*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 21, No. 32 August 16, 2002 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Grant-supported ARRL training program to start September 1 * +UPS backs away from SAVI proposals for 70 cm * +FCC spells out power company's obligations * +Ham petitions to allow FRS-type radios on 446 MHz * +UK 5-MHz experiment off to an enthusiastic start * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program registration +ARES assists Red Cross in California wildfire +"Close but no cigar" for New York ham antenna bill Heil presents commemorative microphones to Queen Mary club station Japan refuses permission for power line communications systems Vanity HQ Web site seeking financial support Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>HOMELAND SECURITY GRANT TRAINING TO START SEPTEMBER 1 Amateur Radio emergency communications training supported by a $181,900 federal homeland security grant will begin within a few weeks instead of next year as reported initially. During its first year, the grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) special volunteer program will reimburse the cost of Level I ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course training for up to 1700 volunteers. "It will begin with the recruitment of additional mentors and trainers for the national program," said ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH. Hobart and Dan Miller, K3UFG--formerly ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Coordinator and now the Emergency Communications Course Manager--have been working with CNCS to expedite the grant details. As Emergency Communications Course Manager, Miller will manage the CNCS special volunteer program and United Technologies Corp training grants. Replacing Miller as program coordinator August 19 will be Howard Robins, W1HSR. The CNCS has accepted ARRL's proposal to commence the expanded emergency training program September 1. The League was among several dozen nonprofit organizations designated to receive some $10.3 million in federal money to boost homeland defense volunteer programs. Miller says that since the July 18 grant announcement, interest in the subsidized training has been high. He urged those eager to participate to stand by for announcements via the ARRL Web and other League news outlets. The first priority when the grant-supported training effort kicks into gear in September will be to recruit and train at least 200 Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course mentors/trainers. These volunteers then will help to manage and train the student load for the first year of the grant. This week, ARRL section managers were asked to recommend up to five students to sign up to take the Level I Amateur Radio Emergency Communications on-line course starting in September. These individuals also will receive additional training to become instructors and mentors for future classes. "Although we have a core group of wonderful mentors and instructors who have helped students through the courses given to date, we need more to help with the volume of students training under the CNCS grant," Hobart emphasized. "With the help of the section managers, we will ensure a good distribution of mentors nationwide who can advise students about local ARES groups and activities in addition to helping them with the course material." Anyone who has already completed the Level I course is qualified to become a mentor with some additional training. Mentor candidates should contact Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org> for information on how to take part. To comply with grant requirements, the ARRL also will survey served agencies and certain segments of the amateur population, Hobart said. The League wants to ensure that the course offered accurately represents "what really happens in the field" during an emergency or disaster, she said. Once the ARRL members hand-picked by section managers to train as mentors have completed the program, registration for routine Level I training will open October 1, initially for ARRL field appointees. Miller anticipates that the program will continue to handle approximately 200 students per month. "As much as we'd like to, we can't train everyone at once," he said. "Please be patient." Students taking advantage of Level I emergency communications training under the grant program will be asked to pay for the course via credit card during the registration process. Upon successfully completing the training and certification, students will be reimbursed the $45 fee. Miller said the goal is to dramatically improve the course completion rate from the current 68 percent to nearly 100 percent. Level I course candidates from Connecticut will continue to be trained under $33,000 grant from United Technologies Corporation to expand Amateur Radio emergency communications training opportunities. Hobart says the UTC Connecticut grant paved the way for success under the new federal grant. Hobart emphasized that community involvement is