ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 19, No. 46
December 1, 2000
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +ARISS international partners meet
* +CB enforcement bill clears White House
* +ARES/RACES activate as Buffalo is buried
* +Michigan ham agrees to HF suspension; Ohio ham faces hearing
* +Former Flash Comm seeks to expand HF messaging system
* +FCC to accept Internet data in identifying SKs
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
    +Steve Affens, K3SA, SK
     Reminder--National Weather Service/ARRL On-Air Event
    +A deadline reminder for all clubs
     ULS scheduled to be down
     CQ introduces Amateur Radio Hall of Fame
     PBS to air Tesla: Master of Lightning
     UK extends 73 kHz authorization

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================

==>ARISS INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS MEET

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or
ARISS--international partners are meeting this weekend at Goddard Space
Flight Center in Maryland. The three-day session will update current status
of the ARISS program and attempt to map its future direction.

Expected to be on hand will be ARISS delegates from the US, Russia, Germany,
Belgium, Canada, Japan and Italy, in addition to representatives of NASA,
AMSAT-NA, TAPR and the Mir Amateur Radio EXperiment group, MAREX-NA.

Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX) Working Group Chairman Roy Neal,
K6DUE, will serve as meeting moderator. ARISS rules and bylaws development
and ratification tops the list of discussion items this weekend. 

The Expedition 1 crew of Commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, and
Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Yuri Gidzenko has been aboard
the ISS since November 2. With about three months left in its tour of duty,
the crew has been extremely busy with its normal work schedule. Crew members
did take time in mid-November to check out the initial amateur station gear
aboard the ISS. On November 17, Shepherd enjoyed a few casual QSOs with
earthbound hams. 

ARISS spokesman Will Marchant, KC6ROL, says the crew has used Amateur Radio
for personal contacts with family members but that crew members have been
too pressed for time to engage in casual contacts. In addition, the shuttle
Endeavour launched November 30 carrying huge solar arrays to the ISS.

Marchant said he hopes ARISS can ramp up the level of school and casual
contacts after the first of the year. A tentative schedule of school
contacts is pending. The topic of future contacts between ISS crew members
and students is on the agenda for this weekend's meeting. The delegates will
look at how school contacts can be smoothly integrated into the ISS crew
schedules and how often they will occur. They'll also attempt to come up
with an equitable system for the international partners to select schools
for ARISS QSOs.

ARISS delegates also will be looking ahead to the next phase of Amateur
Radio hardware on the ISS. Right now, the initial station gear consists of
low-power VHF and UHF hand-held transceivers. As currently configured aboard
the Zarya Functional Cargo Block, the gear provides 2-meter FM and packet
capability, although the packet system has not yet been activated. Marchant
said ARISS needs to make sure the packet system operation will not interfere
with the regular 143-MHz communication channel between the ISS and Earth.

Marchant says the most immediate and pressing hardware projects are to
install the German "digitalker" system and to move ahead with a plan to
deploy Slow-Scan TV aboard the ISS. 

A German proposal to upgrade the initial station gear with a so-called
"transportable station" mobile transceiver offering more power and
flexibility also will come under scrutiny. Deployment of the next phase of
ARISS gear probably will not happen until 2002, Marchant said.

More information about ARISS and SAREX, is at http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

==>PRESIDENT SIGNS CB ENFORCEMENT BILL

President Bill Clinton has signed legislation that permits the enforcement
of certain FCC Citizens Band regulations by state and local governments.
Amateur Radio operators are exempt from the provisions of the law, now PL
106-521.

Congressional lawmakers saw the measure as a way to give a voice to those
experiencing radio frequency interference resulting from illegal CB radio
operation. The FCC will not yield its authority to regulate Citizens Band or
other radio services, however.

In short, the measure authorizes states and localities to enact laws that
prohibit the use of unauthorized CB equipment--consistent with FCC
regulations. This would include the use of high-power linear amplifiers or
equipment that was not FCC-certificated.

FCC-licensed stations in any radio service--including the Amateur
Service--are excluded from such state or local enforcement, and state or
local laws enacted under this legislation must identify this exemption.

The bill--HR.2346 is the House version; it was S.2767 in the
Senate--actually is the old Senate "Feingold bill" from several sessions
ago. The bill's sponsor, Rep Vernon Ehlers of Michigan says local hams asked
him to support the bill because of the bad rap they were getting from
illegal CBers using high-power linear amplifiers that resulted in TV and
telephone interference while the CBers involved hid behind federal
preemption.

As did Feingold before him, Ehlers asked the ARRL to review his measure to
ensure that it would not unintentionally harm Amateur Radio. 

A copy of the new legislation is available on the ARRL Web site at
http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2000/11/29/3/cbbill.html.

