*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 21, No. 19 May 10, 2002 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +A bonanza for ham radio! * +FCC bumps back privileges after exam audit * +Pennsylvania kids talk haute cuisine with astronaut * +New Mexico ARES/RACES supports fire response * +West Virginia amateurs help in flooding aftermath * +Kenwood donates transceiver to W1AW * +EMCOMM 2002 attendees eager to learn * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration On-line ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB results available ARRL joins AARE Tornado a reality check for ARRL Emergency Communications Course student Ham radio could have role in Phenomenon sequel P5/4L4FN back in North Korea; QSLs are in the mail Panama amateurs recover lost bands Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== NOTE: Because of Dayton Hamvention, the May 17 editions of The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will be distributed Wednesday, May 15. See you in Dayton!--Rick Lindquist, N1RL =========================================================== ==>FCC PROPOSES TWO NEW AMATEUR BANDS! Great news for ham radio this week! The FCC has proposed going along with ARRL's request for a new domestic (US-only), secondary HF allocation at 5.25 to 5.4 MHz. The FCC also is ready to permit operation on a 136-kHz "sliver band" in the low-frequency (LF) region. And, in response to a third ARRL request, the FCC has proposed elevating Amateur Radio to primary status at 2400 to 2402 MHz. "I'm just as tickled as I can be," ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, said upon hearing the news. "This is a classic example of our ARRL at work." The FCC voted unanimously May 2 to adopt the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in ET Docket 02-98. The Commission released a Public Notice May 9, and the NPRM is expected to be released soon. A comment deadline will be announced as soon as it's available. The FCC said the new 5-MHz band would help amateurs "better match their choice of frequency to existing propagation conditions." The band, if approved, would be the first new amateur HF allocation since World Administrative Radio Conference 1979 gave amateurs 30, 17 and 12 meters--the so-called "WARC Bands." Assuming the 5-MHz band eventually is authorized, it could be a few years before it actually becomes available. The League said its successful WA2XSY experiments demonstrated that amateurs can coexist with current users and that the band is very suitable for US-to-Caribbean paths. In comparisons with 80 and 40 meters, the WA2XSY operation also showed the 60-meter band to be the most reliable of the three. The ARRL also argued that a new 150-kHz allocation at 5 MHz could relieve periodic overcrowding on 80 and 40. If allocated to amateurs on a secondary basis, hams would have to avoid interfering with--and accept interference from--current occupants of the spectrum, as they already do on 30 meters. The band 5.250 to 5.450 MHz now is allocated to Fixed and Mobile services on a co-primary basis in all three ITU regions. The ARRL asked the FCC for two LF allocations in October 1998--135.7 to 137.8 kHz and 160 to 190 kHz. The FCC said its action on one part of that LF request "proposes changes that would enhance the ability of amateur radio operators to conduct technical experiments, including propagation and antenna design experiments, in the 'low frequency' (LF) range of the radio spectrum." Several countries in Europe and elsewhere already have 136-kHz amateur allocations. The first amateur transatlantic contact on the band was recorded in February 2001. Hams would be secondary to the Fixed and Maritime Mobile services in the 136-kHz allocation. The League said its engineering surveys suggest that hams could operate without causing problems to power line carrier (PLC) systems already active in that vicinity or to government assignments. Unallocated Part 15 PLC systems are used by electric utilities to send control signals, data and voice. The FCC said its proposal to upgrade the Amateur Service allocation at 2400 to 2402 MHz to primary "seeks to protect current amateur use of this band." Hams have shared their other 2.4 GHz spectrum on a secondary basis with government users. Amateurs already are primary at 2390 to 2400 and from 2402 to 2417 MHz. The ARRL has said primary status in the intervening spectrum slice was needed "to provide some assurances of future occupancy of the band segments for the next generation of amateur satellites." The ARRL has expressed its belief that hams can continue to accommodate Part 15 and Part 18 devices at 2.4 GHz. ARRL's Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, was among those welcoming the good news from the FCC. "This a wonderful example of the work ARRL conducts in Washington on matters important to the Amateur Radio community," Hobart said. "Thanks to the 10,000 hams who contributed so generously to the 2002 Defense of Frequencies Fund. The success of that campaign helps to make decisions like this possible." ==>FCC BUMPS BACK PRIVILEGES FOLLOWING EXAM SESSION AUDIT The FCC has reduced the privileges of six Amateur Radio licensees after they failed to appear for retesting in the wake of a Georgia FCC examination session audit. Earlier this year, the FCC asked the six applicants--all