*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 22, No. 43 October 31, 2003 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Amateur Radio support continues in California Fire Disaster * +ARRL petitions for review of FCC orders * +Ditter II--the return of the Ditter * +FCC sets aside former amateur's GMRS license * +Former Indiana SM Peggy Coulter, W9JUJ, SK * +Solar Update * IN BRIEF: +This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration ARRL to sponsor ARECC/ARES seminar in Indiana Missouri clubs scare up Halloween special event AMSAT-NA seeks volunteers HAARP facility to quadruple power Newfoundland clubs establish VHF transatlantic beacon Radio Amateurs of Canada asks Industry Canada to drop Morse requirement Ham radio operators get TV time in South Dakota +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>AMATEUR RADIO SUPPORT CONTINUES IN CALIFORNIA FIRE DISASTER Ham radio volunteers continue to play a role in the ongoing fire emergency in Southern California. A dozen fires, some of them massive, now have burned some 750,000 acres and claimed 20 lives, most of them in the hard-hit San Diego area. Thousands of residents have been evacuated. ARRL San Diego Section Manager Kent Tiburski, K6FQ, says a shift in winds has moved the fire danger away from San Diego proper, but hams continue to supplement communication at two of nine shelters in the area--one at Mountain Empire and a second in Borrego Springs, where hams from Imperial County have been assisting. "We've been busy," Tiburski said October 29. "This is by far the worst disaster we've ever experienced." He estimated that approximately 200 Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) volunteers have participated so far in the fire emergency with about 100 in the field at any given time. Tiburski says hams have been assisting American Red Cross relief efforts, primarily in terms of logistics and working with damage assessment teams. Others have provided liaison between the California Department of Forestry and the Red Cross, which is providing meals and shelter for firefighters. Nearly 13,000 firefighters and support personnel have been deployed in California to battle the fires. The fires have claimed nearly 1200 homes in San Diego County alone, Tiburski reported, and burned some 450,000 acres. "Everybody I've talked with--to a person--knows someone personally or knows of someone who has lost a house," he said. Mount Palomar--home of the famous observatory--was evacuated, Tiburski said, and firefighters were making a special effort to protect telecommunications sites there as well. Although the hot, dry Santa Ana winds have abated, Tiburski notes that a stiff onshore breeze is now driving the fires to the east. San Diego Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) Coordinator Paul Cook, N6RPF, reports he and other SATERN members have been providing communication assistance for The Salvation Army's relief efforts. They've had help from other amateurs as well, he said. At least a half-dozen Salvation Army emergency disaster services canteens are providing meals to evacuees and firefighters. SATERN National Director Pat McPherson, WW9E, said SATERN is keeping relief teams in contact with each other as well as supporting communication for firefighters, police and emergency responders. Elsewhere in California, ARRL Orange Section Manager Carl Gardenias, WU6D, says that Amateur Radio operators continue working with relief agencies in that part of the state. "We actually have more Amateur Radio operators available than the Red Cross shelters can use," he said. With ARES teams and other ham radio volunteers from Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties available, the hams have been able to rotate shifts. "The intensity of these fires has never been at this level before," Gardenias said, comparing the current situation with fire emergencies in the recent past. At the Red Cross shelters--where more and more displaced people are showing up--hams have been "shadowing" shelter managers, communicating shelter supply requests, and helping with health-and-welfare inquiries for shelter clients, Gardenias said. Amateur Radio also is serving to keep shelters in touch with the Red Cross regional headquarters. At least 1000 evacuees are taking refuge in a former TWA hangar at the San Bernardino airport. Amateur Radio SSTV equipment was being used to assist firefighters in San Bernardino. The radio equipment and operators go out on the fire trucks and report what they see back to the command center, Gardenias explained. In the Los Angeles Section SM Phineas Icenbice, W6BF, reports the Stevenson Ranch fires and Arrowhead are the "very hot spots," and firefighting helicopters and crews are using water from nearby Magic Mountain Amusement Park and from golf courses to help douse the flames. Smoke was heavy October 29 in the San Fernando Valley where Icenbice lives. Amateur Radio operators also are assisting at Red Cross shelters in the Los Angeles area as well as helping the relief agency to locate and establish new shelters. Icenbice said the problem areas appear to be the outer areas of Los Angeles County and in the mountains. Hams have been helping to locate people left homeless because of the fires. California Gov Gray Davis has declared states of emergency in five counties. As this letter is prepared on October 31, cool and foggy weather have helped to stall the wildfires' progress.