*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 06 February 6, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +BPL rule making proposal on FCC meeting agenda * +Growing Education & Technology Program "big" on enthusiasm * +Alleged 10-meter offenders hear from FCC * +ISS commander QSOs students at his UK alma mater * +Vermont amateurs urged to support state antenna bill * +AO-40 command team hoping for a break * +New Jersey hams turn youngsters on to Amateur Radio * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Attention ARRL-Affiliated clubs DXCC Honor Roll deadline looms Correction Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineers honors FCC engineer RadioFest 2004 moves to Monterey Sculpture auctioned, proceeds to ECHO project +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>FCC POISED TO RELEASE BPL NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING The FCC appears poised to release a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in the Broadband over Power Line (BPL) proceeding. When it meets February 12, the Commission is to consider an NPRM concerning changes to its Part 15 rules as they apply to so-called "access" BPL systems. Last April the Commission issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in ET Docket 03-104 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-100A1.doc> seeking input on possibly amending Part 15 regarding new requirements and measurement guidelines for access BPL. Issuance of an NPRM would mark the next step in the BPL proceeding. The BPL NOI has attracted more than 5100 comments. Many within the amateur community, including the ARRL and AMRAD <http://www.amrad.org/>, have expressed concerns that BPL will wreak havoc on the HF amateur bands, since the technology would apply high-frequency RF to parts of the power grid. One aspect of the NOI was to gather information on potential interference effects on authorized spectrum users. FCC Chairman Michael Powell recently acknowledged interference concerns raised by the amateur community and by at least two federal agencies: the Federal Emergency Management Agency--now part of the Department of Homeland Security--and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which manages spectrum allocated to government users. "We will continue to explore ways to support this technology while protecting services from interference," the FCC chairman pledged in a January 14 address to the National Press Club. Last month, US Representative Greg Walden, WB7OCE, called on Powell to put off further FCC action in the BPL proceeding until the NTIA had released the results of its BPL study and the public has had a chance to comment. "I feel that it is important to give the NTIA study thorough consideration before proceeding further with BPL technology, in view of the importance of avoiding interference to federal government HF communications," Walden said January 15 in a letter to Powell. An Oregon Republican, Walden is one of two Amateur Radio licensees in the US House. The NTIA has expressed "broad concerns" about BPL's potential to interfere with government HF users. Its BPL field work was scheduled to wrap up in January, and its observations and conclusions are expected to be released sometime during the first quarter of this year. The ARRL's own BPL field engineering study is still under way. It will explore how BPL might affect HF and low-VHF amateur operation as well as how Amateur Radio operation could affect BPL systems. Additional information about BPL and Amateur Radio is on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/>. To support the League's efforts in this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web site <https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/bpl/>. ==>AMATEUR RADIO EDUCATION & TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM'S RANKS, ENTHUSIASM EXPAND Since becoming ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program Coordinator some six months ago, Mark Spencer, WA8SME, has seen the number of the program's pilot schools rise from 50 to 70. Fourteen schools came aboard last fall, while another three schools already in the program received progress grants of up to $500 to help them continue their program activities. "The new schools coming onboard are approaching this program with a lot of enthusiasm that I hope will continue," Spencer said. He's hoping their upbeat attitude will be infectious, and that other schools will follow the lead of the ones that have experienced the greatest success. "The success of a program school boils down to the teacher, community and administration support and local Amateur Radio club support," Spencer says. "Those schools that can get all these things together are really doing well." The ARRL program subsidizes the cost of an Amateur Radio station for each participating school--typically about $2800, Spencer says. To better spell out the League's expectations, lead teachers and principals now must agree in writing to make a good-faith effort to integrate Amateur Radio and wireless technology into their curricula for at least three years. "We have a responsibility to our donors," Spencer explains. Spencer sees his role as supporting pilot schools by helping teachers to integrate the Education and Technology Program's curriculum into their classroom pursuits. "This has to be a grassroots activity," he says. The program curriculum is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/Curriculum-Materials.html>. On