N6V's SECRET: Guest editorial by Jim Lumsden WA6MYJ

What characteristics qualify an event for major news coverage? Basically, it needs to involve people; it has to be something different than the everyday news fare, and it must appeal to a large percentage of the medium's audience to be a candidate for media coverage. N6V qualified. But, why? And what has N6V done for its sponsors?

The answer can best be approached by asking yet another question: "Why are so many hams clamoring to contact N6V?" When I first started aerospace studies sixteen years ago, one of my instructors first pep talks was about a "think tank" on a hill, a place so highly revered in his eyes that to work there was the epitome of employment. What was the basis for that reverence? He knew people here at JPL; he knew of JPL's work in the space program and supported its endeavors. In other words, he had a personal association with this institution which was at the forefront of a great adventure; he knew of its work, goals, and achievements, and was proud to be acquainted with it. N6V, by sending the successes (and a few problems) of the great Viking adventure right into the speakers and TV monitors of thousands of ham families around the world, has generated a personal touch on a person-to-person level that no other medium is capable of.

Roy Neal of NBC operates N6V during a filming break

The news media of television, newspapers and magazines has brought the facts, accomplishments, and day-to-day adventures of the Viking program into homes all over the world; but N6V has allowed individuals to become personally involved with this adventure by talking to people who work at JPL those who conceived, built, launched, flew, and analyzed the results of the mission and spacecraft.

Sitting behind the microphone at N6V, one senses the feeling of excitement and accomplishment at the other end as another individual proudly talks to JPL!

NBC cameraman focuses on Stan Brokl K6YYQ (l.) as Roy Neal directs. Stan Sander is in foreground. [Both photos this page courtesy of K6PGX.]

When we first obtained the 1x1 call, our feeling was that the new prefix and historic call would be the prime movers in making the event a success. My feeling now is that the call N6V is like the marquee of a theater: it calls attention, but it is the attraction inside that counts. The thrill of talking with "Viking controls people" (as one DX station addressed his QSL card) has become the dominant reason for wanting to work N6V.

Now that much of the initial excitement has calmed down, many school instructor/hams are making plans to bring the N6V voice (and pictures) into their classrooms. Dick Piety, K6SVP, worked two boy scouts recently on schedule, each of whom had SSTV and an audience of about a dozen other scouts in his shack. N6V is now beginning to hit where the future of the space program lies: our youth.

N6V has done something else for JPL and the space program. It has shown many, many people that the precise, exacting, no-mistakes air of a space mission actually has human beings behind it making things tick. Through N6V these people have become their neighbors, even though thousands of miles away. As we describe each SSTV picture as it is sent out, even listeners without SSTV reception capability have sensed their participation in the adventure.

Perhaps that first question can be answered now. N6V has made national and international news because it has brought a sterile, impersonal space project to a personal contact with thousands of hams in towns and villages across the country. It has shown people that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has people working here. For many individuals it has brought a feeling of pride to have a personal association with the headlines of a major space endeavor. It has helped many individuals understand how their tax dollar share that is allocated to the space program (1 cent) is actually spent. When we explain that most of the money spent on a space program stays right here and only a small part, representing the value of the raw material, leaves the earth, many people are noticeably relieved that a great monetary burden is not being "lost in space."

This kind of uniqueness caused NBC to send their crews to JPL and to the home of Dr. Frank Biba, WA5SAJ, to film a 5-minute featurette for the "Today" show which was aired on October 26 nationwide. We were proud to have been able to show the people of the country how N6V has boosted the Space Program, JPL, and amateur radio in general.

That's what N6V has meant to JPL. It has allowed the people of this and other countries to feel a closer association with us and what we are striving for.


Portable/Mobile Identification - FCC has announced that effective November 26, U.S. amateurs operating their stations at portable or mobile locations within FCC jurisdiction will no longer be required to indicate their portable or mobile status when they identify. Amateurs wishing to do so may still sign "portable" or "mobile," but they will no longer be required to do so. Reciprocal licensees operating in the U.S. will still be required to identify with "portable" or "mobile" per section 97,313 of the FCC Rules and Regulations. Also, effective the same date, all requirements for prior notification of extended portable operation will be dropped, both for U.S. amateurs and reciprocal licensees- These changes are essentially as proposed by FCC in Docket 20686.

