*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 08 February 20, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Ham-congressman gets BPL assurances * +2003 an up and down year for ARRL contest entries * +NASA memorializes lost Columbia crew on Earth and Mars * +Pending Morse "@" symbol catches NPR's, hams' attention * +Hawaii considering CC&R legislation * +Nomination deadline nears for ARRL technical awards * +Leland Smith, W5KL, SK * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration ARRL ham radio instructor awards nominations due by March 1 Free activity boards still available to schools Participation up sharply for 2003 FMT Expedition 9 astronaut is KE5AIT! Field Day 2004 packets now available SGC founder, president Pierre Goral, KI7UA, SK Vanity HQ Web site on thin ice Hong Kong, Denmark dropping Morse requirement +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>FCC CHAIRMAN ASSURES CONGRESSMAN ON BPL STUDIES FCC Chairman Michael Powell has assured US Representative Greg Walden, WB7OCE, that the Commission will give "thorough consideration" to all Broadband over Power Line (BPL) studies before it takes final action on BPL. Powell responded February 3 to Walden's January 15 letter requesting that the FCC defer any further action in its BPL proceeding until the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) releases the results of its BPL study and the public has had a chance to comment. On February 12 the FCC took the proceeding to the next level, unanimously approving the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). Among other provisions, the NPRM would require BPL providers to employ "adaptive interference-mitigation techniques." "Please be assured that we have already begun coordination of this action with NTIA," Powell told Walden, "and that the Commission will give all studies, including the forthcoming NTIA study, thorough consideration prior to any final action or rules on the subject." The FCC has not yet released the BPL NPRM nor invited public comments. An Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) briefing at the FCC's February 12 open meeting indicated that the Commission would make no changes in Part 15 rules governing emissions from unlicensed devices. To date, the FCC has released only a public notice on its BPL proposals. Walden, a member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, had told the FCC chairman that, in view of the importance of avoiding interference to federal government HF communications, the FCC should give the pending NTIA study a thorough airing before proposing any rules to govern BPL systems. The Oregon Republican is one of two Amateur Radio licensees in the US House. Commenting on last April's FCC BPL Notice of Inquiry in ET Docket 03-104, the NTIA had expressed "broad concern" about the technology's potential to cause interference to federal government users. The NTIA said the Commission "must ensure that other communications services, especially government operations, are adequately protected from unacceptable interference." An arm of the US Department of Commerce, the NTIA subsequently undertook evaluations of BPL field test sites, in part to gauge the technology's interference potential. The NTIA was supposed to conclude its field work last month, and release its observations and conclusions during the first quarter of this year. The ARRL's own BPL study, which is assessing the potential of interference both from and to BPL systems, also is set to wrap up early this year. Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael Gallagher and NTIA head Michael Gallagher told a December meeting of BPL proponent the Power Line Communications Association that the NTIA was "studying interference risks and potential means for making risks more tolerable." He indicated that the first phase of NTIA's pending BPL study would recommend radiated emission limits, compliance measurement procedures and other conditions in its report to the FCC. At the FCC's February 12 open meeting, Powell pledged that the FCC would continue to be vigilant in the area of BPL's interference potential. Anh Wride of the OET staff, who provided the broad strokes of the pending NPRM, said the FCC recognizes the concerns of licensed radio service users regarding BPL's interference potential. Wride said "licensed operations must be protected," but added that the OET staff believes that "these interference concerns can be adequately addressed." ==>ARRL VHF, RTTY CONTEST ENTRIES UP IN A DOWN YEAR ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, reports that while 2003 saw a net decrease of 2.8 percent in log submissions for all ARRL-sponsored operating events, the downward trend is typical in the aftermath of a solar cycle peak. The 18,434 logs turned in during 2003 represent 539 fewer logs than in 2002, in which there was an all-time record of ARRL contest log submissions. Henderson says HF contest log submissions always follow the solar cycle and then start to drop off, but he also points to the proverbial silver lining in the statistics. "Log submissions were up for six of the events and held steady for several others," he observed. "The largest changes really came from two events: RTTY--experiencing a burst of popularity with the ease of interfacing radios and computers--was up by just over 30 percent, and VHF rose overall by 5 percent." Henderson said preliminary numbers for 2004 show another 20 percent hike in ARRL RTTY Roundup