*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 22, No. 30 August 1, 2003 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Hams respond generously to counter potential BPL threat * +Vanity application fee goes up September 9 * +Amateur astronomers speak into space via ham radio * +Trucking companies warned about alleged unlicensed 10-meter operation * +W6JAY is Newsline's Young Ham of the Year * +Two hams named for next ISS crew * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration Question mark hovers over wedding in space +Ham radio key in California hiker's rescue FCC proposes resolution to three-year-old licensing error First UK-US amateur QSOs logged on new band Digital Communications Conference 2003 taking shape +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>AMATEUR COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO POTENTIAL BPL THREAT Members of the Amateur Radio community have responded to the potential threat posed by Broadband over Power Line (BPL) by opening their wallets in a most generous fashion. ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, says BPL has hit a major hot button with amateurs, but more help is needed. "We're now up to nearly $193,000 from more than 3690 donors," Hobart said as July drew to a close. The goal for the special Spectrum Defense campaign is $300,000 by August 31. Possibly equally significant is the fact that the number of donors to the BPL campaign substantially exceeds the number of individuals and organizations--approximately 1900--who filed initial comments in response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on BPL earlier this year. While the deadline for initial comments has passed, the FCC this week extended the reply comment deadline to August 20 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-03-2590A1.doc>. The League filed a 120-page package of comments and technical exhibits <http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/et03-104/> on July 7, and it plans to file reply comments. A form of power line carrier (PLC) technology, BPL would use existing electrical power lines to deliver high-speed (ie, broadband) Internet services to homes and businesses. Because it would use frequencies between 2 and 80 MHz, HF and low-VHF amateur allocations could be affected if such systems are deployed. Proponents--primarily electric power utilities--already are testing BPL systems in several markets. Although FCC rules already allow BPL, industry proponents want the FCC to relax radiation limit, which could further increase the interference potential to Amateur Radio operations. ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, is continuing his efforts to assess and quantify the effects of BPL on HF amateur allocations. Just back from a more than 1300-mile trip to evaluate the effects of BPL systems now in the testing stages, Hare described the interference he monitored on the HF bands as "devastating." Meanwhile, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, and members of the ARRL Technical Relations Office staff have been working to build the Amateur Radio case against BPL in Washington. In a recent solicitation focusing on the BPL issue, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said no prior threat has posed a challenge more serious. "The threat is as close as the power lines right in your neighborhood," Sumner said in issuing a call to action to all amateurs. "Only by joining forces financially will we be able to educate government officials quickly and effectively on the impact of this new threat to Amateur Radio spectrum." BPL technology already has been deployed in some European countries, and amateurs there have experienced interference from the systems. Responding in part to concerns expressed by its amateur community, Japan last year decided not to adopt the technology because of its interference potential. For additional information on BPL, visit the ARRL "Power Line Communications (PLC) and Amateur Radio" page <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/>. Hobart invites donors to visit the ARRL Spectrum Defense campaign page <https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/bpl/>. ==>FCC UPHOLDS VANITY FEE POLICY, SETS NEW FEE START DATE The FCC says the new, higher Amateur Radio vanity call sign regulatory fee of $16.30 for the 10-year license term will go into effect September 9. Until then, applicants for amateur vanity call signs will continue to pay the current $14.50 fee per vanity application. The FCC expects to collect close to $160,000 from 9800 Amateur Radio vanity call sign applicants during Fiscal Year 2003. That's up by almost $30,000 and 800 applications from FY2002. In releasing its annual Report and Order on the assessment and collection of regulatory fees for FY2003, the FCC responded at some length to comments filed from the amateur community. Some commenters