Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  September 2006
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

September is the month we get serious about finding officers for OARS for the following year, and so, fellow ham radio operators, here's my appeal: I need candidates for President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer, and Member-at-Large. If you or anyone you know would like to help lead the club, please let me know! Otherwise it may end up rudderless. I will, of course, help with the task. It's easy to be President -- just lead a few meetings and act knowledgeable, even if you aren't (I'm a great example!) What changes would you make in our process? You can make it happen! Give me a call at 866-0236 most evenings.

My cheap-and-dirty multi-band dipole certainly is working well, but I need to get the feed line a little better attached so it can stand an ice and snow storm, in the unlikely event we get one. How are your antennas -- are you all set for winter? This great antenna-party weather won't last forever -- get out there and put something up! Maybe I should put up a better 2-meter antenna; I should stop writing this and get to work!

I've acquired a GPS and am learning a little about how it works. I had one several years ago, but it was not very sensitive so it lost its position all the time, and eventually I got discouraged with it. Now my big goal is to get an APRS system going. The excitement about this mode seems to have died down a bit, but I'm just getting really interested! Are any of you APRS-literate, and using it?

The next OARS meeting will be the 4th Wednesday of this month, at the South Bay Fire Station. One of the commitments we made to the Fire Station was that we'd help get a dual-band antenna up this year, and time's flying by! The plan is to put up a mag-mount; I've got the magnets but not the antenna or feed line. Hopefully that's acquired by the Fire Station by now and we can do it soon!

As OARS President and for my other hat, ARRL State Government Liaison, I keep soliciting input from you on the antenna tower/height code issue, so I well understand the issues and your feelings -- and on any other issue you might want legislative action to remedy. On the antenna height issue, its my opinion that a 200-foot tower sounds awfully appealing and should be allowed without excessive permit fees, under any circumstances, IF the ham has the real estate so it won't fall on power lines or someone else's property, and if it doesn't unduly interfere with the esthetics of the neighbors by wrecking their view, for example. More directly I think any legislation that comes up should support any ham's desire to build a tall tower as long as it's safe. To guarantee safety, the tower should have an engineer's approval, or be built by a commercial company using tested and approved methods and installed using good engineering practice. On the other hand, towers are not the most attractive item anyone ever built! So, how do we deal with someone who claims that our tall tower wrecks their view?

Give me a call, or email me at KI7SS@ARRL.NET <mailto:KI7SS@ARRL.NET>

-- 73, Lee, KI7SS

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Capitol Peak Repeater Net

The Capitol Peak Information Net will resume operations on Sunday, September 3rd at 8 PM local time. The net is held every Sunday night nine months per year. Check in to the net and stay active on the repeater. Bring your questions and comments to the group.

-- 73, Kim, AC7YY

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Treasurer's Report

As of 8/31/06

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 2,542.29

            Income                 0.53

            Expenses             176.03

        Ending balance         2,366.79

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance       $ 995.60

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance           995.60

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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The Bathroom Closet

A rather old fashioned lady, always quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language, was planning a week's holiday in Sydney with her husband, so she wrote to a particular camping ground and asked for a reservation. She wanted to make sure that the camping ground was fully equipped, but didn't know quite how to ask about the toilet facilities. She just couldn't bring herself to write the word "toilet" in her letter.

After much thought, she finally came up with the old fashioned term "Bathroom closet" but when she wrote it down, she still thought she was being too forward, so she started all over again, rewrote the letter, and referred to the bathroom closet as the B.C. "Does the camping ground have it's own B.C." is what she wrote.

Well, the camping ground owner wasn't a bit old fashioned, and he just couldn't figure out what the old lady was talking about, so he showed the letter around to a few of the campers and the only thing they could come up with was that B.C. stood for Baptist Church, so he wrote the following reply:

Dear Madam,

I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take the pleasure of informing you that a B.C. is located nine miles north of our camping ground, and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit that it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of campers go there and many take their lunches along and make a day of it. They usually arrive nice and early and stay quite late.

The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that there is a special supper planned there to raise money to buy more seats so that everyone will be able to sit in comfort.

I would like to say that it pains me very much not to be able to go more regularly, but it is surely no lack of desire on my part, just that I am so busy most of the time. As we grow older, it seems to be more of an effort to go, especially in the cold weather. If you decide to come down to our camping ground perhaps I could go with you the first time you go, sit with you and introduce you to all the other folks.

Remember this is a very friendly community.

-- from AJokeADay.com

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Reported "Firedragon" Jammer / Intruder Shifts Frequency

A Chinese-language "intruder" signal first spotted earlier this summer on 14.260 MHz this week shifted frequencies. International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS) Vice coordinator Uli Bihlmayer, DJ9KR, says the powerful jammer -- dubbed "Firedragon" -- had been transmitting solely Chinese music on 14.260 MHz since August 5.

