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:
- +ARRL-VEC picks up the pace
- +Hamvention-Convention 2000 a hit!
- +FCC feeling restructuring's impact
- +Public service role, leadership cited at Dayton forum
- +WRC-2000 reaches tentative Galileo agreement
- Solar update
- In Brief: This weekend on the radio; +ULS registration can protect your license record; +Willem van Tuijl released from hospital; Hall of Famers announced; Ham radio helps rescue Pacific boaters; Florida DMV cuts hams some slack on license plate flap; HQ staffer attends Red Cross session; Mir mission to end in June; Australian 75-meter band to expand; One-year extension granted in UK for 73 kHz; France finally aboard 136 kHz
+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.
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.
"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, 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 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."
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
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.
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 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.
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