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Volume 28, Number 8 - AUGUST 1998


Tom Attwood, W6IXP will talk about his recent DXpidition to Little Diomede Island in the Bering Straits of Alaska (just 2.5 from the Russian island of Big Diomede). He and Barry Bettman, K6ST spent nearly three weeks on this little island of 175 residents and 1.9 square miles of land (65 45 N / 169 45 W).

They operated SSB on 14.260MHz for much of that time and racked up hundreds of contacts for DX seekers of this rare opportunity. Unfortunately, due to geography, few contacts with the U.S. we made.

Come to the meeting and find out what it takes to mount one of these trips and how much fun it can be.


Our Training Officer Paul, AA6PZ, is planning to have a one weekend class for no-code Tech Oct 3-4. The School district room at Covington, where FARS normally meets, has been reserverd Oct 3-4 for a no-code Tech Class.

Cost approx $50, including text book, VEC fees, and club dues. I need to finalize this with the treasurer.

Pass this on to anyone who might be interested.

Also, I will be looking for instructors. The class will be based on the current edition of the ARRL Now You're Talking. Ideally there will be enough teachers that each can do one chapter.

Paul Zander, AA6PZ


The August meeting should be a good one and I hope that many of you will come out to hear Tom W6IXP talk about their DXpidition to Little Diomede ISLAND.

Many of you missed the last meeting and the good report about field day. Field Day was a great success and we need to give a big thank you to Mike KE6MDW for the very good job that he did in getting it all organized.

September meeting will be home brew night and many of you have projects that you can bring and tell about. Remember that prizes are given for the best projects which is decided by a vote of those attending.

The board has decided that unless there is someone who wants to head up the Thursday night net that it should be discontinued. I have tried to spark some interest in the net but we do not have those who want to be control operators and very few check ins. If you are interested in this net please let us know and then participate in it.

The new licensing structure proposed by the ARRL seems to be moving forward so those of you who are TECHS. now need to get your 5 WPM code passed so when it happens you will be ready to operate on the HF bands. To all those who help make Field Day a very good one: THANKS.

Jack, WA6YJR


It's Flea Market Time, Again.

FARS will sponsor the last flea market of the current season on Saturday, October 10 - and the club needs your help to bring it off. The importance of a successful flea market can not be overstated: It's the club's big moneymaker for the year. Without a successful flea market, FARS will go into the (financial) hole; bills can't be paid, and everything gets put on hold - for a long time.

We need people to pickup goods (not to shop, but to meet me and take the supplies), hold them, and deliver them to the market. We need someone to brew coffee and bring it to the early morning setup. We need someone to buy doughnuts and bring them early. We need people to buy and bring ice. We need people at setup (4:00-4:30 a.m.); we need hot dog cooks; we need people to staff the food table in shifts; we need people to close the proceedings at the market's end. You get the picture.

I am asking you to volunteer a bit of your time. I will have sign-up forms available at the next meeting, on Friday, August 28. In the meantime, I urge you to call me or email me at, to tell me you can help and maybe what you might be able to do. Time is of the essence - please call as soon as possible.

- 73 de Shel, N6RD


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 Baldwinson, N6ATD; Hans Neumann, KE6TGA; Herb Vanderbeek, KF6BKL

K6YA Station Trustee: Stan Kuhl, K6MA

FARS Web Page:
FARS announcement mailing list is moderated, so you cannot reply directly to the list. To subscribe, send the word "subscribe" to:; For help, send the word "help" to; For human assistance, email to:

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:


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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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.

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

The Pacific Division - PACIFICON'98 - Convention sponsored by the Mount Diablo ARC is scheduled for Oct. 16 - 18 at the Airport Sheraton Hotel, Concord, CA. For information call (925) 932-6125; email:; WWW: Mail reservations to:

P. O. Box 272613
Concord CA 94527
Obtain hotel reservations at $76 per night by calling 1-800-325-3535 (mention PACIFICON'98 to get this rate).


In the next month or so I am going to do a test of the e-mail address we have with an eye to distributing the Relay by e-mail to those members who have e-mail. If you receive a test message to an address where it would not be appropriate to receive the Relay, please respond with an alternate e-mail address or a note to indicate you can't or don't want to receive the Relay by e-mail. I would also like to know if you want the Relay in the body of an e-mail message or as a Word attachment. I also need to know if your Internet provider limits the size of messages or attachments.


