ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 17
April 28, 2000

IN THIS EDITION:

+Available on ARRL Audio News

QUESTIONS CONTINUE IN RESTRUCTURING'S WAKE

April 15 has come and gone, but the flow of questions about Amateur Radio "restructuring" has only slowed somewhat in the intervening days. ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, says the most common question these days is: "When can I expect to see my new license grant from the FCC?"

"The answer we give is three to four weeks from the test date, possibly sooner," Jahnke said. As a result of April 15-16 weekend testing and upgrade processing, the ARRL-VEC anticipates seeing 10,000 or more license applications over the next week or so. "We had some 250 sessions scheduled for April 15, and they average perhaps 50 applicants at each," Jahnke explained.

"Based on gut feelings and a crystal ball, we conceivably could now have 10,000 new Generals and 5000 new Extras hitting the airwaves at roughly the same time," Jahnke speculated. That's just based on the first day or two of upgrading and testing under the new rules.

Other burning questions have had to do with operating privileges. Several callers have wondered if Technicians who pass the 5 WPM Morse code test (Element 1) may then operate on the Novice bands. The answer is yes. Such licensees no longer get a new license class--it would have been Tech Plus under the old rules--but they have the same privileges as current Tech Plus licensees.

At present, while such Element 1 credit provides new privileges for the term of the license, the credit--at least for now--is only good for 365 days for upgrading purposes. The League has petitioned the FCC to make Element 1 credit permanent.

The FCC last week made it clear that General class operators may not operate on the Advanced class subbands, however.

Other callers have wondered if they may use a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination--CSCE--for an "old" amateur examination element under the new rules. In most cases, as long as the CSCE is not older than 365 days, it is still valid for equivalent element credit. For example, a Technician holding a CSCE for the "old" Element 3B (General written) may upgrade upon passing Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse code test, provided the CSCE is no older than 365 days. "An unexpired CSCE for Element 3B is valid for the new Element 3," explained Brennan Price, N4QX, the newest member of ARRL Field and Educational Services. In addition, unexpired CSCEs for Elements 4A and 4B together still confer credit for the new Element 4 (Amateur Extra written).

"On the other hand, an unexpired CSCE for the Advanced Element 4A by itself will earn, at most, a hearty handshake," explains Price, an experienced VE who's been helping to handle the backlog of inquiries. "Element 4A is no good without Element 4B."

RESTRUCTURING RECONSIDERATION PETITIONS ON PUBLIC NOTICE

The FCC has put on public notice five petitions for partial reconsideration of the Commission's amateur "restructuring" Report and Order WT Docket 98-143. The list includes a petition filed by the ARRL. Interested parties may file opposition comments. The FCC does not solicit supporting comments for such petitions, and it's under no obligation to consider them.

In addition to the League's, petitions put on public notice April 18 were filed by Alan J. Wormser, N5LF, Frederick V Adsit, NY2V, and Michael J. Dinelli, N9BOR; by Fred A Duran, W4NKI; by Millard H. Qualls, K9DIY, and by Stewart Teaze, N0MHS. The petitions were put on public notice April 25 in The Federal Register.

The League's petition, filed in mid-March, asks the FCC to continue to maintain records indicating whether or not a Technician has Morse code element credit. It also seeks permanent Morse element credit for any Amateur Radio applicant who has ever passed an FCC-recognized Morse exam of at least 5 WPM.

The Wormser, Adsit, Dinelli and the Qualls petitions also call on the FCC to rethink its plan to eliminate the "Plus" designation from the license class of Technicians who have passed the 5 WPM Morse code examination. Wormser et al say that essentially merging Technician and Tech Plus licensees into a single database would hamper enforcement.

Two petitioners also ask the FCC to retain the 20 WPM Morse code requirement for the Extra. Wormser, Adsit, and Dinelli contend the FCC's December 30, 1999, R&O "unnecessarily reduces the speed of the Amateur Extra Class telegraphy examination as a way to avoid code waivers." The petitioners argue that the General class license with its 5 WPM code test offers "reasonable accommodation to disabled persons" claiming an inability to pass the higher code test. As an alternative, the petitioners suggest that the FCC allow applicants claiming an exemption "to certify their own impairment under oath." Qualls requests retention of the 20 WPM test or at least a 12 WPM requirement for the Extra ticket.

