*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 22, No. 18 May 2, 2003 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Hearing to be scheduled for Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection bill * +FCC accepting "Broadband over Power Line" comments * +ISS astronaut suggests moon bases as next logical step * +Hamvention FCC forum canceled * +FCC asks ARRL Official Observers to focus on 10-meters * +ARRL official pledges aggressive fight against interference * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Emergency Communications course registration ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Amateurs invited to participate in Armed Forces Day event +New Echo satellite could be launched this year CQ Hall of Famers announced Jim Maxwell, W6CF, memorial Web site established Vote on QST Cover Plaque award W8 QSL Bureau address change +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>AMATEUR RADIO SPECTRUM PROTECTION ACT TO GET PUBLIC AIRING The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet has agreed to hear testimony on the House version of the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 2003, HR 713, at a public hearing later this spring. Rep Fred Upton (R-MI) this week assured the bill's sponsor, Rep Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), that the hearing--which will be convened to address public safety spectrum needs--will include an opportunity for a member of the Amateur Radio community to appear before the panel. Upton also told Bilirakis that he shares his interest in protecting Amateur Radio. "That indeed is good news!" said ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP. "A hearing is exactly what we'd like to have in order to state our case, and I think we can state a good case, too." The date of the hearing has not been set. Upton's willingness to hear testimony on the bill is considered critical to providing it with the credibility it needs as it moves through the legislative process. It also marks a major step toward getting HR 713 through this Congress. The agreement, during a meeting of the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, came after Bilirakis asked to speak prior to consideration of another piece of spectrum legislation, HR 1320, the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act, which Upton sponsored. During his comments, Bilirakis spent about five minutes discussing the importance of Amateur Radio to the committee, chaired by Rep Billy Tauzin (R-LA). The newest cosponsors of HR 713 include representatives Jerry Moran (D-KS), John Olver (D-MA), Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), and Walter Jones, Jr (R-NC). The Senate version of the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act, S 537, recently got a boost when the chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, Montana Republican Conrad Burns, signed on as a cosponsor. His cosponsorship indicates that the measure now has his attention and could convince others to follow suit. Bilirakis filed HR 713 on February 12, while Idaho Sen Michael Crapo introduced S 537 on March 6. The legislation would amend the Communications Act to require the FCC to provide "equivalent replacement spectrum" to Amateur Radio and the Amateur-Satellite Service in the event of a reallocation of primary amateur allocations, any reduction in secondary amateur allocations, or "additional allocations within such bands" that would substantially reduce their utility to amateurs. Bilirakis and Crapo, both Republicans, have twice before sponsored similar legislation at the League's recommendation. The bills point out Amateur Radio's volunteer role in providing emergency communication during disasters and emergencies. Haynie continues to encourage ARRL members to urge their senators and representatives and to cosponsor the bills. "Letters and e-mails are the key to getting legislation passed," Haynie says. A sample letter is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/arspa.html>. Those writing their lawmakers are asked to copy their correspondence to the League via e-mail <email@example.com>. (For additional information, see "Communicating with Congress," by Derek Riker, KB3JLF, QST May 2003, p 46.) The text of HR 713 and S 537 is available via the Thomas Web site <http://thomas.loc.gov/>. ==>FCC ACCEPTING COMMENTS IN "BROADBAND OVER POWER LINE" INQUIRY The FCC released its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the deployment of "Broadband over Power Line" (BPL) technology April 28 and now is accepting electronically filed comments in the proceeding, ET Docket 03-104. The technology has raised concerns of substantial interference to the Amateur Radio HF bands. BPL would couple high-frequency RF to parts of the power grid and use existing power lines as the transmission medium to deliver broadband and Internet services. The FCC has expressed unabashed enthusiasm for BPL. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, says Commission members have been acting more like cheerleaders than regulators. "We were disappointed in the tenor of some commissioners' statements, but we were encouraged by the fact that in the NOI itself the FCC did point out that licensed services--including Amateur Radio--'must be protected from harmful interference' from BPL," he said. In the NOI, the FCC acknowledges the interference risk from BPL. "The multiple-carrier transmission nature of the new high-speed BPL technology could pose increased risk of harmful interference, and thus new BPL devices may need a higher degree of oversight to ensure that authorized users are not subject to interference," the FCC said. The major interference threat to amateurs comes from so-called "access BPL," because its signals can radiate from outside power lines--possibly for great distances. The FCC also concedes that close proximity of access BPL equipment on utility poles might affect--and be affected by--cable TV and DSL service. Current FCC Part 15 rules limit the amount of RF energy that can be injected into the power lines, but, as the FCC concedes, "the new generation of high-speed BPL devices that use wide spectrum was not contemplated" when those rules were formulated. The FCC has invited comments on possible changes to those rules. The FCC also seeks information on a possible access BPL standards, spectrum and bandwidth, modulation techniques and data transmission speeds. Additionally, the Commission seeks the status of BPL development and anticipated deployment in the marketplace. ARRL Laboratory Manager and RFI guru Ed Hare, W1RFI, has cautioned that BPL deployment could mean "a significant increase in noise levels" on HF. "Right now with BPL/PLC, there are more questions than answers, and until those questions are answered, these systems should not be widely deployed," Hare said. "The time to raise and answer these questions is now. I truly hope that the NOI will provide a means for the FCC to do just that." The ARRL Lab has prepared a comprehensive information page, "Power Line Communications (PLC) and Amateur Radio," on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/>. ARRL Lab staff members also plan to visit sites where BPL is undergoing field testing. The complete NOI is available on the FCC Web site <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-100A1.doc>. The FCC now is accepting electronically filed comments via its Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) <http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/>. Under ECFS Main Links, click on "Submit a Filing." In the "Proceeding" field, enter "03-104" and complete the required fields. Comments may be typed into a form, you may attach a file containing your comments or submit them via e-mail, per instructions on the ECFS page. The comment deadline will be 45 days after publication of the NOI in the Federal Register. ==>ASTRONAUT SUGGESTS LUNAR BASES AS STEPPING STONE TO MARS, UNIVERSE NASA Expedition 6 International Space Station Science Officer Don Pettit, KD5MDT, has suggested that NASA should consider setting up lunar bases in the future as a stepping stone to expand mankind's exploration of the universe. The comment came in response to a student's question during an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school group contact. Several students at Cowichan Secondary School in Duncan, British Columbia, Canada, had the opportunity to quiz Pettit about life in space via Amateur Radio on April 21. The QSO between VE7CVA and NA1SS was the last for members of the Expedition 6 crew of Pettit, Commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, and Nikolai Budarin, RV3FB, who head back to Earth this weekend (see <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2003/04/28/1/>). "I hope the next step for manned space exploration will be to go away from the planet Earth for a while instead of just going in circles around the planet," Pettit said. Setting up bases on the moon and learning how to operate at that distance from Earth, he said, would represent "a logical next step" in space exploration. "When you have your technology down, then you can go off to Mars and try doing a little exploration there," he added. Pettit remarked that his five months aboard the ISS have been "an amazing experience" and "really quite enjoyable." A couple of the Cowichan students wanted to know about sleeping in space. Pettit said he does dream in space. "When I initially started dreaming, I would dream about walking places," he said. "Now, though, I starting to have dreams when I'm on space station and not on Earth and I'm flying everywhere in my dreams." He explained to another youngster that the ISS crew members take their cues about when to sleep from their bodies, not from periods of light and dark. As the ISS orbits Earth, the sun "rises" and "sets" 16 times a day, he pointed out. A dozen students in grades six through twelve took part in the contact as 150 members of the public and news media representatives looked on. The students were selected from schools throughout the region based upon a poster and essay competition. Members of the Cowichan Valley Amateur Radio Society assisted in setting up for the contact. Dale Jones, VE7DDK, was the control