JPLers HELP MAKE A-O-D READY FOR LAUNCH
AMSAT-OSCAR D, to become AMSAT-OSCAR 8 after its March 5th launch at 9:54 am PST, was integrated as a piggyback payload of the Landsat-C mission at the Western Test Range during the period February 19-24. JPLARC members Norm Chalfin, K6PGX, Jay Holladay, W6EJJ, and Skip Reymann, W6PAJ assisted AMSAT's Jan King, W3GEY, Perry Kline, W3PK, and Dick Daniels, WA4DGU; Lance Ginner, K6GSJ from Project OSCAR; and ARRL AMSAT Coordinator Bernie Glassmeyer, W9KDR with the integration effort.
The above photo (by N6ZD) shows W6PAJ (right) explaining the release mechanism, on the satellite before it was integrated, to K6PGX (left), W6CG (leaning over) and W9KDR. W6CG and W6ELT (Barely visible behind him) are West Coast Command Coordinators for A-O-D and were at WTR to check compatibility of their command encoders with the satellite.
The Satellite Amateur Radio Club, W6AB, will hold an open house on the morning of the launch at their clubhouse at Vandenberg AFB. Take US101 North thru Gaviota Pass to California 1; take 1 North through Lompoc to County Highway S20; make a left on S20 to the Vandenberg Main Gate; continue about 100 yards past the main gate to the "Utah" gate where you make a right down the road towards "Meteorology Station." W6AB is on this road. Lompoc repeater on 147.72/12 and Santa Barbara repeater on 147.60/00 will be manned for talk-ins. In addition, W6AB will provide on the scene coverage of the countdown and launch on 14280 and 21280 SSB. Locally, W6EJJ will attempt to be on WR6APS (222.44/224.04) daily as possible until Saturday at 7 pm for latest news. (Tnx W6EJJ, K6PGX)
NEW ANTENNAS AT W6VIO by Mike Griffin, WD6EOZ ex-WA3AZI
Those of you who enjoy operating on 160, 80 or 40 meters might like to drop in at the shack some evening and try out the new low-band antenna system at W6VIO. The telephone pole near the top of the Mesa antenna range now sports three inverted-V antennas cut for these bands and fed with low-loss hardline coax. SWR on all three bands is less than 2:1 (with this figure at the high end of 75 phone,) with of course 15 meters thrown in as a bonus. The measured power loss in the 1000-foot run from the shack is 3 db on 15 meters, much of which is probably due to the many connectors in the system. Overall loss is about 2 db on 40 meters.
The new system is a byproduct of a decision by Stan Sander, N6MP, and myself to put W6VIO on the air for the CW portion of the ARRL DX Contest. The performance of the old pairs of inverted-V's was known to be poor, and on-site inspection revealed the reason: one leg of each antenna had fallen down. We also thought that, even if patched up, the existing system was less than optimal in view of its location among the water tanks trees, and guy wires from the 20/15/10 meter beam. The telephone pole at the top of the mesa is virtually unobstructed by comparison, and a hardline from the pole to the region around the water tanks was already in place. Accordingly, Stan, myself, and Jim, WA6MYJ, decided to put up a 160/80/40 meter system at the site. The antenna was to be the W8TV coaxial dipole (July 68 QST or recent ARRL Handbook) with three segments in a parallel-feed combination as is common with multiband systems. Sam Weaver, WB6EMO, fashioned a beautiful center insulator from a block of 1/2" Lucite, and Jim, Stan and I spent one Saturday preparing the site and putting up the antenna. Naturally, it didn't work! This time, however, it was Mike and not Murphy who was responsible, for a fundamental error had been made. I had overlooked the point, made in the QST article, that the W8TV coaxial dipole cannot be used in parallel with any other antenna with which it has an even-harmonic relationship (as do 160, 80 and 40.) The lowest band shorts out everything above it. Oh well!
We felt the site (and the hardline) to be too valuable to waste on an inherently single-banded antenna, so the coaxial dipole idea was scrapped and the old standby, a set of inverted V's, was cut and hung. Dick Piety, K6SVP, supplied the wire from his amazing cabinet of useful junk.
Performance during a contest is the acid test, and initial results on 40 and 80 look quite promising. More countries were worked on 40 than on 20 with the beam. Nothing was worked or even heard on 160, which may indicate some problems. However, little time was spent on that band, and the antenna loads very nicely, so it may be that better conditions and or more persistence are what is needed. In any case, the next month of general operation and the second weekend of the contest should tell the tale.