==>ARES/RACES ACTIVATED AS BUFFALO IS BRIEFLY BURIED

They say that when it rains it pours--or, in the case of the upstate New
York snow belt recently, when it snows, it snows! The Erie County Amateur
Radio Emergency Service and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service found
themselves literally snowed under just before Thanksgiving when more than
two feet of "lake effect" snow covered the greater Buffalo area like a big,
heavy winter blanket. More than two dozen amateurs volunteered to help their
community through the severe weather that struck November 20.

Karl Weir, N2NJH--who's ARES Western New York District Emergency Coordinator
and RACES Officer for Erie County--activated an emergency net, and an
informational net was brought up on another area repeater.

"At this point, the City of Buffalo and suburbs of Amherst, Cheektowaga and
Lancaster had received 24.3 inches of snow in less than 24 hours," Weir
said. Traffic was at a standstill, and hundreds--perhaps thousands--of
schoolchildren found themselves stranded on buses, while many others were
still stuck at their schools.

"Dave [Quagliana], K2MTW, was one of the teachers stranded with about
30-plus students at Buffalo Public School #28 who checked into our net,"
Weir said. 

By Monday evening, Buffalo and Erie County were declared disaster areas, and
motorists were banned from the roads as first-response emergency crews hit
the highways. Stranded school buses were evacuated, and several shelters
were opened.

ARES was activated at 7:30 Tuesday morning in Erie County. Because he was
snowbound, Assistant Emergency Coordinator and RACES Officer Eugene
Kremzier, N2OBW, had to handle net control duties from his home. Weir says
Erie County emergency services activated RACES with a specific request to
garner as many 4x4 vehicles as possible and to establish a ham station at
the county emergency operations center.

With a station established at the EOC, Weir said, "our first order of
business was to take Red Cross people to examine the shelters and make any
critical deliveries of food and medication." 

The Millard Fillmore Hospital was happy to accept the assistance of three
ham-driven 4x4s and an additional ham volunteer to assist in transporting
medical staff, Weir said. In addition, he escorted Red Cross officials
delivering medications to stranded residents. 

By 4:30 on the afternoon of November 21, road crews had begun to open up
major highways in the affected area to remove abandoned vehicles. And ARES
and RACES stood down at the end of a very long Tuesday.

Winter doesn't arrive until December 21, but Buffalo will be ready. 

==>MICHIGAN HAM AGREES TO HF SUSPENSION; OHIO HAM FACES HEARING

The FCC says Amateur Extra licensee Michael E. Guernsey, ND8V, of Kalamazoo,
Michigan, has agreed to a nine-month suspension of his HF privileges,
starting January 1. FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley
Hollingsworth said that if Guernsey does not violate FCC rules or the
license modification agreement, the FCC will clear his file of past
complaints in any future enforcement action against his license. 

The action came in the wake of allegations that the licensee had caused
deliberate interference on 20 meters "particularly communications of
Hispanic operators and truckers when you perceived them to have an
improperly 'wide' SSB signal or a signal which in your opinion exhibited
excessive microphone gain," Hollingsworth said. The FCC also cited
allegations that the licensee may have used profanity and obscenity on the
air, that he may not have identified by call sign, and that he might have
deliberately interfered with communications on the Maritime Mobile Service
Net.

Meanwhile, the FCC has told General licensee Jeffrey J. Pipenur, WA8IKW, of
Vandalia, Ohio, that it's poised to designate his station license for a
revocation or renewal hearing and his operator's license for suspension. The
FCC cited monitoring information and "complaints before the Commission"
alleging that Pipenur "deliberately interfered" with other amateur
communications on 75 meters. Further such complaints could lead to a
hearing, Hollingsworth told Pipenur. Last March 1, after considering
Pipenur's response to earlier FCC allegations of "deliberate interference,
poor Amateur practice, and operation contrary to" FCC rules, the FCC set
aside his renewal grant and renewed his license for one year. In his
response, the FCC said, Pipenur did not deny the activity, apologized, and
consented to the short-term renewal. 

==>FORMER FLASH COMM SEEKS TO EXPAND HF MESSAGING SYSTEM

The FCC is seeking comments by December 18 on a proposal to expand a
nationwide, commercial two-way short-data messaging system it authorized on
a conditional basis three years ago. Terion Inc--formerly known as Flash
Comm Inc--has filed with the FCC to modify its conditional authorization.
The company also seeks to obtain "a renewal expectancy."

The company has filed an application to modify station WPKU683 in the
Business Radio Service. In July 1997, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau conditionally granted authority to Flash Comm Inc to construct and
operate--on a secondary basis--a nationwide, commercial two-way short-data
messaging system that operated in the 3-30 MHz range, subject to certain
conditions. The frequencies the system uses do not fall in any current ham
bands, but some are close, and the ARRL strenuously objected to the plan
when it was first proposed. The ARRL plans to file comments this time around
as well.