key. "It's not enough to just finish the course," she said. "You're expected to join and take part in your local Amateur Radio Emergency Service organization." The grant training program is especially interested in attracting more seniors--those 55 and older--and those for whom the course fee would mean a hardship unless they were reimbursed. ==>UNITED PARCEL SERVICE NOW NEUTRAL ON SAVI PROPOSALS FOR 70 CM United Parcel Service (UPS) now says it's neutral on SAVI Technology's petition to deploy RF identification tag devices at 433 MHz at much greater duty cycles than current Part 15 rules permit for such devices. UPS clarified its position this week in an ex parte filing to the FCC. "UPS takes no position on the rule changes proposed in the SAVI Petition because they will have virtually no impact on UPS's shipping operations and are inconsistent with efforts to promulgate international standards for RFID tags," the shipping company said. The change in position is doubly significant because UPS has an equity interest in SAVI through its UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund. RFID tags are used for tracking shipments and packages, among other applications. The ARRL has said that adopting SAVI's proposals would result in severe and harmful interference. ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the League was pleased to learn that UPS had "done the right thing." Sumner had pointed out UPS's support of the SAVI petition in his "It Seems to Us . . ." editorial in the December 2001 issue of QST. "The ARRL is very gratified that, upon careful consideration, UPS has changed its position and now recognizes that the SAVI proposal for 425-435 MHz offers no benefit," Sumner said. "We are confident that if the FCC devotes the same attention to considering the issue, it will come to the same conclusion." UPS said it wanted to clarify its position in light of the many comments filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in ET Docket 01-278 that cited the shipping company's initial support of the SAVI petition. UPS has not directly commented on the NPRM previously. UPS now says that, after further consideration, it sees no particular advantage to the changes SAVI has proposed. "UPS now does not envision any of its applications requiring a transmission duty cycle in excess of what is currently permitted under Section 15.231," UPS said. UPS also cited concerns that the proposed operating frequencies "are not fully compatible with frequency allocations" in many of the more than 200 countries and territories in which it does business. "Thus, it is of limited benefit to global companies such as UPS should the FCC adopt the proposed 10 MHz-wide RFID band from 425 to 435 MHz." More than 130 amateurs filed comments in opposition to SAVI Technology's RFID tags proposal, and most supported the League's position that the proposed rules are flawed and should not be adopted. A copy of the UPS ex parte filing in ET Docket 01-278 is available on the FCC Web site <http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_docu ment=6513287285>. ==>FCC SPELLS OUT UTILITY'S OBLIGATIONS IN INTERFERENCE CASES Electric utilities must correct equipment problems that cause harmful interference to stations operating in the Amateur Service. Following up on a recent pledge to get tougher on electric utilities that fail to promptly fix faulty gear that generates interference, FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth made that point doubly clear August 9 in an letter to Reliant Energy Company of Houston. The case involves unresolved interference complaints from Edward J. Gerber, W5GCX, of Houston. "Reliant must do all things necessary, and bear any and all necessary costs, to comply with its obligations as an operator of unlicensed devices pursuant to the Commission's Part 15 regulations," Hollingsworth reminded the utility's attorneys. He asked Reliant to provide a written report in 30 days detailing steps taken to eliminate the interference to W5GCX. Hollingsworth said he'd hold off on enforcement action until he has the report in hand but added that the FCC "expects a complete solution without further delay." In its reply to a May 23 letter from the FCC, Reliant had suggested that the interference Gerber was experiencing had come from an otherwise properly operating 250 kVA step-down transformer. The utility had proposed to relocate the transformer at Gerber's expense. Hollingsworth pointed out that the utility may not pass on the cost of fixing the problem to the victim of the interference. "It is exclusively the obligation of the operator of the unlicensed device," Hollingsworth wrote, referring to the FCC's Part 15 rules. Responding to the initial FCC letter, the utility's attorneys--Baker Botts LLP of Houston--had attempted to claim it was not obligated to avoid interference to amateur stations. Hollingsworth called the attempted distinction "baseless." A copy of the letter went to the office of Texas Public Utility Commission Chairman Rebecca Klein. The League