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ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter
August 8, 2013
John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
ARRL Home PageARRL Letter ArchiveAudio News


Ham Radio in Space: AO-7 "Zombie" Satellite Again Enjoying Its Time in the Sun

An artist's conception of AO-7 orbiting above Earth graced the cover of the April 1974 edition of QST.

It's baaaaack! Launched November 15, 1974 as the second AMSAT Phase 2 ham satellite, AO-7 may be the zombie of the Amateur Radio satellite world, having returned from the dead more than a decade ago, then periodically re-emerging. Next year, it will be 40 years old -- ancient in satellite years. After its batteries succumbed to old age, AO-7 went silent in 1981, only to spring back to life in 2002, although some believe it may have resurrected itself as much as a year earlier. AMSAT describes the Mode A/B bird as "semi-operational" and "almost certainly" running solely from its solar panels. The ham satellite organization theorizes that AO-7's batteries shorted when they failed, but the short circuit subsequently opened, allowing the satellite to return to life. This means AO-7 only works when it's receiving direct sunlight and shuts down when in eclipse. Since the satellite became undead, terrestrial users have enjoyed numerous contacts via AO-7.

"AO-7 is alive and doing okay," satellite observer Frank Griffin, K4FEG, reported this week. "This season's eclipse cycle has ended." Griffin explained that the eclipse period, during which AO-7 falls silent, lasts about 9 weeks, from mid-spring to mid-summer. According to its operating plan, AO-7 switches to Mode B (70 centimeters up/2 meters down) at 0000 UTC.

"The satellite has started its mode switches, but it has not quite settled back down yet," Griffin told ARRL. For example, he said, AO-7 was in Mode A at 1230 UTC on August 5, but had been reported in Mode B earlier. He suspects that even though the satellite is now in sunlight, its orientation to the sun may still affect electrical power onboard the satellite "until it gets a little further into the full illumination." This, in turn, could degrade the transponder performance.

AO-7 has beacons on 29.502 MHz (used in conjunction with Mode A) and 145.972 MHz (used in conjunction with Mode B and Mode C -- low power Mode B). The 435.100 MHz beacon has an intermittent problem, switching between 400 mW and 10 mW.

Potential AO-7 users are advised that due to changes in Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service rules, the legality of transmitting to AO-7 on its Mode B uplink is questionable, since that frequency no longer falls within an Amateur Satellite Service allocation. §97.207(c)(2) and §97.209(b)(2) of the FCC rules authorize space station and earth station operation only in the 435-438 MHz segment, and it's unclear whether a 1974 FCC waiver might still cover operation on the original Mode B uplink frequency. -- Thanks to Frank Griffin, K4FEG; AMSAT News Service; AMSAT

Ham Radio in Space: ARISS Logs Several Successful Ham Radio Contacts with ISS Crew

ARISS is an international educational outreach with participation from ARRL, NASA, ESA, the Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS), CNES, JAXA, CSA and AMSAT.

The International Space Station crew has been answering a lot of questions lately -- all as part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) educational outreach. European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, KF5KDP, of Italy, was at the helm of NA1SS aboard the ISS for a successful contact July 30 with students at the Italian Bilingual School in New South Wales, Australia. The contact via VK4KHZ lasted just under 10 minutes. After English, Italian is the most widely spoken language in Australia, with more than 500,000 speakers there using the language on a daily basis.

Parmitano continued his roll of successful ham radio contacts with Earth on August 1, when he was interviewed by budding pilots and aircraft enthusiasts attending the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Contact was established between NA1SS and AH6NM in Hawaii, with audio telebridged to the AirVenture site. (Telebridges make contacts possible when the ISS is not in a favorable orbit for a direct contact.)

Welcoming some 500,000 AirVenture visitors each year and with a student membership of more than 20,000, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EEA) "is a gateway to aerospace for many young people," the association says. "The young people present for the contact with the space station were very diverse and reflect the range of people who are active in our organization." That included some 125 young women and their mentors who are part of WomenSoar, a program to promote aerospace opportunities for women. Also on hand were groups from aviation high schools in Florida and California.

Chrs Cassidy, KF5KDR (NASA)

Parmitano's colleague in space, NASA Astronaut Christopher Cassidy, KF5KDR, concluded yet another successful contact August 3 with students attending Space Jam 7 at the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, Rantoul, Illinois. The contact was between NA1SS and LU8YY, with audio telebridged to the museum.

