Ten New Satellites in Orbit

I’m not big on working satellites, but this is kind of cool…..Dan

Space Bulletin 004 ARLS004
>From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT April 28, 2008
To all radio amateurs

ARLS004 Ten New Satellites in Orbit

Ten satellites reached orbit April 28 aboard an Indian PSLV-C9
rocket launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center. The primary
payloads were India’s CARTOSAT-2A and IMS-1 satellites. In addition
to the NLS-5 and RUBIN-8 satellites, the rocket carried six CubeSat
research satellites, all of which communicate using Amateur Radio
frequencies. All spacecraft deployed normally and appear to be
functional at this time.

The SEEDS satellite is designed and built by students at Japan’s
Nihon University. When fully operational, SEEDS will download
telemetry in Morse code and 1200-baud FM AFSK packet radio at
437.485 MHz. The satellite also has Slow-Scan TV (SSTV) capability.
Several stations have reported receiving SEEDS CW telemetry and the
team would appreciate receiving more reports from amateurs at their
ground station Web page.

AAUSAT-II is the creation of a student team at Aalborg University in
Denmark. It will downlink scientific telemetry at 437.425 MHz using
1200 or 9600-baud packet.

Can-X2 is a product of students at the University of Toronto
Institute for Aerospace Studies, Space Flight Laboratory
(UTIAS/SFL). Can-X2 will downlink telemetry at 437.478 MHz using 4
kbps GFSK, but the downlink will be active only when the satellite
is within range of the Toronto ground station.

Compass-One was designed and built by students at Aachen University
of Applied Sciences in Germany. The satellite features a Morse code
telemetry beacon at 437.275 MHz. Compass-1 will also provide a
packet radio data downlink, which will include image data, at
437.405 MHz.

Cute 1.7 + APDII is a satellite created by students at the Tokyo
Institute of Technology. This satellite will not only provide
telemetry, it will also offer a 9600-baud packet store-and-forward
message relay with an uplink at 1267.6 MHz and a downlink at 437.475

Delfi-C3 was designed and built by students at Delft University of
Technology in the Netherlands. It includes an SSB/CW linear
transponder. The satellite will be in telemetry-only mode for the
first three months of the mission, after which it will be switched
to transponder mode. Delfi-C3 downlinks 1200-baud packet telemetry
at 145.870 MHz. The linear transponder, when activated, will have an
uplink passband from 435.530 to 435.570 MHz and a corresponding
downlink passband from 145.880 to 145.920 MHz.

High Frequency Electronics Features Articles on Impedance Matching

The March 2008 issue of High Frequency Electronics featured two articles on impedance matching:

Court Finds FCC Violated Administrative Procedure Act in BPL Decision

Say what you will about the ARRL, but no other organization could mount this type of legal challenge…..Dan

ARRL Bulletin 8 ARLB008
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT April 25, 2008
To all radio amateurs

ARLB008 Court Finds FCC Violated Administrative Procedure Act in BPL Decision

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today released its decision on the ARRL’s Petition for Review of the FCC’s Orders adopting rules governing broadband over power line (BPL) systems. The Court agreed with the ARRL on two major points and remanded the rules to the Commission. Writing for the three-judge panel of Circuit Judges Rogers, Tatel and Kavanaugh, Judge Rogers summarized: “The Commission failed to satisfy the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (‘APA’) by redacting studies on which it relied in promulgating the rule and failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its choice of the extrapolation factor for measuring Access BPL emissions.”

The Court agreed with the ARRL that the FCC had failed to comply with the APA by not fully disclosing for public comment the staff studies on which it relied. The Court also agreed with the ARRL that the Commission erred in not providing a reasoned justification for its choice of an extrapolation factor of 40 dB per decade for Access BPL systems and in offering “no reasoned explanation for its dismissal of empirical data that was submitted at its invitation.” The Court was not persuaded by the ARRL’s arguments on two other points, on which it found that the Commission had acted within its discretion.

The conclusion that the FCC violated the APA hinges on case law. “It would appear to be a fairly obvious proposition that studies upon which an agency relies in promulgating a rule must be made available during the rulemaking in order to afford interested persons meaningful notice and an opportunity for comment,” the Court said, adding that “there is no APA precedent allowing an agency to cherry-pick a study on which it has chosen to rely in part.”

