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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 05
January 30, 2004


* +ARRL files "Restructuring II" petition with FCC
* +AO-40 satellite goes silent
* +Oregon girl could be youngest Extra
* +FCC fixes call sign error
* +W1AW ready for all digital comers
* +SSB pioneer Mike Villard, W6QYT, SK
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     Help ARRL document public service activities
     Shuttle Columbia commemorative special event set
    +Supply rocket sans ham gear to arrive at ISS
     Top DXer turns 90!
     ARRL Board of Directors meeting minutes now available

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The ARRL has filed a Petition for Rule Making asking the FCC to amend its
Part 97 rules to complete the Amateur Service restructuring the Commission
left unfinished in 1999. The League wants the FCC to create a new
entry-level license, reduce the number of actual license classes to three
and drop the Morse code testing requirement for all classes except for
Amateur Extra (see "ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF
Access" <>). The ARRL says
its petition follows in the footsteps of changes in Article 25 of the
international Radio Regulations adopted at World Radiocommunication
Conference 2003. Among those changes, WRC-03 left it up to individual
countries to determine whether or not to mandate Morse testing for HF
access. While several countries--including Germany, the UK and
Australia--already have dropped their Morse requirements, the ARRL
emphasized in its petition that Morse code is not the central issue.

"Changes in Morse telegraphy are one aspect of the proposal, and it would
be insufficient for the Commission to address those issues in a vacuum,"
the League said, calling its licensing proposal "a plan for the next
decade." The ARRL said that plan's overall intention is "to encourage
newcomers to the Amateur Service and to encourage those who enter its
ranks to proceed further on a course of technical self-training and
exposure to all aspects of the avocation."

Last fall a total of 14 Morse-related petitions were filed with the FCC.
Several called on the Commission to drop the Morse requirement altogether,
while others proposed to keep and even expand the requirement or put forth
various license restructuring schemes of their own. The petitions,
RM-10781-10787 and RM-10805-10811, attracted thousands of comments from
the amateur community.

Beyond the Morse question, the ARRL says, the time is right--now that
WRC-03 has finished its work--to follow through on the restructuring
process the FCC began with its 1999 restructuring Report and Order (WT
98-143) <>. Among
other things, that landmark Order, which became effective April 15, 2000,
reduced the number of Morse code test elements from three to a single 5
WPM requirement for all license classes offering HF privileges.

Simply dropping the Element 1 (5 WPM) Morse requirement, the ARRL
asserted, would fail to address the critical need for an entry-level
ticket other than the Technician. Calling the Technician license "a dead
end" for many people, the ARRL said its proposed entry-level
license--being called "Novice" for now--would offer newcomers a much wider
sampling of Amateur Radio. It would require passing a 25-question written
examination--but no code test--and offer limited HF phone, image, CW and
data privileges at modest power output levels.

"This structure provides a true, entry-level license with HF and other
operating privileges which will both promote growth in the Amateur Service
and integrate newcomers into the mainstream of Amateur Radio," the ARRL
told the FCC. "It will better introduce newcomers to more seasoned
licensees who will assist them."

The League proposal also would consolidate current Technician and General
licensees into General class without further examination. Future General
applicants would not have to pass a code test, but the written exam would
remain the same. Current Advanced licensees would be merged into Amateur
Extra class without further testing, and the Extra exam would remain
intact. The ARRL proposal would retain the Element 1 Morse exam for Extra
class applicants.

The ARRL said its overall plan dovetails with the FCC philosophy and goals
stated in its 1999 Report and Order--to simplify the license structure and
streamline the licensing process. The League said its plan would implement
licensing requirements and privileges that are in harmony with each other
and is designed to attract and retain "technically inclined persons,
particularly the youth of our country" and encourage them to advance in
areas "where the United States needs expertise."

"Now, the issue is not merely whether there should or should not be Morse
telegraphy as an examination requirement," the ARRL said, "but rather what
is the best overall approach for positioning the Amateur Service for
future growth and incentive-based self-training."

A copy of the ARRL's Petition for Rule Making is available on the ARRL Web
site <>. The
FCC has requested that individuals refrain from contacting or attempting
to comment to the FCC on the ARRL's restructuring proposal before the FCC
issues a Rule Making (RM) number for the ARRL petition and invites public
comments on it. Until that happens, it is premature to comment to the FCC.


