ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
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 prereg@arrl.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, <dmiller@arrl.org>;; 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 fiancťe 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

===========================================================
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Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
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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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