*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 21, No. 22 May 31 , 2002 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Field Day goes region-wide; on-line soapbox announced * +Odd interference case resolved in Ohio * +New Mexico amateurs again active on wildfire duty * +May a busy month for ARES in Missouri * +ARRL, PRB-1 credited in antenna victory * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio W4EHW 2002 hurricane season 2002 on-the-air test is June 1 ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Clarification +Antarctic ledge named after amateur +Colorado ARES groups stand down from fire duty Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award OMIK golden jubilee celebration set Steve Dimse, K4HG, wins EarthLink R&D grand prize +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>FIELD DAY GOING REGION-WIDE IN 2002; ON-LINE SOAPBOX AVAILABLE For the first time in its 69-year history, Field Day officially will expand its scope beyond the borders of the US and Canada to include participation by amateurs in all of North and South America--including the Caribbean. Field Day takes place this year on the first weekend of summer--June 22-23 (Field Day is always the fourth full weekend in June). Following this year's event, clubs, groups and individuals taking part will be able to upload photos and comments to the ARRL Contest Soapbox Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/soapbox/>. "We encourage interesting photographs that will give those visiting the site sense of the 'flavor' of a group's Field Day participation," said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. Henderson says he gets "hundreds of photographs" for possible use in QST, which typically has room for about a dozen. "The Online Soapbox gives groups the chance to display their best efforts for FD," he said. The Field Day Soapbox area will open Sunday, June 23, at 2100 UTC. Anyone may post stories and photos, but these will be screened before posting. Groups and individuals still are expected to submit Field Day reports--summary sheets, dupe sheets, proofs of bonus, etc--for the annual QST Field Day report. "Also, we still encourage groups to include their best photographs for consideration for QST," Henderson added. The complete--and official--rules for Field Day 2002 are available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2002/rules-fd-2002.html> and in the May issue of QST (page 108). Field Day has a long tradition as an emergency preparedness exercise, operating equipment "in the field" using power sources other than the commercial mains. As ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, pointed out in his "It Seems to Us . . ." editorial <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2002/05/01/2/> in June 2002 QST, Field Day also presents an ideal opportunity to showcase Amateur Radio to the general public and to local officials and to convey an important message in the process. "No matter what, there will be hams and they will be able to communicate with one another. No matter what," Sumner wrote. While contacts with amateurs around the world always have counted for credit, this year's event will mark the first formal participation by stations outside the US and Canada. Another significant change this year is the new "Get on the Air" or GOTA station, which replaces the Novice station at Field Day setups. The idea is to give Novice and Technician licensees as well as generally inactive amateurs of any class and even unlicensed individuals a chance to participate--under the supervision of a licensed control operator. One persistent question Henderson says he's been getting concerns how the Field Day rules define a "generally inactive" licensee in terms of GOTA operation. "We do not want to get into hair-splitting or micromanaging a definition of that term," Henderson said. Instead, he points to the frequently asked questions information in the Field Day packet, which says, "Clubs should use their judgment in determining the operators of the GOTA station." Examples in the Field Day packet include operators who have never been on HF or who have been off the air for the past couple of years. Any single GOTA operator is limited to a maximum of 100 contacts of the 400-contact for-credit contact total. The first "International Field Day" was held June 10-11, 1933, billed as "just a test of portable equipment" for US and Canadian amateurs, according to former ARRL Communications Manager George Hart, W1NJM. Hart credits then-Communications Manager Ed Handy, W1BDI, with coming up with the idea of Field Day. It was not until Field Day 1934 that Handy's Field Day writeup in QST raised the aspect of emergency preparedness. ==>OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY INTERFERENCE CASE RESOLVED In what FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth called "a textbook example" of FCC-ARRL cooperation, a case of strange interference involving a power company and an