*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 11 March 12, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +North Carolina hams get face time with FCC chairman on BPL * +ARRL welcomes visit by Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, and Bob Heil, K9EID * +Middle schoolers put NA1SS in their log * +Hawaii ham radio antenna bills attracting mainland's attention * +Weak signal raises hopes for AO-40's revival * +Ham radio community aids injured amateur * +Bob Sutherland, W6PO, SK * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Emergency Communications course registration +Scott Redd, K0DQ, heads to new job in Iraq Congressman-ham gets father's call sign Barton replaces Tauzin HQ staffers get IC-7800 preview Eastern VHF/UHF Conference set for April +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE BPL KIND WITH FCC CHAIRMAN A Broadband over Power Line (BPL) home demonstration in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area March 5 provided an opportunity for area amateurs to take their concerns about the technology to FCC Chairman Michael Powell face to face. While ARRL Public Information Officer Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, doesn't believe his brief encounter with the FCC head and amateurs' longer discussions with Commission and electric utility staffers will stop or slow the seeming BPL juggernaut, they were valuable anyway. "We consider the day successful in the context that we were able to speak directly with several high-level FCC officials, key Progress Energy officials and the CEO of Amperion--a BPL provider," Pearce said. "Long-term success will be measured by how much of a problem BPL poses to Amateur Radio, or how much of a problem is avoided." While Pearce says he only spent about 30 seconds with Powell, he did tell the chairman that amateurs believe BPL's interference potential has been understated and will prove more difficult to resolve than the FCC has suggested in its February BPL Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). "What I didn't know when I talked to him," he added, "was that a question that we had sent to the local newspaper had been posed earlier in the day at a press conference about interference." Powell had responded to the question by saying the FCC would not let BPL interfere with critical services, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. "The question is whether it does, and to what extent, and what limits can be placed to make sure it doesn't," Powell said. "We've been fully committed to only allowing things within the range of what we're convinced won't create impermissible interference." But Powell went on to say that if BPL can provide broadband access anywhere there's a power outlet, "We're not going to be easily dissuaded from doing something that has that much potential." Progress Energy and BPL partner Amperion now are operating three field test sites in Wake County south of Raleigh. Acting on a tip, Pearce and several other area amateurs--ARRL Technical Specialist Frank Lynch, W4FAL, among them--showed up at the prearranged BPL demonstration at a residence near Fuquay-Varina. While Pearce witnessed the demo inside, others, including Wake County ARRL Emergency Coordinator Tom Brown, N4TAB--an engineer--stayed outside to chat with Powell Senior Legal Advisor Chris Libertelli. Brown said the "outside" delegation reiterated the amateurs' belief that BPL industry claims are misstated and wrong. "Overall," he said, I think we were successful in illuminating a few issues and opening more doors instead of closing them." Pearce told ARRL that a few hams--most a half-mile or so away from the field test sites--already have identified BPL interference on 10 and 12 meters. But he was unsuccessful in getting Powell or others in the FCC delegation to take a quick spin in his mobile radio-equipped vehicle to show him what BPL sounded like "from our perspective." The FCC officials suggested instead that the amateurs arrange a similar demonstration in Washington. Pearce and Brown believe that BPL is not technologically mature enough to ensure the sort of "interference mitigation" the FCC envisions in its NPRM. "Everyone is relying on the vendors' claims that their technology can solve all the problems," Pearce said. Brown concurred. "It's not anywhere near as adaptive as they would lead you to believe it is or want you to--by absence of further information--allow you to delude yourself," he said. "It's not there yet." Pearce said he was happy to be able to put "a human face" on Amateur Radio's side of the issue. "We know they heard us and that we made a good impression," he said. "We hope it was a deep one as well." ==>EAGLES' JOE WALSH, WB6ACU, ENJOYS FIRST VISIT TO ARRL Well-known amateur and musician Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, of The Eagles, this week visited ARRL Headquarters for the first time in his 43 years as a ham. Accompanying Walsh to Newington March 5 and 6 was ham radio audio expert and manufacturer Bob Heil, K9EID. Both are ARRL Life Members. Besides touring ARRL, Walsh and Heil spent part of their weekend operating W1AW with ARRL staff members during the ARRL International DX Contest (Phone). "I'm looking forward to a pileup," Walsh said beforehand. He says he was bitten by the contest bug during a visit to the station of Ali Al-Futtaim, A61AJ, in the United Arab Emirates. "There