ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 08
February 22, 2002
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +ARRL again challenges FCC on Part 15 authority
* +Incumbent Virginia SM wins in high-profile race
* +New York high schoolers quiz astronaut
* +ARISS says the days of "NOCALL" are numbered
* +San Diego SM praises amateurs' quick wildfire response
* +Tennessee the latest to consider amateur antenna bills
* +FCC redesigns Amateur Service Web site
*  ARRL announces on-line "Contest Soapbox"
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course registration
     Bursch and Walz complete space walk
     Call for papers issued for ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference
     Olympic special event redux

+Available on ARRL Audio News

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

==>ARRL CONTINUES TO CHALLENGE FCC OVER PART 15 AUTHORITY

The ARRL again has challenged the limits of the FCC's authority to permit
unlicensed operation of radio devices that may interfere with licensed
services. Opening another front in its campaign, the League has filed a
Petition for Reconsideration in response to an FCC Report & Order to allow
fixed point-to-point transmitters in the 24.05 to 24.25 GHz band to operate
at field strengths 10 times the level currently permitted under Part 15. The
ARRL has asked the FCC to reconsider and reverse a portion of its Order that
addresses the FCC's jurisdiction to authorize unlicensed operation of RF
devices that pose significant interference potential to licensed services.

"The Commission has expanded the concept of unlicensed devices far beyond
what its original concept allowed," the ARRL argues, "and far beyond what is
permissible pursuant to Section 301" of the Communications Act of 1934.
Amateur Radio is primary at 24.0 to 24.05 GHz and secondary on the rest of
the band. The AO-40 satellite includes beacon, digital and analog
transmitters in the vicinity of 24.048 GHz.

The ARRL recently raised similar arguments to combat a proposal by SAVI
Technology--in ET Docket 01-278 and RM-9375 and RM-10051--to permit
unlicensed RF identification tags to operate as unlicensed Part 15 devices
between 425 and 435 MHz. In that case, the ARRL said the FCC lacks authority
to permit the RFIDs to operate under Part 15 at the proposed field strengths
and duty cycles.

In the 24-GHz proceeding, the FCC first proposed permitting the Part 15
devices at the elevated field strengths in 1998, in response to a Petition
for Rule Making from Sierra Digital Communications Inc. The FCC released its
Order in the three-year-old proceeding, ET Docket 98-156, on December 11.

In its Order, the FCC took issue with ARRL's assertion that the FCC should
acknowledge that Part 15 devices are only allowed under the Communications
Act when they pose no interference potential to licensed services. Calling
the ARRL interpretation "overly conservative," the FCC said Part 15 rules
appropriately provide for unlicensed devices to "share spectrum with
licensed services" and provide adequate protection to licensed services if
interference does occur.

In its Petition for Reconsideration, filed February 13, the ARRL said the
issue is not whether the FCC has jurisdiction to enact reasonable
regulations concerning RF devices. "Rather," the League said, "it is whether
or not a device which has substantial interference potential to licensed
radio services must be licensed." The ARRL said the limit of the FCC's
jurisdiction to permit unlicensed operation of RF devices "is reached when
it is concluded that the operation of such devices has a substantial
interference potential to licensed services."

The FCC also had disagreed with ARRL that permitting Part 15 devices at the
higher field strengths--up to 2500 mV per meter--would increase the risk of
interference to amateur operations at 24.05 to 24.25 GHz. The Commission did
impose a requirement to use directional antennas. Part 15 field disturbance
sensors have operated in the band at 2500 mV/m field strengths "for years
with no adverse affects to other users in the band, including amateur
operations," the FCC added.

In its Petition for Reconsideration, the ARRL reiterated earlier comments
that the proposed power levels and antenna gain figures--33 dBi--were
"entirely inappropriate for Part 15 unlicensed facilities." The proposal is
tantamount to "a request that additional spectrum be allocated for fixed,
point-to-point microwave applications" such as those licensed routinely
under FCC's Part 101 rules, the League said.

The FCC "is incorrect in its assumption that it has unfettered jurisdiction"
to authorize unlicensed devices regardless of their interference potential,"
the ARRL concluded. It asked the FCC to make no changes in Part 15 and to
"review the rules adopted" by its Order "in view of the limits on its
jurisdiction" raised by the ARRL.

