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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 02
January 9, 2004


* +ARRL Board to meet
* +Authorities pull the plug on Austrian BPL test
* +Geography not dull from space, astronaut tells pupils
* +Roll your own Cabrillo files via the Web
* +California ARDFer brings home gold
* +Big Project activity boards available to schools
* +Columbia crew memorialized on Mars
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL 2004 VHF Sweepstakes dates correction
     ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Position opening at ARRL Headquarters
     NASA says ISS crew in no danger from apparent air leak
     AO-27 now semi-operational
     Norwegian clubs experimenting on 60 meters
     Alaska experimental LF beacon shuts down
     North Carolina club to host BPL seminar
     Ham Radio University 2004 set for January 18
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News



Draft proposals to implement changes in US Amateur Radio rules in the wake
of World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) will be up for
discussion when the ARRL Board of Directors convenes later this month. The
Board also will elect officers for the next two years. ARRL President Jim
Haynie, W5JBP, has indicated that he plans to run for a third term. The
Board will meet January 16-17 in Windsor, Connecticut.

Among other significant changes, WRC-03 delegates agreed last summer to
leave up to individual countries whether to require a Morse code test for
access to amateur high-frequency allocations. Several countries already
have dropped the Morse code testing requirement for HF access. In the US,
the FCC last year invited public comments on 14 Morse-related petitions
for rule making, but it has not yet acted on the issue.

The ARRL Board is expected to discuss in detail recommendations in
response to WRC-03 that were developed during last November's meeting of
the ARRL Executive Committee.

Amateur Radio-related matters still in the pipeline at the FCC also are
expected to be a topic for discussion. ARRL's 2002 "omnibus" Petition for
Rulemaking <>, which
includes a request to eliminate the current Novice bands and "refarm" the
spectrum, is among those proceedings seemingly stuck at the Commission.
The FCC also has yet to act on other non-ARRL rule making petitions
<>. The subject of Broadband
over Power Line (BPL) also is on the Board's agenda.

Among other actions, the Board also will elect members to the Executive
Committee and appoint three directors to the ARRL Foundation Board.


The Austrian Amateur Transmitter Federation (÷VSV--÷sterreichischer
Versuchssenderverband) <> reports that a
Broadband over Power Line (BPL) field test in the city of Linz has been
cut short as a result of excessive radio interference. ÷VSV, Austria's
International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) <>
member-society, said in December that the Government Ministry for
Commerce, Innovation and Technology closed down Linz Power Company's BPL
pilot project because it was generating interference on the HF bands.
Shortwave broadcaster Radio Austria's futureZone service
<> says the case that brought the issue to a head
was a Red Cross report that emergency services radio traffic during a
disaster response drill last May was the victim of massive BPL

"The Commerce Ministry Order not only means the end of the Linz BPL pilot
project," the Radio Austria report said, "but the end of the deployment of
this technology in Austria, especially given the interference to radio
communication in places of business." According to the broadcaster,
measurements were said to have indicated that radiation from the BPL
system exceeded permissible field strength levels by a factor of 10,000.

÷VSV says radio amateurs in Austria have opposed deployment of all BPL
experiments as neither legal nor compatible with "vital, worldwide
shortwave radiocommunication." Among other problems with BPL, ÷VSV has
cited its potential to disrupt emergency communications and safety-of-life
services as well as military operations on HF and navigation and
aeronautical communication.

Last fall, ÷VSV representatives and Linz amateurs got together with power
company representatives in an effort to resolve BPL's incompatibility with
HF radio operation. The meetings followed news reports of interference to
emergency service communications and QRM complaints from several area
hams. "Because of the racket, expensive installations, such as a 20-meter
monobander on a high-rise building, become totally worthless," ÷VSV said.

The utility agreed to look into the possibility of a 100-meter protective
zone around each amateur's location, notch filters for amateur
frequencies, network system filters and the use of 5 GHz wireless local
area networks.