Technicians--to retake the Element 1 (5 WPM Morse code) examination by April 15, 2002. The FCC request followed the discovery of apparent irregularities in code test administration during a May 27, 2000, ARRL-VEC test session in Statesboro. "You did not appear for the code test," FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth wrote all six in identically worded letters. "Accordingly, your license privileges have been modified by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to those of a 'no-code' Technician licensee." The "modification" is academic, however, since the FCC no longer distinguishes in its database between Technicians who have Element 1 credit--formerly called "Technician Plus" licensees--and those who do not. Technicians with Element 1 credit have limited privileges on HF, including "Novice" CW privileges on 80, 40 and 15 meters and CW and SSB privileges on 10 meters. Licensees notified were Eugene Walker Jr, KG4HHT; James W. Brannen, KG4HIS; Roxanne T. Brannen, KG4HSH; Joyce B. Martin, KG4EXG; Larry D. Hagan, KG4IHE; and Thomas F. Evans, KF4YLF. Hollingsworth told all six amateurs that the irregularities uncovered were "in no way a reflection upon you or your qualifications to be an amateur licensee." In response to the FCC's January 31 retesting request, two other candidates did appear for retesting and passed Element 1. The ARRL VEC called apparent irregularities to the FCC's attention last June. Earlier this year, the FCC wrapped up an audit that was expanded to include five examination sessions in Georgia during 2000 and 2001 conducted by the same ARRL VEC team. The ARRL VEC discontinued volunteer examiner accreditation for all but two of the VEs involved. Hollingsworth has said it appeared that some test candidates "had been shown or had access to" the Morse code answer key used by the VEs to grade the exam and that some VEs had taught classes and supplied sample tests to the students using the same test editions later given at actual examination sessions. ==>PENNSYLVANIA KIDS WANT THE SKINNY ON BUBBLE GUM, SODA POP IN SPACE Food was never far from their minds as youngsters at Hambright Elementary School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, quizzed astronaut Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, via Amateur Radio about life in space. The questions came during an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contact May 9. "Can you still blow bubbles with gum in space?" asked Hambright pupil Molly Black. Bursch, who has two young children of his own, was able to address this and other burning issues. "Yes, we still can!" he confidently assured her, even going into detail to explain that the bubbles form the same as they do on Earth. As a follow-up, Kyle Black wanted to know what was Bursch's favorite meal. Bursch said the food he misses the most in space is pizza. Among the meals that he enjoys the most on the International Space Station is Japanese rice and curry. Nick Reaney then cut to the chase. "If you open a soda, will it fizz?" he inquired. "The bubbles won't float to the top of the soda," the astronautic gourmet replied. "What you would see is all the bubbles collect inside the soda itself." Bursh managed to answer a total of 13 questions during the nearly 10-minute contact. James "Yogi" Bear, WB3FQY, operated the 2-meter station set up on the campus of Hambright Elementary School for the direct contact. A crowd of students, teachers and parents applauded the successful QSO as signals faded as the ISS went over the horizon. ARISS mentor Kerry Banke, N6IZW, assisted with details of preparation. ARISS is an international project, with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.--Gene Chapline, K5YFL/ARISS ==>NEW MEXICO AMATEURS SUPPORT FIRE RESPONSE Amateur Radio Emergency Service/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service members this week assisted the American Red Cross in New Mexico following yet another wildfire. Tinder-dry conditions have continued to keep New Mexico ARES/RACES members busy in recent weeks. "The fire hazard remains high throughout virtually all of New Mexico so there is no doubt that ARES/RACES teams will be called out again--the only question is, when?" said New Mexico Section Emergency Coordinator Bill Kauffman, W5YEJ. A dozen or so air tankers were ordered to battle the most recent fire near Pecos--the so-called Dalton Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest. More than 100 residents were evacuated in the Dalton Canyon and Pecos Canyon areas. Kauffman said the US Forest Service estimated the Dalton Fire was 70 percent contained by mid-week. "This fire, which is believed to have been intentionally started, was hit hard with slurry bombers and hot shot ground teams," Kauffman said. As the fire emergency escalated earlier this week, Kauffman said hams quickly set up at a Red Cross shelter and other facilities near Pecos. The New Mexico State Emergency Operations Center in Santa Fe was not activated, but EOC personnel had asked ARES/RACES to be ready if needed. On May 2, ARES/RACES activated an HF net at the request of the state EOC to provide possible communication support with Otero County EOC in response to the so-called Peñasco Fire. That blaze near Mayhill, was expected to be 100 percent contained by mid-week after burning more