ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 22
June 9, 2000

IN THIS EDITION:

+Available on ARRL Audio News

ARRL-VEC SEEING LIGHT AT END OF TUNNEL

ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, says staff members and volunteers are making substantial progress processing the flood of amateur applications resulting from FCC restructuring. Jahnke says the initial surge of applications already has been processed, and fewer applications remain in the pipeline.

"We're making headway fast now, as the number of applications diminishes the further we get away from April 15," Jahnke said. He reports the ARRL-VEC sent some 6700 applications to the FCC last week and has been averaging a pace of well over 1000 per day. "Last Friday was our strongest day ever--at 1966 applications transmitted to FCC," he said. Since April 15, the ARRL-VEC has logged more than 12,000 General and more than 9500 Extra upgrades. The ARRL-VEC has logged in approximately 3800 test sessions since the beginning of the year.

Jahnke said he anticipates the time from exam session to license grant to continue to diminish from the current five weeks or longer to just over three weeks by next week. On June 8, applications were being processed from May 12 test session receipts. Typically, the FCC processes applications within 24 hours of receipt, although there were some delays last weekend.

VEC staff member Forrest Simpson keys in data from completed applications for filing with the FCC. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

Still remaining in the queue are applications from another 507 test sessions. Jahnke estimates these will yield 600 new Technicians, 2100 new Generals, and 1400 new Extras. By the time ARRL-VEC personnel work their way through that stack, Jahnke said, the wait should be down to less than 10 days.

Jahnke reminded applicants that the best license grant information is available from the FCC's Universal Licensing System web site (click on "License Search"). Typical Web call sign servers are at least 24 hours behind the FCC in updating license data, he said.

ARRL-VEC staff members and volunteers have been working nights and weekends--including Memorial Day weekend. Seven VEC staff members, two temporary employees, and a half-dozen or more HQ staff volunteers from other departments have been whittling down the stacks of applications. "We're just about ready to lift the moratorium on sick days," Jahnke joked.


WRC-2000 RECOMMENDS AGENDA FOR WRC-2003

The WRC-2000 Future Agendas Working Group has agreed to recommendations for a number of World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 agenda items of importance to Amateur Radio. Among other things, the Little LEOs could be back at the trough at WRC-2003 seeking additional allocations.

The WRC-2003 agenda is not cast in concrete, however. The ITU Council will make a final decision on the WRC-2003 agenda two years before the conference. The recommendations came as WRC-2000 concluded June 2 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Amateur Radio-related topics likely to be on the table at WRC-2003 include a possible revision of Article S25 of the International Radio Regulations. Article S25 contains the basic rules for the amateur and amateur-satellite services and includes the requirement to demonstrate Morse code proficiency for access to amateur bands below 30 MHz. Observers report there was broad support and no opposition voiced to having Article S25 on the WRC-2003 agenda.

Provisions of Article S19 of the International Radio Regulations--concerning the formation of call signs in the amateur services in order to provide flexibility for administrations--also could come up at WRC-2003. So could a review of the terms and definitions of Article S1--as required as a consequence of changes made in Article S25. Among other things, Article S1 contains the definition of the amateur and amateur-satellite services.

Also up for possible consideration is a so-called "harmonized" or worldwide 40-meter allocation--a longstanding problem identified at WARC-92.

WRC-2003 also may consider allocations for non-geostationary, non-voice mobile satellites--the Little LEOs--below 1 GHz, as well as spectrum above 1 GHz for feeder links.

HF broadcasters gained approval of a resolution calling for review of the need to switch from double-sideband AM modulation to SSB. The associated WRC-2003 agenda item stresses the desire to convert from DSB to digital modulation.

Among items penciled in on the WRC-2003 agenda but unlikely to be considered unless additional resources become available are consideration of frequency allocations for HF broadcasting from approximately 4 to 10 MHz and up to 6 MHz of frequency spectrum to the Earth Exploration-Satellite Service in the 420 to 470 MHz band.

WRC-2000 managed to avoid designating Amateur Radio spectrum in the 2300 to 2400 MHz range for use by third-generation IMT-2000 cellular systems. Several "footnote" changes will affect the status of some amateur allocations in other parts of the world. For example, amateurs in Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland will gain some additional flexibility on 160 meters.

Representing the International Amateur Radio Union at WRC-2000 were IARU President Larry Price, W4RA; Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, and Wojciech Nietyksza, SP5FM. Also: ARRL Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, served as a member of the US delegation for ARRL; David Wardlaw, VK3ADW, was in the Australian delegation representing the Wireless Institute of Australia; Ken Pulfer, VE3PU, was in the Canadian delegation for Radio Amateurs of Canada; and Jay Oka, JA1TRC, was in the Japan delegation for the Japan Amateur Radio League.