"This offender is active day and night -- all day, every day -- and causing very harmful interference to the Amateur Radio Service," Bihlmayer informed ARRL Monitoring System/Intruder Watch Liaison Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG, and IARU Region 2 Monitoring System Coordinator Bill Zellers, WA4FKI, on August 15. In an August 17 update, however, Bihlmayer said the music jammer had moved to 14.050 MHz. That part of the 20-meter band is allocated to the Amateur Radio Service on an exclusive basis throughout the world.

Prior to August 5, Skolaut said, reports indicated that the transmission contained both talk and music and was more intermittent, but "now it's pretty continuous and entirely music."

According to Bihlmayer, German telecom authorities pinpointed the transmitter's location as Hainan Island in Hainan Sheng Province, Peoples' Republic of China (PRC), located south of the mainland in the Gulf of Tonkin. Hainan Island also was the apparent source of an over-the-horizon radar signal heard on 75 meters in Region 3. Bihlmayer said.

Citing complaints from members, Skolaut has reported the intruder to the FCC, although as he and Zellers point out, the Commission has no authority to make intruder stations outside the US stop transmitting on Amateur Radio frequencies. Such situations typically are dealt with through diplomatic channels.

Skolaut says he was able to hear the jammer for himself this week -- on its new frequency -- from W1AW. Until earlier this week, the same jammer also was appearing on 18.160 MHz. In July, Bihlmayer alerted telecom authorities in Germany and Hong Kong, as well as IARU Region 3 and the PRC embassy in Berlin to the situation. The 17-meter band also is a worldwide exclusive Amateur Radio allocation.

According to reports filed this month with DX Listening Digest http://www.worldofradio.com/index.html, the 14.260 MHz Firedragon signal was an effort by the PRC to jam the clandestine "Sound of Hope" transmission beamed to the Chinese mainland from Taiwan, with Amateur Radio operators being caught in the crossfire. The "parallel" signal on 18.160 MHz apparently disappeared earlier this week, and the jammer now has been appearing on 17.330 MHz. The signal also has been heard on 7.130 MHz, which is allocated to broadcasters in much of the world outside of Region 2 (the Americas).

Short wave listeners said the AM carrier, heard earlier this summer on various 20-meter phone band frequencies, would occasionally drop out at the top of the hour, apparently for a monitoring check, then reappear five minutes later.

Skolaut says he's received reports about the music jammer from all over the US. "I have one ham reporting it regularly from New Zealand," he said.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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How to beat the high cost of gas

Sister Mary Francis, who worked for a home health agency, was out making her rounds visiting homebound patients when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it, a gas station was just a block away. She walked to the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas. The attendant told her that the only gas can he owned had been loaned out, but she could wait until it was returned.

Since the nun was on the way to see a patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. She looked for something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, she carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gas, and carried the full bedpan back to her car.

As she was pouring the gas into her tank, two men watched from across the street. One of the them turned to the other and said, "If it starts, I'm turning Catholic."

-- Thanks to Eugene Mouncer

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net one or more times in the month of August 2006:


Net control stations reporting for the month were WC7I, KE7EJJ, KB7DFL, and K7TAG. Thank you for your support!!

The net meets at 7:30 every Tuesday evening on the 3 linked OARS repeaters: 147.36, 224.46, and 441.40 MHz. All Hams are invited to check in.

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Human Nature

Golfers blame fate for other accidents, but feel personally responsible when they make holes in one.

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With a great deal of sadness I report the passing of Jerry Seligman, W7BUN. Jerry was a huge force in the Ham Radio community in WWA. He taught countless Ham classes at all license levels. A long time member of the Radio Club of Tacoma, he served as their social secretary for over 20 years arranging for two interesting presentations every month.

An email from Harry Lewis, W7JWJ this morning said: "We first met Jerry in 1965 when he moved to the NW from Texas. He was strongly opinionated and sometimes wrong. He and Mary had opposite views regarding the Novice license, as an example. When Mary ran for ARRL Director, Jerry raised money to send out a mailer opposing her. As soon as she was elected she appointed Jerry as an Assistant Director. She told him that she didn't want any "yes men" in her Cabinet.

A few years ago I sent Jerry a message stating that although we often opposed each other on ARRL matters that I knew of no other amateur in the Northwest that had done so much for amateur radio. I can't think of a finer tribute to a wonderful Ham. Thank you, Jerry for all you did for so many of us."

-- Ed, N7NVP, ARRL Western Washington Section Manager

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No Taillight

"Pull over the curb," said the policeman. "You don't have a taillight". The motorist stepped out, looked in back of the car, and stood quivering and speechless.