I obtained an automatic folding machine which only does trifolds so this is the shape of the newsletter from now on. Now I have to find a machine which puts on mailing labels and stamps. I may go to stickers instead of staples.



What is the FCC?

The Los Angeles Times reports on a strange bust by the FCC. It happened recently in Columbia, Maryland where District Director Charles Magin used a car full of high-tech direction finding gear to pinpoint a false marine radio distress signal.

Magin says that he rounded a corner on Maryland's Kent Island and flashed his badge to six dumbfounded teenagers. He figured he has the upper hand so he asked which one has been operating the radio?

But the shocked suspects, ages 13 to 15, had even more pressing questions of their own. They looked over and asked Magin: "What's the FCC? Are you, like, part of the Coast Guard or something?"

(CGC Communicator, LA Times)

FCC to act on Ham Radio licensing decline

Volunteers Examiner Coordinators from around the nation have learned that the FCC plans to take action to stimulate growth in ham radio. This, as they met with the Commission's staff on July 9th and 10th at their annual Conference held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The FCC appears to believe that the decline in Amateur Radio interest and licensing is bad for the service. As a result D'wana Terry, Chief of the Wireless Division confirmed that the FCC would soon be issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking intended to streamline the service and eliminate any unnecessary rules used in governing Amateur Radio. Terry told the VECs that she was very limited in what she could say about the NPRM. This is because the FCC is still preparing it. Ms. Terry did say that the recommendation would include both a discussion of current problems and specific proposals on how the FCC plans to deal with them. Ms. Terry did acknowledge that one of the things the FCC is looking into is a reduction in the Morse code exam speed. This, as a way around the allegedly abused 13 and 20 words-per-minute handicapped applicant code examination waivers. As we go to air, no date has been set for the release of this internally generated NPRM. But it could come as early as the end of August, if not before.

(Via Newsline)

New battery technology

A new battery technology being developed for military use holds the promise of longer operating times for all sorts of equipment including portable ham radio gear. Engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate are reported to be very excited about their successful sodium-sulfur battery tests performed on last Novembers' space shuttle mission. This, according to a press release from the Air Force Material Command at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico as reported in the International Space Report News Digest. The new battery weighs half as much and generates nearly three times the specific power of nickel-hydrogen technology, or 150 watt hours per kilogram of battery weight. The sodium-sulfur costs half as much as nickel-hydrogen and is more reliable due to simpler design.

(Via Space News Digest)

Hams win over surveillance manufacturer

Score a big win for ham radio. This as the FCC turns down a bid by the manufacturer of theft deterrent equipment to gain access to Amateur Radio Spectrum. Back on April 28, 1997, Checkpoint Systems, Inc. requested that the Commission amend Part 15 of its rules. This, to increase the allowed radiated and power line conducted emission levels for intentional radiators in the 1.705 to 30 MHZ band. Checkpoint manufactures systems that are used to prevent the theft of articles from retail stores and other facilities. In its filing, the company said that such a rule changes would permit an increase in the operating range for its electronic article surveillance gear without increasing the risk of interference to other radio services. The FCC designated Checkpoints request as RM 9092 and put out for public comment. Responding on behalf of Amateur Radio was the American Radio Relay League. On June 16th, 1997, the American Radio Relay League filed in opposition to the Checkpoint petition. The ARRL pointed out that Checkpoint has not provided any technical analysis of the potential for increased interference to the amateur radio service. The ARRL believes that Checkpoint's request would result in increased interference to the amateur radio service which is allocated spectrum in several frequency bands between 1.705 and 30 MHZ. But that was not all. The ARRL also noted that such installations are often located close to amateur operations located in residential areas. Also, the ARRL also said that such a rule change was unnecessary due to the availability of alternative technology that operates in higher frequency bands. On August 4th, Dale Hatfield who is the Chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology turned down the Checkpoint request. I doing so Hatfield noted that Checkpoint has not provided sufficient technical analysis to support its assertion that there is no risk of interference to other radio services as the ARRL claims. Hatfield also said that Checkpoint had not submitted any scientific evidence to support its claim that building attenuation will act to prevent this kind of interference.

