*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 21, No. 41 October 18, 2002 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +It's "status quo" for now at 2300-2305 MHz, FCC rules * +Ham radio avionics package "keeps on ticking" after launch disaster * +Youngsters learn firsthand about space flight via ham radio * +FCC judge favors Schoenbohm's return to ham radio * +Amateur's Petition for Reconsideration on CC&Rs denied * +League asks FCC not to let European FRS-type radios on 70 cm in US * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration ARRL Audio News celebrates its fifth birthday Salvation Army officer praises hams' efforts in wake of hurricanes Paul Blumhardt, K5RT, joins CQ staff Special event to mark Panama centenary P29PL leaving Papua New Guinea +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>FCC OPTS FOR STATUS QUO AT 2300 TO 2305 MHz In a classic good news-bad news scenario, the FCC has dismissed an ARRL petition that sought primary status for amateurs at 2300-2305 MHz. At the same time, the Commission denied petitions from AeroAstro and MicroTrax--commercial interests that had hoped to share the spectrum with Amateur Radio. The action, taken October 9, maintains the status quo on the band. "That the commercial petitions were dismissed is, of course, good news," said ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ. "We had argued for that outcome." In comments filed on the AeroAstro and MicroTrax proceedings last year, the League had called on the FCC to put an end to "commercial encroachments" on amateur allocations in the 2.3 and 2.4 GHz bands. Sumner called the outcome of the League's petition, RM-10165, "mildly disappointing" because, as he explained, a status upgrade "would provide some measure of protection against future commercial proposals." Sumner pointed out that the FCC did not altogether rule out a future status upgrade, but he cautioned that the band "is still vulnerable." In turning down the ARRL's petition, the FCC said that since it was also dismissing the MicroTrax and AeroAstro petitions for access to 2300-2305 MHz, "amateur operators' weak-signal communications in the 2300-2305 MHz band will be protected if the amateur allocation remains secondary." The FCC said the band "will remain in the Commission's reserve, and the status quo in the band will be maintained until the Commission reevaluates the spectrum status for the Amateur Service that may be appropriate." The FCC turned down the MicroTrax and AeroAstro applications in part because appropriate spectrum already was available elsewhere and neither company had demonstrated a need for an additional allocation. MicroTrax had proposed to establish a Personal Location and Monitoring Service (PLMS) at 2300-2305 MHz under FCC Part 27 rules. The AeroAstro petition went further, proposing to share the band on a co-primary basis with the Amateur Service. AeroAstro wanted to establish its Satellite Enabled Notification System (SENS) messaging service under the FCC's Miscellaneous Wireless Communication Service rules. AeroAstro also had called on the FCC to impose technical limits on amateur operation, which the ARRL in its comments had characterized as "Draconian" and "totally unacceptable." ARRL interference studies predicted "intolerable" interference, especially to weak signals in the band, if the FCC had adopted AeroAstro's petition. The FCC also worried that NASA's Deep Space Network would not be protected by the modified out-of-band limits AeroAstro had proposed. Internationally, the 2300-2305 MHz band is allocated to Fixed and Mobile services on a primary basis and to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis in all three International Telecommunication Union regions. The Radiolocation Service has a secondary allocation in the band in Region 1, and a primary allocation in Regions 2 and 3. A copy of the Order is available on the FCC Web site <http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2002/db1010/DA-02-2587A1 .doc>. ==>HAM RADIO PACKAGE "KEEPS ON TICKING" FOLLOWING LAUNCH DISASTER What began as a perfectly magnificent morning in the Nevada desert September 19 ended in a disastrous launch failure for a group of Amateur Radio operators and amateur rocket enthusiasts. The Civilian Space Xploration Team's (CSXT) Primera rocket engine failed a few seconds into its flight, and the rocket was destroyed. CSXT team members had hoped the suborbital vehicle, which carried several Amateur Radio payloads, would be the first amateur-built rocket to reach space--an altitude of more than 60 nautical miles. "It was very exciting. The sun came up, and the rocket was there, and we activated all of the computer systems, and everything came up fine," recalled Avionics Manager and CSXT Program Co-Leader Eric Knight, KB1EHE--one of the several hams involved in the project. "Everything went very very