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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 15
April 12, 2002


* +Ham radio praised at hurricane confab
* +FCC nails vanity backlog
* +Texas high schoolers query ISS crew member
* +ARRL debuts HF Digital Communications course
* +IMAX "Space Station" film to include ARISS school contact
* +Amateur Radio represented at international conference
* +Question Pool Committee releases draft Tech syllabus
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Club provides reimbursements for ARRL emergency communications course
     Cost of QSLing to rise again
     Dayton Hamvention announces 2002 banquet speakers
     Pacific Seafarer's Net handles emergency call
     PCsat back in the black

+Available on ARRL Audio News



At the National Hurricane Conference <>
April 1-5 in Orlando, Florida, representatives of Florida-based served
agencies praised the role of Amateur Radio in hurricane-related
communication emergencies. Meteorologists, emergency management
professionals and disaster-relief organizations from hurricane-prone
states use the annual conference to exchange ideas and learn about new
developments and issues involving emergency preparedness.

"Amateur Radio really shines during callouts," said John Fleming, the
communications officer of the Florida Division of Emergency Management
during an April 2 Amateur Radio training session organized by Mike Carter,
N3PDK. Carter chairs the Amateur Radio Topic Committee for the conference.

Fleming said his agency "just wants effective communication" during
emergencies, and he described how Amateur Radio fits into Florida's
emergency plans. Since the state capital of Tallahassee is in the ARRL
Northern Florida Section, Fleming explained, his office follows the
Northern Florida ARES plan to take advantage of Amateur Radio resources.

Santa Rosa County, Florida, Director of Emergency Management Dave Ling
echoed Fleming's sentiments to the Amateur Radio operators in attendance.
"We really appreciate your efforts, and I got a whole lot out of this
conference," he said.

During the hurricane season, which starts June 1 and runs through
November, the National Hurricane Center in Miami benefits from the support
of a corps of Amateur Radio volunteers who staff the center's W4EHW
<> amateur station. W4EHW Amateur Radio
Coordinator John McHugh, KU4GY, and Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll,
WD4JR, talked about their ongoing work and provided an update on the
Caribbean Amateur Radio Meteorological Emergency Network, or CARMEN (See
"Public Service," Jan 2002 QST, p 85). W4EHW gathers real-time storm data
from members of the Hurricane Watch Net on 20 meters as well as from other
sources, including the Internet.

ARRL is among the many sponsors of the annual National Hurricane
Conference. ARRL Field Organization/Public Service Team Leader Steve
Ewald, WV1X, represented ARRL Headquarters during the event.

Amateurs representing Florida's three ARRL sections were on hand for the
conference. Attending from the Northern Florida Section were Section
Manager Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, and Assistant SM Steve Richbourg, KO4TT.
From West Central Florida were Section Manager Dave Armbrust, AE4MR,
Section Emergency Coordinator/Assistant SM Paul Toth, NA4AR, and Public
Information Coordinator Jack Doyle, WX1JAD. In attendance from Southern
Florida was SEC and Assistant SM Jim Goldsberry, KD4GR.

During the gathering, Jerry Herman, N3BDW, formally announced his
retirement as manager of the Hurricane Watch Net <>.
Mike Pilgrim, K5MP, of Boca Raton, Florida, was introduced as the new net

Colorado State University hurricane expert Dr. Bill Gray announced his
latest predictions for the upcoming season on April 5 at the Orlando
conference. Gray predicted 12 "named" storms and 7 hurricanes--three of
them major.


The longstanding vanity call sign application backlog that had built up as
a result of mail problems last October is now history. The FCC issued
another 328 vanity call signs this week. That completed the processing of
applications received at the FCC's Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, office
through March 25--right at the typical 18-day vanity application waiting

"We are back on track for vanity processing," an FCC Private Wireless
Division Licensing and Technical Analysis Branch staff member told ARRL.
While not ruling out any problems down the road, she indicated that
everything was working fine now and that the FCC would resume its normal
nightly vanity runs.

ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, congratulated the FCC's licensing
staff on the accomplishment. "It's been a long time coming," he said. "A
great deal of effort on the part of the FCC personnel in Gettysburg and
some on the part of ARRL went into making this happen.