W6VIO AND THE ARRL DX 'TEST, PART I
By Mike Griffin, WD6EOZ, ex-WA3AZI
The first half of the CW portion of the annual DX Contest is over, and while the W6VIO entry won't frighten off any of the veterans, it was fun and produced some nice contacts. We (Stan, N6MP, Rich, N6BF, George, W6ABW, and I) put in 30 hours and netted 156 QSO's, with 54 country multipliers. Not great, but the bands, particularly the high bands, were really not cooperating. The most exotic tidbits came on 40 meters, where a ZD8 and a ZS6 were to be found. 80 meters yielded 6 countries within a relatively short time, but was in a way more frustrating because a lot of Europeans could be heard but not worked, through the forest of W2's and W3's. (Yes, Mike, we note your new call. -Ed.) Just about everything that was heard on 40 was worked, with a little persistence.
The second half of the event is March 18-19, so if you'd like to put in a few hours chasing DX contest style, why not do it with us from VIO? When the rig is decent, it can be a lot of fun. The help and interest would certainly be appreciated. One important point: You don't need an Extra to participate with great success. There is plenty of DX to go around, and this is especially true on the second weekend when the big guns have gotten all the good stuff and are looking for JA's to build up their QSO points. In any case, I know that I spent at least half my time in the nonExtra class portions with excellent results. Moreover, the two bands where QSO's are most needed on the second weekend (160 and 10) have no restricted segments. And, finally, if you are interested in upgrading, there is no quicker way to build up your code speed!
BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: Feb. 22, 1978
The January minutes were approved as corrected. Treasurer's report as of end of January: $1101.63. The president appointed Skip Reymann as AMSAT/OSCAR Committee Chairman. Mike Griffin reported on the DX Contest (See article above.) The following off-lab members were unanimously approved by the Board:
- Al Chapman Jim Longthorne
- Pete Hoover Maurice Piroumian
- Vince Humphrey Paul Ross
- Dale Irvine Dave Whitaker
Booth Hartley presented the bimonthly repeater report (included in "DE WR6APS" column, this issue.)
Jay Holladay presented a revision of the Repeater Committee charter, which was unanimously approved, and the committee complimented for a job well done. (Tnx N6YM)
WR6APS AT JPL By Booth Hartley, N6BH
Goldstone Link. The linking repeater designed to link our JPL repeater WR6APS with the Goldstone club's Table Mountain repeater WR6AZN is nearing completion. Bill Wood, WB6FXJ, of Goldstone, has fabricated a good-looking case, complete with a nameplate crediting both clubs. The linking repeater is being tested at Bill's house is Barstow on the weekend of Feb. 25. It should be on the air in a few weeks.
When completed, the link may be brought up by any user by using a series of touch-tones. A second series of tones will disconnect the link. There also may be a tone code for "monitor only", allowing, for instance, a user on the JPL repeater to monitor the Goldstone activity without JPL activity keying up the Goldstone machine. The tone codes are to be completely public and will be supplied to all interested users. The codes will be published here in W6VIO Calling as soon as they are established, and they may be exchanged with other users over the air.
Touch-Tone Pads. With the link coming up in the near future, many of us will want to obtain touch-tone equipment. Walt, WA6PEA, recommends the following equipment (and he is considering a group purchase of the units): A Minikey Keyboard 12-key touch tone pad made by Digitran Company, Pasadena, connected to a DATA-TONE tone encoder made by Data Signal, Inc., 2043 Commerce Lane, Albany, GA 31707, phone 912-883-4703. Alternatively, Walt says that the Western Electric touchtone pad is good, but it is not as readily available, and is more bulky.
Repeater Charter. The charter for the repeater committee has been approved by the Board of Directors of the JPLARC. The charter defines the scope of responsibility, authority, etc., of the committee. Until now, the committee was operating under an unwritten understanding with the Board. I think that everyone concerned is more comfortable now that we have put into writing exactly what the committee is supposed to be doing. One important feature of the charter is bimonthly reports from the committee to the board, providing a visibility into the committee actions which is rare among UHF/VHF systems developers - a healthy accomplishment for the JPLARC!
WR6APS Improvements. The new stationmaster antenna has arrived, and the new cavities are due to arrive in early March. Several work parties are planned as soon as the cavities arrive. When improvements are completed, users should notice improvement in signal levels and coverage.
Autopatch. The results of the Autopatch Survey (Feb. W6VIO Calling) are in: Of 23 respondents 22 replied that they do want an Autopatch, available to members only, with the users paying the routine operating costs. The one other respondent replied NO on all three questions. The vast majority wanted the system available during the earlier period (April to June) with a few in the later periods, but none as late as 1979. Although some of the hardware has been built, the committee's first action will be to draft a set of by-laws defining the operation and use of the autopatch.
