ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
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
<specbill03@arrl.org>;. (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, <dmiller@arrl.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 prereg@arrl.org. 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, hrobins@arrl.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.

===========================================================
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Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
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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.

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Use the "View/Message/Plain Text Alternative" menu item.

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Use the "Message text garbled?" link in the drop-down menu at the upper right of the displayed message block. pine, alpine Set "prefer-plain-text" in your ~/.pinerc configuration file: feature-list=..., prefer-plain-text, ...