ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 01
January 4, 2002
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +ARRL mulling Congressional action on CC&Rs
* +New Hampshire Supreme Court decision favors PRB-1
* +AO-40 enters dark period
* +FCC seeks help in peculiar interference case
* +Mitnick's ham ticket designated for renewal hearing
* +Badger State Smoke Signals Editor Jim Romelfanger, K9ZZ, SK
* +Rhode Island Section Manager Armand Lambert, K1FLD, SK
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course January registration
     Question pools to remain valid for four years
     New Zealand amateur LF signal heard in Nova Scotia!
     Almost--but not quite--2 million cards in 2001
     Cards invited for soon-to-be-nonagenarian New Zealand ham
     Guantanamo Bay QSL bureau closes
     Spark gap signal heard for hundreds of miles
     Standardized list applies only to ARRL Club Competition participants

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>FCC DENIAL LEAVES LEAGUE EYEING CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON DEED RESTRICTIONS

The ARRL got the proverbial lump of coal in its stocking in late December,
but it wasn't from Santa. The FCC affirmed a November 2000 staff-level
decision that declined to include privately imposed deed covenants,
conditions and restrictions--CC&Rs--under the limited federal preemption
known as PRB-1. That policy requires municipalities to "reasonably
accommodate" amateur communication in antenna-related zoning and regulation.

The ARRL a year ago appealed to have the full FCC review the earlier denial.
The Commission turned down the League's Application for Review December 18
in a Memorandum Opinion and Order released December 26. 

"There has not been a sufficient showing that CC&Rs prevent Amateur Radio
operators from pursuing the basis and purpose of the Amateur Service," the
FCC said. The Commission said hams still can get on the air without
installing residential antenna systems by operating away from home, while
mobile or at club stations.

The FCC said it recognizes the importance of preserving the integrity of
contractual relations that CC&Rs represent. It asserted that the ARRL had
submitted no specific evidence that would persuade it to abandon its
long-standing policy of excluding CC&Rs from PRB-1.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, expressed disappointment in the
Commission's ruling. "The biggest problem Amateur Radio operators face today
is being able to put up an antenna," Haynie said. "Our only approach now is
to get a bill into Congress." 

The FCC itself even hinted that Congressional action ought to be a next
logical step. "However, should Congress see fit to enact a statutory
directive mandating the expansion of our reasonable accommodation policy,"
the FCC declared in its MO&O, "the Commission would expeditiously act to
fulfill its obligation thereunder."

Haynie conceded that extending PRB-1 protection to CC&Rs would be "a tough
sell" to members of Congress. He noted, however, that it's getting more
difficult all the time for amateurs to find desirable housing that does not
come with deed covenants and restrictions. "It's extremely serious for the
amateur community, because it restricts what hams will be able to do in the
future," he said.

The topic is likely to be the focus of additional discussion at this month's
meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors.

In its Application for Review in late 2000, the ARRL maintained that the FCC
should have the same interest in the effective performance of an Amateur
Radio station and in the promotion of amateur communications regardless of
whether the licensee's property is publicly regulated or privately governed
by homeowners' associations and their architectural control committees. 

A copy of the FCC's Memorandum Opinion & Order in RM-8763 is available on
the FCC Web site
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-01-372A1.doc>.

==>NEW HAMPSHIRE ANTENNA DECISION UPHOLDS PRB-1

A New Hampshire ham appears to have won a battle to erect an antenna support
structure on his property. It remains to be seen, however, whether Jerry
Muller, K0TV, of Hudson will be allowed to erect the extensive system of
towers that he'd originally planned. In a 4-0 vote, with one justice
abstaining, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire reversed a lower court ruling
that ordered Muller, an ARRL Life Member, to dismantle the three towers he
had erected on part of his six-acre residential tract.

