ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 43
November 1, 2002
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +New cosponsors step forward for CC&R bill
* +NTIA opposes SAVI Technology's RFID proposals for 70 cm
* +Philly youngsters meet astronaut via ham radio
* +Texas amateurs do tornado duty
* +ARRL resurrects Frequency Measuring Test
* +Vanity application reminders bear repeating
*  IN BRIEF:
     This weekend on the radio
     VY1JA to be on the air for both Sweepstakes weekends
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
    +ARRL Diamond Club off to "a great start"
     New on-line edition of The ARRL PIO's Handbook debuts
     UK holding the line on additional 5 MHz experimenters
     Indian pirates persist

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================
NOTE: To accommodate vacation schedules, this week's editions of The ARRL
Letter and ARRL Audio News are being distributed October 30. The Solar
Update will be available November 1 on the ARRL Web site as well as via
W1AW/ARRL bulletin.
===========================================================

==>NEW CC&R BILL COSPONSORS CONTINUE TO STEP FORWARD

Despite the fact that action on the CC&R bill, HR 4720, is highly unlikely
as the current session of Congress winds down, additional cosponsors
continue to register their support for the measure. The
latest--representatives Todd Platts (R-PA), Larry Combest (R-TX), Duke
Cunningham (R-CA), and Mary Bono (R-CA)--raise the total cosponsor count
to 34.

The recent spurt in cosponsors may have resulted from an eleventh-hour
initiative in late September, when the bill's sponsor, Rep Steve Israel
(D-NY), and the only two amateurs in the US House of Representatives--Mike
Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR) and Greg Walden, WB7OCE (R-OR)--appealed by letter to
their colleagues who had not already done so to agree to cosponsor the
measure.

HR 4720 is aimed at providing relief to amateurs faced with private deed
covenants, conditions and restrictions--CC&Rs--in erecting antennas. No
more votes will occur until a post-election "lame duck" session that
begins November 12 to complete several appropriations, homeland security
and other high-profile bills. Another lame duck session in December also
is possible.

With further progress on the bill unlikely this year, the effort to secure
a congressional solution to the CC&R issue will start all over again after
the new Congress convenes in January. The current list of HR 4720
cosponsors and more information are available on the HR 4720, The Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2002 page of the ARRL
Web site <http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/hr4720>.

==>NTIA STUDY IS BAD NEWS FOR SAVI 425-435 MHz PROPOSALS

A National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) study
supports the ARRL's position that the FCC would be making a mistake to
permit SAVI Technology to deploy RF identification (RFID) tag devices at
433 MHz at much greater duty cycles than current Part 15 rules permit for
such devices. RFID tags are used for tracking shipments and packages,
among other applications.

"NTIA has grave concerns about the Commission's proposal to amend its Part
15 rules to permit the operation of RFID tags in the band 425-435 MHz at
increased power levels and increased duty factor (or activity factor) and
data transmission by remote control devices," wrote Fredrick R. Wentland,
the NTIA's acting associate administrator in the Office of Spectrum
Management. "Given the likelihood of interference to critical government
radars, NTIA is unable to support the Commission's proposal."

The NTIA filed initial comments in the proceeding, ET Docket 01-278, last
March but requested additional time to document an NTIA staff study with
respect to field strength limits for RFID tags in the band.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the NTIA staff study
bears out what the League has been saying all along. "RFID tags represent
a significant source of potential interference to sensitive receivers,"
Sumner said, adding that use of the 425-435 MHz band would be incompatible
with ongoing requirements of incumbent services--military and amateur. "We
trust that the FCC will now terminate this portion of the proceeding and
that the RFID proponents will focus their attention on other, more
appropriate parts of the radio spectrum."

That's exactly what the NTIA advised. It recommended that the FCC "explore
other bands that might be able to accommodate the technology without
causing unacceptable interference to critical incumbent users." Among the
suggestions was 450 to 470 MHz, which provides nearly the same propagation
characteristics as the band SAVI picked. The NTIA also noted that 902 to
928 MHz--an amateur allocation--or 2400 to 2483.5 MHz--which includes part
of an amateur microwave allocation--might accommodate the proposed RFID
tags as spread spectrum devices.

