Ubuntu – total and complete victory!

I rethought my strategy and re-installed Ubuntu. My issue was getting the video to work properly – the fix required a change to the /etc/X11/xorg.conf. But unlike the other distributions that I tired installing (SuSE, Mandriva, Fedora, etc.) when you run the install for Ubuntu you don’t set a separate password for root. After some searching on the internet I found out that this was by design. I figured out how to get root access to make the changes I needed to and was able to get the GNOME desktop working. Then after more configs I brought up the wireless network card – how cool! I then proceeded to configure an email client to download my gmail from Google, which also now works.

Having a good evening!

Linux attempts

I’ve been having fun trying to install Linux on my laptop. I got the 2006 Edition of the Linux Bible by Christopher Negus which comes with a DVD and a CD with different distributions and “live” distributions. I’d like to get a stable distribution that will work well on a laptop, has a decent desktop manager, and will also support amateur radio applications. I tried the KNOPPIX live CD – and it worked nicely. But I couldn’t figure out how to install it to run other than as a “live” CD version. I then tried Fedora Core 4, but there was a flaw on the disk and locked up during installation. Ubuntu installed but crashed when I tried to bring up the desktop. Next was SUSE, which installed nicely but locks up when I try to bring up the desktop. My next attempt will be a commercial version of Mandriva.

David F. Mangels, AC6WO, SK

David F. Mangels, AC6WO, SK (Mar 29, 2006) — Author and Amateur Radio instructor Dave Mangels, AC6WO, of Temple City, California, died March 24. He was 63. An ARRL member, instructor and volunteer examiner, Mangels taught Amateur Radio licensing classes for a fee at the Technician, General and Amateur Extra levels. In 2001, CQ Communications published his book The Mobile DXer–Your Practical Guide to Successful Mobile DXing. Mangels had 302 DXCC entities confirmed on SSB, no doubt many of them worked while he was operating mobile or portable. Survivors include his wife, Fran, AD6DC, and a son, Gary, AD6CD.

Shore thing Virginia Beach lighthouse is a beacon of history


Old Cape Henry Lighthouse should have disappeared when its lantern went black more than a century ago.

Cracks split through its stone face and inspectors deemed it unsafe. A newer, more modern one beamed a few hundred feet away, safely beckoning ships into the Chesapeake Bay.

But from the time Old Cape Henry went up in 1791 until its replacement was lit in 1881, the lighthouse was more than a guide. It was a landmark, a symbol of a young country’s progress.

So Old Cape Henry stayed.

That’s a lucky turn of history for me and dozens of others who climb its winding staircase on this warm March day. And lucky for the thousands of others who’ve followed in the keepers’ footsteps over the years.

This is my second visit to Old Cape Henry, one of a dozen lighthouses I’ve visited in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. I do not collect miniatures or wallpaper my house in the bricked, painted and patterned towers, but they do intrigue me.

Lighthouses represent another age, when sailors relied on stars and simple instruments and beams of artificial light to guide them. They represent a time when a man or woman spent years by the lonely sea, climbing hundreds of steps in heat and cold and storms.

Today Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is just two miles from Virginia Beach’s hub, but getting there isn’t easy. Because it sits on Fort Story military base, visitors must first pass through security. This could involve a car search.

Once you are on the other side, away from the glittery allure of shops, restaurants and million-dollar beach houses shoehorned along the shore, you’ll find a largely unspoiled landscape–much like it was when light keepers lit Old Cape Henry’s oil lamps.

U.S. history here is nearly as old as it gets. The first permanent European settlers landed at Cape Henry in 1606, made their way up the James River and founded Jamestown.

Old Cape Henry lighthouse overlooks the place they first stepped ashore. Old Cape Henry came along 185 years later, after Virginia had gone from colony to state.

By then the beacon was long overdue. For half a century the Colonial governments of Maryland and Virginia got tangled in “red tape” over its construction. When the materials were finally bought and delivered, the Revolutionary War intervened.

