*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 04 January 23, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL Board okays "Restructuring II" proposal * +League to establish four-tier mentoring program * +Incumbent ARRL officers re-elected * +FCC's Abernathy sidesteps "Broadband Nirvana" * +Humanitarian, Leonard award winners announced * +New ECHO satellite another step closer to launch * +W4DR captures fourth straight DeSoto cup * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Correction/clarification DXCC rule change adopted Northern Florida ARES group activates after bus mishap Hamfest will happen, despite fire +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>ARRL TO PROPOSE NEW ENTRY-LEVEL LICENSE, CODE-FREE HF ACCESS The ARRL will ask the FCC to create a new entry-level Amateur Radio license that would grant HF phone privileges without a Morse code test. The League also will propose consolidating all current licensees into three classes, retaining the Element 1 Morse requirement--now 5 WPM-only for the highest class. The ARRL Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved the plan January 16 during its Annual Meeting in Windsor, Connecticut. The proposals, put forth by the ARRL Executive Committee, were in response to changes made in Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations at World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03). "Change in the Amateur Radio Service in the US, especially license requirements and even more so when Morse is involved, has always been emotional," said ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, in presenting the Executive Committee's recommendations. "In fact, without a doubt, Morse is Amateur Radio's 'religious debate.'" Harrison said the League's proposal would provide "a true entry-level license with HF privileges" to promote growth in the Amateur Service. The League says its proposal would continue a process of streamlining the amateur licensing structure that the FCC began more than five years ago but left unfinished in its Amateur Service license restructuring Report and Order (WT 98-143) that went into effect April 15, 2000. A new entry-level license class--being called "Novice" for now--would require a 25-question written exam. It would offer limited HF CW/data and phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters as well as VHF and UHF privileges on 6 and 2 meters and on 222-225 and 430-450 MHz. Power output would be restricted to 100 W on 80, 40, and 15 meters and to 50 W on 10 meters and up. "The Board sought to achieve balance in giving new Novice licensees the opportunity to sample a wider range of Amateur Radio activity than is available to current Technicians while retaining a motivation to upgrade," said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. The ARRL plan would grandfather current Novice licensees into the new entry-level class without further testing. The middle group of licensees--Technician, Tech Plus (Technician with Element 1 credit) and General--would be merged into a new General license that also would not require a Morse examination. Current Technician and Tech Plus license holders automatically would gain current General class privileges without additional testing. The current Element 3 General examination would remain in place for new applicants. The Board indicated that it saw no compelling reason to change the Amateur Extra class license requirements. The ARRL plan calls on the FCC to combine the current Advanced and Amateur Extra class licensees into Amateur Extra, because the technical level of the exams passed by these licensees is very similar. New applicants for Extra would have to pass a 5 WPM Morse code examination, and the written exam would stay the same. Sumner said the Board felt that the highest level of accomplishment should include basic Morse capability. Current Novice, Tech Plus and General licensees would receive lifetime 5 WPM Morse credit. Among other advantages, Sumner said the plan would allow new Novices to participate in HF SSB emergency nets on 75 and 40 meters as well as on the top 100 kHz of 15 meters. The new license also could get another name, Sumner said. "We're trying to recapture the magic of the old Novice license, but in a manner that's appropriate for the 21st century." The overall proposed ARRL license restructuring plan would more smoothly integrate HF spectrum privileges across the three license classes and would incorporate the "Novice refarming" plan the League put forth nearly two years ago in a Petition for Rule Making (RM-10413). The FCC has not yet acted on the ARRL plan, which would alter current HF subbands. The ARRL license restructuring design calls for no changes in privileges for Extra and General class licensees on 160, 60, 30, 20, 17 or 12 meters. Novice licensees would have no access to those bands. See "ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access" on the ARRL Web site, <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2004/01/19/1/>, for the specific subband allocations ARRL is proposing for each class. The amateur community and other interested parties will have an opportunity to comment on the ARRL proposal once the League formally files a Petition for Rule Making and the FCC puts it on public notice. ==>ARRL TO ESTABLISH MENTORING PROGRAMS To help new licensees and those seeking to expand their horizons get more out of Amateur Radio, the ARRL Board of Directors has approved development of