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Volume 28, Number 12 - DECEMBER 1998

ANNUAL BANQUET IN JANUARY

Shel has come up with a winner for the restaurant:

Beausejour Restaurant
170 State Street
Los Altos

Time: Bar opens 6:00 p.m., Dinner served 7:00 p.m.

See attached flyer for details of meals and prices.

Searching for Extraterrestrials

Dr. Seth Shostak

Could there be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? SETI is an ambitious scientific effort to search out distant civilizations by eavesdropping on their radio traffic. This effort, Project Phoenix, uses sophisticated digital receivers on large telescopes to probe the vicinities of nearby stars for a faint radio signal that would tell us we are not alone.

Dr. Seth Shostak, Public Programs Scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View since 1989 will give an overview of Project Phoenix and address questions such as: What are the chances of success? Is Project Phoenix aiming its antennas at the most likely sites for life? Can Nature be expected to readily cook up interesting biology elsewhere? Even if alien life is common, is any of it intelligent? And finally, suppose Project Phoenix succeeds: what then? World peace? Rioting in the streets? Would we be privy to the secrets of the ages? Or would discovery of cosmic company be the ultimate in ego deflation, proving that we are but small fry in heaven's vast ocean?

Edited from TASC bulletin

DECEMBER MEETING

The meeting is the third Friday in December, the 18th. Brad Wyatt, Regional Director of the ARRL will bring us up-to-date on the latest happenings in amateur radio. This is the time to bring all of your questions, comments, complaints, blitherings (these will be limited to 30 seconds each), rantings, ravings, compliments, and praises.

CALENDAR

Livermore Swap Meet - 1st Sunday of each month at Las Positas College in Livermore, 7:00 AM to noon, all year. Talk in 147.045 from the west, 145.35 from the east. Contact Noel Anklam, KC6QZK, (510) 447-3857 eves.

Foothill Flea Market - 2nd Saturday of each month from March to October at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills.

CLUB INFORMATION

President: Jack Eddy, WA6YJR
Treasurer: Shel Edelman, N6RD
Secretary: Martin Liberman, KD6WJW
Training Officer: Paul Zander AA6PZ
Radio Officer: Mikel Lechner, KN6QI
Newsletter: David Wilkes, KD6WRG

Board members: Dirk Thiele, KE6ZUY; Dick, N6ATD; Hans, KE6TGA; Martin, KD6WJW; Herb, KF6BKL

K6YA Station Trustee: Stan Kuhl, K6MA

FARS Web Page: www.fars.k6ya.org
FARS announcement mailing list is moderated, so you cannot reply directly to the list. To subscribe, send the word "subscribe" to: emarc-request@ham.yak.net; For help, send the word "help" to majordomo@ham.yak.net; For human assistance, email to: human@ham.yak.net.

The FARS Relay is the official monthly newsletter of the Foothills Amateur Radio Society Meetings are held at 7 PM on the fourth Friday of each month except January (Winter Banquet); and 3rd Friday in June, Nov. & Dec. Annual membership $20; family $25. Visitors are always welcome! Directions on the back page. Talk-in: W6APZ (145.23-, 100Hz) or W6ASH repeater (145.27 or 224.36). Contributions to the newsletter from members, family, and guests are earnestly solicited! Contributions subject to editing and/or compression. ASCII files via packet, Internet or diskettes preferred; but all readable forms welcome. Here are the various ways to reach the editor:

Packet: KD6WRG@N0ARY.#NOCAL.CA
Internet: dwilkes@svpal.org, davewilkes@aol.com

VHF voice: KD6WRG on W6APZ, 145.23- (100Hz PL) FARS net Thursdays 8 PM; Various other times. Mail: 1093 Kelly Drive San Jose CA 95129-3222 Voice: 408-996-1613 (Until 9 PM); Fax: 408-725-1036; Eyeball: at FARS meetings.



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AMATEUR RADIO NEWSLINE

St. Paul Press looks at ham radio

A St. Paul, Minnesota newspaper has taken a look at Amateur Radio and it says that hams had better be concerned about their image. Newsline's Steve Bauer, W0QA, has the details:

How is our hobby viewed by the general public? An article published by the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, on November 2nd, paints a somewhat gloomy picture for the future of amateur Radio. But not totally so.

The article says that ham radio is facing some stiff competition from computers and other forms of 21st century telecommunications. It says that Amateur Radio supporters seem to be wasting their time debating the finer points of Morse code and federal regulation. This as innovations such as PCS telephones, home satellite receivers and Digital Subscriber Lines are threatening to pass them by.

But there a brighter side too. The Pioneer Press does say that with more than 718,000 licensed amateurs in the U.S. and more than 1.8 million hams active overseas, participation in the hobby has been soaring. Last year, for example, an estimated 300,000 Boy Scouts participated in the annual "Jamboree on the Air," and enrollment in the American Radio Relay League stands at more than 175,000. This says the article is the highest in the organization's 83 year history.

But in the doom and gloom department, the article does note that the ham population is steadily growing older. It says that the average age of licensed ham operators in the U.S. is now 60. And it also says that the FCC says that license numbers are down for the first part of 1998. The first dip in years.

