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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 45
November 14, 2003


* +FCC Commissioner clarifies BPL comments
* +ARRL hosts BPL gathering
* +UO-14 is down for the count
* +Spectrum Protection Act cosponsor list expands
* +FCC reviews responses to interference complaints
* +ARISS special event to commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE (SK)
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +First US QSO above 400 GHz claimed
     Kentucky Section leaders lobby for PRB-1 declaration
     Two wildlife tracking projects under way
     Former HQ staffer George Hart, W1NJM, turns 90
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The office of FCC Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy
<> has expressed regrets that
her remarks in a September speech may have failed to make Abernathy's
concerns sufficiently clear about potential interference from Broadband
over Power Line (BPL).

"We regret that the Commissioner's remarks may have been interpreted as
suggesting an absence of concern over harmful interference," said
Abernathy Senior Legal Adviser Matthew A. Brill, responding to complaints
from the ARRL and individual amateurs. From a policy perspective, Brill
said, Abernathy is "keenly interested" in seeing multiple broadband
platforms develop, but that she didn't intend to suggest that BPL
"necessarily will emerge as a viable platform or that it does not present
interference issues."

In her speech to the United Powerline Council's <>
annual conference September 22, Abernathy expressed unabashed enthusiasm
for BPL and suggested it was a step along the pathway to "Broadband
Nirvana." Brill noted, however, that near the end of her remarks,
Abernathy--referring to the FCC's approach to PCS regulation--said the
Commission was "right to adopt strict interference rules to prevent
competitors from externalizing their costs. The same principle will apply
to BPL."

Brill assured the ARRL that "ensuring that BPL and all new technologies
avoid causing harmful interference to licensed RF users is a bedrock
position for Commissioner Abernathy." He issued similar responses on
Abernathy's behalf to several amateurs who had challenged her stance (see
"ARRL Rebukes FCC Commissioner's BPL-Related 'Broadband Nirvana' Remarks"

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, expressed delight at
Abernathy's recent clarification. "Commissioner Abernathy's affirmation of
this important principle as a 'bedrock position' is most welcome and
reassuring news," he said. From the outset of the FCC's BPL Notice of
Inquiry in ET Docket No. 03-104 last April, Sumner said, the League's goal
has been to hold the FCC to its statement in the NOI that "each of these
authorized services in the spectrum [including the Amateur and
Amateur-Satellite services] must be protected from harmful interference."

"Since that time the presence of harmful interference at BPL test sites
has been thoroughly documented," Sumner noted, "confirming that our
original concerns were well founded."

ARRL's extensive comments, reply comments and technical exhibits are
available on the ARRL Web site <>.
There are additional information and video clips on the ARRL "Power Line
Communications (PLC) and Amateur Radio" page

More than 5000 comments--many from the Amateur Radio community--have been
filed in response to the FCC's BPL NOI and are available for viewing via
the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)


The interference potential of Broadband over Power Line (BPL) to
over-the-air radio services was the topic of an ARRL-sponsored meeting of
25 communications professionals November 7. The National Association of
Broadcasters hosted the gathering at its headquarters in Washington, DC.

"Listening to everyone introduce themselves and explain why they had come
made the trip to Washington worthwhile all by itself," said ARRL CEO David
Sumner, K1ZZ, who offered opening remarks and guided the discussion.
Sumner showed excerpts from the ARRL BPL field test videos, which
graphically demonstrate that BPL's interference potential at HF is real,
not just theoretical.

During the meeting, representatives from the shortwave broadcasting,
public safety, aeronautical and scientific communities joined amateur and
amateur-satellite representatives to discuss the threat of BPL and
possible avenues to combat its interference potential to licensed HF and
low-VHF spectrum users. Military and consumer electronics representatives
participated as observers. Coming the farthest was Chip Margelli, K7JA,
who attended on behalf of the Yaesu Amateur Division of Vertex-Standard.

ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, reviewed the status of last
April's FCC's Notice of Inquiry on BPL and noted that more than 5000
comments were filed with the Commission--most of them from Amateur Radio
operators. Imlay said that proposed FCC rules changes could come as soon
as early next year.

Imlay added that a number of non-amateur organizations support ARRL's
position on BPL. Representing the National Association of Shortwave
Broadcasters, George Jacobs, W3ASK, affirmed their strong support for the
ARRL position.