--Steve Ewald, WV1X, contributed information for this report ==>ARRL PETITIONS FOR REVIEW OF FCC ORDERS The ARRL has filed a Petition for Review of two FCC orders that would allow certification of unlicensed 24-GHz Part 15 equipment at field strengths 10 times the level Part 15 rules now permit. The League petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on October 22. The ARRL is appealing a Report and Order (R&O), Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission's Rules to allow Certification of Equipment in the 24.05-24.25 GHz Band at Field Strengths up to 2500 mV/m, and a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O), Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission's Rules to allow Certification of Equipment in the 24.05-24.25 GHz Band at Field Strengths up to 2500 mV/m. Through this proceeding, ET Docket 98-156, and others, the ARRL has maintained that such high-powered devices should be licensed. "It is ARRL's contention that the Commission has no jurisdiction, pursuant to §302(a) or otherwise, to authorize by rulemaking the operation of unlicensed devices which have significant potential for interference to licensed radio services," the League said in its petition. "Devices which have a substantial interference potential to licensed radio services, such as point to point microwave devices operating at 2500 mV/m at 24 GHz, must be licensed." The FCC turned down the ARRL's Petition for Reconsideration in the proceeding this past summer. Taking the issue to the courts is the next step in the ongoing battle. Amateur Radio is primary at 24.0 to 24.05 GHz and secondary on the rest of the band. The AO-40 satellite includes beacon, digital and analog transmitters in the vicinity of 24.048 GHz. The entire 24.0-24.25 GHz band is allocated for use by Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) equipment. In addition to Amateur Radio, the 24.05-24.25 segment is allocated on a secondary basis for radiolocation in the Private Land Mobile Radio Services and for Earth-exploration satellites. In outlining its case, the ARRL said it will argue that the FCC orders--the first in 2001 and the second this past summer--will allow unlicensed operation of transmitters having substantial interference potential to Amateur Radio licensees. "In allowing the operation of unlicensed transmitters at the permitted power levels, the FCC has exceeded its statutory authority" and, in doing so, has violated §301 of the Communications Act, the League asserted. The League said it intends to show that the FCC's decision was "arbitrary and capricious" and contravenes the Administrative Procedure Act as well as administrative and judicial precedent. The ARRL calls on the court to "hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin, and set aside" the two orders, which allow operation of fixed point-to-point transmitters as part of a high-speed wireless Internet service or local area network. The ARRL raised similar arguments regarding the FCC's Part 15 authority as part of its efforts to combat a proposal by SAVI Technology--in ET Docket 01-278--to permit RF identification tags to operate as unlicensed Part 15 devices between 425 and 435 MHz. In that proceeding, the ARRL maintained that the FCC lacks authority to permit the RFIDs to operate under Part 15 at the proposed field strengths and duty cycles. In February 2002 the ARRL unsuccessfully petitioned the FCC to reconsider and reverse a portion of the December 2001 R&O in ET-98-156. The League contested the FCC's jurisdiction to authorize unlicensed operation of RF devices that pose significant interference potential to licensed services, and it asserted that such devices should be licensed. The FCC did not agree on either count. "We reject the assertion that there is a significant interference potential from the unlicensed operation authorized in the Report and Order," the FCC concluded in the MO&O released July 21. The FCC also said the League failed to support its argument that the devices it authorized should be disqualified from Part 15 unlicensed operation because they may serve functions similar to those in deployed in licensed services. The FCC MO&O reaffirmed its authorization to permit the Part 15 devices at field strengths of up to 2.5 V per meter and noted its requirement to use directional antennas. The ARRL had called the proposed power levels and antenna gain figures--33 dBi--"entirely inappropriate for Part 15 unlicensed facilities." ==> ==> ==>DITTER II--THE RETURN OF THE DITTER Some solid teamwork between the FCC and the ARRL and accurate direction-finding led some Amateur Radio volunteers to the source of an unidentified and continuous string of dits being transmitted without identification on 14.024.8 MHz. The situation last week was eerily similar to one more than three years ago, when another volunteer eventually tracked down another "ditter" <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2000/07/28/2/> on the West Coast that had plagued 20 meters. After receiving reports of the more recent signal, ARRL Field and Regulatory Correspondent Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG, found he was able to copy it from