had questioned the need for the fee, the requirement to pay it when renewing a vanity call sign and why refunds were not automatic. Telecommunications Act provisions governing regulatory fee assessment cover applications for vanity call signs, which, the FCC said, "are voluntarily requested by licensees" and are "a value-added benefit not afforded to all licensees." Assessment of a regulatory fee to cover the FCC's processing and enforcement costs to make the vanity call sign service available is reasonable, the Commission concluded. The FCC said its current policy of assessing "a nominal fee" at the time of initial application and at each renewal also allows greater access to vanity call signs. "A high one-time-only fee would be cost prohibitive for many entities wishing to obtain a vanity call sign," the Commission said. The Commission also said it incurs costs to manage each vanity call sign throughout its existence, not just in the first 10 years. Regarding refunds due when the FCC denies an application, the FCC said its rules require a written request from applicants before it can process refunds of regulatory fees. "The written request serves as documentation when cross-referencing each unique file number that may be entitled to a refund," the FCC added. The FCC said the documentation was particularly important in the case of Amateur Radio vanity applications, "because filing trends indicate that some applicants file several vanity call sign applications per day for several days on end." Requiring a written request makes it easier to certify "which fees are to be refunded for which dismissed applications," the Commission said. In addition, those processing applications in FCC bureaus and offices don't have the authority to issue refunds without proper documentation. A copy of the Report and Order is available on the FCC Web site <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-184A1.doc>. ==>TEEN ASTRONOMERS SPEAK VIA HAM RADIO WITH SPACE STATION Teenaged members of an amateur astronomers' club enjoyed an opportunity to speak via ham radio with someone in space July 24. The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact originated at Brussels Planetarium, an annex of the Royal Observatory of Belgium. Contact participants got to ask 13 questions of astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, at the controls of NA1SS aboard the ISS. In response to one youth's question, Lu said he and the Expedition 7 crew commander, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, get along well in part because they have been in space together before. Lu said if others were able to share his and Malenchenko's perspective on Earth the experience might contribute to world peace. "I do think it would make a difference if all the peoples of the world could see what we're seeing up here and experience what we're experiencing," Lu said. "The experience of living with people from other cultures, working with them and sharing an incredible view of the earth, and I do think that would make a difference." As he and other ISS crew members have remarked in previous ARISS conversations, the view of Earth while soaring 240 miles above in space is breathtaking. From "the rich blue colors of the ocean to the white of the clouds, and the red colors of the deserts of Australia or Africa to the dark green colors of the rain forest, it's all incredibly beautiful," Lu remarked. Lu also said the ISS crew was unable to actually appreciate the absolute silence of space aboard the ISS because the spacecraft is filled with ventilation fans. The fans are a necessary substitute for natural convection currents on Earth, which do not occur in the microgravity of space, he explained. Lu said he and Malenchenko had "a small celebration" topped off with Chinese rice pudding to mark Lu's 40th birthday on July 1. "A birthday in space was a lot of fun," he said, adding that he got to also talk with some of his colleagues on Earth as they were celebrating. Handling Earth station duties for the contact was Gerald Klatzko, ZS6BTD, in South Africa. An MCI teleconferencing circuit provided two-way audio between South Africa and Belgium, where the teens and ARISS Vice Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, used a speakerphone. An audience of about 100 people was on hand, Bertels said. ARISS is an international project with participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA. ==>FCC WARNS TRUCKING FIRMS ABOUT ALLEGED UNLICENSED 10-METER OPERATION The FCC Enforcement Bureau has sent Warning Notice letters to three highway transportation firms asserting that drivers of some of their vehicles may have transmitted without a license on 10 meters. The notices allege the unlicensed operations took place July 8 on Interstate highways in South Carolina. Letters went out July 14 from FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth to Jolly Roger Capital Ltd of Columbia, South Carolina, Tidewater Transit Company of Kinston, North Carolina, and Shuford Lumber of Marion, North Carolina. He warned all three firms that operation of radio transmitting equipment without a license could lead to fines of up to $10,000, equipment seizure and even imprisonment. Hollingsworth asked all three firms to get in touch with him to discuss the allegations. He told ARRL that one of the companies already had responded and required its driver to remove all radio gear from his truck. In other enforcement news, the FCC warned two General class operators in Virginia against operating outside their privileges on 20 meters. Hollingsworth wrote Cody A. Stinson, KG4YKL, and Randall K. Stinson, KG4YKM, of Lebanon regarding alleged operation June 20 on 14.210 MHz--a frequency that's outside the General phone band. Hollingsworth cautioned the licensees that such operation could lead to revocation proceedings and fines and jeopardize attempts to upgrade. He asked both operators to contact him. The FCC also forwarded a complaint to a New Jersey licensee alleging that a repeater bearing her call sign on 147.775 MHz "often fails to identify, drifts and often generates noise and locks into the transmit mode." The complaint further alleged that the repeater was no longer coordinated. Hollingsworth requested that Elizabeth I. Olsen, N2CTD, of Farmingdale review the complaint, indicate what steps she was taking to verify the repeater's proper operation and respond to a series of questions regarding the repeater. Hollingsworth also notified Nibia M. Cedeno, ex-N2GRI, of Hollywood, Florida, that the FCC had canceled her General class Amateur Radio license after she failed to appear for reexamination on or before June 30, 2003, as requested last April. Amateur Radio-related FCC Enforcement Bureau correspondence is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/news/enforcement_logs/>. ==>W6JAY NAMED NEWSLINE YOUNG HAM OF THE YEAR Jay E. Thompson, W6JAY, of Santa Ana, California, has been named Amateur Radio Newsline's <http://www.arnewsline.org> Young Ham of the Year (YHOTY) for 2003. Thompson, a 17-year-old Amateur Extra class licensee and ARRL Life Member, has earned a favorable reputation within the Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) community and has competed internationally in foxhunting events. He's also heavily involved in emergency communications and is a member of the Orange County Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) <http://members.aol.com/emcom4hosp/>. ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Tuck Miller, NZ6T, called Thompson "a magnet for other young hams to become actively involved." Thompson also is the youngest person to ever become certified as an ARRL Official Observer (he was 15 at the time). He plans to attend the University of California at Irvine this fall. In addition to his Amateur Radio accomplishments, he's received numerous academic awards. The Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year award will be presented August 16 at the Huntsville (Alabama) Hamfest. Thompson will receive a gift of Yaesu ham gear as well as an expenses-paid week at Spacecamp Huntsville, courtesy of CQ. ==>TWO-HAM CREW NAMED FOR ISS EXPEDITION 8 Another two-ham crew will take over the reins of the International Space Station (ISS) this fall. Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and seasoned Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, U8MIR, have been named as the ISS Expedition 8 crew. As former crew members aboard the Russian Mir space station, Foale and Kaleri are no strangers to long stays in space. They'll kick off their latest space station duty tours October 18 when they launch into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with a third ham, Spain's Pedro Duque, KC5RGG--representing the European Space Agency (ESA). They'll dock two days later at the ISS. The English-born Foale, 46, will serve as the Expedition 8 commander and NASA ISS science officer. Kaleri will be the Soyuz commander and ISS flight engineer. They'll replace Expedition 7 crew members Commander Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, who have been aboard the ISS since April. A native of Latvia, Kaleri, 47, was a member of the backup crew for Expedition 5 and had been scheduled to be the third Expedition 7 crew member before the Columbia tragedy trimmed the Expedition 7 crew, and Kaleri was the proverbial odd man out. At least until the space shuttle returns to flight, two-person crews will be the rule and the Soyuz, which carries three passengers, will remain the prime crew transport system. Foale and Kaleri are scheduled to spend approximately six months aboard the ISS. Space agency leaders from the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia spoke by telephone July 30 with Malenchenko and Lu and noted the significant milestone of the 1000th day (on July 29) of continuous human presence aboard the ISS. The first crew arrived at the ISS November 2, 2000. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar sage Tad "Dancing in Sunshine" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Strong geomagnetic activity continues. This week the average daily planetary A index jumped to 21.9 from 16.1 the previous week. The estimated Planetary A Index is derived from observations at geomagnetic observatories around the world. The higher the A index, the higher the geomagnetic activity--a situation that's generally worse for HF propagation. We like to see low geomagnetic activity with lots of sunspots for great HF propagation. Unfortunately, after a solar cycle peaks, we can experience long periods of active geomagnetic conditions. Sunspots and solar flux were down quite a bit from the previous week. Average daily sunspot numbers dropped from 195.3 to 74.6, and average daily solar flux went from 147.7 to 106.2. Daily solar flux values are expected to stay around 105-115 from August 1-8, and then rise to around 140 from August 12-18. The planetary A index for Friday through Monday, August 1-4 is expected to be 25, 20, 15 and 10. August 4-6 is expected to be a quiet geomagnetic period, worth a try for reasonable HF propagation. With the fall equinox is just over seven weeks away, HF conditions should improve as the hours of daylight grow shorter. Sunspot numbers for July 24 through 30 were 134, 94, 52, 60, 56, 63 and 63, with a mean of 74.6. The 10.7-cm flux was 125.2, 111.6, 102.6, 101.7, 103.4, 99.9 and 98.7, with a mean of 106.2. Estimated planetary A indices were 10, 11, 26, 24, 17, 36 and 29, with a mean of 21.9. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (CW), the ARRL UHF Contest, the TARA Grid Dip PSK-RTTY Shindig, the 10-10 International Summer Contest (SSB), the European HF Championship and the SARL HF SSB Contest are the weekend of Aug 2-3. JUST AHEAD: The Worked All Europe (WAE) DX Contest (CW) and the Maryland-DC QSO Party are the weekend of August 10-11. The Six Club Perseids Meteor Shower Contest is August 12-14. 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, August 4, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open through the August 9-10 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, August 19. Thanks to a United Technologies Corporation 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. A new service now allows those interested in taking an ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) course in the future to receive advance word of registration opportunities via e-mail. To take advantage, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. On the subject line, include the course name or number (eg, EC-00#). In the message body, include your name, call sign, e-mail address, and the 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 Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <email@example.com>; 860-594-0340. * Question mark hovers over wedding in space: Is the wedding-by-proxy of International Space Station Expedition 7 crew commander Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and his fiancée Ekaterina Dmitriev still on? The answer depends on whether you're listening to the bride or to Russian space officials, who apparently were caught off guard when they got wind of the nuptials planned for August 10. News reports quoting Russian space agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov say Malenchenko canceled his plans after considering potential legal and technical complications. As a Russian military officer, he must get permission to marry. But the wedding plans are reported to be continuing apace on Earth. That side of the ceremony is set to take place in Clear Lake, Texas. Fort Bend, Texas, County Clerk Dianne Wilson, who issued a marriage license July 17 to Malenchenko and Ekaterina Dmitriev, insists the wedding is a go. If the on-orbit wedding does happen, it would be a space first. Texas law permits one or both applicants to be absent from the wedding ceremony by having a proxy stand in. After Malenchenko returns from space in October, the couple reportedly will have a church wedding in Russia. Malenchenko is 41; Dmitriev, a US citizen who lives in the Houston area, is 26. News accounts say Malenchenko popped the question in December before heading into space and did not want to wait until his return to get married. * Ham radio key in California hiker's rescue: The San Diego Union Tribune's SignOnSanDiego.com Web news service reports that a hiker in the El Capitan open space preserve suffering apparent heat exhaustion was rescued July 19 after his hiking companion used ham radio to relay a message to authorities. ARRL member Rod Dinkins, AC6V, picked up the distress call from Tim Slaby, KG6QPL, and alerted the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Santee