THIS IS THE LAST ISSUE OF W6VIO CALLING.
We have developed a devastatingly simple but effective scheme to stop sending copies of the newsletter to those who have not paid their 1978 dues. This is it, unless you send your $2 to Warren Apel, 114-118 NOW!
THE AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE: PRODUCER OF EXPERTS By T. R. Clarkson, ZL2AZ, Director, IARU Region 3 Association
The Expertise of Radio Communication
There is general agreement that participation in amateur radio produces people skilled in radio technique and operating who constitute an asset to their community and nation because:
1. They undertake self education and training;
2. they are introduced to allied professional vocations;
3. the amateur service is an important facility for emergencies;
4. their activity helps general national technical progress.
Is this the whole story? Might there not be some other great important element in amateur radio of equal or superior significance to these? To consider this it is necessary to see the amateur service in relation to all other radio services, to study points of similarity and difference, to pin point the unique nature of the service.
All the existing classes of radio communication services had to start somewhere. Marconi's great contribution was the practical application of existing scientific knowledge. He had the capacity to envisage a radio system as a whole and the ability to construct and operate it. Subsequently the same thing happened in numerous specialized services. Marine, military, broadcasting, radio navigation, fixed and mobile services - all were started in a small way by people who brought knowledge of a whole system of communication to bear on their own special problems. Similarly with the amateur service, started by people dealing with a complete system of communication, based on their individual knowledge, and with the priceless advantage of close association with the basic requirements to produce satisfactory results.
But what is the position today? With the tremendous demand for services and their growth a communications explosion and the dominance of the electronic age -with the complexity of technique both in plans and operating practices, it is no longer practicable for one person to do more than specialize, albeit to a very high standard, in one or two sections of what makes up a communications link. A talented energetic person might now spend a whole working life dealing with some small segment of a communications system. So the world of communications rests very heavily on people even at management levels who have not had the benefit of close experience of say commissioning a transmitter and using it personally to send a message. Some might deny the value or need of such contact. My remarks are made in the belief, based on observation, that there is a big advantage when people engaged in a large complicated task have a clear understanding based on their own experience, of the basic elements on which the whole enterprise depends. And this is specially the case in regard to the people at the administrative and executive levels. I was astounded recently to hear that the Minister of Transport in the United Kingdom was not a competent car driver. While the Minister may not need to drive officially, surely some background of competence on the road would help in making decisions that affect all road users. Perhaps the Minister could ride a bicycle. But things like this exist in the world of radio communications and it will get worse as time passes; except for one thing, and that is Amateur Radio.
Reference is now made to radio facilities as an example of principles relevant to these remarks, and this applies directly in the case of a point-to-point or similar service. It has the same relation to all kinds of radio communication. Now as always Amateur Radio is in the forefront of applications of radio science, exemplified by the OSCAR Satellite and Moonbounce programmes.
For the establishment of a radio communication system it is necessary to decide on the nature of the end product desired and then:
- 1. Prepare the technical design, covering the whole communication system
- 2. engineer the plant - indoor, out-of-doors or mobile
- 3. procure the site and material required
- 4. undertake the construction
- 5. test and commission the plant
- 6. operate and maintain the plant
- 7. satisfy all requirements regarding frequency usage
- 8. handle the messages.
These functions are also subject to the economic factors in the system. Practical ability and theoretical capacity will be required in:
- 1. Radio propagation science
- 2. Antenna design and construction
- 3. Transmitter and Receiver design and construction
- 4. electric power
- 5. station design and facilities
- 6. choice of frequencies and negotiations for their use
- 7. Observation of regulations
- 8. Traffic acceptance and delivery
- 9. Coordination of the foregoing
Where Are The Experts?
There are highly demanding responsibilities in all radio services, to ensure effective operation and to avoid interference with others. In all these services except the amateur one, these responsibilities are distributed among specialists, necessarily highly qualified and competent in their own particular duties. They are to a large extent separated from each other, both physically and mentally, and are found to be making their contributions while working in such different environments as international and national radio conferences, government and university and private laboratories, manufacturing establishments, maintenance and servicing centres, radio transmitting and receiving stations remote from operating points, office of regulatory authorities, traffic terminals of communications systems. How do all these things get held together for an eventual common purpose, an effective end result? Sometimes by a painful and uneconomic process of trial and error and the gradual evolution of satisfactory working arrangements. Sometimes there may be a key individual who had early experience as a ship's operator, or at an early stage of development when all facets of the particular service could be grasped and coordinated by one person. But such people are members of a dying race. In other cases there are people who at some stage have had experience of the amateur service. It is no accident that so many are found in positions of importance in the communications industry. They have something that in the whole world of communications, others haven't got! Whatever their position or nature or degree of specialization, they can't help doing the job better for having the grasp that amateur radio gives them.