were 50 guys at a time calling me, and before I knew it, I looked up and three hours had passed and I'd been logging 350 QSOs an hour," he recalled. "Then I realized what [contesting] was all about. It was like, 'Wow!' You just have to do it to understand how much fun it is." At W1AW, Walsh hopped from band to band working the contest, while Heil took the quieter route of ragchewing on 17 meters. He also assisted the contest effort by repairing a couple of headsets. Walsh and Heil at one point put W1AW on AM on 40 and 75 meters. During the contest, more than a few operators took a moment to say hello to Walsh or to tell them they were fans. Walsh said his HQ tour proved to be an eye opener. "You read all the different things in QST--the DX columns and technical articles--but people don't realize that there are a number of departments, and they're staffed with real people, the many people that it takes to put out QST and provide [member] services." Walsh also marveled at Hiram Percy Maxim's rotary spark gap transmitter "Old Betsy," now residing in the W1AW lobby. "It's special just sitting here at W1AW, soaking up 100 years of Amateur Radio," he remarked. "It's everything I expected it to be, and I've met a lot of great people." Walsh, who's also performed with The James Gang and enjoyed a solo career, says he got into Amateur Radio in 1960, shortly after moving to New York. Becoming a radio amateur was a pivotal point in his life, he said, and his personal experience was one of the reasons he's become a donor to the ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/>. Recalling how the kindness of his Elmer, Jim Walden, then W2IEY and now W6ESJ, had enriched his life back when he was the new kid in town, Walsh said he wanted to somehow pay it back. "I feel that I need to pass that kindness along and that's why I got involved in the Education and Technology Program," he said. Walsh said he envisions "some kid like me--new in town and new in school--and there's going to be a ham station there. I want there to be something there for him." Walsh said he worked hard for his license, and he's enjoyed Amateur Radio over the years. "I don't want those traditions and that fellowship to be lost," he said. "I'll do what it takes to have that survive." More information about Walsh's and Heil's visit is on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2004/03/11/1/>. A commemorative QSL card is available for those who worked W1AW during the contest. QSL requests go to W1AW, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with each request. ==>SOUTH CAROLINA MIDDLE SCHOOLERS LOG SUCCESSFUL SPACE CONTACT Students at a South Carolina middle school who spoke via ham radio with the International Space Station this week enjoyed the experience so much they're already eager to do it again. On March 8, youngsters at DuBose Middle School in Summerville questioned ISS Crew Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, about life aboard the space outpost. The contact was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. Operating from NA1SS, Foale told the sixth through eighth graders that he was able to see prominent features of South Carolina from his vantage point in space. He said the ISS crew can see eclipses and other planets in space as well. "The moon just went by Jupiter, and it was really an amazing sight to see as I was going into the dark side of Earth," Foale said. The ISS was passing above the US West Coast at the time. In a follow-up reply, he described the inky darkness of the cosmic void and how stars and planets appear. "It is totally black in space," he said. "There are some parts of space where there are no stars visible at all, because there are gas clouds out there in the galaxy. And that is so dark, it's hard to imagine." Foale said stars appear brighter and more colorful from space than they do from Earth. One youngster wanted to know if astronauts could wear such appliances as hearing aids, braces or contact lenses in the zero-gravity environment of the ISS. "Actually, I wear ear plugs just because it's noisy up here," Foale replied. "If I had braces, they wouldn't be a problem, and lots of astronauts do wear contact lenses." As he's indicated in past ARISS school group contacts, Foale said he "absolutely" would like to participate in a future mission to Mars, but he said he expected that job would fall to younger generations. "I do believe you and your classmates and your friends have a better chance of doing that than I do," he said. When the 10-minute contact was done, DuBose eighth-grade science teacher Alene Wilkins, KG4NKD, called it "the best experience I have had since I started teaching." Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, and Herb Sullivan, K6QXB, handled Earth station duties at W6SRJ in California. An MCI teleconference circuit relayed two-way audio between the two coasts. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss> is an international educational outreach program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.