"Oh, it's not that bad, said the policeman." The man mumbled, "It's not the taillight I am worried about. Where are my wife and trailer?"

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"Radiation Belt Remediation" Plan Could Affect HF Propagation, Study Suggests

A New Zealand university research group believes a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) "Radiation Belt Remediation" (RBR) plan could cause major worldwide disruptions to HF radio communication and GPS navigation. DARPA reportedly envisions RBR as a way to protect low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites from damage caused by severe solar storms or even from high-altitude nuclear detonations. The New Zealand-based research group suggests, however, that policymakers need to carefully consider the implications of the project. Headed by Craig Rodger of the University of Otago Physics Department, the research group says RBR could significantly affect radio propagation from several days to a week or longer.

"We've calculated that Earth's upper atmosphere would be dramatically affected by such a system, causing unusually intense HF blackouts around most of the world," Rodger said. "Airplane pilots and ships would lose radio contact, and some Pacific Island nations could be isolated for as long as six to seven days, depending on the system's design and how it was operated." GPS would likely also be disrupted on a large scale, he added.

System tests would employ extremely high-intensity, very low frequency (VLF) radio waves to "flush" particles from radiation belts and dump them into the upper atmosphere. The disruptions would result from the deluge of dumped charged particles temporarily changing the ionosphere from a "mirror" that bounces HF radio waves around the planet to a "sponge" that soaks them up, Rodger explains.

The group's paper, "The atmospheric implications of radiation belt remediation" http://www.physics.otago.ac.nz/research/space/ag-24-2025.pdf , appears in the August edition of the international journal Annales Geophysicae. University of Otago researchers collaborated with UK and Finnish scientists in its preparation.

ARRL Propagation Report Editor Tad Cook, K7RA, contacted Rodger to learn more about the RBR proposal. Rodger told him that RBR "is a serious project, that 'money is starting to appear to investigate it in more detail,' and 'US scientists with military connections are treating it seriously'," Cook said.

Unclassified US Department of Defense budget documents from earlier this year have proposed using Alaska's High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) "to exploit emerging ionosphere and radio science technologies related to advanced defense applications." HAARP is jointly operated by the US Air Force and the US Navy. The project appears to be included under a program called "Sleight of HAND" (SoH).

"The effects of High Altitude Nuclear Detonations (HAND) are catastrophic to satellites," the budget report explains. "HAND-generated charged particles are trapped for very long periods of time, oscillating between the earth's north and south magnetic poles. This enhanced radiation environment would immediately degrade low-earth orbiting (LEO) spacecraft capability and result in their destruction in a short period of time."

The military budget documents refer to the SoH program as "a proof of concept demonstration" of technology and techniques to mitigate the HAND-enhanced trapped radiation, with the goal of accelerating "the rate of decay of trapped radiation from the LEO environment by a factor of 10 over the natural rate of decay."

-- from the ARRL Letter

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ISS crew, ARISS team troubleshooting slow-scan TV system

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), www.rac.ca/ariss, team is coordinating with Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov, RV3BS, and ARISS-Russia's Sergei Samburov, RV3DR, to troubleshoot the slow- scan television (SSTV) system onboard the ISS. The SSTV system remains off the air for now.

"Photos of the current SSTV configuration that were downlinked to Earth showed several unanticipated results from the initial tests," ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, told ARRL. "More extensive troubleshooting is being developed and could further delay permanent activation of the radio." He pointed out that Vinogradov is only able to work on the system in his free time. Vinogradov is also due to return to Earth in September.

During the early stages of SSTV testing in late July, Earth station operators were thrilled to receive several pictures Vinogradov was able to transmit manually on 2 meters (the system has been using 144.490 and 145.800 MHz) using the RS0ISS call sign. Ransom says initial tests were run over Moscow, and then the system was left on for a few orbits.

Plans call for Vinogradov to continue checking out the SSTV software, configure and optimize the radio and perform integration checks necessary. So far, the SSTV system has been unable to function properly in the autonomous "slide show" mode, Ransom said.

Miles Mann, WF1F, who developed the SSTV system as an ARISS project, explains that slide-show mode will permit the crew to preload a directory of images that then will automatically transmitted to Earth. "The crew will not need to keep pushing a button to send images," he said in a recent news release. "In theory, the system can run for weeks at a time without crew involvement."

The SSTV system is not yet configured to receive SSTV transmissions from Earth stations.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLS006

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The Motel

When a fellow called a motel and asked how much they charged for a room, the clerk told him that the rates depended on room size and number of people. "Do you take children?" the man asked.

"No, sir," replied the clerk. "Only cash and credit cards."

-- from Ajokeaday.com

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