submissions. Henderson said he was encouraged to see some rebound in VHF log submissions--from 2179 in 2002 to 2289 in 2003--although that jump resulted largely from better numbers for the ARRL June VHF QSO Party. Participation was down for the January VHF Sweepstakes as well as for the September VHF QSO Party. The total number of "rovers" active in VHF events, at 272, was the third highest ever, Henderson noted, and within eight logs of the all-time record of 1993. Rover numbers were up by more than 12 percent in 2003 over the previous year, while the percentage of rovers among contest entrants rose slightly. Participation in the ARRL International EME (moonbounce) Competition increased by more than 24 percent in 2003. Sagging propagation got the lion's share of the blame for the drop-off in log submissions for HF events, especially the 10-meter and DX contests. "The decline of Cycle 23 affected submissions for the ARRL 10-Meter Contest in 2003, which was coming off a record number of submissions for any single weekend ARRL event in 2002," he said, "while major solar disturbances impacted the ARRL November Sweepstakes." ARRL 10-Meter Contest submissions were off by 25.5 percent. Sweepstakes logs for both modes were off in 2003 by 6.4 percent. Field Day entries were up by less than one percent over 2002 numbers. Even so, Henderson noted, "If you look back historically, the 18,000+ logs we received in 2003 is very high." The 2003 ARRL Contest Calendar <http://www.arrl.org/contests/calendar.html?year=2003> includes links to results of each operating event as well as the contest soapbox. ==>NASA DEDICATES MEMORIAL, MARTIAN LANDMARKS TO SHUTTLE COLUMBIA CREW The families of the shuttle Columbia crew lost February 1, 2003, and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe this month unveiled a monument at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the astronauts and their mission. The space agency also has dedicated seven Martian hills--one named for each lost crew member--located east of the Spirit rover landing site in honor of the Columbia astronauts. Three of the seven Columbia crew members were Amateur Radio licensees. "This memorial will remind us of the dedication and sacrifice made by those brave individuals willing to risk their own lives to further humanity's knowledge about space exploration," O'Keefe said February 2 at Arlington Cemetery. "Our obligation is to ensure their loss was not in vain. We will return the space shuttle to flight as safe as humanly possible, and we will continue to lead humanity into the unknown." The Columbia, which broke apart while returning from a 16-day science mission, was commanded by Rick Husband and piloted by William McCool. Also aboard were mission specialists Kalpana "KC" Chawlna, KD5ESI; David Brown, KC5ZTC; Laurel Clark, KC5ZSU, and Michael Anderson, and payload specialist Ilan Ramon--a well-known Israeli Air Force pilot. Following the mishap, Amateur Radio volunteers in Texas, Louisiana and other states assisted in the search for shuttle Columbia debris. The Vermont marble memorial bears two bronze plaques portraying the Columbia's crew and the shoulder patch the astronauts wore on their mission. It is located near the shuttle Challenger memorial. An image of the Columbia Hills on Mars is available on the JPL/NASA Web site <http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mer2004/rover-images/feb-02-2004/captions/image-1 0.html>. Additional information is on the NASA Web site <http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/home/F_04_Memorials.html>--NASA ==>NPR FEATURE SPOTLIGHTS ADDITION OF @ SYMBOL TO MORSE CODE Some hams may have thought they'd left their transceivers turned on Tuesday, February 17. That's when the popular National Public Radio <http://www.npr.org/> afternoon news magazine All Things Considered ran a piece about the pending addition of the @ symbol to the official international Morse code lexicon. That's because NPR introduced and closed the nearly four-minute segment with actual CW, catching the ear of many hams. ARRL Chief Technology Officer Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, conceived of the new character, necessary for transmitting e-mail addresses in CW, among other possible purposes. Assuming approval by International Telecommunication Union <http://www.itu.int/home/index.html> member-states, the new character--the first added to the code in many, many years--will be "AC" run together (.--.-.). The new character, Rinaldo says, is both unique in the Morse world as well as a mnemonic (think of an 'a' wrapped in a 'C'). ATC co-host Robert Siegel interviewed ARRL Senior News Editor Rick Lindquist, N1RL, for some background on the change, giving Lindquist an opportunity to mention his passion for mobile CW operation. The short feature, "Morse Code Enters Cyber Age," is available on the National Public Radio Web site, <http://www.npr.org/rundowns/segment.php?wfId=1680529>. ==>HAWAII STATE LEGISLATURE CONSIDERING CC&R BILL A bill to aid Hawaiian amateurs living in subdivisions subject to homeowners' association covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) is under consideration in the Hawaii State Legislature. Introduced January 28 by Rep Ken Hiraki (D-28) at the request of an amateur on Kauai, House Bill 2774 now is pending in the Hawaii House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, which Hiraki chairs. The measure is similar in intent to HR 1478, now in