The ARRL Letter
Volume 19, Number 2
January 14, 2000
IN THIS EDITION:
- +New ham question pools out soon
- +League asks for PRB-1 reconsideration
- +ARRL purchases Communications Quarterly
- +Malicious interference cases top FCC list
- ARRL offers new DXCC awards
- West Central Florida ready to roll
- Solar update
- In Brief: This weekend on the radio; +Obtaining documentary proof of pre-1987 Technician ticket; QRZ.com offers look-up service for pre-1987 Techs; ARRLWeb institutes weekly Web survey; +FCC shifts license color; Coast Guard thanks hams; Lemuel H. Allen Jr, W7JMH, SK
+Available on ARRL Audio News
QUESTION POOL COMMITTEE EYES FEBRUARY 1 RELEASE DATE
A revised Amateur Radio question pool that reflects the April 15, 2000, restructuring rules could be out by February 1. Chairman Ray Adams, W4CPA, of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators' Question Pool Committee says the QPC is in "band aid" mode right now and will try to get "something usable into public domain for all three of the new written pools by February 1 or very shortly thereafter."
Adams says that a Technician class syllabus already has been drafted and approved. The various QPC members have been keeping in touch by telephone and e-mail since the FCC announced the restructuring rules December 30.
"We will go back over the newly configured pools, refining them and updating in a methodical manner with the order to be decided by the NCVEC when next in session," Adams said this week. He said the revised question pools will follow the established format.
After April 15, 2000, the FCC will only issue Technician, General, and Amateur Extra class licenses. Novice and Advanced licensees will retain current operating privileges and may renew indefinitely. Applicants desiring HF privileges will only have to pass a 5 WPM Morse code test. Current Amateur Radio study materials remain valid at least until the new rules become effective in April.
The new licensing regime has four examination elements: Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse code test; Element 2, a 35-question Technician test; Element 3, a 35-question General test, and Element 4, a 50-question Amateur Extra test.
Frequently Asked Questions on restructuring are available at http://www.arrl.org/news/restructuring/faq.html/. A copy of the entire Report and Order (FCC 99-412) is available at http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/wt98-143ro.pdf or at http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/1999/db991230/fcc99412.txt.
ARRL ASKS FCC TO RETHINK PARTS OF PRB-1 PETITION DENIAL
The ARRL wants the FCC to declare that its limited federal preemption policy known as PRB-1 applies to amateurs who live in areas governed by deed restrictions, covenants, CC&Rs, or condominium regulations just as it does to hams regulated solely by local zoning laws. In a Petition for Reconsideration, the League has formally asked the FCC to rethink its November dismissal of a 1996 ARRL Petition for Rule Making. That petition called on the Commission to expand and clarify PRB-1.
In November, the FCC said PRB-1 excludes restrictive covenants in private contracts as "outside the reach of our limited preemption," although it strongly encouraged associations of homeowners and private contracting parties to "follow the principle of reasonable accommodation" with respect to Amateur Radio. But the FCC drew the line at proposing specific rule changes to bring private restrictive covenants under the umbrella of PRB-1.
In asking the FCC to rethink its November Order, the League said the FCC's disclaimer "is no longer a valid premise" and no longer accurately reflects FCC jurisdiction over private land use regulations. Since the advent of PRB-1 in 1985, the ARRL pointed out, the FCC has made it clear that it has Congressional authority to prohibit restrictive covenants that could keep property owners and even renters from installing antennas to receive TV, satellite and similar signals. The League asserts the same principle applies to Amateur Radio, in which the FCC has said it has a "strong federal interest."
The League called on the FCC to clarify that PRB-1 applies to private land use regulations, leaving hams free to negotiate reasonable accommodation provisions with local homeowners' associations just as they do now with governmental land use regulators.
The League also asked the FCC to provide some relief from "prohibitive and excessive fees" that localities might impose on amateurs for permits and fees. The ARRL said that such costs can be "the functional equivalent of a prohibition of amateur communications" and asked the FCC to state that "excessive costs associated with land use approvals fail the 'reasonable accommodation' and 'minimum practicable restriction' tests of PRB-1."
A copy of the ARRL's Petition for Reconsideration is available at http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/prb-1/prb1-recon.pdf
ARRL PURCHASES COMMUNICATIONS QUARTERLY
The ARRL has purchased the Amateur Radio technical journal Communications Quarterly from CQ Communications and will merge the publication with the League's technical journal QEX. The change becomes effective for subscribers starting with the March/April issue of QEX. The new combined publication initially will serve a joint readership of more than 7000. The magazine will bear the legend, "QEX, incorporating Communications Quarterly."
ARRL Executive Vice President Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, said the League is pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to technical excellence in Amateur Radio through the combined publication. "Merging Communications Quarterly into QEX provides a rare synergistic opportunity to turn two good publications into one that's even better," he said.