ARRL Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, provided a technical
review of BPL. BPL delivery systems would use existing low and
medium-voltage power lines to distribute Internet and other broadband
services to homes and businesses.

Other points the group touched upon included:

* BPL emission measurements by government agencies are under way, but the
results have not yet been made public. The FCC denied an ARRL Freedom of
Information Act request on the grounds that their test results represent

* A government representative observed that concerned groups should be
wary of tying in the overused term "homeland security" with any anti-BPL
campaign, since it could be spun back against BPL opponents.

* Meeting attendees cited numerous and increasing instances of
interference from Part 15 devices, suggesting that such instances only
infrequently result in complaints to the FCC--and even less frequently in
any FCC action.

A follow-up meeting may be held early next year if it becomes clear that
the FCC intends to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding BPL.
Some attendees indicated a willingness to accompany ARRL representatives
to meetings with federal officials to underscore that concerns about BPL
are not confined to radio amateurs.

"It's apparent that concerns about BPL run very deep and include nearly
every over-the-air radio service," Sumner remarked after the meeting. "Now
we can work together much more effectively to express our concerns both
inside and outside of government."--Derek Riker, KB3JLF, compiled
information for this report


UO-14 has officially ended its long run as an Amateur Radio satellite,
although it continues to transmit telemetry and respond to commands from
Earth. The Mission Control Centre at the Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd
(SSTL) Center for Satellite Engineering Research announced this week that
the venerable and popular bird "has reached the end of its mission after
nearly 14 years in orbit." Launched in 1990, UoSAT-OSCAR-14 pioneered the
PACSAT communication concept as the first 9.6 kbps Amateur Radio data
communications satellite, although it became best known in recent years as
an FM "easy sat."

"Since launch, UO-14 has completed over 72,000 orbits and as many
charge/discharge cycles of its on-board NiCd battery," said AMSAT-UK
Chairman Martin Sweeting, G3YJO. "However recently one of the battery
cells has become exhausted and can no longer support continuous operation
of the repeater." Sweeting said UO-14's transmitter shuts down shortly
after it is commanded "on" due to undervoltage, so the microsatellite's
mission has been terminated.

"Thank you UO-14 for your long service!" Sweeting concluded.

AMSAT-NA Board Member Bruce Paige, KK5DO, an enthusiastic UO-14 user,
called the AMSAT-UK announcement "sad news." He said the loss of UO-14
leaves amateurs with SO-41 and SO-50 as the only two LEO FM voice
satellites. He noted, however, that the planned 2004 launch of OSCAR-ECHO
would help to fill the void. OSCAR-ECHO is set to launch next March 31.

The popular and heavily used FM satellite's repeater quit working in
August, but hope remained within the amateur satellite community that
UO-14 somehow could be revived. Ground controller Chris Jackson, G7UPN, at
one point was able to reset the satellite, but he later determined that
UO-14 had suffered a primary power system failure that was causing the
spacecraft to shut down during some eclipses.

During its active lifetime, UO-14 served several roles. After some 18
months as a PACSAT, UO-14 was switched to non-amateur frequencies for
humanitarian use by Volunteers In Technical Assistance, which used it for
messaging into Africa. After the store-and-forward communications computer
proved no longer able to perform that task, UO-14 was turned back to
amateur use as a single-channel FM voice repeater.

UO-14 again served a humanitarian role in early 2001 when hams assisting
with earthquake relief operations in the Indian State of Gujarat took
advantage of the satellite to provide communication from the stricken

The beauty of UO-14 was that it required minimal gear to make
contacts--typically 5 W and modest antennas would do the trick. Operators
with dualband handheld transceivers and "rubber duckie" antennas often
could make QSOs via UO-14.


Encouraging news this week from Washington: The list of House cosponsors
for the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act, HR 713, has reached 69.
ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, says he's pleased with the progress
since mid-October, when he'd expressed his frustration over a lack of
cosponsors. Since that time, the list has grown by 17 representatives. The
Senate version of the legislation, S 537, is holding at eight cosponsors.

"I'm cheered up that we've got new representatives to sign on, but we
can't just stop," Haynie said. "We gotta keep at it." He said the League
has been concentrating its efforts on promoting HR 713 because the bill
has the best chance for success of any Amateur Radio-related legislation
now before Congress.

