ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
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,
cce@arrl.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, wq6i@earthlink.net. 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
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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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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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