Writing for the court in Marchand v. Town of Hudson, New Hampshire Chief
Justice David A. Brock concluded that the lower court's order requiring
Muller to dismantle his towers violated the limited federal preemption known
as PRB-1 as well as New Hampshire's statutory codification of PRB-1. "In
light of the FCC's clear directive, we agree that the superior court erred
when it ordered the towers removed," Brock stated in a ruling issued
December 31, 2001. The Supreme Court ruling vacates the dismantling order
and sends the matter back to the town's zoning board of adjustment for
consideration in light of PRB-1.

ARRL New England Division Vice Director and Volunteer Counsel Mike Raisbeck,
K1TWF, represented Muller in written and oral arguments before the New
Hampshire Supreme Court. ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, also filed
an amicus brief on ARRL's behalf.

Unlike many amateur antenna battles, this case did not pit Muller against
the town. In December 1998, Muller applied for a permit to erect three
100-foot antenna structures on his property, and the Town of Hudson granted
the permit. Three of Muller's neighbors appealed the grant of the permit,
but the Hudson ZBA affirmed the grant. The neighbors then sued the town and
won, resulting in the order for Muller to dismantle that's now been vacated.

While Muller has won the right to get on the air in some capacity, he will
still have to make a case for his proposed three-tower installation. Brock
agreed with the lower court that Muller's three-tower installation did not
qualify as a "customary, incidental and subordinate" accessory use permitted
by Hudson's ordinance. Another amateur in Hudson has a tower at the same
height, but there are no instances of three such towers on the same
property. Raisbeck explained that New Hampshire's accessory use statute
relies on the prevailing local, not statewide, standard.

Nevertheless, Brock said that Muller's installation may be permitted within
the framework of PRB-1, if Muller can demonstrate that his three towers are
necessary to "reasonably accommodate" his communications needs.

Thirteen states have incorporated PRB-1 into their statutes. The full text
of the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision is available on the Court's Web
site <http://www.state.nh.us/courts/supreme/opinions/0112/march221.htm>.

==>AO-40 "OFFICIALLY IN THE 'DEAD ZONE'"

AO-40 satellite ground controllers have begun adjusting the spacecraft's
attitude as it enters a period of unfavorable sun angles. AO-40 command
station team member Stacey Mills, W4SM, says that AO-40's operating schedule
has been modified slightly to reflect the decreasing attitude longitude
(ALON).

"As expected, the satellite has lost sun sensor lock, so we are now
officially in the 'dead zone'," Mills reported. The satellite is currently
in a long period during which Earth eclipses the sun near perigee--its point
closest to Earth. These periods will continue well into next June. 

The satellite relies on solar panels for its power. In late November, Mills
said that necessary adjustments to AO-40's attitude to compensate for
unfavorable sun angles over the next several months would lead to some down
time for the spacecraft's transponders. The attitude shifting necessary to
compensate for the unfavorable sun angle will leave AO-40's antennas
pointing away from Earth for several weeks.

To save power, the transponder passbands were being turned off at various
times, and the RUDAK digital transponder was scheduled to be off for up to
five days.

Mills has said there will be periods of no transponder activity and a much
longer period of limited--but progressively increasing--transponder
activity. "AO-40 command stations will make every effort to activate AO-40's
transponders, even if for only a short time each orbit, when conditions are
appropriate," he said. Mills said he anticipated being able to keep the
transponders active through the eclipse period for an hour or so right after
perigee.

Yoshi Takeyasu, JA6XKQ, of the JAMSAT SCOPE team, recently announced the
release of several new photos taken by the SCOPE cameras aboard AO-40. The
photos are available on the JAMSAT Web site
<http://www.jamsat.or.jp/scope/011215/>. 

For more information on AO-40, visit the AMSAT-NA Web site
<http://www.amsat.org/>.

