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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 06
February 8, 2002


* +ARRL Antenna Modeling course opens soon
* +FCC plans precautionary anthrax check at Gettysburg mailroom
* +Montana high schoolers get tough on astronaut
* +Hams assist sailboaters
* +Turkish amateurs muster following earthquake
* +ARRL unveils new "Big Project" logo
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     School Club Roundup 2002 set
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration
    +Winter Olympics special event
     Celebrate the sunspots at the 53rd International DX Convention
    +ISS crew resumes normal activities following computer shutdown
     Not too late to become part of ARDF Team USA
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award
     YHOTY nominations invited
     New Zealand simplifies amateur licensing

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program soon will offer its
first technical course--Antenna Modeling. Written by the well-known author
and historian L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, and edited by ARRL Senior Assistant
Technical Editor--and antenna guru--Dean Straw, N6BV, the course offers
students a hands-on tutorial. Registration for Antenna Modeling (EC-004)
will open Monday, February 11.

The course has been through extensive beta testing during the past several
weeks, and even the experts found they'd picked up some new knowledge on the
subject. "I've been modeling antennas using a computer for about 15 years,
and I certainly learned a great many things in this course," Straw

ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Coordinator Dan Miller,
K3UFG, said the experts agreed that the best method to master the art and
science of antenna design and analysis was to become familiar with the basic
concepts of computerized antenna modeling and modeling software. "Using
computer simulations--models--you will study the performance of a wide
variety of antennas, without having to invest in a test range or a room full
of test equipment," he said. "In this course, students will learn to master
the basic techniques of constructing good models."

Several excellent and affordable antenna modeling software packages are
available. The course will illustrate the elements of modeling antennas
using two of the most popular packages based on the NEC-2 core--EZNEC 3.0 by
Roy Lewallen, W7EL <> and NEC-Win Plus by
Nittany-Scientific <>.

Beta testers offered positive feedback after completing the course. "What a
gold mine of information!" said Dan Maguire, AC6LA. "I found myself looking
forward to taking the next lesson just to see what new things I could
learn." Former ARRL staff member Chuck Hutchinson, K8CH, also took a crack
at the program. "Wow, I sure learned a lot about antenna modeling!" was his

Students will have up to 12 weeks to complete the course material. "There
are 31 lessons, and you should plan to spend one to two hours per lesson,"
Miller advised. The inaugural class begins Tuesday, February 26 and wraps up
Tuesday, May 21.

A sample lesson based on the actual Antenna Modeling course is available on
the ARRL Web site <>. Registration for
the new Antenna Modeling course opens Monday, February 11, at 4 PM Eastern
Time on the ARRL Course Registration page <>.
The registration fee is $80 for ARRL members and $110 for nonmembers.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available for all ARRL C-CE courses.

Answers to most questions are available on the ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education home page <> and the associated
C-CE links. To learn more, contact ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG,


The FCC says it's making arrangements to test for possible anthrax
contamination at the off-site mailroom serving its Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,
office. This week's announcement follows the suspension of US Postal Service
deliveries to the FCC's off-site mail facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland,
after "a scant amount of anthrax contamination" was detected January 29
during US Public Health Service testing. The Gettysburg testing would be "a
further precaution," the FCC said.

The FCC's Gettysburg office deals with Amateur Radio licensing and
enforcement matters, including vanity call sign processing. Since last
fall's anthrax scare, the Gettysburg office has been providing special
handling for its own incoming mail at an off-site facility.

Before arrangements were made for the offsite facility, some FCC-Gettysburg
mail was sent to Washington for decontamination along with other FCC mail.
Apparently waylaid in the process was mail containing paper Amateur Radio
vanity call sign applications for the last couple of weeks in October,
forcing the FCC to halt all vanity processing. The FCC reports it's been
able to contact most vanity applicants and have them resubmit their
applications. So far, the FCC has processed vanity applications received
through October 22. (The FCC advises anyone who believes their paper vanity
applications might have been affected and cannot locate the application on
the ULS Application Search <> should resubmit
their application.)