Congress and sponsored by Rep Steve Israel (D-NY). That proposed legislation that would apply the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 to CC&Rs on a nationwide basis. The Hawaii legislative committee may schedule a hearing on the bill as early as next week, and the ARRL plans to submit testimony in support of HB 2774. Hiraki's office is urging hams in Hawaii to contact their legislative representatives as well. The bill, in general, would amend state statutes to permit Amateur Radio licensees living in subdivisions and subject to CC&Rs to install "antennas, conduits, chases, wires, and other telecommunications equipment directly attached to the owner's residence or other permitted structure on the owner's lot." The bill provides that the antenna and telecommunications equipment installation "not directly affect any other lot owner in the subdivision." The text of the proposed legislation is available on the Hawaii State Legislature Web site <http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb2774_.htm>. ==>ARRL TECHNICAL AWARDS NOMINATION DEADLINE LOOMS Nominations for ARRL technical awards recognizing service, innovation and microwave development in the technical arena are due at ARRL Headquarters March 31. Supplemental information must arrive no later than April 15. Nominating forms are available on the ARRL Web site. The ARRL Technical Innovation Award goes each year to a radio amateur or group of radio amateurs whose accomplishments are of the most exemplary nature within the framework of technical research, development and application of new ideas and future systems within an Amateur Radio context. The recipient(s) receive(s) $500 in cash and an engraved plaque. The ARRL Technical Service Award goes each year to a radio amateur or group of radio amateurs whose service to the amateur community and/or society at large is of the most exemplary nature within the framework of Amateur Radio technical activities. The ARRL Microwave Development Award goes each year to a radio amateur or group of radio amateurs whose accomplishments and contributions are of the most exemplary nature within the framework of microwave development (ie, research and application of new and refined uses and activity in the amateur microwave bands). The recipient(s) The ARRL Technical Innovation and Microwave Development awards receive(s) an engraved plaque and may request up to $100 in ARRL publications. Any ARRL member may place a nomination for any of these awards. Supporting documentation should not exceed 10 pages. For links to on-line nomination forms and for more information, visit the ARRL Technical Awards Web page <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/instructor/instructor/awards.html>. ==>LELAND W. SMITH, W5KL, SK Leland W. Smith, W5KL, of Harrison, Arkansas, died February 15. He turned 90 earlier this month. An ARRL member, Smith was president emeritus of the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) <http://www.qcwa.org/> and the sitting president of the Old Old Timer's Club (OOTC). Smith had held a number of ARRL section-level appointments that included service as Section Communications Manager (SCM, now SM) in Georgia and Alabama prior to World War II. He was a former member of the Radio Club of America board. ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, recalls meeting Smith while a teenager growing up in Little Rock in the early 1970s. "When I became Arkansas Section Manager in 1983, Leland was one of the first League members to contact me and offer any assistance or advice," he said. When Harrison became Delta Division Director, Smith became an assistant director and advisor. "His service to ARRL and Amateur Radio was respectable and commendable," Harrison said, calling Smith "an example all radio amateurs should strive to follow." An amateur since 1930, Smith was highly regarded for his CW ability and powerfully efficient station. "He was the epitome of a good CW operator, as well as a good person," said Arkansas SM Dennis Schaefer, W5RZ. During his tenure with the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, Smith once wrote that he was "able to continue my hobby as a radio amateur with low-power homemade equipment from my tent." While serving as a Marine second lieutenant in the Pacific during World War II, Smith won a Bronze Star for bravery under fire and for maintaining vital communication during combat. He also collected three battle stars. Smith also put his electronics skills to use by helping to cobble together a 50 W radio station from spare parts to entertain the troops. Smith served during the Korean Conflict and later worked for the Veterans Administration and the Centers for Disease Control. In 1966, he became one of only five reserve general officers, attaining the rank of brigadier general. Over the years, Smith also held W4AGI, W4YE, W4BEA, W4PCS, W3JJO and K6CN. One son, Buddy, now holds W4YE, while another, Kay, holds W4AGI. Memorial services were held February 20 in Harrison. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar sage Tad "I Live for the Sun " Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers were down a little from a week earlier, as were the daily solar flux numbers. Average daily planetary A index was slightly higher. Geomagnetic indices settled down February 16-19 to yield some nice HF conditions. There weren't many sunspots, so the MUF wasn't as high as it was, say, several years ago, but the quiet conditions are a welcome respite from the stormy geomagnetic conditions of late. The quiet conditions should continue though this weekend--good news for those participating in the ARRL International DX Contest (CW). Predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday, February 20-23, is 10, 10, 12 and 12. Solar flux is expected to stay below 100 until around Leap Year Day, February 29. Sunspot numbers for February 12 through 18 were 65, 71, 64, 75, 81, 22 and 23, with a mean of 57.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 112.2, 107.8, 103.7, 102.1, 98.7, 101.9 and 97.7, with a mean of 103.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 28, 21, 18, 18, 7, 5 and 8, with a mean of 15. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The ARRL International DX Contest (CW), the YL-ISSB QSO Party (CW) and the CQC Winter QSO Party are the weekend of February 21-22. JUST AHEAD: The CQ 160-Meter Contest (SSB), the REF Contest (SSB), the UBA DX Contest (CW), the Mississippi QSO Party, the CZEBRIS Contest, the North American QSO Party (RTTY), the High Speed Club CW Contest and the North Carolina QSO Party are the weekend of February 28-29. 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 ARRL Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009) courses opens Monday, February 23, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC). Registration remains open through Sunday, March 1. Classes begin Tuesday March 9. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. On the subject line, indicate the course name or number (eg, EC-00#) and the month you want to start the course. In the message body, provide your name, call sign, and e-mail address. Please do not send inquiries to this mailbox. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page. For more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program Department <email@example.com>. * ARRL ham radio instructor awards nominations due by March 1: The deadline is March 1 to submit nominations for The ARRL Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year Award and the ARRL Professional Educator Award. The Brief Award <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/award/herb-tor.html> goes to a volunteer Amateur Radio instructor, while the Professional Educator Award <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/award/pey-tor.html> is presented to a teacher who uses Amateur Radio as part of the curriculum or after-school program, or teaches it in an educational institution. These awards are aimed at honoring amateurs who put in countless volunteer hours to seek out newcomers and teach them the standards and practices of Amateur Radio. Nominating forms for the Brier Award <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/edunom.html?aw_id=7> and the Professional Educator award <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/edunom.html?aw_id=9> are available on the ARRL Web site. All nominees will be invited to confirm their interest in competing for the award and to submit material documenting their activities. Winners receive engraved plaques and up to $100 worth of ARRL publications. * Free activity boards still available to schools: ARRL Amateur Radio Education & Technology Program (ETP) Coordinator Mark Spencer, WA8SME, says his program still has a number of "activity board" suites available for schools on a first-come, first served basis. Described in Unit 9 of The ETP curriculum <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/Curriculum-Materials.html>, the activity board provides teachers with a ready, reliable set of component blocks that can be used in platform instruction to cover the five basic building blocks of virtually all wireless technology: oscillators, rectifiers, amplifiers, mixers and filters. The activity board kit includes the board, components, and instruction manual. It's designed for construction by middle schoolers--with knowledgeable adult supervision--using basic tools (soldering iron and wire clippers). Valued at approximately $350, the suite includes the circuit board and components, three volt-ohm meters and a digital oscilloscope. For more details on requesting the suites, see "ARRL Education and Technology Program Activity Boards Still Available" <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2004/02/12/3/> or contact Mark Spencer, WA8SME, <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 860-594-0396. * Participation up sharply for 2003 FMT: Participation in the 2003 ARRL Frequency Measuring Test (FMT) last November 19 was up by 57 percent over 2002, reports W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q. Carcia also noted an increase in error rates over the previous FMT. The test exercises the capability of hams to measure an important operating parameter--frequency--and to improve their understanding of their radios. The error rates, in parts per million, ranged anywhere from +1084 to -482 ppm, taking into account all four bands on which the test was run. Carcia cites the number of first-time FMT participants as the likely reason for the rise in the error rate. Test submissions came from 213 hams and one shortwave listener. W1AW carried out the test on 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters. The exact frequencies were 3,585,383.7 Hz; 7,050,409.9 Hz; 14,050,075.7 Hz and 21,053,399.1 Hz. Complete FMT results are available on W1AW's FMT page <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/fmt/>. The