ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 12
March 22, 2002
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +ARRL asks FCC to eliminate, "refarm" Novice CW bands
* +FCC treading carefully in vanity resumption
* +Both US astronauts aboard the ISS enjoy successful school contacts
* +Appalachian amateurs respond to flooding
* +FCC notification leads to repeater shutdown
* +DXCC cuts backlog to days instead of weeks
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ARRL Development wants to know
     Correction
     FCC opens proceeding to mitigate orbital debris
    +N9SH is Illinois' once and future Section Manager
     K8OCL to chair ARRL's High-Speed Digital and Multimedia Working Group
     Last call for 2002 USA ARDF Championships
    +PCsat reported in trouble
     Atlantic Division awards nominations sought

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================
EDITOR'S NOTE: ARRL Headquarters will be closed Friday, March 29, for the
holiday weekend. The March 29 editions of The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio
News will be posted and distributed on Thursday, March 28.--Rick Lindquist,
N1RL
===========================================================

==>ARRL ASKS FCC TO ELIMINATE, "REFARM" NOVICE CW BANDS

The ARRL has asked the FCC to eliminate the 80, 40 and 15-meter
Novice/Technician Plus CW subbands as such and reuse that spectrum in part
to expand the phone allocations on 80 and 40 meters. In a Petition for Rule
Making filed March 22, the League requests that the FCC revise its Amateur
Service rules in accordance with the modified Novice band "refarming" scheme
the ARRL Board of Directors okayed in January. The Petition has not yet been
put on public notice for comment.

"The opportunity to eliminate the Novice and Technician-Plus telegraphy
subbands and the reapportionment of those inefficiently deployed segments
will allow alleviation of significant, sometimes critical, overcrowding in
the popular Amateur HF allocations," the ARRL said in its Petition.

The ARRL also cited "substantial advancements in the use of digital
techniques" in the HF bands--such as PSK31--to bolster its assertion that a
refarming plan for the underutilized Novice HF subbands "cannot wait longer
and must proceed now." The refarming plan adopted was based on the
recommendations of the ARRL Novice Spectrum Study Committee following a
survey of the amateur community last year. Under the proposal, no operator
class would lose privileges, and most would gain. 

If the FCC approves the plan, current Novice and Technician Plus (ie,
Technician with Element 1 credit) licensees would be permitted to operate on
the 80, 40, 15 and 10-meter General-class CW allocations at up to 200-W
output. For General and higher class operators, the ARRL wants the FCC to
implement changes in the 80, 40 and 15-meter "phone" bands.

On 80 meters (3500-4000 kHz), phone privileges would begin at 3725 kHz for
Extra, at 3750 kHz for Advanced and at 3800 kHz for General--another 25 kHz
for Extra and Advanced operators and another 50 kHz for Generals. On 40
meters (7000-7300 kHz), phone privileges would begin at 7125 kHz for
Advanced and Extra and at 7175 kHz for General--25 kHz more for Extra and
Advanced operators and another 50 kHz for Generals. On 15 meters
(21,000-21,450 kHz), phone privileges would begin at 21,200 kHz for Extra,
at 21,225 kHz for Advanced and at 21,275 kHz for General--no change for
Extra and Advanced but 25 kHz more for General. On 10 meters, the ARRL has
recommended no changes other than to accommodate CW, RTTY and data by Novice
and Tech Plus licensees at 28.0 to 28.3 MHz.

The ARRL suggested that its proposed configurations strike the right balance
between the need for additional phone spectrum and the important goal of
encouraging further development of narrowband data modes in the CW segments.

The ARRL's "omnibus" petition also asks the FCC to permit amateurs to use
spread spectrum on the 222-225 MHz band; expand the pool of special event
call signs beyond the 1x1 format to include identifiers for US territories
and possessions that do not provide for mailing addresses; clarify its rules
to indicate that modulated CW (MCW) is permitted for repeater station
identification; and to incorporate into its rules a 1990 FCC waiver
authorizing amateurs in certain areas of Colorado and Wyoming to operate on
certain segments of the 33-cm band. The League invited the FCC to
consolidate its omnibus petition with other pending Amateur Radio-related
petitions now before the FCC.

A copy of the ARRL's complete Petition for Rulemaking is available on the
ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/refarm/>.