Two Letter Calls - FCC has taken two actions to increase the available number of two-letter calls. Effective November 2, 1x2 calls with '1N" prefixes will become available. At the same time, two letter calls with "X" as the first letter of the suffix will also be released (these have not been assigned in the past.) Together, these actions open up 728 additional 1x2 call signs in each call area. As a reminder, holders of Extra Class licenses may apply for an unassigned 1x2 call of their choice on the following schedule:

Extra before July 11 1974: Apply Jan. 1, 1977
Extra before July 1, 1976: Apply Apr. 1, 1977
Extra after July 1, 1976: Apply July 1, 1977

Outgoing QSL Bureau - A reminder that the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau goes into operation November 1st. See October QST for details. A recent change in the rules allows U.S. amateurs to send cards to Canadian (VE) amateurs via the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau, and vice-versa. Internal use of the bureaus (U.S. to U.S. and VE to VE) is not permitted.

Propagation Bulletins - ARRL has started a new series of propagation bulletins authored by Ed Tilton, W1HDQ, These are broadcast daily from WlAW, together with official bulletins, per the schedule published in QST. CW bulletins are at 5 pm local time and have been copiable recently on both 14080 and 7080. The first bulletin had interesting news on the new sunspot cycle.

Propagation Forecast Bulletin No. 1 October 15, 1976

Nearly two weeks of above normal propagation, resulting from increasing activity of the new solar cycle, were expected to end October 15. Rising geomagnetic activity from a recurring disturbance will degrade conditions at the low end of the HF range October 16 through 19, but may bring brief enhancement of propagation on 21 and 28 MHz at the beginning and end of the disturbed period.

Unsettled conditions are expected for Oct. 19 through 21, deteriorating Oct. 21 and 22. Generally good propagation should: prevail thereafter through Oct. 28. A moderate disturbance is expected at the end of the month.

In retrospect, July appears to have been the turning point in solar activity. Effect of cycle 20 has been minimal since then, while cycle 21 areas have increased in numbers, size and propagation significance. Marked increases in daily maximum usable frequency are not expected soon, but the trend now seems to be upward. Early October conditions were the best in many months. Comments on this bulletin, the first in a new propagation series, will be appreciated. Information will be updated weekly, or oftener if changes are needed.


The Baja Amateur Radio Racing Association is requesting the assistance of amateurs interested in participating in the Baja 1000 off-road race as part of the Communications Crew. The crews are stationed at various check-points on the race course. Most of these points are near the main roads although some are remote and a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is desirable. The participants should have 80 meter SSB capability. 2 meter FM on 146.19179 and backup on 146.37/97 is also desirable. The group is licensed by the Mexican government to operate in Mexico as XE2BCM and a copy of the license will be provided to each operator. The units are requested to be set up and operating on Wednesday evening, November 10, 1976. The race begins early Thursday morning and runs for approximately 36 hours. Any interested amateur should call Steve Bednarczyk, WB6MJK, at Ext. 7749 as soon as possible, [WB6MJK]

CONGRATULATIONS to members Dick Piety, K6SVP, Walt Ross, W6VPN, Jack Patzold, and Merv MacMedan, W6IUV on receiving their JPL 10-year pin awards recently.


The announcement said that the main concern of the October Board meeting would be a design review of the proposed repeater project, and this observer was suitably impressed (beyond belief, in fact) at the turnout. Nearly 30 people attended, too many to list here, Again, here is your editor's view of the goings-on for those few members that missed the meeting!

The October 27, 1976 Board Meeting was presided over by Stan Brokl, K6YYQ. A preview copy of the QST article on N6V and N4V was passed around and a host of errors and distortions were pointed out. It was supposed to have the club's byline (W6VIO) but instead Jim Lumsden, WA6MYJ was listed as author (which he was.) See it in the December issue.

Norm Chalfin's videotape of the Roy Neal 5-minute N6V feature on the today show was shown and impressed everyone. Roy is to be congratulated on his accurate and informative reporting and editing.

The Transceiver Selection committee reported that it had decided on purchase of an FT-101EE but there wasn't sufficient funds to buy everything the club wants to buy. It was decided to see if ERC could help keep us in the black.

One way of helping do just that was a set of proposals submitted by Robot Research in which they would have us put together cassettes of slow scan pictures similar to the ones transmitted by N6V for promotional purposes. These will be studied from a financial and legal viewpoint before we make any commitment.

Walt Diem, WA6PEA, made an excellent presentation describing briefly the history of how the repeater project got to where it is now, and the proposed design. The highlights are described in another article. Considerable discussion arose when Phase II of the repeater project was mentioned, in which new technologies might be explored, such as powering the machine by solar energy and using the statistics generated by such an operation for a research project.

The motion to approve the club's repeater project as presented was approved 3-1 with President Brokl not voting, per the by-laws. He announced that he will appoint a chairman at a later date, and for the present both Bob Akers and Walt Diem will continue to charge ahead with a clear mandate from the membership.

