*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 22, No. 12 March 21, 2003 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARES/RACES teams assist following NJ explosion * +"The Big Project" expands to 50 schools * +Astronaut tells students he's not afraid in space * +ARRL Executive Committee meets in Texas * +ARRL surveying high-speed digital network interest * +Paul Harvey airs kudos for ham radio's emergency role * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration +Wake Forest University club honors Riley Hollingsworth California antenna bill hearing postponed New Jersey ham antenna bill still in committee ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW) 2002 results available Third edition of radiotelegraphy book still in print +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>ARES/RACES TEAMS MUSTER IN WAKE OF NEW JERSEY PROPANE BLAST Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) teams in northwestern New Jersey assisted in the wake of a liquid propane tank explosion March 14 in Newton. The blast moved several houses in the area off their foundations and caused the evacuation of approximately 1000 residents. ARES/RACES teams from Sussex and several other New Jersey counties were among those who rallied last weekend to help responding agencies, including The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross as well as the Sussex County Office of Emergency Management. "Residents were evacuated for a three-quarter mile radius--later reduced to one-half mile," said ARRL Northern New Jersey Section Emergency Coordinator Steve Ostrove, K2SO. "A shelter was set up, and the Sussex County ARES/RACES group under Bob Stepanek, N2TTT, responded." Because of its location, roads had to be closed and schools called off, Stepanek said. During this week's activation, Sussex County ARES/RACES staffed the incident command center and the emergency operations center on a daytime basis to provide backup communication. Stepanek said the propane fire was extinguished March 19, and ARES/RACES operations terminated the following day. The explosion occurred as a tanker truck was being loaded from an approximately 10,000-gallon storage tank at Able Energy in Newton. The blast flattened the facility. Stepanek says it's believed that a filling hose came loose, and the liquid propane gas began to escape. No one was killed or seriously injured in the incident. Most injuries resulted from flying glass or debris, and a few people were hospitalized. The dozen or so employees on the scene realized the gas was escaping and evacuated the area before the gas exploded, preventing fatalities or more serious injuries, he said. Up to 400 residents evacuated took advantage of the Red Cross shelter overnight following the explosion. Sussex County American Red Cross Chapter Executive Director Pat Day said having the ARES teams at the shelter site was a big help. "Ham radio operators provided Red Cross and the clients at our shelter backup communication that was much appreciated," Day said. "Historically, hams have been a big help to our efforts." The American Red Cross shelter closed March 16, and the remaining evacuated residents relocated to area hotels and motels. Other evacuees stayed with friends and relatives. In the early going, and with the Sussex ARES team starting to show signs of fatigue, Ostrove requested additional assistance from outside the county, since the shelter was scheduled to remain open for at least another day. "We had hams come up from Somerset, Union, Morris and Hudson counties," Ostrove told ARRL. In all, he said, more than two dozen ARES/RACES members responded. Mike Snuffer, KC2JHU, an emergency coordinator from the Secaucus ARES team in Hudson County--some 60 miles away--was among those who arrived from outside the area to help. "Everything was under control," Snuffer said. "It was a very smooth operation. Everyone was well-trained."--Rich Krajewski, WB2CRD, contributed information for this story ==>TEN NEW SCHOOLS JOIN THE BIG PROJECT The ARRL Executive Committee has approved 10 new schools for the ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/>, popularly known as "The Big Project." The EC took the action during its March 15 meeting in Irving, Texas. "That takes us to a total of 50 schools," said ARRL Education Project Coordinator Jerry Hill, KH6HU. "I'm pleasantly surprised, because we never expected to be able to fund this many schools this fast. It shows the great passion within the Amateur Radio community to introduce ham radio to the youth of America." Hill said that when the program was launched in 2001, the original plan was to approve 12 schools the first year and another dozen in 2002. "I'm elated that we were able to get the program going in 50 schools. It's really great!" he added. The approved schools include Allendale High School, Allendale, Michigan; Coronado Middle School, Coronado, California; James B. Castle High