ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 21
May 26, 2000

IN THIS EDITION:

The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will be on vacation June 2, 2000. The solar/propagation bulletin will be transmitted June 2 by W1AW and be available via e-mail to bulletin subscribers. The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will return June 9.--Rick Lindquist, N1RL

IN THIS EDITION:

+Available on ARRL Audio News

ARRL-VEC PICKS UP PERSONNEL, PROCESSING PACE

The ARRL-VEC now has seven fulltime, three temporary, and eight just-added volunteer staff members chipping away at the mountain of applications resulting from the April 15 license restructuring. ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, reports his staff now is wrapping up April 24 receipts from VE sessions. The ARRL-VEC received nearly 23,000 applications between April 15 and May 26.

Assistant to the ARRL-VEC Manager Wayne Irwin, W1KI, follows up by telephone to gather information missing from an applicant's Form NCVEC 605. In the background, temporary ARRL-VEC employee Jane Foy keys in data from an application form. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

ARRL-VEC staff was able to submit some 5000 applications to the FCC this week, up significantly from previous weeks. On May 25 alone, 1453 applications were filed with the FCC. Jahnke still estimates it will take approximately six weeks from exam session to the time the paperwork is filed electronically with the FCC, although some grants have been showing up sooner than that. The key is when the session paperwork arrived at ARRL-VEC. The FCC typically grants applications overnight.

Jahnke says there were approximately 4000 applications in the April 24 receipts alone that include sessions as long ago as March 25 and as recent as April 18. ARRL-VEC processes applications according to the date the package arrives in the mail. "We have staff working over the weekend, and we will have staff working over the holiday weekend," he said.

Inquiries concerning the status of applications continue to impair the staff's ability to rapidly process the incoming stacks of applications. "You can't blame people for wanting to know what their status is, but when everyone wants to know, progress slows," Jahnke said. Another thing that slows progress is having to follow up on missing or incomplete information on the NCVEC Form 605 application from a test session.

Jahnke has estimated that the first 30 days of the restructuring surge--April 15 through May 15--will yield 17,200 new Generals and 13,100 new Extras.

The ARRL-VEC is now posting the status of test session processing at http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/status.html.

DAYTON 2000: HAMVENTION-CONVENTION 2000 A HIT!

Amateur Radio's upbeat mood spilled over into Dayton Hamvention 2000, which hosted the ARRL National Convention. Early indications were that the three-day event, which ended Sunday, attracted more than 30,000 visitors for the first time in its history.

"This appears to be the largest Hamvention in history," Great Lakes ARRL Director George Race, WB8BGY, announced last Saturday. Hamvention General Chairman Jim Graver, KB8PSO, said this week that the official Hamvention attendance had not yet been determined. Hamvention weather cooperated for the most part with partly sunny to overcast skies and generally cool temperatures.

Sales counters were busy. Several dealers reported running out of popular items well before the end of Hamvention.

President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, answers a question during the ARRL Forum at Dayton Hamvention.

Hamvention banquet speaker Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, exhorted his audience to work toward making the Amateur Radio Service the finest radio service ever. Hollingsworth, who's the FCC's special counsel for amateur radio enforcement, reiterated that the Commission is in the enforcement business to stay.

"To work with you in restoring the Amateur Radio Service to its rightful place in the American communications infrastructure is the greatest privilege of my professional and personal life," Hollingsworth told the banquet audience.

Jim Haynie, W5JBP, attended Dayton Hamvention for the first time in his role as the League's new president. "These are extremely exciting times for Amateur Radio," he told those attending the ARRL Forum Saturday. "I hope y'all are as excited about our future as much as I am, because if you are, we can do nothing but win."

Haynie discussed the broad parameters of "The Big Project"--his ham radio in the schools initiative that would offer a turnkey curriculum in Amateur Radio as well as equipment for use in middle school classrooms. Haynie said he plans to have the program, funded by corporate and foundation grants, in place by the end of 2001.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, shares his "Vision for Amateur Radio's Future" at Dayton Hamvention.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, flew in from Istanbul, Turkey, just to attend the League's National Convention. Sumner has been on the International Amateur Radio Union team representing Amateur Radio interests at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2000.