The purchase arrangement followed extensive discussions with Communications Quarterly publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA. Conversations about the viability of Communications Quarterly and of QEX as standalone magazines--combined with the League's commitment to maintaining a publication devoted to technical and experimental topics--resulted in an ARRL offer to purchase Communications Quarterly. Ross called the deal "a win-win situation." The purchase price was not disclosed.
Published for the past nine years under the editorship of Terry Northup Littlefield, KA1STC, Communications Quarterly has billed itself as "the philosophical successor of Ham Radio magazine." Littlefield was Ham Radio's editor when CQ Communications purchased the magazine in 1990, incorporating the general-interest portion of the magazine's content into CQ and launching Communications Quarterly as a venue for more highly technical material. Ross said he regrets that neither CQ nor the League has an opening for Littlefield, who is exploring new opportunities. "We're going to miss her," Ross said.
QEX Editor Doug Smith, KF6DX, will continue at the helm of the combined publication. Smith called the pairing of Communications Quarterly and QEX "a logical economic move" that ensures the availability of a top-quality technical forum for experimenters. Smith invited technical articles as well as specific suggestions for articles or topics to be covered in future editions of the magazine. Submit articles or suggestions to Doug Smith, KF6DX, email@example.com; QEX/Communications Quarterly, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
Current Communications Quarterly subscribers will receive the combined QEX/Communications Quarterly every other month, and subscriptions will be extended according to a formula spelled out in a letter to subscribers. A subscription to the new, combined QEX/Communications Quarterly is $34, discounted to $22 for ARRL members. Direct subscription questions to Circulation Department, ARRL, firstname.lastname@example.org; 860-594-0355.
MALICIOUS INTERFERENCE CASES TOP FCC LIST
As the latest batch of FCC correspondence reveals, malicious interference cases continue to comprise the bulk of amateur enforcement cases facing FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Riley Hollingsworth. Recent allegations of deliberate and malicious interference have involved both HF and VHF/UHF operation. Here's a sampling.
On December 30, 1999, the FCC wrote Amateur Extra licensee Frederick J. Roll, NU5M, enclosing a tape recording it said was of a November 13, 1999, QSO between NU5M and KC1ZQ on 14.313 MHz that allegedly included harassing behavior. Hollingsworth said the tape was made by the FCC's High-Frequency Direction Finding Center in Columbia, Maryland. The FCC requested that Roll provide a full explanation of the transmissions and said his response would be used to determine what action the FCC would take in the matter. The FCC also set aside a recent vanity call sign grant to Roll, pending the outcome of the case.
The FCC put Amateur Extra licensee Arthur Visser, W9ART, on notice December 30 that it intends to designate his license for revocation if it learns of additional allegations of malicious interference by the licensee. The FCC says it's received "numerous complaints regarding malicious interference and jamming" apparently originating from Visser's station on 3.950 MHz, most recently on Christmas Eve. The FCC had issued Visser a Warning Notice January 8, 1999, regarding similar allegations. Hollingsworth told the ARRL January 6, 2000, that he and Visser had been in touch by telephone "in an effort to resolve the issues" that led to the FCC letter.
Meanwhile, the FCC wrote General licensee Jeffrey J. Pipenur, WA8IKW, in late December, setting aside his license renewal, granted last October 19. Hollingsworth told Pipenur that the FCC had monitoring evidence indicating that the licensee has "deliberately and maliciously interfered with radio operations of other amateur licensees on 3.865 MHz" last April 13 and 14 and last November 21. The FCC also has sent Pipenur tape recordings of his April 1999 transmissions and requested his response. "This matter will have to be resolved before we can make a decision on your renewal application," Hollingsworth told the licensee.
Hollingsworth told the ARRL that the FCC has received renewed allegations of VHF repeater interference in connection with Anthony J. Barben Jr, N2WNF, of Brooklyn, New York. In June 1997, Barben consented to a 15-month license suspension as part of an FCC effort to resolve a rash of interference cases in the New York City-Long Island area. The suspension followed accusations of willful and malicious interference, using obscene or indecent language and failure to identify. On December 28, 1999, the FCC requested that Barben retake his Technician class Amateur Radio examination under the supervision of FCC personnel by January 30, 2000.
Other repeater interference cases involved two stations in California. The FCC sent Advanced licensee Jensen W. Woods, AH6MX, a Warning Notice for alleged interference with the KC6OKA repeater system in the LA area. Another Warning Notice went out to Technician licensee Gary R. Dent, KE6JUV, for alleged interference to an ATV repeater.
Hollingsworth has said he plans to make more use of the FCC's High-Frequency Direction Finding Center to track down rulebreakers in the coming year. In addition, Hollingsworth now has enhanced monitoring tools at his Gettysburg office.