Haynie continues to encourage ARRL members to not only urge their senators
and representatives to cosponsor HR 713 and S 537 but to write and ask
them to actively support them. "This is something that's important to the
future of Amateur Radio," Haynie reiterated.

Sponsored in the House by Rep Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and in the Senate
by Sen Michael Crapo (R-ID), the Spectrum Protection Act would require the
FCC to provide "equivalent replacement spectrum" to Amateur Radio if the
FCC reallocates primary amateur frequencies, reduces any secondary amateur
allocations, or makes additional allocations within such bands that would
substantially reduce their utility to amateurs.

HR 713 has been referred to the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet. Haynie testified before that panel in June. S 537 has been
referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

For the convenience of those writing their representatives and senators to
urge cosponsorship of the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 2003,
sample letters are on the ARRL Web site. For guidance on the best methods
of contacting your members of Congress, see "Communicating with Congress,"
by Derek Riker, KB3JLF, on the ARRL Web site or in the April 2003 issue of
QST (p 46).

Additional information--including the text of the Spectrum Protection Act
and information on how to write members of Congress--is on the ARRL's "The
Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 2003" Web page

Those writing their lawmakers on behalf of the Spectrum Protection Act are
asked to copy their correspondence to the League via e-mail to


The FCC is considering the explanation of a Maryland ham in the wake of
complaints that he disrupted an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) net
in September during Hurricane Isabel. FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement
Riley Hollingsworth wrote Charles E. Cox Sr, WA3AE, on October 16,
enclosing complaints alleging deliberate interference to emergency
communications conducted on 2 meters by W3AAC at the Anne Arundel County
emergency operations center.

"The allegations, if true, raise serious questions about your
qualifications to be a Commission licensee and warrant enforcement
action," Hollingsworth told Cox. The US Postal Service returned the FCC's
certified letter to Cox as undeliverable. Commission personnel eventually
tracked him down to a residence in Laurel, Maryland.

In a handwritten note, Cox told the FCC that he was on the air, but he
asserted that he was only trying to help and didn't believe he was
interfering with the emergency net. "There is a major misunderstanding,"
Cox wrote, adding that he felt the situation was being blown out of
proportion. Cox also said he would change his mailing address with the

Several complainants--two off-duty FCC employees among them--tell a
different story. A station identifying as WA3AE came on the net and
uttered "irrelevant comments many times," according to one net control
station, who also said that the operator was rude, "seemed intoxicated"
and used inappropriate language. Cox told the FCC he has a speech
impediment that makes him sound inebriated. The NCS contended that Cox
ignored numerous requests to keep the frequency open for emergency
communications, but Cox disputes that.

Hollingsworth said the FCC has Cox's response to the complaints under

The FCC also is reviewing a response from a California licensee. On
October 15, Hollingsworth wrote Angel Carballo, KG6QKR, of Fremont
enclosing a complaint alleging interference on 2 meters during a two-hour
period. The complainant told the FCC that two repeaters in the south San
Francisco Bay area "were being kerchunked." The amateur who complained
said he was able to track the source of the interfering signal to an
unoccupied vehicle sitting in a corporate parking lot. He said the
transceiver appeared to be in cross-band mode, and he was able to spot the
transceiver's display blink momentarily each time the repeaters were

After the complaining amateur approached corporate security and threatened
to report the incident to the FCC, security personnel asked him to hold
off while they tried to "solve the problem internally." The complainant,
whom the FCC did not identify, said security subsequently brought out a
man who went to the vehicle and shut down the transceiver. The FCC
apparently was able to locate Carballo through the license plate and
vehicle description the complainant provided.

In an October 25 reply to the Commission, Carballo told the FCC he
believes he "made a mistake" setting up his radios and did not intend to
maliciously interfere. He indicated that he had set up his mobile
transceiver as a cross-band repeater on VHF and UHF frequencies--one of
them 146.94 MHz--and monitored both frequencies from a handheld
transceiver in his office.

Carballo said his transceiver is not capable of transmitting on two
frequencies within the same band, so he could not explain the interference
to the 146.23 machine. He also offered his apologies and asked the FCC to
extend them to the complainant as well.


The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
<> international team has announced an on-the-air
event to commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE, who died August 15. Neal--born Roy
N. Hinkel--chaired the Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX)/Amateur
Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Working Group. ARISS has
requested that the ISS Expedition 8 crew of commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC,
and Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, communicate from space with earthbound
radio amateurs during the November 29-30 weekend.