During his "Vision for Amateur Radio's Future" on Saturday, Sumner noted that Amateur Radio's demographic peaks in the late 40s or early 50s. "This is the 'baby boom' moving through the system," he said. "The point of entry for Amateur Radio today is not principally teenage, as it perhaps was 30 or 35 years ago." Sumner said today's technology has opened Amateur Radio's once "unique window on the world" to many outside the hobby, especially those on the Internet. That trend will continue, he predicted, as telecommunication costs drop. In the future, the population that got into ham radio as a cheap personal communication service will no longer be attracted to the hobby, he said. "The effect of that is that the licensing figures likely will go down."

He predicted a precipitous drop in the number of Amateur Radio licensees in the US starting in 2001, when many licenses of those who had entered the hobby a decade earlier as a part of the initial flurry of code-free Technicians expire. But he doesn't see that as a major negative for ham radio--just indicative of a shift in focus of the participants.

Sumner said he's seen a higher regard for disaster communications capabilities of Amateur radio at WRC-2000 than he'd seen at other recent conferences. "A low-technology solution to disaster communications is not a bad thing, it's s a good thing," he said. "All you need is two hams and it will work." Sumner said if a proposed "harmonized" worldwide allocation at 7 MHz ever is approved at a future World Radiocommunication Conference, it will not be because of DXing or contesting but because of disaster communications capability.

Sumner said Amateur Radio will continue to have a role in scientific investigations. And he said personal achievement and accomplishment will continue to provide an incentive to be a part of Amateur Radio in the future. "Lest we forget," he said, "it's supposed to be fun."

At Dayton Hamvention, Yaesu introduced its Model V FT-1000MP HF transceiver, which features 200 W output and several improvements over the original MP platform. The radio could be on the market by month's end. Kenwood also had a developmental all-band, all-mode transceiver on display. Elecraft debuted its K1 transceiver kit, a two-band, low-power unit aimed at backpackers and travelers. Ten Tec introduced its Pegasus FP (for "front panel") HF transceiver, a desktop version of its popular PC-controlled Pegasus. A new player, Mobat Communication--a partnership of Motorola and Bartal--introduced its MICOM H transceiver, a computer-programmable DSP-based HF radio.

DAYTON 2000: FCC FEELING RESTRUCTURING'S IMPACT

The FCC's Bill Cross, W3TN.

The impact of restructuring is being felt at the FCC. During the well-attended Dayton Hamvention FCC Forum, Bill Cross, W3TN, of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced that the Commission already had processed nearly 9200 license upgrades as of May 19--six times the normal flow of applications.

"It appears Advanced class licensees are upgrading in significant numbers," he said. "So are the Technician Plus class licensees." He recommended that experienced amateurs help newcomers to bridge the gap between their new license classes and their sometimes less-than-fully developed operating skills.

"Just like you, newly minted Generals and Extras want to comply with the rules," Cross said. "Just like you, they have invested a lot in getting that signal on the air, although it may be on the wrong frequency. And just like you, a correction that starts with 'you idiot' isn't going to get the result you want."

Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, responds to a question during the FCC Forum. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

Cross defended the FCC's action lowering of the Morse code requirement to 5 WPM. He also credited the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators' Question Pool Committee with "an amazing job" of revising the question pools in very short order. "They aren't easy questions," he said. "These exams are not 'dumbed down' by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, they're more difficult because the easy questions are gone."

Cross also said the FCC has a copy of its pre-April 15 database to keep track of which Technicians have HF privileges as a result of having taken a Morse code exam in the past.

FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth also addressed the FCC Forum. "Nothing about restructuring bothers me from an enforcement standpoint," he said. "We have a basically good set of rules" that the FCC is willing to enforce. While insisting he did not want to trample on anyone's First Amendment rights, Hollingsworth urged amateurs to present a good face to the nonamateur community by maintaining a high level of on-the-air decorum. "We're being listened to all the time," he said. "So we have to think about what kind of impression we're making."

DAYTON 2000: PUBLIC SERVICE ROLE, LEADERSHIP CITED

ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, WT3P, makes a point during the ARRL "Public Service Wants You!" forum at Dayton Hamvention. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

Speaking at the ARRL "Public Service Wants You!" forum at Dayton Hamvention, ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, WT3P, challenged Amateur Radio's public service leaders to "be the kind of leaders whom we would want to follow." Craigie also told those attending the that amateurs who participate in public service are "helping to earn the frequencies we have the privilege of using."

Craigie said that while hams have a responsibility under Part 97 to get involved in public service, personal time often is in short supply these days. "Often both parents in a family are working very long hours," she said. "That impacts how much time you have to do anything outside of work including Amateur Radio." Because of this, she said, public service leaders need to rethink their recruiting methods.