the other hand, he recognizes that schools in recent months have faced heavy budget cuts that have compelled school administrators to pull back on enrichment activities. "Our program has mitigated the costs for schools," said Spencer. But since the ARRL cannot provide much more than initial seed money for equipment, affiliation with a local club becomes all the more essential. Not just money but time is at a premium for today's educators, especially for extra-curricular activities. "Teachers are already stretched too thin," he says. That's where local Amateur Radio clubs come in. "The clubs can do a better job than we can do from here in supporting a participating school's program." Some clubs have provided additional equipment to the schools too. Even more important: Club members often offer their ham radio experience and expertise to mentor youngsters in participating schools. Spencer says it's hard to put a price tag on that kind of contribution. While the Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program typically is an after-school activity, Spencer says more and more schools are integrating Amateur Radio into their science curriculum. More private schools also are applying to participate, and even home-schooled youngsters are making use of the program's curriculum, he notes. Spencer reports there have been more than 1200 downloads so far. Although licensing students is not a primary program goal, many youngsters have become Amateur Radio operators as a result of their program involvement. More important to Spencer is the exposure to technology the program provides. "They're spending an average of five hours per week talking about wireless technology and Amateur Radio," he says. There's more information about the ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/>. The ARRL Development Office invites support for this initiative <https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/education/index.html>. ==>FCC GOES AFTER ALLEGED 10-METER SCOFFLAWS The FCC is working on at least two fronts to eliminate unlicensed operation from the 10-meter band. In January, FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth sent warning notices to two shipping companies regarding reports to the Commission that some of the companies' vehicles may be the source of illegal radio transmissions on the amateur band. One of the companies, UPS, has offered its full cooperation. "Many truckers use CB radio, which does not require a license," Hollingsworth pointed out in letters to UPS offices in Ohio and Indiana and to R&L Transfer Inc of Ohio. "However, any person using a radio transmitter on the Amateur Radio bands must possess a station and operator license." Hollingsworth asked the over-the-road shippers to advise their drivers that such radio operation could subject them to heavy fines and seizure of their radio equipment. UPS Attorney Daniel N. Tenfelde responded to assure Hollingsworth that his company was taking its Warning Notice seriously and has launched a full investigation. "We discovered that some employees had obtained CB radios that contained a mechanism allowing them to switch frequencies into the 10-meter Amateur Radio band," he told Hollingsworth in a January 28 letter. "It is not UPS policy to allow equipment such as this to be used in our vehicles." He said UPS' contract with the Teamsters Union allows only for CB radios. Tenfelde said UPS is working with its transportation and labor groups to let drivers know that such unlicensed operation violates both UPS policy and FCC regulations. In a parallel development, the FCC issued a Citation to Jonathan Edward Stone, doing business as Omnitronics/Pacetronics for alleged violation of §302(b) of the Communications Act and §2.803(a)(1) of the Commission's rules. An investigation by the FCC's Dallas field office led the Commission to allege that Omnitronics/Pacetronics was offering more than two dozen uncertificated "Citizens Band" transceivers via its Web site. The FCC says Omnitronics/Pacetronics was marketing the units as Amateur Radio equipment, which does not require FCC certification (formerly known as "type acceptance"). "The Commission has evaluated radio frequency devices similar to those listed and concluded that the devices at issue are not only amateur radios but can easily be altered for use as Citizens Band devices as well," said the FCC Citation from FCC Dallas District Director James D. Wells. The FCC said it concluded that the devices fall within the definition of CB transmitters that "cannot legally be imported or marketed in the United States." That would include so-called "export" models, the Citation said, pointing to a 2000 revision of §2.1204(a)(5) of its rules. Citing §95.655(a) of the FCC's rules, Wells noted that "dual-use CB and Amateur Radio of the kind at issue here may not be certificated under the Commission's rules." The clarification was added to Part 95--which governs the Citizens Band--"to explicitly foreclose the possibility of certification of dual-use CB and amateur radios and thereby deter use by CB operators of frequencies allocated for Amateur Radio use," he said. The FCC Citation also warned Unitronics/Pacetronics regarding the requirement of FCC certification of external RF amplifiers or amplifier kits capable of operating below 144 MHz as well as the prohibition against marketing RF amplifiers or amplifier kits capable of operating between 24 and 35 MHz. ==>FOALE SPEAKS