station. Slaby resorted to his ham radio handheld after discovering that his cellphone wouldn't work in the wilderness. KG6QPL was able to raise the Palomar Amateur Radio Club repeater some 40 miles away, however. Slaby, who also carried a GPS unit, was able to pinpoint the pair's location. A sheriff's helicopter crew rescued the exhausted hiker--identified as Thomas Sayer--and airlifted him to an ambulance, which transported him to a hospital, authorities said. He was treated for dehydration and released about four hours later. "For hikers in need of help, Amateur Radio worked where their cell phone didn't," said ARRL Vice President (and former Southwestern Division Director) Fried Heyn, WA6WZO. * FCC proposes resolution to three-year-old licensing error: The FCC has proposed to correct the erroneous issuance of an Advanced class ticket to a Minnesota ham. In February 2000, the W5YI Volunteer Examiner Coordinator sent an electronic application to the FCC to upgrade the license of David L. Osterkamp, KB0WOT, of Oakdale, Minnesota, from Technician to Advanced. Almost three months later, the W5YI VEC notified the FCC that it had made a keystroke error in its earlier filing and that a licensee with a similar call sign--not Osterkamp--actually had qualified for Advanced. Osterkamp also notified the W5YI-VEC and the FCC about the error. A correction was filed, and the other operator--Jack Hanley, KB0VOT, of Kimberling City, Missouri--was appropriately upgraded, but Osterkamp's privileges were never returned to Technician, prompting the W5YI VEC to urge the FCC to modify his license to show the correct privileges. The FCC concluded in a Memorandum Opinion and Order released July 25, 2003, and signed by D'wana Terry, chief of the Public Safety and Private Wireless Bureau, that the 2000 grant of Advanced privileges to Osterkamp was improper. "Accordingly, we propose to modify the Amateur Service operator license for amateur station KB0WOT by replacing Advanced class operator privileges with Technician class operator privileges," the MO&O said. * First UK-US amateur QSOs logged on new band: The first transatlantic contact between the US and the United Kingdom on their overlapping 5-MHz channel--5405 kHz (5403.5 kHz)--has been reported. Charly Harpole, K4VUD, in Florida, worked Paul Widger, G0HNW, in W Yorkshire, England on July 4--the day after the band first became available to US amateurs. Harpole reports the QSO took place at 0345 UTC. John Easey, G4XBE, in Essex confirmed overhearing the contact. "Subsequently K4VUD and G0HNW worked a string of stations, and I worked N1WJ," said Easey, who also worked K4VUD and reported hearing NP4A/m and other stations on the US mainland. Harpole, who participated in the ARRL WA2XSY 5-MHz experimental operation, used a Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V reprogrammed for 60 meters and running 50 W into an inverted V. In 2002, Harpole's WA2XSY signal on 5 MHz was received by Paul Gaskell, G4MWO. Harpole said several other US stations worked G0HNW and G4XBE on 60 meters on July 4 until propagation quit. While it is legal for US hams to work UK amateurs, US hams are advised that UK operators are on the air specifically as part of propagation and equipment experiments and not for the purpose of making routine contacts. * Digital Communications Conference 2003 taking shape: The 22nd annual ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference will take place September 21-23 in Hartford, Connecticut. At the heart of the conference are technical presentations by amateurs and experimenters. The conference will solicit technical papers until August 5 for presentation and/or publication in the conference Proceedings published by the ARRL. Amateurs and experimenters alike are highly encouraged to write about their projects and submit them for publication in the DCC Proceedings. Conference presentation is not required for publication. Submission guidelines are available on the DCC Web page <http://www.tapr.org/dcc>. Guest speaker is Alex Mendelsohn, AI2Q, senior technology editor at ChipCenter <http://www.chipcenter.com> and the author of "NASA, NORAD, Amateur Radio, and Me," <http://www.chipcenter.com/TestandMeasurement/ed024.html>. Introductory seminars will include "Intro to WSJT" by Del Schier, K1UHF; "Intro to EchoLink and VoIP" by Jon Taylor, K1RFD; "Intro to PSK31" by Steve Ford, WB8IMY; and "Intro to APRS" by Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, who also will moderate an APRS networking mini-seminar. Matt Ettus, N2MJI, will lead a four-hour Software Defined Radio Sunday Seminar. The DCC Web page has more information about the DCC <http://www.tapr.org/dcc>.--Steve Bible, N7HPR =========================================================== 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. 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