Wormser et al also want the FCC to ban the practice of allowing applicants to retake a failed examination element at a single test session. Their petition says amateur applicants should be restricted to one exam session in any 24-hour period. It further asks the FCC to not extend exam element credit beyond the current two-year license expiration grace period.

The Wormser et al and Qualls petitions also ask the FCC to set the number of questions at 50 for the Technician and General class test and at 100 for the Extra test. Wormser et al further request that the FCC "retain sufficient question pool categories to maintain or increase the proportion of technical and theoretical questions on each written test."

The Teaze petition calls upon the FCC to institute a new entry-level Communicator license class. Under his proposal, Communicator licensees could be no older than 16, must use fixed antennas no more than 20 feet above ground or above the building or tree they're mounted on, and use not more than 2.5 W ERP. Channelized voice and digital operation would be in the range of 445 to 446 MHz. The exam would consist of "25 fairly simple questions."

The Duran filing requests that the FCC elevate former "Class A" operators licensed prior to 1951 to Amateur Extra, instead of leaving them at Advanced class--something the FCC's Report and Order specifically said it would not agree to do.

The window to file opposition comments to any of these petitions remains open through May 10. Replies to opposition comments are due 10 days later. Copies of all petitions may be viewed on the FCC Web site. Visit http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html, click on "Search the ECFS System" and type "98-143" in the "Proceeding" field.

ARRL WEB ACCESS DISRUPTED BY CYBER-VANDAL

Access to the ARRL Web site (http://www.arrl.org/) was disrupted early on Monday, April 24, when an unknown individual managed to hijack the League's "arrl.org" domain name and redirect visitors to a bogus Netfirms site in Canada. ARRL system managers were alerted to the illegal modification within hours and had the change reversed. But the aftereffects continued to reverberate across the Internet throughout the week, affecting access for some to the League's Web pages.

The ARRL Web site itself was not "hacked," and no ARRL files were damaged as a result of the vandalism. "Our domain was hijacked at Network Solutions," ARRL Information Systems Department Manager Don Durand emphasized. "At no time was our Web server compromised." Network Solutions is a company that registers Internet domain names.

"Network Solutions was promptly notified of the illegal change, and they, in turn, returned our record to the correct settings," Durand said.

Some who attempted to access the site Tuesday were greeted by an obscene message and the statement "Pirate radio 4 life baybee." In addition to affecting access to the site, the vandalism disrupted e-mail service to League staff and officials. Mail service also returned during the week as servers were updated. The ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service was not affected.

Durand said that while Network Solutions was alerted to the breach Monday morning, it takes up to 48 hours--and occasionally longer--for the various name servers on the Internet to update their records.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, said the League intends to investigate the disruption through all possible means. Haynie promised that the perpetrators, if caught, would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Durand said the League has beefed up its level of security at Network Solutions to help prevent a recurrence.

AMATEUR RADIO PROMINENT AT NATIONAL HURRICANE CONFAB

The role of Amateur Radio in tracking and responding to hurricanes was highlighted during several presentations at the recent 2000 National Hurricane Conference. ARRL Public Service Specialist Steve Ewald, WV1X, was among the approximately 1700 people attending the annual gathering April 17-21 in New Orleans.

Ewald presented an overview of Amateur Radio disaster operations during a session on "The Role of Amateur Radio in Hurricane Communications" moderated by Dr. T. Michael Carter, N3PDK. Ewald discussed how the ARRL Field Organization, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, and the National Traffic System are set up to respond to communication emergencies. He also focused on the role that ARRL Headquarters plays in hurricane-related threats and disasters.

Representatives from three hurricane-prone states--Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi--outlined amateur emergency response systems in their respective states. ARRL Florida District Emergency Coordinator Gary Arnold, WB2WPA, reviewed the very busy 1999 hurricane season. He noted that ARES and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service are virtually one organization in Florida. Amateur Radio operators are cross-trained in emergency operation center communications, Arnold explained.