a four-level set of Amateur Radio mentoring programs. Proposed by the Volunteer Resources Committee, the programs will be designed this year. The mentoring program levels will be known as ARRL Club Mentor, ARRL Mentor, Interactive Mentor and Special Interest Mentor. The ARRL Club Mentor will involve the participation of ARRL-affiliated clubs in close cooperation with ARRL Headquarters staff. Affiliated clubs will be encouraged to actively participate in this program to "mainstream" more people, licensed and otherwise, into Amateur Radio. The club mentor program also has the additional benefit of potentially increasing a club's membership as well. The ARRL Mentor program will work through ARRL Headquarters. An ARRL mentor is a person with an interest in mentoring--or "Elmering"--new licensees who may or may not be members of an ARRL-affiliated club. ARRL Headquarters staff will support these mentors, who must be ARRL members. The Interactive Mentor is intended to aid enterprising new hams via the ARRL Web site by providing answers to basic questions and through forums, where discourse between new hams and mentors would help new hams to get on the air. The Special Interest Mentor is intended to match people with interests in advanced, specialized areas of Amateur Radio technology with mentors who are experienced in these technologies. The ARRL Web site would refer interested members to special interest Web sites and reflectors as part of this mentoring effort. In a somewhat related action, the Board approved a motion directing ARRL staff to study various organizations that might be able to integrate Amateur Radio into their activities. Such groups might include, but not be limited to, recreational vehicle and boating groups as well as the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Civil Air Patrol. In addition, the Board voted to request that the new Programs and Services Committee (PSC) investigate the possibility of establishing Amateur Radio special interest group pages on the ARRL Web site. Special interests might include such activities as AM phone operation, new technologies, VHF-UHF "weak-signal" operation and Amateur TV. Under Board-approved bylaws changes, the PSC will subsume the functions of the Volunteer Resources and Membership Services committees. The Board also asked ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ--working with the League's Washington, DC, staff and consultants--to provide a package of materials to each director, vice director and section manager that would aid them in organizing a grassroots Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) lobbying campaign. The materials would be designed to provide guidance to individual amateurs and Amateur Radio clubs in how to establish dialogue with members of Congress concerning the potential of harmful BPL interference. In other matters, the ARRL Board: * agreed on a 10-5 vote to a bylaw change that reduces the ARRL membership senior discount (for members in the US and possessions) from $5 per year to $3, effective immediately. The basic dues rate remains at $39; the new senior rate is $36. * agreed that the Executive Committee should continue work on a proposal to define Amateur Radio frequency subbands by bandwidth rather than by emission type. * directed the creation of an ad hoc committee to develop plans and procedures for an effective grassroots lobbying campaign during the current congressional session that would involve ARRL directors, vice directors, section managers and ARRL members. * approved an action plan to complete implementation of recommendations in Volunteer Resources Committee Final Report to the ARRL Board of Directors, An Evaluation of the ARRL's Field Organization, presented at the Board's July 2003 meeting. ==>ARRL BOARD RE-ELECTS INCUMBENT OFFICERS As reported (The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 03), the ARRL Board of Directors re-elected President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, to a third two-year term during its Annual Meeting January 16-17. There were no other nominees for the post, and the Board re-elected Haynie without opposition. Also winning new, two-year terms without opposition were ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, and Second Vice President Kay Craigie, N3KN. Board members agreed with a proposal to eliminate the third vice president's position being vacated by Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, who was named as an ARRL Honorary Vice President. The Board indicated it was doing away with the third VP slot as a cost-saving measure and because the position was considered superfluous. The Board also re-elected International Affairs Vice President Rod Stafford, W6ROD. Other ARRL officers elected without opposition were Executive Vice President/CEO/Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ; Treasurer Jim McCobb, W1LLU; Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY; Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, and Chief Operating Officer Mark Wilson, K1RO. The Board created a new position of Chief Technology Officer and named Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, to fill it. Rinaldo heads the League's Technical Relations Office in Fairfax, Virginia. The Board agreed to increase the number of directors who sit on the ARRL Executive Committee and also named members to the panel. Chosen to sit on the EC were Directors Rick Roderick, K5UR, Delta Division; Jay Bellows, K0QB, Dakota