than 15,000 acres. Most residents of the James Canyon--including Douglas Ream, AB5FG, and Reginald Duncan, W5UWY--were allowed to return to their homes after being evacuated earlier last week. The Peñasco Fire destroyed more than a dozen homes and more than two dozen other structures. About 15 families were reported in Red Cross shelters as of the end of last week. More than 1500 firefighters have been involved in fighting the Peñasco fire. ARRL New Mexico Section Manager Joe Knight, W5PDY, says the situation "could change at any time." Little or no rain has fallen in New Mexico in recent weeks, he said. In Colorado, Jeff Ryan, K0RM, reports that El Paso County RACES supported firefighters during the April 28 Black Forest fire, northeast of Colorado Springs. Several homes were evacuated. A dozen RACES operators provided continuous detailed weather data to the fire team command post until the fire was brought under control. No one was injured, and no structures were damaged as a result of the fire, Ryan said. ==>WEST VIRGINIA AMATEURS HELP STATE DEAL WITH FLOODING Amateurs in West Virginia continue to assist in the wake of recent flooding. The state has recorded nine deaths since severe thunderstorms May 2 dumped more than five inches of rain over the southern West Virginia coalfields within a few hours. ARRL West Virginia Section Emergency Coordinator Mac McMillian, W8XF, says several roads in the hardest-hit region in and around Welch and Webster counties remain closed due to flood damage, and "uncounted" families have been forced from their homes. Schools in McDowell County remain closed. Gov Bob Wise has declared a state of emergency in several counties. "Amateur Radio involvement has been done locally on battery-powered repeaters in the affected areas." McMillian said this week. Amateurs from the Charleston area volunteered to assist in Welch County. McMillian said amateurs were able to handle a request from the state Emergency Operations Center to provide back-up communication from Welch to the state EOC in Charleston when a coal mine impound dam threatened to burst. The impound was pumped down to safe levels before that could happen, however. Raleigh County Emergency Coordinator Tim Zutaut, KC8PMI, said this week that Raleigh County ARES/RACES was monitoring the Welch 145.45 MHz repeater. A McDowell County ARES group has been using the repeater to assist with communications into and out of the county, he said. "Our group is set up at the Red Cross to assist them with any traffic and needs they may have," he told McMillian. "From the reports I have received, the damage there [McDowell County] is very extensive." McMillian said the McDowell County 911 center was flooded, and more than two-thirds of the telephones in the affected area were not functional in the immediate aftermath of the flooding. Some cellular telephone sites have remained operational, however. In Virginia, flooding in Buchanan County affected more than 2500 residents and caused damage estimated at $30 million. Two people drowned in the community of Hurley. Flooding also affected Pike County, Kentucky, and one person drowned in that state. ==>KENWOOD DONATES TS-2000X TRANSCEIVER TO W1AW Kenwood Communications Corporation has donated a TS-2000X all-mode, multiband transceiver to ARRL Maxim Memorial Station W1AW. Kenwood Assistant Sales Manager Phil Parton, N4DRO, made the presentation May 3. "We're very grateful to Kenwood Communications Corporation for this useful and attractive update to the W1AW satellite station," said ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, who accepted the gift on behalf of the ARRL. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, had contacted Kenwood to see if the company would be willing to donate its latest transceiver to replace an aging TS-790 that has done yeoman's duty in the Studio B satellite operating position at W1AW. "We now have nine operating positions in three studios for the use of W1AW visitors," Carcia said. "Because the TS-2000X is capable of handling 9600-baud operation, it will also be connected to an AEA DSP-2232 multimode controller to handle other aspects of digital satellite--and HF--operation, such as 9600 baud FSK. W1AW thanks Kenwood for its donation." The Kenwood TS-2000X covers all Amateur Radio bands from 1.8 MHz through 1.2 GHz, with the exception of transmit capability on 222 MHz. It was reviewed in the July 2001 issue of QST. ==>EMCOMM 2002 EXAMINES EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS The third year for EMCOMM was the charm! This year, nearly 150 amateurs, non-amateurs and state and local government officials attended the two-day emergency communications conference April 20-21 near Redding, California. EMCOMM 2002 was sponsored by the ARRL Sacramento Valley Section. "EMCOMM has grown each year it has been presented," said ARRL Sacramento Valley Section Manager Jerry Boyd, K6BZ. "Seven states were represented as the reputation of this event continues to spread." A full schedule of sessions covered a variety of topics. Bill Pennington, WA6SLA--an employee of the California State Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento--provided an update on "mutual aid" policies and procedures. Bill Frazier, W7ARC, talked about his experiences as a volunteer for the American Red Cross in New York City after the World