Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the
Olympia Amateur Radio Society
P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

 May 2001
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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Cinco de Mayo and all that aside, we are well into the month of May. The showers that are supposed to be in April seem to have arrived a little late. However we do need the moisture. We are also in the busy season for all the volunteers that aid with the various events that take place here in the South sound area at this time of year. If you have some time to spare, you might consider joining others and assisting with some of the events. It's fun.

Next month is Field Day. Lee, KI7SS said it would most likely be held on the Capitol Campus. This is another fun event. For myself, I am going to try to be operating PSK31. I am just starting to experiment with the mode. It seems to be interesting. There are several other members working with it as well. I will also try to work regular HF as well. One of the things that I find interesting with PSK31 is the almost QRP approach. The use of low power has some benefits in some neighborhoods these days. If you can, join in. If, you are in the area, come by and say hello.

I found it disappointing that Senate Bill 5002 died in committee. This bill, as you recall, was an attempt to have the state recognize PRB-1, a federal position, that allows amateurs to have antenna structures of a reasonable height on their property. There have been several other states that have passed legislation regarding the issue. What I found most amazing was the apparent ease with which the bill was delayed. If you recall, several local Hams went to the public hearing and spoke in behalf of the bill. At the close of discussion, two persons stated that they needed some time to submit some paperwork on the issue. This request was approved and, as they say, that was that. The bill got no farther. It is my understanding that no paperwork was ever submitted. I do not believe we should let this end here. I think we should start working on getting a bill passed next session. It will take all of us to do so. We will need your help.

-- Dan KB7DFL

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Notes from the VP

A month ago I reported that the Boy Scouts of Troop 266 had completed the ham class and almost 20 of them had passed the Technician test. Now they're showing up on the 147.36 repeater and learning about propagation, modulation, operating etiquette, etc. Please join me in welcoming them to the airwaves. Saturday April 29th Ken K7TAG; Dan KB7DFL; Ron W7NN; Ben N7IVM; and I spent the day with a dozen of these new hams -- half of them Scouts, half their parents or Scoutmasters, teaching them operating process and visiting three stations.

We started at nine AM with a discussion of radios and antennas and process. At ten-thirty we toured Ron's contest station and the Scouts saw and heard for the first time the enthusiasm and dedication and knowledge a contester needs to be successful. We were awed by the big towers and beams, sophistication of computer support and antenna management systems, and QSL card management. It takes a lot of skill to be successful in DXing or contesting; Ron's been at it awhile and has the science of station management down pretty well! Everyone enjoyed his presentation!

Next we went to Ben's station for a demonstration of his equipment and especially Ben's forte, PSK-31. We checked out his vertical and were impressed by the sophistication and functionality Ben's station represents. Ben's station is a more "normal-scale" station in contrast to Ron's, yet Ben makes contacts all over, on both voice and PSK-31, with ease. I particularly wanted to showcase these facts...one doesn't have to invest a fortune to be a successful ham, and there are other ways of doing things.

We thanked Ben for his hospitality and traveled across town to the EOC (Thurston County Emergency Operations Center) for the show-and-tell in the radio room, with all bands and most modes represented, each in it's own "soundproof" booth. Dan and Ken spoke of ARES and the reasons for the radios and how they're used. We talked about the activity during and after the recent earthquake and how the facility will suddenly 'come alive' in an emergency, and then turned them loose: it was 4 PM and we'd had a full day of hamming!

I listened to the boys' discussions on the radio afterwards. They had soaked up the information offered like sponges. Ron's talk about DXCC, Ben's talk about PSK, Dan and Ken's introduction to ARES -- they heard and remembered it! So welcome these new voices to the air -- they are hams in every sense! Below is a partial list of the names and callsigns of these newly-minted hams:

Name                     Call Sign      Scout or Scouter
Mitchell Smith           KD7MNB         Scout
David Palmer             KD7MNC         Scouter
Jesse Tyler              KD7MND         Scout
Duncan Moore             KD7MNE         Scout
David Kuhns, Sr.         KD7MNF         Scouter
Chase Davis              KD7MNG         Scouter
Jeff Burkert             KD7MNH         Scout
David Kuhns, Jr.         KD7MNI         Scout
James Bauer              KD7MNJ         Scout
Nate Davis               KD7MNK         Scout
David Bartruff           KD7MNL         Scouter
David Nightingale        KD7MNM         Scouter
Reed Nightingale         KD7MNN         Scout
Kim Skoropinski          KD7MNO         Scouter
Marc Cote                KD7MHC         Scouter
Mark Tyler               KD7LVV         Scouter
Andy Palmer              KD7MTP         Scout
Arthur Vasek             KD7???         Scout

Separately, I've been spending a lot of time on the telephone, pulling together the upcoming events. The YMCA's spring run is coming right up; the Capitol City Marathon is May 20. We have barely enough volunteers for both events; if you can help, call me (866-0800).

