ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 14
April 6, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +FCC holds the line on restructuring
* +ARRL joins industry in call for further UWB rulemaking
* +Response to intruder survey "overwhelming"
* +FCC prompts power company in ham interference case
* +FCC advises hams about split-frequency QRM
*  QST editor witness to "wonderful craziness"
* +Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Classroom version of Emergency Communications Course opens
    +Haynie, Hollingsworth headline Maryland State Convention
     ARRL seeks QST technical editor
     Enforcement Letters replace Log
     Kansas club marks 75th anniversary of ARRL affiliation
     NA1SS QSL routes
     VE, UK amateurs to receive Transatlantic Challenge plaques

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================
EDITOR'S NOTE: Because ARRL Headquarters will be closed Friday, April 13,
The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News for that date will be posted one day
early, on Thursday, April 12.
===========================================================

==>FCC TURNS AWAY RESTRUCTURING PETITIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION

The FCC has declined to make any significant changes to the way it
implemented Amateur Radio "restructuring" last April. The Commission has
turned down several requests for changes in the Amateur Service rules
contained in five petitions for partial reconsideration of its Report and
Order WT Docket 98-143, released December 30, 1999. The ARRL was among the
petitioners.

In a Memorandum Opinion and Order released April 6, the FCC by and large
denied all petitions for changes to its restructuring Order--although it did
claim to grant one ARRL request--and it made some minor housekeeping changes
to the amateur rules. 

Among the issues was a request from the ARRL and other petitioners that the
FCC continue to maintain records that indicate whether a Technician licensee
has Morse code element credit. The FCC noted that its current Universal
Licensing System software was modified to display a "P" (for Plus) in the
field that indicates former license class when a Technician Plus class
license is renewed. "This capability results in the amateur service database
being able to provide a de facto Technician Plus licensee database," the FCC
asserted in its MO&O. The FCC did not address how its database will
distinguish current Technician licensees who subsequently earn Morse code
(Element 1) credit. Those licensees have only a Certificate of Completion of
Examination (CSCE), which will never be reflected in the database, even upon
license renewal.

The FCC also decided to not extend Element 1 credit to all past licensees
who had ever earned it--something else the ARRL had asked for. Under current
rules, the holder of an expired Novice or a pre-February 14, 1991,
Technician license can get Element 1 credit. The FCC said that "most
examinees" who ever held a General, Advanced or Amateur Extra ticket also
once held a Novice or a pre-February 14, 1991, Technician ticket that grants
Element 1 credit. 

Left out in the cold by the FCC's decision is anyone who went directly to
Conditional or General class without ever holding a Novice ticket. The FCC
also declined to extend permanent credit to Element 1 CSCEs held by
Technicians to obtain HF privileges. These CSCEs are good for 365 days for
upgrading purposes but confer only additional operating privileges for
Technicians beyond that time.

The FCC refused to reinstate the 20 WPM Morse code exam for Extra. The FCC
said that since restructuring went into effect nearly a year ago, "there
does not appear to be any decline in the proper operation of amateur
stations." The FCC also declined to ban the practice of allowing applicants
to retake a failed examination element at a single test session simply by
paying a second fee to the VE team. And the Commission did not go along with
requests to set the total number of questions at 50 for the Technician and
General class test and at 100 for the Amateur Extra test.

The FCC also declined to make any changes--at least for now--in the
arrangement of mode-related Amateur Radio subbands, as some petitioners had
requested. The FCC said it believed it should let the amateur community
"reach a consensus regarding a comprehensive restructuring of operating
privileges for all licensees" before making any changes.

Also denied were requests to: institute a new entry-level Communicator
license class in the Amateur Service; elevate former "Class A" operators
licensed prior to 1951 to Amateur Extra, instead of leaving them at Advanced
class; give Element 4 exam credit to examinees who'd held a Conditional,
General or Advanced ticket before November 22, 1968--when "incentive
licensing" became effective.

The FCC MO&O is available at
http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/wt98-143-recon.pdf .

==>ARRL, INDUSTRY GROUP SEEK FURTHER UWB RULEMAKING

The ARRL has joined an industry coalition that's calling on the FCC to issue
a further Notice of Proposed Rule Making before it takes final action to
authorize ultra-wideband (UWB) equipment under its Part 15 rules. In
addition to the League, signatories to the March 27 letter, addressed to FCC
Chairman Michael K. Powell, included AT&T Wireless Services, the Air
Transport Association of America, QUALCOMM, Rockwell Collins,
Lockheed-Martin, WorldCom and the US GPS Industry Council along with several
other major wireless-industry players. The signatories said a further NPRM
is needed as "a matter of fairness."