Fellowship is "a powerful motivation" to get involved in public service, Craigie said. Beyond that, she said, public service can be interesting, exciting, and challenging. "It's a challenge and a feeling of satisfaction, and you know that something you've done made a difference in the survival of your community," she said. "It feels good to help other people." And, she pointed out, it's good public relations for Amateur Radio.

Craigie advised a positive attitude and recommended patience with beginners who volunteer. "We weren't born knowing all this stuff," she said. "Somebody had to teach us. We had to be willing to learn." Among other things, she said, public service leaders have to spell out duties and their expectations.

Rosalie White, K1STO, holds up an example of a quick reference guide for public service volunteers to use.

ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, cited the potential for involving younger amateurs in public service activity. One suggestion she offered was to get youth organizations--such as Scout groups and their leaders--involved.

White shared the observations of Kansas Section Manager Orlan Cook, W0OYH, who noted that restructuring has generated a bonanza of new HF operators. "With restructuring, we have many, many new HF operators, and we need to welcome them into our nets and into our ARES groups," Cook said in remarks read at the forum by White. "Go after the new HFers, become their Elmers, and make them more skilled communicators--share your vision."

Wisconsin Section Manager Don Michalski, W9IXG, agreed. "Get the new hams that are coming out of the chute prepared for public service," he said. Michalski cited SKYWARN as a worthy public service activity that has mutual benefits. SKYWARN offers "a reason to have to use the radio--besides having a good time," he said. "They're actually providing a service."

All agreed that recognition in terms of certificates or even such things as coffee mugs and T-shirts were motivators to participate. Michalski said hams need to know they are "needed, wanted, and appreciated" for taking part in public service.

Former Western New York Section Manager and National Traffic System veteran Bill Thompson, W2MTA, told the forum that the NTS is "a great place for training for message-handling activities."

WRC-2000 REACHES TENTATIVE AGREEMENT ON GALILEO

Tentative agreement was reached this week at World Radiocommunication Conference 2000 on a frequency plan for the proposed Galileo radionavigation-satellite system. Galileo is a multinational European project that is intended to meet civilian sector needs for radionavigation-satellite applications, including civil aviation. It has been proposed as a supplement to GPS and the Russian GLONASS system, both designed principally for military applications. The target date for Galileo is 2008.

The tentative agreement has been accomplished at the working group and committee levels. Plenary level approval is required before it becomes a conference decision.

The agreement would expand the radionavigation-satellite allocation in the vicinity of 1.2 GHz from the existing band, 1215 to 1260 MHz, to 1164 to 1350 MHz. The bands 1164 to 1215, 1215 to 1240, 1240 to 1260, and 1260 to 1300 MHz would be for space-to-Earth and space-to-space transmissions, with varying constraints to protect the other primary services to which these bands are already allocated. The 1300 to 1350 MHz band would be for Earth-to-space transmissions, subject to neither causing harmful interference nor constraining the development of the aeronautical-radionavigation service that operates in this band.

The status of the Amateur Service, which is secondary at 1240 to 1260 and 1260 to 1300 MHz, would be unchanged. Similarly, the footnote that permits the Amateur-Satellite Service to operate in the Earth-to-space direction at 1260 to 1270 MHz also is unchanged at this time. However, the introduction into a band of new primary services always raises issues for existing secondary services, which must protect the primary services from interference.

As a part of the package, urgent studies of the appropriate limits on the Radionavigation-Satellite Service (space-to-Earth) to protect the Radionavigation and Radiolocation services from harmful interference are to be requested. Reports will be made prior to the next WRC.

WRC-2000, now in its third of four weeks, is scheduled to conclude on June 2.

SOLAR UPDATE

Solar seer Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspots and solar flux numbers have dropped since their peak last week, although because the peak came at the end of the previous reporting period on May 17, the average solar flux number for this week is not much lower. Average solar flux is down less than two points this week, and average sunspot numbers are down about 37 points.

There was a big geomagnetic shock on Wednesday, when the planetary A index rose to 73, indicating severe storm levels. The planetary K index was either six or seven for 15 hours. This was after a quiet week where the K index was often one or two. Aurora was sighted as far south as Oklahoma and Missouri on May 23 and 24.