A motion was made to buy one of the 220 MHz transceivers for the club station, since the 220 MHz repeater was approved, along with the FT101EE. If sufficient funds were lacking, ERC would be asked to help defray costs. Motion passed, 3-0.

A motion was made by Jim Lumsden that whatever we decide to do with the SSTV cassettes, the club should retain the rights of production of the tapes, set up a committee under Dick Piety to handle the tape purchases and mailing as a money-making activity of the club, provided it is legal to do so. Motion approved, 3-0

As you can see by the dwindling voters, even board members had to leave before the end of the meeting, which lasted until about 2:30. We all left with a strange feeling ... that perhaps we really accomplished something today! {W6IUV]


(The following summary of the highlights of the project was provided by Walt Diem, WA6PEA.)

The repeater design review, at the Board meeting on October 27 drew a record crowd. Nearly 30 members, including 5 Board members, were present. The questionnaire also disclosed considerable interest in having a club repeater. Of 23 responses, 19 members indicated they would be willing to help build, maintain or monitor a club repeater. The present count is that 24 rigs will be on frequency when the repeater goes into operation, hopefully by year's end.

The repeater antenna will be located on the Mesa at JPL. The figure shows a functional block diagram of the repeater, As indicated, the initial system will use "local control." However, the license authorizes radio remote control if the club wishes to add that capability later.

Fig. 1 - Block Diagram

All the required equipment, except feedline, has already been donated to the club. The transmitter, and receiver were built by club members and are presently being integrated into the repeater system.

If the club later adds radio remote control, we will need members as control operators. Since it takes months for the required modifications to the control operators licenses, those interested should contact Walt Diem, WA6PEA, Ext. 3186, for information.


Getting a 220 MHz mobile rig for the repeater and need an antenna? Your timing's perfect. We are forming a group for purchase of 220 MHz and 2-meter mobile antennas at a discount for members. Contact Booth Hartley, K6KVC, at Ext. 2459 to be included.


Jim Lumsden, WA6MYJ, is putting together an order for new call books. There will be no discount to individuals, but quantity discounts the club receives will help line the club's barren coffers. Mail inquiries (but preferably orders) to Jim at 233-103,


... to two Gauthier XYL's that recently received their Technician licenses, Barrie Gauthier's XYL Jan is now WB6QYV while Mike Gauthier's XYL Margaret is now WA60UD.

... to Glenn Berry, K6GHJ, who was recently appointed Manager of the Lab's Safety Office, Section 611.


I am a DC band operator, 160 meters through 10 meters. I begin with this statement to call to your attention my many years of bias. Please review what follows in this light and draw your own conclusions.

A few months ago I bought an IC-22 2 meter FM transceiver for the car. I was assured it was the latest thing in ham radio communications. Last week I sold my IC-22 and following are my views of 2-meter FM and 2-meter repeaters. I may be the only person with this opinion of what I call the 2-meter "CB" Wasteland, but I offer you some ideas to ponder and perhaps a solution.

I have no idea who sold the ARRL on channelizing the 2meter, 1-1/4-meter, 6-meter, and now 10-meter bands for FM use. Channelization is by itself a tremendous waste of frequency spectrum. First, it allows repeaters to hog two frequencies, not one - one for transmit, one for receive. Adding spectrum for guard bands to "protect" the repeater's channel, the maximum number of hams that can talk at one time or have "exclusive rights" to one frequency pair in any one city on 2-meters is 30. In a city like LA, this is a very small number of hams to have set-up as "frequency kings."

Amateurs have prided themselves for years in being able to conserve the spectrum allocated them, Back in the fifties the advent of SSB started the SSB-vs-AM wars that finally resulted in SSB as the primary voice mode in the EF bands. Good 6-meter and 2-meter SSB equipment is now on the market, and with its introduction, interesting new DX and communications avenues are being opened.

At a time when spectrum is becoming scarce and thus more valuable, why is FM on 1-1/4, 2, 6 and 10 meters given such prestigious backing by ARRL as exemplified by their channelized "band plans?" CB Channelization is a dismal failure, as so many "sliders" (vfo's) on the air will attest. Why, indeed, do we have discrete frequency repeaters at all? OSCARS 6 and 7 have a far superior method of repeating many signals simultaneously using linear translators. Linear translators can repeat any mode, be it SSB, CW, FM, RTTY, Slow Scan or what have you. They are comparatively very wide band machines and in an area like Southern California, 2 or 3 well-placed translators would cover nearly all geographical areas. They also allow incremental tuning, which means if your QSO is being interfered with, you just QSY a bit. Try that on your friendly 2m FM repeaters!