smoothly." Until everything went terribly wrong three seconds into the launch. "There were a lot of people in tears," Knight said. "This is something for which everybody put their lives on hold for a couple of years. It was a very very upsetting thing." The team members went through "a period of mourning" as they went about the range picking up the pieces of the rocket. "It was very tough to swallow at that point," Knight added. No one was hurt. Amazingly and unexpectedly, the Amateur Radio avionics survived the rocket's destruction and continued operating until they struck the desert floor. "We were extraordinarily pleased with the way the electronics performed," Knight said. "If there was an bright spot, it was that the avionics--all based on ham radio technology and built by hams--worked flawlessly. We had perfect video of the launch from the rocket right through the motor failure." All members of the avionics team are ham radio licensees. The upbeat Knight said team members, while initially stunned and devastated, remain undeterred. "We will be pressing ahead for a launch possibly again next year," he said. "It was only a speed bump in our overall process." Knight called his teammates "a very resilient bunch" and determined to go forward. The disaster means starting over largely from scratch. Along with their hopes and dreams for success this time went a considerable amount of hard cash--on the order of $130,000--that came right out of the members' pockets. "We're actively looking for sponsors right now and people who would like to have their name and brand tied in with such a historic endeavor," Knight said. Primera Technology was the only corporate sponsor for the failed launch. The September attempt was the group's third. Additional information is available on the CSXT Web site <www.civilianspace.com>. ==>TEXAS YOUNGSTER MAKES CAREER CHOICE DURING ISS HAM RADIO CHAT Fourth-grader Kyle Bryant made a career choice this week. He's going to become an astronaut. At least that's what he told his teacher, James Jones, after he and nine of his classmates at Lamar Elementary School in Greenville, Texas, fired off questions via ham radio to astronaut Peggy Whitson, KC5ZTD, aboard the International Space Station. The contact was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) project. Kyle and his classmates at Lamar Elementary have been studying space and space travel for weeks in preparation for the ARISS QSO. Jones called the 10-minute experience "absolutely phenomenal," and added that it was "mind boggling" for his students to actually talk to Whitson after studying about her and her two crewmates, crew commander Valery Korzun, RZ3FK, and cosmonaut Sergei Treschev, RZ3FU. "We've been tracking them for days on an Internet Web site," Jones said. "This was very impressive! It made a bunch of kids very happy!" Lamar Principal James Evans explained that since his school's new campus opened in August, the emphasis has been on science and space. "Every classroom has a display having to do with space," he noted. Amateur Radio coordinator for the direct, 2-meter contact was Art Passannante, KC5GQP. He and his crew from Greenville set up their station outdoors in front of the school to accommodate a sizeable audience. The quad beams for the contact were hombrewed in classic ham radio fashion from scraps of all-thread, plastic pipe and wire salvaged from the trash pile at a construction site. By all accounts, the contact went flawlessly. Among the onlookers were some 100 students, 20 parents, a dozen or so teachers and three reporters. ARISS is an international project with US participation by NASA, ARRL and AMSAT.--Gene Chapline, K5YFL ==>FCC JUDGE FAVORS SCHOENBOHM'S RETURN TO AMATEUR RADIO An FCC administrative law judge has agreed that the FCC should grant the General class Amateur Radio license application of Herb Schoenbohm--formerly KV4FZ. Schoenbohm lost his bid to renew his ham ticket in 2000 but applied for a new license the next year. Following a hearing on Schoenbohm's application last spring, an initial decision of Administrative Law Judge Arthur I. Steinberg October 11 declared that Schoenbohm appears qualified to rejoin the Amateur Radio ranks. Steinberg wrote that the hearing concluded that Schoenbohm "has not engaged in any significant wrongdoing since his prior disqualifying misconduct," that his misconduct was not recent, that his "reputation for good character in his community is excellent," that Schoenbohm "has taken meaningful measures to prevent the future occurrence of misconduct" and that loss of his ham ticket "coupled with the shame and humiliation that resulted" make unlikely a recurrence of misconduct. Steinberg concluded that Schoenbohm "possesses the requisite character qualifications to be a Commission licensee" and that the FCC should grant his application. Schoenbohm also has taken and