Among the latest happy customers was ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary
Hobart, who traded in her government-issue KB1HYD for K1MMH, reflecting
her initials.

At its peak, the vanity backlog was estimated at more than 2000
applications. Routine vanity processing resumed in early March. With the
exception of a four-day hiatus to deal with a processing anomaly later
that month, the FCC has been slowly but surely whittling away the
application stack. The processing of routine Amateur Service applications
was unaffected by the vanity problems.

The vanity holdup began after some two weeks of paper vanity applications
sent off last October for anthrax decontamination were not returned to
Gettysburg. Since FCC policy continues to give equal priority to paper and
electronic vanity applications, vanity processing was halted when the
paper applications didn't come back. FCC staffers--with help from the
ARRL--used payment information to contact those who had filed and have
them submit new applications. Last month, the FCC began receiving the
applications that had been missing.

The FCC has proposed increasing the regulatory fee it charges vanity call
sign applicants from $12 to $14.50 for the 10-year license term. Comments
on the proposal are due April 23, and reply comments are due May 3. The
new, higher fee likely would go into effect in September. The vanity fee
is paid at the time of application for a new, renewal or reinstated vanity


The teenaged daughter of International Space Station crew member Dan
Bursch, KD5PNU, was among several juniors and seniors at Pflugerville High
School in Texas who got to speak to the astronaut April 5 via Amateur
Radio. The contact was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station--or ARISS--program. Emily Bursch declined, however, to
submit a question to her dad, in deference to her fellow students.

After he'd answered a few of the students' questions, Bursch took a moment
to acknowledge his daughter's presence. "Hello, Emily! I miss you," he
said. "Hi, Daddy," Emily Bursch replied--at that point, in the background.
While her father replied to several more questions, a teacher escorted
Emily to the speakerphone the class was using.

"Hi, this is Emily. Over!" she said to her father, at the time some 200
miles above Earth over Australia. Bursh replied excitedly, "I love you,
too, and I miss you."

"I love you too," Emily responded. The students' questions then resumed.
At the tail end of the contact, she attempted to speak with her dad again,
but the spacecraft already had gone out of range by then. During an
earlier ARISS contact with St Thomas the Apostle Episcopal School in
Nassau Bay, Texas, last month, Bursch got to chat briefly with his two
younger children--daughter Robyn, and son Jackson, both of whom also asked

"Emily admitted that she is able to talk to her father often through NASA
provided 'phone calls' and e-mail, but it was fun to watch her friends as
they experienced space communications for the first time," said Roy
Walker, WA5YZD, who was on hand for the contact.

More than 100 other Pflugerville High School students listened in as their
classmates asked about life aboard the station and safety concerns
relating to space travel--14 questions in all. Most of the students were
enrolled in physics and science classes at the Texas high school. Bursch
told student An Tong that his most favorite thing to do during his free
time is look out the window and view Earth as it passes by.

Several students asked about physical fitness and staying in shape while
enduring long periods in microgravity. Others wanted to know what kind of
education, training and experience it takes to become an astronaut. As for
space tourists, Bursch said, he didn't have anything against the idea. He
noted that South African Mark Shuttleworth is scheduled to visit the ISS

Providing Earth station facilities for the event was Tony Hutchison,
VK5ZAI, in Australia--an ARISS veteran. Science Department Supervising
Principal Larry Bradley expressed appreciation to all who made the
experience possible for his students.

Listening in on the conference connection during the contact were members
of the ARISS international team, which was meeting in Montreal, Canada.
"We broke out in grins and with sighs of relief at the start of the QSO
and in simultaneous applause at the end," said ARRL's Rosalie White,
K1STO, a member of the ARISS committee.

ARISS is an international project with U.S. participation by the ARRL,
AMSAT and NASA. More information is available on the ARISS Web site
<>.--Roy Walker, WA5YZD, and Gene Chapline,
K5YFL, provided information for this report


The ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Program soon will
introduce its newest on-line course--HF Digital Communications (EC-005).
Registration for the new course opens Monday, April 15. It marks the fifth
course in the growing list of continuing education offerings from ARRL.