operator. On April 16, Budarin spoke with youngsters in his home country of Russia during two ARISS contacts with students in Tver--located some 150 km from Moscow. According to Sergei Samburov, RV3DR--who heads Russia's ARISS efforts--a selection of students from 53 schools were picked to ask their questions. The contacts--made on successive orbits--went well, according to Samburov. Between the contacts, he and cosmonaut Sergei Treschev, RZ3FU, answered students' questions and talked about life in space. ARISS school group contacts are off limits for the next few weeks due to the crew change. The Expedition 7 team of Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and veteran NASA astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, arrived aboard the ISS on April 28, and Lu will take over as NASA ISS Science Officer. ARISS is an international project with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/>. ==>COLUMBUS HAMVENTION? VENDORS VOICE PREFERENCES ON ALTERNATIVE SITES Most big Hamvention inside exhibitors have indicated they'd prefer the world's largest annual ham radio gathering to be held in Columbus, Ohio, if Dayton's Hara Arena were no longer available. This is the last year of Hamvention's five-year contract with Hara Arena. Event organizers have begun preliminary talks with Hara's owners for a new pact, but say they want to keep all options open. Hamvention takes place May 16-18, and the show's Production Manager Garry Matthews, KB8GOL, says Hamvention 2003's fortunes have begun moving in a more positive direction in recent days. "I think it's going to be a good year," predicted Matthews, who said he's seen a dramatic increase in interest over the past week. "I think the show may be slightly smaller this year in terms of inside exhibitors and outside vendors," Matthews conceded, "but if activity continues as it has since Monday of this week, we possibly could sell out the show. We're getting orders every day." Earlier this spring, Matthews reported that things had been slower to come together in terms of advance sales to visitors and vendors. He said organizers have been beefing up direct-mail and other Hamvention promotional activities over the past couple of weeks, however, and results have been encouraging. One popular Hamvention staple--the FCC forum--will be missing this year. Because of some miscommunication and scheduling problems, neither Bill Cross of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau nor Riley Hollingsworth of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau will attend Dayton Hamvention this year. Last-minute efforts to find suitable substitutes for Cross and Hollingsworth did not pan out, and the forum's two-hour Saturday morning time slot remains unfilled. Matthews and FCC sources have indicated that tentative plans are in place to schedule an FCC symposium at Hamvention 2004 featuring Cross, Hollingsworth and FCC High-Frequency Direction Finding Facility Manager Dave Larrabee. Matthews said that while it was unlikely Hamvention would be moving to Columbus--some 60 miles from Dayton--any time soon, it remained "a very strong contingency" if Hamvention ever did have to move elsewhere. "Our option with Hamvention would be to stay at Hara for as long as we possibly could, as long as we could make it work and the show could be a good show," he said. Hamvention is sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, but Hamvention has quietly dropped "Dayton" from the show's official name. Hamvention's preference survey went to 225 of the largest inside exhibitors, and Matthews said 80 percent of those indicating a preference picked Columbus as their top choice as an alternative site, while 12 percent said "no" to Columbus. Matthews said the Columbus Fairgrounds appears to be a suitable site were Hamvention to ever consider relocating. The other two preferences were Indianapolis and Cincinnati respectively. Matthews said Hamvention officials this year plan to survey a selection of "average hams" during the show itself. Attendance at last year's 50th anniversary event was 24,832--down about 5 percent from 2001's crowd of 26,151. Late news about the show is on the Hamvention Web site <http://www.hamvention.org> ==>FCC SEEKS ASSISTANCE IN CURBING UNLICENSED 10-METER INCURSIONS The FCC has requested the assistance of the ARRL Amateur Auxiliary/Official Observers <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/org/oo.html> in monitoring for illegal operation on 10-meters. The request came in an April 28 letter from FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth, who says incursions on the band by apparently unlicensed operators continue to be a major enforcement headache. "This is the first phase of a renewed investigation effort and may be thought of as detect, collect data, and report," said ARRL Field and Regulatory Correspondent Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG. Skolaut forwarded the request to members of the Amateur Auxiliary May 1. Hollingsworth said the FCC wants help with a stepped-up effort over the next six months--from May through October--to identify any