ARRL Headquarters. The ARRL called upon the FCC's HF Direction Finding (HFDF) facility in Maryland to get a bearing on the signal. "Really aggravating," is how the HFDF facility's Betty Mallay, KL7AP, described it. "Of course, it doesn't help when others try to 'dit-dit-dit' along with it," she added wryly. The HFDF facility was able to localize the signal's source to vicinity of Houston, Texas. Skolaut then called on ARRL South Texas Official Observer Coordinator Carl Griffin, KA5KQZ, to see if any of his volunteers had direction-finding equipment that could pin it down. Two of them--who prefer to remain anonymous--took on the challenge. Their DFing led to a location in a Houston suburb that was within three miles of where the FCC's HFDF facility said it would be. As in the earlier case, "Ditter II" apparently had no idea his station was transmitting. "I called him on the phone, and he went and checked the station and it had something up against the keyer," one of the volunteers said in his report to Griffin. "He was embarrassed." Left unanswered was why the unidentified amateur's transmitter was powered up and ready to transmit in the first place. Complimenting the OOs on their quick work, South Texas Section Manager Ray Taylor, N5NAV, took a philosophical view. "I monitored it several times with about S7 signal," he said. "We all make mistakes at times." ==>FCC SETS ASIDE FORMER AMATEUR'S GMRS LICENSE In the latest chapter in the continuing saga of former amateur licensee Jack Gerritsen, ex-KG6IRO, of Bell, California, the FCC now has set aside Gerritsen's General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) license. The FCC wrote Gerritsen October 15 that the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau took the action based on Gerritsen's alleged "continuing unlicensed operation and complaints of deliberate interference from transmitters you operate." Amateur Radio repeater operators in the Los Angeles area have complained to the FCC that Gerritsen has been attempting to access their machines using the ham radio call sign he'd held for about a week in 2001. Gerritsen also held the GMRS call sign WPYR 527. The FCC said Gerritsen's GMRS application has reverted to pending status, the same as his Amateur Radio license application. FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth told Gerritsen that the FCC will make the GMRS application part of the record when it holds a hearing to determine if Gerritsen is qualified to be a Commission licensee. Hollingsworth reminded Gerritsen that he has no authority to operate radio transmitting equipment and that such operation would be a violation of §301 of the Communications Act of 1934. "We suggest you consult an attorney in this matter," Hollingsworth concluded. In August, the FCC warned Gerritsen to refrain from contacting Commission personnel regarding the disposition of his Amateur Radio application. In 2001, the FCC set aside Gerritsen's ham ticket six days after granting it after learning that he'd been convicted the previous year in state court of interfering with Los Angeles Police Department radio transmissions. The FCC also received complaints that Gerritsen had operated without a license and caused malicious interference on amateur frequencies. The FCC alleges that when Gerritsen was paroled after serving one year of a five-year sentence, he resumed operating and caused deliberate interference to numerous amateur repeaters in the Los Angeles area. In May 2002, Gerritsen was sentenced to three years in prison--with credit for good behavior, work time and time already served--but he was released early due to jail overcrowding, Hollingsworth told ARRL. Hollingsworth said the FCC continues to investigate the amateur interference allegations, but he recently expressed frustration that Gerritsen was released from prison with no conditions or restrictions "even regarding radio, which is what he was in there for in the first place," he said. Hollingsworth says the FCC also is looking into a complaint that two stations in the Tidewater area of Virginia intentionally interfered with a station in North Carolina. The FCC has written Jeffrey Polen, KR4IS, and David Dunlap, KA4OEY, asking them to respond to the allegations by Cliff Fox, KU4GW. Fox alleged that stations identifying as KR4IS and KA4OEY had interfered with an ongoing communication he was having with a mobile station on September 9 on 75 meters. ==>FORMER INDIANA SM PEGGY COULTER, W9JUJ, SK Former Indiana Section Manager Peggy Coulter, W9JUJ, of Muncie, died October 25. She was 83. Coulter served as Indiana SM for 12 years--from 1990 until 2002--and continued to hold field a field appointment as an Official Relay Station. Coulter was also very active in the ARRL National Traffic System and served as Section Traffic Manager for 10 years as well as Ninth Region Area Net manager. "Peggy was a super lady," remarked ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, who said Coulter enjoyed total respect from her constituents. "She was so energetic and involved," White added, in expressing her sorrow at Coulter's death. A ham since 1950, Coulter as an ARRL Life Member. She also was a life member of the A1 Operator Club, the Quarter Century Wireless Association, the Young Ladies Radio League and the Muncie Area Amateur Radio