There is no indication that the Gettysburg mailroom testing announced this
week would further complicate or delay vanity call sign processing or the
handling of applications filed on paper. Since last fall, the Commission has
been urging everyone to file applications and documents via e-mail or fax
whenever possible. Vanity electronic and paper applications have equal
processing priority, however.

The Center for Disease Control this week completed follow-up testing of the
anthrax trace discovered at Capitol Heights. The CDC reported to the FCC
that the trace "showed a very slow platelet growth, which indicates a weak
or very scant amount of anthrax consistent with cross-contamination of
mail," the FCC said in a statement. As a result, the FCC said, it was making
arrangements for the Capitol Heights mail processing area to be
decontaminated and retested as soon as possible before permitting mail
service to resume.

The FCC moved its mail reception, processing and screening center out of FCC
headquarters in Washington, DC, to the Maryland facility after the initial
anthrax contamination incident on Capitol Hill last fall. The FCC has been
updating a "Fact Sheet" posted on its Web site.--FCC


Tough questions posed by a high school group required some thoughtful and
detailed answers from astronaut Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, February 1 during a
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact. Operating
NA1SS, Bursch represented the ISS Expedition 4 crew during an interview with
seven physics students at Butte High School in Butte, Montana. The Q-and-A
session was the crew's second school contact arranged by ARISS--a
cooperative effort of AMSAT, ARRL and NASA.

Student Oliver Huang wanted to know whether chemical reactions that normally
precipitate on Earth do the same in microgravity, and whether bones heal the
same in space as on Earth. Bursch explained that aboard the ISS, some
chemical reactions work differently because the densities of various
compounds cause them to mix in unexpected ways. "For example, hot air
doesn't rise," he pointed out. As for broken bones, Bursch speculated that
that there might be a need to replicate the stress of gravity on a fracture
in order to get broken bones to knit properly in microgravity.

Student Lori Stenson wanted to know how long an astronaut's oxygen supply
lasted during a space walk. Bursch said it depends in part on the type of
suit used, but for the Russian suits, the outside limit was about nine
hours. "The actual limitation is not the oxygen but the lithium hydroxide
that scrubs out the CO2," he explained. In response to another student's
question, Bursch explained that the spacecraft is equipped with
oxygen-scrubbing devices supplemented by fresh oxygen from Earth. "We do try
to recycle as much as we can," he said.

In responding to a question from student Michelle Shannon about the
detrimental effects of a lack of gravity, Bursch said he probably wouldn't
notice them until he returned to Earth. The crew will spend about five and a
half months in space.

Bursch and his crewmates Yuri Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE,
were passing over Australia at the time, and radio contact was made via Tony
Hutchison, VK5ZAI. The contact marked Bursch's debut in handling questions
from students via ham radio. Bursch reportedly already has done some casual
hamming during his tour. 

"This was absolutely fantastic!" enthused coordinating teacher Sandy Shutey
after the contact. "It's one of the best things we've ever done!" She said
the event was a hands-on culmination several-months' study of space topics
on the part of her students. 

Since the first crew came aboard the ISS in November 2000, 40 schools and
other educational institutions have made successful contacts via ham radio
with ISS crew members. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site
<>.--Gene Chapline, K5YFL/ARISS


Amateur Radio operators have once again been instrumental in getting prompt
assistance to sailboat passengers needing emergency medical attention. 

On January 30, Marsha Stone, XE2/KF6TIQ, was scuba diving at 77 feet off
Mexico when she encountered problems while surfacing. It's believed that she
developed a pulmonary embolism as a result of the dive. She also was
exhibiting possible neurological symptoms. Stone was aboard her sailboat She
Wolf with three other passengers at the time, including her sister. Other
amateurs sailing in the vicinity came to Stone's aid.