passed the Extra class exam (Element 4), but that application was not part of the proceeding. For his part, Schoenbohm said he was very grateful for the outcome and said he appreciated "all the amateurs who came to my defense and supported the application." He said he does not yet know if he will attempt to regain his KV4FZ call sign if his application is granted. Assuming that the FCC concurs with Steinberg's initial decision, Schoenbohm has made good on his promise to one day return to Amateur Radio after losing a lengthy battle with the FCC to renew his license. Steinberg's decision followed this summer's Proposed Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law from the FCC Enforcement Bureau, which recommended that the evidence presented at hearing supported giving Schoenbohm another chance. In 1994, the FCC put Schoenbohm's renewal application for KV4FZ up for hearing following his 1992 felony conviction on federal fraud charges. The Commission finally turned down his renewal application in 1998, the US Appeals Court upheld the FCC's decision in 2000, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case later that same year. In March 2001, a couple of months after his authority to operate as KV4FZ had expired, Schoenbohm took and passed the General class examination. A couple of weeks later, he qualified for Amateur Extra as well, but the FCC refused to act on the second application since it had not yet granted the first. The FCC designated Schoenbohm's General license application for hearing on the basis of character issues stemming from his 1992 conviction as well as his alleged lack of candor during subsequent FCC hearings on the matter. A copy of Steinberg's initial decision is available on the FCC Web site <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-02D-01A1.doc>. Other documents pertaining to this proceeding, WT Docket 01-352, are available via the FCC's "Search for Filed Comments" page <http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi>. To view these documents, enter "01-352" in the "Proceeding" field and click on "Retrieve Document List." ==>FCC REJECTS AMATEUR'S PETITION FOR RECONSIDERATION ON CC&R ISSUE The FCC has turned down a Petition for Reconsideration filed by a Florida amateur of the Commission's 2001 decision to deny the ARRL's Application for Review in RM-8763. That proceeding concerned the League's lengthy effort--ultimately stymied by the FCC--to have the Commission include privately imposed deed covenants, conditions and restrictions--CC&Rs--under the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1. That policy, codified in Section 97.15(b) of the FCC's rules, calls on municipalities to "reasonably accommodate" amateur communication when regulating the installation of outdoor antenna structures. The League subsequently sought a congressional solution to the issue in the form of HR 4720. The FCC dismissed the League's Application for Review on December 18, 2001, on the grounds that PRB-1 "adequately protects the predominant federal interest in promoting amateur communications from regulations that would frustrate the important purposes thereof." Not long after, and acting on his own, W. Lee McVey, W6EM, of Bradenton, Florida, filed his Petition for Reconsideration, claiming it presented additional evidence that the FCC had not considered in dealing with the ARRL's petition. "McVey's Petition fails to explain why he did not present his arguments earlier and fails to present new facts or circumstances," said the Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) by D'wana R. Terry, who heads the Public Safety and Private Wireless Division of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Terry pointed out in the MO&O that under FCC "delegated authority" she could dismiss as repetitious any Petition for Reconsideration that "fails to rely upon changed facts or new circumstances." Terry contended that McVey could have made his arguments by commenting on ARRL's Petition for Rule Making. "In this regard, we note that McVey did not attempt to participate in this proceeding prior to filing the instant Petition for Reconsideration." Terry concluded that none of McVey's arguments warranted reconsideration of the Order that denied the ARRL's Application for Review. The FCC said McVey filed his own Petition for Rule Making on the CC&R issue while the ARRL's Application for Review was pending in 2001. The FCC dismissed that petition last February, reasoning that it was substantially the same as the ARRL's. McVey, the MO&O noted, "did not appeal or otherwise challenge" the FCC's decision. ==>ARRL ASKS FCC TO DENY US USE OF EUROPEAN/UK FRS-TYPE RADIOS ON 70 cm The ARRL has asked the FCC to deny a petition, filed by a Virginia amateur, that would set aside eight channels in the 70-cm band on which visitors from Europe and the United Kingdom would be permitted