==>FCC TAKES IT SLOWLY ON VANITY PROCESSING; NO RUNS UNTIL NEXT WEEK

The FCC is taking a slow-but-sure approach to whittling away at the
remaining vanity call sign application backlog. An FCC Private Wireless
Division Licensing and Technical Analysis Branch staff member in Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania, told ARRL this week that it's still monitoring things
carefully to make sure no serious problems arise. Processing is not yet back
on a daily routine basis, however, and no overnight vanity runs were
scheduled for March 21 and 22.

"It's going to take us a while to get through the backlog," she said. "We're
plugging away at it." As of week's end, an estimated 1470 pending
applications--most of them vanities--were still awaiting processing,
although some 500 of those applications were within the FCC's typical 18-day
vanity processing window.

On March 19, 20 and 21, the FCC issued another 221 call sign grants and, as
of the last run, had processed vanity applications received through January
4. Vanity applicants still in the queue should not panic when they see no
vanity call signs showing up before Tuesday, March 26, the FCC staffer said.
The FCC does not process vanity applications on weekends.

The FCC has been attempting to clear the remainder of a backlog of vanity
applications that at one point dated back to late October. Before an
apparent processing glitch held things up last week, the FCC had been hoping
to process daily batches of backlogged applications until the system was
current. The processing of routine Amateur Service applications has been
unaffected by the vanity problems. Following last week's four-day hiatus to
deal with the processing anomaly, vanity processing resumed tentatively on
March 15, when some three dozen grants were issued. 

"We're trying to keep the runs manageable, so we can go through them later,"
the FCC staffer explained. "We haven't found anything wrong." She said the
FCC has been running approximately one week's worth of applications during
each evening run. The FCC has indicated that it wants to avoid a situation
that would require calling back any vanity grants later.

Vanity applicants have been advised to be patient and to refrain from
repeated inquiries to the FCC. In addition to the Amateur Service, Licensing
Branch staffers in Gettysburg also handle applications for certain
commercial and public safety wireless services.

Amateurs with pending applications may take advantage of the FCC Call
Center's toll free number, 888-CALL FCC (888-225-5322) or may initiate an
application search via the Universal Licensing System (ULS)
<http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls>. 

==>ASTRONAUT GREETS HIS KIDS FROM SPACE VIA HAM RADIO

Astronaut Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, aboard the International Space Station fielded
20 questions March 21 from 10 elementary schoolers--two of them his own
children. Youngsters attending St Thomas the Apostle Episcopal School in
Nassau Bay, Texas, spoke with Bursch via an Amateur Radio and
teleconferencing linkup. A day earlier, astronaut Carl Walz, KC5TIE, talked
directly via 2 meters with youngsters at a school in Australia. Both
contacts with NA1SS were compliments of the Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) program

Bursch's daughter, Robyn, and son, Jackson, had the honor of being the first
and second in the St Thomas question queue. Robyn Bursch asked her dad if it
was cold in space. "Hello, Robyn! I miss you!" Bursch replied. He went on to
explain that while it can be really hot or really cold in space depending on
whether or not you were in sunlight, inside the space station "it's just
like home."

Robyn's younger sibling Jackson was eager to know how many times a day his
father ate. "Hi, Jackson, I miss you too. Probably about eight times a day,"
he quipped, before explaining that the crew ate the usual three times a day
"and sometimes we have a snack, too, with tea, so maybe that counts as
three-and-a-half times."

Sleeping in space took some getting used to, he told another questioner. The
crew's sleeping bags need to be tied down or they'd float around, "and who
knows where we'd end up in the morning?" he asked. Christmas trees in space?
"We had a Christmas tree, and it was made out of cloth and just a couple of
feet high," Bursch explained. Space aliens? Bursch said he hadn't spotted
any yet.

Handling Earth station duties for the ARISS QSO was Nancy Rocheleau, WH6PN,
in Honolulu. Worldcom provided the teleconferencing hookup.

"It's been a wonderful experience, and we'll all treasure it," said
coordinating teacher Martha Kirby Capo.

On March 20, Walz answered 13 questions via ham radio from students at
Zeehan Primary School in Tasmania, Australia. The contact marked the first
between the ISS and an Australian school. Walz explained that the crew would
be returning to Earth in May, following a five-and-a-half month tour in
space. He noted that crew members now have the capability to keep in touch
with their families via an onboard telephone and via e-mail. 

Asked about the crew's dietary routine, Walz explained that what he and his
colleagues ate was "like food that you would take camping" and included
canned, packaged and dehydrated meal items.

Handling Earth station chores for the direct contact were Bill Lynd, VK7KHZ,
and Dick van Beek, VK7KVB. Veteran ARISS coordinator Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI,
congratulated the school on a job well done. "Despite gale-force winds and
heavy rain, everything went smoothly," he said.