School, Kaneohe, Hawaii; Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School, Jamesville, New York; Marlington High School, Alliance, Ohio; Newington High School, Newington, Connecticut; Silver Stage High School, Silver Springs, Nevada; South Davie Middle School, Mocksville, North Carolina; Southern Baptist Educational Center (SBEC), Southaven, Mississippi; and Webster Intermediate School, Webster, Texas. Hill said the schools will now select their equipment and should have complete stations on campus before school is out in June. A local ham radio club in Mississippi is set to help run the program at SBEC as an after-school program, while the group at Castle High in Hawaii has expressed interest in satellite communication. At Webster Intermediate School in Texas, the youngsters will have the unique opportunity to learn from Nick Lance, KC5KBO, who trains US astronauts in Amateur Radio. The ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program employs ham radio to enhance student learning through the application of mathematical and scientific concepts. The project emphasizes integration of math, science, writing and speaking, geography, technology and social responsibility within a global society. While getting students licensed is not a primary goal of the program, participating schools have generated many new, young Amateur Radio operators. In addition to a complete curriculum, the program resources include a classroom bookshelf of ARRL technical manuals, an on-line sourcebook, an interactive Web site and a complete Amateur Radio station. ==>PERSISTENCE MAKES PERFECT FOR SPACE STATION QSO Persistence paid off March 11 when students at Eugene Field School in Park Ridge, Illinois, finally got to quiz astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT, about life aboard the International Space Station. One earlier effort failed when the earth station and NA1SS ended up on different 2-meter frequencies due to a communication breakdown. The contact, arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, also was postponed several times because of schedule conflicts. When everything came together, however, Pettit was able to answer 19 questions put to him by the students, who were obviously well-prepared for the occasion. Among other topics, Pettit described his interest and research into thin films of water, which, he said, look much like soap bubbles in space. He also described how a tin of food that would normally float off the table while he was eating would stay in place if he applied a small drop of water to the tin's bottom. Pettit explained that the surface tension of the water will keep the container from floating off. "Thunderstorms look like giant flashbulbs going off in the clouds," Pettit told one student who asked what they looked like from the vantage point of the ISS. To see meteor showers, he explained to another student, the astronauts have to look down toward Earth--rather than up--to see the meteors burn up in the atmosphere. The crew also has been able to see the change of seasons on Earth. Pettit--who has been handling the bulk of the ARISS school contacts for the Expedition 6 crew--also told another youngster that he is not afraid of being in space. "So far I haven't been afraid while I've been in space, but I do get afraid when I see scary movies at the movie theater," Pettit said. His reply drew a round of laughter in the classroom back on Earth. Zero gravity, which Pettit has said he'll miss when he returns to Earth, is a favorite question topic. "Being in zero gravity is like flying in your dreams," Pettit said in describing the experience. Brushing your teeth in space involves one twist. "You've got to swallow your toothpaste, because there's no place to spit it out," he explained. Audio of the contact was distributed to five other elementary schools and two middle schools in the suburban Chicago school district. Several local TV and radio affiliates showed up to record the contact and interview the students afterwards. The contact was handled via W6SRJ at Santa Rosa Junior College in California. Two-way audio was handled via a WorldCom teleconferencing circuit. Tim Bosma, W6ISS, moderated the QSO. ARISS is an international project with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site <http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov>. ==>ARRL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE UPDATED ON FCC, LEGISLATIVE MATTERS ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has told the League's Executive Committee that he expects the FCC to release an "omnibus" Amateur Radio Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) sometime in May. Imlay told the EC that the NPRM likely will incorporate proposals resulting from several petitions for rule making, including some from the ARRL. The FCC also might propose additional items on its own motion, Imlay said. Because the comment period for the omnibus NPRM could expire before the ARRL Board of