CW contesters concerned about the CQ Worldwide WPX Contest this weekend can relax. The latest projection shows geomagnetic conditions settling down. The predicted planetary A index for Friday through Tuesday is 10, 10, 12, 20 and 15. The predicted solar flux for Friday through Tuesday is 165, 160, 150, 145 and 140. Near term solar flux should bottom out near 130 around June 2 or 3, then rise to a peak around the middle of June.

Sunspot numbers for May 18 through 24 were 297, 239, 282, 271, 207, 150 and 185 with a mean of 233. The 10.7 cm flux was 252.9, 254.3, 245.6, 232.3, 214.9, 204.3 and 189.4, with a mean of 227.7. The estimated planetary A indices were 10, 9, 6, 7, 9, 22 and 73, with a mean of 19.4.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW WPX Contest (CW) is May 28-30. See May QST, page 91. Just ahead: The QRP TACtical Contest is June 3. The ARRL June VHF QSO Party, the TOEC WW Grid Contest, and the ANARTS WW RTTY/Digital Contest are the weekend of June 10-12. See June QST, page 104.

    Steve Linn, N4CAK, of the FCC, speaking at Dayton Hamvention's FCC Forum. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

  • ULS registration can protect your license record: Registering now on the FCC's Universal Licensing System can be a big benefit even if you don't have any plans to file an application anytime soon. The FCC's Steve Linn, N4CAK, told those on hand for the Dayton FCC Forum that ULS registration "protects your call sign within the system" and could prevent it from inadvertently being deleted or reissued due to a filing error. He also pointed out that amateurs wishing to make a change of address should file an "administrative update" (AU) and not request a "modification." The ULS will not renew an amateur's license unless it is within the 90-day window of expiration (or within the two-year grace period after expiration). The same applies for those upgrading their tickets under restructuring. Linn said the FCC continues to work out the bugs in the ULS. He said that support for the Mac platform and other browsers, such as Internet Explorer, would be coming along soon. The FCC in late April opened the ULS to Web filing. Linn advised filers to use the on-line system whenever possible, since it helps users to avoid errors that will not get trapped when filing on paper and could lead to delays or errors in your FCC record. Visit http://www.fcc.gov/wtb/uls for more information or to access the ULS.

  • Willem van Tuijl released from hospital: Willem van Tuijl, the 13-year-old from the Netherlands wounded by gunfire during an attack by pirates off the coast of Honduras last March, has been released from a Dallas hospital. The Dallas Morning News reports Willem "did wheelies in his wheelchair to celebrate" as he left Our Children's House at Baylor University Medical Center on May 24. The son of Jacco and Jannie van Tuijl, KH2TD and KH2TE, Willem faces another two to three weeks of outpatient care. He is expected to be paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his injuries. After the pirate attack, the family was aided by Amateur Radio operators who called the Coast Guard and provided medical advice during the family's trip to shore. With the help of a friend, Jacco van Tuijl recently sailed his boat from where it had been moored in Honduras to a slip in Southern Florida. While there, van Tuijl spent a few days with Ed Petzolt, K1LNC, one of the hams who had aided him on the air after the pirate attack. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, was instrumental in getting Willem and his parents transported to Dallas, where the youth could get specialized medical care.

  • Hall of Famers announced: Chod Harris, WB2CHO/VP2ML (SK), and John Kanode, N4MM, have been inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame. Kanode is an ARRL Vice President, and Harris was once a member of the ARRL Headquarters staff. The announcement came at the DXers banquet in Dayton May 19. The following evening at the Dayton contest banquet, Larry "Tree" Tyree, N6TR, and Walter Skudlarek, DJ6QT, were announced as the newest members of the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. Congratulations!--Bernie McClenny, W3UR/The Daily DX

  • Ham radio helps rescue Pacific boaters: According to a May 14 report in The Honolulu Advertiser, ham radio operators in Hawaii and on Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati worked together to help the US Coast Guard rescue a group of teachers adrift in the Pacific. Five Fanning Island teachers were aboard a 36-foot outrigger canoe on a day-long fishing trip May 10 when the canoe's engine failed, said Lt Michael Wessel of the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Hawaii. A relative reported the missing boat to a ham radio operator on Fanning Island who, in turn, reported it to a ham operator in Hawaii. The Hawaii operator reported the missing canoe to the Coast Guard. After coordinating with the US embassy in the Republic of Kiribati (to assure fuel would be available on Easter Island) the Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 from Oahu early May 12. The airplane found the boat at noon. The aircraft crew dropped food and water to the teachers, as well as a radio and beacon. They then contacted the coastal freighter Matangare on Washington Island in Kiribati. The freighter rescued the crew and salvaged the boat May 13.--thanks to Russell Houlton for sharing this report