ARRL TO HAVE SATELLITE HOME VIEWER IMPROVEMENT ACT ROLE

The FCC has assigned the ARRL a role under the new Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act. The FCC has designated the League to appoint a party to conduct a signal strength test at a subscriber's household in the event of a dispute between network stations and satellite carriers over who should carry out the testing.

"It's a service we're glad to provide to the public," said ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP. Haynie said the League is pleased to be called upon to play a part in implementing the consumer-oriented legislation. He added that few eligibility disputes are anticipated.

FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Dale Hatfield expressed the Commission's appreciation for serving as "an independent and neutral entity." Hatfield called the ARRL "a particularly appropriate choice for this role because it has no commercial connection with delivery of television services."

Under SHVIA, a household is eligible to get distant TV signals via satellite if it cannot receive a Grade B signal using a conventional, outdoor TV antenna, but viewers can apply for waivers. The SHVIA provides that if a waiver is denied, a consumer can request a signal test to determine the actual signal strength received. The ARRL could be called upon to select an appropriate entity to take the measurement in rare instances when the satellite provider and the network station cannot agree on one.

Hatfield said the ARRL would review the qualifications of proposed testing entities to determine their competence to take signal strength measurements at a given home site. He said the League also eventually may develop a list of qualified individuals or concerns to conduct such tests throughout the US and offer that list to satellite providers and broadcasters "as needed and appropriate."

For more information, contact ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, cimlay@arrl.org.

ARRL, NARTE SIGN MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

The ARRL and the National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers Inc have announced a Memorandum of Understanding to serve as a framework for future cooperation. The two organizations have agreed to work together on mutually beneficial programs or events that are "intended to foster and promote technical awareness, education, and achievement in amateur and commercial telecommunications."

NARTE President Jim Wickham (left) signs the ARRL-NARTE Memorandum of Understanding as ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, looks on. [Rick Lindquist]

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, and NARTE President Jim Wickham formally signed the agreement recently at ARRL Headquarters. The pact could lead to joint recognition of technical education and achievement programs as well as cooperation between the organizations' volunteer examination efforts.

Among other things, the ARRL and NARTE have agreed to cooperate in developing curricula to certify technical personnel "on a vocational and avocational basis" and to introduce them and the general public to Amateur Radio.

Both ARRL and NARTE comprise volunteers and professionals who support educational and technical recognition programs, and both are involved in FCC licensing activities. The MOU opens the door to the possibility of cooperation to develop reciprocal examination opportunities in unserved or underserved areas.

In addition, the League and NARTE will exchange technical articles "to encourage and broaden interest, understanding and appreciation of telecommunications technology." The two organizations also will cooperate in providing booth space to one another at conventions.

Founded in 1982, NARTE offers an accredited certification program to qualified engineers and technicians, many of them Amateur Radio operators. Its other activities include participation as a commercial operator license examination manager. Its primary mission is to promote professional excellence within the telecommunications industry and related areas.

MITNICK RENEWAL APPLICATION TO GET FCC SCRUTINY

The Amateur Radio license renewal application of computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, N6NHG, will get careful FCC scrutiny. But first, the FCC wants more information.

On June 1, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth told Mitnick's attorney that the FCC needs more information regarding the conditions of Mitnick's probation "in order to determine what action to take on his renewal application." He requested the information be provided within 20 days and indicated he would dismiss Mitnick's application if the information is not provided.

Mitnick was convicted of computer-related crimes and now is out on supervised release. Conditions of his release require that he stay away from computers and computerized devices.

Mitnick's attorney, R. Gregory Adlin, told Hollingsworth earlier this year that ham radio operation would not violate Mitnick's supervised release and that he would provide a letter from Mitnick's probation officer to that effect. Adlin noted that Mitnick's case "had nothing to do with any FCC violations" and that his plea agreement only covered some counts dealing with obtaining an unauthorized copy of some source code.

Hollingsworth says that since Mitnick filed a timely renewal application, his license remains valid until action is taken on the application. Mitnick's license expired last December 12.

Adlin also has asked for "a short delineation of what issues have been raised as to Mr. Mitnick's qualifications to obtain a ham radio license" and any supporting statutory or regulatory citations. Hollingsworth told Adlin that once he has all the necessary documentation in place, he would refer the matter to the FCC's Hearings and Investigations Division for a determination.