"Students will understand the scope of HF digital Amateur Radio
communications as they exist today," said ARRL C-CE Program Coordinator
Dan Miller, K3UFG. "This course will develop your awareness and skills for
the HF digital modes and assist you to use and benefit from them."

Students taking the course will become familiar with the scope of HF
digital Amateur Radio communication modes available and learn how to use
all of them. The curriculum was developed by QST Editor and digital
enthusiast Steve Ford, WB8IMY, the author of ARRL's HF Digital Handbook.

"Having a resident expert like Steve Ford is a definite plus!" Miller
said. The course covers many of the topics contained in Ford's book as
well as some new ones. Early in the ARRL HF Digital Communications Course,
students will learn how to configure a station for HF digital work, then
learn about such topics as chasing digital DX and HF digital contesting.
Students will become acquainted with RTTY, PSK31, MFSK, Hellschreiber,
PACTOR, PACTOR II, WinLink 2000, Clover and HF packet, and they will need
no prior experience with any of them.

Tuition for HF Digital Communications (EC-005) is $60 for ARRL members and
$90 for nonmembers. Registration for the HF Digital Communications course
opens Monday, April 15, at 4 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and there's a
50-seat class limit this month. Registration will remain open through the
following weekend or until all seats are filled--whichever comes first.
Students will have up to eight weeks to complete the course of study.

More course information is available at the C-CE Course Listing Page
<>. The ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education offered its first on-line class--in Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications--in December 2000. Since then, the highly
successful emergency communications series has expanded to three levels
and benefited hundreds of amateurs. Last December, the program added its
first technical offering, a class in Antenna Modeling (EC-004) that also
has proven very popular.

Additional details about the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program are on the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<>. To learn more, contact C-CE Program
Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG,


Amateur Radio again is getting a role on the silver screen, this time in
the new IMAX film called Space Station. The film includes a segment
depicting the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
program in action. ARISS team members will be on hand to demonstrate ham
radio to the press and invited moviegoers when the film has its first
screening Tuesday, April 16, at the National Air and Space Museum in
Washington, DC.

Several ham-astronauts also are expected to be in attendance. The movie
opens to the general public Friday, April 19. US International Space
Station crews have included at least one Amateur Radio operator. The
current Expedition 4 crew--Commander Yury Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and
astronauts Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE, is the first to have
all three members licensed.

The IMAX earthbound segments were filmed last August at Seabrook
Intermediate School in Texas. Students there enjoyed an ARISS contact on
September 4. The ISS segments was shot in January 2001 with Expedition 1
Commander Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL. The two segments were pieced together
during editing.

An international educational program, ARISS brings students from the US
and throughout the world together with ISS astronauts via ham radio, which
was one of the first payloads accepted aboard the ISS by NASA. ARISS is
sponsored by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.

Coinciding with the IMAX film debut on April 16, second through
sixth-grade students at The Quogue School in Quogue, New York, will get
their turn behind the microphone to talk with either Bursch or Walz.

In 2000, Amateur Radio had a featured role in the science fiction thriller
Frequency.--Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY


Amateur Radio was well-represented during the recent 2002 World
Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-02) in Istanbul, Turkey.
WTDC-02 was sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union. The
International Amateur Radio Union delegation included IARU President Larry
Price, W4RA; IARU Region 1 Vice Chairman Tafa Diop, 6W1KI; and IARU Region
1 Working Group on Promotion of Amateur Radio Chairman Hans Welens, ON6WQ.
ARRL Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA, was a member of
the US delegation to the conference, which wrapped up March 27.

Chairing WTDC-02 was Turkish Telecommunications Authority Chairman and
President Fatih Mehmet Yurdal, TA2MY. Amateurs from various parts of the
world in other delegations represented the interests of their employers.

WTDC-02 was the culmination of several years of work by the IARU. The
conference recognized the Amateur Service's involvement in disaster
communications, the ITU Development Sector Handbook on Disaster
Communications--in which IARU and ARRL played an important role--and an
ITU-D Recommendation on effective use of the Amateur Services in disaster
communications. The conference included a report on the state of world
telecommunication development. It also considered proposals for reform of
the Telecommunication Development Sector and reviewed the ITU-D strategic

The conference provided a backdrop for the signing of a memorandum of
understanding between CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunication Commission)
and CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications
Administrations), which could lead to mutual recognition--or possibly a
combining--of CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01 and the CITEL International
Amateur Radio Permit (IARP). Such an arrangement would facilitate
operation by European amateurs throughout the Americas and by operators in
Organization of the American States (OAS) countries in Europe.