==>AMATEURS RESPOND TO APPALACHIAN FLOODING

Appalachian amateurs this week responded to assist after heavy rains caused
flooding in several states in the region. Flooding closed numerous roads,
damaged or destroyed many structures, forced residents from their homes and
was blamed for at least seven deaths.

In Kentucky, ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator Ron Dodson, KA4MAP, says the
Red Cross asked amateurs to assist with damage assessment in Knox County.
According to press reports, hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded
out as heavy rain spread throughout the eastern part of the state after
earlier affecting the Harlan area. The Salvation Army also has responded to
assist.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for Carroll and Owen
counties where the Kentucky River had overflowed following up to four inches
of rain March 19. Flooding also forced Morehead State University to close
March 20 after more than four inches of rain fell there. Emergency
declarations were issued in at least eight counties and five cities in
Kentucky. No Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil
Emergency Service (RACES) activations were reported.

In extreme Southwest Virginia, heavy rain over the March 16-17 weekend
swelled streams and rivers beyond flood stage, reportedly covering highways
and sweeping away some bridges and forcing more than 1000 residents to flee
their homes. ARES and RACES teams were called up March 17 to staff the Scott
County Emergency Operations Center.

"Many major highways were under water for a period of time, and quite a few
secondary roads are still impassable," Scott County EC Jimmy Flanary, K4GV,
reported. Although shelters were set up, most people refused evacuation, he
said, opting instead to stay with friends or relatives. ARRL District 14
Emergency Coordinator Phil Mohon, KU4RK, said hams in Tazewell County
volunteered to help out in any way they could, but there was no formal ARES
activation. Amateurs also were reported to have activated informally in Lee,
Wise, Washington and Russell counties. 

Additional flooding occurred in West Virginia. West Virginia ARRL Section
Emergency Coordinator Mac McMillian, W8XF, reporteds that several counties
and the state EOC were put on standby, but no ARES/RACES activations were
necessary. Up to three inches of rain fell March 20 in West Virginia,
forcing 100 residents in at least three counties to leave their homes.
Flooding also occurred this week in eastern Tennessee.

==>FCC NOTIFICATION LEADS TO SHUTDOWN OF UNCOORDINATED REPEATER

An uncoordinated North Carolina repeater has been taken off the air as a
result of a letter from the FCC to the repeater's owner. The FCC this month
followed up on complaints registered last fall that an uncoordinated
repeater on 147.030 MHz was interfering with a coordinated repeater, KU4OL,
on the same frequency pair.

The FCC ordered the NY4X repeater shut down until the owner either obtains
coordination or submits "a detailed, specific plan" to the FCC to prevent
interference to KU4OL. FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley
Hollingsworth on March 1 warned that failure to shut down the NY4X repeater
could result in enforcement action, up to and including a fine and license
revocation proceedings.

John A. Parker Jr, AG4AZ, owns and operates the repeater which, with
permission, had identified using the call sign of Richard E. Howell, NY4X.
In letters to both, Hollingsworth recounted allegations that the NY4X
repeater "often keys up even if there are no legitimate communications on
it" and that some users "deliberately interfere with the KU4OL repeater."

In a letter last November, Hollingsworth reminded Parker that §97.205 of the
FCC's Amateur Service rules require that, in cases where an uncoordinated
repeater is interfering with a coordinated machine, "the licensee of the
uncoordinated repeater has primary responsibility to resolve the
interference."

Parker conceded in responses to the FCC that the NY4X repeater was not
coordinated but that he was attempting to obtain coordination from the
SouthEastern Repeater Association (SERA) on 145.23 MHz. When the repeater
still was not coordinated in February, the FCC gave Parker until the end of
the month to remedy the situation or face FCC sanctions. Hollingsworth told
ARRL that Parker opted to shut down the machine.

Acting in another recent repeater conflict case, Hollingsworth told a group
operating an uncoordinated repeater--KF8HL in Mingo County, West
Virginia--that it bore primary responsibility under §97.205 to avoid
interference to the KC8FKP repeater, operated by the Portsmouth (Ohio) Radio
Club on the same frequency, 145.390 MHz. 

The FCC declined to intervene in a third repeater situation involving a
complaint last December from an amateur in Midway, Tennessee. Jeffrey Bible,
K4MFD, had complained of interference from the nearby W4WC repeater,
operated by the Andrew Johnson Amateur Radio Club. The two machines are on
different channels but are sited on adjacent towers. Both repeaters are
coordinated, according to SERA.