Trade Center attack and highlighted the importance of "cross training" with served agencies, such as The Salvation Army and the Red Cross. ARRL Field Organization/Public Service Team Leader Steve Ewald, WV1X, addressed the League's mission to provide support and guidance in public service and emergency communication issues. The ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course series <http://www.arrl.org/cce> also was a featured topic. Ewald stressed the importance of working with other responding organizations during an incident. Sacramento Valley Section Emergency Coordinator Dave Thorne, K6SOJ--who chaired the convention-provided a historical perspective on the role of volunteer organizations in America. Paul Cavnar, NN7B, reported on Amateur Radio involvement in the 2002 Winter Olympics. The American Red Cross presented its "Introduction to Disaster Services" course for credit, and the National Weather Service offered a weather-spotter class. A highlight of EMCOMM 2002 was the mobile communication vehicle competition. A panel of three judges scrutinized the entries to determine which organization and individual had the best-equipped emergency communication vehicles. The Humboldt County (California) Amateur Radio Club won the group category; Mac McCulley, W6MAC, walked away with the individual category trophy. For more information, visit the EMCOMM 2002 Web site <http://www.emcomm.org/emcomm2002/main.html>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar seer Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, is filling in this week for Tad Cook, K7VVV: Solar activity was at low levels for most of the period. May 7 did see moderate activity due to an M1 flare. A full halo coronal mass ejection (CME) was associated with this flare. Geophysical activity ranged from quiet to unsettled over the period. The Ap index was below 11 throughout the period. As we progress into summer in the northern hemisphere, expect seasonally lower F2-region MUFs. But summer also brings the increased probability of sporadic E, so keep your ears tuned for 6-meter openings. Sunspot numbers for May 2 through 8 were 187, 242, 271, 317, 226, 217, and 249, with a mean of 244.1. The 10.7-cm flux was 169, 179.1, 189.5, 180, 190.8, 186.8, and 186.6, with a mean of 183.1. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 7, 8, 8, 11, 11, and 11, with a mean of 9. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The Armed Forces Day Communications Test; the Nevada and Oregon QSO parties, the Volta WW RTTY Contest, the FISTS Spring Sprint, the CQ-M International DX Contest and the 50 MHz Spring Sprint are the weekend of May 11-12. JUST AHEAD: The Anatolian RTTY WW Contest, the His Majesty the King of Spain Contest (CW) and the Baltic Contest are the weekend of May 18-19. 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 I ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-001) will remain open through the May 11-12 weekend. Registration for the Level II Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (EC-002) and for the Antenna Modeling Course opens Monday, May 13; registration for Level III (EC-003) opens Monday, May 20. Also, registration for HF Digital Communications (EC-005) opens Monday, May 20. All registrations open at 4 PM Eastern Time. ARRL 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 Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org. * On-line ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB results available: On-line results for the 2001 ARRL November Sweepstakes (SSB) now are available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/results/>. Included with these are an expanded contest writeup by Kelly Taylor, VE4XT; a searchable database on the results of the Affiliated Club Competition for Sweepstakes; and other interesting sidebars and photographs. * ARRL joins AARE: The ARRL has joined the American Association of Radio Enthusiasts (AARE), a nonprofit industry trade group formed to promote Amateur Radio and emergency communications outside traditional amateur circles. AARE says it will serve as "the voice of the manufacturers and dealers in radio." Its stated goal is to help ham radio grow and to double the number of hams in five years. ICOM's Ray Novak, KC7JPA, has been chosen to serve as AARE's first president. Members of the Amateur Radio industry created the group April 5 during an informal annual meeting of Amateur Radio manufacturers in Milwaukee in conjunction with AES Superfest 2002. The AARE Web site, now under construction, will provide additional information. The organization has scheduled a meeting for August 17 at the Huntsville Hamfest. Dealers and manufacturers of radio products interested in joining AARE may contact Evelyn Garrison, email@example.com, for details. * Tornado a reality check for ARRL Emergency Communications Course student: ARRL Emergency Communications Course student Charlie Crizer, KF4MNE, of Alexandria, Virginia, says at least one course activity turned into reality April 28. In one activity scenario in the course, the student has been designated as chief liaison officer for a Simulated Emergency Test in which a tornado will wipe out a neighboring community. The student has to find VHF/UHF frequencies to monitor during the initial stages; a repeater for use as a calling channel; a VHF simplex