Space Jam 7 is a Scouting activity aimed at completing the requirements of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) merit badges well as promoting the skills required by aspiring astronauts. The event included a ham radio licensing class. Space Jam 7 was attending by some 2000 Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and leaders from 20 states.

The ISS crew also enjoyed a successful contact August 6 with students attending the Escuela Provincial de Educación Técnica No. 2 (Provincial School of Technical Education No. 2) in General Pico la Pampa, Argentina. The contact was between NA1SS and LU8YY, with audio telebridged to the school. In addition the crew spoke August 7 with youngsters at Ecole Primaire Pasteur (Pasteur Elementary School), Fleurance, France, via an audio telebridge with LU1CGB. Read more. -- ARISS, AMSAT News Service

Education: Hands-On Technology Training, Robots, Ham Radio -- What More Could Teachers Want?

Educators from across the US who attend the ARRL's Teachers Institutes on Wireless Technology enjoy the challenge and

camaraderie of these professional development workshops. More important, they acquire knowledge and skills to help their students grasp the essentials of radio science, basic electronics, robotics, space and satellite communication technology and, of course, Amateur Radio. Funded through the generosity of donors, the ARRL Education & Technology Program (ETP) created the Teachers Institutes to offer educators hands-on training and experience with wireless technology fundamentals that will enable them to integrate wireless technology instruction into their classrooms. According to the teachers attending, they did just that.

"I have never come away from a professional development feeling like the course was designed to actually get us to use what was taught," said recent workshop participant Glen Hanneman, KJ6BQK. "The amount of training, resources, and networking opportunities the TI workshop afforded me is astounding! Having vertical integration with colleagues from fifth grade to junior college gave me a great perspective on how the technology instructional progression runs."

TI Instructor Tommy Gober, N5DUX, demonstrates Amateur Radio satellite communication at a workshop in California.

ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, and Parallax Inc in Rocklin, California hosted "Introduction to Wireless Technology" sessions this year, and two dozen teachers from 14 states took advantage of the opportunity.

"Educators from around the nation seem to have the same challenges getting [technology] into the classroom as I have, no matter the grade level," said Hanneman, who took part in the California workshop. Nine participants at that session already had Amateur Radio licenses, but a ham ticket is not a requirement for enrollment.

Tommy Gober, N5DUX, an instructional technologist at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, taught the California workshop, held July 15-18. He demonstrated a ham radio "fox hunt" and a successful ham radio contact with the SaudiSat-1C (SO-50) satellite. Workshop participants also got a bird's eye view of Earth via the NOAA-19 (NOAA-N Prime) satellite. "Several [teachers] were instantly hooked as soon as you could make out the peninsula in the Baja Mexico and the Gulf of California," Gober recounted.

ARRL Education & Technology Program Director Mark Spencer, WA8SME, shows his class a cubesat.

ARRL Education & Technology Program Director Mark Spencer, WA8SME, instructed the TI session at ARRL Headquarters July 8-11. Eight participants were hams. In the workshops' robotics section teachers build and program a Parallax Boe-Bot®. On the floor of ARRL Headquarters' main hallway, Spencer created a black electrical tape maze in the shape of the letter "E." Teachers practiced programming the Boe-Bots to stay within the lines, in the process learning the fundamentals of BASIC programming.

Teacher Elizabeth Frank attended the workshop at Parallax. "Attending the TI has been one of the best experiences of my life," she said. "I signed up in order to learn more about the science behind wireless communications and to gain confidence in introducing ham radio into my classroom. The Institute has surpassed my expectations for both of these goals."

Gordon Romney, AG2G, said he was grateful to have been selected to participate in a TI. "I learned new concepts in so many areas. Please thank the donors, ARRL and Parallax for making this program possible."

Your support of the ARRL Education & Technology Program will help ARRL to continue this important educational initiative. Read more.

FCC: President Nominates O'Rielly to Vacant Republican FCC Seat

President Barack Obama has nominated Republican Mike O'Rielly to fill a vacant seat on the Federal Communications Commission. Telecommunications industry insider and Democrat Tom Wheeler, the White House nominee to succeed Julius Genachowski as the Commission's chairman, this week received the approval of the Senate Commerce Committee. Senate Republicans would prefer pairing Wheeler's and O'Rielly's nominations before they go before the full Senate for confirmation, something that won't happen until after Congress returns from its August recess.