"There is no reason whatsoever why these two systems cannot coexist,"
Hollingsworth wrote in a February 21 letter, adding that the two systems
share responsibility for preventing harmful interference. 

==>DXCC DESK NOW POISED FOR QUICK APPLICATION TURNAROUND

ARRL's DXCC Desk now is down to days in terms of application turnaround
time. It was not long ago that DXCC hopefuls waited in line for more than
two months to get their certificates or updates processed. Now, applications
are taking approximately one week.

"At one time this past year, we were up to nearly a quarter million cards
and about 2500 applications," said ARRL Membership Services Manager Wayne
Mills, N7NG. "This is a good time to send in your cards!" He chalked up a
lot of the earlier activity to the popularity of the DXCC Challenge
<http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/listings/index.html#challenge>. According
to Mills, the DXCC workload shot up during 2001 by 60% or more over the
previous year.

The basic ARRL DXCC is awarded to amateurs who submit confirmation for
contacts with 100 or more "entities" (formerly called "countries") on the
DXCC List <http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/list_1a0.html>. The DXCC
Challenge evolved from the work of the DXCC 2000 Committee, which reviewed
the DXCC program and recommended some changes. The revised rules that went
into effect in 1998 included additional single-band DXCC awards, which have
proven very popular in themselves. The DXCC Challenge grew out of that
initiative as an overall competitive award for DXCC.

At one point, DXCC awards trailed applications by nearly 12 weeks. Mills
attributes the much shorter DXCC wait now primarily to the fact that
additional staff members were brought aboard last summer. It also has helped
that the DXCC Challenge application bulge for 2001 passed through the
pipeline as the DXCC "season" ended last September. "We've been able to
catch up," Mills said, despite the fact that application volume remains at
about the same level as it was during the first quarter of 2001.

On a related note, Mills said the DXCC Desk will begin offering the last of
the single-band DXCC awards--for 30 meters. An official announcement is
pending, but it's expected the new award will debut October 1, 2002. Those
planning to participate may send cards now to get a leg up on the new award.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar solon Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily
solar flux and sunspot numbers for the past week were almost identical to
the previous week's. Average sunspot numbers were less then two points
lower, and average solar flux rose less than one point. Geomagnetic activity
was essentially the same, with the average estimated planetary A index less
than one point higher this week.

On March 19 the interplanetary magnetic field moved south, leaving Earth
vulnerable to solar wind. The planetary K index rose to five over two
three-hour periods, but during other periods through the day K indices were
very low. This resulted in a planetary A index for that day of only 17,
which indicates unsettled to active conditions.

At 1330 UTC on March 20 a coronal mass ejection that had left the sun on
March 18 near sunspot 9866 passed Earth. It triggered some geomagnetic
activity.

The latest forecast has unsettled conditions for Friday, with a planetary A
index around 15. Solar flux for the next week and a half is expected to be a
little lower than the past two weeks--between 165 and 170.

Sunspot numbers for March 14 through 20 were 162, 134, 124, 124, 136, 119
and 141, with a mean of 134.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 180.7, 175.9, 184.6,
184.4, 178.1, 174.8 and 187.8, with a mean of 180.9. Estimated planetary A
indices were 4, 6, 5, 4, 12, 17 and 7 with a mean of 7.9. 

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The Oklahoma QSO Party and the Spring QRP
Homebrewer Sprint are the weekend of March 22-23. The CQ WW WPX Contest
(SSB) is the weekend of March 30-31 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.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the Level III Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course
(EC-003) will remain open over the March 23-24 weekend or until all seats
are filled. Registration for the Level I Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Course (EC-001) opens Monday, April 1, at 4 PM. Registration
for Level II (EC-002) opens Monday, April 8, at 4 PM. Emergency
Communications 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. 

* ARRL Development wants to know: In support of an ARRL funding proposal,
the ARRL Development Office would like to know if you are a current employee
or a retiree of any United Technologies business unit nationwide. If so,
please visit the UTC Survey Web page <http://www.arrl.org/utcsurvey.html>
and enter your call sign by April 5. This information will not be used for
any purpose except to convey raw data in support of ARRL's request to UTC as
a potential funding partner. If you make a contribution to ARRL, United
Technologies may match your donation. Information about the UTC Matching
Gift Program is available on the UTC Web site
<http://www.utc.com/profile/community/contribut.htm> (scroll down to "UTC
Matching Gift Program").