VIA HAM RADIO TO STUDENTS AT HIS ALMA MATER International Space Station Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, has told students at The King's School in Canterbury, England, that he believes human spaceflight has some significant advantages over robotic space exploration. The British-born Foale, who once attended the school, answered a dozen questions during a January 28 school group QSO with NA1SS arranged through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. "When the people get there they actually have to experience it firsthand, they can communicate it better," Foale said of human space exploration, "but most important they can understand the unusual things in a way that the robots never could." He also pointed out that people are very good at fixing things that go wrong, and added, "that's something I do quite a lot of up here." In reply to a question about how well his training on Earth prepared him for living in space, Foale said his pre-flight training was sufficient to learn the technical aspects but was unable to truly replicate the environment of space--"the weightlessness, the view, and the brightness of the sun and the darkness of space." Foale said he believes a new phase in spaceflight is on the horizon. "I think the most significant one will be commercial spaceflight," he told the students. President George Bush's recent call to refocus NASA's goals toward landings on the moon and Mars set a tone that he hopes the rest of the world will follow, he said. At the school, control operator Carlos Eavis, G0AKI, used the call sign GB4FUN, which was borrowed from the Radio Society of Great Britain for the occasion. Among those on hand were the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, school dignitaries, representatives of the RSGB and AMSAT-UK, other students and members of the news media. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss> is an international educational outreach program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. ==>AMATEUR RADIO ANTENNA BILL IN PLAY IN VERMONT Vermont amateurs are hoping their state will be the 21st to adopt Amateur Radio antenna legislation based on the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/local/prb-1.html>. A bill in the Vermont House, H.602, not only would incorporate the essence of PRB-1's stance that local governments must "reasonably accommodate" Amateur Radio communication with "minimal practicable regulation," it would include a schedule of minimum regulatory heights for antenna structures. H.602 has been referred to the House Local Government Committee. "We need you to contact your local state representative and state senator and ask them to support and/or cosponsor House Bill H.602," Vermont ARRL Section Manager Paul Gayet, AA1SU, said in a letter to all Vermont hams. "We need to get it out of committee and onto the House floor." Gayet says the bill's sponsor, Rep Ira Trombley of Grand Isle, already has testified on behalf of the measure in committee, and the legislative pace is picking up. "Time is of the essence," Gayet said. As drafted, H.602 would, in general, prohibit localities from restricting the overall height of an Amateur Radio antenna and associated support structure to less than 75 feet above ground level on lots smaller than one acre. On larger tracts, the measure would keep municipalities from restricting the height of an Amateur Radio antenna system to "less than that specified in 47 C.F.R. §97.15(a)" of the FCC's Amateur Service rules. While that provision does not actually specify a maximum height, it does require owners of antenna structures more than 200 feet above ground level and located at or near a public airport to notify the Federal Aviation Administration and register them with the FCC. Under the proposed legislation, municipalities could not restrict the number of antenna structures for any lot size. Special provisions would prevail in "duly designated design control or historic districts." There municipalities would be permitted to restrict antennas and associated support structures to overall heights of less than 75 feet, but they could not altogether prohibit ham radio antennas and support structures. In such circumstances, an Amateur Radio antenna and support structure could be at least as tall as "the highest permissible construction in any other location" within the district. The Vermont bill would essentially grandfather all Amateur Radio antennas and support structures constructed prior to the effective date of the proposed law and would permit their repair or replacement without further permitting or municipal review. Gayet credits ARRL Vermont Volunteer Counsel Trevor Lewis, KD1YT, for drafting the legislation. A copy of the bill is on the Vermont legislative Web site <http://www.leg.state.vt.us/database/status/status.cfm>. Vermont amateurs may find their local House of Representatives and Senate members by visiting the Vermont Legislature Legislative Directory Web site <http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/legdir2.htm>. ==>AO-40 COMMAND TEAM PLAYS WAITING GAME Ground controllers for the now-dark AO-40 satellite are waiting for something to break aboard the spacecraft. Specifically, they want one of the cells of the main battery bank to open up and "unshort" the power bus. That open circuit then could mean the command team would be able use the auxiliary batteries--now tied in parallel with the main battery bank--to restart the