  • Florida DMV cuts hams some slack on license plate flap: ARRL West Central Florida Section officials say the Florida Division of Motor Vehicles has agreed to comply with that state's Amateur Radio license plate law. Florida DMV Assistant Chief Bureau of Titles and Registrations Gail Christy-Jones says her agency will process all Amateur Radio license plate requests and will recall any plate that conflicts with an FCC-licensed applicant's call sign. ARRL West Central Florida Section Manager Dave Armbrust, AE4MR, called the DMV move "a good first step." Armbrust said, however, that he doesn't agree with the DMV's decision to continue issuing other specialty license plates with alphanumeric combinations that appear to be amateur call signs. West Central Florida Section officials say they will continue efforts to get the State of Florida to reserve the entire Amateur Radio call sign pool exclusively for Amateur Radio plates. For more information, visit the ARRL West Central site, http://www.wcfarrl.org.--Dave Armbrust, AE4MR

  • HQ staffer attends Red Cross session: ARRL Field and Educational Services staff member Steve Ewald, WV1X, represented the League at an American Red Cross-sponsored Partners Meeting at the organization's Disaster Operations Center in Falls Church, Virginia. Fifty three organizations that hold a statement or memorandum of understanding with the American Red Cross were registered for the annual gathering May 17, and some 70 people attended. Ewald, the League's Public Service Specialist, reports that discussions centered on current issues surrounding disaster preparedness and response. "It was also a good chance to meet with representatives of organizations that Amateur Radio operators often work with during emergencies," he said.

    SSTV picture received in April by VK2KGM showing Mir Commander Sergei Zalyotin, left, and Alexander Kaleri, U8MIR, right.

  • Mir mission to end in June: According to news reports, Russia will evacuate the Mir space station in June but will keep the aging spacecraft in orbit in case money becomes available for future missions. Mir was designed to stay in orbit for five years, but it's been in space nearly three times as long. Russian space officials insist that the Mir is funded by private money and has no impact on the International Space Station--already behind schedule in part because of Russian delays. The two cosmonauts aboard Mir, Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri, are due to abandon the craft in mid-June after preparing it for months of hibernation. Russian space officials still have not ruled out the possibility that they'll jettison Mir by late summer if no new money becomes available. There has been some Amateur Radio operation from aboard Mir since it was brought back to life in April and a leak repaired by the current crew.

  • Spectrum Protection bill update: The Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act bill, HR 783, now has 151 cosponsors. The House Commerce Committee and the Telecommunications Subcommittee have not yet acted on the legislation, however, and it appears that those committees may not act on much more this session. In the Senate, a companion bill--S 2183--seems to have slightly more favorable prospects. With nine cosponsors, it has drawn the interest of some members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

    Retired ARRL HQ staff member Al Brogdon, W1AB, takes a turn at the W1AW/8 CW position at Dayton Hamvention. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

  • W1AW/8 QSL info: QSL cards for the Dayton Hamvention-ARRL National Convention 2000 special event station W1AW/8 go to W8BI, Box 44, Dayton, OH 45401. Cards should not be sent to ARRL Headquarters for this operation since the logs are in Dayton.

  • Australian 75-meter band to expand: The Australian Communications Authority has announced that the band 3776 to 3800 kHz will be reallocated to the Amateur Service there as of January 1, 2004.--WIA QNews

  • One-year extension granted in UK for 73 kHz: The Radiocommunications Agency in the UK agreed May 4 to an RSGB request for continued use of the 73 kHz band. This UK-only amateur band was due to be withdrawn at the end of last year, but the deadline later now has been extended to June 30, 2001--and the RA has not ruled out discussions on an extension beyond that date. Experiments have resulted in several UK stations, running less than 100 mW ERP, being received in Europe at distances of more than 1000 km.--RSGB

  • France finally aboard 136 kHz: A 136 kHz allocation for France now is official. As of April 21, the 135.7 to 137.8 kHz band was made available to French amateurs with a maximum ERP of 1 W. The new ruling includes French territories such as Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique and Saint Pierre et Miquelon, thus making it the first LF allocation in IARU Region 2.--RSGB
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