Ground controllers for the AO-40 satellite are trying to figure out just
what happened to cause a significant drop in the spacecraft's bus voltage,
taking it off the air. The satellite remains silent in the wake of a
precipitous voltage drop from around 26 volts down to 18 volts early on
January 27 (UTC). AO-40 controllers are fairly certain that one or more
shorted battery cells are at the root of the problem. Efforts to restart
the satellite's 2.4-GHz downlink transmitter have been unsuccessful.

"Our current best understanding is that we suffered a catastrophic failure
of the main battery, which is clamping the bus voltage at a low level,"
Stacey Mills, W4SM, of the AO-40 command team said in a posting on the
AMSAT-DL Web site.

The AO-40 satellite was the result of AMSAT's ambitious international
Phase 3D project. The AMSAT-NA Board of Directors met January 29 to review
the current situation. "The next few weeks will be of great interest as
the satellite is entering into a sun angle which is becoming increasingly
favorable for charging the batteries," said AMSAT-NA President Robin
Haighton, VE3FRH. Tests are under way on spare batteries in AMSAT's
Orlando, Florida, lab in an effort to simulate the failure mode and
determine what might be done to recover the satellite.

"At this time, AMSAT engineers and scientists are optimistic about the
chances of recovering but--like the NASA Spirit problem--this may take
some time to accomplish," Haighton said.

The AO-40 ground team has been sending blind commands to the spacecraft to
activate its onboard computerized control system in order to switch in the
auxiliary battery bank, which was tied to the main battery bank after a
bus voltage drop January 26, and disconnect the main battery.

Mills said that while ground controllers don't claim to fully understand
what happened aboard AO-40, operator practices were not to blame. "AO-40
was designed to withstand all that you can throw at it," he said.

Mills explained that the main AO-40 batteries consist of 20 40-Ah cells
arranged on three of the radial support arms inside the spacecraft--two
packs of seven cells and one pack of six cells.

"It is entirely possible or even probable that the main batteries suffered
some damage during the 400-N motor event," Mills said, referring to the
onboard catastrophic incident that caused AO-40 to go dark less than a
month after its November 2000 launch.

While some systems were irreparably damaged, ground controllers were able
to get AO-40 partially up and running again, and the satellite's
transponders have been in active use since 2001. It was subsequently
determined that an anomaly involving a fuel valve essentially had caused
an onboard explosion. AO-40 had been operating with 435 MHz and 1.2 GHz
uplinks and a 2.4 GHz downlink and beacon.

"If it's at all possible to bring AO-40 back, we will," said Mills, who
concedes that he's "lived and breathed AO-40" for more than four years.
"No success for even weeks or months does not mean that we won't
eventually be successful. We will sure keep trying."


An Oregon girl considered a year ago as the youngest General class
licensee <> in the US now
may be the country's youngest Amateur Extra ticket holder. Seven-year-old
Mattie Clauson, AD7BL (ex-KD7TYN and ex-KD7SDF), of Roseburg passed her
Extra examination January 14 during a Valley Amateur Radio Club
<> ARRL-VEC volunteer examination
session in Eugene. The FCC granted her new ticket and Extra-appropriate
call sign on January 20.

YIPPEEE!!!" Mattie exclaimed loudly on the
<> Web site. She also announced her
accomplishment in a message routed via the RS0ISS packet system on the
International Space Station. "Looks like a future astronaut to me,"
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Chairman Frank
Bauer, KA3HDO, remarked after learning of the post.

Mattie says she'd at least like to talk with one of the ISS astronauts
some day. She's also a member of the ISS FanClub
<> and enjoys digipeating through RS0ISS.

Mattie's proud papa, Tim Clauson, AC7SP, says his daughter missed only
four of the questions on the Element 4 test, which Mattie described as
"really, really hard!" Whether she is the youngest Extra in the US is
difficult to determine since the FCC no longer makes date-of-birth
information public.

Several of the very youngest amateur operators in the US have been female.
In 1948, Jane Bieberman, W3OVV (now Jane De Nuzzo and still holding the
same call sign), made the December cover of QST for getting her General
ticket when she was just barely 10 years old. Rebecca Rich, KB0VVT--a very
active amateur--got her Extra ticket in 1997 at age 8. The parents of both
girls were amateur licensees.