The lighthouse was among the first orders of business when the very first Congress of the United States met in 1789. It was also the first federal work project.

Cape Henry Lighthouse took about a year to build and cost $17,700. (“Old” was added when the new one opened in 1881.)

The slim, octagonal tower was made with stone from our very own Aquia quarries in Stafford County–the same sandstone used in Mount Vernon, the White House and U.S. Capitol. You can also find it at Kenmore, home of George Washington’s sister Betty Lewis and her husband, Fielding Lewis, in Fredericksburg.

Workers had quite a time hauling the heavy, awkward sandstone all the way to the coast by way of the Rappahannock River.

Today the 90-foot lighthouse stands as tall and imposing as it must have in its early days, though I imagine salty winds and rain have faded it.

The light that warned ships is more than 100 years gone, but visitors can stand inside its lantern and see where oil lamps–and later, reflecting Argand lamps–once glowed.

It costs $4 to climb Old Cape Henry. A friendly staff sells tickets inside a quaint gift shop where lighthouse coins, books, coasters and shirts line shelves.

The shop’s back door leads outside, where Old Cape Henry stands at the top of a steep set of stone steps.

It is early March, but the weather feels more like midspring. The sky is soft blue, and warm breezes blow in from the bay.

Old Cape Henry is dim and cool, retaining its winter chill thanks to the stone exterior and brick lining added a few years before the Civil War. The black iron staircase spirals up like neatly positioned dominoes.

The view from the bottom is dizzying. I climb anyway, counting the steps as I go.

The original stairs were wooden–and flammable. They remained for 60 years without incident and were replaced during a renovation.

When I reach the platform where a vertical ladder leads to the lantern, I’ve counted 85 steps. But I can’t be sure because three little windows have distracted me along the way.

It is warm and bright inside Old Cape Henry’s small glass crown. I take in the unobstructed, 360-degree view.

This would have been a good day to be a lighthouse keeper, standing as high as the birds over a sparkling blue bay.

To reach KRISTIN DAVIS:540/368-5028
Email: kdavis@freelancestar.com

What: Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, the United States’ first. In operation from 1792 until 1881, when the New Cape Henry Lighthouse replaced it.
Where: 583 Atlantic Ave., Fort Story, Va., 23459. Virginia Beach is just a couple of miles away.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children 3 to 12
Info: 757/422-9421 or on the Web at apva.org/cape henry

Next Solar Cycle to be Later but More Intense, New Research Suggests

NEWINGTON, CT, Mar 7, 2006–The next solar cycle, Cycle 24, will be a year or so late in arriving but will be far more intense than the current cycle now winding down–perhaps as much as 50 percent stronger. That’s according to a new computer model unveiled March 6 by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The researchers developed the first “solar climate” forecast using a combination of groundbreaking observations of the sun’s interior from space and computer simulation. Key to predicting the solar activity cycle is an understanding of plasma flows in the sun’s interior.

“We understood these flows in a general way, but the details were unclear, so we could not use them to make predictions before,” said NCAR’s Mausumi Dikpati, who published a paper on her research March 3 in the online edition of Geophysical Review Letters. Magnetic fields are “frozen” into the solar plasma, so plasma currents within the sun transport, concentrate and help dissipate solar magnetic fields, Dikpati explained. She said the new application utilizes innovations in direct study of the sun’s interior as well as historical data on which previous forecasts have depended.

The new technique of “helioseismology” allows researchers to see inside the sun. Helioseismology traces sound waves reverberating inside the sun to build up a picture of the interior, similar to the way ultrasound technology can create a picture of an unborn baby. The new model, known as the Predictive Flux-transport Dynamo Model, has simulated the strength of the past eight solar cycles extending back to the early 1900s with 98 percent accuracy.

If proved correct the forecast offers a sort of bad news/good news scenario for Amateur Radio operators, but not all solar scientists agree with the newest prediction. NASA solar physicist David Hathaway has declared that Cycle 23’s solar minimum already has arrived. Nonetheless, Hathaway, who was not involved in the Dikpati study, says he is excited about the new model.