Directors meets in July, the EC discussed several issues it's anticipated the NPRM will contain. While providing Imlay with guidance in developing draft ARRL comments, the EC did not adopt any positions as ARRL policy, since it's not yet clear which proposals the NPRM might include. Imlay also told the EC that it may not be necessary to request temporary relief from spread-spectrum automatic power control requirements at 2.4 GHz for a group of ARRL High Speed Digital and Multimedia (HSMM) Working Group experimenters. Imlay suggested that the group could achieve its objectives within existing Part 97 regulations. The Committee agreed to have Imlay draft a letter, subject to staff review, to HSMM Working Group Chair John Champa, K8OCL, explaining his interpretation. A copy also would go to the FCC. Committee members also took part in what was termed "a wide-ranging and thoughtful discussion" of issues raised in a draft report on options to better protect and deploy Amateur Radio in the bands between 902 MHz and 24.25 GHz. The EC concluded that the final report should include an analysis of the concept of "strategic partnering" with nonamateur interests. Imlay also updated the EC on the status of several other pending FCC matters. He noted that in a recent filing in the Ultra Wideband (UWB) proceeding, Cingular Wireless echoed an oft-stated League argument. Cingular agreed with ARRL's position that the FCC lacks authority to permit operation of unlicensed devices except as explicitly provided by statute. Imlay also noted that the Department of Defense has rebutted claims by SAVI Technology that restrictions on the use of 425 to 435 MHz under Part 15 rules can be relaxed without adversely affecting military radars. The FCC has proposed relaxing certain restrictions in response to SAVI's request to deploy RF identification tags. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, told the Committee that reintroduction in the US House of Representatives of the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act was expected to happen soon. The measure seeks a congressional solution to the problem of private deed covenants, conditions and restrictions--so-called CC&Rs--that can impede or prevent installation of outdoor amateur antennas. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, chaired the March 15 Executive Committee meeting, held in Irving, Texas. Attending their first EC meeting as new members were Roanoke Division Director Dennis Bodson, W4PWF, and Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN. Bodson was appointed to the EC to fill a vacancy caused by the death February 6 of Pacific Division Director Jim Maxwell, W6CF. Fuller was elected to the EC during the January Board meeting. Minutes of the March 15 Executive Committee session are available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/announce/ec_minutes_471.html>. ==>ARRL SURVEYING INTEREST IN HIGH-SPEED DIGITAL NETWORKS The ARRL High Speed Multimedia (HSMM) Working Group is surveying the amateur community to gauge interest in IEEE 802.11b "Hinternet" activity. The HSMM Working Group encourages spread-spectrum communication modes including such protocols as IEEE 802.11b operating on Amateur Radio frequencies under FCC Part 97 rules. It's adopted Hinternet (a contraction of "ham" and "Internet") as a way to describe the technology. The HSMM Working Group's survey is on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/hsmm>. "The primary goal of the survey is to encourage amateurs to get on the air and start playing with this cheap digital microwave gear," says HSMM Working Group Chair John Champa, K8OCL <email@example.com>. Hinternet Radio Local Area Networks (RLANs) typically use direct-sequence spread spectrum between 2412 and 2437 MHz and are capable of simultaneously carrying audio, video and data signals. Hinternet aficionados adapt commercial 802.11b interfaces designed for Part 15 operation to amateur use. The HSMM Web survey is brief and permits an opportunity for open-ended input. It asks if respondents have a IEEE 802.11 or "other high-speed digital station" running under Part 97. If so, amateurs are asked to register their stations. It also asks respondents to explain how they might use a high-speed digital system or network if they were to set one up. Champa urged Hinternet-minded amateurs to also report what they've learned and any new applications to the ARRL IEEE 802.11b reflector operated by Texas A&M University <http://listserv.tamu.edu/archives/arrl-80211b.html> (and linked from the "HSMM Resources" menu under "Contacts"). Asked if the Hinternet is catching on within Amateur Radio, Champa simply points to the more than 15,000 hits to the HSMM Working Group's Web site. The Hinternet also is the focus of the article "High Speed Multimedia Radio" by Kris Mraz, N5KM, in the April 2003 issue of QST. Hinternet proponent Mark Williams, AB8LN, of Milford, Michigan, says he envisions growth of amateur 