O'Rielly, a New Yorker who is on the staff of Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, would fill one of two vacant Commission seats -- the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2014, that had been held by Robert M. McDowell, who resigned. Because of resignations, the five-member FCC is down to one Republican and two Democratic members, including acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, who said she is "excited about working with Mike on the many important issues facing the Commission." -- News reports; FCC; The White House

Public Service: Hawaii Hams Muster to Help Forecasters Track Tropical Storm Flossie

Tropical Storm Flossie

Amateur Radio operators in Hawaii kept National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologists and local emergency operations centers up to date on changing conditions and power outages, as Tropical Storm Flossie pounded parts of Hawaii and Maui counties July 29-30 with heavy rain and lightning. Radio amateurs organized a joint SKYWARN/ARES/RACES operation using eight VoIP and microwave-linked VHF and UHF repeaters from state and county RACES to serve the NWS, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) and state and county officials.

Clem Jung, KH7HO, opened a SKYWARN net from the NWS Honolulu office ham station the evening of July 29 to establish an operational plan. The net reconvened the next morning on the AllStar Link repeater system and on 7.088 MHz. ARES and RACES members also participated.

Over its 12 hours of activation, the net recorded 67 check-ins and reports from hams in all four Hawaii counties. Net control stations received reports from throughout the state via Amateur Radio as well as by cell phones and even social media. All reports were shared with CPHC meteorologists. Harvey Monomura, AH6JA, and others on East Hawaii provided ground observations of rain and lightning conditions to supplement what forecasters were seeing via radar and infrared satellite imaging. The state EOC and the county EOCs also monitored the SKYWARN reports. As the storm moved west, stations on Maui reported considerable lightning and rain, and even small hail, coupled with power outages. As the storm diminished, the CPHC gave the okay to close the SKYWARN NET late on July 30.

"This cooperation between the SKYWARN net control stations and the NWS was fantastic," said Jung. "This success was possible because emergency coordinators had worked previously with the Amateur Radio community that participated in this net." Read more.

Your League: Michael Sigelman, KØBUD, Receives ARRL President's Award

ARRL Dakota Division Director Greg Widin, KØGW, on July 31 invited his Division to join him in honoring Michael Sigelman, KØBUD, of Golden Valley, Minnesota, recipient of the ARRL President's Award. The award cites Sigelman for "decades of service as an ARRL volunteer, club president, hamfest founder and organizer, and irrepressible ambassador and promoter of Amateur Radio in the finest traditions of the Founding President of the ARRL, Hiram Percy Maxim."

(L-R) ARRL Dakota Division Director Greg Widin, KØGW; ARRL International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, KØQB; Mike Sigelman, KØBUD; Tod Olson KØTO, and Howard Mark, K3HM (Michael Miller, NØNY, photo).

As ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, explained in a letter accompanying the award, "The award is presented to ARRL members who have shown long-term dedication to the goals and objectives of ARRL and Amateur Radio, and whose support of individual programs and/or goals has been above and beyond the normal efforts of ARRL members. It is presented only to those whose truly outstanding efforts have benefited ARRL and/or Amateur Radio operators in the state, the region, or the nation."

The presentation took place following the Twin Cities FM Club's summer picnic. Among those on hand to honor the recipient were former Dakota Division Directors Jay Bellows, KØQB; Tod Olson, KØTO, and Howard Mark, K3HM, as well as other prominent members of the Twin Cities ham radio community.

Your League: ARRL Introduces Centennial Membership Certificate

ARRL membership certificates commemorating the League's 100th anniversary in 2014 now are available. Members logged onto the League's website can generate their own certificates or cards online for printing. "We want each ARRL member to know that he or she is a part of next year's big ARRL Centennial," says Membership Manager Diane Petrilli, KB1RNF. The certificate maker also produces a replacement membership card. The ARRL thanks past McGan Award winner Angel Luis Santana, WP3GW, for suggesting the 2014 ARRL Centennial Membership Certificate, which was designed by ARRL Graphic Artist Diane Szlachetka.

Your League: Past ARRL President Haynie Among West Gulf Division Honorees

ARRL President Emeritus Jim Haynie, W5JBP (L) and ARRL West Gulf Division Director Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV.

At its First Annual West Gulf Division Awards presentation at HamCom in early June, ARRL President Emeritus Jim Haynie, W5JBP, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Haynie, who once served as West Gulf Division Director, was the League's president from 2000 until 2006. Named as Ham of the Year was Bill Supulveda, K5LN, while Luke Leel, KC5LSL, was designated Young Ham of the Year. The Excellence Award (EmComm) went to Stuart Rohre II, K5KVH.