==>INCUMBENT VIRGINIA SECTION MANAGER WINS IN HIGH-PROFILE ELECTION

Incumbent Virginia Section Manager Carl A. Clements, W4CAC, has been elected
to a full term in his own right after beating back a challenge from former
Virginia SM Lynn Gahagan, AF4CD. The final tally was 976 to 779. In the
Pacific Section--the only other contested seat in the current SM election
cycle--Bob Schneider, AH6J, outpolled John D. Peters, K1ER, 137 to 112.
Votes were counted February 19 at ARRL Headquarters. 

The Virginia race attracted a greater than usual level of attention and
number of votes cast by ARRL members. Ballots had been pouring into ARRL
Headquarters since early January.

Gahagan, who was elected in April 1998 and re-elected without opposition two
years later, was effectively removed from office last May after the ARRL
Executive Committee declared the office vacant. The EC's action followed
failed attempts to resolve several issues regarding the administration of
the ARRL emergency communications program in Virginia. Clements was named to
fill the declared vacancy. 

At its January meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors revised rules to--among
other changes--prohibit a section manager removed from office from running
in the next SM election following removal. Anyone removed by action of the
Executive Committee would have to get that committee's consent to be
eligible to run again. The Board also gave the EC the power to cancel any
field organization appointment "whenever it appears to be in the best
interest of the ARRL to do so." Rules in place for this election cycle did
not prevent Gahagan from running again, however.

In the Pacific Section, Schneider, an ARRL Life Member from Keaau, Hawaii,
and a former SM, will replace incumbent Pacific SM Ron Phillips, AH6HN, who
decided not to run for a third term. Schneider formerly held the SM position
for two terms--from 1992 until 1996.

Candidates in five other ARRL sections ran unopposed and were declared
elected. Incumbent SMs re-elected to office were Pete Cecere, N2YJZ, Eastern
New York; Eric Olena, WB3FPL, Eastern Pennsylvania; Mickey Cox, K5MC,
Louisiana; and John Covington, W4CC, North Carolina. In San Diego, incumbent
SM Kent Tiburski, K6FQ--who was appointed in January--ran unopposed for a
full term. Tiburski is serving out the unexpired term of former SM Tuck
Miller, NZ6T, who won election as Southwestern Division Vice Director last
fall.

Two-year terms for all successful candidates begin April 1.

==>NEW YORK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS QUIZ SPACE STATION CREW

It was a happy Valentine's Day for students at Vestal High School in Vestal,
New York, as nine of them got to pose questions via ham radio to Dan Bursch,
KD5PNU, aboard the International Space Station. Bursch is a 1975 graduate of
the school. The contact was arranged by Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station--or ARISS--a cooperative venture of NASA, ARRL and AMSAT.

The astronauts' diet, exercise, research and daily life aboard the space
station were among the question topics. Among other projects, Bursch said,
the crew is involved in some physiological research involving lung function
before and after space walks--or EVAs. Bursch said research also was under
way to determine if it's possible to grow larger, more perfect crystals in
space.

Using the NA1SS call sign, Bursch said that "care and feeding of space
station" is a part of the crew members' everyday routine. "The idea is to
continue to build space station while we continue to live on board," he
said. "We're kinda jacks of all trades up here."

Asked about exercising aboard the ISS, Bursch remarked that it's really
important to work out every day. "If I miss even one day of exercise, I can
really notice it the next day," he said, adding that missing one exercise
day in space was like missing a week on Earth.

For reasons not entirely clear, the 2-meter downlink signal from the ISS
during the approximately 10-minute direct contact was plagued by fading and
noise, and the audio broke off altogether on several occasions. In addition,
audio was lower than usual. But those on the ground were thrilled
nonetheless. "The contact went very well," said Richard Crow, N2SPI, whose
call sign and equipment were used at the school. "The students as well as
those in the audience were quite impressed." Crow added that he thought the
weak signals "made the event much more impressive.".

Science teacher Chris Livingstone had a different take. "I don't know about
the quality of the signal," she said, "but I can tell you it was just a
wonderful experience."

==>ARISS PROMISES NO MORE "NOCALL" ON ISS PACKET

No more NOCALL! Normal packet activity--with a real call sign--should begin
soon on the International Space Station. Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station (ARISS) Board Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said Expedition 4
crew will install the new packet module sent up to the ISS last August, and
the system should be up and running by February 25.