==>FCC ASKS BROADCASTER, POWER COMPANY TO HELP CURE WEIRD INTERFERENCE

The FCC has written a Cincinnati AM radio station and the electric utility
serving that region to help resolve an unusual and longstanding interference
situation affecting local amateurs. Sharon Bowers of the FCC's Consumer
Information Bureau in December wrote Clear Channel-owned WLW and Cinergy
Corp citing numerous reports of apparently spurious signals associated with
WLW transmissions that have been monitored over a wide area and frequency
range.

"Many of these reports indicate that, although the noise is associated with
WLW transmissions, the strongest signals appear to be originating some
distance from the WLW transmitter site, possibly on a high-voltage tower
owned by Cinergy Corp," Bowers wrote. The FCC said the circumstances suggest
that multiple sources of interference are involved. According to the FCC
database, WLW operates on 700 kHz with 50,000 W into a single, top-loaded
half-wave vertical tower.

One of the amateurs affected--Bob Reiff, WA8ULW, of Mason, where WLW's tower
is sited--said that while the noise is most noticeable on 160 meters, it's
showing up elsewhere. "It is pervasive in the spectrum," Reiff told ARRL,
"and, we suspect, it is causing us problems even on our 2-meter repeater."

The FCC said that Reiff and the other complainants attempted unsuccessfully
for the past two years to work with WLW and Cinergy.

Bowers noted that WLW and Cinergy already have "expended considerable
efforts" to locate the noise source and cause, but the noise remained "as
strong as ever according to recent reports." She noted that the noise became
intermittent after some recent work done on a Cinergy high-voltage tower,
and she expressed the FCC's appreciation for the cooperation to date. But,
Bowers admonished, the FCC expects the responsible party to address any
reports causing harmful interference to a licensed radio service.

"While the Commission recognizes that this is an unusual case, and the
source could turn out to be something unexpected," Bowers wrote, "the
Commission is turning to the radio station and electric utility company,
asking for your help and cooperation in finding the source of the noise."

Ohio ARRL Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE, credited the activities of
the Greater Cincinnati Local Interference Committee with helping to bring
the interference case to the FCC's attention. 

==>FCC DESIGNATES COMPUTER HACKER'S HAM TICKET RENEWAL FOR HEARING

Citing character issues, the FCC has designated for hearing the Amateur
Radio license renewal application of convicted computer hacker Kevin D.
Mitnick, N6NHG. Mitnick's history of illegal computer-related
activity--which includes several convictions and prison sentences--dates
back more than a decade. Not long after his latest US District Court
conviction in August 1999, Mitnick filed with the FCC to renew his General
ticket.

"Mr. Mitnick's criminal background raises a substantial and material
question of whether he possesses the requisite character qualifications to
be and remain a Commission licensee," the FCC said in a Hearing Designation
Order released December 21. "Given his propensity to engage in criminal
activities, particularly those involving fraud, we have serious reservations
about Mr. Mitnick's ability to comply with our rules and regulations in the
future."

Mitnick, 38, has been licensed for about 25 years. In 1999, Mitnick was
sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, the FCC said, after pleading
guilty to wire fraud, computer fraud and illegally intercepting a wire
communication--all felonies. Prior to that, the FCC Order stated, he'd
received a 22-month term for possessing cloned cell phones and for violating
his supervised release after a 1989 conviction for computer fraud. He's
currently on probation following his January 2001 release from federal
prison.

This is not the first time that the FCC has attempted to apply character
issues to a ham radio license renewal case. In designating Mitnick's license
renewal for hearing, the FCC invoked the case of Herbert Schoenbohm,
ex-KV4FZ, whose lengthy efforts to renew his amateur license were scuttled
on the basis of character issues that, in part, stemmed from a 1992 federal
fraud conviction.

The Order also referenced the case of Leslie Brewer, ex-KC4HAZ, whose
license was revoked and a fine levied last year after the FCC said he lacked
the basic character qualifications to be and remain a Commission licensee on
the basis of his "pirate radio and other unlawful activities."

Mitnick's license expired December 12, 1999, but he may continue to operate
until action is taken on his renewal application. The FCC's Order is
available on the FCC Web site
<http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2001/db1221/fcc01359.doc>.