HAMS REMEMBER BIG BAND LEADER "TEX" BENEKE, K0HWY, SK

[Ray La Marca, KD6HH]

Big band singer and saxophonist Gordon L. "Tex" Beneke, K0HWY, of Santa Ana, California, died at a rest home in Costa Mesa May 30, reportedly of respiratory arrest. He was 86.

Beneke took over the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1946 after Miller's death during World War II, and he continued to capitalize on the Miller sound throughout his career. He later broke with the Miller estate and formed his own band, billing it as "Tex Beneke and His Orchestra: Playing the Music Made Famous by Glenn Miller."

A native of Forth Worth, Texas, Beneke joined Miller's orchestra in 1938. His southern-style vocals helped make hits out of Miller's "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," among others.

Fred Mason, W5SLT, recalls that Beneke operated 10 meters from his hotel room during his travels around the country, using a wire hanging out the window. Mason also remembers running phone patches in the early 1950s, so Beneke could talk with his parents in Fort Worth.

Tim La Marca, N6RNK--a younger-generation big band leader--says he met Beneke in the early 1990s--first on the air and later in person. A mutual acquaintance had told Beneke about the young musician, so Beneke gave him a call on the local repeater. "Imagine my surprise when one evening, just as I was about to turn off my radio, there was a voice I had not heard on the repeater before."

A few months later, La Marca got to meet Beneke when his band was performing in Pasadena. "After the performance, we went backstage to meet Tex--one of the highlights of my life," he said.

"You can't mention the Big Band Era without the name of Tex Beneke coming to mind," La Marca said. "Even though his key is silent, we still have the recordings of his wonderful music to remember him by."

Curiously, Beneke's role was omitted from the movie, "The Glenn Miller Story." Beneke himself appeared in films such as "Sun Valley Serenade" in 1941 and "Orchestra Wives" in 1942.

SOLAR UPDATE

Heliophile Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: A large coronal mass ejection on June 6 is raising havoc with HF propagation. Geomagnetic conditions were rough on June 7, with K indices of 3 and 4, but the big effect was measured on June 8, when the planetary K index was 7 at 0900 and 1200 UTC, followed by 6 at 1500 UTC. The planetary A index for June 8 was 53, while the College A index (in Alaska) was 79. This indicates a severe geomagnetic storm, which could disrupt HF communications but may provide interesting auroral communication opportunities for VHF enthusiasts.

To add to the excitement, there was another coronal mass ejection on June 7. The latest word has solar wind providing another disruption on June 10.

Planetary A index should rise on June 9 to 75, then drop to 40 on June 10, 25 on June 11, 18 on June 12 and 15 on June 13. Solar flux is expected to rise over the same period, to 185 on Friday, 190 on Saturday, 200 on Monday and 210 on Tuesday. Solar flux is expected to peak over the short term around 245 on June 16.

Sunspot numbers for May 25 through 31 were 125, 155, 161, 176, 189, 153 and 110 with a mean of 152.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 172.8, 167.9, 161.8, 155.9, 149, 146.4 and 154.4, with a mean of 158.3. The estimated planetary A indices were 31, 23, 12, 12, 24, 21 and 12, with a mean of 19.3.

Sunspot numbers for June 1 through 7 were 128, 126, 125, 139, 132, 133 and 145 with a mean of 132.6. The 10.7-cm flux was 148, 187.2, 165.9, 169.7, 171, 186.4 and 180.3, with a mean of 172.6. The estimated planetary A indices were 12, 10, 12, 12, 26, 16 and 14, with a mean of 14.6.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: 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 May QST, page 83 for VHF Party rules, and June QST, page 104 for other events. Just ahead: The Kid's Day operating Event is June 17 (see below); the SMIRK 2000 QSO Party, the All-Asian DX Contest (CW), and the West Virginia QSO Party are the weekend of June 16-18. See June QST, page 104 for more info. ARRL Field Day is June 24-25 weekend--see May QST, page 84, for details.

  • Kid's Day just keeps growing: Here it comes again! Kid's Day is just around the corner. On June 17, kids of all ages will be invited to experience ham radio. Many hams participate with their own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. This event isn't just for relatives. Consider inviting the people you work with and their children, or your neighbor's family. Inviting adults and youth may result in future ham radio operators. Kid's Day began in 1994. It began with only a one hour time slot and kids exchanged their favorite color! The first event was considered a success not only because 40 kids participated, but because kids and hams had a great time! The decision to repeat the event proved to be a wise move. More than 1000 participated in the January Kid's Day event. Complete rules scoring, frequencies and exchange information are on the ARRL web site or see June QST, page 50.