(FCC release)


Part deux. While all eyes are now on the FCC regarding the future of ham radio, FISTS -- the British Morse code preservation society with a chapter in the United States is very critical of the recent ARRL ham radio restructuring proposal. In part two of her interview with Amateur News Weekly's Charlie Cotterman KA8OQF, FISTS' Nancy Kott, WZ8C says the ARRL is not adequately supporting Morse code: "I think by telling the FCC that it is ok to lower the requirements 12 WPM and by giving away some of our CW subbands to the sideband portion of the band, I think that they are setting a precedence and they can only get worse." Nancy Kott, WZ8C What is FISTS position on the ARRL proposal? FISTS is not against restructuring, but as the international morse preservation society we are against the lower of standards as they apply to morse code. Of course we are against the proposed loss of some of our CW frequencies ." Kott Should the Amateur Community make their individual opinions in this situation known? And who should they make them known to? You should definitely raise our voice and let our opinion be known about this. I would urge everybody let your ARRL leadership know how you feel. Write your director and the president and the vice president of the ARRL. Let them know how you feel, because they are supposed to be representing the majority of the hams." Kott The storm that is brewing on the horizon has the distinct flavor of the ones that happened during the change over to incentive licensing. And the introduction of the codeless entry license to the ham ranks. Reporting for Amateur News Weekly I'm Charlie Cotterman, KA8OQF. Thanks Charlie.

(Amateur News Weekly)

International Foxhunt results

Closer to home and despite temperatures in the 90's, everyone seemed to have a great time at a recent international-style foxhunt. This, at a park in Hacienda Heights, California on Saturday, August 1st. Why report on a fox hunt in California? Well this was no regular foxhunt. Rather, it was an official training session for the United States Amateur Radio Direction Finding team which will be competing at the World Championships in Hungary during the first week in September. Team Captain Dale Hunt, WB6BYU of Yamhill, Oregon participated, as did team members Marvin Johnston, KE6HTS and Dennis Schwendtner, WB6OBB. They joined sixteen other radio-orienteers who took to the course and attempted to find six hidden transmitters operating on 146.565 MHZ.



For all you satellite fans, a spectacular sight is now visible in the skies. The Iridium constellation, 66 satellites that will provide low-earth-orbit-based ground communications starting later this year, is designed and oriented in such a way that the satellites brilliantly reflect sunlight back to earth, or "flare", at regular and predictable intervals. I'd like to thank Omri, AA6TA, for first pointing out this phenomenon last month when the Space Shuttle and Mir flew overhead on their last mission together. We were both active on the APZ repeater during the event, and Omri told us about a pair of Iridium flares that was to happen shortly afterwards. Although I saw only one of the flares, it was spectacular. A short search of the Web turned up a location where you can get a list of upcoming Iridium flares for the next 7 days. They are brief, between 5 and 20 seconds, but some are brighter than the planet Venus, and at their brightest, visible even in the daytime! The URL I found for Iridium flare predictions begins at: . This page will set a "cookie" in your browser to remember your location's latitude and longitude. Your location is important - the ground path of a flare is only 100 km or so wide and a spectacular flare may be barely visible only a few dozen miles away. I'll be watching for the brighter ones (magnitude -4 and above) visible in Mountain View; listen for me on the APZ repeater a few minutes before the event.

Wiley KF6IIU


I pulled the part of the information from the Internet site (See next page). There is a lot more information on these and other satellites plus a page where you can enter your city and get your coordinates. I'm getting spoiled: Whenever I need some information, there is an Internet site dedicated to it. The information may not always be accurate, but at least there are a lot of links to other sites with other opinions. I use Alta Vista almost exclusively ( because there is translation software for other languages.

An elderly couple I know is having a problem with a bank in Holland. His teacher's pension is tied up in that bank and communication was difficult for them. I was able to pry the money loose by communicating with the bank by email and Internet FAX. At first they tried to stonewall me by replying in Dutch, but I was able to use Alta Vista to translate the Dutch words I did not know. They are now getting their money. This same couple has retirement funds invested in a British Bank which decided not to pay dividends to people living abroad. One of the investors, who lives in Brazil, instituted an international class action lawsuit by contacting people on the Internet. I think that bank is in a heap of trouble.

For more information on Iridium flares, and an explanation of the columns in the table, see the Iridium Flare Help Page.

Clicking on the time of the flare will load another page with more details, including a map showing the track of the flare along the ground, and the location of the nearest point of maximum intensity.

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.

[meeting map]