ARRL Louisiana Section Emergency Coordinator Mark Ketchell, N5MYH, said work is progressing to revise that state's ARES plan, and neighboring ARRL section leaders have been invited to comment. He also displayed an example of the ARES, Civil Defense and Red Cross-sponsored announcement that is shown on local cable TV channels to increase public awareness of severe-weather readiness as well as of Amateur Radio.

ARRL Mississippi Section Manager Malcolm Keown, W5XX, noted that the threat of flooding and tornadoes spawned by hurricanes receives a lot of attention in Mississippi. Keown said Mississippi's amateurs strongly support the National Weather Service's SKYWARN program, and simulated emergencies there often focus on severe-storm scenarios.

Wide-area Amateur Radio hurricane operations were the focus of the presentation by Hurricane Watch Net Manager Jerry Herman, N3BDW. The Net was in operation for six storms during the 1999 season. After Hurricane Floyd hit the Bahamas and the US eastern seaboard, Herman explained, it became obvious that fresh-water flooding associated with hurricanes is a primary danger to inland as well as to coastal areas. Nearly two million people were evacuated from the path of Floyd, and 57 deaths were attributed to this powerful hurricane.

Herman also reported on Hurricane Lenny on behalf of Don McGehee, PJ8DM, on Saba, in the Netherlands Antilles. McGehee was unable to attend the conference. After the late-season Hurricane Lenny struck the Caribbean, it left Saba without any communications except those provided by Amateur Radio. With help from the Hurricane Watch Net, the League was able to quickly send its emergency 2-meter repeater to Saba. For about two weeks, the repeater served as the Saba government's primary communication system while the island's electrical systems and infrastructure were restored.

A later roundtable forum moderated by ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, also discussed the possibility of streamlining the process of setting up temporary third-party traffic arrangements during a disaster. Following Hurricane Lenny, attempts were unsuccessful to arrange a temporary third-party agreement between Saba and the US, despite efforts by ARRL and the Hurricane Watch Net. Those attending the session agreed that the benefits of such temporary agreements not only would help disaster recovery efforts but assist in dealing with handling health-and-welfare inquiries from the public via Amateur Radio.

In his presentation, American Red Cross Technical Communications Coordinator Steve Hailey, said Amateur Radio is a major resources for the Red Cross, especially right after a disaster. When the Amateur Radio station is activated at the Disaster Operations Center in Falls Church, Virginia, Hailey said, ARES/RACES provides the trained operators.

CONNECTICUT CLUB REACTIVATES W1FB CALL SIGN

If you hear the well-known W1FB call sign on the air, it's likely not a bootlegger. Recent renewed interest in the Tuna Tin 2 QRP transmitter--made famous by the late Doug DeMaw, W1FB--led a Connecticut group to obtain the call sign as a memorial to DeMaw, a former ARRL HQ staff member and Amateur Radio icon.

DeMaw, who died in September of 1997, was one of the most widely published technical writers in Amateur Radio. An electrical engineer, he was a member of the ARRL Headquarters staff for 18 years--from 1965 to 1983. During his tenure at HQ, DeMaw served as editor of The ARRL Handbook and engineered the shift in emphasis toward solid-state design in the Handbook and in QST. In addition, he authored hundreds of articles in QST and other publications.

The Tuna Tin 2 Revival certificate, showing the cover photo of the May 1976 QST that included Doug DeMaw's original TT2 construction article.

The original Tuna Tin 2, built by DeMaw, was featured on the cover of the May 1976 QST. The little transmitter, subsequently thought to have been lost, was relocated several years ago in the flea market at the New England Division Convention in Boxboro, Massachusetts. ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, spotted the little rig, recognized it as the original, and bought it at a "good flea market price." The rig was subsequently checked out and placed back on the air as part of the "Tuna Tin 2 Revival" last spring and summer and during the "QRP ARCI/ARRL W1AW Black Cat Operating Event" last Halloween.

Still, something seemed missing. Several ARRL staffers thought it would be an appropriate gesture and a fitting memorial to DeMaw to put the Tuna Tin 2 on the air with his W1FB call sign. The Central Connecticut QRP Club was formed, and--with the permission of Doug DeMaw's family--requested W1FB as the club's call sign. The FCC granted the call sign effective January 25, 2000.