ARRL ANNOUNCES NEW DXCC AWARDS
As it looks forward to the new millennium, the ARRL DXCC program has added a few new twists of its own, with something for the seasoned DXer as well as the DX neophyte. Inaugurated at the start of the new year were The DXCC Challenge, the DeSoto Cup, the 20-Meter Single-Band DXCC Award, and the DXCC 2000 Millennium Award. Here's a rundown.
The DXCC Challenge is open only to holders of 5-Band DXCC. Individual standings in the DXCC Challenge are based on accumulated contact credits made on all eligible bands within the DXCC program using only current DXCC entities. This includes credits already received by DXCC for contacts with current DXCC List entities made after November 15, 1945.
Challenge standings will be updated each year. The deadline to submit is September 30, 2000. Standings will be reported as numbers. Plaques are available for those who accumulate 1500 DXCC Challenge credits. Endorsement bars are available in increments of 500. This year, eligible bands are 160, 80, 40, 20, 10, and 6 meters. The band list will be increased each year until all bands (except 30 meters) are included.
Starting this year, the DeSoto Cup will be awarded to the DXer who is at the top of the DXCC Challenge list on September 30 of each year. The cup is named for Clinton B. DeSoto, W1CBD, who wrote the 1935 QST article that inspired the original DXCC program. A DXer may only be awarded one cup.
The 20-Meter Single-Band DXCC Award is the first of several new single-band awards to be phased in over the next year or so. Contacts with current DXCC entities are eligible for credit, beginning with any QSOs made on or after November 15, 1945, on any mode. DXCC reports returned after August 1, 1999, show 20-meter contact credits. Those with a 5-Band DXCC issued before April 1, 1992, may submit up to 100 current 20-meter cards with no per-card charges applied.
Here's a DXCC award for everyone. To qualify, work 100 or more current DXCC entities during the calendar year (UTC), any combination of bands or modes is allowed. Here's the best part: You don't have to submit any QSL cards! Applicants must certify to the authenticity of log extracts submitted, however. The DXCC 2000 Millennium Award period began 0000 UTC on January 1, 2000, and continues through 2359 UTC on December 31, 2000.
The DXCC 2000 Millennium Award is separate and apart from the traditional DXCC awards program. Qualifying for this award does not give credit for traditional DXCC awards, but DXCC rules still apply. The DXCC 2000 Millennium Award certificate is available to ARRL members and nonmembers.
Official application forms may be downloaded at http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc. Forms also are available for an SASE (or an SASE plus one IRC for hams outside the US). Send requests to DXCC 2000 Millennium Application, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
Completed applications must be received at ARRL HQ within one year of the close of the DXCC 2000 Millennium Award period. Applications should be accompanied by $10 (US funds) to cover the costs of printing, postage, and handling.
For additional information on these new programs, see "New DXCC Awards for the New Millennium" in December 1999 QST, page 47, or visit http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/00rules.html.
If you have questions about any of these new awards, contact DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, email@example.com.
WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA SETS INAUGURATION, SPECIAL EVENT
West Central Florida, the newest section in the ARRL fold, formally launches operations with an inauguration ceremony Saturday, January 15. A ribbon-cutting is set for 10 AM in the Robarts Arena Downs Building during the Sarasota Hamfest. ARRL First Vice President Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML, will preside over the ceremony and turn over the reins to new Section Manager Dave Armbrust, AE4MR, of Sarasota and his cabinet.
The new section--the 71st--includes Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. A proposal to create the West Central Florida Section won overwhelming approval from the nearly 1900 ARRL members late last year.
To celebrate the inauguration of the latest ARRL section, the West Central Florida section will sponsor "WCF-First Contact" starting Saturday, January 15, and continuing daily 8 AM until midnight Eastern on Sunday, January 23, from each of the nine WCF counties. The special event will use the call sign W4C.
Frequencies include 7.271, 14.271 and 28.371 MHz for SSB, and on or around 14.031 and 28.131 for CW. Stations in or near the West Central Florida Section will also be able to participate in the special event through designated 2-meter, 220 MHz and 440 MHz repeaters. For some counties APRS contacts also will be allowed.
Armbrust says WCF-First Contact will also be a very public event. "We plan on operating in a number of very high-visibility venues, including the Sarasota Hamfest on Inaugural Day, the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry on January 16, and the Bay Pines Veterans Hospital in St Petersburg on January 23."
Details are posted on the section's Web site, http://www.wcfarrl.org. All hams participating in the special event will be eligible to receive a WCF-First Contact certificate, with endorsements for each county worked and for sending an NTS message to the new SM or SEC, Paul Toth, K2SEC.--from West Central Florida Section news releases
Propagation pundit Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspot activity and solar flux were up during the past week. Average solar flux rose over 30 points to 163.8, and the average daily sunspot number was up more than 50 points to 136.6 compared to the previous week.