AM broadcast station has been substantially resolved. As a result of their follow-up investigation, six Cincinnati-area amateurs were awarded the ARRL Certificate of Merit. In January, the FCC wrote Cincinnati AM radio station WLW and Cinergy Corp--the electric utility serving the region--to help resolve the unusual and longstanding interference situation that was affecting local amateurs. Apparently spurious signals associated with WLW transmissions had been monitored over a wide area and frequency range and were severely affecting some amateur bands. The investigation focused on utility towers carrying 345-kV lines in the vicinity of the WLW broadcast tower. Jay Adrick, K8CJY--a member of the amateur team involved in tracking down the problem and one of those honored--explained at the Dayton ARRL Forum earlier this month that the primary problem seemed to stem from so-called static lines on the towers, which do not carry electrical power. The static lines, he pointed out, were not sufficiently RF-bonded to the tower structure. "They're actually loose-fitted," he said. "At 60 Hz, it's a reasonable ground." But at RF, it acted as a non-linear junction, and the static wires acted as a huge antenna. The result was something that sounded a bit like a spark gap modulated by WLW's audio on several amateur bands. Success did not come easily, and mop-up operations continue. Hollingsworth called the situation "a history-making RF interference case" that generated more investigative analysis than any other case in his years with the FCC. Ohio ARRL Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE, said the local amateurs brought the matter to the FCC's attention after working with WLW and Cinergy for almost two years to pin down the cause of the spurious signals. Honored with certificates at the ARRL Forum in Dayton in addition to Adrick were team leader Bob Reiff, WA8ULW; Ted Homan, WB8WFG; Herb Nichols, W3EOA; Geoff Mendenhall, W8GNM; and Paul Jellison, WD8KMX. Jellison is regional engineering manager of Clear Channel Communications which owns WLW. Also honored were non-amateurs Jeff Antoni and Kelly McMahan, both of Cinergy Corporation. The certificates were signed by ARRL Great Lakes Division Director George Race, WB8BGY, and ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, who assisted in the efforts to resolve the interference situation. The amateurs were cited for "creating an example of longtime and continuing corporate-amateur radio cooperation in an interference abatement of high power RF signals." Though some interference remains, Phillips said, the local amateurs and both corporations discovered many possible sources of trouble and have established a working procedure for clearing them up. "Saying the interference is all cleared up would be foolhardy given the complex nature of the engineering involved," said Phillips, who recommended the awards, "but the two words that describe this historic work would be 'patience works.'" Under FCC Part 15 and Part 73 rules, incidental noise radiated by power company equipment or spurious emissions from a broadcast transmitter must be corrected if they cause harmful interference to radio communications. ==>NEW MEXICO AMATEURS CONFRONT ANOTHER WILDFIRE EMERGENCY Amateur Radio operators in New Mexico once again found themselves on fire-related duty during May. On May 23, an incident command post was set up in EspaŮola in response to a so-called "sleeper fire"--a lightning-caused fire that smolders before bursting into flame--near the village of Truchas in north-central New Mexico. Over the Memorial Day weekend, more than 250 residents were evacuated from their homes in Truchas and the nearby village of Cordoba. "Some residents were bused back into the area May 24 and given five minutes each to collect any medications and other important items they left behind and a chance to retrieve pets and livestock," said New Mexico Section Emergency Coordinator Bill Kauffman, W5YEJ. Rio Arriba County Emergency Communications Manager Lonie Scott, AH2AZ, activated amateur communications support. Amateurs were dispatched to Red Cross shelters set up at two elementary schools in Chimayo, and The Los Alamos Amateur Radio Club's W5PDO provided support. By late on May 24, the wind had shifted, and the fire was burning away from Truchas. Residents were able to return home starting at 9 AM the next day. Kauffman said the incident command post and the shelters closed later that day after all evacuees had returned home. While the amateur turnout was not an official Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) activation, Kauffman said that Los Alamos County District Emergency Coordinator Bill Boedeker, NM5BB, and Santa Fe County DEC Alden Oyer, AG5S, did monitor the residents' return and remained available to provide additional resources if needed. "We're working on establishing an ARES group in Rio Arriba county but the amateur population is somewhat sparse so we'll continue to support that