satellite. The command team hypothesizes that a failure within the main battery is clamping the bus voltage low. In the hope that a receiver still is operating despite the low voltage, the command team continues to signal AO-40 to turn off its main batteries and turn on the auxiliary batteries and the 2.4 GHz "S2" downlink transmitter. "If we have approximately 10 V on the main bus, then these commands should be making it through," said ground controller Stacey Mills, W4SM, "but the S2 transmitter was not designed to run below 20 V and is not coming on." AO-40 has been silent since January 27 (UTC), in the wake of a precipitous voltage drop. The satellite's controllers believe that one or more shorted battery cells are at the root of the problem. Mills said the AO-40 command team assumes the bus voltage aboard AO-40 is lower than 12 V, and that the onboard IHU-1 ("internal housekeeping unit") computer, the command receivers or the battery changeover relay have insufficient power to operate. There's some conjecture that the current problem may be related to the near-catastrophic incident that occurred onboard AO-40 in December 2000 less than a month after its launch during testing of the 400-newton propulsion system. Following that incident, the AO-40 command team was able to restore some of the satellite's functionality. Updates on the AO-40 situation are being posted on the AMSAT-DL Web site <http://www.amsat-dl.org/journal/adlj-p3d.htm#NEWS>. There's additional information on AO-40 on the AMSAT-NA Web site <http://www.amsat.org/>. ==>NEW JERSEY AMATEURS PROMOTE HAM RADIO TO YOUNGSTERS Amateurs in the Trenton, New Jersey, area were out in force over the January 10-11 weekend to promote Amateur Radio at the New Jersey State Museum's "Super Science Weekend." It marked the first time ham radio was included in the annual event, which attracts nearly 10,000 children and parents. Super Science Weekend this year included a large Amateur Radio display and working HF and VHF stations. "Many of the children liked learning to send their names in Morse code using a straight key and code practice oscillator," said ARRL PIO Gary Wilson, K2GW, who coordinated the event. Visitors saw the ARRL's Amateur Radio Today video, which explains Amateur Radio's role in emergencies. They also could get literature on how to get started in Amateur Radio, including information on licensing classes. Contacts were made on SSB and PSK31 using the Delaware Valley Radio Association's W2ZQ. Taking advantage of record cold temperatures, the ingenious hams used gallon jugs filled with water and frozen to the pavement to provide antenna support guy wire anchors. Led by the Delaware Valley Radio Association, hams from the Warminster Amateur Radio Club and the David Sarnoff Radio Club also pitched in to provide 15 hours of continuous coverage over the two-day event. The amateurs now hope ham radio will become a regular feature of the Super Science Weekend. "Only by introducing kids to Amateur Radio can we assure a solid future for our hobby and our ability to serve the nation," Wilson concluded. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar seer Tad "Shooting Star" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspots are back in view. Last week's update reported two days with no sunspots, but this week the average daily sunspot number rose 28 points to 66.7. This is nice for short-term HF propagation, but now that January has passed, a look at monthly averages shows a clear decline in the sunspot cycle. The monthly average of daily sunspot numbers in January 2003 through January 2004 were 150.0, 87.9, 119.7, 114.3, 89.6, 118.4, 132.8, 114.3, 82.6, 118.9, 103, 75.7 and 62.3. Average daily solar flux values over the same months were 144, 124.5, 133.5, 126.8, 116.6, 129.4, 127.7, 122.1, 112.2, 155.5, 140.8, 116.1 and 114.1. You can see that over the past 13 months average daily sunspot numbers dipped below 100 several times but were never below 82.6 until December and January, when they dropped to 75.7 and 62.3. Look for declining solar activity over the next few years, with the predicted bottom of the solar cycle still three years off. Right now sunspot 551 is moving into the center of the visible solar disk, the place where sunspots have the most effect on earth. Geomagnetic conditions at mid-day today were unsettled, but unless the active region around sunspot 551 spews forth, conditions should be normal over the next few days. Predicted solar flux February 6-9 is 105-110. Solar flux values should peak around 130 toward the middle of the month. Sunspot numbers for January 29 through February 4 were 25, 42, 49, 57, 106, 103 and 85, with a mean of 66.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 87.4, 92.7, 94.4, 97.3, 101.5, 99.4 and 101.4, with a mean of 96.3. Estimated planetary A indices were 10, 17, 12, 11, 21, 17 and 15, with a mean of 14.7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (SSB), the Delaware, Minnesota and Vermont QSO parties, the QRP ARCI Winter Fireside SSB Sprint, the FYBO Winter QRP Field Day, the 10-10 International Winter Contest (SSB), the AGCW Straight Key Party and the Mexico RTTY International Contest are the weekend of February 7-8. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL School Club Roundup, the KCJ Topband Contest, the CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest, SARL Kid's Day, SARL Field Day Contest, the Asia-Pacific Spring Sprint (CW), the Dutch PACC Contest, the OMISS QSO Party, the FISTS Winter Sprint and the RSGB First 1.8 MHz Contest (CW) are the weekend of February 14-15. The AGCW Semi-Automatic Key Evening is February 18. The ARRL International DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of February 21-22. 