Accompanying Wentland's letter was a six-page NTIA technical analysis. The
study asserts that the FCC's proposal to permit increased duty cycles and
field strengths for the 425-435 MHz RFID emitters "would result in
received power levels in excess of the required interference-to-noise
ratio" that could adversely affect "critical government radar systems."

SAVI this week filed its own detailed study that rebuts the NTIA's
position. SAVI suggested it would be willing to have the FCC limit the
available band for "advanced RFID" products to 433 to 435 MHz, lower the
peak-to-average ratio to 14 dB, strengthen the definition of RFID products
to add language forbidding voice transmissions and limit use of RFIDs to
"commercial or industrial locations."

More than 130 amateurs filed comments in opposition to SAVI Technology's
RFID tags proposal, and most supported the ARRL's position that the
proposed rules are flawed and should not be adopted. A copy of the NTIA
letter and study and SAVI's rebuttal study in ET Docket 01-278 are
available via the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System page
<http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html>. Click on "Search for Filed
Comments" and enter "01-278" in the "Proceeding" field.

==>PHILLY YOUNGSTERS MEET ASTRONAUT PEGGY WHITSON VIA HAM RADIO

US Astronaut Peggy Whitson, KC5ZTD, told students in Philadelphia that she
thinks it's possible there's life on other planets somewhere in the
universe. Using NA1SS aboard the International Space Station October 22,
Whitson answered several questions from youngsters attending Spruce Hill
Christian School. The contact was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) project.

"Actually, I think with the thousands and thousands of universes that we
can see," Whitson said, "and knowing that there are even thousands and
thousand more that we can't, I think that on all those planets somewhere
there probably is going to be life somewhere else--maybe not exactly like
ours, but I imagine there's going to be some kind of life."

Whitson said one of the most "fun" things she does aboard the ISS is look
out the window. "Seeing the earth from this vantage point of over 200
miles above the earth is really impressive. It's really a beautiful place
that we live on, and I think we take it for granted sometimes, when we
live there." She said she also enjoys exercise--a necessity for long-term
spaceflight. "We obviously aren't exposed to the effects of gravity, so we
have to work very hard to maintain our physical fitness," she said.

Life in microgravity leads to demineralization of bones, Whitson
explained. When the Expedition 5 crew returns to Earth next month, she
said, it will take months before their bones return to normal. The crew
likely will recover much more quickly from the other aftereffects of
several months in space, she added, such as the dizziness or
lightheadedness experienced by some returning astronauts.

The ARISS QSO got off to an uncertain start when Whitson and ground
control operator Nancy Rocheleau, WH6PN, in Hawaii, apparently got on
different frequencies. Initially, Rocheleau was able to copy NA1SS, but
Whitson did not hear WH6PN. Once things got under way for real, the
contact lasted a little more than seven minutes.

Remote audio between the school and the ISS via WH6PN in Hawaii was
handled through a WorldCom teleconferencing circuit. Whitson, who is
related to the wife of the school's principal, Seth Cohen, asked ARISS to
arrange the Spruce Hill contact as a "crew pick." ARISS is an
international project with US participation by NASA, ARRL and AMSAT.

==>TEXAS AMATEURS VOLUNTEER AS TORNADO STRIKES CORPUS CHRISTI

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers activated October 24 as
a tornado struck Corpus Christi, Texas. One person died after a wall at
the library of Del Mar College collapsed. The twister also caused perhaps
two dozen other injuries as well as considerable property damage. ARRL
South Texas Section Manager Ray Taylor, N5NAV, said the Texas Department
of Public Safety was unable to get helicopters in to rescue stranded
people due to the storm's turbulence. Gov Rick Perry declared a state of
disaster for Corpus Christi and Nueces County.

The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the Texas Men's Baptist
Kitchen were among the responding organizations. According to the Texas
Division of Emergency Management, feeding and shelter operations continue
in the impacted areas.

SKYWARN volunteers and South Texas Amateur Repeater Club weather station
N5CCW were activated in advance of the severe weather that hit Corpus
Christi. ARRL South Texas District Emergency Coordinator Robert Lobaugh,
W5JYJ, said rainwater runoff depth ranged from 18 inches to several feet,
depending upon the location. He reported downed power lines and roads
blocked by debris and water. ARES teams and individual amateurs assisted
as needed, Taylor said.