Club. She was named Indiana Amateur of the Year in 1951 and in 1979. A son and daughter are among her survivors. A service was held October 27. Friends may submit condolences on-line <http://www.parsonmortuary.com/>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar swami Tad "Radio Blackout" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar excitement continued this week. As this bulletin is being written Thursday night, an extreme geomagnetic storm is in progress. The mid latitude K index has been as high as 9, and severe space weather is predicted for the short term. Average daily sunspot numbers more than doubled this week to 201.4. Average daily solar flux was nearly double that of the previous week at 249. Average daily sunspot numbers for the week have not been this high since the week of November 7-13, 2002, when it was 205.4. For solar flux, we go back to the week of January 24-30, 2002 when the average daily solar flux was 249.6. On Friday, October 24, a coronal mass ejection swept by earth around 1500 UTC. The planetary K index went as high as 7, and aurora borealis was seen as far as the southern United States. On Sunday, October 26 an X-class solar flare at 0650 UTC was followed by another one twelve hours later at 1850 UTC. On October 28 one of the most powerful solar flares seen in many years hurled a cloud of particles traveling 5 million miles per hour toward earth. This triggered an S-3 class solar radiation storm, and the next day the planetary A index shot up to 189, and mid-latitude A index was 199. On that day, October 29, an intense geomagnetic storm raged in response to a coronal mass ejection that hit earth around 0630 UTC. Another powerful coronal mass ejection hit earth on October 30. This weekend is the ARRL November CW Sweepstakes. Conditions could be good if the geomagnetic disturbances cool down. Currently, the predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday, October 31 through November 3 is 100, 30, 15 and 15. The latest solar flux forecast for those same days is 265, 260, 255 and 255. Sunspot numbers for October 23 through 29 were 122, 160, 139, 191, 238, 230 and 330, with a mean of 201.4. 10.7 cm flux was 209.3, 190.6, 221.5, 298.3, 257.2, 274.4 and 291.7, with a mean of 249. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 34, 14, 10, 15, 20 and 189, with a mean of 41.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW), the North American Collegiate ARC Championship (CW), the QRP ARCI Running of the QRP Bulls, the IPA Contest (SSB), the High Speed Club CW Contest, the Ukrainian DX Contest and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are the weekend of November 1-2. JUST AHEAD: The Worked All Europe (WAE) DX Contest (RTTY), the Japan International DX Contest (SSB), the SARL Field Day Contest, the OK/OM DX Contest (CW) and the Anatolian ATA PSK31 Contest are the weekend of November 8-9. 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, November 3, 12:01 AM EDT (0501 UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open through the November 8-9 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, November 18. 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 175 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 receive advance notification of registration opportunities. To take advantage, send an e-mail to email@example.com. On the subject line, indicate the course name or number (eg, EC-00#) and the month you want to start the course. In the message body, provide your name, call sign, and e-mail address. Please do not send inquiries to this mailbox. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce> and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 860-594-0340. * ARRL to sponsor ARECC/ARES seminar in Indiana: The ARRL will offer a free Amateur Radio Emergency Communications seminar Friday, November 14, in conjunction with the Fort Wayne Hamfest & Computer Expo <http://www.fortwaynehamfest.com/>. The seminar will not include the Level I course itself. This program will detail the duties of all Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course participants and how their volunteer efforts are essential to the ARES field organization. Senior citizens are strongly encouraged to participate. ARRL Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, says the seminar will emphasize using lessons learned to effectively move Amateur Radio emergency communications to the next level. All ARES volunteers, ARECC course participants and field organization leadership are invited. Course participants are urged to share their experiences. ARRL field organization leadership also is invited to join in the brainstorming. The seminar will be held Friday, November 14, 1 to 5 PM, at the Turnstone Center <http://www.acarts.com/images/tstone.jpg>, 3320 North Clinton Street, Fort Wayne. Seating may be limited. Those planning to attend should contact Dan Miller, K3UFG, email@example.com; 860-594-0340; fax 860-594-0259 at ARRL Headquarters. Seminar attendance does not include admission to the convention. * Missouri clubs scare up Halloween special event: The Mid-Missouri Amateur Radio Club <http://www.mmccs.com/mmarc> and the Warrensburg Area Amateur Radio Club <http://waarci.homestead.com/> will sponsor a Halloween special event "FunXpedition" to