And says the Pioneer Press, there's also pressure to squeeze amateurs off the radio dial. It notes that a 1993 law directed the FCC to auction off radio frequencies -- formerly doled out in lotteries and hearings -- and the practice has turned out to be a gold mine for the federal government. With commercial broadcasting, cellular phones, pagers and even garage door openers crowding the spectrum, new radio based services are ready to pay top dollar for almost any radio real estate.

There's lots more in the article that we don't have time to cover. All in all it's a very objective look at ham radio, from the outside, looking in.

Reporting for Newsline, I'm Steve Bauer, W0QA in Wichita, Kansas.

Those who have read the St. Paul Pioneer Press article say its probably the most unbiased assessment of the status of Amateur Radio published in a long, long time.

(W0QA, Newsline)

DX

This weeks DX is strictly six meters where trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific F2 is heating up.

First, W1LP reports hearing the 7Q7 Malawi beacon on 50.001.5 at 1752 UTC on November 7th. But that's not all. KM1H reports that 7Q7RM was heard by WA1OUB but Bob did not have a complete QSO. Karl says that he also heard bits but not enough to warrant a call. This almost record contact was on 50.110 MHZ in CW. Reports also abound that indicate E30GA and other African DX'ers are on 6 meter SSB.

(VHF Reflector)

Meantime, there has been another 6 meter opening into the United States from New Zealand. Mike Fobister, ZL3TIC reports over the VHF Reflector that on October 31st, at 01:00 that K6QXY was heard for about 10 minutes. His signal was very weak but he did manage a QSO with ZL3NW and ZL2KT.

(VHF Reflector)
Leonids a big DX hit "It was the best meteor shower in 40 years and I've been on the band for forty years and never heard anything like it!" N7ML

The Leonid meteor shower was expected to begin on November 17th. Instead it began arriving on the 16th with some rather spectacular results. In fact, all anyone had to do was to tune a receiver to 50.125 MHz, 144.200 MHZ or any of the popular VHF DX calling frequencies to hear signals like these:

"TLM WB6 Nancy Ocean America - Delta Mike 13"

"N5TLM down to 190"

"190"

"N5TLM"

"N5TLM WB6 Nancy Ocean America - Delta Mike 13"

"Delta Mike 13 WB6NOA Hi Gordon N5TML Echo Mike 14"

"Echo Mike 14 Outrageous signal Thank you."

"Thank you and have a good day."

"Ok, your 20 over 9"

There were a lot more stations taking part in this years Leonid communications experiment than in prior years. Most observers believe that the upsurge in participation may be the result of several factors coming together at the same time. 1998 was the year of two blockbuster motion pictures involving comets and meteors almost hitting the earth. Also, there is a lot more gear available for VHF sideband this year than ever before. But educator Gordon West, WB6NOA believes there is another reason.

"I think a lot of hams get turned on to 2 meters FM and they get used to their signals going from here to there. And after a while they get tired of just the usual connection. And they are looking for that excitement of ham radio where signals that shouldn't go that far, do go that far. Especially with a well publicized Leonids Meteor shower. And the hams were ready with their antennas all aimed to the north working stations 800 to 1200 miles away. And I worked a station W7MQY with a pair of loop antennas. The KB6KQ Loops on my mobile unit." WB6NOA

The Leonids get their name from the constellation Leo, which appears to be their source in the sky. The meteors actually are nothing more than debris and dust trailing in the wake of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. They show up on the same day every year. Every thirty-three years the shower usually reaches storm proportions. And when this happens, the VHF DX can be unbelievable. Just ask Pat Coker, N6RMJ in Lancaster, California who may have set a new meteor scatter ham radio record.

"N6RMJ worked W7XU in Echo Nancy 13 Lima Mike to Delta Mike 14 Charlie Papa for as far as I know the world record now at 2036 Km or 1264 miles on 432." N6RMJ

The last truly spectacular storm was in 1966. Back then, upwards of 150,000 meteors per hour penetrated tied Earth's atmosphere. Once the numbers are in, 1998 could even statistically bigger. At least it will be for ham radio contacts made off the ionized trails of these meteors as the blaze across the sky.

(Newsline, ARRL, WB6NOA, N7ML, N6RMJ)

AS THINGS ARE

AN APOLOGY OF SORTS

I'm running very late with the newsletter this month for a number of reasons. I even had to take time off from work to finish it. Please contact other club members to make sure they know the Relay is late and the meeting is on the third Friday. The meeting will be announced on W6APZ repeater, most of us know each other, and the meeting information and exceptions are on page two of each Relay. In addition, the Relay goes out by email and Mikel may be able to get a blurb on the web page. I hope that covers everybody.

David, KD6WRG

How to get to meetings:

(Visitors always welcome)

FARS meets at the Covington School District building, 201 Covington Road, Los Altos. Take the El Monte exit (The same exit as for the Foothill Fleamarket) off of I-280 and go East on El Monte. Cross Foothill Expressway and turn right at the next light on to Covington (Note Saint William church on corner). Stay to your left as the road forks. Just past the fork, turn left into the school parking lot. Walk through the center hallway and turn right. The meeting room is the first door on the left. Talk in on 145.23 or 145.27, negative offset, 100 PL.