An inaugural operating event from Newington on February 26, 2000, was very well received by the QRP community. Hundreds of two-way QRP contacts were made, including several TT2-to-TT2 exchanges. DeMaw's son, Dave--a Central Connecticut QRP Club charter member who now holds his father's former W1CER call sign--got to make the first contact using the famous W1FB.

The Central Connecticut QRP Club plans to mount additional operating events including one being described as "innovative" and set for this fall. QRPers and Doug DeMaw fans also can look for W1FB--and the original Tuna Tin 2--to show up on the air for various QRP operating events. Operation is expected to take place from several locations across the US, so QRPers in parts of the country well-removed form Connecticut should have an opportunity to work W1FB.--Wayne Irwin, W1KI

SOLAR UPDATE

Sunspots and solar flux were up this week. The average sunspot number was up more than 40 points, and average solar flux rose more than 30 points over the past week. Geomagnetic indices have been mostly quiet, with April 24 the most active day.

Solar flux is expected to hover around 175 to 185 until April 8, then dip below 170, and rise to around 200 from May 19 through 28. The planetary A index prediction indicates unsettled conditions for Friday. The A index should stay quiet from this weekend until May 6 and 7, when it may rise to 15.

Predicted solar flux for the next five days, Friday through Tuesday is 180, 175, 175, 180 and 180.

Sunspot numbers for April 13 through 19 were 190, 173, 177, 170, 166, 167 and 179, with a mean of 174.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 164, 165.2, 163.7, 159, 157.9, 160.4 and 167.7, with a mean of 162.6. The estimated planetary A indices were 8, 5, 7, 23, 14, 7 and 12, with a mean of 10.9.

Sunspot numbers for April 20 through 26 were 179, 211, 226, 252, 222, 229 and 197, with a mean of 216.6. The 10.7-cm flux was 180.6, 187.3, 201.8, 206.1, 205.6, 202.5 and 189.9, with a mean of 196.3. The estimated planetary A indices were 14, 10, 7, 8, 21, 6 and 4, with a mean of 10.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The QRP to the Field event is April 29. See May QST, page 91 (the rules in April QST are incorrect), or visit http://www.fix.net/~jparker/norcal/contest/qrpttf2000/qrpttfrules.html for up-to-date information. Also: The Florida, Nebraska and Ontario QSO parties, the Helvetia Contest, and the County Hunters Contest (phone) are the weekend of April 29-30. The North American High Speed Meteor Scatter Contest begins April 29 and continues until May 7. See April QST, page 100, for more information. Just ahead: The MARAC County Hunters Contest (CW), the ARI International DX Contest, the Danish SSTV Contest, the Indiana, Connecticut, and Massachusetts QSO parties, the US IPA Contest, and the VHF/UHF Spring Sprint (902/1296/2304 MHz) are the weekend of May 6-7. See May QST, page 91.
  • Submarine event set: The fourth annual Submarines on the Air event is set to happen the weekend of April 29-30, 1400 to 2100 UTC. This year marks the centennial of the US Submarine Service. For more information, visit http://www.flash.net/~jflandrs or contact Jim Flanders, W0OOG, jaf@sprintmail.com or see "Submarines on the Air Expects 50 Vessels on the Amateur Bands" on The ARRLWeb Extra news page.
  • Correction: The ARRL Letter, Vol 19, No 16 (April 21, 2000), contained incorrect information on whether General class operators were entitled to hold Group B (2x2) call signs under the new rules. In fact, some General class operators licensed in US territories have held call signs in this format for many years and may continue to do so. Current Generals may only apply for Group C (1x3) or Group D (2x3) vanity call signs, however. Group B call signs are reserved for Advanced and higher class licensees.
  • HQ Web developer needed: Want to put your Web application development experience to work? ARRL Headquarters is looking for a Web Specialist with experience in HTML/CSS and Javascript and the ability to devise Web-based solutions using PHP, Perl and MySQL on the Linux platform. Forward resumes to Bob Boucher, c/o ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. E-mail resumes are accepted (rboucher@arrl.org). The ARRL is an equal opportunity employer.