Members of the Intercontinental Net on 20 meters learned of the situation
and offered to help. Bob Botik, K5SIV, in Austin, Texas, phone-patched Stone
to her personal physician, who advised that she needed to get to facilities
in Cabo San Lucas as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, aboard the sailing vessel Spirit Quest, Kathy Brownell, W6ATM,
and her  physician-husband Doug rendezvoused with Stone's vessel, and the
couple was able to provide oxygen and comfort to the victim as well as
transport to the Naval Landing Station at Socorro Island, Mexico, for an

Also rendering aid was Barb Campbell, XE2/KB0RIZ, a registered nurse aboard
the sailing vessel Blue Chablis. Campbell's vessel reportedly stayed
alongside Spirit Quest throughout the night to lend assistance when the
victim's boat arrived at Socorro. The She Wolf and Spirit Quest maintained
contact on marine VHF frequencies.

"This was a wonderful group effort of humans who had ham radio," Botik said.

Stone was transported to Cabo San Lucas the following day. Botik reported
this week that he'd spoken to Stone and that her spirits were high. He said
she had undergone treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, and, as of February 5,
was able to stand and walk without assistance. "She continues her recovery,"
he said. 

On February 4 a woman identified as Miranda Middleton--an Australian
national in her mid-20s--became seriously ill while aboard the sailing
vessel Baggywrinkle in the Caribbean. Skipper Benjamin Shaw, KG4OAQ, got on
20 meters to seek assistance on the Intercontinental Net. Unable to copy
Shaw well, Dave Franke, WA5EZW, alerted Ed Petzolt, K1LNC, in South Florida
by telephone.

No stranger to dealing with maritime emergencies via ham radio, Petzolt
contacted the US Coast Guard in Miami, which patched him through to its San
Juan, Puerto Rico, station. The US Coast Guard in turn contacted Coast Guard
officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Coast Guard detachments in the
US and in the Grenadines came up on frequency, and Petzolt was able to relay
information between the Coast Guard and Shaw's vessel as necessary. 

Middleton was picked up by the St Vincent Coast Guard and was taken to
Kingstown for treatment. "Score another one for ham radio!" Petzolt said. He
noted that KG4BVR, W8LK and W3JMU and other stations stood by in case of

Shaw said that when Middleton arrived at the hospital, she was experiencing
numbness and partial paralysis. He added that she was doing much better
following treatment.

Shaw expressed his gratitude to the amateurs who aided in Middleton's
medical evacuation to St Vincent, and especially to Petzolt. "Miranda and I
would like to extend a special thanks to Ed for his excellent help
throughout the ordeal," Shaw said. "Not only did he assess and take control
of the situation in a rapid and professional manner, but he also kept our
spirits up as we communicated.

Shaw expressed the hope that he and Middleton could be back on their way to
Trinidad "in a week or so." Shaw maintains a Web site
<> and uses HF to access his e-mail while under


Amateur Radio operators in Turkey were among the first responders following
an earthquake in central Turkey February 3. More than 40 deaths and some 170
injuries were reported in the aftermath of the earthquake, which registered
6.0 on the Richter scale and shook the province of Afyon.

"Our communication system was used by our members within the Civil Defense
SAR [search-and-rescue] team for communicating with their HQ in Ankara and
within the affected area," said Aziz Sasa, TA1E, president of the Turkish
national Amateur Radio organization TRAC. "I must add that we were the only
long and medium-range communication resource until normal communication
facilities were restored."

Sasa said telecommunications systems in the region brought back up "very
rapidly," and that the amateurs were able to wrap up their response the same
evening. Hams were at the scene in Afyon for about 10 hours. "HF was
utilized only partly, most of the communication was handled on VHF and UHF
with repeaters linked to each other," Sasa said. The terrain allowed wide
coverage that included the capital city of Ankara--some 200 miles away. 


A design by an Illinois amateur--Chris Cieslak, KC9L, of Melrose Park--has
been selected as the official logo for the ARRL Education Project, "The Big
Project." ARRL Amateur Radio Education Project Coordinator Jerry Hill,
KH6HU, said Cieslak's design best depicted the integration of education and
technology--the foundation of The Big Project. 

"In the center, the shaking hands represent the partnership between Amateur
Radio and education," Hill said. "The continents represent the global reach
of Amateur Radio, the ones and zeros and circuitry represent technology."