The tornado swept through about three miles from the shop of Mark Mireles,
AD5CA. "It was impressive," Mireles said of the tornado damage. "People
here are not used to that type of thing." Mireles said the Corpus Christi
emergency operations center was activated, and amateurs staffed the radio
room from noon until 10 PM October 25 and from 8 AM until shortly before
noon October 26. Anticipated severe weather from Hurricane Kenna failed to
materialize, so emergency volunteers were able to stand down.

"We have been well-received by all the city officials, from the city
manager to the police chief," Mireles said, "and I almost have the EMS
director talked into becoming a ham." Amateurs made use of a networked
repeater system to facilitate communication.

The Corpus Christi tornado was the most severe weather problem for the
Lone Star State in a week that had included heavy rains and flooding
elsewhere. According to Lobaugh, San Patricio County, some 30 miles north
of Corpus Christi, suffered storm damage October 23. Roads were closed due
to high water, and utility poles were downed. Power has since been
restored, he said. Taylor said wet weather earlier in the week caused some
residents in Seguin and Gonzales near the Guadalupe River to be evacuated.
"The people in New Braunfels along the same river had to leave while they
were in process of rebuilding from storm damage earlier this year," he
added.

By the end of the week, the remnants of Hurricane Kenna exacerbated the
situation in some areas after the storm dumped additional precipitation
that led to more flooding in Pearland and possibly elsewhere. Weather
problems continued this week as tornado and thunderstorm watches were in
effect for more than a dozen Texas counties. Taylor reports that another
tornado October 29 in the Beaumont area caused one death by drowning and
did some damage.

The Hurricane Watch Net conducted an abbreviated session October 25 to
disseminate Hurricane Kenna advisories. The eastern Pacific storm, once a
treacherous Category 5 hurricane, moved across Mexico toward southern
Texas. Well-known Cuban amateur and International Amateur Radio Union
Region 2 Area C Emergency Coordinator Arnie Coro, CO2KK, said Cuban
amateurs monitored the Mexican emergency net on 7065 kHz during the storm.

==>ARRL RESURRECTS FREQUENCY MEASURING TEST

The Frequency Measuring Test (FMT)--an ARRL staple for nearly 50
years--will return in early November. A FMT transmission will replace the
W1AW SSB bulletin on November 7, 0245 UTC (Wednesday, November 6, in US
time zones). The resurrected FMT will kick off a series of measuring
tests.

"These tests will exercise the capabilities of hams to measure important
operating parameters, improve their understanding of complex radios and
give them a better mental picture of their transmitted signals,"
Contributing Editor Ward Silver, N0AX, said in an October 2002 QST article
describing the art and science of frequency measurement. "The goal is a
more technically aware amateur confident of compliance with FCC
regulations." Silver's article, "The ARRL Frequency Measuring Tests,"
appears on page 51 of the October issue.

Today's amateurs tend to take for granted the accuracy of their
transceiver's frequency readout. But, as Silver notes in his article,
relying simply on a transceiver's digital readouts could mean part of your
signal is outside the band edge--in violation of FCC Part 97 rules.
Transceiver or receiver readout accuracy "depends entirely on the quality
of the receiver's master oscillator," he points out in QST.

Increasing technical quality of amateur gear was one of the primary
reasons for the decline and fall of FMTs in 1980. In prior decades,
however, thousands of amateurs took part in the FMTs, and participation
was required of ARRL Official Observer and Official Relay System stations.
The first FMT, held in October 1931, employed three transmitting
stations--W1XP at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, W9XAN at Elgin
Observatory in Illinois and W6XK at Don Lee Broadcasting System in Los
Angeles--and drew more than 200 measurement reports.

"Winners demonstrated better than 99.99% accuracy, and more than half
received certificates for better than 99.90% accuracy," Silver
reported--not too shabby for the state of the art back then.

The 2002 FMT will begin at the appointed time--0245 UTC November 7 (9:45
PM EST November 6)--with a general Morse code "QST" from W1AW on four
amateur frequencies. The test itself will consist of 20 seconds of carrier
followed by a series of CW dits followed by a station ID. The test will
last about five minutes and will conclude with a series of Vs and another
station ID. The approximate frequencies are 3580, 7047, 14,048 and 21,068
kHz.