  • Hams bridge gap following Alaskan avalanche: The Juneau (Alaska) ARES was called into action on March 27 to provide communication between Juneau and Thane after an avalanche took out major power and telephone lines and blocked the road. The Alaska Department of Transportation triggered the snow slides in a controlled setting to prevent a potential threat to life and property by an untimely avalanche. Anticipating that telephone service could be out for a while, the Juneau-ARES (including WL7CMQ, NL7XZ, WA6AXO and WL7ET) organized a system to get message traffic to and from Thane. The amateurs announced their plan and offer to help through a local broadcast station and informed the police that they could handle health and welfare inquiries. Jim Dillon, WL7CMQ, who lives on the Thane side of the blocked road, marked his mailbox with yellow tape for use as a message drop. Phone numbers for the amateurs standing by in Juneau were announced, and other hams stayed on the two KL7PF repeaters to assist if necessary. The ARES team used this system to relay messages until telephone lines were reconnected about three hours after the group mobilized.--L. Kent Petty, KL5T, Alaska SM.
  • Ham volunteers aid Florida's "Merritt Fire" battle: The Sarasota Emergency Radio Club found itself on the hot seat April 10 after forest fires broke out in Collier County, Florida. The Division of Forestry asked the club to deploy the Region 6 Mutual Aid Communication (MAC) unit to Collier County the next day. While the MAC units previously had been deployed for drills and training, this would be the first deployment in an actual fire. Once in Collier County, they hooked up with Bill De Sha, KE4VY, the communications unit leader for the "Merritt Fire." By 3:45 PM on April 11 they had the MAC Unit set up, the tower extended to the 100- foot level, and 64 hand-held 800-MHz radios loaded with batteries. The Division of Forestry "Alpha" repeater stayed on the air for the next 92 hours. After rain helped damped the flames April 14, the Sarasota amateurs were able to break down the repeater system and return home. In all, amateur volunteers contributed 150 total person-hours. Collier County ARES remained on standby at the Emergency Operations Center. Twenty-four square miles were burned, and four homes were lost.--Dave Armbrust, AE4MR, and Phyllisan West, KA4FZI

  • Mobat to market new amateur HF DSP transceiver: A new player is about to enter the Amateur Radio HF transceiver marketplace. Mobat Communication, a partnership of Motorola and Bartal, will debut the MICOM H transceiver at Dayton Hamvention. Based on a commercial-military design, the MICOM H is a computer-programmable DSP-based radio featuring 160-10-meter coverage and a general-coverage (100 kHz-30 MHz) receiver; 200 memory channels with channel scan; 125 W output; and an optional remote-control head. Operational modes are SSB and CW only (no AM or FM). The MICOM H is built in Israel and distributed in the US by Royal Communication Inc. It should be on the market by June. Price class is just shy of $3000. Visit Mobat's Web site at http://www.mobat.com/.

    Durakovic before the war in 1990 at the YZ4Z contest station.

  • Samir Durakovic, T99S, SK: Well-known Bosnian DXer, contester, and QST author Samir Durakovic, T99S (ex-T94ON) died April 14 as a result of an auto wreck near Sarajevo. A friend, Riad Tomasevic, T95MAW, also was killed in the crash. In the QST article "Heroes Under Siege" (QST, Oct 1995), Durakovic described Bosnian Amateur Radio activity during the siege of Sarajevo, when ham radio became a communication lifeline with the outside world after telephone lines were cut. A 160-meter enthusiast, Durakovic, as T94ON, set a world record in winning the CQ WW 160-Meter SSB contest in 1996. In addition to his activity in Bosnian ham clubs and contest groups such as Sarajevo University's YU4EXA/YZ4Z (now T91EXA) and T9DX, he was a member of the Framingham (Massachusetts) Amateur Radio Association, which he visited during a trip to the US in 1997. "Samir exemplified the very best of ham radio," said his friend, Sharon Machlis Gartenberg, KC1YR, who helped to translate Durakovic's QST article.--Sharon Machlis Gartenberg, KC1YR

 

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