has worked with the FCC and utilities to resolve dozens of interference complaints. ARRL Electromagnetic Compatibility and Radio Frequency Interference Engineer John Phillips, K2QAI, applauded Hollingsworth's tenacious approach to dealing with interference complaints involving power companies. "Amateur Radio is very fortunate to have someone like Riley Hollingsworth in our corner," he said. "There is no way that amateurs could ever hope to resolve some of these problems without the backing of the FCC." ==>PROPOSAL FILED TO ALLOW EUROPEAN/UK FRS-TYPE RADIOS ON 70 CM An amateur from Virginia has petitioned the FCC to allocate eight channels in the 70-cm band for use by visitors from Europe and the United Kingdom with Personal Mobile Radio (PMR 446) transceivers. The recently authorized PMR 446 is similar to the US Family Radio Service. Dr Michael Trahos, KB4PGC, a physician from Alexandria, filed the petition last January, saying it would help to promote international goodwill. The FCC on August 8 designated the petition as RM-10521 and invited comments on the proposal within 30 days. A General-class licensee, Trahos wants the FCC to amend its Amateur Service "and/or" Family Radio Service rules to allow "visiting/transient/tourist non-amateur non-United States resident foreign nationals" unlicensed access to certain frequencies between 446.0 and 446.1 MHz. He proposed to permit operation at up to 0.5 W PEP output. The ARRL band plan for 70 cm designates 446.0 MHz as a national calling channel. Other frequencies in the segment are for simplex or repeater use. In his petition, Trahos said existing Part 97 Amateur Service rules precluding the use of PMR 446 radios in the US "are essentially unenforceable" and that granting his petition would have minimal impact on existing amateur operations. "As such, Amateur Radio community oppositions to this petition, though respected, would be misplaced and not in the international public interest or good will," he asserted. As of August 15, two comments had been filed on RM-10521 by amateur licensees. Both opposed Trahos' petition, citing the potential for interference to amateur operations. Comments on RM-10521 are due by September 6 and may be filed via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) <http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html>. To view the Trahos petition and filed comments, click on "Search for Filed Comments." To file comments, click on "Submit a Filing." Enter "RM-10521" (the ECFS is case-sensitive) in the "Proceeding" field of either form. ==>UK "FIVEMEGGERS" ENJOYING EXPERIMENTAL ACTIVITY The so-called "Fivemegs Experiment" in the United Kingdom got off to an enthusiastic start in early August. Several amateur stations wasted no time in obtaining the required Notice of Variance--or NoV--to operate as part of the experiment to investigate band propagation. The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) announced in July that the Radiocommunications Agency (RA) and the UK's Ministry of Defence have granted permission to allocate five frequencies in the range 5250 kHz to 5450 kHz. "We now have over 200 Full Class A license holders authorized to operate on the five spot frequencies," said RSGB Spectrum Director Gordon Adams, G3LEQ, who's directing the experiment. Frequencies available in the UK are 5260, 5280, 5290, 5400 and 5405 kHz. Gordon says 5400 kHz is serving as a calling channel, but UK stations have been looking for US experimental activity on 5260 kHz. Activity in the UK has been on upper sideband. Responding to an ARRL petition earlier this year, the FCC has proposed allocating 5250 to 5400 kHz to US amateurs on a secondary basis. US operation under the ARRL's WA2XSY Experimental license continues on an occasional basis. Charly Harpole, K4VUD--a WA2XSY participant in Florida--reports that Paul Gaskell, G4MWO, in England confirmed reception of Harpole's 5-MHz CW signal on August 8 at 0200 UTC. A transatlantic two-way on 5 MHz is the next logical step, but it's unclear if WA2XSY participants are permitted to work the UK experimenters within the scope of the WA2XSY license. The ARRL is researching that question. In the meantime, crossband contacts remain an alternative. As propagation indicators, the UK experimenters are listening for WWCR, an international shortwave broadcaster at 5070 kHz. He advised WA2XSY experimental stations in the US to check for USB stations RAF Volmet on 5450 kHz and Shannon Volmet on 5505 kHz. Tim Kirby, G4VXE, was one of the first UK amateurs to receive a NoV on August 5. "Within a few minutes he was on the air using a 100-W transceiver and an end-fed wire tuned for the 5-MHz band," the RSGB reported. He worked several other stations in England and Wales on his first day of operation. The RSGB said Kirby's first impression of 5-MHz propagation was that UK signals seem to be consistent throughout the day and evening and that signals were better on 60 meters than on 40 meters for certain paths. For more information on the UK experimental activity on 5 MHz, visit The Fivemegs Experiment page <http://www.rsgb.org/licensing/fivemegs/fivemegs.htm> on the RSGB Web site. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation prognosticator Tad "Sunshine On My Shoulders" Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: The sun showed renewed activity this week. There was a dip in solar flux and sunspot numbers centered around August 6-8, but with the appearance of giant sunspot number 69 and more than 10 smaller groups, the indices are again on the rise. Mean daily sunspot numbers this week were up 9.3 points over last week, and average daily solar flux rose by precisely the same amount. Solar flux reached a recent peak of 241.5 on July 26, dropped over 100 to 134.6 on August 8 and may peak again above 240 around the middle of next week. Geomagnetic numbers over the past week indicated unsettled to active conditions, and this is expected to continue. On August 14 a coronal mass ejection appeared that wasn't squarely Earth-directed, but there is a fair chance it will cause upset on Earth. Predicted planetary A index for August 16-18 is 30, 15 and 10, and there is a 10 to 20 percent chance of a severe geomagnetic storm. Sunspot numbers for August 8 through 14 were 150, 164, 140, 180, 230, 214 and 254, with a mean of 190.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 134.6, 140.1, 148.4, 172.3, 183.9, 191.8, and 208.1, with a mean of 168.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 10, 15, 16, 15, 15, 13, and 15, with a mean of 14.1. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the SARTG WW RTTY Contest, the ARRL 10-GHz Cumulative Contest, the Keyman's Club of Japan Contest, the SEANET Contest (CW/SSB/digital) and the New Jersey QSO Party are the weekend of August 17-18. 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 Program registration: Registration for the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level II (EC-002) and Antenna Modeling (EC-004) courses will remain open through the weekend of August 17-18. Registration for Level III and HF Digital Communications courses opens Monday, August 19, at 4 PM Eastern Time. 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 the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program, email@example.com. * ARES assists Red Cross in California wildfire: San Luis Obispo County, California, ARES members provided communications support to the American Red Cross July 15-16 after more than 100 people were evacuated from their homes during a wildfire in Los Padres National Forest. North San Luis Obispo County Emergency Coordinator Bob Alberti, W6TTX, issued a preliminary announcement on the countywide ARES repeater, asking ARES members to monitor for a possible callout. W6TTX also activated the North County ARES telephone tree. With 40 homes in the path of the fire, the California Division of Forestry (CDF) began evacuating residents to an emergency shelter at the Atascadero High School gymnasium the evening of July 15. ARES members took part in various activities during the three-day fire, which eventually burned some 1300 acres. Amateurs staffed the Red Cross shelter at the high school and the emergency communications center at the regional Red Cross office in San Luis Obispo--20 miles away and over a mountain range. ARES members also helped CDF and the county sheriff to redirect to the high school shelter a number of confused residents who sought refuge at the nearby Santa Margarita Elementary School, a shelter site during previous fires. One especially grateful couple from Arizona was able to return from the shelter to their evacuated RV about 10:15 the first evening, after hams notified the shelter that CDF had reopened that road.--submitted by James K. Palmer, W6FOB * "Close but no cigar" for New York ham antenna bill: ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, says supporters of an Amateur Radio antenna bill for the Empire State are now setting their sights on 2003. "We seem to have gone as far as we can this year," Fallon said of the current legislation that passed the state Senate but not the Assembly. "I keep hoping that the Assembly will return, but that is no longer anything but a real long shot. Close but no cigar, unfortunately." The bill would have incorporated the wording of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into New York law and set minimum regulatory heights for antenna structures. Fallon said he remains upbeat in view of how the bill fared this year. "We learned a lot. We got better in our presentations of the issues," he said. "We had proclamations from both the governor and the legislature, which will be a big help in all future lobbying efforts for Amateur Radio in this and other states." Fallon said state lawmakers praised Amateur Radio's emergency communications capabilities and response. "We will be back next year better than ever," he said. Fallon said he and Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, continue to monitor the situation and will send a delegation to Albany if the legislature