Some hams still like to tinker with new ideas in communications. If all the bands were channelized as is 2-meter FM, where would the experimenter go? If two hams engage in a spirited conversation not to the liking of a repeater owner, the repeater soon gets turned off! Although one of the rights in this country is freedom of speech, some people take this to mean only if you talk about what they want to hear!

Also on a repeater limited to one channel we are confronted with jammers, individuals using profanity or failing to identify. This is because a repeater makes an excellent broadcast station (with a captive, crystal-controlled audience!) If a linear translator were used, one jammer could only jam one frequency and thus only one user of many. And, this victim could simply slide out from under as in the DC bands.

The title of this article can now be explained. FM channelization reduces by 95% the spectrum utilization of a band. With the current band plan on 2-meters for example, we have 16 effective channels per MHz. With SSB techniques as on the DC bands, you could comfortably have 300 channels without interference. Add one linear translator and you extend the same 300 channels, or a subset of these, over a wide geographical area.

Channelization is expensive. A pair of crystals can cost up to $10. With the new synthesizers, the situation is somewhat better, but you are paying for many channels that aren't usable. Synthesizers would be more useful with no channelizing and using SSB; operation.

The frequency kings: Whenever you set up a plan which limits the usefulness of spectrum and available channels you allow only the first few big guns to grab up the allocations and make the vast majority subservient to their wishes and operating whims. I can give example after example of this, Even worse, if you allow a closed repeater to exist, even more spectrum is stolen from the poor ham-in-the-street.

I am ashamed to say that much of what goes on in the 2-meter FM band is similar to CB. The main difference is that the hams are not quite so profane. Channelizing does not let you put an end to the problem by QSY-ing to another channel, for if you do, you are off the repeater. Linear translators seem to be a more efficient and less costly method of giving many hams wide area coverage simultaneously. Possibly by using phasing and multiplexing techniques you could linear translate on the same frequency without splitting the spectrum.

Channelizing and spectrum waste is not in keeping with the spirit of ham radio as it was introduced to me 20 years ago. I seriously propose the channelization concept be relegated back to CB where it belongs. But what can we ourselves do to rectify this situation? If this argument makes sense to you, let's use our technical and practical expertise at JPL to prove the feasibility of a linear translator for terrestrial use. This would be a real pioneering effort in the state of the art. Get in touch with me if you would like to lead this effort or help. Thanks. Stan, Ext. 2715.

[Ed. note: Stan assures me that this article in no way is intended to discourage the club's repeater project. It was not released until after the Board voted to approve the repeater project, and is offered to encourage development of an alternative to those who are disenchanted with our present channelized repeaters.]


On Saturday, October 9, an N6V "Success-Victory" party was held at the QTH of Dick Piety, K6SVP. The turnout was good with about 16 people attending. Refreshments (807's and Cokes) were served along with plenty of dips, chips, and hot dishes. Dick took on all comers at ping-pong and quit when there were no more suckers to play (rumors around are that he keeps his paddle in a case and the paddle and handle screw together.) All the guys exchanged N6V happenings and the gals swam or enjoyed the warm weather. Walt Diem demonstrated his hand held rigs in the patio, while Stan managed a QSO on 2 but couldn't get full quieting with the noisy crowd. In all, a great time was had unwinding from the rigors of Nov. Arrangements were made by Dick, K6SVP, Jim, WA6MYJ, and Stan K6YYQ, although several guests helped with hot dishes. [K6SVP]


As you may have read in the October issue, the National Telecommunications Conference (NTC) for 1977 will be held in Los Angeles, and, hopefully, will contain a session on amateur radio. This conference and the International Communications Conference (ICC) are sponsored each year by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and are attended by as many as 1000 professionals in all aspects of communications technology. Next year's NTC has a special meaning to JPL in that the conference chairman is Stan Butman and the technical program chairman is Marv Simon, both from Division 33. Given this "back door to the Board room," Bill Weber, W6HNQ, has convinced the organizers to take a chance on an amateur radio session with the idea that hams can make a significant technical contribution to such a conference. Furthermore, Stan Brokl, K6YYQ, has volunteered his time to set up a booth at the conference in the commercial exhibit area with the purpose of reinforcing the idea that hams are involved in many new areas of communications technology.

