ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 34
August 29, 2003
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +FCC seeks comments on six Morse-related petitions
* +AMRAD suggests BPL putting FCC at regulatory crossroad
* +Wildfires have Montana hams in "heads-up" mode
* +ISS packet system still troublesome
* +The Big Project curriculum, lab handbook available
* +Two new ARRL Section Managers appointed
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF:
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     Correction
     ARRL seeks clubs' support in BPL campaign
    +Past New Mexico SM Joe Knight, W5PDY, honored at convention
     Helen L. Grauer, N0BCI, SK

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================
NOTE: ARRL Headquarters will be closed Monday, September 1, for Labor Day.
There will be no W1AW code practice or bulletin transmissions that day.
ARRL Headquarters will reopen at 8 AM EDT Tuesday, September 2. Have a
safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!
===========================================================

==>FCC INVITES COMMENTS ON SIX MORSE CODE-RELATED PETITIONS

The FCC has invited public comments on six separate Morse code-related
petitions for rule making, some of which would altogether eliminate
Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse test, from the Amateur Service rules (Part 97).
World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) made optional the
requirement to prove the ability to send and receive Morse signals to
operate below 30 MHz.

A petition from Peter M. Beauregard, KI1I, designated RM-10781, would give
all Technician licensees current Novice/Tech Plus CW privileges on 80, 40,
15 and 10 meters and limited phone and image privileges on 80, 40 and 10
meters. Beauregard said the CW privileges would "encourage Technician
class licensees to upgrade to General" by giving them a "practice area."
He has proposed new Tech phone/image privileges on 3850-3900 kHz and
7225-7300 kHz. His petition would not eliminate Element 1, however.

Pete V. Coppola, KG4QDZ, and family--Tina Coppola, KG4YUM, and Pete A.
Coppola, KG4QDY--have asked the FCC to eliminate Element 1 from the rules.
The Coppolas' petition, designated RM-10782, would grant Tech Plus HF
privileges to current Technician licensees. It also would retain the
current CW-only subbands. The Coppolas asked the FCC to make the change
effective immediately on a provisional basis.

Kiernan K. Holliday, WA6BJH, has asked the FCC simply to "remove all
requirements for knowledge of Morse code" from the Amateur Service rules.
Holliday said there is less reason to require Morse code in the Amateur
Service today. In his petition, designated RM-10783, Holliday also said
the code requirement limits the ability of handicapped individuals to get
ham tickets. "The Commission's policy should be to encourage the use of
Amateur Radio," he said.

Dale Reich, K8AD, petitioned the FCC to delete Element 1 for General class
applicants but keep it in place for Extra class applicants. Under Reich's
scheme, "no-code" Techs wanting HF privileges would have to upgrade to
General first. Reich's petition is designated RM-10784.

Eric Ward, N0HHS, seeks immediate elimination of "proficiency in
telegraphy using Morse code." The "immediate removal of the telegraphy
requirement from Amateur Radio licensing is appropriate and clearly in the
public interest," Ward contended in his petition, designated RM-10785.

In a detailed, nine-page petition, the National Conference of Volunteer
Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) is calling on the FCC to delete Element 1
and give "Tech Plus" privileges to current Technician licensees. The NCVEC
also asked the FCC to "take expedited action" to allow volunteer examiner
coordinators (VECs) to discontinue administering Element 1 "as soon as
possible."

"The Amateur Service community suffers from the loss to its ranks of a
large number of potentially excellent operators who are turned away
because of the CW requirement," the NCVEC petition said.

The organization, the umbrella group for the 14 VECs in the US, said
there's "no longer any reasonable justification for requiring an applicant
to demonstrate this antiquated skill," and that most applicants never use
Morse after they pass the test. The NCVEC petition is designated RM-10787.

The ARRL-VEC abstained from voting on the NCVEC's petition question when
it came up during the NCVEC's July 25 meeting in Pennsylvania. At its own
July meeting in Connecticut, the ARRL Board of Directors affirmed its
interest in reviewing members' input on the Morse issue as well as on
other possible revisions to Part 97 arising from WRC-03. The Board's
current position is to retain the Morse requirement for HF access.

Two more recently filed petitions--one from No Code International and
another from two amateur licensees--are expected to be put on public
notice in the near future.

Interested parties may file comments on any or all of these petitions
using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)
<http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/>, which also permits users to view the
petitions and all comments on file. There is a 30-day comment window.