--some information provided by Charlie Sufana, AJ9N ==>MAINLANDERS KEEPING EYE ON HAWAII AMATEUR RADIO ANTENNA BILLS Two Amateur Radio antenna bills are continuing to progress through the Hawaii State Legislature. House Bill 2773 would allow Hawaiian amateurs living in condominiums to install antennas on their units under certain guidelines. HB 2774 would permit antenna installations, with conditions, by Hawaiian amateurs living in subdivisions subject to homeowners' association covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). The progress of both bills also is under close scrutiny by amateurs on the mainland. The ARRL submitted testimony on the bills' behalf when they were heard last month by the Hawaii House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, chaired by their sponsor, Rep Ken Hiraki. ARRL Pacific Section Manager Kevin Bogan, AH6QO, says the two measures passed a third reading in the House and are continuing their legislative journey in the Senate, where they passed first reading March 9. The bills likely will be referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing Committee. "Several hams are working on the text of amendments to the bills, so the bills aren't as broad and will have more chance of passing," Bogan said. What he termed a "small working group of hams" also plans to visit committee members to acquaint them with the bills, once they're referred, ask for their support and answer questions. Bogan is calling on Hawaii amateurs to draft e-mails or letters to their state senators or to even visit them, if convenient. "We aren't preparing form letters as we feel it is much more effective to say it in your own words," he added. Bogan is asking hams in Hawaii to develop written testimony in preparation for an eventual Senate hearing and to attend the hearing, once scheduled. He reminded amateurs to be sure to reference the bill numbers and their descriptions when writing lawmakers and to clearly state why they're seeking their support. He also asked amateurs to e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> him to report any correspondence or contacts with lawmakers regarding the bills. Both bills are available on the Hawaii State Legislature Web site: HB 2773: <http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/getstatus2.asp?billno=HB2773>; HB 2774: <http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/getstatus2.asp?billno=HB2774>. ==>A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR AO-40 A weak "noise" on the AO-40 2.4-GHz beacon frequency has raised hopes that AO-40 may still be alive. 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. Colin Hurst, VK5HI, of the AO-40 command team reports that on March 9 between 0310 and 0320 UTC (orbit 1541) he "noted a noise peak of 4 to 5 dB" in the vicinity of the expected beacon frequency after he'd issued a transmitter reset command sequence to the satellite. After listening for about 15 seconds, he issued a command to shut down the transmitter, and the noise disappeared. Hurst said he also transmitted several commands involving the auxiliary batteries but did not attempt to turn the beacon on again. "This tends to suggest that the IHU [Internal Housekeeping Unit computer] and L Band [1.2 GHz] receiver are operational," Hurst said. The AO-40 command team theorizes that a cell in the main battery pack has shorted, clamping the bus voltage below the point where it can operate the satellite. The spacecraft's auxiliary batteries are believed to be in parallel with the main batteries, and AO-40 Earth stations have been attempting to command the satellite to switch to the auxiliary batteries. Updates on AO-40 are available on the AMSAT-DL Web site <http://www.amsat-dl.org/journal/adlj-p3d.htm>. ==>HAM COMMUNITY RALLIES TO HELP INJURED AMATEUR The Amateur Radio community has rallied to the aid of well-known Colorado 6-meter operator and ARRL member Mike Newbold, K0YO. Newbold, 52, is recovering from injuries he received last December in Baja, Mexico, at the hands of assailants who beat him savagely, stole his vehicle and radio gear--virtually everything he owned was in his pickup truck--and left him for dead. Now back home, he's had lots of support from the amateur community. "My ham friends are some of the best in the world," Newbold said. "I am making great progress on a long road which is made easier by their kindness." His main physical problem is his eyesight, which suffered as a result of head injuries received in the attack. Most of his medical expenses are being covered. Newbold's friend Gary Yantis <email@example.com>, W0TM, has been tracking Newbold's progress and set up a Web page <http://www.w0tm.com/k0yo> that provides information for those interested in assisting K0YO. "Well wishes have meant as much, or more, to Mike than replacement of any of the items that were stolen," Yantis says. "He mostly needs to hear from people who care." Newbold retired early from coal mining due to medical problems that have kept him largely unemployed. He resides in modest circumstances in a remote area, and ham radio, which Newbold took up in 1995, has provided him with "a window to the world," Yantis said. Newbold's son, Travis, is KC0VQJ, and the two sometimes keep in touch via ham radio. K0YO is also an avid QRPer, DXer and CW op, among other things. One bright spot for Newbold when he returned home from his hospital stay in California was a QSL card from Hawaii--the last one needed for Worked All States on 6 meters. Cards, letters or e-mails can be sent to Mike Newbold <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 27200 Rte 14, Oak Creek, CO 80467.