Division; Walt Stinson, W0CP, Rocky Mountain Division; Frank Fallon, N2FF, Hudson Division, and Dick Isely, W9GIG, Central Division. Haynie chairs the EC, and Harrison and Sumner sit on the panel as non-voting members. In addition, the Board filled three expiring seats on the ARRL Foundation Board. Fallon, Stinson and Southeastern Division Director Frank Butler, W4RH, were elected. Stinson is a newcomer to the Foundation Board. ==>FCC'S ABERNATHY ACKNOWLEDGES AMATEUR RADIO BPL CONCERNS In a seeming shift away from "Broadband Nirvana," FCC Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy <http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/abernathy/> this week specifically cited Amateur Radio concerns about the interference potential of Broadband Over Power Line (BPL). In remarks prepared for delivery at her alma mater, the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law <http://www.law.edu/>, Abernathy said BPL should not be widely deployed before dealing with ham radio's interference fears. "I recognize that Amateur Radio licensees have raised concerns about harmful interference," Abernathy said, "and that is something that will have to be addressed before any mass market deployment can occur." She addressed the convocation "The Journey to Convergence: Challenges and Opportunities" January 22 on the school's Washington, DC campus. Abernathy said that if engineers can find a way to prevent harmful interference to other radio services, BPL would represent "a tremendous advance for consumers, because it could bring broadband to any home that has electricity." In her speech, "Overview of the Road to Convergence: New Realities Collide with Old Rules," Abernathy called BPL "another promising technology" that electric utilities have already successfully field tested. As an "add-on service to the existing electrical grid," she said, BPL might be a cost-effective alternative to provide broadband service to rural and other "underserved comunities." Missing from her remarks was any mention of interference worries that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have expressed to the FCC in the BPL proceeding. Abernathy drew fire from the Amateur Radio community last September after she expressed unabashed enthusiasm for BPL in a talk before the United Powerline Council's <http://www.uplc.utc.org/> annual conference. In that talk, she'd suggested that BPL was a step along the pathway to "Broadband Nirvana." The ARRL led the barrage of strong objections in the wake of Abernathy's characterization. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, pointed out that preliminary testing already had established BPL is a significant source of radio spectrum pollution" and that BPL could not be implemented without causing harmful interference to radio services. Abernathy's office later conceded that her "Broadband Nirvana" speech may have failed to make sufficiently clear her concerns about potential BPL interference. More than 5100 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) <http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/>. ==>ARRL BOARD NAMES HUMANITARIAN, LEONARD AWARD WINNERS The ARRL Board of Directors has named winners of the 2003 ARRL International Humanitarian Award and the 2003 Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award. The action came during the Board's Annual Meeting. Humanitarian Award winners Mike Young, KM9D, and Jan Heaton, KF4TUG, sailed last April from Kanton Island, the Republic of Kiribati, carrying medical supplies for a 16-year old girl--unconscious and bleeding and in desperate need of medical attention--aboard a motor vessel adrift without power some 100 nautical miles west of Kanton Island. At great personal risk, Young and Heaton set out in their 10-meter sailing vessel, eventually caught up with the distressed vessel and were able deliver medical and other supplies. Once under way, they maintained Amateur Radio contact with amateurs in the Seattle, Washington, area--among them Bob Preston, W7TSQ, who contacted the US Coast Guard in California and was put through to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Hawaii. The US Coast Guard cutter/icebreaker Polar Sea also intercepted the drifting ship to render additional assistance. The Polar Sea took the young woman, an elderly man and an interpreter aboard and provided medical treatment. The young woman reportedly has made a good recovery and returned to Kiribati. Young said this week that he and Heaton "are proud of our performance and humbled by the recognition awarded." As winners of the 2003 ARRL International Humanitarian Award, Heaton and Young will receive a plaque or medallion. The 2003 Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award was awarded to Sari Krieger, a staff writer with Virginia's Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger. This award goes annually to a professional journalist or group of journalists for outstanding coverage of Amateur Radio in TV, radio, print or multimedia. The winner receives an engraved plaque and a check for $500. Krieger's winning submission was a story about the negative effects of Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) on Amateur Radio, and the concerns of ham radio operators nationwide. Her story focused on the city of Manassas, Virginia, and its plans to implement BPL citywide. Members of the League's Public Relations Committee judged the Leonard Award nominations. Krieger's entry was judged the best of