The conference provided an opportunity for IARU to renew its contacts with
the African Telecommunication Union (ATU). Agreement was reached for IARU
and ATU to sponsor training of regulators of the Amateur Services in the
near future.

Attending WTDC-02 were more than 1000 delegates from around the world,
including representatives of the FCC and other regulatory agencies. ITU
Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi told the conference's opening session that
the telecommunications sector must take urgent steps to bring basic
telecommunications to all the world's inhabitants. "We must take a fresh
look at our policies and modify them to fast-track our objectives," he

The Turkish Amateur Radio Club--Telsiz Radyo Amatorleri Cemiyeti--or
TRAC--marked WTDC-02 with an Amateur Radio special event station,
TA1KA/ITU, at the conference site.--Paul Rinaldo, W4RI


The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer
Examiner Coordinators has released a draft syllabus for the Element 2
(Technician) Amateur Radio examinations. The QPC is inviting comments on
the document.

The syllabus is an outline of 10 question topic areas--called
"subelements"--from which actual examination questions will be developed.
For Element 2, these include FCC rules, methods of communication, radio
phenomena, station licensee duties, control operator duties, good
operating practices, basic communications electronics, good engineering
practice, special operations, and electrical, antenna structure and RF
safety practices. Subelement T0, Electrical, Antenna Structure and RF
Safety Practices, has been expanded to include all safety
issues--electrical, antenna/tower and RF.

A question pool based on the revised syllabus will be released later this
year to take effect July 1, 2003. The QPC will invite public input on the
Technician questions as well.

A new Amateur Extra class question pool released last November takes
effect in the exam room on July 1 of this year.

QPC chairman Scotty Neustadter, W4WW, requested comments to the committee
by May 9. The draft Technician (Element 2) syllabus
<> is available on the ARRL
Web site, which also includes all current question pools
<>. The amateur community may e-mail
comments to the Question Pool Committee at

Commenters also may e-mail individual members directly: Scotty Neustadter,
W4WW,; Bart Jahnke, W9JJ,; Fred Maia, W5YI, and John Johnston, W3BE,


Peerless propagation pro Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports:
Sunspot numbers and solar flux rose again this week. Average daily sunspot
numbers for April 4-10 were up nearly 40 points, and average daily solar
flux rose by more than 11 points, when compared with the seven-day period
that ended April 3.

Solar flux is expected to decline over the short term--to below 190 after
this weekend, and below 180 after next Wednesday. There is a chance of
geomagnetic unrest this weekend due to a solar flare and coronal mass
ejection on April 10 at 1230 UTC. This wasn't aimed exactly at Earth, so
the effects are a little hard to predict, but Thursday morning's forecast
from the US Air Force has the planetary A index at 12 on Friday, 15 on
Saturday and 20 on Sunday.

Sunspot numbers for April 4 through 10 were 176, 200, 234, 227, 245, 212
and 220, with a mean of 216.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 216.2, 217.4, 206.3,
207.9, 206.2, 205 and 194.3, with a mean of 207.6. Estimated planetary A
indices were 8, 6, 5, 7, 5, 6 and 7 with a mean of 6.3.



* This weekend on the radio: The JIDX HF CW Contest, the QRP ARCI Spring
QSO Party, the EU Spring Sprint (SSB), His Majesty the King of Spain
Contest, the Yuri Gagarin International DX Contest and the UBA Spring
Contest (SSB) are the weekend of April 13-14. JUST AHEAD: YLRL DX to NA YL
Contest (SSB), the 432 MHz Spring Sprint, the Holyland DX Contest, the
TARA Spring Wakeup PSK31 Rumble, the ES Open HF Championship, the YU DX
Contest, the GACW CW DX Contest, the EU Spring Sprint (CW), and the
Michigan and Ontario QSO parties are the weekend of April 20-21. The Harry
Angel Memorial Sprint is Apr 25 See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the new HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and for the
Level III Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (EC-003) courses opens
Monday, April 15, at 4 PM Eastern Time. Registration for the Level II ARRL
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-002) and for the Antenna
Modeling Course (EC-004) will remain open through Sunday, April 14, or
until all available seats are filled. Registration for the Level I Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-001) opens Monday, May 6, at 4
PM. Emergency Communications courses must be completed in order, starting
with Level I. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education Web page <> and C-CE Links found there.
For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education
Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, [C-CE graphic]