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, February 9, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level II Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains open through the February 14-15 weekend or until all seats are filled--whichever occurs first. Class begins Tuesday, February 24. 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 60 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) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page 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 Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the ARRL Antenna Modeling (EC-004) courses opens Monday, February 9, 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration will remain open through Sunday, February 16. Classes begin Tuesday February 17. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program Department email@example.com. * Attention ARRL-Affiliated clubs: To be considered actively affiliated with ARRL, a club needs to update its record with ARRL Headquarters at least once per year--or as often as necessitated by changes in the club. If your club has not recently submitted an update with ARRL, please visit "The Affiliated Club Annual Report Form" page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/club/forms/fsd2/>. Follow the instructions under "How to submit an update for your club records." Special Service Clubs need to submit an update as well by visiting the "Form FSD-7 Application for Renewal as an ARRL Special Service Club" page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/club/forms/fsd7/renewal.html>. * DXCC Honor Roll deadline looms: The deadline to appear in the next DXCC Honor Roll listing is March 31. Submissions must be postmarked by that date for submissions to be included. The DXCC Honor Roll list will appear in August 2004 QST. At present there are 335 entities on the DXCC List, and you must be within the numerical top 10 DXCC entities to qualify. The minimum requirement for Honor Roll now is 326 current entities. * Correction: In the story "SSB, Radar Pioneer Mike Villard, W6QYT, SK," which appeared in The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 05 (Jan 30), we incorrectly described a civilian award to Villard from the Department of Defense. We should have said that among his awards for contributions to the military were a Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Air Force and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. * Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineers honors FCC engineer: The IEEE has named FCC engineer Michael J. Marcus, N3JMM, of the Office of Engineering and Technology as an IEEE Fellow for "leadership in the development of spectrum management policies." The honor recognizes IEEE members having an extraordinary record of accomplishment. "I am pleased that the IEEE has chosen to recognize Mike's contributions in the field of radio technologies," said his boss, OET Chief Ed Thomas. "Mike's creative technological vision significantly advanced policies that led to the deployment of spread spectrum and Wi-Fi. The rank of Fellow is a fitting tribute to Mike's extensive accomplishments." An ARRL member, Marcus joined OET in 1979. As associate chief for technology, he specializes in spectrum management policy, focusing on technological issues. He has championed changes in FCC rules that enabled spread spectrum, use of unlicensed devices in certain spectrum bands, and use of upper millimeter-wave technologies. He's also provided key direction in establishing a technical approach to solving issues of satellite jamming. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who's fluent in Japanese, Marcus has spent considerable time in Japan both as a visiting researcher at the University of Tokyo and as a Mansfield Fellow.--FCC * RadioFest 2004 moves to Monterey: RadioFest 2004 will be Saturday, February 28, 8 AM until 2 PM, in Monterey, California. Sponsored by the Naval Postgraduate School Amateur Radio Club, the event has evolved into a more casual hamfest with no commercial vendors. RadioFest 2004 will have free Amateur Radio exam sessions, ham equipment swap tables, guest speakers and technical demonstrations. It will be held at the Monterey Moose Family Center, 500 Canyon Del Rey Blvd (Hwy 218), Monterey. Talk-in will be on the K6LY 146.97 repeater (94.8 CTCSS) Swapfest tables are free and available on a first come, first served basis (limit 2) the morning of the event. Doors open for setup only at 6 AM. There's more information on the RadioFest 2004 Web site <http://www.radiofest.org/>.--Brian Broggie, W6FVI * Sculpture auctioned, proceeds to ECHO project: AMSAT-NA reports that its sculpture of AO-40 sold January 31 in an eBay auction for $1225. The proceeds, less sales fees, will benefit the AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO satellite project. AO ECHO is set to launch March 31. There's more information on the eBay Web site <http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3656287556>.--AMSAT News Service =========================================================== 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. 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