to use their Personal Mobile Radio (PMR 446) transceivers while in the US. PMR 446 is similar to the US Family Radio Service (FRS), which uses frequencies in the 462-467 MHz range. "ARRL is not unsympathetic to the compatibility concerns of international travelers, but at the same time, there are far less problematic solutions to the problem noted by the petitioner than those contained in the Petition," the League said in its comments. The ARRL recommended that European and UK visitors purchase FRS transceivers to use during US visits. The FCC put the Petition for Rule Making from Dr Michael Trahos, KB4PGC, on public notice in August and designated it as RM-10521. A physician from Alexandria, Trahos said his proposal would help to promote international goodwill. The General-class licensee asked 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 at up to a half watt PEP output. The ARRL demurred. "Not all means of fostering international goodwill constitute public interest justifications sufficient to support regulatory changes," the League said. A rule change permitting non-amateurs to operate unlicensed transmitters on amateur bands, it continued, would be contrary to the fundamental regulatory structure of the Amateur Service, the Communications Act of 1934 and the International Radio Regulations. To modify Part 95 rules would require a reallocation proceeding, the ARRL said. In his Petition, Trahos also asserted that existing Part 97 Amateur Service rules precluding the use of PMR 446 radios in the US were "essentially unenforceable" and that granting his petition would have minimal impact on existing amateur operations. The ARRL contended, however, that there are "obvious" enforcement problems associated with the Petition and that putting the unlicensed users on a ham band was "a formula for serious interference." 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 the US, government radiolocation services are primary and Amateur Radio is secondary on that portion of the 70-cm band. "If nothing else, this Petition reveals the problems that arise from the failure to harmonize allocations internationally," the ARRL noted. "Had the United States and CEPT [the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations] taken steps to harmonize FRS channels internationally prior to creating the FRS in the first place, the problems reasonably noted by the petitioner might have been avoided." The Petition, RM-10521, and filed comments are available via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Click on "Search for Filed Comments" and enter "RM-10521" (the ECFS is case-sensitive) in the "Proceeding" field. The comment period has expired. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar Solon Tad "Good Day, Sunshine" Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspots and solar flux were higher during the past week. Average daily sunspot values increased by more than 46 points over the previous week, and average solar flux was up by nearly 20. Geomagnetic conditions were unsettled to active. The most active days were Thursday and Monday (October 10 and 14), when planetary A indices were 23 and 26. The really quiet day was Friday, with a planetary A index of 8 and mid-latitude A index of only 5. Solar flux should drop over the next couple of weeks to around 140 by October 27-29, then turn up again at the end of the month. Over the next few days, Friday though Tuesday, approximate solar flux values are predicted around 180 to 185. The earth is currently within a high-speed solar wind, and we could see a jump in geomagnetic activity if the interplanetary magnetic field tilts south. Planetary A indices are predicted around 12-15 over the next few days, an unsettled outlook. Sunspot numbers for October 10 through 16 were 244, 178, 171, 167, 175, 165, and 182, with a mean of 183.1. The 10.7-cm flux was 171.9, 179.4, 180.4, 179.2, 181.2, 176.8 and 182.5, with a mean of 178.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 23, 8, 11, 10, 26, 15, and 14, with a mean of 15.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: Scouting's Jamboree on the Air (JOTA), the JARTS World Wide RTTY Contest, the ARCI Fall QSO Party, the Worked All Germany Contest, the Asia-Pacific Sprint (CW), the RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest (CW) and the Illinois QSO Party are the weekend of October 19-20. JUST AHEAD: CQ Worldwide DX Contest (SSB), the ARRL International EME Contest and the 10-10 International Fall Contest (CW) are the weekend of October 26-27. 