*************** 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, email@example.com . ==>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 firstname.lastname@example.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; email@example.com. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org. * 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 The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb at http://www.arrl.org for the latest news, updated as it happens. 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