To file a comment, click on "Submit a Filing" under "ECFS Main Links." In
the "Proceeding" field, type the full RM number, including the hyphen, and
complete the required fields. "RM" must be in capital letters, and you
must include the hyphen between "RM" and the five-digit number. You may
type your remarks into a form or attach a file. ECFS also accepts comments
in active proceedings via e-mail, per instructions on the ECFS page.

While a Morse code exam element remains on the books in the US, Canada and
elsewhere, a handful of countries--including Switzerland, Belgium, the UK,
Germany, Norway and the Netherlands--already have moved to drop their
Morse requirements. Austria and New Zealand are expected to do so soon.

==>BPL PLACES FCC AT REGULATORY CROSSROAD, AMRAD SUGGESTS

Encouraging Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology puts the FCC at a
regulatory crossroad, the Amateur Radio Research and Development
Corporation (AMRAD) <http://www.amrad.org/> has suggested. AMRAD's remarks
came August 20 in reply comments filed in response to the FCC's BPL Notice
of Inquiry (ET Docket 03-104). The Washington, DC-based organization's
comments also outlined its BPL testing and measurement efforts, which
included laboratory and real-world conditions. AMRAD said any departure
from the "current baseline" of Part 15 rules that govern unlicensed
services would invite "troublesome unintended consequences" that could
prove difficult to correct.

"The FCC is facing some serious decisions on whether to continue with past
rules and historical enforcement or to dispense with their historical role
and substitute rules which give the unlicensed Part 15 systems priority
over the licensed systems such as the amateur radio service," AMRAD said.
"Such changes to Part 15 rules would tip the responsibility of compliance
so as to favor the unlicensed users and leave the FCC facing a large
number of harmful interference complaints to resolve."

AMRAD recommended the FCC proceed "slowly and with caution" in advancing
BPL as a viable and economical alternative to existing high-speed Internet
technologies.

The non-profit scientific and educational organization expressed concerns
as to whether the FCC would be able to enforce Part 15 rules as written in
the face of neighborhood Internet service interruptions caused by "a
single radio amateur or other FCC-licensed radio transmitter." It said its
own testing has demonstrated that a 20-meter amateur transmitter running
as little as 10 W in the vicinity of an in-house HomePlug standard BPL
local network could seriously impair the system's throughput. A 100 W
signal would cause it to collapse altogether.

Ironically, the HomePlug standard substantially notches out the amateur
bands--something ARRL convinced the HomePlug Powerline Alliance to do
after amateur complaints sparked a recall of non-HomePlug-standard
carrier-current devices that had operated near 3.5 MHz. The new 60-meter
band is not notched out, however.

AMRAD said its observations and tests demonstrate that broadband BPL
signals that conform to Part 15 "are well above the ambient noise and will
interfere with many forms of reception." It said other
non-HomePlug-standard systems that don't notch out ham bands "could cause
more serious interference problems."

In the final analysis, AMRAD said, the FCC "must proceed with great care
and take actions now to conduct testing to gather critical information"
before making regulatory assessments. "The FCC efforts should remain
focused on providing broadband to the home and not focus on any specific
technology," AMRAD asserted.

AMRAD member Frank Gentges, K0BRA, recently assisted ARRL Lab Supervisor
Ed Hare, W1RFI, in the League's efforts to assess the impact of BPL on HF.
Gentges gave Hare a guided tour of "hot neighborhoods" in Manassas,
Virginia, where BPL is undergoing field trials.

Although the reply comment window closed August 20, the number of comments
in response to the FCC's BPL NOI was 4553 as of August 29 and counting,
with some 100 comments filed since the deadline. Many comments in the BPL
proceeding have come from the Amateur Radio community.

AMRAD's reply comments are available on the FCC Web site
<http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_docu
ment=6514683575>.

==>MONTANA HAMS IN "HEADS-UP" MODE IN WILDFIRES RESPONSE

As wildfires scorched an estimated 400,000 acres or more in Montana in
recent weeks, Amateur Radio Emergency Service/Radio Amateur Civil
Emergency Service teams in Big Sky country have assisted as needed,
primarily to supplement communication for authorities and relief
organizations. Right now, things are relatively quiet for the ARES/RACES
teams.

"At this time all units in the state are reporting in a stand-by mode,"
said Montana Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Fuller, N7VMR. "We have
been getting some cooler weather and minor moisture in various parts of
the state. This is helping slow the fire activity."