While students sometimes consider geography a boring subject on Earth,
International Space Station Expedition 8 commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC,
told some Ohio youngsters January 2 that it's anything but dull from his
perspective in space. Foale spoke via Amateur Radio with a group of fourth
through ninth graders at Gilmour Academy <> in
Gates Mills. Arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ARISS) program, the contact between Gilmour Academy club station
ND8GA and NA1SS on the ISS marked the first school group QSO of the new

"If I look at the Earth, I find the geography incredibly interesting,"
Foale enthused, "looking at how the cities are laid out, seeing the roads
and the houses, or often, if it's desert--there's an awful lot of desert
on the earth--peeking at the different rocks." Foale said he's especially
fascinated with the people living below, and he always keeps a
computer-based encyclopedia handy when he's viewing Earth from space.

In responding to the dozen questions put to him by the youngsters, Foale
also spoke about a cancer-related research project aboard the ISS. "Cancer
cells can be developed in space in a very different way from the way they
are on Earth," Foale said. "That allows researchers to develop new
techniques for treating cancer cells on Earth. It's a long project, and it
will go on for many years."

Foale said he and crewmate Sasha Kaleri, U8MIR, eat well in space, but he
also admitted that the ISS crew doesn't always go along with the program
when it comes to what they consume. "We don't, of course, eat all the
things they tell us to eat," he said. "I just love chocolate, so I've
eaten all the chocolate that's aboard already."

The Expedition 8 crew is not scheduled to return to Earth until April.
Foale concluded the contact by wishing all at the school a happy new year.

Gilmour Academy Amateur Radio Club President Caroline Greco, KC8WNY,
handled control operator duty at the ND8GA Earth station.

"Even though our contact wasn't perfect, it was about 75 percent solid,
enough to provide some nice memories for the kids and parents," said
faculty club moderator and back-up control op Ken Kane, KG8DN. "We were
delighted with the results, and learned a lot from the effort."

In space, Foale used the Phase 1 NA1SS equipment--a 5 W Ericsson handheld
with an external antenna--for the Gilmour Academy contact. Although it's
installed and has been checked out and used to make some casual QSOs, the
higher-power ARISS Phase 2 ham gear has not yet been cleared for use
during ARISS school group contacts.

ARISS <> is a joint educational outreach program
with participation from ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.


The ARRL Contest Branch has announced that a Web-based "applet" program
<> now is available that can create and e-mail
contest logs in the Cabrillo file format ARRL requires for contest

"Thanks to Bruce Horn, WA7BNM, and the support of several other amateurs,
it is now possible for all contest participants to create Cabrillo-format
logs on the Web," said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND.
"These will allow participants who log on paper or whose logging software
will not generate a Cabrillo file to create an electronic log to submit to
the League."

The first ARRL contest for which the Web applet is available is the recent
2004 RTTY Roundup <>.
Henderson says Horn is developing templates for additional ARRL contests,
and these will also become available via links from Horn's Cabrillo Web
Forms page.

The Web routine first prompts users to provide the required information to
create a Cabrillo file header. This includes basic information such as
ARRL/RAC section, call sign used, call signs of operators for a multi-op
entry, entry class, the operator's name and address and possibly other
data. Where appropriate, drop-down boxes allow submitters to select the
correct information.

A second screen allows users to input data for each QSO. Users may either
manually keystroke the information for each contact or cut and paste
it--band, date, time, call sign copied, received RST, received
exchange--from another source. A space is necessary between each QSO data
element, and each QSO belongs on a separate line.

Once QSO data have been entered, click on the "SUBMIT QSO INFO" button.
The program checks for formatting errors, and, if everything is correct,
will display the completed file. At that point, users can check their
information one last time.

Click the "SUBMIT CABRILLO LOG" button to e-mail the entry automatically
to the correct address for the contest. This also will send a record copy
of the Cabrillo-formatted log to the user.

Applet-created logs will be processed just as all other log submissions
are. If the contest robot finds problems, it will send the appropriate
e-mail message to the submitter. If the log is okay, the robot will send a
numbered receipt.

Users with questions about the Web applet routine should contact the ARRL
Contest Branch via e-mail <>;. The ARRL thanks Bruce Horn,
WA7BNM, for his work in developing this helpful and useful Web


Bob Cooley, KF6VSE, of Pleasanton, California, struck gold twice at the
Fifth International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 Championships of
Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) in Australia. Hosted by the
Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) <> and
organized by the Victoria ARDF Group, the competition took place November
28 through December 3 near Ballarat--a historic gold mining town in
northwestern Victoria province.