next FMT likely will take place late this year. Carcia says a number of hams suggested a "West Coast Run" of the next FMT, given current propagation in the declining solar cycle. * Expedition 9 astronaut is KE5AIT! Astronaut Mike Fincke, who will be one of the two International Space Station Expedition 9 crew members, now has his new call sign, KE5AIT. Fincke passed his Technician examination February 12 and had his new call sign less than a week later--in plenty of time for his ISS tour of duty that begins in mid-April. Fincke, 36, and cosmonaut and crew commander Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, 45, will heads for the ISS April 18 aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle. Fincke will be the NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer for Expedition 9. Fincke and Padalka have been training together as a space station crew for nearly two years, and NASA cited their experience as a team as a primary reason for its sudden change-of-heart to have Padalka and Fincke replace Leroy Chiao and cosmonaut Valery Tokarev as the next crew. Having an US Amateur Radio licensee aboard is necessary if the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or ARISS--program is to continue its schedule of school group contacts via NA1SS. * Field Day 2004 packets now available: Rules and entry packets for the 2004 running of ARRL Field Day now are available on the League's Web site <http://www.arrl.org/contests/forms/>. Field Day is always the fourth full weekend of June--this year June 26-27. The activity begins at 1800 UTC Saturday and ends at 2100 UTC Sunday. There are no rules changes from 2003. Participation in Field Day now is open to all amateurs within IARU Region 2--the Americas. FD stations may contact stations in other regions for point credit, but stations outside Region 2 are not eligible to submit entries. * SGC founder, president Pierre Goral, KI7UA, SK: The man who co-founded and headed radio manufacturer SGC Inc--Pierre Goral, KI7UA (ex-N7VRJ), of Kirkland, Washington--died February 12. He was 67. Goral, who established SGC in 1971 with the late Don Stoner, W6TNS (the company originally was called Stoner-Goral Communications, later shortened to SGC), was "an internationally recognized designer, entrepreneur and leader in the field of RF engineering," the company said this week in announcing his death. "He led an adventurous life, working in the jungles of Brazil as a young engineer and traveling the world to represent his company," SGC said. "RF engineering was his passion, and he devoted himself and his company to producing only the very finest, professional HF SSB products." Outside of his professional life, SGC said, Goral was an artist, photographer, skier and snowboarder who "demonstrated an appreciation of life in everything he did." SGC is a manufacturer of both commercial and amateur gear. Condolences may be sent care of SGC Inc, 13737 SE 26 St, Bellevue, WA 98005 or via e-mail to email@example.com. * Vanity HQ Web site on thin ice: The proprietor of the popular Vanity HQ Web site <http://www.vanityhq.com/>, Michael Carroll, N4MC, says the site's future viability is hanging by a thread. "Vanity HQ has been on life support these past two years since I lost my job," Carroll said in a February12 posting. "Unfortunately, it has become necessary to pull the plug on the daily updates and eventually, the site itself." At this point, Carroll says, the site will remain up until mid-March while he relocates and mulls his personal situation, but he says not to look for any updates at least for the next couple of weeks. * Hong Kong, Denmark dropping Morse requirement: Hong Kong and Denmark have become the latest countries to announce they will drop the requirement for Amateur Radio applicants to pass a Morse code examination for access to frequencies below 30 MHz. In conjunction with its announcement, Hong Kong will cancel all existing amateur station license classes (and/or authority to operate), replacing them with a new authorization that does not carry a license class, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) announced February 11. OFTA also opened the 430 to 440 MHz band for portable and mobile operation and allocated 10.45 to 10.5 GHz to the Amateur Service. OFTA said only that the changes would "come into effect soon." The Danish Information Technology and Telecom Agency, meanwhile, has announced the elimination of the Morse code examination for access to Amateur Radio HF bands, effective February 1. =========================================================== 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. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League. ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): firstname.lastname@example.org ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, email@example.com ==>ARRL News on the Web: <http://www.arrl.org/> ==>ARRL Audio News: <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> or call 860-594-0384 ==>How to Get The ARRL Letter The ARRL Letter is available to ARRL members free of charge directly from ARRL HQ. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address for e-mail delivery: ARRL members first must register on the Members Only Web Site <http://www.arrl.org/members/>. You'll have an opportunity during registration to sign up for e-mail delivery of The ARRL Letter, W1AW bulletins, and other material. 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