A ham since 1992 and an ARRL member, Cieslak says he does some design work
for Web and print but mostly writes for a living. "I've been doing design
for about seven years and am self-taught," he said. His amateur interests
include homebrewing and kit building, as well as HF mobile and amateur
television (ATV). When not hamming, Cieslak has been known to ham it up as
an improv comic.

ARRL Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG, presented Cieslak with a
certificate January 27 during the Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs Hamfest
in Chicago. Cieslak is the WCRA's current vice president.


Propagation wonk Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average
daily sunspot numbers were up this week, rising 38 points over the previous
week. Solar flux continued a decline from last week, with average daily flux
down more than 18 points. Solar flux for the short term peaked January 29
and has declined since. Predicted solar flux for Friday through Monday is
190, 185, 180 and 175. Flux values should reach a minimum near 170 for the
short term, then jump suddenly higher around February 16. Geomagnetic
conditions are expected to be moderate.

For the past few days the earth has been in a stream of solar wind from a
coronal hole, causing some geomagnetic activity. Planetary K indices were as
high as four. Also on March 1 there was another solar wind disturbance
commencing around 0558 UTC, which caused some aurora activity and planetary
K indices as high as five. This is generally bad for HF communications
because of absorption, especially over polar paths. What HF operators
generally want to see are many sunspots, such as we have currently at the
peak of this solar cycle, but without flares or the accompanying geomagnetic

Sunspot numbers for January 31 through February 6 were 238, 256, 222, 273,
274, 286 and 226, with a mean of 253.6. The 10.7-cm flux was 242.6, 245.6,
240.6, 232.9, 234.6, 220.6 and 202.5, with a mean of 231.3. Estimated
planetary A indices were 5, 11, 18, 5, 6, 16 and 16, with a mean of 11.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL School Club Roundup is February 11-16.
The North American Sprint (CW), the Six Club Second Winter Contest, the
CQ/RJ WW RTTY WPX Contest, the Utah QSO Party, the Asia-Pacific Sprint (CW),
the Dutch PACC Contest, the YL-OM Contest (CW), the FISTS Winter Sprint, the
RSGB 1.8-MHz Contest (CW) and the QRP ARCI Winter Fireside SSB Sprint are
the weekend of February 9-10. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL International DX Contest
(CW), the YLISSB QSO Party (CW) and the YL-OM Contest (SSB) are the weekend
of February 16-17. See the ARRL Contest Branch page,
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar,
<> for more info.

* School Club Roundup 2002 set: School Club Roundup (SCR), sponsored by the
Council for the Advancement of Amateur Radio in the New York City Schools,
the ARRL and its Hudson Division Education Task Force, will be held February
11-16. The idea of SCR is to foster contacts with and among school radio
clubs, and the annual operating event is a great way for new or
inexperienced operators to get on the air in a low-pressure contest
environment. Operators are encouraged to take some time to chat beyond the
contest exchange. Award certificates will be issued for separate Elementary,
Middle/Intermediate/Junior High School, High School and College/University
levels for USA and DX entries. SCR rules are available on the ARRL Web site
<>. The Wake Forest
University Amateur Radio Club is offering the "Deacon Challenge" as an
incentive for other collegiate clubs to get on the air. The WFU ARC will
operate a demonstration station for six hours on February 12, and it
challenges other collegiate clubs to beat their score for the six-hour
period. For details, contact Chris Plumblee, KG4CZU,, or Ken
Hoglund KG4FGC,

* Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration: February
registration for the Level I ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
Course (EC-001) opened February 4 and will remain open through the February
9-10 weekend. Registration for the Level II course (EC-002) will open on
Monday, February 11; registration for Level III (EC-003) will open February
18. Courses must be completed in order, starting with Level I. To learn
more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<> and the C-CE Links found there. For more
information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Coordinator Dan
Miller, K3UFG, 

* Winter Olympics special event: The West Desert Amateur Radio Club will
sponsor special event station W7U to commemorate the 2002 Winter Olympics in
Salt Lake City, Utah. W7U will be on the air from February 8 until February
24. Look for W7U on or around 3.768, 14.250, 21.300 and 28.400 MHz. QSL to
W7EO, PO Box 98, Grantsville, UT 84029.

