW II and earlier
from the US and elsewhere will be on the air. All have a history and a story
to tell. A certificate is available. Visit the USS Salem Web page
<>; for a list of participating ships,
operating frequencies and certificate information. 

* New York amateur antenna bill a step closer to passage: ARRL Hudson
Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, says that New York's Amateur Radio
antenna bill, Assembly Bill 1565, has been reported out of the Ways and
Means Committee. Both A. 1565 and the companion bill, S. 2893, are in the
Rules Committee, where they can immediately be brought to the floor before
the 2001 session ends. Fallon says the legislative session resumes July 10.
"The good news is that it's not over yet, but the bad news is that we have
to continue to make the telephone calls, write the letters and send the
e-mails," Fallon said. "We need to continue pushing for action on the
bills." Fallon urged New York hams to continue sending the same message to
Albany, "Please enact the Amateur Radio legislation." He said Senate
Majority Leader Joe Bruno <>;, House Speaker Sheldon
Silver <>; and Gov George Pataki
<>;--a former ham (K2ZCZ) and a current ARRL
member--each have the power to bring these bills to the floor for a vote.
"We need to ask them to do so, now." Additional information on how to
contact key lawmakers is available on the Hudson Division Web site,
<>;. "You may want to send QSL cards this time
around," Fallon said. "The governor knows what they are."

* Ten-Tec solicits comments on pending transceiver: Ten-Tec is looking for
comments and suggestions from the amateur community on its proposed Model
516 "IF-DSP" low-power (variable from 1-5 W) HF transceiver--a general
coverage, software-defined radio. The rig is expected to be on the street by
next January at a price under $600. It will offer CW, SSB and FM and AM and
38 DSP filters from 200 Hz to 8 kHz. Because of its software-defined design,
Ten-Tec will be able to incorporate changes much later in its production
schedule than typically is possible with discrete-component design. Ten-Tec
says almost all functions and features are stored in flash ROM. To add new
features, users will download the latest software version from the Ten-Tec
Web site. Ten-Tec invites suggestions for features to be incorporated in the
new radio via e-mail, Details on the transceiver are
available on the Ten-Tec Web site, <>;. 

* July is IOTA Month: DXers who participate in the IOTA (Islands On The Air)
program, sponsored by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), know that
July is IOTA Month. This is quite possibly the best month to work a new one,
because so many people in the Northern Hemisphere go on IOTA DXpeditions at
this time of year, especially during the RSGB IOTA Contest the last full
weekend of the month. If you are just starting out in this DX award program
you can easily work your first 100 IOTA counters and some of the more
serious operators can work well over 200. This year's contest will be held
on the weekend of July 28-29. For more information on IOTA, visit the RSGB's
Islands on the Air Web site, <>;. 

* French RAC Web site to close: Radio Amateurs of Canada has announced that
it's closing "with regret" its French-language Web site. RAC said it
attempted in vain for more than a year to find a volunteer with the time and
skills to manage the French language pages on the RAC Web site. "Much of the
information is no longer current, and we have therefore reluctantly decided
that as of June 30 we will close down the French pages and replace them with
links to other francophone sites," an RAC announcement said. "We apologize
to those of our members who make use of our services in the French
language." The RAC Web site is at <>;.--RAC

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
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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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