The joint-industry group asked the FCC to provide an opportunity to comment
on additional--in some cases pending--test results and then issue a further
rulemaking proposal.

The FCC last May proposed amending its Part 15 rules to permit the operation
of UWB devices on an unlicensed basis, saying the technology could have
enormous benefits for public safety, consumers and businesses. In its
initial comments filed last September, the ARRL advised the FCC to put its
UWB proceeding on hold until more evidence was available on the technology's
interference impact.

UWB proponents claim the devices are capable of operating on spectrum that's
already occupied by existing radio services without causing interference.
Possible UWB applications include low-cost, high-speed wireless networking
and devices that can see through brick walls. UWB skeptics say test results
to date suggest the potential for UWB interference to GPS, PCS and even some
governmental and public-safety systems. They also say that, because the FCC
has not proposed any specific rules, the technical characteristics of UWB
devices that might be authorized remain unknown.

The joint-industry group faulted the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule Making
(ET Docket 98-153), issued last May, for being based on "preliminary and
incomplete" information that also lacked sufficient public comment. Adoption
of a final order "would be seriously premature" based on the information
available in the current record, the signatories said. 

The joint-industry letter said the way the FCC is handling the proceeding
"uniquely raises the prospect of permitting intentional radiation by
unlicensed devices in the restricted Part 15 bands in a manner that would be
to the potential detriment of all licensed and unlicensed users." The letter
calls on the FCC to make sure that those potentially affected have a chance
to comment "on something far more concrete than has occurred to date." 

In a Public Notice released March 26, the FCC requested comments on five
reports that address the potential for interference from UWB systems. The
reports were submitted for inclusion in the UWB proceeding by QUALCOMM, Time
Domain, the NTIA, and the Department of Transportation. Copies of the
reports are available on the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System,
http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html. Comments are due no later than April
25, and reply comments are due by May 10. 

The League has said that its own review supports a conclusion that UWB has
potentially beneficial applications that should be accommodated under the
FCC's Part 15 rules "subject to appropriate interference avoidance
regulations."

ARRL's comments in the UWB proceeding are available at
http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/et98-153/index.html. A copy of the
joint-industry letter is available on the ARRL Web site,
http://www.arrl.org.

==>ARRL REPORTS "OVERWHELMING" RESPONSE TO INTRUDER SURVEY

The response to ARRL's call last fall for reports of apparent unlicensed
operation on 10 and 12 meters has been "overwhelming," according to Brennan
Price, N4QX, administrator of the ARRL Monitoring System. The survey last
October 1-14 was initiated in response to an increasing number of complaints
from the amateur community.

Price said that more than 400 separate reports, nearly all from United
States amateurs, detailed more than 1000 separate instances of apparent
unlicensed operation. An analysis suggests that nearly half of the
transmissions originated in the US. Of the remaining reports, most appeared
to document transmissions originating in Latin America.

"The variety of languages, dialects and beam headings relating to these
transmissions clearly indicates that this is a worldwide problem" Price
said. Surveys by monitoring-system administrators in other IARU Region 2
countries confirm this conclusion, he said.

ARRL has shared its data with the FCC. Price points out that before the
Commission can take any action, an offending transmission must be documented
and its source found. "Given the changeable nature of 10 and 12-meter
propagation, especially at the top of the sunspot cycle, this is not an easy
task," Price said. He said the FCC cannot make its sophisticated HF
direction-finding facility available for routine intruder-signal searches. 

Price said the FCC relies on the Amateur Service to be self-policing and has
indicated that it is most likely to act in suspected unlicensed operator
situations when amateurs themselves document the cases. 

"It is not easy or quick work, but it has been successfully done in the
past," he said.

Price said active use of the bands by licensees is the best way to
discourage unlicensed operation.

==>FCC CONTACTS UTILITY IN HAM INTERFERENCE CASE

The FCC has written Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperative of
Clarksville, Tennessee, in a case of suspected power-line interference to an
Amateur Radio operator. ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, has been working
with the amateur, Paul Fulk Jr, N8ITF, of Springfield, Tennessee. 

Fulk first complained to Cumberland two years ago and is still trying to get
the situation resolved. The FCC now has put the ball back squarely into the
utility's court. A Cumberland official has told ARRL that the utility will
fix the problem if it's at fault.