Mattie's own ham radio heritage also may have been a big plus. Her late
great grandfather, S.A. "Sam" Sullivan, was W6WXU; his daughter, Joan
Brady--Mattie's grandmother--now holds his former call sign. That makes
her a fourth-generation ham. Mattie concedes that she would not have made
it to Extra without a lot of study help and guidance from her parents (her
mom, Charlotte, is AC7XM) and practice examinations on the Web
site <>. The Clausons all are ARRL members.

Mattie says she continues to enjoy working HF SSB, especially DX. In
addition to various HF nets, she also regularly checks into the Douglas
County Amateur Radio Emergency Service Net as a visitor. Aside from ham
radio, her dad says, Mattie--who is home schooled with two younger
sisters--is "a regular kid who likes riding her bike, playing with her
sisters and friends and flying her toy airplanes. She even likes to play
in the mud."

Mattie hopes to be sporting a new vanity call sign soon. Her father says
she's applied for AE7MC--Amateur Extra 7 (year-old) Mattie Clauson, her
dad explained.


The FCC has ordered that a Chesapeake, Virginia, amateur will have to give
up the vanity call sign it erroneously granted him in August 2002. In an
Order of Modification released January 22, the FCC said it would modify
the license of Richard L. Smith, KC4USH, to return his call sign to
KG4UKV--his former call sign.

The FCC concluded that the grant of KC4USH as a vanity call sign "was
defective because the call sign is included in the call sign block KC4USA
through KC4USZ, which is available to the Department of the Navy for the
use of amateur stations at US Navy Antarctic stations," the Order said.
The FCC said it was unable to simply set aside the grant because it did
not become aware of its error until more than 30 days after making the

After the FCC indicated its intention to pull back the call sign Smith
protested, saying that he'd picked KC4USH because it was used at Cape
Hallett Station, Antarctica, when his father was there during "Operation
Deep Freeze 60." Smith further argued that he'd applied for the call sign
in good faith and that he'd spent considerable personal funds to make
others aware that he was assigned this call sign. He also pointed out that
the US Navy had not used KC4USH for 30 years.

The FCC turned Smith down, however, reaffirming that modifying his license
to reflect his previously held call sign would serve the public interest
by ensuring that the call sign block KC4USA-KC4USZ is only used to
identify amateur stations that are located at US Navy Antarctic stations.
The FCC said the reason a licensee requests a particular vanity call sign
"is not a sufficient basis to allow a licensee to retain a call sign that
is otherwise unassignable to the licensee's station" under the FCC rules.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this error has caused Mr. Smith," the
FCC said, adding that it's made necessary corrections to prevent a repeat
of the mistake in the future. Signing the Order was D'wana R. Terry, chief
of the Public Safety and Critical Infrastructure Division in the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau.


ARRL Maxim Memorial station W1AW has expanded its digital-mode
capabilities. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, says all three W1AW
operating suites now offer digital mode access for visiting operators.

"When we first seriously computerized the station, we just had an
interface that would let us do RTTY, AMTOR and packet," Carcia said. "When
PSK31 came out a couple of years ago, [QST Editor] Steve Ford, WB8IMY,
suggested that I try it out. I admit to being bit."

Soon, Carcia had a PC in place running PSK31 software and interfaced with
W1AW's ICOM IC-765. This winter, Carcia made it a priority to expand
digital capability to other gear. That meant first installing sound cards
in several of W1AW's computers. Then Carcia built custom digital mode
interfaces for each radio that included the capability to sample the
radio's frequency to make logging almost automatic.

In addition to the IC-765, digital-ready transceivers at W1AW include a
Kenwood TS-950S, an ICOM IC-756PROII and a Kenwood TS-2000. All four units
can operate RTTY, AMTOR, PSK31, PSK63, MFSK16, Hellschreiber, packet,
Throb, PACTOR I and MT63. The IC-765 and IC-756PROII are wired for FSK
RTTY--to take advantage of their narrow filters--while the Kenwood radios
add SSTV software to the plate.

ARRL COO Mark Wilson, K1RO, says that the increased digital mode ability
of W1AW allows the station to continue its tradition of technical
excellence. "W1AW has always showcased Amateur Radio's capabilities, and
keeping current with the latest digital modes is a logical extension of
that," he said. "We're happy to have the opportunity to show the latest
modes to visitors, who may not have been able to see or try them before."