Unique Nature of Amateur Service
Look again at the subjects tabulated above. The amateur tackles all of them. If he doesn't do so successfully, he just doesn't make a contact, let alone win a contest or work DX.
Specialization will become finer and more intense. People professionally employed in radio communications will get more remote from the important, simple facts of this process of action at a distances more remote from real familiarity with the vital basic characteristics of their subject. The Minister of Transport may be able to study a report on the radius of gyration of the back sprocket but that won't help him get on his bicycle from A to B unless at some time in his life, he has learned to ride!
So, in addition to introducing people to professional vacations, amateur radio adds a distinctive ingredient for them - knowledge and experience in complete radio systems - that in the modern world is unobtainable anywhere else. This "know how" perhaps regarded with the indifference of familiarity in amateur circles, can be of inestimable value in the community and nation. Most advanced countries have leaned heavily on it in normal times and in times of crisis.
Two particular points are also mentioned here. In using the term "amateur service" the significance of the word amateur is sometimes misunderstood. It is used here in the sense that participants are true voluntary devotees of the subject. They are not spare time exponents of something that exists in a superior degree in the professional fields of communications. They represent a kind of specialty, in being the highly skilled "general practitioners" of the art and practice of radio communication that is not found anywhere else. This can be illustrated in another way. There are some twenty five recognized kinds of radio "service" but competence of personnel in none of them would enable them, without other knowledge or experience, to automatically have competence in amateur work. Even the previous highly respected general practitioner, the sea-going operator is not necessarily the self-sufficient radio expert of an earlier era. Another unique attribute of the amateur service is that in general it is carried on by people who have bought and paid for their equipment as well as determining all its features themselves. So they have had training in a stern discipline of the economic aspects of a complete radio system, not so directly obtained in other services,
Significance of this Situation
The welfare of the amateur service can only be ensured, and its special attributes employed in the wide world of radio, if these matters receive attention in influential quarters. Action is needed in well developed countries:
1. To get recognition that amateur radio fulfills a unique role in regard to all other radio services
2. Amateurs and ex-amateurs in professional and official positions should be encouraged to acknowledge and publicize the value of their amateur experience.
3. The amateur organization should take a leading part in advising government in regard to all national communications policies to be adopted.
4. The value of experience in amateur work should become better recognized by those responsible for education and training in electronics and related industries.
5. Amateurs should recognize their own competence, both individually and collectively, to speak with authority on matters concerning radio communication systems, because of their real broad practical knowledge and. experience.
In developing countries additional considerations come in. Specialization has not advanced so much. As an example it may be observed in telegraph services that hand speed Morse has not yet been superseded. The "general practitioner" himself is most likely in demand. The basic training and education identified with the amateur service fits in well with the demands of the communications industry, which is in general at an early stage of complexity and specialization. National authorities should be led to recognize that amateur radio can fill an important gap for them, with more direct benefits in proportion when compared with those in technically advanced countries. By inculcating personal interest and study undertaken on a voluntary basis, amateur radio makes a special contribution towards general national technical advancement.
The situation outlined here is one that has developed slowly. Many factors influence the position of amateur radio in the world, its own developments technology in general, phases of development of other radio services. It is important that features of its own value for the world at large should be perceived and that international decisions should help and not hinder them. Here is one of the many changes that ' have taken, and are taking place - that the amateur radio service is the repository of a special kind of talent - that which is associated with full responsibility for all aspects of a radio communication system. In advocating support for amateur radio in international forums we should seize on its unique features, and this is one of them.
(Reprinted from IARU Region 2 News, May, 1977, who reprinted it from IARU Region 3 News, February, 1977.)
To the Editor:
In your last newsletter, you stated that I had machined the shake table adapter plate for mounting the AMSAT Phase 3 spacecraft. I feel that mention should also be made of the fellows who contributed their time to stay with me during that period so we would comply with the safety requirements of the Lab. This rule requires that two persons must be in a shop whenever a machine is in use. Please thank Jack Patzold, Jim Lumsden, Ralph West, Rich Ward, and Warren Apel for what must have been the most boring part of their weekends! In addition, I would like to point out that WR6APS was especially helpful to coordinate last minute changes to the schedule of support over the weekend. 73, Sam Weaver, WB6EMO.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ...
...Sam Weaver, WB6EMO, on his instant upgrade from Tech to General at the Long Beach FCC office Feb. 221
... Mike Griffin, whose long awaited 6-land call came and he can now complain about the W3 QRM! He shedded WA3AZI for WD6EOZ. Welcome to California, Mike.
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