The Court continued, “The League has met its burden to demonstrate prejudice by showing that it ‘has something useful to say’ regarding the unredacted studies citation omitted that may allow it to ‘mount a credible challenge’ if given the opportunity to comment.” Information withheld by the Commission included material under the headings “New Information Arguing for Caution on HF BPL” and “BPL Spectrum Tradeoffs.” The Court concluded that “no precedent sanctions such a ‘hide and seek’ application of the APA’s notice and comment requirements.”

With regard to the extrapolation factor, the Court ordered: “On remand, the Commission shall either provide a reasoned justification for retaining an extrapolation factor of 40 dB per decade for Access BPL systems sufficient to indicate that it has grappled with the 2005 studies, or adopt another factor and provide a reasoned explanation for it.” The studies in question were conducted by the Office of Communications, the FCC’s counterpart in the United Kingdom, and were submitted by the ARRL, along with the League’s own analysis showing that an extrapolation factor closer to 20 dB per decade was more appropriate, as part of the record in its petition for reconsideration of the FCC’s BPL Order. The Court said that the FCC “summarily dismissed” this data in a manner that “cannot substitute for a reasoned explanation.” The Court also noted that the record in the FCC proceeding included a study by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that “itself casts doubt on the Commission’s decision.”

The briefs for the ARRL were prepared by a team of attorneys at WilmerHale, a firm with extensive appellate experience, with assistance from ARRL General Counsel Christopher D. Imlay, W3KD. Oral argument for the ARRL was conducted by Jonathan J. Frankel of WilmerHale. Oral argument was heard on October 23, 2007; the Court’s decision was released more than six months later.

After reading the decision, General Counsel Imlay observed, “The decision of the Court of Appeals, though long in coming, was well worth the wait. It is obvious that the FCC was overzealous in its advocacy of BPL, and that resulted in a rather blatant cover-up of the technical facts surrounding its interference potential. Both BPL and Amateur Radio would be better off had the FCC dealt with the interference potential in an honest and forthright manner at the outset. Now there is an opportunity to finally establish some rules that will allow BPL to proceed, if it can in configurations that don’t expose licensed radio services to preclusive interference in the HF bands.”

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, added: “We are gratified that the Court decided to hold the FCC’s feet to the fire on such a technical issue as the 40 dB per decade extrapolation factor. It is also gratifying to read the Court’s strong support for the principles underlying the Administrative Procedure Act. Now that the Commission has been ordered to do what it should have done in the first place, we look forward to participating in the proceedings on remand, and to helping to craft rules that will provide licensed radio services with the interference protection they are entitled to under law.”

ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, concluded: “I am very pleased that the Court saw through the FCC’s smoke screen and its withholding of valid engineering data that may contradict their position that the interference potential of BPL to Amateur Radio and public safety communications is minimal. The remand back to the FCC regarding their use of an inappropriate extrapolation factor validates the technical competence of Amateur Radio operators and especially of the ARRL Lab under the direction of Ed Hare, W1RFI. We are grateful for the work of our legal team and especially for the unflagging support of the ARRL membership as we fought the odds in pursuing this appeal.”

Catching Up

I can’t decide whether I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to blog much or whether I’m just slowing down. It’s probably a little of each. And doing so much creates so much blog fodder that it can be overwhelming. There’s so much to write about, you can’t figure out where to start.

So, what I’m going to do here is just report quickly on a bunch of things that I’ve been doing lately. I’ll come back to some and write more about them later. Others, I won’t.

More QSLs from Stations Whose Callsigns Spell Words
Sorry to bother you again with this, but for some reason, this fascinates me. Below, you’ll see the latest three that I’ve added to my collection: K5SEE, N4SHY, and K2DOT.


I heard K7OIL on PSK the other night, but wasn’t able to work him. :(

Even more Boy Scouts This Year!
Last year, we had about 120 Boy Scouts attend the 2007 Radio Merit Badge Day. Man, that was crazy. This year was even more crazy. This year, more than 150 showed up! I got Michelle, KD8GWX, to capture some of the craziness on video, and I promise to edit that tape real soon now. Stay tuned for that.