==>BADGER STATE SMOKE SIGNALS EDITOR JIM ROMELFANGER, K9ZZ, SK

A voice for Amateur Radio in Wisconsin has gone silent. Jim Romelfanger,
K9ZZ, of Baraboo, died December 22 at his home after suffering an apparent
heart attack. He was 60. An ARRL Life Member, Romelfanger had served as
Wisconsin's Public Information Coordinator. He also was the editor of the
Badger State Smoke Signals, a Wisconsin Amateur Radio newspaper. 

K9ZZ was a prime mover behind the annual Circus World Museum Circus Train
Amateur Radio special event each summer and a guiding force in efforts to
see a ham radio antenna bill enacted in Wisconsin.

"Jim was a force in Wisconsin Amateur Radio for many years, and he will be
missed," said ARRL Wisconsin Section Manager Don Michalski, W9IXG.

A polio patient as a youngster in the mid-1950s, Romelfanger was first
licensed in 1958 as KN6LWB, later K6LWB, on the West Coast. He became K9PKQ
after moving back to his native Wisconsin and later obtained K9ZZ via the
vanity call sign program. Romelfanger was a charter member of the Yellow
Thunder Amateur Radio Club.

An ARRL member for 40 years, Romelfanger was a contributor to various
Amateur Radio publications, including QST, CQ and Popular Electronics, the
ARRL Web site, and The ARRL Letter.

In addition to his Amateur Radio-related activities, Romelfanger edited the
monthly newsletter of the Sauk County chapter of Wisconsin Right to Life. An
accomplished photographer, his photos appeared in the Baraboo News Republic
and the Wisconsin State Journal. He also once worked at the Badger Army
Ammunition Plant and later participated in the filming of a documentary on
the facility, which has been shut down.

He enjoyed a radio career at stations in Nebraska and Wisconsin. In his
later years he appeared in a television ad campaign for HIS jeans and was an
extra in the Julia Roberts-Nick Nolte film I Love Trouble. Among his friends
he counted Dean Torrance of the surfing music duo Jan and Dean.

A service was held December 28. Memorial gifts are invited to the St Vincent
DePaul Society, the American Heart Association, the Wisconsin State
Historical Society, Wisconsin Right to Life or mass offerings.

==>RHODE ISLAND SECTION MANAGER ARMAND LAMBERT, K1FLD, SK

Rhode Island ARRL Section Manager Armand E. Lambert, K1FLD, died December
31, 2001, at his home in Woonsocket following a lengthy illness. He was 58.

"Armand was one of the nicest people I've ever met, and he was a steady hand
as Rhode Island Section Manager," said New England Division Director Tom
Frenaye, K1KI. "He was someone who really left the world better as a result
of his efforts."

In 1999, Lambert outpolled two other candidates to succeed Rick Fairweather,
K1KYI, who did not run for another term. He also had served as an ARRL VEC
volunteer examiner. An ARRL member, Lambert was a regular participant in the
New England Division cabinet meetings and, on Field Day, he made it a
practice to visit as many sites in Rhode Island as possible. He also was
president of the Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio Club. 

Lambert's wife, Simone, KA1YVF, reported that Armand had suffered a
recurrence of kidney cancer nine weeks ago which was untreatable and that he
passed on peacefully on New Year's Eve. She also thanked all who had sent
expressions of support. "You made Armand's transition one of love," she
said.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 12, 2:30 PM at Lafayette
Masonic Temple Lodge, Nate Whipple Highway, Arnold Mills, Cumberland, Rhode
Island. Part of the service will be a time for stories, and she asked those
unable to attend to share their memories via e-mail <simlamb@home.com>; for
reading at the service. 

Simone Lambert invited memorial donations in lieu of flowers to Rhode Island
Satsang Society Inc, ECKANKAR, Religion of the Light and Sound of God, 2914
Post Road--Unit #3, Warwick, RI 02886-3168.