Since Amateur Radio gear was installed on the ISS in 2000, the packet
system--crippled with a dead RAM (random access memory) backup battery--has
been operating in digipeat mode using the NOCALL call sign and other TNC
default settings. Earthbound users have been able to access the system
nonetheless, but the lack of a call sign has been an annoyance.

Expedition 3 Crew Commander Frank Culbertson, KD5OPQ, was to have changed
out the packet module during his ISS tour last year, but other duties took
priority. The new module, using the call sign RS0ISS, will employ a
specially developed ROM programmed with standard ISS defaults, a new battery
and an extended memory--up to one megabyte. The TNC also has eight-bit
capability to support Russian Cyrillic typesets, and a one-minute timeout
disconnect from the PMS if no pertinent packets are heard.

Although the mailbox function will be activated, hams are discouraged from
using it. "Currently there is no computer hooked up to the packet module,"
Bauer explained. "In addition, the crew will be much too busy to respond to
messages posted there."

ARISS packet radio frequencies will remain the same. The uplink is 145.99
MHz; the downlink is 145.80 MHz. For additional information, visit the ARISS
Web site <http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/EVAs/amsat01.pdf>.--ARISS

==>QUICK RESPONSE KEY FACTOR IN ARES WILDFIRE RESPONSE

San Diego Section Manager Kent Tiburski, K6FQ, says he was pleased that
amateurs in his section were able to activate quickly when wild fires broke
out earlier this month. Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Radio Amateur
Civil Emergency Service teams from the San Diego Section assisted the
American Red Cross and local agencies in responding to the Fallbrook fire.

"I'm really proud that our hams can mobilize so quickly," Tiburski said. Our
training has lent itself to this type of response, and our hams have proven
they are up to the task."

San Diego Section Emergency Coordinator Dave Doan, KC6YSO, said ARES moved
quickly into action February 10 when Section Duty Officer Norm Swanson,
KF6GOF, got the call from the American Red Cross. At that point, the fire
was threatening homes, evacuations already were under way, and the Red Cross
had opened a shelter at Fallbrook High School. Fallbrook EC Randy Jones,
KD6UAK, promptly assigned three amateurs to assist at the shelter site.

Swanson also notified ARES Red Cross Communications Coordinator Al Rich,
W6WYN, who began mobilizing operators for duty at the Red Cross Emergency
Operations Center. The Red Cross Mobile Command Vehicle (MCV), with Don
Bain, N6CEO, and Jim Coons, N6LWL, aboard, soon was on its way to Fallbrook.
Communication was maintained with the shelter at Fallbrook High School
through the evening of February 10.

Driven by winds gusting to more than 65 MPH, the fire destroyed more than 40
homes as well as 17 other structures, Doan reported. Among the 22 vehicles
lost were two fire engines. More than 1000 firefighters battled the blaze.

The following day, the winds had died down and the fire had moved into the
Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton. Swanson was dispatched to the shelter,
and the MCV was moved to the Red Cross Service Center at the Fallbrook Boys'
and Girls' Club, to support damage assessment communications. Several
amateurs pitched in to help with that task.

Doan thanked the Palomar Amateur Radio Club on behalf of the San Diego ARES
team for the use of the club's W6NWG 146.730 and 147.130 MHz repeaters.

==>AMATEUR ANTENNA BILLS FILED IN TENNESSEE 

Tennessee has become the latest state to consider Amateur Radio antenna
legislation. Identical bills were filed January 31 in both houses of the
102nd Tennessee General Assembly that would incorporate the essence of the
limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into state law.

House Bill 2973 and Senate Bill 3058 would amend Tennessee law to require
that municipalities regulating the placement, screening or height of radio
antennas "reasonably accommodate amateur radio antennas" and impose only the
"minimum requirements necessary" to meet legitimate local requirements. In
addition, if the legislation is approved and signed by Gov Don Sundquist,
municipalities in Tennessee would not be able to restrict the number of
support structures for an Amateur Radio antenna.

The proposals would limit municipalities from imposing restrictions on
Amateur Radio antenna height according to a three-tier schedule. In rural
areas with a population densities of 120 or fewer per square mile, the
minimum regulatory height would be 200 feet; in areas where the population
density exceeds 120 per square mile, the minimum regulatory height would be
140 feet on lots of an acre or larger and 75 feet on lots of less than one
acre. 

Municipalities still would be able to impose requirements "to meet clearly
defined objectives relating to screening, placement, aesthetic, and health
and safety factors with respect to the erection, maintenance and operation
of amateur radio antennas." The proposed bills would grandfather amateur
antennas already in place before the effective date of the legislation.