802.11b operation to cover all large metropolitan areas in the US, not just the few miles some contend is the outer limit for such point-to-point connections. "This is just too easy," he says. "With some of the Amateur Radio pioneering that we are famous for, we should be able to push this technology to its limits--50, 75 and 100-mile links at 2.4 GHz." He said wireless networks dedicated to Amateur Radio stretching across states and linking hams everywhere with high-speed voice and video are possible. "File-sharing and e-mail, network gaming and pop-up chat are just the tip of a titanic iceberg," he predicted. Applications abound for public service work too. Amateurs recently involved in the Texas search for debris from the shuttle Columbia used a 802.11b high-speed system on ham radio to link the net control station in Nacagdoches with the Internet. More information is available on the ARRL High Speed Digital Networks and Multimedia Web page <http://www.arrl.org/hsmm/>. ==>RADIO COMMENTATOR PAUL HARVEY PLUGS HAM RADIO'S EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS ROLE Veteran ABC Radio Networks commentator Paul Harvey this week offered some kind words for Amateur Radio. The mention was the second item on "page four" of his March 19 Paul Harvey Noon News and Comment program. "America's quiet warriors are the legion of ham radio operators, 700,000 of them, who are always at ready for backup duty in emergencies--amateur, unpaid, uncelebrated, civilian radio operators, during and after floods and fires and tornadoes," Harvey said. "After the 9/11 attacks, hams were indispensable in reuniting friends and families. Most recently it was they who expedited the search for debris after the disaster to the space shuttle Columbia, and right now, at this moment, they are involved in homeland security to a greater degree than you would want me to make public." The commentary's enigmatic and mysterious final sentence--typical of Harvey's habit of leaving his listeners hanging--apparently refers to the fact that many Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Emergency Service (RACES) teams have ramped up their alert status as hostilities get under way in the Middle East. The entire Wednesday noon broadcast is available on Paul Harvey's Web site <http://www.paulharvey.com/>. Click on the Wednesday noon link under "Listen Now." ==>SOLAR UPDATE Sun watcher Tad "Seasons in the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: This has been quite a week for geomagnetic storms. The average daily planetary A index--a measure of geomagnetic activity averaged over 24 hours from the planetary K indices in the same period--was about 20 points higher this week than last. This was caused by a near-constant strong solar wind accompanied by solar flares. Solar flux and sunspot numbers declined this week over last. Average daily sunspot numbers dropped nearly 82 points to 92, and solar flux was down by more than 14 points. This trend is expected to continue, with solar flux below 100 through the middle of next week. Unsettled to active geomagnetic conditions also should continue, at least over the next few days. Sunspot numbers for March 13 through 19 were 88, 114, 124, 121, 80, 64 and 53, with a mean of 92. The 10.7-cm flux was 134.2, 138.9, 130.7, 128.6, 164.1, 118.4 and 108.2, with a mean of 131.9. Estimated planetary A indices were 15, 25, 24, 23, 39, 26 and 14, with a mean of 23.7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The Oklahoma QSO Party, the CLARA and Family HF Contest, the 9K 15-Meter Contest and the Spring QRP Homebrewer Sprint are the weekend of March 23-24. JUST AHEAD: The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (SSB) is the weekend of March 29-30. 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 first class in Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006) and for Satellite Communications (EC-007) opens Monday, March 24, at 12:01 AM EST (0501 UTC). Registration remains open through Sunday, March 30. Classes begin Monday, March 31. Registration for ARRL HF Digital Communications (EC-005) remains open through Sunday, March 23. Those interested in taking an ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) course in the future can sign up to be advised via e-mail in advance of registration opportunities. To take advantage, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. On the subject line, indicate the course name or number (eg, EC-00#). In the message body, provide your name, call sign, e-mail address and month you want to start the course. 