In a March 20 letter to Cumberland, Consumer Center Deputy Chief Sharon
Bowers of the FCC's Consumer Information Bureau advised the utility to
"locate the source of interference caused by its equipment and make
necessary corrections within a reasonable time." According to the FCC, after
Cumberland's efforts to take care of the interference failed, the utility
told Fulk that if he or an ARRL representative could locate the problem,
Cumberland would fix it. 

Bowers, however, told Cumberland that in cases of power-line interference
"it is not possible for non-utility company people to safely perform all of
the tests necessary to identify the source of the interference." And the FCC
reminded Cumberland that Commission rules require the operator of the device
radiating interference to locate and eliminate the interference.

Fulk first contacted Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperative in the
spring of 1999 to complain of RF noise on his C-band television receiver,
his 220 and 440 MHz repeaters, and his HF receiver. The utility replaced a
distribution transformer and three broken insulators. It also discovered a
noisy and poorly grounded cable-TV power supply, and it recommended that
Fulk put insulators on his tower guy wires and improve his tower grounding.

The RF noise continued. Last spring, Fulk contacted ARRL for assistance.
Hare, in turn, contacted the utility--as well as ARRL Tennessee Section
Manager O.D. Keaton, WA4GLS. Keaton visited Fulk and reported his own
observations to ARRL.

Cumberland forwarded a copy of the 1999 site visit, stating that the noise
was still present despite the repairs and concluding that "all known
electric utility sources of common electrical interference have been
detected and corrected." Fulk disagreed and asked the utility to continue
its efforts to eliminate the noise. He also asked the FCC for assistance.

In its letter to the utility the FCC raised the specter of violations and
fines, but for now, the FCC said, it would prefer for the parties to resolve
the problem "without FCC intervention." The FCC told Cumberland to advise
Fulk within 30 days of the steps it's taking to correct the reported
interference.

The ARRL Technical Information Service offers additional information on RFI
and power-line interference, http://www.ARRL.org/tis/info/rfi-elect.html.
Amateurs suffering from interference believed to be emanating from
power-generation or transmission facilities may contact Ed Hare, W1RFI,
rfi@arrl.org .

==>FCC ADVISES SEVERAL HAMS ABOUT TRANSMIT-FREQUENCY QRM WHILE OPERATING
SPLIT

The FCC recently sent advisory notices to several hams who may have caused
QRM on their transmitting frequencies while operating split to work SSB DX
on 40 meters. The complaints stemmed from operations during February. 

"While this may not have been malicious interference, please be advised that
amateurs must operate in accordance with Section 97.101 of the Commission's
rules, which sets out the general standards for operation of an Amateur
Radio station and specifically covers frequency sharing and interference,"
FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth wrote.


Since most of the rest of the world only has access to 7.000 to 7.100
MHz--still in the US CW subband--US stations working 40-meter SSB must
listen for DX stations in the US CW band while transmitting "up" within the
US 'phone allocation. 

==>QST EDITOR WITNESSES "WONDERFUL CRAZINESS" AT QRP GATHERING

New QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, was a featured speaker during a recent
conference of low-power (QRP) operators. More than 130 QRP enthusiasts
turned out March 30-31 in Timonium, Maryland, for the two-day Atlanticon QRP
conference, sponsored by the New Jersey QRP Club.

After an introduction by QST "QRP Power" editor Rich Arland, K7SZ, Ford
discussed the benefits of PSK31 with the overflow crowd. Using a CD player
and a laptop computer running DigiPan software, Ford displayed a recording
of actual PSK31 activity heard on 20 meters just a few days before. Ford's
presentation offered an opportunity for audience members to come up and
experience how easy it is to receive PSK31.

PSK31 was the star of Atlanticon's Saturday evening activity session as
well. More than 40 individuals had assembled PSK31 "Warbler" audio
beacons--in just about every enclosure imaginable. Their work was judged for
innovation and overall construction. Ford says the competition culminated
with the activation of all the Warblers in a deafening chorus. With a laptop
DigiPan display projected onto a large screen, the individual Warbler audio
signals--picked up by the laptop microphone--were judged for modulation
purity and signal strength. "Wonderful craziness" was how Ford described the
scene.

John Cawthorne, KE3S, took first prize for a beautiful construction job and
for being one of the earliest and cleanest signals to be copied. Prospective
amateur Mike Korejwo captured second prize with his superb construction and
next-in-line signal to be received.