Both bills now are in committee. The full text of the proposed bills is
available on the Tennessee General Assembly Web site
<http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/bills/currentga/BILL/HB2973.pdf>.

Thirteen states have incorporated the essence of PRB-1 into their laws. A
measure awaits the governor's signature in Wisconsin. New PRB-1 legislation
or bills to expand existing PRB-1 laws are under consideration in at least
three other states.

==>FCC REDESIGNS AMATEUR SERVICE WEB SITE

The FCC has redesigned its Amateur Radio Service Web site and changed the
URL <http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/amateur/>. The new layout makes it
easier to find information on topics most requested by amateurs, including
licensing, amateur exams, filing an application, changing an address or
using the Universal Licensing System (ULS). The refurbished site also
provides links to recent Amateur Radio-related news from the FCC.

"The new design is a part of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's
continuing effort to meet the needs of the Amateur Radio Service operators
as identified in focus groups, letters, phone calls, and e-mails," the FCC
said in a news release.

The new design clusters FCC public notices, news releases, and other
official documents affecting Amateur Radio operators on the right side of
the page. On the left side of the page, the new navigation scheme displays
information on the Amateur Radio Service, the sequential call sign system,
licensing and vanity call signs as well as amateur-related communications
policies such as reciprocal agreements. The site also offers links to
information on the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1, the Part 97
Amateur Service rules and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and ULS
sites. 

The site, launched on February 20, includes a search engine for the entire
FCC Web site <http://www.fcc.gov>. Direct questions or comments concerning
the FCC's Amateur Radio Service Web site to Bobby Brown, babrown@fcc.gov, or
Jennifer Bush, jbush@fcc.gov. For information concerning the Amateur Radio
Service, contact Bill Cross, bcross@fcc.gov; 202-418-0680. 

==>ARRL ANNOUNCES ON-LINE "CONTEST SOAPBOX"

The ARRL Contest Branch has opened a new on-line Contest Soapbox page
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/soapbox> for ARRL Contests. The site
officially opened February 17, just in time for participants in the ARRL
International DX Contest (CW) to take advantage.

"Our goal is to provide an entertaining and educational resource that can
help attract interest in the contesting area of our hobby," said ARRL
Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. The ARRL Contest Soapbox is open
to all--ARRL members and non-members. Henderson said the new site will offer
participants an on-line home to share soapbox comments, photographs and
narratives related to ARRL-sponsored operating events. 

"We encourage you to visit the site and post comments," Henderson said.
"Focus your comments on your involvement in the contest--funny things that
happened, new experiences for you in the contest, stories that may help
others to learn from your efforts, or simply your general impression of the
event."

Henderson reminded participants that the potential audience to view postings
is broad. "We encourage you to exercise decorum in your postings," Henderson
added. The ARRL reserves the right to edit or decline posts that may be
inappropriate. Responsibility for content of all posts rests exclusively
with the item's author. ARRL staff assumes no responsibility for errors,
omissions, and accuracy. All questions and comments should be directed to
the person originating the item.

The ARRL Contest Soapbox is a work-in-progress, Henderson said. "Over the
next several months and contests, we will be making additions and changes to
the site." He welcomed suggestions for improvements via e-mail
<n1nd@arrl.org>;.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Sun watcher Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily
sunspot numbers and solar flux were both down this week. Fortunately,
geomagnetic indices were low as well. Average daily planetary A index
dropped from 10 to 6.

The latest projection shows flux values around 200 for the next few days,
gradually declining toward 180 around March 6. There isn't much visible
sunspot activity, and holographic images show nothing substantial on the
sun's far side. Geomagnetic conditions could become unstable by Saturday
with a planetary A index around 20. This is because of a coronal mass
ejection that left the sun on February 20, erupting from sunspot 9825. This
area is right at the northwestern edge of the visible solar disk, so any
effect on Earth is uncertain.