The most recent amateur support activity was in Lincoln, located in Lewis
and Clark County some 60 miles northwest of the state capital of Helena.
The Snow-Talon Fire, part of the so-called Lincoln Fire Complex, caused
the evacuation of dozens of residents. Lewis and Clark County ARES
Emergency Coordinator Bob Solomon, K7HLN, and ARES members Shawn Horne,
KD7OQU, and Wes Rowe, K7WES, were among nearly two dozen amateurs who
volunteered to assist the American Red Cross and fire officials in
responding to the emergency. Working from the Capital City Amateur Radio
Club (W7TCK) <http://www.w7tck.org/> mobile communication unit, the
amateurs linked the Red Cross evacuation center in Lincoln with Helena.

"Lincoln is an extremely difficult area for any kind of radio
propagation," Solomon said. "We had a lot of trouble keeping links going
and utilized VHF and UHF repeaters as well as simplex."

The Lincoln Complex fires in Helena National Forest cover more than 36,000
acres and were considered nearly 60 percent contained as of week's end,
according to the National Fire Information Center
<http://www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/nfn.html>.

Solomon reports the group stood down August 24, but that Horne stayed on
to assist law enforcement personnel with their communications. Amateur
Radio's efforts already have attracted attention from the Helena
Independent Record <http://www.helenair.com/helena>. One recent story
featured the activities of Jim Haslip, W7CK, of East Helena. The
70-year-old retired science teacher has been an aerial fire spotter for
four decades. The other article highlighted the ARES team's fire-response
activities.

Solomon said hams from the Lincoln area have been actively involved in
firefighting activities as fire service communicators and in other roles.
Others have been forced to leave.

"Many of the hams in the Lincoln area have had to evacuate their homes,"
Solomon said. "Some of them have been permitted back in on a
be-prepared-to-go-again basis." Solomon said his team in Lewis and Clark
County was maintaining a "heads-up" stance for possible evacuation. "We
are also replacing supplies, making minor repairs and adjustments and
preparing for the next request for assistance," he said.

Earlier this month, the Red Cross requested ARES members in Missoula
County to provide radio operators at a shelter for evacuees and at the Red
Cross office "just in case," said Missoula County EC Mike McCrackin,
K7DER. Missoula County authorities ordered mandatory evacuations August 16
from areas west of town due to the Black Mountain Fire. Six ARES members
from Missoula County also were deployed as radio operators for the
Wildland Fire Service. Hams also supported Red Cross operations in
Flathead County.

Yellowstone County ARES was activated August 20 to provide support for the
Hobble Fire, now considered contained. Fuller reported that seven amateurs
supplied communication needed to supplement or replace normal systems. The
Hobble Fire consumed some 40,000 acres.

On August 29, the NFIC said 23 fires continued to burn in Montana.

==>ISS PACKET SYSTEM FAILS AGAIN AFTER BRIEF RESTART

After being out of service for some time, the RS0ISS packet system aboard
the International Space Station reappeared briefly on August 24, much to
the delight of packet users. But it didn't stay in operation very long.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International
Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, says he still hopes the current crew of Yuri
Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, can get to the bottom of what's
wrong with the packet module before the Expedition 8 crew arrives in
October.

Bauer says Malenchenko was able to reactivate the packet system on August
24 at around 1200 UTC. "Over the next nine hours, many hams around the
world sent unproto digi signals through the packet system," he said,
before the system abruptly quit. Bauer says the ARISS team has had several
discussions on what the next steps should be.

Complicating the debugging effort, he said, is Progress rocket undocking
and docking maneuvers that will occur over the next few days, leaving
little extra time for the crew to troubleshoot the problem. Bauer said the
current plan is to have Malenchenko provide a visual status report of the
packet module (ie, which switches are on, what LEDs are illuminated).

Bauer says having Malenchenko recycle the power should bring the packet
system back up. "If the system abruptly shuts down after a few hours--as
we expect--we will then ask the crew to attach a computer to the packet
module, download the current parameters to the ground and reset the
module," he said.

Bauer has expressed confidence that the packet problems will be resolved
and that ARISS will move on to other challenges--including the
installation of the Phase 2 hardware in a couple of months. "Please keep
the faith," he said.