FMT 2002 participants should include time of reception, measured frequency
and signal report, as well as their name, call sign and location.
Participants are encouraged to submit reports on more than one of the
frequencies. A Certificate of Participation will be available to all who
send in reports. Those who come closest to the measured frequency will be
listed in the test report and will receive special recognition.

Send FMT 2002 entries postmarked by December 6, 2002, to W1AW/FMT, 225
Main St, Newington, CT 06111. More information and background on the 2002
FMT is available on the ARRL Frequency Measuring Tests - Supplement page
<http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/fmt/>.

==>VANITY APPLICATION REMINDERS BEAR REPEATING

When applying for a vanity call sign, the application purpose on FCC Form
605 should always be "Modification" (MD). ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke,
W9JJ, advises that vanity applicants within their 90-day license renewal
window should not attempt to do a "Renewal/Modification" (RM) when
applying for a vanity call sign.

"I would recommend that you renew first," Jahnke said. "If vanity
processing is delayed for some reason--as happened last fall and
spring--your license could expire while awaiting processing, and your
application would be dismissed."

The fee for a vanity call sign increased to $14.50 in September. Jahnke
says it is possible for vanity applicants to register a name, address or
contact information (eg, e-mail or telephone number) change with the FCC
while also applying for a vanity call sign, since both actions can be
dealt with as a Modification. Note, however, that if you're only changing
such data as name, address or contact information and not applying for a
new call sign, you should check "Administrative Update" (AU) as the
application purpose--and, yes, this is confusing.

By the way, unlike a vanity application, which requires a fee and goes to
the FCC's fiscal agent in Pittsburgh, an Administrative Update application
requires no fee and goes directly to the FCC in Gettysburg.

Amateur applications may be filed electronically via the FCC's ULS Web
site <http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/> or on paper (using FCC Form 605). The
FCC says that anyone filing any application with the FCC--whether for a
vanity, license renewal, upgrade or modification--first must be registered
with the Commission Registration System (CORES) and have obtained an FCC
Registration Number (FRN).

For more information on vanity filing, visit the Amateur Radio Vanity Call
Signs page <http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/vanity.html> on the ARRL Web site.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW), the IPA
Contest (CW/SSB), the Ukrainian DX Contest, the North American Collegiate
ARC Championship (CW), the ARCI Running of the QRP Bulls, the High Speed
Club CW Contest and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are the weekend of
November 2-3. JUST AHEAD: The Japan International DX Contest (SSB), the
WAE DX Contest (RTTY), the OK/OM DX Contest (CW) and the Anatolian ATA
PSK31 Contest are the weekend of November 9-10. 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.

* VY1JA to be on the air from Yukon Territory for both Sweepstakes
weekends: J Allen, VY1JA, in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, is in his new
house and will be active for both November ARRL Sweepstakes weekends (CW
and SSB) as his schedule permits to hand out that rare SS multiplier
(Yukon Territory counts for the NWT multiplier). "I plan to put in a
serious effort on each, but I take time for Tae Kwon Do and for church, so
I miss some of the best time of the contest," he said. For the lower
bands, he'll be running 500 W to a "V-beam" dipole (450 feet per leg); for
the higher bands, he hopes to have a tribander up on his tower by contest
time, if the weather cooperates. QRP ops take note: VY1JA does listen for
SS participants in the QRP (5 W or less output) category every hour on the
half hour. Other times, VY1JA has been active on 6 meters running low
power. CW SS is November 2-4; SSB SS is November 16-18 (UTC).  For more
information on ARRL November Sweepstakes, visit the 2002 ARRL November
Sweepstakes Rules page
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2002/nov-sweeps-rules.html>.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens
Tuesday, November 5, at 4 PM Eastern Time (2100 UTC) for the Level I
Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open
through the November 9-10 weekend or until all available seats have been
filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, November 19. Thanks
to the federal homeland security grant from the Corporation for National
and Community Service, the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will
be reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During this
registration period, approximately 200 seats are being offered to ARRL
members on a first-come, first-served basis. 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 Emergency
Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, dmiller@arrl.org;
860-594-0340.