* Celebrate the sunspots at the 53rd International DX Convention: Mark your
calendars for the International DX Convention, April 26-28, 2002 at the
Holiday Inn Visalia, California. This event attracts attendees and
presenters from around the world, offering an opportunity to catch up on the
latest DX events, such as Ducie Island and Logbook of the World, and perhaps
catch a glimpse of new products before Dayton! With a full slate of programs
plus vendors, a banquet, contest dinners, famous DX, friends and that famous
convention patch, there's something for everyone. For more information,
visit the International DX Convention Web site
<> or contact Don Bostrom, N6IC,

* ISS crew resumes normal activities following computer shutdown: NASA
reports that operations have returned to normal aboard the International
Space Station after a computer crash. The crew's routine was interrupted the
morning of February 4 when a main computer in the Zvezda Service Module
unexpectedly went off-line, disrupting for a few hours the system that
controls the spacecraft's orientation. The crew and flight controllers spent
several hours correcting the problem. Expedition Four Commander Yury
Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and flight engineers Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, and Carl Walz,
KC5TIE, have resumed their everyday activities--including working with the
space station's science operations. NASA says the crew was never in any
danger, but quickly powered down backup equipment and several experiments in
case the power generated by the station's solar arrays began to drop. All
station systems now are operating normally, and the computer is on line.
Russian controllers continue to analyze the problem to determine its cause.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the space station, future launch
dates and times, as well as station sighting opportunities from anywhere on
Earth, is available on the NASA Human Spaceflight Web site

* Not too late to become part of ARDF Team USA: ARRL Amateur Radio Direction
Finding Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, says he has submitted Team USA's Letter
of Intent to Participate in the 11th ARDF World Championships, September 2-7
in the Slovak Republic. Twelve stateside ARDFers ranging in age from 11 to
60 have expressed interest in attending, but Moell says it's not too late to
add your own name for Team USA consideration. He said the divisions for
males under age 40 and for all females still have several openings. Those
interested should contact Moell via e-mail, For more
information, visit the World Championships Web site <>.
For more information on Team USA, radio-orienteering in the US, and the
upcoming USA Championships near Atlanta, visit Moell's Homing In Web site

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for January was Dick Stroud, W9SR, for his article "Six Meters from Your
Easy Chair." Congratulations, Dick! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque
award--given to the author of the best article in each issue--is determined
by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the Cover Plaque
Poll Web page, <>. As soon as
your copy arrives, cast a ballot for your favorite article in the February
2002 issue of QST. Voting ends February 28.

* YHOTY nominations invited: Nominations are open for the Amateur Radio
Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award for 2002. Created in 1986, the award
recognizes one young radio amateur under the age of 18 in the continental US
for his or her contributions to society through Amateur Radio. Nominating
forms and additional information are available at the Amateur Radio Newsline
Web site, <>. All nominations and materials
required by the official rules must be received by Amateur Radio Newsline
before May 30, 2002. 

* New Zealand simplifies amateur licensing: New Zealand has streamlined the
route to obtain an Amateur Radio license. New Zealand now offers just two
license classes, Limited and General. The Novice and the Novice/Limited
licenses no longer are issued, although holders may retain them and continue
to operate; some also may be eligible for an almost-instant upgrade. The New
Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART) administers the volunteer
examination program there, and examinations are supervised by examiners from
NZART branches. Candidate get two hours to complete a 60-question test and
must answer 40 questions correctly to pass. The Morse code speed to qualify
for the General-grade license has been lowered to 5 WPM. The General License
provides access to all Amateur Radio bands with full privileges. A Study
Guide and full information on the New Zealand licensing system is available
via the NZART Web site <>.

* Correction: A table of contents entry in The ARRL Letter, Vol 21, No 05
(Feb 1, 2002), was incorrect. W8YRB, a ham dealing the RFI complaints, lives
in Michigan. 

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,
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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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