==>BIG PROJECT CURRICULUM, LAB HANDBOOK NOW ON-LINE

The ARRL Education and Technology Program--also known as "The Big
Project"--has posted an updated version of its Basic Curriculum and Radio
Lab Handbook to the ARRL Web site
<http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/Curriculum-Materials.html>. The revised
materials became available for downloading on August 27.

"This curriculum is a living document and requires active participation to
make it better," said ARRL Education and Technology Program Coordinator
Mark Spencer, WA8SME. "Therefore, user input is very important, not only
to the quality of this curriculum, but to the project as a whole."

In an effort to expedite delivery and reduce costs, the documents only
went through a cursory editing process rather than a more formal and
rigorous exercise, and Spencer noted that some typographical and other
errors may remain. "User assistance here would also be greatly
appreciated," he added.

The curriculum is divided into two sections, the Basic Curriculum and the
Radio Lab Handbook, all in packed ZIP files for the fastest possible
download. The materials also are available as individual files in
Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format (PDF files require Adobe Reader
software to view).

The Basic Curriculum ZIP file is 1.5 MB, while the Radio Lab
Handbook--which contains many figures and diagrams--is 5 MB. Spencer said
he'd make the materials available on a CD-ROM to those experiencing
problems downloading them from the Internet. He asked all downloading any
portion of the document to let him know via e-mail if they are using the
material.

"We want to be able to keep users informed of updates," he said. "The
major point is that the document needs active participation to keep it
alive, well and ever-improving."

Spencer invited comments, critiques, additions and recommendations via
telephone, 860-594-0396, or e-mail at mspencer@arrl.org.

==>NEW ARRL SECTION MANAGERS TAKING REINS IN WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, ORANGE

ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, has
appointed Rich Beaver, N3SRJ, of Jeannette, as Western Pennsylvania
Section Manager, effective September 8, 2003. He will succeed John
Rodgers, N3MSE, who's stepping down for personal reasons but will remain
in office through the Western Pennsylvania Section Convention the weekend
of September 6-7.

Rodgers initially became SM in January 2000 when then-SM Bill Edgar,
N3LLR, was appointed Atlantic Division Vice Director. He was elected to a
two-year term in his own right last fall. Beaver will complete Rodgers'
current term, which ends December 31, 2004. An Assistant Section Manager
since June, Beaver has served as Western Pennsylvania Section Emergency
Coordinator since February, 1998. Members may contact Rich Beaver via
e-mail, n3srj@arrl.net.

White has appointed Carl H. Gardenias, WU6D, of Highland, California, to
replace Joe Brown, W6UBQ, as ARRL Orange Section Manager. Brown, who is
stepping down September 14 because he's moving out of the section,
recommended Gardenias for the position. White accepted Brown's resignation
"with regret," and she called Brown "a fine leader" who has served his
section well for more than 20 years. "Your dedication and work will be
greatly missed," she told Brown.

Gardenias has been an ARRL Life Member since 1979 and serves on the ARRL
Ad Hoc Committee for Strategic Planning. In addition, he's been a member
of the International DX Convention (Visalia) committee since 1983 and
chaired the committee for six years. He also has taught licensing classes
for many years and now coordinates other instructors. Members may contact
Carl Gardenias via e-mail, cgardeni@uci.edu.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Propagation maven Tad "Hand me that bottle of SPF 100" Cook, K7RA,
Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspot counts were up this week, but so
were geomagnetic indices. Average daily sunspot numbers rose 33 percent
over last week, and the average daily planetary A index was up 18 percent.
Solar flux remained about the same. This week didn't have an extremely
stormy day--such as August 18 last week--but the higher A indices were
sustained through the week. Active geomagnetic conditions declined through
the week, with the most active days August 21-23 (our reporting week runs
Thursday through Wednesday). The active days started August 21, because
that is when Earth entered a high-speed solar wind that continued over the
next few days.

The moderate conditions should continue through this weekend. The latest
reading predicts a planetary A index of 12 for Friday through Sunday,
August 29-31. Monday, Labor Day, has a predicted planetary A index of 10,
but Tuesday, September 2 may become active again, based upon recurring
conditions from the previous rotation of the sun. Solar flux is expected
to remain around 125 through September 1 and then rise gradually to around
135 for September 3-4.

