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SARL NEWS - SUNDAY 16 OCTOBER 2011

You are listening to ZS6SRL, the official radio station of the South African Radio League, the national body for amateur radio in South Africa, with a news bulletin every Sunday at 08:15 CAT in Afrikaans and at 08:30 CAT in English. To listen to a web stream, visit www.sarl.org.za, click on 'Amateur Radio Today' and follow the links for details. PLEASE NOTE: for audio via Echolink, connect to ZS0JPL-R.

You can download this bulletin and previous ones from www.sarl.org.za and also subscribe to receive future bulletins by e-mail.

Your newsreader this morning is (name), (call sign), on 145,725 and 7,066 MHz from Pretoria, with relays on 7,066 and 3,695 MHz SSB.

In the news today:


THE ORIGINAL OSCAR 1 RECONSTRUCTED

AN ADVANCED LICENCE - AN INTERESTING DEBATE

You are listening to ZS6SRL. Stay tuned for more details on these and other important and interesting news items.

THE ORIGINAL OSCAR 1 RECONSTRUCTED

The AMSATNA 2011 Space Symposium will be held on Friday, November 4-6 in San Jose, California. This year's Symposium coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of OSCAR 1, the first Amateur Radio satellite. The Symposium will feature presentations on amateur satellites, operating techniques, news and plans from the amateur satellite world, as well as an AMSAT General Meeting and a meeting of AMSAT's Board of Directors.

While the final schedule is still being worked out, AMSAT has announced that Lance Ginner, K6GSJ, will be the speaker at the banquet. Ginner helped build and develop OSCAR 1 and OSCAR 2. His involvement with Amateur Radio spacecraft continued with OSCAR 3, OSCAR 4, OSCAR 5 (the first for the newly formed Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation in 1970), OSCAR 6, OSCAR 7 and OSCAR 8.

ARRL Laboratory Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM, will also be speaking at the Symposium, accompanied by a refurbished prototype of OSCAR 1. With help from Ginner and other AMSAT members, Allison and W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, refurbished the prototype. They began tinkering with the satellite, one of three made by Project OSCAR. One of the satellites went up into space in 1961, one is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC and the other, until recently, was sitting in a display case in the downstairs hallway at ARRL Headquarters.

"We really wanted to make this work again," Allison said. "So we looked in the February 1962 issue of QST that was dedicated to OSCAR I, the first-ever Amateur Radio satellite to go into orbit. But the schematic we published didn't quite mesh up with what we were seeing when we opened up the satellite we had here at Headquarters."

According to Carcia and Allison, this could be that back in the days of the Cold War and the space race, the US military did not want the correct schematic falling into improper hands. "I tried for days, tracing components on the board and it just wasn't working," Carcia said. "So I called up Lance Ginner, one of the original Project OSCAR people. He kind of laughed and said that he didn't think they would do that, but you never know."

After much trial and error, Carcia finally got OSCAR I to transmit a signal on 145 MHz, just as the original satellite did. Since specific technical literature on the satellite was unavailable, information taken from 1962 QST and CQ articles assisted in the reconstruction of the transmitter in the ARRL unit. Much care was given to salvage the original components, although time had taken its toll on most of the circuitry. As such, although the transmitter functions, the actual keying of the transmitter is performed using a PIC beacon keyer. Power is supplied using a standard wall-cube providing 12 V DC.

For more information on the AMSAT Space Symposium, including how to register online, please visit the AMSAT Space Symposium web page at www.amsat.org.

AN ADVANCED LICENCE - AN INTERESTING DEBATE

At the RTA symposium held in last month, the question "If South Africa gets an advanced licence what should it look like?" was actively discussed by chairmen and representative of several Gauteng clubs and delegates present at the RTA. The consensus was yes, the SARL should pursue this issue with ICASA at the Amateur Radio Symposium planned for ICASA staff in February 2012. The discussion concluded that such a license should support two main objectives: to involve more radio amateurs in technology and to stimulate competition amongst radio amateurs in all aspects of the hobby. What the requirements are for such a licence had a wide range of responses and undoubtedly will still be debated for some time. There was a fair amount of agreement that it should be experimentally based and not an academic examination.

An Edited (irrelevant discussion outside the subject removed) version of the debate is available on the web. The SARL will hold an Intecnet on the subject on Sunday 30 October 2011 at 19:30. Clubs who did not link their local repeaters to the teleconference bridge are invited to start making arrangements.

SARL WEBSITE UPDATE

Peter Hers, ZS6PHD, reports that the major current problem appears to arise where a single fault occurs and the transaction is terminated before it can correctly perform all housekeeping. This in turn prevents further transactions from executing, resulting in the "ASP 0113" timeouts experienced. The system then takes some time to recover.

Current work is focused on stabilising the system, and this will take priority over any other changes, improvements and fixes to previously existing faults. Good progress has been made in ensuring that the server is correctly set up to support our web site. Certain sections of the site (Swopshop, QSL system) have been temporarily disabled to reduce the number of faults which impact on the web site availability. These will be restored as soon as availability has been improved.

As users will have noted, when it is operating correctly, the response from the website is excellent. The processor can easily cope with the load, and typically runs at less than 5% utilization. Bandwidth is ample and is not a constraint at any time. We are tracking site availability in various ways.