goes into a special session. He said New York's PRB-1 Task Force will meet and plan for the 2003 session. Fallon thanked all who contacted state lawmakers to urge their support for the measure. * Heil presents commemorative microphones to Queen Mary club station: Amateur Radio manufacturer Bob Heil, K9EID, of Heil Sound Ltd, and rocker Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, of the Eagles presented special commemorative microphones to the W6RO Amateur Radio club station aboard the Queen Mary. The July 27 presentation in the radio room of the ship, berthed in Long Beach, California, honored 23 years of continuous operation of W6RO by the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach. "The new microphones are an exact replica of the broadcast microphones used by radio stations and recording studios during the years the Queen Mary was at sea," Heil said. The Queen Mary is a popular Southern California attraction, and W6RO is on the air daily. The six new microphones were built by Heil Sound Ltd specifically for W6RO. Heil Sound, of Fairview Heights, Illinois, specializes in audio equipment for the Amateur Radio and personal communications markets. Nearly 50 people--including ARRL Los Angeles Section Manager Phineas Icenbice, W6BF, and ARRL Southeastern Division Vice Director Sandy Donahue, W4RU--attended. More information, including audio of Walsh's presentation, is on the Heil Sound Web site <http://www.heilsound.com>. * Japan refuses permission for power line communications systems: As a result of strong opposition from the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL), Japan's government says it's too soon to allow power line communications--variously called PLC or PLT--between 2 MHz and 30 MHz, due to its interference potential to other HF users. JARL had expressed deep concerns about PLC to the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications earlier this year. Field tests last January looked into the potential for RF leakage from power lines--specifically in cases where PLT was used to provide Internet access to homes via power lines. "JARL is glad that the Ministry's study group on PLC concluded that it is not suitable to allow PLC between 2 MHz and 30 MHz," said JARL President Shozo Hara, JA1AN. "However, we need to keep in mind that the future course of environmental demonstrative tests, their direction and international standards planning need to be watched very carefully." JARL Director Masao Matsumoto, JA1AYC, is in Germany to research the PLC situation in Europe. Meanwhile, the Radio Society of Great Britain reports that it's continuing to press for tight limits on emissions from wired telecommunications systems such as PLC and is working with other HF users to try to ensure that the spectrum remains uncontaminated by wideband noise. The JARL's Web site has more information <http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/4_Library/A-4-1_News/jn0208.htm> * Vanity HQ Web site seeking financial support: After announcing the popular Amateur Vanity Call Sign Headquarters Web site <http://www.vanityhq.com> was in danger of going dark, Webmaster Michael Carroll, N4MC, has been encouraged by recent financial support from within the amateur community to continue the site at least for a while longer. "I appreciate everyone's expression of support and encouragement, and I will do what I can to keep Vanity HQ on the air!" Carroll said in a posting on the site this week. Carroll had announced that Vanity HQ, which has been available since 1999, would be shutting down due to a lack of funds. Carroll revealed that he'd been out of work all year and could no longer afford the expense of keeping the site in operation. He's provided a PayPal link as well as a US Postal Service address for those for those wishing to contribute. * Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for July was Hal Kennedy, N4GG, for his article "The N4GG Array." Congratulations, Hal! 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>. If you haven't already done so, case a vote for your favorite article in the August issue of QST. Voting ends August 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. 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Click on "Modify membership data," check or uncheck the appropriate boxes, and click on "Submit modification" to make selections effective. (NOTE: HQ staff members cannot change your e-mail delivery address. You must do this yourself via the Members Only Web Site.) The ARRL Letter also is available to all, free of charge, from these sources: * ARRLWeb, http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/. (NOTE: The ARRL Letter will be posted each Friday when it is distributed via e-mail.) * The QTH.net listserver, thanks to volunteers from the Boston Amateur Radio Club: Visit http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/letter-list. (NOTE: The ARRL cannot assist subscribers who receive The ARRL Letter via this listserver.)
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