Cooley competed in M60, the "Superveteran Category," for men 60 and older.
On the 4.7-kilometer 2-meter course, he found the required three hidden
transmitters in 1:30:25--seven minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.
On the 5.6-kilometer 80-meter course, he did even better, finding all
three foxes and reaching the finish line in 1:15:22.

All three IARU regions hold ARDF championships in odd-numbered years. The
Region 3 event drew 50 male and 9 female competitors from Australia,
Japan, China, Korea and New Zealand, with KF6VSE as the only participant
from North America.

Complete results of the 2003 IARU Region 3 ARDF Championships are at the
Victoria ARDF Group Web site <>. Information on ARDF
events in the US is available on the Homing In Web site
<> of ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV.--Joe
Moell, K0OV


ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program Coordinator Mark
Spencer, WA8SME, says "The Big Project" has 50 "activity board" suites
available for schools on a first-come, first served basis. Described in
Unit 9 of The Big Project curriculum
<>, the activity
board provides teachers with a set of modules that can be used to teach
about the five basic building blocks of wireless technology--oscillators,
rectifiers, amplifiers, mixers and filters.

The activity board kit is designed for construction by middle schoolers
(with knowledgeable adult supervision) using basic tools (soldering iron
and wire clippers). The suite, valued at approximately $350, includes the
circuit board and components, three VOMs and a digital oscilloscope. The
activity board was funded through various sources including the ARRL
Foundation, the Newington Amateur Radio League and an anonymous donor.

Interested schools should forward requests on school letterhead, signed by
the school's principal and the lead teacher. Letters should certify that
the lead teacher:

* has reviewed Unit 9 of the Project Curriculum and will use in the
classroom the concepts presented there and supported by the activity

* has access to a computer with a CD-ROM and a USB port, which the digital
oscilloscope requires. (An overhead computer projector is helpful for
platform instruction and to project oscilloscope displays.)

* can construct the activity board, either by having the students do the
construction (preferred) or by obtaining the assistance of a local Amateur
Radio club.

* will critique the curriculum and provide feedback. Teachers are
encouraged to provide additional curriculum material using the activity
board if they develop their own materials.

Spencer says the certification is necessary to ensure the kits are put to
their intended use. Send requests to the ARRL Education and Technology
Program, ATTN Mark Spencer, WA8SME, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. For
additional information, contact Spencer <>;; 860-594-0396.


NASA this week announced plans to name the landing site of the Mars Spirit
rover in honor of the astronauts who died in the tragic shuttle Columbia
accident of February 1, 2003. The area in the vast flatland of the Gusev
Crater where Spirit landed January 3 will be called the Columbia Memorial
Station. Spirit also carries a memorial plaque dedicated to the Columbia
astronauts and the STS-107 mission.

"Spirit carries the dream of exploration the brave astronauts of Columbia
held in their hearts," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. The plaque is
mounted on the back of Spirit's high-gain antenna, which is used to
communicate with Earth.

The Columbia crew, headed by Commander Rick Husband, included Pilot Willie
McCool and Mission Specialists Kalpana "KC" Chawla, KD5ESI; David Brown,
KC5ZTC; Laurel Clark, KC5ZSU, and Michael Anderson, and Payload Specialist
Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut.

Since its historic landing, Spirit has been sending extraordinary images
of its new surroundings on the red planet.


Solar swami Tad "The Sun King" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
Average daily sunspot numbers rose slightly this week, while solar flux
was down a bit. Except for January 2, geomagnetic conditions were active.
A couple of coronal mass ejections went into space January 6 and 7, and
these could mean small possibility of a solar flare over the next day or
so. Otherwise, geomagnetic conditions are supposed to be moderate.

The mid-latitude K index rose to five at 0900 UTC on January 9. It is no
coincidence that the interplanetary magnetic field points south, leaving
Earth vulnerable. Earth's active geomagnetic field could stabilize over
the next couple of days, but things are expected to become unsettled to
active again around January 12-13. January 14-15 are expected to be quiet,
with a stable geomagnetic field.

Solar flux is expected to rise slowly over the next few days, reaching 130
by January 13, then possibly peaking around 135 from January 19-21.