Geomagnetic conditions were quieter over the past week. This is important for good HF propagation, because higher geomagnetic activity results in higher absorption of HF radio waves. The most recent active period was from December 31 to January 6. When solar activity such as flares or coronal holes bombard the earth with protons, polar regions experience the greatest effect.
When the solar surface relative to Earth rotates this same active region toward us about 27.5 days after the recent activity, we could see similar effects around January 26 until February 3. A recent forecast shows the planetary A index rising to 25 on January 27 and 28, then drifting down gradually to unsettled conditions with an A index of 10 on January 31. The next few days may see a rise in activity, with the A index peaking again near 20 around February 2.
Solar flux has been rising this week, with a greater than 14 point rise from Monday to Tuesday and a greater than 18 point rise on Wednesday. The forecast for this weekend, Friday through Sunday, is for solar flux to rise from 205 on Friday to 210, and then 215 on Sunday, with a wonderfully low planetary A index of five for all weekend. HF operators should be very happy with a rising solar flux combined with low geomagnetic activity. Beyond the weekend expect the solar flux to remain high until around January 20, finally drifting down to around 135 for the period from January 26 to February 1.
Sunspot numbers for January 6 through 12 were 145, 146, 106, 119, 88, 148 and 204 with a mean of 136.6. 10.7 cm flux was 144.8, 149.8, 154.7, 160.6, 163.2, 177.6 and 195.7, with a mean of 163.8, and estimated planetary A indices were 17, 8, 6, 3, 6, 16 and 9, with a mean of 9.3.
- This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the 2000 CW QRP Contest, and the Hunting Lions in the Air Contest are the weekend of January 14-16. Just ahead: The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes is January 22-24. See January QST, page 100, for more information.
- Obtaining documentary proof of pre-1987 Technician ticket: The FCC says to send any requests for verification of a pre-March 21, 1987, Technician license in writing to FCC, 1270 Fairfield Rd, ATTN: Amateur Section, Gettysburg, PA 17325. The request must include name, address, telephone number, date of birth, call sign issued at that time, and when the Technician license was granted (if exact date is not known, give the approximate timeframe). The FCC asks those inquiring to include any information that may be helpful in researching these requests, but it does not need to know details of the examination session, such as where the test was administered or who gave it. "These requests must be researched on microfiche, so they will be very time-consuming," an FCC spokesperson said, adding that no one should expect an overnight response. You also may contact the FCC contractor ITS Inc (visit http://www.itsdocs.com/). For a fee, ITS will research prior FCC licensing records and should be able to provide necessary documentary proof.--FCC
- QRZ.com offers look-up service for pre-1987 Techs: In response to numerous recent requests by amateurs seeking to obtain information regarding licenses that existed before 1987, QRZ has placed a copy of the March 1993 edition of the QRZ Ham Radio CDROM Ver 1 on line for public access. This collection, the oldest available from QRZ, contains listings of more than 195,000 licenses issued between 1983 and 1987. Call sign and name searches are available. Visit http://www.qrz.com/search1993.html .--QRZ.com/Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ
- ARRLWeb institutes weekly Web survey: The ARRLWeb Survey has become a regular feature of the League's Web site. A new poll question will be posted each Friday. The question posted January 14 asks: "How many hours do you spend on the air during an average week?" Cast your vote at http://www.arrl.org. When you vote, the survey box will display the current vote tally.
- FCC shifts license color: The ARRL has learned that the FCC's Gettysburg office has begun issuing new Amateur Radio license documents on blue paper instead of the beige stock that hams have become accustomed to for many years. Wireless Telecommunications Bureau personnel say the new licenses are printed on whatever color "safety paper" stock they have available. "Our policy/procedure is to print all licenses on safety paper, so they can be easily identified as our official documents, but we don't have a requirement as to the color," an FCC spokesperson told the ARRL. "When the last shipment was received they were blue." The change apparently has nothing to do with the recently announced FCC license restructuring.
- Coast Guard thanks hams: The United States Coast Guard has expressed its thanks to the Amateur Radio community for its willingness to assist the National Response Center by being prepared to relay NRC reports during the Y2K rollover. "Your preparedness and willingness to assist are heartily commended. We thank you!" said Lt Charles Pugh, USCG Office of Communication Systems in a bulletin January 11.
- Lemuel H. Allen Jr, W7JMH, SK: Former Idaho Section Manager Lem Allen, W7JMH, of Boise died January 8. He was 81. An ARRL member for 50 years, Allen had served two terms as Idaho Section Communications Manager (as the position was then called) from October 1978 until April 1982, and as Section Manager from May 1984 until September 1986.
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