For Field Day, we've had to move from the Farmers Market area, and we're moving to the capitol campus as in years past. This year we'll be a class 1C, located in the sheriff's van at the usual spot. Fred's bringing his van and operating six meters. I want people assigned to cause each 100-point bonus category to happen. I want some banners made that advertise the event, mounted out by Capital Way.

-- Lee Chambers KI7SS

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Treasurer's Report

As of 4/30/01

GENERAL FUND (checking account)
    Previous balance     $ 2,486.25
        Income               314.48
        Expenses               0.00
    Ending balance         2,800.73

REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)
    Previous balance       $ 917.79
        Income                 0.00
        Expenses               0.00
    Ending balance           917.79

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Minutes of April OARS Meeting April 26, 2001

The meeting was called to order at 19:00. There were about 30 people present. The members introduced themselves.

There was no old business. There was no new business.

The program for the evening began around 19.20. The program for the evening was a presentation by a representative of the National Weather Service.

The meeting concluded at 21:00.

-- Dan Crane KB7DFL

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Minutes of ARES/RACES Meeting May 10, 2001

The meeting was called to order at 19:33. There were 14 persons present.

Dan, KC7AVR spoke about the need for a HF antenna at the Red Cross facility. He also said that communications for the EMS walk would be carried out on 146.46 simplex. Participants would meet at the Capitol Lake Park at 07:00. 

There was a discussion and review of the Mock Search.

Lee, KI7SS stated that Field Day would most likely be set up on the Capital Campus as in past years.

The meeting adjourned at 21:00.

-- Dan Crane KB7DFL

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More new repeater commands

At Water Tower Radio

This command tests the 147.36 repeater on the water tower on the east side of Olympia:

Depress mike key and enter "B9C." Release mike key. The system responds with "This is the water tower repeater maintained by the OARS radio club. The call is NT7H and it is date, time, at water tower radio."

At Mountain Radio

This command tests the 224.400 and 441.400 repeaters on Crawford Mountain, east of Tenino:

Depress mike key and enter "B9D." Release mike key. The system responds with "This is the mountain repeater maintained by the OARS radio club. The call is NT7H and it is date, time, at mountain radio."

-- Ken Dahl, K7TAG
1120 Palomino Ct. SE
Tumwater, WA 98501-8633
TEL: +1 360 534-9357
FAX: +1 360 534-9628

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Executive Committee Reviews Preliminary 5 MHz Band Petition

Meeting May 5 in Dallas, Texas, the ARRL Executive Committee reviewed a preliminary draft Petition for Rule Making seeking a new US ham band in the vicinity of 5 MHz. Experimental operation in that part of the spectrum under a license issued to the ARRL has been going on since 1999. The Executive Committee agreed that the petition should seek a domestic secondary allocation around 5 MHz for the Amateur Service with a bandwidth of 150 kHz. Executive Committee members will review the completed draft petition before it's filed with the FCC, possibly before the next ARRL Board meeting in July.

Participants in the ARRL WA2XSY experimental operation on 5 MHz have established that an allocation at 5 MHz could improve emergency communication capabilities by filling the gap between 80 and 40 meters. An amateur allocation in the vicinity of 5 MHz long has been an objective of the International Amateur Radio Union.

Winning an allocation at 5 MHz -- even on a domestic basis -- could take several years. Securing an international allocation will be more difficult and take even longer. Consideration of an allocation at 5 MHz is not on the agenda for WRC-03 nor on the preliminary agenda for WRC-05/06.

In other matters, the Executive Committee was told that an FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making still is expected soon in response to the ARRL's petition, RM-9404, seeking Amateur Radio access to the low-frequency spectrum. Filed in late 1998, the ARRL petition asks the FCC to establish LF allocations in the vicinity of 136 kHz and between 160 and 190 kHz.

ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, also told the Committee that the ARRL's Application for Review that seeks to clarify the FCC's PRB-1 limited preemption policy with respect to amateur antennas is pending before the full Commission. The ARRL wants the full Commission to review -- and reverse -- an FCC staff decision declining to extend PRB-1 coverage to include CC&Rs -- covenants, conditions and restrictions. The EC agreed to request an en banc presentation to the full FCC this fall, after new Commission appointees have been seated.

The Committee also was told that favorable FCC action is anticipated on a petition seeking to upgrade Amateur Radio's status from secondary to primary at 2400 to 2402 MHz. The ARRL recently asked the FCC to elevate Amateur Radio from secondary to primary at 2300 to 2305 MHz.

The minutes of the ARRL Executive Committee meeting in Dallas are available on the ARRL Web site,


-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB017

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Growing Older

It helps to be over 50 to understand these!