Under the Flash Comm/Terion system, so-called "intelligent transceiver
units" are installed on vehicles and structures. Transmitted data enable the
service to track the location or monitor the status of each "asset."
Transmissions are in short bursts averaging two seconds on HF channels the
system selects automatically as being unoccupied.

Terion wants to quadruple the amount of authorized spectrum. It also wants
the FCC to approve increasing the total HF energy transmitted each day, also
by a factor of four and jump the aggregate transmissions per hour from one
percent  to four percent.

The company says it wants to "obtain a renewal expectancy in the event it
provides a showing of substantial service" prior to the expiration of its
five-year conditional authorization in order to eliminate the need for a
separate rulemaking proceeding. 

Comments on the requests are due by December 18, 2000. Reply comments are
due by January 2, 2001. Commenters should reference DA-00-2600.

==>FCC TO ACCEPT INTERNET DATA TO IDENTIFY SILENT KEYS

The FCC now is prepared to accept a printout from an Internet Web site as
sufficient proof of death to cancel a license in the Amateur Service. The
FCC will continue to accept death certificates and published obituaries, and
now can accept multiple cancellation requests.

According to a spokesperson in the FCC Licensing and Technical Analysis
Branch in Gettysburg, the FCC now can accept a printed copy of information
appearing on the Internet as adequate proof of death "provided the printout
contains certain, verifiable, information." The Licensing Bureau also will
accept a list--with supporting documentation--of multiple requests for
cancellation of amateur licenses.

"It's basically no different than us taking requests today, other than a
person can now send multiple cancels in one request and can also send
documentation printed from a reliable Web site," the Licensing Branch
spokesperson said. "We still require the same information."

According to information on the FCC's vanity Web site,
http://www.fcc.gov/wtb/amateur/vnityfaq.html, individuals can report the
death of a licensee by submitting a signed request for license grant
cancellation accompanied by a copy of an obituary or death certificate to
the Licensing Branch.

The FCC says it's been able to match up the name, address and birth date of
the deceased included on some submittals it's received via the Ancestry.com
site (http://www.ancestry.com) on the Internet. "The validity of these
printouts as proof of death is equal to the same level of sufficiency as an
obituary, in terms of reducing the risk of the inadvertent cancellation of a
valid amateur call sign," the FCC spokesperson said.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Sun watcher Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average solar
flux rose almost 25 points two weeks ago from the previous week and then
nearly another 23 points last week. Solar flux probably peaked around
November 23 at 205.3. It has recently dropped below 190, and the predicted
solar flux for Friday through Monday is 190, 185, 180 and 180.

Geomagnetic conditions are expected to remain stable over the next week,
barring some unforeseen solar flare or coronal hole. Sunspot group 9246 has
quadrupled in size since Tuesday, and if magnetic fields above this rapidly
growing active region become more complex, we could see some more
geomagnetic disruptions if the energy is directed toward earth. 

Earlier this week conditions were quite disrupted. Planetary A index on
November 27-29 was 38, 37 and 52, and in the higher latitudes the College A
index was 51, 65 and 62. There were some spectacular auroral effects, and
some great pictures are at
http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/gallery_26nov00.html . 

Solar flux is expected to drop down to 145 December 8-13, then rise to a
peak near 200 around December 23-25. Conditions should be good for the ARRL
160-Meter Contest this weekend as well as for the TOPS 80 meter CW Contest.
It is still too early to tell, but the ARRL 10-Meter Contest next weekend is
during a time when the solar flux may be low, and there could be some higher
geomagnetic activity due to recurring coronal holes. Check back next week. 

Sunspot numbers for November 16 through 22 were 142, 140, 171, 174, 168, 160
and 136 with a mean of 155.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 154.2, 163.3, 177.1,
174.9, 173.7, 185.4 and 194.9, with a mean of 174.8. The estimated planetary
A indices were 4, 4, 6, 7, 9, 9 and 7 with a mean of 6.6. 

Sunspot numbers for November 23 through 29 were 141, 134, 110, 95, 121, 154
and 160 with a mean of 130.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 205.3, 197.1, 202, 202.4,
191.7, 195.5 and 188.4, with a mean of 197.5. The estimated planetary A
indices were 7, 9, 7, 22, 38, 37 and 52 with a mean of 24.6.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL-NWS Special Event is December 2 (UTC).
See below or November QST, page 75 for more information or visit
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/event2000/. The ARRL 160 Meter Contest is the
weekend of December 2-3. See November QST, page 98, for the rules. Also the
weekend of December 2-3 are the QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint
(CW), the Ninth Annual TARA RTTY Sprint, and the TOPS Activity 3.5 MHz CW
Contest. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL 10-Meter Contest and the 28 MHz SWL Contest
2000 (which runs concurrent with the ARRL 10-Meter event) are the weekend of
December 9-10. See December QST, p 97, for more information.