A successor as Rhode Island's SM will be appointed to complete Lambert's
term of office.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Heliophile Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Happy new year!
Because this is the first bulletin of the new year, we'll spend some time
reviewing last year.

If we look at the average daily solar flux and sunspot numbers for 2001, it
was really a very good year with lots of activity, considering that the peak
was supposed to be in 2000. Average daily sunspot numbers for the years
1997-2001 were 30.7, 88.5, 136.3, 172.8 and 170.3. Average daily solar flux
values for those same years were 81, 117.7, 153.7, 179.5 and 181.6. Given
those numbers, both 2000 and 2001 look like peak years for the cycle.

Average quarterly sunspot numbers for 2001 were 147.3, 164.8, 170.4 and
198.1. Average quarterly solar flux for the same period was 164.4, 166.7,
175.5 and 219.1, so solar activity increased over the year.

Over the past week, average sunspot numbers were up 13 points, and average
solar flux was about the same. Sunday had unsettled geomagnetic conditions,
probably from a flare on Friday. Friday's flare upset the 10.7-cm receiver
at the Penticton observatory, which read a solar flux of 655.6 for the day.
This was adjusted downward by NOAA SESC to 263.

Predicted solar flux for Friday through Monday is 220, 215, 210 and 210.

Sunspot numbers for December 20 through 26 were 171, 215, 234, 220, 176, 246
and 290, with a mean of 221.7. The 10.7-cm flux was 221.1, 234.3, 242.8,
254.6, 274.5, 258.8 and 267.8, with a mean of 250.6. Estimated planetary A
indices were 5, 11, 8, 7, 19, 8 and 7, with a mean of 9.3.

Sunspot numbers for December 27 through January 2 were 268, 263, 222, 218,
209, 222 and 241, with a mean of 234.7. The 10.7-cm flux was 274.6, 263,
264.4, 246.6, 245.6, 232.2 and 231.1, with a mean of 251.1. Estimated
planetary A indices were 6, 5, 10, 17, 11, 7 and 7, with a mean of 9.

_________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL RTTY Roundup, Kid's Day, and the AGCW
QRP Winter Contest are the weekend of January 5-6. JUST AHEAD: The North
American QSO Party (CW), the Japan International DX Contest, Hunting Lions
in the Air, Midwinter Contest (CW and SSB), the NRAU-Baltic Contest (CW and
SSB), and the DARC 10-Meter Contest are the weekend of January 12-13. See
the ARRL Contest Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and the WA7BNM
Contest Calendar, <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more
info.

* Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course January registration:
Registration for the Level I Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course
(EC-001) will open Monday, January 7, 2002, at 4 PM Eastern Time.
Registration for Level II (EC-002) will open on Monday, January 14;
registration for Level III (EC-003) will open January 21. Courses must be
completed in order, starting with Level I. To learn more, visit the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce>
and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Certification
and Continuing Education Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, cce@arrl.org. 

* Question pools to remain valid for four years: The Question Pool Committee
of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators has announced
that starting with the new Amateur Extra (Element 4) question pool released
November 30 and going into effect this July 1, all question pools will be
valid for four years. QPC Chairman Scotty Neustadter, W4WW, says the shift
from a three to a four-year schedule will enable the QPC to do a better job
in developing syllabi and pools for the various examination elements and
allow more opportunities for public input.