  • Dayton attendance up again: Dayton Hamvention General Chairman Jim Graver, KB8PSO, reports the preliminary attendance count at the 2000 Dayton Hamvention and ARRL National Convention was 28,804. That's up from 28,127 in 1999, and Graver says the official attendance number may be a bit higher. Several vendors reported selling out of certain popular items. And, of course, a good time was had by all!

  • FCC issues short-term grant: The FCC has come to terms with Lonnie H. Allen, KC0HJP--at least for now. On May 30, the Commission advised Allen, of Crane, Missouri, that it was issuing a short-term grant of his Technician license. This is the second time around for Allen. As a result of complaints about his earlier operations as N0TBO--subsequently canceled after he failed to appear for re-examination--Allen's later grant of KC0HJP was set aside March 15, and his application reverted to pending status. FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth said the Commission decided to grant Allen a one-year license, which may be renewed for a 10-year term if Allen doesn't run afoul of the FCC again. In his letter, Hollingsworth advised Allen to "thoroughly familiarize" himself with Part 97 of the FCC's rules.--FCC

  • NFCC meets with FCC officials: Members of the National Frequency Coordinators' Council Board met May 17 with D'wana Terry, Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Wireless Division and other FCC officials. The NFCC says the meeting was arranged to brief Terry about the history and current status of the NFCC and how the organization could be of service to the FCC, as well as to review the status of Amateur Service frequency coordination. The NFCC also wanted to present its ideas on how to deal with the growing number of coordination disputes. NFCC President Owen Wormser, K6LEW, said the meeting provided "the basis for a constructive, cooperative and enduring relationship" between the NFCC and the FCC.--thanks to Badger State Smoke Signals

  • C'mon clubs, strut your stuff! Think you belong to the best ARRL-affiliated or Special Service Club anywhere? Ready to go up against any club to compare the variety of ham radio activities and community service your club can muster? Then what are you waiting for? Let's hear about it! See the Club 2000 Achievement Awards page for details. It's not every day that a club can exercise bragging rights and earn a cash award. But wait! There's more! We'll spread the word about your exceptional club far and wide, so other clubs can get motivated. Not yet affiliated with ARRL? Point your browser to the Club Companion page. Be part of the vibrant movement to insure the future of Amateur Radio. Thousands of ARRL-affiliated clubs know they are making a difference!--Mary Lau, N7IAL

  • Continuing Education Pilot Project update: The ARRL Continuing Education Emergency Communications Pilot Program is aiming to meet its projected end-of-summer deadline to complete Phase I. An Advisory Committee has been assembled--under the guidance of Pat Lambert, W0IPL--to assemble the Emergency Communications course. All committee members are volunteers. Other members include L.B. Cebik, W4RNL; Rich Slover, ND4F; Bill Thompson, W2MTA; Rob Foshay, W9VK; Ron Hashiro, AH6RH; Eldon McDonald, KE4OCW; Taylor Davidson, N4TD; Jeffery Stidham, KC7FUY; Richard Werner, K7UK; Charles Harris, KE4SKY; and Randy Long, W0AVV. Those who have offered to assist have been put on a separate list as back-up advisors and will be involved at the "beta testing" stage. A outline is available here. Text is being developed by the Advisory Committee for completion of the Level 1 Course. For more information, contact ARRL Certification Specialist Dan Miller, K3UFG, 860-594-0340; k3ufg@arrl.org.--Dan Miller, K3UFG

  • AMRAD Technical Symposium and 25th anniversary dinner set: An all-day AMRAD Technical Symposium will be held Saturday, June 17, in Falls Church, Virginia. Technical presentations will be held from 9 AM to 5 PM. The AMRAD 25th anniversary dinner follows, with guest speaker FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Dale Hatfield. More information is at the AMRAD web site.

  • "Hamoeba" wins QRP Design Contest at Dayton: Duncan Walters, G4DFV, was the winner of the "1 V Challenge" at the "Four Days in May" QRP gathering held in conjunction with the Dayton Hamvention. The Hamoeba is a 100 mW "single-cell" (get it?) CW transceiver. There were four entries in the "1 V Challenge"--to design and build a transceiver that runs off no more than a D cell. No voltage upconverters were allowed. Duncan did not make it to Dayton. He sent his entry in with George Dobbs, G3RJV.--Jim Stafford, W4QO/QRP ARCI

  • Papua New Guinea approves 5 WPM for full HF access: Licensing authorities in Papua New Guinea have approved full HF access for Papua New Guinea "K call" holders. The move effectively gives any qualified Technician who can pass a 5 WPM Morse test full HF access, as had been the case earlier with 10 WPM qualifiers.--Rick Warnett P29KFS via Q-News

 

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