This year, I was partnered with Mark, W8MP. Mark is a really great operator, and he’s great with kids. He convinced one guy, Paul, WA9URF, to stay on the air for more than an hour and talk to more than 40 of the Scouts. Thanks, Mark and Paul!

Thanks to all the other hams that helped out (in no particular order): Pat, W8LNO; Dave, KC8TQB; Ralph, AA8RK; Jeff, W8SGZ; George, K8GEO; Don, K0QEA; and, of course, Jack, WT8N, who really organized the whole thing (and paid for breakfast, to boot).

2008 General Class
For the past couple of months, I’ve been teaching a General Class license course. As always, this class was a lot different than the classes I’ve had in the past. For one thing, a lot of them dropped out this time. There were a dozen who started back in January, but by the end we were down to just five or six.

Life intruded for a couple of them—one student’s wife (or daughter) broke her leg, for example. For some, the material was just over their heads at this point. But, a bunch of them just quit coming. I feel kind of bad about that.

Like last year, a couple of them passed the test before the class ended. Congratulations, Arvid, KC8VGO, and Ian, N8SPE! Arvid was in my very first class five years ago, and he passed back then, but just couldn’t get the code. I’m happy that he finally got his General ticket.

One thing I did differently this time is to have a class project. Five or six of the students built the DC40A QRP transceiver. Building them has taken a bit longer than I anticipated. Even though the class is over, we’re still finishing up the kits. Even so, I think it’s been a great experience for the students.

Ham Radio at the Hands-On Museum
We’re still working on setting up a ham radio station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. One development is that we’re applying for a grant from the IEEE Foundation. We’ll also be applying to the ARRL Foundation.

The IEEE Foundation wants to give money to projects that promote engineering as a career. That’s our slant, anyway. We titled our project, “Kids Connect to Wireless Technology.”

That’s all for now. Gotta go rake the leaves off the lawn and fertilize.

Free Spectrogram Program, Web-Based Radio

Here are a couple of items from mailing lists I am on.

Free Spectrogram Program
Ken, K3IU writes to the Elecraft mailing list:

For those interested, Spectrogram is again available as Freeware. Richard’s website, says:

Version 16 is being made available as freeware to replace the older freeware versions of the software relied upon by the majority of Spectrogram users. The download at left is a self-extracting setup program that will install Spectrogram on a single computer.

Web-Based Radio in Europe
Steve, G4GXL writes to the qrp-l.org mailing list:

This really deserves a bit of publicity !

A web-based SDR (software defined receiver) located in The Netherlands but controlled simultaneously by multiple listeners worldwide is now available. Listen in realtime to parts of the 40 and 80m bands as heard in Europe.

Definitely the coolest thing I’ve seen on the web for some time !

Go listen at – http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/

IEEE to Offer Free DSP Materials

According to an article on the IEEE website, the IEEE Signal Processing Society will offer free Web-based, DSP educational materials. Materials will be made available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

A lot of new material will be needed. The IEEE is calling for DSP experts to develop material that can be offered as a new course, book, or report.

Bye Bye Quartz?

SAE International’s Aerospace Engineering and Manufacturing website reports that Ecliptek and other companies are now producing oscillators that use microelectromechanical (MEMS) resonators instead of quartz crystals. Last year, more than 10 billion crystal crystals and oscillators were produced, so predicting their demise may be a bit premature.

Even so, the article suggests MEMS resonators will continue to increase their market share because they are smaller than crystals and can be more easily integrated with CMOS circuits.

Antenna Basics for Newbies (and Some Oldies)

I’ve always said that I’m no antenna genius. And I readily admit as much when I teach the General Class license course. The main problem, of course, is that you can’t really see how an antenna works in the same way that you can see how a circuit works. It’s awfully hard to measure RF voltages and currents on a wire antenna 50 feet in the air. And even if you could, you’d still have to visualize how an antenna radiates an electromagnetic wave.

Even so, we still manage to make antennas work. We do this by standing on the shoulders of giants. L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, is one of those giants.

Last summer, he posted the article, Antenna Newcomers and the Language of Antennas, on his website. It describes:

  • basic conventions and concepts related to antenna representation;
  • some basic concepts applicable to antenna operation; and
  • some basic concepts of antenna performance in numerical and graphical form.

This, and the rest of W4RNL’s website is worthwhile reading.