“It’s based on sound physical principals, and it finally answers the 150-year-old question of what causes the 11-year sunspot cycle,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway says his own research concurs that Cycle 24 will be more intense than Cycle 23. However, he predicts the next solar cycle will begin late this year or early next year rather than a year later. He points out that historical data suggest that the more powerful cycles begin earlier rather than later.

Under the model developed by Dikpati and her colleagues, the poor HF propagation of Cycle 23’s terminal stages won’t reverse course until late 2007 or early 2008, and Cycle 24 won’t peak until 2012. But higher intensity normally means more and longer HF band openings–with the exception of solar storms. As the sunspot cycle bottoms out, however, conditions can be more favorable for VHF and UHF operation.

For public utilities and satellite operators, the new model’s prediction regarding solar storms is mostly bad news. Depending on their intensity, solar eruptions–with their powerful releases of radiation–can disrupt power grids on Earth and satellite operations in space, including communications links and GPS. Previous forecasts for Cycle 24 had suggested a significantly milder intensity.

A next step for the NCAR researchers will be to develop an advanced model that can give advance warning of individual solar storms, says Richard Behnke of the National Science Foundation. NASA’s Living With a Star program and the National Science Foundation funded the research.–information from NASA, NCAR and news reports was used in developing this report

Acknowledgement: ARRL thanks Bill Sexton, N1IN, for his assistance in editing this article.

On the far side of the world

2/26/2006 8:00:00 AM
On the far side of the world

Julie Young

Julie Young – Correspondent

Summer in Antarctica means temperatures in the mid-20s to the mid-30s with fog, snow drifts and winds reaching 65 mph or more. Hardly an ideal vacation destination, but for Dr. Gary Stouder it’s where he wanted to spend his winter.

“I want to do this because this is the biggest adventure of my life,” he said in an e-mail interview. “I have always wanted to be in the Antarctic, and this was a great opportunity.”

Stouder is part of a group of 20 ham radio operators who have battled the frozen tundra in order to set up their radios and contact people all over the world from Peter 1 Island, Antarctica.

“There have only been about 50 humans to set foot on Peter 1 Island,” he said, noting that the area is less traveled than outer space.

On Friday, the team broke camp and prepared to journey back home. During their time on the remote island, team members took 17,000 photographs and established radio contact with hundreds of ham operators around the world. They also set up a weather station and explored the rugged terrain.

The isolated location has an extinct volcano, icebergs and little wildlife. It is the most desolate place on the earth, but for a ham radio aficionado, it represents a unique opportunity to communicate with the rare site.

Because of its remoteness, the island counts as another country and for hams around the world, having confirmation of contact with Antarctica is akin to having Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

“It’s kind of like a stamp collector getting a rare stamp,” Stouder said, noting that the group has made about 70,000 contacts so far.

According to Stouder’s wife, Joy, this isn’t the first time Stouder has tried to reach Antarctica. Last year, he traveled as far as the southern tip of Argentina before weather and travel complications canceled the trip. He didn’t think he would get the chance to go, but then after seeing “The March of the Penguins,” she said he got fired up about the trip again.

“I was a little bit scared at first, but I think it is important to let him seek his adventure,” she said.

Stouder has dual roles on the mission. Not only is he one of the hams transmitting from the island, he also serves as the group’s medical officer. His medical equipment includes a defibrillator and IV fluid. He said that the group is eight days away from the nearest medical care.

“This is a great challenge for me to be ready to do this even though I hope everyone stays well,” he said. “I also really like being able to make contacts with people throughout the world.”

Stouder became interested in radios when he was 10 years old, listening to the short wave and dreaming of faraway places. He said he got his first ham license when he was 17. Over the years, he has talked to almost every country in the world, not to mention places out of this world.

“We’ve talked to the astronauts on the International Space Station with school groups,” Joy Stouder said.

Stouder said that he doesn’t have another adventure on tap after this. He works part-time with the Hancock Health Network, but both he and his wife enjoy traveling to exotic locales such as Australia, China and Japan. He is scheduled to return March 6.