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 ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level III (EC-003) and HF Digital Communications (EC-005) courses opens Monday, October 21, 4 PM Eastern Daylight Time (2000 UTC). Registration will remain open through Sunday, October 27. Classes begin October 28. Registration for the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level II (EC-002) and Antenna Modeling (EC-004) courses remains open through Sunday, October 20. If you have not yet let us know what you'd like to see for future C-C course offerings, visit the C-CE Course Survey <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/cce/ccesurv.html> page on the ARRL Web site midnight, October 27. 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 Howard Robins, W1HSR, firstname.lastname@example.org. * ARRL Audio News celebrates its fifth birthday: The League's weekly Amateur Radio newscast--ARRL Audio News--marked its fifth birthday on October 17. Compiled and edited each week from The ARRL Letter, the news feed in those early days of 1997 initially was available only in RealAudio format via the ARRL Web site, and with Tucson Amateur Packet Radio--TAPR--generously providing server space. A telephone call-in line (860-594-0384) was added shortly after the news feed's debut. More recently, ARRL was able to set up the service on its own servers. Along the way, we've added some additional voices in the form of ARRL HQ staffers Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY, and Brennan Price, N4QX, in addition to the primary host, Rick Lindquist, N1RL, the ARRL's senior news editor. Digitally recorded and produced at ARRL Headquarters, ARRL Audio News now is available as an MP3 file, downloadable from the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio> in addition to the telephone call-in service. More than 110 repeaters in the US and elsewhere in the world now air ARRL Audio News in full or in part. * Salvation Army officer praises hams' efforts in wake of hurricanes: Mark Price, N9VOC, a Salvation Army captain and a member of the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), has praised the assistance rendered to the organization by members of the Central Louisiana Amateur Radio Club following recent hurricanes that hit the state. The Central Louisiana hams "gave of themselves and of their own equipment to aid in communications," Price said. "With stations manned at Red Cross checkpoints and center as well as aboard any operation manned by The Salvation Army, the men and women of Amateur Radio have distinguished themselves above and beyond all expectations." Price made the comments in a letter to the editor of The Town Talk, a local newspaper. The hams in Central Louisiana "not only provided communications and coordination, but also tirelessly gave of their time to assist The Salvation Army in its Herculean effort to provide 15,130 units of food and refreshment to evacuees over the course of three days." Hams, Price said, helped prepare and distribute supplies as well as provide excellent communication. * Paul Blumhardt, K5RT, joins CQ staff: Paul Blumhardt, K5RT, has joined the staff of CQ Communications Inc as director of new business development, company president Dick Ross, K2MGA, announced October 16. "Paul brings to CQ a valuable mix of ham radio experience coupled with an outside view of the amateur radio industry," said Ross. Blumhardt will oversee efforts to broaden the base and the scope of the company's marketing activities. CQ publishes magazines, books, videos and other materials for the Amateur Radio and hobby radio fields. Blumhardt has been serving for the past three years in a volunteer capacity as Worked All Zones Award manager. He is a member of the ARRL, the North Texas Contest Club, the Potomac Valley Radio Club and the Lone Star DX Association. Blumhardt will work from his home in Rowlett, Texas. * Special event to mark Panama centenary: The Radio Club of Panama will operate a special event station, HP100RCP, during the month of November to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Panama. A commemorative certificate is available to stations working the special event station and confirming the contact with a QSL and two International Reply Coupons (IRCs) or $1 US. QSL to Radio Club de Panama, PO BOX 10745, Panama 4, PANAMA. HP100RCP will operate in all bands and all modes including PSK31.--Radio Club de Panama * P29PL leaving Papua New Guinea: After 18 years of activity from Papua New Guinea, 74-year-old Paul Linsley, P29PL, is headed back to Australia for medical reasons and retirement. He hopes to continue on the air as VK2EXB and maybe from club station VK2ATZ. Linsley favored CW and often has been the only active Papua New Guinea station on that mode. "Paul has been an avid supporter of Amateur radio for all his years in Papua New Guinea from 1984 and has represented P29 in many contests as well as to tens of thousands of individual amateurs around the world," said Rick Warnett, P29KFS.--The Daily DX =========================================================== 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. 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