"I have always believed that we hams should spend more time recognizing the efforts of our volunteers at all levels -- local, Section and Division," said West Gulf Division Director Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV, who called volunteers "the crucial element of any organization." Woolweaver said that as Director, he identifies and congratulates ARRL volunteers at the start of every ARRL forum and reminds members to recognize their club officers. "This year that philosophy was expanded by creating the West Gulf Division Awards of Ham of the Year, Young Ham of Year and the Award for Excellence. Volunteers deserve the attention and our gratitude."

Woolweaver is accepting nominations for the 2014 WGD awards. The submission deadline is April 15, 2014.

Your League: Delta Division Vice Director Resigns

ARRL Delta Division Vice Director Glen D. Clayton, W4BDB, of Cleveland, Tennessee has resigned, effective August 1, due to some ongoing health issues. The process of filling the vacancy by appointment is underway. "Glen has been a tremendous help to us in his capacity as Vice Director since January 2012 and will continue as part of the Delta Division Leadership in a more localized role," said Delta Division Director David Norris, K5UZ. Clayton previously was Tennessee Section Manager.

Your League: ARRL Board of Directors July Meeting Minutes Posted

The official minutes of the July 2013 meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors now are available on the ARRL website. The meeting took place July 19-20 in Windsor, Connecticut.

DX: Swaziland DXpedition Looking for Ops, Opinions

Here's your chance to join a DXpedition! The 3DAØET DXpedition to Swaziland is expected to take place November 18-27 and will include the CQ World Wide DX CW. The team includes members from the 2012 7P8D DXpedition to Lesotho and is looking for additional operators, especially for RTTY.

The 3DAØET DXpedition to Swaziland is set for November 18-27.

Plans call for the team to meet in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 15, and then drive to Piggs Peak, Swaziland. Takedown will be November 28, and the team will return to Johannesburg the next day. The team hopes to visit Kruger National Park. If interested, contact Roger Jones, ZS6RJ, or Charles "Frosty" Frost, K5LBU. The team's website has more details.

The team has posted a survey to determine which bands and modes DXers most desire (there are other questions as well). Once the research is complete, the 3DAØET team will post the results. -- The Daily DX

DX: Operations Approved for DXCC Credit

The ARRL DXCC Desk has approved the 2012 operation of XW2CW, Laos, and the 2013 operation of T5TC, Somalia, for DXCC credit. If your request for DXCC credit for these entities was rejected in a prior application, contact ARRL Awards Branch Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, to be placed on the list for an update to your record. Note the submission date and/or reference number of your application in order to expedite the search for any rejected contacts. -- ARRL Awards Branch Manager Bill Moore, NC1L

DX: Yasme Foundation Funds Transceivers for New Ethiopian Hams

The Yasme Foundation has provided a grant that will permit three members of the Ethiopian Amateur Radio Society to become licensed and get on the air. When Ethiopia came back on the air in the spring of 2011 with the reopening of the EARS station ET3AA, the Yasme Foundation provided a grant to pay license examination fees for 25 club members. Many were successful, but Ethiopian radio regulations require that they demonstrate proof of ownership of an Amateur Radio station to receive a license.

Ken Claerbout, K4ZW, with EARS member Adula at the microphone during the 2013 IARU HF World Championship.

The Foundation's additional grant will go toward the purchase of transceivers for three club members, so they can satisfy the requirements of the Ethiopian licensing process. The Board expressed its appreciation for "the substantial efforts" of Ken Claerbout, K4ZW, who facilitated the acquisition of equipment and mentored EARS members.

The Yasme Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation organized to conduct scientific and educational projects related to Amateur Radio, including DXing and the introduction and promotion of Amateur Radio in developing countries.

Safety First! Harness Saves Canadian Ham After Fall from Tower

An unidentified ham in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, avoided serious injury or worse after falling July 16 from a ham radio tower he was disassembling. The man, whom media reports called "a certified tower expert" fell backward from the tower and became trapped about 35 feet in the air. The Edmonton Journal quoted District Fire Chief Lorne Corbett.

"He had on the proper harness, that's what saved him," Corbett said. "He also had his legs entangled in the tower itself."

When the rescue team showed up, the man was upside down, and firefighters went up the tower to stabilize him and orient him upright. Firefighters got the man down using a bucket on a fire ladder. Although bruised, he was able to walk to the ambulance.