six entries received. In Amateur Radio circles, Bill Leonard--a former president of CBS--is remembered for his 1958 contribution to Sports Illustrated, "The Battle of the Hams," which describes the "sport of DXing." Leonard died in 1994. In 1996, he was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. ==>AMSAT-NA ECHO SATELLITE MOVES ANOTHER STEP CLOSER TO LAUNCH The AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO satellite has edged a bit closer being launch-ready. An initial integration effort recently determined that 90 percent of the hardware onboard the new satellite tested out successfully, AMSAT-NA <http://www.amsat.org/> reports. During the next six weeks or so, the development team will resolve various outstanding issues, and final integration will be scheduled. "The launch window opens in late March, so the satellite is coming together on plan," said AMSAT Marketing Manager Jim Jarvis, N2EA. He says there's still time for satellite enthusiasts who donate to the ECHO project to have their names placed in orbit aboard the new satellite. "The names of all contributors will be placed inside the ECHO satellite," he said. AMSAT-NA has not yet reached its $110,000 goal to pay for the AO-ECHO launch. Jim White, WD0E, and Mike Kingery, KE4AZN, headed the integration team assembled in December at SpaceQuest in Fairfax, Virginia. In addition to hardware testing, the integration team also wrapped up telemetry calibration for the new bird. AMSAT says that even the experimental L-band receiver and S-band transmitter functioned well during their first tests. The satellite is tentatively set to go into space from Russia on March 31. AO-ECHO's planned sun-synchronous orbit will be approximately 800 km above Earth. Among other capabilities, AO-ECHO will allow satellite voice communication using handheld FM transceivers. Visit the AMSAT AO-ECHO Web page <http://www.amsat.org/amsat/sats/echo/index.html> for additional details. ESHLEMAN CLAIMS FOURTH STRAIGHT DXCC CHALLENGE DeSOTO CUP For the fourth year in a row, Bob Eshleman, W4DR, has won the Clinton B. DeSoto Cup for having the most DXCC band-entities in the DXCC Challenge Award program <http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/listings/challenge.html>. When ARRL released the 2003 standings this week, they showed Eshleman still at the top of the heap with 3083 points. While as excited about Amateur Radio as ever, the veteran DXer is not optimistic about making it five in a row, however. "I have been DXing for 54 years, and I still think it the greatest sport in the world," he said. "2003 was a very dry year, as I only worked four new band-entities all year, one each on 160, 30, 17 and 6. This will probably be my last year at the top." The DXCC Challenge Award is achieved by working and confirming at least 1000 DXCC band-entities on the amateur bands 1.8 through 54 MHz. Entities for each band are totaled to give the Challenge standing. For example, contacting Romania on 40, 20, 17 and 12 meters would give a Challenge participant four points, and six more points for Romania would still be possible. A maximum of 3350 points is possible--335 DXCC entities times 10 bands. The latest DXCC Challenge totals reflect checked card submissions through September 30, 2003. Eshleman, a past chairman of the ARRL DX Advisory Committee, holds Five-Band DXCC certificate No 1. He's also a member of the CQ Contest and DX Hall of Fame. Elsewhere in the top rung, Leif Ottosen, OZ1LO, took over third place on the list in 2003 with 3051 points. Ken Bolin, W1NG, holds down the number-two slot with 3076. Both will be awarded medals for their finishes. Rounding out the top 10 were: 4, Rick Roderick, K5UR, 3049; 5, Rys Tymkiewicz, SP5EWY, 3045; 6, Randy Schaaf, W9ZR, 3042; 7, Austin Regal, N4WW, 3037; 8, Fausto Minardi, I4EAT, 3035; 9, Joe Reisert, W1JR, 3021; 10, Don Karvonen, K8MFO, 3018. So far, 1337 hams have earned the DXCC Challenge Award. The complete list in on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/listings/challenge.html>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Sol man Tad "Sunrise, Sunset" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers and solar flux rose modestly this week. Sunspot numbers were up by nearly four, and solar flux rose by nine points. Last week, we reported that we were entering a solar wind, and its effects can be seen in the planetary A index for last Friday. Geomagnetic indices were down by Saturday. On Monday, January 19, energy from a coronal mass ejection hit Earth, but it only caused high geomagnetic activity at high latitudes. A strong solar wind from another coronal mass ejection hit earth at 0130 UTC on January 22 causing a strong geomagnetic storm. Another coronal mass ejection should hit earth on January 23 or 24, although latest projections on Thursday show predicted planetary A index for January 23-26, Friday through Monday at 25, 15, 15 and 10. Sunspot numbers for January 15 through 21 were 57, 68, 56, 72, 87, 94 and 104, with a mean of 76.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 119.1, 120.3, 122.6, 119.5, 134.6, 128.9 and 130.1, with a mean of 125. Estimated planetary A indices were 16, 26, 14, 18, 17, 16 and 12, with a mean of 17. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, the CQ 160-Meter Contest (CW), the REF Contest (CW) and the BARTG RTTY Sprint are the weekend of January 24-25. JUST AHEAD: The North American Sprint (CW) and the UBA DX Contest (SSB) are the weekend of January 31-February 1. 