More information about digital modes can be found on the ARRL Technical
Information Service Web pages <>. Information
about W1AW can be found at the station's home page


Renowned RF engineer, Stanford University researcher and author Oswald
Garrison "Mike" Villard Jr, W6QYT, of Palo Alto, California, died January
7. He was 87. A pioneer of Amateur Radio single sideband (SSB) and
meteor-scatter techniques, Villard authored some two dozen QST articles
between 1946 and 1994. He also was the author of more than 60 technical
papers and held a half-dozen patents.

"His technical achievements were legendary," Dave Leeson, W6NL, a
consulting professor of electrical engineering in Stanford`s Space,
Telecommunications and Radioscience Laboratory (STARLab), told Stanford
University News Service
<>. "Stanford
and the entire engineering community were enriched by his person and his

The son of O.G. Villard Sr, a noted publisher and editor (The New York
Evening Post and The Nation), Mike Villard developed an interested in
radio while still a youngster. He was first licensed as W1DMV in 1932,
while living in Connecticut. Since his father wanted him to follow in his
footsteps, the younger Villard earned a bachelor's degree in English from
Yale in 1938, but then headed to Stanford University to pursue his first
love, electrical engineering. While at Stanford, he studied under
Professor Frederick Terman (ex-6FT and 6AE)--later regarded as the "father
of Silicon Valley."

During World War II, Villard followed Terman to work at Harvard
University's Radio Research Laboratory on enemy countermeasures research.
He returned to Stanford after the war, joined the school's electrical
engineering faculty in 1946 and completed his PhD in 1949. He taught and
carried out research at Stanford for five decades, and he headed STARLab's
predecessor--The RadioScience Laboratory--from 1958 until 1972.

Among his Amateur Radio accomplishments, he experimented with and
championed single-sideband, suppressed-carrier modulation in 1947, and the
Stanford Amateur Radio Club's W6YX <> is
said to have been the first ham station to use SSB transmission. While a
student, he also served as the club's president, and from the 1950s
through the early 1980s he was the trustee of W6YX. An ARRL member for
many years, Villard was also a past scientific advisor to the Northern
California DX Foundation.

During his career at Stanford (and later at Stanford Research
Institute--SRI), Villard pioneered the concept and development of a
program to design and build an over-the-horizon radar system to detect
incoming military aircraft and high-altitude missiles. In addition, he
demonstrated the feasibility of the "stealth aircraft" concept by using
specially treated low-impedance surfaces. For those achievements he
received the Department of Defense civilian Medal of Honor.

Another accomplishment was the design of a simple, small high-frequency
receiving antenna <> that aided in
nulling out signals that jammed broadcasts of the Voice of America, the
BBC and others.

The family requests donations in support of the Mike Villard Memorial Fund
to SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave, AD-114, Menlo Park, CA
94025.--some information from Stanford News Service


Heliophile Tad "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: There are no sunspots! The visible solar disk is
blank. A spotless sun at this point in the solar cycle is normal, however,
because there are big day-to-day variations.

Is the solar cycle is near bottom? And, if so, how long will it be until
conditions improve? Going by the January 6 issue of the NOAA Preliminary
Report and Forecast of Solar Geophysical Data
<> projection of future
sunspot and solar flux values until December 2007--a rough guess based on
previous solar cycles--the bottom of the cycle is expected to occur some
time around the end of 2006. That said, we really won't know when the
bottom occurs until some time after we've passed it. As for conditions,
the best we can say is that a year from now they should be worse. The
projected number for January 2005 doesn't rise back to the same level
until December 2007.

Conditions will likely improve somewhat over the next week. The weekly
average of daily sunspots for this week was half what it was the week
before. Average daily solar flux declined over 21 points. Projected solar
flux for Friday through Monday, January 30 through February 2, is 90, 90,
100 and 100. Solar flux is expected to peak for the short term around
February 8.

Geomagnetic conditions may be rough over the next week, unsettled to
active. Predicted planetary A index for January 30 through February 5 is
15, 20, 20, 25, 25, 15 and 10.