The ARRL offers antenna and tower safety tips on its website. Universal Radio also has posted a list of general recommendations for installing outdoor antennas. -- The Edmonton Journal; The Edmonton Sun

Vintage Radio: Antique Wireless Association Combines Convention, New Museum Opening

The 52nd Antique Wireless Association (AWA) World Convention August 20-24 in Rochester, New York, will have a dual theme -- the grand opening of the new AWA Museum (on August 20), and Heathkit history and equipment (the keynote speaker will be Dick Goslee, K2GI, the former manager of the Rochester Heathkit store).

The new AWA Museum is at 6925 Route 5 and 20, Bloomfield, New York. Held at the Rochester Institute of Technology Inn and Conference Center, the AWA convention promises "five day of total immersion in radio lore, artifacts and equipment." The annual event -- essentially the "Dayton" of the vintage radio collecting community -- includes a huge flea market, an expanded old equipment contest, forums and presentations, a banquet, and special event station W2AN.

Register online. The AWA also is debuting a new website design, still a work in progress. Contact Roy Widermuth via the AWA Convention web page with questions or comments.

Getting It Right

The news item "Lynn Jelinski, AG4IU, Wins July QST Cover Plaque Award," should have read, "The winner of the July QST Cover plaque award is Lynn Jelinski, AG4IU, for her article 'A Broadband Ham Network Crosses the Finish Line.'" We apologize for this error.

Solar Update

Propagation Predictor Tad "Sol Man" Cook, K7RA, in Seattle, reports: Solar indicators barely moved this week, with average daily sunspot numbers up 5.8 points to 85.4, and average daily solar flux down 2.4 points to 107.3. Predicted solar flux for the next week is also unchanged, with the predicted average for Thursday August 8 through Wednesday August 14 at 107.9, hardly different from 107.3 this past week.

Solar flux is predicted at 110 on August 8-11, 105 on August 12-14, 110 and 115 on August 15-16, 110 on August 17-18, 105 on August 19-24, 110 on August 25-28, 115 on August 29, 105 on August 30 through September 2, 110 on September 3-4, and 115 on September 5-12.

Predicted planetary A index is 8, 12, 18 and 10 on August 8-11, 5 on August 12-13, then 12 and 8 on August 14-15, 5 on August 16-20, then 10, 15 and 10 on August 21-23, 5 on August 24-30, then 12, 17, 8, 5 and 8 on August 31 through September 4, 5 on September 5-9, and 8 on September 10-11.

Friday's bulletin will respond to a flood of e-mail concerning our Sun's shifting magnetic polarity, and will update the latest daily forecast for solar flux and A index.

This Week in Radiosport

Aug 10 -- Maryland-DC QSO Party

Aug 10 -- Fall VHF Sprint (50 MHz)

Aug 10-11 -- Worked All Europe, CW

Aug 10-11 -- Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon,

Aug 11 -- NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, CW

Aug 14 -- CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test

Aug 14-15 -- NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint, CW

Aug 17 -- SARTG WW RTTY Contest

Aug 17 -- Feld-Hell Gridloc Sprint

Aug 17-18 -- ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest

Aug 17-18 -- International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend

Aug 17-18 -- Dominican Republic Contest, SSB

Aug 17-18 -- Russian District Award Contest, CW/SSB

Aug 17-18 -- Keymen's Club of Japan Contest, SSB

Aug 17-18 -- North American QSO Party, SSB

Aug 18 -- SARL Digital Contest

Aug 18 -- ARRL Rookie Roundup

Upcoming ARRL Section, State and Division Conventions and Events

August 9-11 -- New Mexico State Convention, Albuquerque, New Mexico

August 17 -- ARRL West Virginia State Convention, Weston, West Virginia

August 17-18 -- ARRL Alabama State Convention, Huntsville, Alabama

August 18 -- ARRL Kansas State Convention, Salina, Kansas

August 25 -- ARRL Western Pennsylvania Section Convention, New Kensington, Pennsylvania

August 31-September 1 -- North Carolina Section Convention, Shelby, North Carolina

September 6-8 -- Southwestern Division Convention (SWHAMCOM), Buellton, California

September 14 -- Roanoke Division Convention, Virginia Beach, Virginia

September 20-21 -- W9DXCC Convention, Elk Grove Village, Illinois

September 27-28 -- SEDCO/W4DXCC Convention, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

September 28 -- North Dakota State Convention, West Fargo, North Dakota

September 28 -- Washington State Convention, Spokane Valley, Washington

September 29 -- EmComm East Convention, Rochester, New York

October 6 -- Maryland State Convention, West Friendship, Maryland

To find a convention or hamfest near you, click here.

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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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