It should be emphasized that this is a professional conference and not a ham radio convention. Consequently, to be accepted, a paper for this session must be written with a certain amount of technical expertise. This should not be a deterrent for the many qualified JPL hams. In fact, the organizers will be quite disappointed if no papers arrive in a JPL mailing envelope. Papers can be broad in scope in the form of a survey paper, such as "The Future of Digital Communications in Amateur Radio," or specific, such as "A New Technique for Automatic Morse Code Reception." The emphasis is on new concepts and ideas not actual circuits and hardware. The emphasis should also be on the new and future technologies in amateur radio. With this in mind, some suggested topic areas are:

  • Voice Transmission (new approaches to SSB, FM)
  • CW Transmission (coherent CW, automatic detection)
  • Video Transmission (slow scan, ATV, data compression techniques)
  • Digital Data Transmission (applications)
  • Microwaves (low cost antennas, front ends, etc)
  • Amateur Satellites (new proposals)
  • Antennas
  • Filter Design (active RF, digital)
  • Microprocessors/Digital (let your imagination take over!)
  • Propagation
  • Standards (RFI, WARC, frequency stability, key clicks, etc)
  • This list certainly does not exhaust the possibilities, but there is nothing in the list that couldn't be handled by JPL hams. So put on the old thinking cap! Papers must be received by Bill Weber (161-228) by May 1, 1977, but a letter of intention before that date would be appreciated. Good Luck! [W6HNQ]


    Beginning November 6, 1976, the Caltech Amateur Radio Club will sponsor code and theory classes aimed at the level of the junior high school student. Classes will be held on the Caltech campus at 10:00 am Saturdays in Room 125, Steele Laboratory. For further information, contact "Mojo," WB6DJP, evenings at 449-9696. [W6HCD]

    WANTED: 2 meter FM mobile rig and antenna, reasonable. Warren Apel, K6GPK, Ext. 7733.

    WANTED: Any old TV antenna rotators. Also Eico or Millen tube type grid dip meter. Cliff Moore, K6KII, Box 1338, Arcadia, Ca. 91006, or call during business hours 572-3284.

    WANTED: Manual for early Henry 2K linear amplifier, STN above 450. Dick Piety, K6SVP, Ext, 2298 or home, 790-1991. Will borrow to make copy.

    WANTED: To buy or borrow, manual for Heath "TWOER." Also cheap 2 meter converter, 146-148 MHz in, 28-30 MHz out, Contact Steve, WA6LAO, Ext. 6813 or home, 794-7323.

    FOR SALE: Henry Radio TP-400 Mobile Power Supply for Swan 500, etc., $100; Also Digitec 201 Digital Voltmeter, 3-1/2 digit, 1.000 to 1000. volts DC full scale, $50. Mike Gauthier, K61CS, Ext. 2126 or home, 9230131, or via WR6ABA, 147.21T, 147.81R.


    The International Telecommunications Network (ITN) was formed to provide a weekly on-the-air get-together for radio amateurs working in the service of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU.) These are people such as ITU experts in the field, delegates from administrations attending ITU conferences, ITU staff members, and members of the International Amateur Radio Club (IARC, which operates 4U1ITU in Geneva.) The net operates every Saturday at 130OZ on 14290 kHz. The French P&T allocated the special call FOAA for use by French P&T operators on French soil; various choice DX stations have checked in (Cameroon, Lesotho, Yemen to name a few) since the net started in April, 1976. [Tnx Telecom Journal]


    Here's a handy list of FCC Monitoring Station Telephone Numbers to report major violators or intruders or to request help in an emergency:

    Douglas, AZ 602-364-2133
    Coronado, CA 714-435-0048
    Livermore, CA 415-447-3614
    Santa Ana, CA 415-447-3614
    Ft. Lauderdale$ FL 305-583-2511
    Powder Springs, GA 404-943-5420
    Prospect Harbor, ME 207-963-5857
    Laurel, MD 301-725-3474
    Allegan, MI 616-673-2063
    Grand Island, NE 308-382-4296
    Canandaigua, NY 315-394-4240
    Chillicothe, OH 614-775-6523
    Denison, TX 214-965-0048
    Kingsville, TX 512-592-2531
    Bellingham, WA 206-734-4196
    Spokane, WA 509-244-2141
    Washington, DC Watch Officer: 202-632-6975

          [Tnx Crosstalk, TRW Systems Club Newsltr.]


    In the frenzy and confusion of getting photos into the newsletter for the first time last month, your editor forgot to give credit to the photographer who supplied us with those shots, as well as the ones in this issue* Apologies to Norm Chalfin, K6PGX who is our unofficial club photographer and who does such a good job perhaps his post should be made official! [W6IUV]

    Go back to the W6VIO Calling Index.