county from adjacent counties even when they get organized," he explained. Kauffman said the fire was still burning as of May 29 in the Pecos Wilderness of the Santa Fe National Forest, but was not considered a threat to any homes or structures. Reports indicate the fire is nearly two-thirds contained and has burned more than 12,000 acres. As tinder-dry conditions persist in New Mexico, amateurs there have continued to be involved in efforts to deal with a number of other smaller fires. ==>MAY A BUSY MONTH FOR MISSOURI ARES TEAMS Amateur Radio Emergency Service teams in Missouri were active during May in response to widespread flooding and other weather emergencies, including at least one tornado. Gov Bob Holden declared a statewide state of emergency on May 16. "We've really had quite an active spring storm season following the terrible winter ice storm in Northwest Missouri," said Missouri Section Emergency Coordinator Patrick Boyle, K0JPB. Carroll County Emergency Coordinator Dennis Lightfoot, KC0IUD, reported that after more than five inches of rain fell in a short period of time on May 8, flooding became "a major problem" in his area as a local creek overflowed its banks. At one point, Lightfoot said, he and John Goedeke, KC0KGN, rescued a woman and her two children from rapidly rising floodwater that threatened to get into their home. "We didn't give it a second thought," Lightfoot said, explaining that he and Goedeke waded into the cold, swiftly moving water. "We didn't have much time to wait on anybody, because the water was eventually going to get in the house." Lightfoot said he and Goedeke carried the youngsters, ages 2 and 4, and assisted their mother to safety. "It was just a big, big mess," Lightfoot said, adding flood damage was widespread. "But everything is recovering well." ARES members Charles Haygood, KC0KGI, and Jack Vantrump, N0SAX, also activated in Carroll County. Lightfoot thanked Lafayette County EC Andy Irvine, AA0IY, for relaying weather information to SKYWARN on VHF. Citing reports from his Emergency Coordinators (ECs) and District ECs (DECs), Boyle said ARES was put on standby in the Missouri Bootheel area to watch the Mississippi River levees and to report any attempts to break them to relieve pressure on other areas. South of St Louis along the Mississippi, the Jefferson County ARES team <http://listen.to/jeffcoares> reports both flooding and a small tornado--F0 on the Fujita scale--during May. According to Jefferson County EC Bob Lucas, N0XEV, and AEC Jon Stanley, KB0WVK, the ARES team also participated in SKYWARN nets during both emergencies and stood by to provide communication. Elsewhere, Texas County EC Richard Wood, KB0MPO, was on the scene of the Willow Springs tornado a few minutes after it demolished the Highway Patrol's 360-foot tower and damaged some homes. Wood verified the damage for the National Weather Service Springfield SKYWARN Net and offered to help with communications. In the central Missouri counties of Phelps and Pulaski in early May, low-lying areas in and around Waynesville were evacuated and a flood warning issued. Missouri ARES District I EC (and Pulaski County EC) Gene Bess, KC0IUO, alerted ARES teams in the two counties to provide communications for an American Red Cross shelter set up in St Robert. The ARES team remained in touch with the regional SKYWARN net in Springfield to report severe weather and flooding as it occurred. Most evacuees decided to stay with relatives or friends on higher ground, and the shelter closed the following day. ARES remained on standby, however, in case of additional flooding. Phelps County EC Joe Counsil, K0OG, and his ARES team worked with a group in flood cleanup and recovery efforts south of Rolla. "The cleanup effort was quite successful and was an excellent experience for us all," Counsil said. "Most importantly, we helped several families in the neighborhood in their time of distress and need." The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has included 19 Missouri counties on its list of weather-damaged regions, including damage resulting from tornadoes in late April. ==>A WIN IN KINDERHOOK: ARRL, PRB-1 CREDITED IN ANTENNA BATTLE A New York amateur is crediting the limited federal preemption PRB-1 and ARRL with helping him win approval for an antenna support structure on his property. Fred Fitte, WA2MMX, spent the better part of a year trying to gain the necessary approvals from the Town of Kinderhook. He finally got a building permit earlier this month. "It's been a really ugly battle for about eight months," Fitte said. "I can't say enough good things about the League." The Town of Kinderhook would not allow a ham radio antenna support structure in excess of 35 feet without a variance. "PRB-1 is what saved my bacon," said Fitte, who finally won approval of his request to erect a 50-foot tower on a 3-1 vote of the town's zoning board of appeals. PRB-1, which is spelled out in the FCC Amateur Service rules under