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AMSAT News Service Bulletin 105.02 from AMSAT HQ

Silver Spring, MD, April 15, 2001

To All Radio Amateurs

The ARISS team reported to ANS that the packet system onboard Alpha has been activated. There have been several minor problems. 

ARISS team members have been debugging issues with the packet module over the past few months. The team is fairly certain that the TNC's RAM battery backup died shortly after the equipment was commissioned. ARISS has been waiting for the expedition crews to connect a laptop to the packet module to check out the system and re-install the packet parameters, including a callsign. To date, this has not happened due to the high workload the crews have been faced with. The bottom line is it appears that the packet system is alive and working well (and able to support APRS) but is operating without the parameters installed prior to flight.

The ARISS team suggests those operators who are using the ISS packet system review the packet information found on the ARISS web site at:


The page has great pictures and written descriptions of the Amateur Radio equipment on-board ISS.

The most common question the team has received recently is why can't we change the NOCALL to the ISS callsign? The ARISS group would love to do this. However, as stated above, the battery in the TNC has died and all the parameters, including the callsign, was then erased from the TNC RAM.

The ARISS team plan is to install the callsign when the current crew has the time to connect a computer to the packet equipment and run a program to correct the default settings. Both the Expedition-1 and Expedition-2 crews have not had the time to accomplish this task. 

Also asked was what happened to the Cosmonautics Day voice operations? The only place the team heard that voice operations occurred during the Cosmonautics Day event was in Russia. The crew had the times of the contacts on their daily timeline but must have been too busy to reach for the radio. The ARISS team will continue to ask the crew to do random voice contacts whenever possible.

The ARISS team is asking Amateur Radio satellite operators to be patient. The ARISS volunteers worked very hard to bring the initial hardware to fruition. From an operations standpoint, it will take a while before things start to settle out on ISS.

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Kids in Church

One particular four-year old prayed: "And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."

A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am."

A Sunday school teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?" One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping."

-- Joke of the Day

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AO-40 Transponder Tests a Hit! 10 GHz Test Set

The inaugural AO-40 transponder tests this past week have been a huge success. Reports from amateurs making their first contacts on AO-40 have come from all over.

"It was just great!" enthused AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, who worked a dozen or so stations via AO-40 last weekend. AMSAT has announced plans to test the 10-GHz X-band downlink over the weekend. The solid state X-band amplifier will be turned on and adjusted on May 13 at 0500 UTC, at MA 165. If that works, the 60-W traveling-wave tube amplifier will be fired up.

"Beacons will be used and probably the L1 uplink," said the AO-40 team's Peter Guelzow, DB2OS. Guelzow said plans also call for connecting the C-band receiver to the X-band downlink.

AO-40 ground controllers opened up the next-generation satellite's transponders May 5 for general amateur use on an experimental basis. Stations can uplink on either 435 MHz or 1.2 GHz. The transponder downlink is at 2.4 GHz. The operation is experimental, the schedule subject to change, and the transponders could be shut down at any time without warning.

Mike Seguin, N1JEZ, in Vermont, says he successfully logged a dozen contacts in the first hour of operation, including two contacts using the Mode-L uplink. "I also logged my first DX contact with IZ8EDE." Seguin said his final first-day tally was 24 contacts.

Ed Krome, K9EK, in Indiana, echoed N1JEZ's comments. "Wow, AO-40 was terrific on this first morning of transponder operation, he said. After almost 10 years, what a thrill!"

Bruce Paige, KK5DO, in Texas also got lucky, racking up several DX contacts in Europe and later in Japan.

At this point, AO-40 may be available for use several hours a day, starting at orbital positions MA 136 and continuing through MA 240. During recent passes, the transponders have been available for six hours or so from a given point on Earth.

The tests have shown that uplink frequencies (without taking Doppler into account) are 435.495-435.780 MHz and 1269.211-1269.496 MHz, and the downlink passband is 2401.210-2401.495 MHz. The transponders are inverting, so a downward change in uplink frequency will result in an upward frequency shift in the downlink.

Users are being asked to avoid the "middle" telemetry beacon at 2401.323 MHz. For maximum QSO signal strength, stations should aim for a passband signal that's 10 dB below the beacon's. AO-40 has been operating without the benefit of the LEILA system, which can compensate for stations that are too strong in the uplink.

Haighton expressed appreciation for the "very hard work" of Project Leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, AMSAT-DL President Guelzow and the worldwide support group of command stations and technical advisors "for providing us with a great satellite."

Check the AMSAT-DL Web site for the latest information:


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Word Improvement

The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners:

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Why men aren't secretaries

Husband's note to his wife: "Doctor's office called: Said Pabst Beer is normal."

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