In addition, stations contacting the ISS by voice (NA1SS) or packet
(RS0ISS) through the end of December will be eligible for a special
anniversary event certificate.

"Our good friend and noted NBC news correspondent Roy Neal, K6DUE (SK),
had a vision--to make Amateur Radio a permanent feature on human
spaceflight missions," said ARISS Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, and Sergej
Samburov, RV3DR, in making the announcement.

A retired NBC News science correspondent, producer and executive, Neal was
key to convincing NASA management to fly Amateur Radio onboard the space
shuttle, Bauer said. He also cited Neal's involvement in forming the ARISS
international team and moderating its gatherings.

Human spaceflight took the first step to Neal's vision on November 28,
1983, with the launch of the first Amateur Radio station aboard the space
shuttle Columbia. A few days later, astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL, became
the astronaut to speak from space via ham radio.

In October 1988, a Russian Amateur Radio team led by Sergej Samburov,
RV3DR, and Larry Agabekov, UA6HZ/N2WW, launched and deployed the first
amateur station on the space station Mir. During the AMSAT-NA symposium
the following month, Leo Labutin, UA3CR (SK), communicated with cosmonaut
Musa Manorov, U2MIR, aboard Mir.

Amateur Radio communication from the ISS began three years ago this month.
On November 13, 2000, Expedition 1 crew members Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR,
and Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, spoke with R3K, the Energia amateur station in
Russia, and with NN1SS, the ISS ground station at Goddard Space Flight
Center in Maryland. The successful deployment and use of the ARISS gear
marked the first permanent Amateur Radio station in space--and the
fruition of Neal's vision of some two decades earlier.

"On behalf of the ARISS international team, we congratulate the
international Amateur Radio community on these exceptional accomplishments
and commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE, for his vision and tremendous support to
ARISS team," Bauer and Samburov said.

Frequencies: Worldwide voice and packet downlink (RS0ISS): 145.80 MHz;
worldwide packet uplink: 145.99 MHz; voice uplink (NA1SS) for Regions 2
and 3 (the Americas and the Pacific): 144.49 MHz; voice uplink for Region
1 (Europe, Central Asia and Africa): 145.20 MHz.

ARISS request that participants in the special event keep all contacts
short. A subsequent announcement will provide details on QSLing and how to
obtain certificates.


Sun watcher Tad "I'm a Sol Man!" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
With big sunspots rotating out of view, sunspot numbers and solar flux
values have plummeted. The daily sunspot number was 330 on October 29. A
little more than a week later it was hovering around 12. The average daily
sunspot number two weeks ago was 201.4. The next week it was 171 the next
week, and last week it has sunk to 32.6. Similarly, average daily solar
flux numbers for the past three weeks have been 249, 195.7 and 94.8.

On November 6, sunspot 495 was still visible. It disappeared by the
following day, leaving a spotless disk. The sunspot number that day was
11. In the following days some tiny sunspots emerged--498, 499 and 500.
Sunspot 498 was disappearing from view by November 13. Now on November 14
sunspot 484 again is emerging on the visible disk from its trip around the
other side of the sun. It was very active when last visible, but is now
smaller. Sunspots 486 and 488 should follow, and we should see a rise in
solar activity.

Based on the previous solar rotation solar flux and sunspot numbers should
peak again around November 23-25.

This weekend is the ARRL November Phone Sweepstakes. Right now, the
interplanetary magnetic field points south, again leaving Earth vulnerable
to flares and solar wind. A solar wind stream is currently affecting
Earth, and this weekend should experience unsettled to active geomagnetic
conditions with a slowly rising solar flux. Predicted planetary A index
for Friday through Monday is 30, 30, 25 and 25. Solar flux values for
those same days are expected to be 105, 110, 115 and 120.