Sunspot numbers for January 22 through 28 were 76, 62, 47, 48, 38, 0 and
0, with a mean of 38.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 121.8, 115.2, 107.5, 102.3,
98, 93.7 and 88.5, with a mean of 103.9. Estimated planetary A indices
were 62, 38, 15, 33, 17, 16 and 19, with a mean of 28.6.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (CW) and the UBA DX
Contest (SSB) are the weekend of January 31-February 1. JUST AHEAD: The
North American Sprint (SSB), the Delaware, Minnesota and Vermont QSO
parties, the QRP ARCI Winter Fireside SSB Sprint, the FYBO Winter QRP
Field Day, the 10-10 International Winter Contest (SSB), the AGCW Straight
Key Party and the Mexico RTTY International Contest are the weekend of
February 7-8. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens
Monday, February 2, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the on-line
Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains
open through the February 7-8 weekend or until all available seats have
been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, February 17.
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 175 seats are being
offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. Senior
amateurs are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. To
learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<>. For more information, contact Emergency
Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <>;;

* Help ARRL document public service activities: Amateur Radio operators
volunteer thousands of hours of their time each year to public service
communication during emergencies, scheduled tests or drills and events
such as parades and marathons. These activities help to show Amateur Radio
in its best light. It's critically important that the ARRL be able to
bring this public service work to the attention of Congress, the FCC and
other public officials. The ARRL Public Service Activity Report Form
(FSD-157) <>
is a convenient way to document Amateur Radio public service and
emergency-response activities. If you're an ARRL Emergency Coordinator,
District Emergency Coordinator, Section Emergency Coordinator or other
leader of an Amateur Radio public service communications organization,
ARRL encourages you to submit this form on behalf of your group after each
public service activity, emergency operation or alert. You may supplement
your reports with photographs of radio amateurs in action or other
supporting information. For more information, contact Steve Ewald, WV1X,
<>; at ARRL Headquarters.

* Shuttle Columbia commemorative special event set: The Nacogdoches
Amateur Radio Club (NARC) in Texas will mark the first anniversary of the
shuttle Columbia disaster February 1 with a daylong special event
operation from W5NAC. The club says the operation will honor the lost
Columbia astronauts, recovery workers and volunteers and agencies involved
in the debris recovery effort. More than 350 Amateur Radio Emergency
Service (ARES), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and Deep
East Texas SKYWARN volunteers assisted with the shuttle recovery effort by
providing the other responding agencies with a unified radio communication
system as well as providing up-to-the-minute weather information. "The
amateur radio community really came together to serve during that time,"
commented NARC President Kent Tannery, KD5SHM. "That is what we train to
do." Tannery said the special event is the club's way of showing respect
to all of the volunteers and especially the Columbia crew members and
their families. Details are available on the NARC Web site

* Supply rocket sans ham gear to arrive at ISS: NASA says the next Russian
Progress supply rocket will arrive at the International Space Station
January 31. On hand to greet and unload the unmanned rocket, which carries
2.5 tons of food, fuel and supplies, will be Expedition 8 crew Mike Foale,
KB5UAC, and Sasha Kaleri, U8MIR. Not aboard the Progress will be
additional Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) SSTV
equipment and a Yaesu FT-100D HF/VHF/UHF multimode transceiver that ARISS
had hoped might be able to go into space aboard this Progress flight.
ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, says the gear likely
will be transported to the ISS during an April Progress resupply flight
instead. ARISS-JA made arrangements for the donation of the Yaesu
transceiver and of a Kenwood TM-D700E VHF/UHF transceiver now on board the
ISS and installed in a second NA1SS amateur station in the crew's
quarters. Bauer expressed his gratitude to both manufacturers for donating
the gear.

* Top DXer turns 90! Top DXCC Honor Roller Ben Stevenson, W2BXA, of
Colonia, New Jersey, celebrated his 90th birthday January 25. The ARRL
DXCC Desk reports the new nonagenarian stands at 391 overall entities, in
a tie at the top of the heap with Ed Hawkins, K6ZO, who will turn 90
himself in February 2005. "The most anyone could ever work is 393--335
current and 58 deleted," explains ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, "so
391 is currently the highest achieved." On phone, Stevenson is currently
the DXCC top dawg at 389 total entities.

* ARRL Board of Directors meeting minutes now available: The minutes of
the 2004 Annual Meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors Meeting held
January 16-17 in Windsor, Connecticut, now are available on the ARRL 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.

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.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
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==>How to Get The ARRL Letter
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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.

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