Sunspot numbers for August 21 through 27 were 86, 126, 125, 132, 146, 124
and 116, with a mean of 122.1. The 10.7-cm flux was 119.2, 120.9, 120.2,
116.4, 116.5, 120.8 and 125.7, with a mean of 120. Estimated planetary A
indices were 53, 43, 44, 24, 21, 14 and 13, with a mean of 30.3.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio: The ALARA Contest, the YO DX HF Contest, the
SARL HF CW Contest and the SCC RTTY Championship are the weekend of August
30-31. The Michigan QRP Labor Day CW Sprint is September 1-2. JUST AHEAD:
The North American Sprint (CW), the All Asian DX Contest (SSB), the Quick
PSK63 Contest, the IARU Region 1 Field Day (SSB) and the DARC 10-Meter
Digital Contest are the weekend of September 6-7. 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, September 1, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC), for the on-line Level I
Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open
through the September 6-7 weekend or until all available seats have been
filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, September 16. Thanks
to our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National and Community Service
and the United Technologies Corporation--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.
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 Emergency
Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <dmiller@arrl.org>;;
860-594-0340.

* Correction: A story in The ARRL Letter, Vol 22, No 33, "Hams Injured in
Baghdad Blast" incorrectly identified the position of UN envoy Sergio
Vieira de Mello. Mr de Mello was the UN's High Commissioner for Human
Rights prior to taking a leave of absence to serve as the
secretary-general's special representative for Iraq.

* ARRL seeks clubs' support in BPL campaign: ARRL has asked some 2100
ARRL-affiliated clubs to consider donating to the Broadband over Power
Line (BPL) Special Spectrum Defense Campaign. "Your ARRL is at the
forefront of the campaign to defeat BPL and will continue to work
tirelessly to protect your Amateur Radio bands," says ARRL Chief
Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH. Hobart notes that individuals and
clubs have responded generously to fund ARRL's efforts to fight BPL and
many also have filed comments in response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry
in ET Docket 03-104. "But we still need to raise an additional $55,000 to
fund the field measurements and document filings necessary to defeat this
threat," Hobart pointed out in urging clubs to give serious thought to
helping out. ARRL has received club contributions ranging from $50 to
$2000. She promised to post a list of contributing clubs on the ARRL Web
site <http://www.arrl.org/> this fall "as our way of saying thank you."
More information on BPL is available on the ARRL Web site
<http://www.arrl.org/BPL>, including a video--available for downloading
and showing at club meetings--that graphically demonstrates the
interference radio amateurs would experience from BPL. There's a
PowerPoint presentation too. To help, visit ARRL's secure BPL campaign
donation site <https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/bpl/> or
mail your contribution to BPL Special Spectrum Defense Campaign, ARRL, 225
Main St, Newington CT 06111.

* Past New Mexico SM Joe Knight, W5PDY, honored at convention: Former New
Mexico Section Manager Joe T. Knight, W5PDY, has received the Knight
Distinguished Service Award August 23 for his 27 years of outstanding
service as an SM. The ARRL Board of Directors created the award at its
July meeting and named it for Knight to recognize "exceptionally notable
contributions" to the "health and vitality" of the League by a section
manager. The presentation, by ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director Walt
Stinson, W0CP, occurred during the ARRL Forum at the New Mexico State
Convention in Albuquerque. ARRL Club and Educational Correspondent Margie
Bourgoin, KB1DCO, who represented ARRL Headquarters at the convention,
reported a full house at the forum and said Knight received a standing
ovation. In creating the Award, the ARRL Board said that Knight "has
distinguished himself as a leader among leaders" who often has "gone above
and beyond the call of duty" by volunteering to train and orient new SMs.
Knight, stepped down July 2 because of ill health. He's one of only a few
ARRL Field Organization volunteers to have served as an SM for more than
20 years. For many years, Knight was a regular participant in the annual
ARRL Headquarters workshops for new section managers, at which he shared
his leadership perspectives and vast experience with newcomers.

* Helen L. Grauer, N0BCI, SK: Helen Grauer, N0BCI, of Wilson, Kansas, died
August 24 after a period of failing health. She was 94 and the widow of
longtime ARRL Midwest Division Director Paul Grauer, W0FIR, SK, whom she
often accompanied to hamfests across the division. The W0FIR call sign is
now held by the couple's son, Charles. Helen Grauer was an ARRL Life
Member and had served on the board of the ARRL Foundation for many years.
Services will be held August 28, 10 AM, at the Wilson United Methodist
Church. The family invites memorial donations to the Wilson United
Methodist Church, Wilson, KS 67490, or to the Grauer Scholarship Fund, c/o
ARRL Foundation, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.

===========================================================
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
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