Peter has set up a special email address to log problems. If you find an unusual problem PLEASE email this to sarlweb@peterhers.co.za. I do scan the forum from time to time, to check that it is working correctly, and in case any odd behaviour is reported, but please do not rely on the forum to communicate problems. There is very little value in continually reporting "ASP 0113" timeouts - we are fully aware of these via system logging. At this stage we are not considering major changes, such as a move to PHP scripting, or ASP.NET. The costs of this would be prohibitive to the SARL.

Finally, please remember that every one working on the SARL web are volunteers, and have jobs, families and other responsibilities, and also like to play amateur radio, so all work is carried out in whatever time becomes available!

CONTEST NEWS

The last SARL QRP Sprint for the year is taking place on the 22nd October 2011. The rules can be found in the "Blue Book". This is a good opportunity to test your mobile or QRP rig. Lets have some fun on the 22nd October.

SARL 80 m Club Contest.

The fifth leg of this contest took place on Wednesday 28 September with RTTY and PSK activity. The committee received six logs representing three clubs.

1st West Rand ARC, 33 points and 4 logs
2nd Sandton ARC, 9 points and 1 log
3rd Antique Wireless Association, 6 points and 1 log

After this fifth leg, the overall results are:

1st West Rand ARC, 324 points and 24 logs
2nd Antique Wireless Association, 61 points and 7 logs
3rd Bloemfontein RAC, 39 points and 2 logs
4th Northern Cape ARC, 29 points and 2 logs
5th Sasolburg ARC, 26 points and 1 log
6th Sandton ARC, 18 points and 2 logs
7th Port Elizabeth ARS, 17 points and 1 log

The last contest in the series is a CW contest on Wednesday 30 November.

2011 SARL VHF/UHF Results for September leg

The following stats can be gained from the logs received. 5 Logs were received, 3 stations operated analogue only, 1 station analogue & digital whilst 1 operated digital only. On the analogue side there were 82 stations on 2 m, 6 stations on 4 m, 26 stations on 6 m, 34 stations on 70 cm and 2 on 23 cm. On the digital side, there were 6 stations working FSK441 on 6 m and 2 stations working FSK441 on 4 m.

The results are as follows:-
Digital Contest
1st - Andre Botes,ZS2ACP, 44 785 points
2nd - Derek Gravett, ZS5Y, 19 954 points

Analogue Contest
1st - West Rand ARC, ZS6WR, 48 070 points
2nd - Sasolburg ARK, ZS4SRK, 31 225 points
3rd - Magalies ARK, ZS6MRK, 12 879 points

Longest distance worked (km)
6 m - analogue, 171 - digital, 1181
4 m - analogue, 78 - digital, 1181
2 m - analogue, 368 - digital, 460
70 cm - analogue, 135
23 cm - analogue, 8

Overall results from both legs (March & September)
Analogue
1st - West Rand ARC, ZS6WR, 48 070 points
2nd - Sasolburg ARK, ZS6SRK, 31 225 points
3rd - Magalies ARK, ZS6MRK, 12 879 points

Digital
1st - Andre Botes, ZS2ACP, 183 641 points
2nd - Derek Gravett, ZS5Y, 163 177 points
3rd - Pierre van Deventer, ZS6A, 113 758 points

The full results have been posted on the forum. The results will also appear in the HF Happenings.

The "Lucky Draw" winner is ZS2ACP, Andre Botes.

PROPAGATION REPORT

Hannes Coetzee, ZS6BZP reports that solar activity remains low, but the quiet is unlikely to last with so many sunspots turning towards Earth. A new spot group emerged and was numbered Region 1 320. There are currently ten numbered regions, several producing C-class events.

For the people doing their own frequency predictions the expected effective sunspot number for the week will be around 80.

All the bands from 20 to 10 m will provide lots of fun with DX opportunities at varies times of the day.

Please visit www.spaceweather.co.za for further information.

DIARY OF EVENTS

15/16 October - Jamboree on the air.
20 October RA Examamjnation.
22 October Last QRP-sprint for 2011.
30 October Intechnet on proposed advanced license.
Till 31 October - ZL-stations with ZM prefixes and ZL4RUGBY and ZL6RWC on the air.
4/6 November AMSAT NA Space Symposium in San Jose California.
13 November Pears HF Competition 12:00 till 16:00 UTC.
19/20 November SARL Field day competition.
20 November CW leg of 80m Club competition.
27 November Digital Competition.
30 November last day to send logs for Pears HF DX-expedition.
31 January 2012 - closing date for submitting papers for SA AMSAT Space Symposium.

SARL News invites clubs and individuals to submit news items of interest to radio amateurs and shortwave listeners. Submit news items - if possible - in both English and Afrikaans to www.sarl.org.za/newsinbox.asp, not later than the Thursday preceding the bulletin date.

The SARL also invites you to listen to Amateur Radio Today every Sunday morning at 10:00 CAT on 145,750 MHz in the Pretoria area, with relays on 7 082, 7 205 and 17 760 kHz (250 kW and was 17 750 kHz). There is also a podcast by ZS6RO. For a web-stream and Echolink by ZS6FCS, visit www.sarl.org.za, click on 'Amateur Radio TODAY', go down the green column and click on 'LISTEN ON THE WEB'. A repeat transmission can be heard on Mondays at 16:30 UTC on 4 895 (100 kW and was 3 230 kHz). Sentech sponsors the ARMI transmissions on the non-amateur frequencies.

You have listened to a bulletin of the South African Radio League, compiled by Gustav, Z6SBWN.

Thank you for listening, 73.
/EX


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