* New Zealand amateur LF signal heard in Nova Scotia! Another new
low-frequency distance record is being claimed. New Zealand DX tests
coordinator Bob Vernall, ZL2CA, reports that on December 15, John Currie,
VE1ZJ, in Canada, managed to receive and positively identify 136-kHz signals
from ZL6QH, in New Zealand. ZL6QH, the Quartz Hill club station, is run by
the Wellington Amateur Radio Club. The path from ZL6QH near Wellington to
VE1ZJ in Sydney, Nova Scotia, has been calculated at 15,645 km--around 9700
miles. VE1ZJ detected the ZL6QH transmission using a PC and ARGO DSP
software. An Amateur Radio LF signal spanned the Pacific for the first time
on June 30, 2001, when Steve McDonald, VE7SL, of British Columbia, Canada,
detected a 184-kHz signal from ZL6QH. The feat was repeated in September.
Vernall said the next test from ZL6QH in the 136-kHz band likely would occur
in mid-January. The ARRL has petitioned the FCC to authorize Amateur Radio
allocations at 136 kHz and in the 160-190 kHz band. The petition is pending.


* Almost--but not quite--2 million cards in 2001: ARRL QSL Service Manager
Martin Cook, N1FOC, reports that the final shipment of 138,925 QSL cards on
December 31, 2001, brought the total for the year to 1,932,315 cards. "This
is 63,420 more than last year," Cook said. The upswing in the number of QSL
cards handled via the outgoing QSL service over the past couple of years has
roughly corresponded with the current solar cycle peak. 

* Cards invited for soon-to-be-nonagenarian New Zealand ham: The daughter of
a New Zealander who might just be that country's oldest active amateur has
invited hams to send birthday greetings to her dad. Len Hopkinson, ZL3IE,
will turn 90 on January 14. His daughter, Noeline Sapwell, says he's been a
ham since 1925. "He is still active daily on the air even though he is
nearly blind and can no longer attend the local radio club," she told ARRL.
"What I would love for Dad for his 90th birthday is to receive some cards
from hams from all around the world wishing him a happy 90th birthday. I
know it will definitely bring great joy to Dad." Cards go to Len G.
Hopkinson, ZL3IE, 17 Andrew St, Timaru 8601, New Zealand. 

* Guantanamo Bay QSL bureau closes: The QSL bureau for KG4 two-letter suffix
call signs in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been closed. All operations from
"Gitmo" should specify QSL manager information.

* Spark gap signal heard for hundreds of miles: David Wilson, VE3BBN,
reports his commemorative spark gap transmissions December 12 to celebrate
the 100th anniversary of Marconi's 1901 transatlantic experiments were heard
hundreds of miles away. Wilson, who lives near Niagara Falls, Ontario, built
a low-power rotary spark transmitter and secured permission from Industry
Canada (that country's FCC equivalent) to use it briefly on 80 meters. He
transmitted "MARCONI S" twice a minute and said he got more than 450 reports
but estimated that only about 60 of them were valid. "The best distance was
Kansas City," he said--some 850 miles away. He noted that the majority of
the reports were in the 200 to 400-mile range. Additional information,
photos and audio of what his transmitter sounds like are available on the
"Spark Gap Transmitter Signals for Marconi Centennial" Web site
<http://www.qsl.net/g4rfr/marconi.htm>. 

* Standardized list applies only to ARRL Club Competition participants: ARRL
Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, notes that the recently
announced list of club abbreviations that appears on the ARRL Web site
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/club-list.html> is only for the convenience of
operators whose clubs typically participate in the ARRL November
Sweepstakes, the ARRL International DX Contest, the ARRL 160-Meter Contest,
the ARRL 10-Meter Contest and the ARRL-sponsored VHF events in January and
September. Points for these contests count toward the club competition
totals. Field Day participation, while appreciated, does not count toward
the ARRL Affiliated Club Competition program. It is not necessary for clubs
that only participate in Field Day to be shown on the club list. The
standardized list of club designators enables the ARRL contest robot to
properly count electronically submitted contest scores toward a club's ARRL
Affiliated Club Competition point total. 

=========================================================== 
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
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Rick Lindquist, N1RL
Senior News Editor
ARRL--The National Association for Amateur Radio
860-594-0222
n1rl@arrl.org
See Late-Breaking Amateur Radio News at http://www.arrl.org/
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(or call 860-594-0384)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 

The ARRL Letter

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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