Sunspot numbers for January 1 through 7 were 47, 51, 65, 80, 80, 78 and
93, with a mean of 70.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 116, 116.5, 116.1, 119.4,
123, 117.3 and 118.8, with a mean of 118.2. Estimated planetary A indices
were 27, 13, 26, 24, 22, 20 and 32, with a mean of 23.4.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (CW), the
Hunting Lions in the Air Contest, the UK DX Contest (SSB), the Midwinter
Contest (CW), the NRAU-Baltic Contest (separate CW and SSB events), the
Midwinter Contest (SSB) and the DARC 10-Meter Contest are the weekend of
January 10-11. JUST AHEAD: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the 070
Club PSKFest, the LZ Open Contest (CW), the Michigan QRP January CW
Contest and the Hungarian DX Contest are the weekend of January 17-18. See
the ARRL Contest Branch page <> and the
WA7BNM Contest Calendar <>
for more info.

* ARRL 2004 VHF Sweepstakes dates correction: The January 2004 QST
"Contest Corral" reports incorrect dates for the 2004 ARRL January VHF
Sweepstakes Contest. The event starts January 24 at 1900 UTC and concludes
at 0400 UTC January 26. Full (and correct) information on the 2004 ARRL
VHF Sweepstakes is available on the ARRL Web
<> (also click on
the "General Rules" and "VHF Rules" links) and in December 2003 QST, page
97. ARRL regrets any inconvenience the error may have caused.

* ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration opens
Monday, January 12, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level II
Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains
open through the January 17-18 weekend or until all seats are
filled--whichever occurs first. Class begins Tuesday, January 27. Thanks
to our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National and Community Service
and the United Technologies Corporation--the $45 registration fee paid
upon enrollment will be reimbursed after successful completion of the
course. During this registration period, approximately 50 seats are being
offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn
more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE)
<> Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For
more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan
Miller, K3UFG,, 860-594-0340. [ARECC logo]

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL Antenna Modeling Course (EC-004) opens Monday,
January 12, 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration will
remain open through Sunday, January 18. Classes begin Tuesday January 20.
To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
(C-CE) Web page. For more information, contact
Certification and Continuing Education Program Department

* Position opening at ARRL Headquarters: ARRL Headquarters seeks an
experienced Amateur Radio licensee to coordinate the ARRL's Affiliated
Club/Mentor Program. An extensive background in at least one of these two
areas is required: Service as an Amateur Radio club officer and/or
experience in teaching ham radio licensing classes and mentoring new
licensees. Excellent communication skills, successful customer service
experience, participation in a wide range of ham activities and Microsoft
Word/Office skills are a plus. This position is at ARRL Headquarters in
Newington, Connecticut, and the selected candidate must be willing to
relocate. For additional details on required skills and position
responsibilities, contact ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager
Rosalie White, K1STO <>;. No telephone calls, please. ARRL
is an equal opportunity employer.

* NASA says ISS crew in no danger from apparent air leak: Expedition 8
commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and flight engineer Alex "Sasha" Kaleri,
U8MIR, continued efforts this week to track down an elusive air leak
onboard the International Space Station. After investigations in the US
and Russian modules, the crew reported nothing unusual. Flight controllers
on the ground had informed the crew that they have been monitoring a
slightly larger-than-normal decay in air pressure on the ISS. NASA says
the air pressure decay, measured at a rate of less than 0.04 pounds per
square inch a day, is having no impact on station operations, and the crew
is in no danger. Flight controllers on Earth are keeping an eye on the air
pressure. In 1997, Foale was aboard the Russian Mir spacecraft when a
collision with a Progress rocket punctured the spacecraft's Spektr
laboratory module. In 2000, Kaleri was sent to Mir to help track down
leaks aboard the then-aged space outpost. Kaleri and Foale (photo)
recently conducted a teleconference with the Moscow Support Group to mark
the new year. Audio and video of the occasion was relayed to Johnson Space