unlicensed operation on 10 meters "whether from business entities--including trucking companies--truckers or other individuals operating domestically." Hollingsworth said the FCC does not need direction-finding but would appreciate where possible "the names and cities of the operators, and license plate numbers and state if from a vehicle." Skolaut said the FCC would like to concentrate on obtaining reports of this type of operation to help identify specific areas of the US where this problem is prevalent, although he concedes that not all illegal 10-meter operation originates in the US. "The FCC asks that OOs obtain as much information as possible and send their reports through normal channels to ARRL Headquarters," he said. The decision to record the transmissions of suspected interlopers was left to the discretion of the individual OOs. The FCC request was made under a longstanding agreement between ARRL and the FCC regarding the use of Amateur Radio volunteers to assist in enforcement. ==>VHF GROUP TOLD ARRL WILL FIGHT INTRUDERS AGGRESSIVELY ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, urged those attending the annual conference of the Southeastern VHF Society <http://www.svhfs.org/> April 26-27 to continue to occupy the microwave bands. The ARRL official also encouraged the group to develop new and innovative communication techniques--such as IEEE 802.11 high-speed wireless--to expand Amateur Radio's presence on its microwave allocations. Imlay told some 70 amateurs attending the SVHFS event in Huntsville that amateurs were being asked to share their VHF and UHF bands with more and higher-powered unlicensed Part 15 devices, and he pledged the League's aggressive defense against these intruders. "The FCC seems to want the amateur community to accept higher and higher 'interference temperatures,'" Imlay said, referring to higher noise levels caused by increased band occupancy. "We will fight that!" Imlay also presented an overview of the current regulatory climate in Washington and a detailed, band-by-band outline of the threats <http://www.arrl.org/news/bandthreat/> to Amateur Radio frequencies from commercial interests. He noted ARRL's strong opposition to an FCC proposal to agree with a 2001 request from SAVI Technology that would allow operation of advanced RF identification (RFID) devices between 425 and 435 MHz. The ARRL contends that the RFID proposal is contrary to the philosophy of FCC Part 15 rules and could result in significant interference to amateur operations. During the gathering, the SVHFS donated $300 to the ARRL Defense of Frequencies Fund and another $300 to AMSAT-NA. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation guru Tad "Shooting Star" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Even as the current solar cycle slowly declines, there still will be periods of rising activity, and this week was one of those times. As this bulletin is being written May 1, a large sunspot--number 349--is aimed squarely at Earth. For weeks now, Earth has been in a solar wind stream, and the appearance of sunspot 349 as well as other new spots resulted in a rising sunspot number. After periods in the single digits, the daily sunspot number reached 224 on April 29. It hasn't been this high since March 9. Average daily sunspot number for this week rose nearly 85 points to 185.1. Average daily solar flux was up nearly 29 points. So, enjoy conditions when and if geomagnetic conditions stabilize to a K index of three or less. Over the next week geomagnetic activity should settle a bit, providing improved HF conditions. The predicted planetary A index for today through Monday, May 2-5, is 25, 15, 10 and 15. Predicted solar flux for those same days is 145, 140, 135 and 130. Maximum usable frequencies (MUFs) over most paths should be somewhat lower during May than in April. Sunspot numbers for April 24 through 30 were 171, 173, 193, 200, 175, 224 and 160, with a mean of 185.1. The 10.7-cm flux was 128.3, 143.6, 143.7, 154.1, 152.2, 155.1 and 153.5, with a mean of 147.2. Estimated planetary A indices were 24, 32, 15, 15, 20, 20 and 40, with a mean of 23.7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The New England QSO Party, the Indiana QSO Party, the MARAC County Hunters Contest (CW), the IPA Contest (CW/SSB), the 10-10 International Spring Contest (CW), the Microwave Spring Sprint, and the ARI International DX Contest are the weekend of May 3-4. JUST AHEAD: The Armed Forces Day Crossband Communications Tests, the Nevada and Oregon QSO parties, the VOLTA Worldwide RTTY Contest, the FISTS Spring Sprint, the CQ-M International DX Contest and the 50-MHz Spring Sprint are the weekend of May 10-11. 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 Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens Monday, May 5, 12:01 AM EDT (0400 UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open through the May 10-11 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, May 20. Thanks to a federal Corporation for National and Community Service grant, 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. Senior amateurs are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 860-594-0340. * ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006) and Satellite Communications (EC-007) courses remains open through Sunday, May 4. Classes begin Tuesday, May 6. 