Honorable mentions went to "KB2TQX-a" and "KB2TQX-b"--Christine and
Marcus--the 10-year-old children of Dave Gwillim, KB2TQX. Each built a
version of the PSK31 "Warbler" beacon in a perfboard arrangement.--thanks to
George Heron, N2APB, for information concerning the beacon contest
winners-Ed.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Propagation guru Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: This has
been another week of remarkable solar activity, with Sunspot 9393 producing
more excitement. Sunspot numbers peaked March 28 at 352, and solar flux that
day was 273.5. 

Following the new high in sunspot numbers, we have seen a number of large
solar flares and resulting aurora. On April 2 the most powerful flare in at
least 25 years erupted. Fortunately most of it was aimed away from Earth. A
few days earlier on March 31 the planetary A index soared to 155 and the
planetary K index went as high as 9 during a severe geomagnetic storm. There
were incredible auroral displays, seen as far south as Mexico.

While the really active regions have now rotated off of the visible solar
disk, more are rotating into view. Predicted solar flux for the next few
days, Friday through Monday is 210, 210, 205 and 205. Predicted planetary A
index for those days is 15, 8, 8 and 10.

Sunspot numbers for March 29 through April 4 were 315, 349, 326, 320, 223,
228 and 217, with a mean of 282.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 261.7, 256.8, 245.6,
257.5, 228, 223.1 and 204.8, with a mean of 239.6. Estimated planetary A
indices were 22, 10, 155, 30, 20, 5 and 15 with a mean of 36.7.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The SP DX Contest, the EA RTTY Contest, the
QCWA QSO Party, the UBA Spring Contest (SSB) are the weekend of April 6-8.
The 144 MHz Spring Sprint is April 9. JUST AHEAD: The DX YL to NA YL Contest
(CW) is Apr 11-13; the Lighthouse Spring Lites Rites QSO Party is April
13-23; the EU Spring Sprint (SSB) is April 14; the Japan International DX
Contest, the MARAC County Hunter Contest (SSB), the QRP ARCI Spring QSO
Party, and His Majesty King of Spain Contest are the weekend of April 13-15.
See the ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and
http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html for more info.

Classroom version of Emergency Communications Course opens: The "classroom
version" of the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course--Level
I--now is available. Effective Monday, April 9, qualified Certification
Instructors and Certification Examiners ONLY will have the opportunity to
offer the classroom version of the ARRL Level I Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Course and/or the Certification Examinations in their local
areas. Those wishing to take the course should contact their ARRL Section
Manager and/or Section Emergency Coordinator. Those wishing to present the
class and/or the examination session must meet the requirements stated at
http://www.arrl.org/cce/admin-criteria.html and fill out the Activity
Application at http://www.arrl.org/cce/activity.html. Applications will be
accepted starting April 9. Classroom course registration fee is $50 for
non-ARRL members, and $20 for ARRL members. Those wishing to take only the
Certification Examinations (on the basis of their experience, rather than
taking the course) will pay an exam administration fee of $5. Course manuals
are $10. Manuals must be ordered in advance and are currently not available
except through the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program. New
courses are expected to be offered later this year. Address questions to
cce@arrl.org.

* Haynie, Hollingsworth headline Maryland State Convention: By all accounts,
the Greater Baltimore Hamboree and ARRL Maryland State Convention March
30-April 1 in Timonium was an outstanding success. Despite occasional rain,
the flea market was crowded with both vendors and buyers. Unofficial
attendance estimates range from 7000 to 10,000. At the ARRL forum, President
Jim Haynie, W5JBP, described "The Big Project"-ARRL's education
initiative-to a receptive audience. He also emphasized how the
responsibility for promoting Amateur Radio rests with each individual ham.
At the FCC forum, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley
Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, fielded questions concerning various amateur
enforcement issues. Of particular interest was the FCC's position regarding
the increasing interference on 10 meters. The FCC recently sent out
enforcement letters regarding suspected illegal operation on that band.
Among other members of the ARRL family present at the convention were ARRL
Vice President Kay Craigie, WT3P; ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank
Fallon, N2FF; ARRL Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN; ARRL
Atlantic Division Vice Director Bill Edgar, N3LLR; Delaware Section Manager
Randall Carlson, WB0JJX; ARRL Honorary Vice President Hugh Turnbull, W3ABC,
and QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY. Ford hosted a well-attended PSK31 forum
on Saturday afternoon.