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, email@example.com. * Wake Forest University club honors Riley Hollingsworth: The Wake Forest University Amateur Radio Club (WF4DD) honored FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth March 6. Hollingsworth is a 1973 graduate of the WFU School of Law. Formed in 2001, the Wake Forest ham club recently created a chapter for WFU alumni, and Hollingsworth was initiated as the inaugural member of the alumni chapter. Following presentation of a commemorative plaque, Hollingsworth spoke on the importance of Amateur Radio and its role in the community, calling it "the only fail-safe method of communication." Hollingsworth also called on amateurs to bring new hams into the service and praised amateur innovation on the digital front, including Internet linking of repeaters. "Riley Hollingsworth has become an icon within the amateur community because of his dedication to making Amateur Radio a service of which anyone can be proud to be a member," said club president Chris Plumblee, KG4CZU. * California antenna bill hearing postponed: A legislative committee hearing on California's latest attempt to pass an Amateur Radio antenna bill, Assembly Bill 1228, has been postponed until April 2 while the lawmakers turn their attention to more pressing matters. "They are going ahead full speed on the budget now," explained ARRL Pacific Division Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, who had been among those scheduled to testify on behalf of the bill. AB 1228 was introduced February 21 by Assemblyman Bob Dutton (R-63rd) and has been referred to the Committee on Local Government. Mike Mitchell, W6RW, who is spearheading amateur activity in support of AB 1228 says letters to the committee in support of the measure must be received by Friday, March 28, to be considered at the Wednesday, April 2, hearing. Send letters to Committee Chair and Assembly Member Simon Salinas, Assembly Local Government Committee, 1020 N Street, Room 157, Sacramento, CA 95814. In large letters on the envelope and below the address on the letter itself write "AB 1228 (Dutton) SUPPORT." Letters will be summarized for the committee's consideration. * New Jersey ham antenna bill still in committee: New Jersey's two ARRL section managers are urging League members to write lawmakers to move the Garden State's pending Amateur Radio antenna bill, A 3065, out of committee. "Now is the time for all New Jersey hams to write a letter asking for the bill to be voted on in committee," said ARRL Northern New Jersey SM Bill Hudzik, W2UDT. The bill, introduced last December by Assemblyman Matt Ahearn, KB2PNN, (D-Fair Lawn), would codify the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into New Jersey's statutes. It also would preclude regulation via any ordinance or regulation that effectively prohibits an antenna support structure of 70 feet or less above ground level--exclusive of any antenna upon the structure. A copy of the bill is available on the New Jersey Legislature Web site <http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2002/bills/a3500/3065_i1.htm>. Hudzik and Priestley urge letters to Deputy Assembly Speaker Jerry Green <http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/green.asp>, who chairs the Housing and Local Government Committee, and General Assembly Speaker Albio Sires <http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/sires.asp>. More information and a sample letter are available on the ARRL Hudson Division Web site <http://www.hudson.arrl.org>. * ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW) 2002 results available: The report and complete scores for the 2002 running of ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW) now is available to League members on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/contests/results/2002/SS-CW/>.This includes a summary with photos, written by Randy Thompson, K5ZD, who notes that the 2002 CW event attracted 1319 official entries. The top-scoring operator worked 1468 of the 2584 call signs determined to have been active during the contest. Complete, searchable, indexable line scores also are available as well as Soapbox comments and photos posted after the event. The next running of the November Sweepstakes (CW) will be the weekend of November 1-2, 2003. * Third edition of radiotelegraphy book still in print: The third edition of The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy by the late Bill Pierpont, N0HFF, remains available. A spiral-bound, compact-print book, measuring 5-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches, is now in its sixth printing from the Radio Amateur Educational Society (RAES) <firstname.lastname@example.org> in Edmonton, Alberta. A giant-print edition also is available, as well as a free downloadable version. Visit the RAES Web site <http://www.raes.ab.ca/book.html> for details. The FISTS CW Club is scheduled to have a fourth edition available at Dayton Hamvention.--Ken Pierpont, KF4OW; Mike Dinelli, N9BOR =========================================================== 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 <http://www.arrl.org> for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> offers access to news, informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter. 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