* ARRL Diamond Club off to "a great start": Following announcement of the
ARRL Diamond Club membership a month ago, 126 charter members have
enrolled, including three at the top Director level. "Contributions total
$28,131," reports ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH. "This
is a great start, and we look forward to growing these numbers daily."
Joining the Diamond Club is very easy. Membership is a one-year commitment
and is renewable annually. Each year you select the contribution level
that fits your budget and circumstances, and ARRL does the rest. Before
your Diamond Club membership expires, we will notify you so that you can
tell us what level of commitment you want to make for the coming year.
Benefits include an extension of your ARRL membership (including QST, of
course) for one calendar year as well as additional benefits at each
Diamond Club contribution level. A Diamond Club membership is a great gift
idea for someone who shares your commitment to the League. Diamond Club
contributions are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law--as are
all contributions to ARRL above and beyond basic membership. Those who
become Diamond Club charter members before year's end will receive an
extra thank-you gift. Diamond Club details
<https://www.arrl.org/diamondclub/> are on the ARRL Web site. Members also
can call (860-594-0397) or e-mail <mhobart@arrl.org>; the ARRL Development
Office for more information.

* New on-line edition of The ARRL Public Information Officer's Handbook
debuts: The latest edition of The ARRL Public Information Officer's
Handbook <www.arrl.org/pio/handbook> now is available the ARRL Web site.
Formerly a hard-copy publication and then an Adobe PDF scan, the new PIO
Handbook is now an updateable electronic document. It contains 12 chapters
packed with helpful advice for anyone interested in promoting Amateur
Radio. Over the past few months, the League's Public Relations Committee
has been developing the new Web-based manual, based in part on a previous
publication by Gene Pressler, W3ZXV. The PIO Handbook is perfect for ARRL
Public Information Coordinators, Public Information Officers, club PIOs
and anyone with the desire to help raise public awareness--predominantly
via the media--about Amateur Radio in their communities. The PIO Handbook
covers many of the basics, such as how to identify what is news and how to
write a press release. Other topics include how to write for magazines,
how to deal with major breaking stories, the how-tos of media interviews,
getting ham radio into the public spotlight and much more. "Because this
is a Web document, we'll easily be able to add information and keep the
PIO Handbook timely," said ARRL Media Relations Manager Jennifer Hagy,
N1TDY. "I hope our PR volunteers find this to be a useful tool in their
efforts to provide a very important service for the League and also for
Amateur Radio on the local level." ARRL thanks the members of the PR
Committee who contributed to the PIO Handbook and also to Gene Pressler,
who had the vision to create the original manual that served PR volunteers
for a number of years.

* UK holding the line on additional 5 MHz experimenters: The Radio Society
of Great Britain (RSGB) reports that the Radiocommunications Agency (RA)
in the UK on October 31 put a temporary moratorium on applications from
full Class A amateurs who wish to experiment in the 5 MHz band. Eligible
amateurs in the UK have had to apply for a Notice of Variation (NoV) to
experiment in the band using five spot frequencies. The RA says
applications for 5 MHz NoVs exceeded its expectations; it now worries that
the risk of congestion may be detrimental to the overall success of the
experiment. The RA says it will monitor occupancy of the five channels and
review its position. "It is likely that an announcement will be made later
this year for action early in the new year," the RSGB said.--RSGB

* Indian pirates persist: Sahruddin, VU2SDN, the president of the Amateur
Radio Society of India, reports a spate of pirate operations using call
signs VU4A, VU7A and similar other call signs continues. These have all
been pirates, he says. A blanket ban exists on operations from Andaman,
Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, so VU4 and VU7-prefix call signs have not
being assigned for 10 years, although the brief 1993 VU2JPS from the
Andaman Islands was valid. Sahruddin reported last April that India's QSL
Bureau was receiving many QSL requests for contacts apparently made by
bootleggers using VU call signs. Sahruddin has explained that call signs
that begin with VU2 followed by two or three letters or with VU3 followed
by three letters are the only valid call signs for India.--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,
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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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==>ARRL Audio News: http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/ or call
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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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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