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 Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the ARRL RFI (EC-006) and the ARRL Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009) courses opens Monday, January 26, 12:01 AM EST (0501 UTC). Registration will remain open through Sunday, February 1. Classes for RFI (EC-006) begin Tuesday February 3. Classes for Antenna Design and Construction, (EC-009) begin Tuesday February 10. Registration for the ARRL HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and UHF-VHF Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses remains open through Sunday, January 25. 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 learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page. For more information, contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department <email@example.com>. * Correction/clarification: The story "Austrian Authorities Pull Plug on BPL Pilot Project," in The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 2 (Jan 9, 2004), contained some incorrect information. Austrian Amateur Transmitter Federation President Mike Zwingl, OE3MZC, explained this week that the Austrian Ministry for Commerce, Innovation and Technology last fall requested that the Linz Power Company's BPL project immediately halt all instances of interference. But the Ministry fell short of altogether shutting down the pilot project, which continues to operate. Zwingl said authorities did order a BPL shutdown at one location where BPL was causing harmful interference to a radio amateur, however. "The press did read it differently," he conceded. Zwingl said that BPL has been deployed over a large part of Linz, and all power lines--not just individual BPL users--are radiating HF interference. Legal action reportedly is pending. * DXCC rule change adopted: At its January meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors removed paragraph 1.c) "The entity has a separate IARU member-society" from the criteria for determining a DXCC entity. This provision, implemented in 1998 as part of the DXCC 2000 Program, had provided that "An entity will be added to the DXCC List as a political entity if it. . . has a separate IARU member-society." Since then, the rule has allowed for the addition of four new DXCC entities and the retention of one existing entity. Unfortunately, the provision also had the unintended consequence of stimulating applications for IARU membership that do not further the objectives of the IARU, creating an unfortunate and unnecessary administrative burden. The rule change will have no effect on entities created by or as the result of the rule. According to DXCC Rule II, 5. C), "A change in the DXCC criteria shall not affect the status of any entity on the DXCC List at the time of the change." The other two criteria for the determination of a political entity for DXCC continue in effect. * Northern Florida ARES group activates after bus mishap: Duval County, Florida, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) activated on the morning of January 18 after a bus rolled over in Jacksonville near the junction of Interstates 10 and 95. ARRL Crown District Emergency Coordinator Miller Norton, N4RYX, reports the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) initiated the Northern Florida ARES group's activation through an automatic telephone notification service. "In Duval County, ARES is automatically paged out by JFRD communications when a Level III mass-casualty incident occurs," Miller explained. "Level III means an event with 22 or more casualties. We began receiving radio check-ins within moments of launching the system." In all some 30 ARES members checked into the net. The bus had rolled down an embankment, landing upright, Norton said. More than 20 injured bus passengers--both adults and children--were transported to three area hospitals. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening. Duval County ARES dispatched amateur operators to the three hospitals receiving victims. Ten JFRD rescue units and five private ambulances responded to the scene along with other emergency vehicles and the JFRD Command and Communications Center mobile unit, Norton said. The call-up service Duval ARES uses is a telephone message-forwarding service called CallingPost.org, which is able to alert all ARES members quickly once an activation has been called. "This is a superior way to notify ARES members without the need for a telephone tree, which wastes precious time," Norton said. "Hats off to Duval County EC Bob Nelson, N4CUZ, and his group for a job well done!" * Hamfest will happen, despite fire: Dixiefest 2004, the annual Memphis hamfest, will take place February 14-15 despite a fire in December that destroyed the Shelby County Building, the hamfest's home for the past few years. Dixiefest Committee members opted to move the event to the Pipkin Building which is also at the Mid-South Fairgrounds and only a few feet from the old location. "The fire created a big problem for the Dixiefest Committee," said Ben Troughton, event chairman, "but now that we have decided to move next door to the more modern Pipkin Building, I think we're going to continue our tradition and put together another great Dixiefest." Those planning to attend or sell at Dixiefest are invited to visit the event's Web site <http://www.dixiefest.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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