* ARRL seeks QST technical editor: The ARRL Publications Group is seeking a
full-time QST technical editor. The position is located at ARRL Headquarters
in Newington, Connecticut. The QST technical editor will provide leadership
to the technical Amateur Radio community by developing and promulgating a
vision of the state of the Amateur Radio art through the pages of QST.
Responsibilities include: soliciting and preparing QST technical material
for publication; working cooperatively with authors during the development,
writing, editing and production of QST technical articles; working
effectively and cooperatively with other QST editors, production staff and
other in-house staff; editing QST technical manuscripts for technical
accuracy, grammar, style and usage; ensuring that technical manuscripts and
graphics are prepared for publication in a polished and professional manner,
and by deadline; evaluating QST technical manuscripts and recommending
whether or not they should be accepted for publication. Qualifications
include a broad knowledge of and experience with Amateur Radio and
electronics; design and construction of Amateur Radio equipment, antennas
and accessories; and Amateur Radio software. Applicants should possess a
college degree, preferably in a technical field; a minimum of three years of
writing or editing experience; demonstrated ability to work effectively and
productively with a variety of people; proficiency with Microsoft Office,
especially Word and Excel; and an Amateur Extra Class license. To be
considered for this position, send a resume, cover letter and salary
expectations to QST technical editor position, Robert Boucher, ARRL, 225
Main St, Newington, CT 06111-1494; fax 860-594-0298; rboucher@arrl.org. No
telephone calls, please. ARRL is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 

* Enforcement Letters replace Log: ARRL now posts on its Web site FCC
Amateur Radio-related enforcement letters in their entirety in lieu of the
periodic "FCC Amateur Radio Enforcement Log." The "FCC Amateur Radio
Enforcement Letters" are found at http://www.arrl.org/news/enforcement_logs/
. Enforcement letters and notices will be posted no sooner than 10 days
after the date of each letter or notice released by FCC Special Counsel for
Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth. Direct all questions
regarding these communications to FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth,
rholling@fcc.gov.

* Kansas club marks 75th anniversary of ARRL affiliation: The Kaw Valley
Amateur Radio Club, W0CET, in Topeka Kansas, this year celebrates its 75th
anniversary of ARRL affiliation. The club is one of the oldest Amateur Radio
clubs in the US. Its Resolution of Affiliation with ARRL was signed
September 19, 1926. ARRL President and cofounder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW,
signed the original certificate of affiliation on November 1, 1926. While a
formal celebration is set for October 26-28, club members will be using
their own call signs with a /75 suffix all year long. The club has a long
history of public service in its community, including storm spotting and
ARES. More information about the Kaw Valley club and the anniversary
celebration is available on its Web site,
http://www.cjnetworks.com/~jzobel/kvarc.htm .--Cindy Watson N0YUR 

* NA1SS QSL routes: Here are the QSL routes for W/VE stations working NA1SS
aboard the International Space Station: US stations QSL to Margie Bourgoin,
KB1DCO, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Canadian stations QSL to
Radio Amateurs of Canada, 720 Belfast Rd--Suite 217, Ottawa, ON K1G 0Z5. A
self-addressed, stamped envelope is required to get a QSL in return. The
ARISS international group has not yet finalized a QSL card design, so it
could be a few months before cards become available.--ARISS 

* VE, UK amateurs to receive Transatlantic Challenge plaques: [This corrects
and clarifies an earlier news item on this topic.--Ed] For their efforts in
completing two-way Amateur Radio low-frequency contacts between the UK and
Canada, several UK and Canadian amateurs will receive a special
Transatlantic Challenge plaque. The plaque is dedicated to the memory of LF
pioneer Peter Bobek, DJ8WL, and sponsored by the Deutscher Amateur Radio
Club, the Radio Society of Great Britain and AMRAD. Larry Kayser, VA3LK, and
Laurie Mayhead, G3AQC, on February 19 completed a two week-long QSO on 136
kHz using very slow-speed CW--called QRSS--and spectral software for
receiving. At approximately the same time, Peter Dodd, G3LDO, Jack Leahy,
VE1ZZ, and John Currie, VE1ZJ, took part in a joint effort February 12 in
which Dodd and Leahy both transmitted around 136 kHz and Currie received
Dodd's QRSS signal using spectral software and relayed it to Leahy via HF. A
earlier Transatlantic Challenge plaque went to Currie and Dave Bowman,
G0MRF, for completing a crossband HF/LF QSO last September.

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