Sunspot numbers for February 14 through 20 were 209, 156, 134, 121, 103, 130
and 157, with a mean of 144.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 196.1, 195, 193.5,
196.6, 192.8, 189.4 and 193.4, with a mean of 193.8. Estimated planetary A
indices were 4, 4, 5, 8, 9, 4 and 8 with a mean of 6.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The CQ 160-Meter Contest (SSB), the REF Contest
(SSB), the UBA DX Contest (CW), the High Speed Club CW Contest, the North
Carolina QSO Party, and the CQC Winter QSO Party are the weekend of February
23-24. JUST AHEAD: The CQ 160-Meter Contest (SSB), the REF Contest (SSB),
the UBA DX Contest (CW), the High Speed Club CW Contest, the North Carolina
QSO Party and the CQC Winter QSO Party are the weekend of February 24-25.
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 registration: Registration
for the Level III Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-003)
will remain open through February 24 or until the 50 seats are
filled--whichever occurs first. March registration for Level I opens Monday,
March 4, at 4 PM Eastern Time. 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 additional information, contact Certification and Continuing Education
Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, cce@arrl.org. 

* Bursch and Walz complete space walk: International Space Station
Expedition 4 astronauts Carl Walz, KC5TIE, and Dan Bursch, KD5PNU,
successfully completed a nearly six-hour spacewalk--or EVA--February 20. The
two tested equipment and procedures for the Quest airlock and performed
other tasks to prepare for the STS-110 shuttle Atlantis mission to the ISS
in April. Walz and Bursch used an oxygen/exercise protocol to purge nitrogen
from their bloodstreams. Scientists used the spacewalk to gather additional
data for an experiment looking at the effects of spacewalks and long-term
exposure to microgravity on lung function--an experiment Bursch mentioned in
a recent Amateur Radio on the International Space Station contact with high
school students. Walz and Bursch each had made one previous spacewalk from
the ISS in January, when new Amateur Radio antennas were installed outside
the Zvezda Service Module. Following the spacewalk, crew members spent the
next day in the ISS Russian segment as the atmosphere in the US segment was
cleaned due to an odor that apparently originated from a system that
cleanses US spacesuit air scrubbers in the Quest airlock. The crew was not
believed to be in any danger, however.--NASA

* Call for papers issued for ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference: A
call has been issued for technical papers for presentation at the 21st
annual ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference. The DCC will be held
September 13-15, 2002, in Denver, Colorado. Papers also will be published in
the Conference Proceedings, available from the ARRL. Presentation at the
conference is not required for publication. Papers are due by August 5.
Conference registration details and updates are available on the TAPR Web
site <http://www.tapr.org/dcc>. The ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications
Conference is an international forum for radio amateurs to meet, publish
their work, and present new ideas and techniques. Presenters and attendees
will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn about recent hardware
and software advances, theories, experimental results, and practical
applications. Topics include, but are not limited to, software defined radio
(SDR); digital voice; digital satellite communications; global position
system (GPS); Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) and short
messaging; digital signal processing (DSP); HF digital modes; Internet
interoperability with Amateur Radio networks; spread spectrum; Amateur Radio
use of 802.11 technologies; TCP/IP networking over Amateur Radio; mesh and
peer-to-peer wireless networking; emergency and homeland defense backup
digital communications; using Linux in Amateur Radio; updates on AX.25 and
other wireless networking protocols. E-mail papers to Maty Weinberg, KB1EIB,
at ARRL Headquarters <maty@arrl.org>;.

* Olympic special event redux: Special event stations associated with the
Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City have been racking up hundreds of
contacts. W7U and WA7ITZ/W19OG (for "19th Winter Olympic Games") have been
on the air since the games began. WA7ITZ/W19OG operator Ray Friess reports
he's worked more than 1000 stations; W7U has logged some 2000 contacts. On
February 19, W7U and W19OG hooked up on 20 meters. "We not only worked each
other, but we both stayed on the same frequency and worked the pileup
together, giving other hams the chance to work both Olympic special event
stations at the same time," Friess said. "Two for the price of one! We
called it our blue light special." There are other special event stations on
the air to commemorate the games. Rich Fisher, NS7K, reports he's been
active as K7K during the Winter Olympics. K7K is operating on 80 through 6
meters. A fourth Olympics special event station, K7O, is scheduled to be on
the air February 22-24. For W7U contacts, QSL to W7EO, PO Box 98,
Grantsville, UT 84029. For W19OG contacts, QSL to WA7ITZ, 1801 Jennifer Way,
Salt Lake City, UT 84116. An SASE would be appreciated. For K7K contacts,
QSL to Rich Fisher, NS7K, 590 W 200 S, Clearfield, UT 84015. For K7O
contacts, QSL to Gordon Smith, K7HFV, 632 University St, Salt Lake City, UT
84102-3213.

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