* Steve Affens, K3SA, SK: Well-known contester and DXer Steve Affens, K3SA
(ex-K3ZAW), of Olney, Maryland, died November 28 reportedly after suffering
a heart attack in the Cayman Islands. He was 52. According to reports,
Affens and his wife were celebrating their 30th anniversary in the Caymans.
Affens also had operated from the Caymans as ZF2SA during the CQ World Wide
CW DX Contest this past weekend and had been active in the ARRL November
Sweepstakes. An ARRL Life Member, Affens was first licensed in 1963. He was
an active member of the Potomac Valley Radio Club and the webmaster for the
club's site. Affens was a videographer for WJLA (Channel 7) in Washington,
DC, which described him as "one of the nation's most distinguished
photojournalists." Affens won the White House News Photographers'
Association award for Cameraman of the Year five times. He also was the
recipient of several Emmy Awards and numerous other photography citations.
Survivors include Affen's wife, Patti, N3HOT, and their son Scott,
KA3TUE.--thanks to Bernie McClenny, W3UR, and John Creel, WB3GXW; WJLA 

* Reminder--National Weather Service/ARRL On-Air Event: The National Weather
Service Special Event is December 2 (UTC). Co-sponsored by the NWS and ARRL,
the NWS Special Event is aimed at recognizing the contributions amateurs
make to the Weather Service during threatening weather. The National Weather
Service Special Event takes place December 2, 2000--Friday night through
Saturday--0000 to 2400 UTC. During the event, Amateur Radio operators will
operate from National Weather Service offices across the country. Amateurs
are invited to work as many of these special event stations as possible. The
NWSSE Web site http://www.nws.noaa.gov/event2000/ has complete details.

* A deadline reminder for all clubs: The deadline is December 31, 2000, for
clubs planning to submit an entry for the ARRL Club 2000 Achievement Award
http://www.arrl.org/field/club/club-awards/. All entries must be submitted
via the US Postal Service. No e-mail entries will be accepted! Clubs also
must include the score sheet, which can be found at
http://www2.arrl.org/field/club/club-awards/peform.html. For more
information, contact Margie Bourgoin, KB1DCO, in ARRL Field and Educational
Services, mbourgoin@arrl.org; 860-594-0267; fax 860-594-0259.

* ULS scheduled to be down: The FCC Universal Licensing System and Antenna
Structure Registration will be unavailable from 5 PM (Eastern) Friday,
December 1 until 8 AM (Eastern) Monday, December 4. The outage is necessary
to accommodate the Land Mobile Phase 3 conversion. The task involves the
conversion of more than 350,000 licenses and 5200 pending applications. 

* CQ introduces Amateur Radio Hall of Fame: CQ magazine has announced the
establishment of the "CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame." The new hall of honor
joins CQ's "DX Hall of Fame" and "CQ Contest Hall of Fame." CQ says the dual
goals of the new program are to recognize individuals who have made
significant contributions and to focus public attention on the far-reaching
and longstanding value of Amateur Radio in society. Nominees will be judged
on the basis of qualifying in one of two broad areas: Individuals, licensed
or not, who have made significant contributions to the Amateur Radio hobby;
and radio amateurs who have made significant contributions to society in
general. CQ is accepting nominations for the inaugural class of the Amateur
Radio Hall of Fame until March 31, 2001. A nomination form, along with full
details, will be available on the CQ Web site,
http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com. Initial selections will be announced at the
2001 Dayton Hamvention next May.--CQ news release

* PBS to air Tesla: Master of Lightning: PBS will air the documentary Tesla:
Master of Lightning Tuesday, December 12 (check local listings for time and
channel) about the life and accomplishments of inventor Nikola Tesla
(1853-1943). Actor Stacy Keach will provide the voice of Tesla for the
90-minute presentation. A Web site, http://www.pbs.org/tesla/index.html,
will serve as the on-line companion to the acclaimed documentary. A
contemporary of Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi, Tesla--a Serbian
immigrant to the US--is credited with being the inventor of our system of ac
power transmission and even of radio. The book, Tesla: Master of Lightning,
by Margaret Cheney and Robert Uth, is reviewed in December QST, page
37.--PBS 

* UK extends 73 kHz authorization: The Radiocommunications Agency in the UK
has announced a three-year extension to the 73-kHz Amateur Radio allocation
there until June 30, 2003. The allocation has been available to hams in the
UK since 1996. It was due to be withdrawn completely at the end of June. The
Radio Society of Great Britain says the RA agreed to the extension because
experimentation on 73 kHz has been slower than anticipated due to the
high-noise floor towards the top end of the allocation. The RSGB said that
additional work is under way on how propagation is affected by the current
enhanced solar flare activity.--RSGB

=========================================================== 
The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
http://www.arrl.org. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President

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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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