ß97.15(b), requires municipalities to "reasonably accommodate" amateur communication. Fitte said that by the time he had presented his case, "it was real clear that the zoning board of appeals knew what they had to do." Fitte singled out ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF--who attended every hearing--and ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI--who attended several--for special mention. A required trip to the town's planning board for a "site review" was routine and uneventful, he said. Fitte called Fallon "a crusader in the effort to keep ham radio active and moving forward," and said he became an ARRL Life Member because of his efforts. He also credited his legal counsel, Al Millus, WB2EQR, and Dr George Wilner, K2ONP, head of the Hematology Department at Albany Medical Center, whose expert testimony addressed concerns about possible RF exposure. Fitte said the zoning board "acknowledged that PRB-1 was a major factor in the decision" and that if his application had been considered based solely on a request for a variance, it would not have been granted. Despite its earlier opposition, Fitte said, the ZBA eventually came to conclude that his application did not significantly alter the character of the neighborhood, did not affect property values and did not have a negative environmental impact. In addition, he said, the board agreed that no negative health impact based on RF exposure was proven. More pertinent, however, was a conclusion that a 35-foot structure would not be conducive to effective communications and that 50 feet--his request--was the bare minimum. Fitte said the ZBA also accepted Hare's assertions before the board that 75 feet was the accepted height for optimum communications. The zoning board's approval did not come without some restrictions, however. Fitte's tower was approved for the left side of the house. Fitte had hoped to erect it on the right side of the structure, nearest to his ham shack. The ZBA okayed a total height of 75 feet--50 feet of tower and 25 feet of antenna, an outcome he called "a pleasant surprise." He also agreed to install an anti-climbing device and to remove the structure when he moved. He also must provide proof of license renewal every 10 years. With a building permit now in hand, Fitte says he intends to get his town's zoning code changed to provide an exemption for Amateur Radio antenna support structures. But that will have to wait for a tower-raising party, he said. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Sun watcher Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily solar flux and sunspot numbers rose this week. Average daily sunspot numbers were up nearly 65 points and daily solar flux was up by 15 over last week, and there were some very active geomagnetic days. Solar flux is expected to fade a bit this week, and may reach a short-term minimum around Monday or Tuesday. There is a new large sunspot on the southeast limb of the sun. Region 9973 could bring solar flares. We're moving out of spring propagation and toward summer conditions. Ten meters is going out of season, and moving into summer will see lower MUF, affecting propagation on 15 meters; 17 and 20 meters will be the best summertime bands for HF DX, with 20 offering the best conditions right after sunrise or into the evening, rather than midday. Sunspot numbers for May 23 through 29 were 229, 242, 221, 232, 227, 218, and 206, with a mean of 225. The 10.7-cm flux was 180.3, 189.1, 182.6, 183.1, 186.7, 186.4, and 184.8, with a mean of 184.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 54, 7, 6, 10, 28, 12, and 12, with a mean of 18.4. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The WW South America CW Contest, IARU Region 1 Field Day (CW) and the QRP TAC Sprint are the weekend of June 1-2. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL June VHF QSO Party, the ANARTS WW RTTY Contest, the Portugal Day Contest, the RSGB Jubilee Contest, the Asia-Pacific Sprint (SSB) and the TOEC WW Grid Contest (SSB) are the weekend of June 8-9. 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. * W4EHW 2002 hurricane season 2002 on-the-air test is June 1: W4EHW at the National Hurricane Center in Miami holds its Hurricane Season 2002 On-The-Air Station Test Saturday, June 1, 1300-2200 UTC. Amateurs are invited to contact W4EHW during the event, which provides a chance for the station to check out its equipment and give new volunteer operators some hands-on training. The test also marks the kickoff of the 2002 hurricane season. During the June 1 test, W4EHW will be active on HF, VHF and UHF, CW, SSB and PSK31. Stations contacting W4EHW are asked to supply call sign, signal report, location and a short weather report. QSLs are available via W4VBQ; include a SASE. More information is on the W4EHW Web site <http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/w4ehw/>. *ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration opens Monday, June 3, for the Level I Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course (EC-001), Monday, June 10, for the Level II course (EC-002), and Monday, June 17 for the Level III course (EC-003). Courses must be completed in order, starting with Level I. Registration for the Antenna Modeling course (EC-004) opens Monday, June 10. Registration for the HF Digital Course opens Monday, June 17. Registration on all dates begins at 4 PM Eastern Time. Beginning July 1, registration fees for all on-line courses will increase by $5. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org. * Clarification: The article "Precision Emergency Automated Position Reporting System Test Set" that appeared in The ARRL Letter, Vol 21, No 21 (May 24, 2002) failed to indicate the frequency to be used for the PEAPRS test. It is the standard APRS frequency of 144.390 MHz. * Antarctic ledge named after amateur: A ledge in the Antarctic has been named after a Connecticut ham who provided phone patches for scientists working in the region. Larry Skilton, K1IED, says that to his knowledge, he's the first Amateur Radio operator who's never been to Antarctica to have a place named after him for services rendered. Skilton Ledge is described as a relatively flat rectangular rock platform at the southeastern margin of Midnight Plateau in the Darwin Mountains. The upper surface is ice-covered, but a rock cliff forms the southern end. Skilton made phone patches in the US to complete radio communications from US Antarctic Project science stations including Palmer, McMurdo, Byrd surface station and particularly South Pole. He worked a regular nightly schedule for 11 years, between 1990 and 2001 and arranged the completion of several thousand calls. * Colorado ARES groups stand down from fire duty: Colorado ARRL Section Manager Jeff Ryan, K0RM, reports the Schoonover (Deckers) Fire--once designated by the National Forest Service as the most important fire in the nation for federal resources--was brought under control May 26, and participating ARES groups have stood down. Fourteen structures were destroyed by the fire, and four firefighters suffered minor injuries. More than 60 families and dozens of campers had been evacuated and more than 500 firefighters battled the lightning-sparked blaze that scorched some 4000 acres in the Colorado mountains. The portion of the Pike and San Isabel National Forest that contained the fire remained closed for the Memorial Day weekend. The previously closed Highway 67 and Rampart Range Road have been reopened to traffic. Ryan reports that 78 hams from four different ARES groups supported six agencies, including local emergency management agencies and the American Red Cross, during the fire event. * Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for May was Matt Kastigar, W0XEU, for his article "The St. Louis Switcher." Congratulations, Matt! 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 June 2002 issue of QST. Voting ends June 30. * OMIK golden jubilee celebration set: OMIK Amateur Radio Association--the largest minority ham radio organization in the US--and OMIK Ladies Auxiliary will celebrate their golden jubilee (50th anniversary) July 17-20, 2002, in Dayton, Ohio. An ARRL-affiliated organization, OMIK was founded in 1952 by African-American Amateur Radio operators, many of whom had learned or honed their communications skills during World War II. Pronounced "Oh-Mike," the name OMIK stands for Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky, the core membership region in OMIK's early days. The 2002 convention will feature technical sessions on Amateur Radio topics by Clifford Peoples, KE8QR, and Wallace Wright, AD8N, plus amateur exam sessions, tours of the Dayton area and a program honoring past OMIK presidents. For more information contact convention chair Moody T. Law, WQ6I, email@example.com. Visit the OMIK Web site <http://webusers.anet-stl.com/~ka0etf/omik.htm>.--Cornelius Washington, KR0Z * Steve Dimse, K4HG, wins EarthLink R&D grand prize: EarthLink's Research and Development department has announced that Dr. Steve Dimse, K4HG, is the grand prize winner of its open standards-based Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) device application development contest. The competition was held to explore new and future vehicle telematics applications. Dimse won the overall, grand prize for his proposal to integrate the AVL device into the existing Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) worldwide tracking system, which he helped create. Dimse's proposal would extend the reach of the APRS by allowing it to be used by anyone with an AVL device and access to the Internet. "The far-reaching benefits of this type of service include anything from keeping up with your kids to tracking down a stolen car," said Dimse, an emergency room physician. =========================================================== 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. 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