* AO-27 now semi-operational: The AO-27 ground controllers report that a
new schedule has been uploaded to the satellite after the team tracked
down several bugs. The schedule starts 3.5 minutes before the
sub-satellite point crosses 39.0 north latitude on an ascending (south to
north) pass. At that point AO-27 will turn on for a one minute digital
telemetry download followed by six minutes of analog repeater operation.
In addition to the analog repeater operations in the evening, there will
be a one minute digital telemetry transmission in the morning starting
when AO-27 crosses 39.0 north latitude on a descending pass. AMSAT News
Service reports that the command team will up the analog transponder time
once it has a better handle on the satellite's battery condition. The
AO-27 command team seeks telemetry downloads. Visit the Logging AO-27
Telemetry page <> for more
information. AO-27 was launched: September 26, 1993. Its FM uplink is
145.850 MHz, and its downlink is 436.795 MHz. The satellite is considered
semi-operational. Additional information is on the AO-27 Web page
<>. An AO-27 question-and-answer page is available on
the AMSAT-NA Web site <>.

* Norwegian clubs experimenting on 60 meters: Norwegian Radio Relay League
International Liaison Officer Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, reports that
registered club stations there have enjoyed special permission to test on
5 MHz for the past three years. Almost all of these club stations have
one-letter call sign suffixes and, in some situations, they may use the LE
prefix. The authorization is restricted for use in emergency communication
or training, and Norwegian stations may not work stations outside of
Norway on 5 MHz. Garpestad said Norway's elongated shape makes it
impossible to communicate from one end of the country to the other on 80
meters, while 40 meters "has its shortcomings" during hours of darkness.
"We are only allowed to use the two frequencies 5.410 and 5.420 MHz, all
modes, 100 W," he said, "but only for communication between Norwegian club
stations engaged in emergency communication or training for such
communication, so this does not include any station outside of Norway."

* Alaska experimental LF beacon shuts down: Laurence Howell, KL1X, in
Anchorage, Alaska, reports that his experimental (Part 5) WD2XDW beacon on
137.77356 kHz ceased transmitting at 1400 UTC on January 6. Howell--who is
also GM4DMA--is relocating to "The Lower 48" in the near future. Until his
tower comes down, he says he'll continue to listen for very slow-speed CW
(QRSS) signals and publish receive captures on his Web site
<>. KL1X hopes to reestablish the LF beacon at his new
plains (Oklahoma or Kansas) location, pending FCC approval. "The beacon's
1 W ERP signal has been successfully heard down the Pacific coast and
recently in Minnesota," Howell said, with partial call sign reports from
England and Europe. Howell also reports that he was delighted to receive
the Radio Society of Great Britain/Nevada 2003 Nevada LF Experimenter's

* North Carolina club to host BPL seminar: ARRL North Carolina Section
Manager John Covington, W4CC, has announced that the Cary Amateur Radio
Club will host a seminar on Broadband over Power Line (BPL). The seminar
will be held Thursday, January 15, at 7:30 PM, at the Herbert Young
Community Center in Cary (the same location as the CARC's Mid-Summer
Swapfest). Radio Amateurs from the Wake County area are invited, but
seating is limited. Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, and Frank Lynch, W4FAL, will
conduct the seminar. "The BPL landscape is changing almost every day,"
Covington said. "You need to attend this meeting to get on board with this
latest threat to the spectrum." Talk in will be available on the 146.88
MHz repeater.

* Ham Radio University 2004 set for January 18: Adopting a theme of
"Spreading ham radio knowledge and know-how," Ham Radio University (HRU)
2004 <> takes place Sunday,
January 18 as part of the ARRL New York City/Long Island Section
Convention. It will be held at East Woods School, 31 Yellow Cote Road,
Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. The primary sponsor, the Long Island
Mobile Amateur Radio Club (LIMARC) <>, says HRU 2004
is a cooperative effort among more than 20 clubs and organizations in the
New York City-Long Island area. LIMARC describes the fifth annual event as
a day of education to share ideas, experiences, knowledge and fellowship
among Amateur Radio operators. Forums are geared to nonhams and
experienced operators alike. New this year is a seminar that will describe
the range of on-line ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
<> courses now available.

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for December is Chip Margelli, K7JA, for his article "Field Day 2003 from
Cuba." Congratulations, Chip! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque
award--given to the author--or authors--of the best article in each
issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each
month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page
<>. Cast a ballot for your
favorite article in the January issue of QST. Voting ends January 31.

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 <> for
the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
<> offers access to news, informative features and
columns. ARRL Audio News <> is a
weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter.

Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to
The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

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The ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

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