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 email@example.com. On the subject line, indicate the course name or number (eg, EC-00#) and the month you want to start the course. In the message body, provide your name, call sign, and e-mail address. Please do not send inquiries to this mailbox. 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. * Amateurs invited to participate in Armed Forces Day event: The US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard will cosponsor the annual military/Amateur Radio crossband communications tests May 10-11. The event will mark the 53rd celebration of Armed Forces Day. Although Armed Forces Day actually is Saturday, May 17, the Armed Forces Day Amateur Radio event is held a week earlier to avoid conflicting with Hamvention <http://www.hamvention.org>. The event features a military-to-amateur crossband communications SSB voice test and the Secretary of Defense message receiving test. During the crossband test, 14 military stations will listen on amateur frequencies and transmit on selected MARS frequencies. Most military stations will commence operation at 1200 UTC on May 10. Amateurs are asked to limit contacts to two minutes or less. Eight military stations will transmit the Secretary of Defense's Armed Forces Day message at stated intervals via digital modes, including RTTY, PACTOR, AMTOR, CLOVER and MT63. QSLs and certificates are available. More information is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/announcements/af-day/armdfrcs-2003.html>. * New Echo satellite could be launched this year: AMSAT President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, says AMSAT hopes to launch its new "Echo" satellite, now under construction, later this year. "Progress is good, and we hope to have the satellite under test during the late spring or early summer," he said in a recent AMSAT President's Letter. The so-called "AO-E" satellite will offer analog (including FM voice) and digital operation, high downlink power (7 W nominal), multiple channels (two transmitters), simultaneous voice and data, a multiband/multimode receiver and a turnstile UHF antenna. Optional payloads include APRS and PSK31 support. More information on the Echo project is available on the AMSAT-NA Web site <http://www.amsat.org/amsat/sats/echo/article-02-11.html>.--AMSAT News Service * CQ Hall of Famers announced: CQ magazine has announced this year's CQ DX and Contest Hall of Fame inductees for 2003. Ken Keeler, N6RO, and Dan Street, K1TO, will receive their plaques May 17 at the Contest Dinner in Dayton. Street and teammate Jeff Steinman, N5TJ, topped the field in the last three runnings of the World Radiosport Team Championship. Leif Ottosen, OZ1LO, who was inducted into the Contest Hall of Fame last year, also will be presented with his award. One DXer will be inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame this year. James Brooks, 9V1YC, is being recognized for his DX operations, support and unique presentations of DXpeditions through video.--The Daily DX * Jim Maxwell, W6CF, memorial Web site established: The family of Jim Maxwell W6CF, has established a Jim Maxwell Memorial Web site <http://www.jimmaxwell.net/>. The site includes recollections, tributes and photographs from the friends and family of Maxwell, the ARRL Pacific Division Director who died February 6 at age 69. He had served as a member of the ARRL Board of Directors since 2000 and as Pacific Division Vice Director from 1994 until 2000. A Life Member of the ARRL and an avid DXer, Maxwell also generously supported the League through contributions to the ARRL Diamond Club, the ARRL Foundation and other programs.--Glenn Thomas, WB6W * Vote on QST Cover Plaque award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for March was Anthony Monteiro, AA2TX, for his article "Work OSCAR 40 with Cardboard Box Antennas!" The April winner was Dave Benson, K1SWL, for his article "The RockMite-A Simple Transceiver for 40 or 20." Congratulations, Paul and Dave! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author--or authors--of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html>. Cast a ballot for your favorite articles in the May issue of QST. Voting ends May 31. * W8 QSL Bureau address change: Effective May 1, the address for the W8 incoming QSL Bureau will change to W8 QSL Bureau, PO Box 307, W Chester, OH 45071-0307. Jay Slough, K4ZLE <elided>;, has been named to replace the retiring Ed Gassman, N8HTT, who has managed the W8 QSL Bureau for several years. =========================================================== 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. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, firstname.lastname@example.org ==>ARRL News on the Web: <http://www.arrl.org> ==>ARRL Audio News: <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. 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