Frankenstein, Missouri. Special event W0O (as in "Woooooo!") will be on the air from approximately 2100 UTC October 31 until approximately 1500 UTC November 1. The operation will be by several stations at two locations in Frankenstein, CW and SSB, on or about 3.545, 3.700, 3.963, 3.943, 7.045, 7.125, 7.233 and 7.245, 10.110 and 10.125, 14.030, 14.045, 14.312 and 14.330, 21.045, 21.150, 21.345, 21.378, 28.045, 28.200, 28345 and 28.378 MHz. All stations worked will receive a QSL. * AMSAT-NA seeks volunteers: AMSAT-NA is seeking applicants to fill two volunteer positions: (1) AMSAT Journal editor starting with the January /February 2004 issue. Applicants should have expertise in the layout of articles--particularly with Adobe Pagemaker. The journal publishes every two months and, on average, the Journal editor spends about 80 hours per issue. A solid working knowledge of English is essential, together with a high-speed Internet connection. (2) AMSAT marketing director to assist in all aspects of marketing AMSAT-NA. The first task involves development of an OSCAR Echo launch fund campaign. AMSAT-NA must raise $110,000, says AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH. Candidates should possess advertising and marketing skills and be able to easily communicate via e-mail and fax. Contact Haighton, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information. * HAARP facility to quadruple power: Technical Specialist Richard Lampe, KL1DA, represented the League at the 2003 High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) <http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/> RFI meeting September 24 at the HAARP site near Gakona, Alaska. "Joint funding through DARPA will allow HAARP to quadruple in size from its current 960 kW output to 3.6 MW," Lampe says. "When completed in 2006, HAARP will then be the premier ionospheric research facility with beam-steering capabilities that other similar arrays worldwide don't have." Under terms of its experimental license, HAARP must transmit on a non-interference basis, and Lampe--who is ARRL liaison to HAARP--says the staff at the control center immediately shut down the transmitters when harmonics were detected on 75/80 meters during experiments last year. "Alaska hams monitor the bands and aid HAARP engineers by reporting RFI issues as soon as they happen," Lampe said. * Newfoundland clubs establish VHF transatlantic beacon: The Marconi Radio Club of Newfoundland <http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~jcraig/mrcn.html> and the Baccalieu Amateur Radio Club of Carbonear have placed a VHF transatlantic beacon on the air. The VO1ZA beacon transmits on 144.400 MHz. "This beacon has been brewing for a number of years and we're happy it's finally on the air," said Joe Craig, VO1NA, who built the exciter board and the CW IDer. The transmitter runs 250 W and the power amp previously served the VE1SMU beacon. The antenna is an 11-element Cushcraft Yagi fed with half-inch hardline. The repeater site, in the town of Carbonear, is in the middle of a large field at a turkey farm with a clear view of the North Atlantic Ocean through the mouth of Conception Bay on the southeastern coast of Newfoundland. The antenna is at about 300 feet above sea level. Amateur stations hearing this beacon are asked to report to Joe Craig, VO1NA, email@example.com, describing in detail what they copied. * Radio Amateurs of Canada asks Industry Canada to drop Morse requirement: At the 21st Industry Canada-Radio Amateurs of Canada Amateur Radio Advisory Board meeting October 23 in Ottawa, RAC presented its Board-approved recommendation to drop Morse code as an Amateur Radio qualification requirement. Other topics raised at the session included options for consideration related to four-character call sign suffixes; RACs submission to the Committee on the National Antenna Tower Policy Review; and RAC's efforts to bring more young people into Amateur Radio through the RAC Youth Education Program, which was introduced and discussed. Industry Canada invited RAC to submit detailed proposals on dropping Morse code and the use of four-character call signs. Industry Canada expressed appreciation to RAC for its prompt and comprehensive response to the department's request for input on significant changes to regulations arising out of the WRC-2003 decisions. Representing RAC was President Bill Gillis, VE1WG, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs Jim Dean, VE3IQ, and directors David Nimmo, VE1NN, and BJ Madsen, VE5FX. * Ham radio operators get TV time in South Dakota: Ham radio operators in South Dakota will be featured during an upcoming segment of the South Dakota Public Television program "Dakota Life." The show will highlight how local hams have contributed during emergencies. It will air November 6, 8 PM Central/7 PM Mountain Time. Reruns are scheduled for November 9, 1 PM Central/noon Mountain Time and November 25, 9:30 PM Central/8:30 PM Mountain Time. Visit the South Dakota Public Broadcasting Web site for more information <http://www.sdpb.org/>. =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President. The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> offers access to news, informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter. 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