Sunspot numbers for November 6 through 12 were 12, 11, 29, 47, 47, 43 and
39, with a mean of 32.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 97.8, 91, 92.7, 93, 94.6,
95.6 and 98.7, with a mean of 94.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 14,
8, 10, 25, 30, 51 and 26, with a mean of 23.4.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL November Sweepstakes (SSB) headlines
the weekend activity. The North American Collegiate ARC Championship (SSB)
is held in conjunction with SS. Also, the All Austrian 160-Meter Contest
and the RSGB 1.8 MHz Contest (CW) are the weekend of November 15-16. JUST
AHEAD: The LZ DX Contest is the weekend of November 22-23. The CQ World
Wide DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of November 29-30. See the ARRL
Contest Page <> and the WA7BNM Contest
Calendar <> for more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens
Monday, November 17, 12:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time (0501 UTC), for the
Level III Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-003). Registration
remains open through the November 22-23 weekend or until all available
seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday,
December 2. 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
50 seats are being offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served
basis. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education (C-CE) <> Web page and the C-CE Links
found there. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course
Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG,, 860-594-0340.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and UHF-VHF
Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses opens Monday, November 17, 12:01 AM
Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration will remain open through
Sunday, November 23. Classes begin Tuesday November 25. Registration for
the ARRL Antenna Modeling (EC-004) course remains open through Sunday,
November 16. 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 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 (C-CE)
<> Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For
more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program

* First US QSO above 400 GHz claimed: Microwave enthusiast Brian Justin,
WA1ZMS, reports what he believes is the first QSO above 400 GHz in the US.
On November 11 at 0215 UTC, WA1ZMS/4 worked Peter Lascell, W4WWQ, on a
frequency of 403 GHz over a distance of approximately 1709 feet in
Virginia. WA1ZMS set new North American records on 241 and 322 GHz last
December, and he reports the pair used the same basic gear that had been
put into service for their then-record-making 241-GHz QSO last year
(recently beaten), but with new 30-cm parabolic dishes.

* Kentucky Section leaders lobby for PRB-1 declaration: ARRL Kentucky
Section Manager John Meyers, NB4K, and Assistant SM Fred Jones, WA4SWF,
visited September 17 with Kentucky Gov Paul Patton. "We were trying to get
the governor to enact a PRB-1 law by proclamation before he leaves office,
which is legal in Kentucky," Meyers explained. PRB-1 is the limited
federal preemption that requires local governments to "reasonably
accommodate" Amateur Radio communication. "We still have hope, be it slim
to none, that he'll still come through," Meyers said. He's encouraging
Kentucky hams to contact Gov Patton by USPS mail (Gov Paul Patton, 700
Capitol Ave, Suite 100, Frankfort, KY 40601) or e-mail
<>; and "tell him what PRB-1 means to you as a ham
and how it would be helpful."

* Two wildlife tracking projects under way: Since 1998, ham radio and VHF
monitoring volunteers have helped scientists track the movements of
endangered and threatened species. ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding
(ARDF) Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, says that hams and monitoring
enthusiasts could make a valuable contribution by participating. "The
biggest volunteer monitoring project to date is now under way," Moell said
this week. He reports that Nick Myatt of the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and
Wildlife Research unit has radio-tagged 360 American woodcock in
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. "The woodcock migration has begun, and
he is seeking reports of tags heard so he can attempt to do pinpoint
tracking from a fixed-wing aircraft," Moell said. Possible stopover and
destination states for these birds range from southern Minnesota and
Wisconsin to Louisiana and eastern Texas. Moell says that Dave Sherman, a
biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, also has requested
monitoring assistance in tracking two radio-tagged sandhill cranes that
are now part of a larger flock migrating from Ohio. Additional
information, including frequencies, is available on the Homing In Web site

* Former HQ staffer George Hart, W1NJM, turns 90: Retired ARRL
Communications Manager George Hart, W1NJM, celebrated his 90th birthday
November 1. A Charter Life Member of the League, Hart spent four decades
as a member of the ARRL Headquarters staff and continues to be an active
amateur and regular participant in Field Day as a member of the Newington
Amateur Radio League. First licensed in 1929 as W3AMR in Pennsylvania, he
began his ARRL career in 1938 as a second operator at the then-new W1AW
Maxim Memorial Station. He spent two years in the US Army during World War
II, during which the government silenced Amateur Radio, and he retired in
1978 as communications manager. Hart has contributed hundreds of articles
to QST over the years. Well wishers may contact him at 66 Highland St,
Newington, CT 06111 or via e-mail <>;. Happy birthday,

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for October is Del Schier, K1UHF, for his article "The Ins and Outs of a
Sound Card." Congratulations, Del! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque
award--given to the author--or authors--of the best article in each
issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each
month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page
<>. Cast a ballot for your
favorite article in the November issue of QST. Voting ends November 30.

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;
<>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
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The ARRL Letter

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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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