* Club provides reimbursements for ARRL emergency communications course:
The Northern Lakes Amateur Radio Club of Itasca County, Minnesota, has
approved reimbursements of $40 apiece to the first 20 members who complete
the ARRL's Level I Emergency Communications course. "I recently completed
Level I and recognize the obvious benefit this course would have in
getting our club members on the same track toward being good
communicators," said club president Bruce Aiton, K0NII, who made the
reimbursement recommendation to the club. "I'm pleased to say the plan was
met with enthusiasm and received unanimous approval." 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 Program
Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG,

* Cost of QSLing to rise again: The United States Postal Service has
announced that new postal rates will go into effect June 30. The
single-piece, one-ounce first-class mail rate will increase three
cents--from $0.34 to $0.37. The additional ounce rate for single-piece
first-class mail will remain at $0.23. The single-piece card rate (eg, QSL
cards) will increase by two cents--from $0.21 to $0.23. For details, visit
the USPS Web site <>.

* Dayton Hamvention announces 2002 banquet speakers: Dayton Hamvention has
announced that the Bill Cross, W3TN, of the FCC and Paul Reid, N4EKW, of
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will share the podium as
speakers at the Hamvention grand banquet, Saturday, May 18. Cross is a
senior program analyst in the Public Safety and Private Wireless Division
and is the FCC's point person for Amateur Radio regulatory issues. He'll
also appear at the Hamvention FCC Forum. Reid is responsible for managing
FEMA's worldwide HF radio system--FEMA National Radio System (FNARS). He
is also a senior communications advisor to the President's Office of
Science and Technology Policy. Returning as master of ceremonies for the
2002 Hamvention banquet is Carl Nichols, N8WFQ, a Dayton TV meteorologist.
For more information, visit the Dayton Hamvention Web site

* Pacific Seafarer's Net handles emergency call: Clark Lowry, N7AAC, in
Arizona reports that the Pacific Seafarer's Net
<> handled an emergency call that came in
April 9 during the net's roll call on 20 meters. Roll call was moved to
another frequency, and Lowry (as net control), Jim Donaldson, VE7ZVT, and
Fred Moore, W3ZU, remained on the net's 14.313 MHz frequency to handle the
call with help from Jeff Nelson, N6NXL; Martin Stitt, KD6RGV/XE2 and Peter
Bowman, VE7YAP/XE2. Lowry said the initial call, without a call sign,
indicated that the vessel Sunrise had struck a log off the Baja Peninsula
and was sinking. "The caller indicated that he was busy transferring the
crew and passengers to another vessel and could not give us a better
position report," he said. A subsequent transmission indicated that
everyone had been transferred safely. Lowry called the US Coast Guard,
which, in turn, contacted Mexican naval authorities. He later ascertained
from a YOTREPS <> report that
all four passengers had been rescued by the vessel Fisher II.

* PCsat back in the black: Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, reports that over the
April 6-7 weekend, PCsat (NO-44) made it back into a positive power budget
and achieved a full charge on its batteries. This allows the spacecraft to
remember its commands for more than the one hour sunshine of each orbit,
he said. Bruninga also expressed thanks to the various command stations
around the world that attempted commands on more than 400 orbits since the
problem began March 10. PCsat had been resetting and running the batteries
dead on every eclipse. In addition, the satellite has one faulty solar
panel. "We have enabled the digipeater again for limited operations
probably through 10 May," Bruninga said. Because PCsat's batteries were
severely weakened, Bruninga has requested that operations be limited to
daylight only and that operators cease when telemetry packets display
"11111111." Bruninga advised users to be conservative, and minimize the
number of packets they digipeat. He also requested no routine automatic
unattended operations. For more information, visit the PCsat Web site

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

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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.

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