*************** 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, firstname.lastname@example.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 <email@example.com> 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, 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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