“We both have an adventurous spirit,” Joy said. “But I hope this trip (to Antarctica) will fill that void for a while.”

I had a QSO with the Admrial!!

August 19, 2004

New surgeon general for Navy takes office

by Ellen Maurer

WASHINGTON (NNS) – Rear Adm. Donald Arthur became the 35th surgeon general of the Navy in a change-of-office ceremony hosted at the Washington Navy Yard Aug. 4.

The Navy surgeon general is the senior officer for the Navy’s medical and dental communities, leading the naval hospitals and medical and dental clinics worldwide.

Arthur relieves Vice Adm. Michael L. Cowan, who retired after 33 years in the Navy. Cowan has served as the leader of Naval medicine since 2001.

Guest speaker at the ceremony was CNO Adm. Vern Clark, who spoke about the advances made in military medicine to care for today’s warfighters and their family members.

“We will do everything we know how to do … to help you fulfill the promise you have made to the sons and daughters of America who wear the uniform – to provide health care, first effectively, and then efficiently,” Clark said. “We know you are committed to continuing building the foundation of Force Health Protection set in place by [Vice Adm.] Mike Cowan. I have every confidence that you will do an equally superb job.”

Arthur comes to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery from his former position as the commander of the National Naval Medical. He holds a doctor of medicine degree, a Ph.D. in health care management, and a degree in law. Arthur joined the Navy in 1974, and is qualified in flight surgery and undersea medicine, as well as surface warfare medicine, saturation diving medicine and radiation health.

“It is a tremendous honor to be to be part of Navy medicine,” Arthur said. “I pledge to continue the work that Adm. Cowan has begun … so Navy medicine can continue to respond whenever and wherever, against all threats – some of which we cannot combat with traditional methods.

“We must be prepared to predict, prevent and treat those things that might still come to us,” Arthur said. “We will do it as one Navy medicine, active and Reserve. And we will do it as one Department of Defense medical unit that is a seamless, integrated Navy, Army and Air Force medical system.”

CW Shootout!

Sunday Feb 26 I went to the Fayetteville WV hamfest. It’s a small hamfest held in the American Legion hall, but a very nice time.

Around 11:00AM they started hollerin’ it was time for the CW Shootout. They promised a $1/WPM cash prize for anyone who could hold out.

Well, that fascinated me so I followed the crowd (well, you can call 8 a crowd, ‘cuz it’s more than 3 and we all know “3’s a crowd!” Maybe 8’s a MOB?)

We went into a back room where some tables and folding chairs were set up. The moderator fired up his lap top and passed out pens and pieces of paper.

They started at 15 WPM with “WELCOME TO THE CW SHOOTOUT.” and everyone said, “yeah, yeah, let’s get going!”

He went to 20 WPM and sent “FOR SALE, ICOM 7800 CHEAP, WILL FINANCE.” A few chuckles, a snicker, and they were ready to move on.

At 25 WPM we got “STAY SHARP AND GOOD LUCK IN THE CONTEST.” and this was about where I fell out.

I didn’t copy the 30 WPM, 35 WPM, 40 WPM, and 45 WPM. They were all short statements like the others, one of them was, “KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, YOU’RE ALMOST AT THE MONEY.” Fewer and fewer pens were active as we proceded. Some folks were copying in their heads, and I could hear the short words like “THE”, “AS”, “FOR”, and such up to about 40 WPM.

Beyond that I was just sitting there watching in amazement as N3BA kept writing. He copied all the way up to 50 WPM, and the final transmission said something about “THIS IS AS FAST AS THE MACHINE WILL GO.” which I know only because he read it back for the copy check.

So Bob Anderson N3BA from Covington, Virginia won the $50 prize. We all queued up to congratulate him as we went back to the hamfest activities.

Well, **I** for one, was impressed.

Bob West WA8YCD
883 Goshen Rd
Morgantown WV 26508
Monongalia County FM09an
39d 37m 26s N 79d 57m 55s W