frequency for local operations; and a UHF repeater for calling and coordination. Since he wasn't up to that part of the course then, Crizer says, he decided to worry about that exercise when the time came. "How wrong I was. On Sunday evening, my neighboring community [La Plata, Maryland] was wiped out by a tornado." Crizer said that evening he found himself--along with a lot of others--doing the same things outlined in the course activity's scenario. "While anyone can buy the course books, read them and gain a better understanding of emergency communications, actually doing the activities is the real 'meat' of this course," he said. "Do them well." To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program Coordinator Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org. * Ham radio could have role in Phenomenon sequel: Amateur Radio is poised to hit the big screen yet again in a movie tentatively titled Phenomenon II. Phenomenon debuted in 1996 and featured John Travolta and his ham operator friend Forest Whitaker. In one scene, Travolta's character appears to be able to copy RTTY transmissions by ear. For the original Phenomenon movie, ARRL provided several props for the ham radio shack. The sequel is still in the very early stages of development. A researcher working on checking facts in the script contacted ARRL to ask if operators actually used the term "CQ" when initiating contacts. She also told ARRL Media Relations Manager Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY, that the possibility exists for the creation of a television series based on the Phenomenon movies. Hagy offered further assistance if needed. No further details were immediately available. * P5/4L4FN back in North Korea; QSLs are in the mail: Ed Giorgadze, P5/4L4FN, reports that he is back in Pyongyang, North Korea, after a short recreational trip to other parts of Asia. And he returns with good news: He now has an Ameritron AL-80A linear amp, donated by Martti Laine, OH2BH; Bernie McClenny, W3UR; and Al Baker, W5IZ. Giorgadze expressed is gratitude to the trio as well as to Jari Wirzenius, OH2BVE, and his staff at the Nokia office in Beijing, who made a special effort to clear the unit through complicated customs procedures in China. He says he's already fired up the amp and obtained the expected result. "So the unit works well and generates lot more RF power from the skylines of Pyongyang," he said in a posting to QSL manager Bruce Paige, KK5DO. "Now I am ready for more P5 QSOs, are you?" Meanwhile, Paige reports that he mailed some 4500 P5/4L4FN cards on May 4, representing replies to all cards he's received to date. Paige said that from now on, he plans to process all cards on the day he gets them. For his own part, Paige was the first station to get DXCC credit for North Korean for working P5/4L4FN. * Panama amateurs recover lost bands: Amateurs in Panama (HP) again have access to 30 meters as well as to most UHF bands they'd lost two years ago. The restrictions resulted from a revised National Plan of Frequency Allocations put into place in March 2000 by the Public Services Regulatory Entity--Panama's FCC. Enrique Preciado, HP1IBF, credited restoration of the bands to the tenacious efforts of the Radio Club of Panama (HP1RCP) and of many individual amateurs in the Central American nation. Preciada said that after lengthy discussions, debates and public hearings, Panama's amateurs convinced authorities to reconsider the value of amateur activity to the community--as well as the importance of having Panama's regulations conform to international conventions and agreements that it had already signed. Only one was not restored to amateur use--33 cm (902-028 MHz). The other bands restored included amateur allocations at 1.2 GHz and higher. "We learned a lesson that we radio amateurs ought to use our space in the spectrum, care for and protect it very jealously, if we want our hobby to survive," Preciado told ARRL.--Jon Siverling, WB3ERA/ARRL * Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for April was James C. Garland, W8ZR, for his article "The EZ-Tuner." Congratulations, Jim! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the Cover Plaque Poll Web page, <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html>. As soon as your copy arrives, cast a ballot for your favorite article in the May 2002 issue of QST. Voting ends May 31. =========================================================== 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. The ARRLWeb Extra at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/extra offers ARRL members access to informative features and columns. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, firstname.lastname@example.org ==>ARRL News on the Web: http://www.arrl.org ==>ARRL Audio News: http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/ or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for e-mail delivery: ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site, http://www.arrl.org/members/. You'll have an opportunity during registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW bulletins, and other material. To change these selections--including delivery of The ARRL Letter--registered members should click on the "Member Data Page" link (in the Members Only box). 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