* Correction: The name of the new chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and
Technology (OET) is Edmond J. Thomas. His name was incorrect in a story in
The ARRL Letter, Vol 21, No 11 (Mar 15, 2002).

* FCC opens proceeding to mitigate orbital debris: In an action that could
have implications for Amateur Radio satellites, the FCC has opened a
proceeding regarding orbital debris. "Minimization of orbital debris will
help maximize the usefulness of space for satellite communications and other
services," the Commission said in a statement. AMSAT-NA has indicated it
plans to file comments. The March 14 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes
to adopt a requirement that all FCC-licensed satellite systems submit
information concerning plans to mitigate orbital debris. According to the
FCC, orbital debris "consists of artificial objects orbiting the Earth that
are not functional spacecraft." The FCC said studies show that a continued
increase in orbital debris "may raise concerns regarding the reliability and
cost of space activities, including satellite communications." For more
information, see the news release on the FCC Web site
<http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/International/News_Releases/2002/nrin0204.html>.
--FCC

* N9SH is Illinois' once and future Section Manager: Former ARRL Illinois
Section Manager Sharon Harlan, N9SH, of Rockford, will return to that post
July 1. Incumbent SM Bruce Boston, KD9UL, has decided to withdraw from his
campaign for another term leaving Harlan running unopposed. Boston has
served as SM since 1994 and is wrapping up his fourth consecutive term.
Harlan was SM from 1990 to 1994. She also served as ARRL Central Division
Assistant Director and as Affiliated Club Coordinator.

* K8OCL to chair ARRL's High-Speed Digital and Multimedia Working Group: Dr
John Champa, K8OCL, has been named to chair the ARRL High-Speed Digital and
Multimedia Working Group. An ARRL Life Member, Champa is a senior
telecommunications engineer with Unisys. Working under the direction of the
League's Technology Task Force, the High-Speed Digital and Multimedia
Working Group will review existing amateur digital networks--including
packet systems and DX spotting networks and, in particular, high-speed
systems--to gain an understanding of the current status. In addition, the
Working Group will study amateur experimentation at higher speeds; consider
higher speed digital and multimedia systems developed by industry; prepare a
vision statement for amateur high-speed digital and multimedia systems;
promote experimentation involving digital and microwave experimenters; and
develop standards. For more information, contact John Champa via e-mail,
k8ocl@arrl.net. 

* Last call for 2002 USA ARDF Championships: The last call has gone out for
participants in the second USA Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF)
Championships April 19-21 in Georgia. The deadline to register is April 6.
Entrants from anywhere and at any level of ARDF experience are welcome.
Experts will be vying for positions on Team USA as it travels to Slovakia
for the World Championships later this year. Beginners will stand to pick up
the best radio-orienteering techniques from these experts and learn how to
mount similar events of their own. To register, visit the Georgia
Orienteering Club Web site
<http://www.mindspring.com/~sam.smith/gaoc/Radio-O/Radio.htm>.--Joe Moell,
K0OV

* PCsat reported in trouble: Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, reports that PCsat could
be lost if ground controllers are not able to get the spacecraft into a
positive power budget. He has asked all users to not digipeat via PCsat
until further notice. Bruninga said PCsat is resetting--and running the
batteries dead--on every eclipse. "This is killing it, unless we are
successful soon," he said. Command stations in the Southern
Hemisphere--where PCsat currently just encounters the sun and the only place
where a "low power" command would have any chance of recovering the
spacecraft--are working to resolve the problem. "There is nothing we in the
Northern Hemisphere can do other than turn our transmitters off, so as not
to add to the power load," he said. Built by midshipmen from the US Naval
Academy under Bruninga's guidance and launched last September, PCsat is a
1200-baud APRS digipeater designed for use by hand-held transceivers or
mobiles. Bruninga said command stations are on top of the situation, and he
discouraged outside reports.

* Atlantic Division awards nominations sought: The ARRL Atlantic Division is
seeking nominees for its annual Amateur of the Year and Technical
Achievement awards. Nominations must be received by April 10, 2002. The
Amateur of the Year Award goes to an Atlantic Division amateur whose record
merits recognition for outstanding contributions to Amateur Radio in the
year preceding nomination. The Technical Achievement Award goes to an
Atlantic Division amateur whose technical excellence is evidence of
continued contribution to the advancement of the radio art. Full information
is available on the ARRL Atlantic Division Web site
<http://www.bfdin.net/atldiv/AtlAwards.htm>.

=========================================================== 
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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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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