--some information provided by Phil Kirchbaum, N0KE ==>MOONBOUNCE PIONEER BOB SUTHERLAND, W6PO, SK Robert I. "Bob" Sutherland, W6PO (ex-W6UOV), of San Mateo, California, died January 11. He was 78. An active VHF-UHF operator in the 1960s through the 1980s, Sutherland was on the West Coast end of the first Amateur Radio moonbounce (EME) contact in 1960 when the Eimac Radio Club's W6HB and W1BU worked each other on 1296 MHz EME. An employee of tube manufacturer Eimac for nearly 50 years, Sutherland developed some of the more famous Eimac tube-based amps. "His contributions to the Amateur Radio field are legendary," said well-known VHF-UHF and EME operator Dave Olean, K1WHS. Olean says that while most amateurs know Sutherland for his EME work and his Eimac accomplishments, "most of his great deeds went unnoticed by many except for the legion of moonbounce operators whom he helped along the way." Olean says he was one of them, recalling how Sutherland helped him set up an EME station for 432 MHz. An ARRL member, Sutherland authored several articles for Ham Radio magazine, including "Design Data for a Two-Kilowatt VHF Linear" in 1969 and "High-Performance 144-MHz Power Amplifier" in 1971. He also wrote "A High-Power Cavity Amplifier For The New 900-MHz Band" for QST in 1982. Sutherland was the recipient of the Central States VHF Society's John T. Chambers Award in 1977 for "his dedicated efforts in bringing EME technical information to amateurs worldwide through distribution of the famous Eimac EME Notes," which remain in circulation within the EME community along with his amplifier designs. Former QST "The World Above 50 MHz" Editor Bill Smith, W5USM, recalled Sutherland as "a modest, kind man of considerable intelligence with passion for his professional and Amateur Radio work." He credited Sutherland with much of the success moonbounce enjoys today. "He was accessible and willing to help," Smith said, adding, "I suggest looking toward the moon and saying, 'Thank you, Bob. Well done.'" ==>SOLAR UPDATE Sun gazer Tad "Tequila Sunrise" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average daily sunspot numbers dropped from the week February 26-March 3 by nearly 24 points, and average daily solar flux was about the same, down by slightly more than two points. On March 9, Earth passed into a solar wind, and geomagnetic indices rose. At mid latitudes HF bands were probably usable on March 9 and 11 but not on March 10. In Alaska, however, the bands probably sounded dead. This propagation--or lack of it--is normal for Alaska, at least when geomagnetic conditions are active or stormy. Those magnetic lines of force converge toward the poles, and all that energy gets concentrated, yielding polar cap absorption. The convergence and concentration was intense enough this week that aurora was visible down into northern parts of the "Lower 48." Over the next few days geomagnetic conditions should settle down. Predicted planetary A index for March 12-15 is 20, 15, 10 and 8. Solar flux should drop down to around 100 by the beginning of the week (Monday, March 15). A large sunspot, number 570 is moving into the center of the visible solar disk, directly facing Earth. It is a possible source of flares. Sunspot numbers for March 4 through 10 were 53, 55, 61, 53, 55, 40 and 56, with a mean of 53.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 97.5, 106.7, 104.5, 106.1, 107.8, 108.7 and 112.6, with a mean of 106.3. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 8, 5, 6, 6, 21 and 40, with a mean of 13.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The YL-ISSB QSO Party (SSB), the RSGB Commonwealth Contest, the AGCW QRP Contest, the Oklahoma and Wisconsin QSO parties, the SOC Marathon Sprint, the North American Sprint (RTTY) the UBA Spring Contest (CW) and the NSARA Contest are the weekend of March 13-14. JUST AHEAD: The RSGB 80 Meter Club Championship (SSB) is March 18. The Virginia QSO Party, the 10-10 International Mobile Contest, the BARTG Spring RTTY Contest, the SARL VHF/UHF Contest, the Russian DX Contest, the AGCW VHF/UHF Contest, the CLARA and Family HF Contest, the UBA Spring Contest (6 M), the 9K 15-Meter Contest, the Spring QRP Homebrewer Sprint are the weekend of March 20-21. The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (SSB) is March 27-28. 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, March 15, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level III Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-003). Registration remains open through the March 20-21 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, March 30. 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) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, email@example.com, 860-594-0340. * Scott Redd, K0DQ, heads to new job in Iraq: Retired Vice Admiral Scott Redd, K0DQ, has been appointed deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq. Redd, an ARRL member who lives in Marietta, Georgia, is one of two deputy administrators reporting to CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer. Redd will direct the CPA's programs for the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure. That task includes awarding $18.4 billion in contracts through the project management office for major improvements to Iraq's electricity, oil, transportation, water resources, education, housing and construction, and communications networks, a CPA news release said. He also will be responsible for policy affecting Iraq's security programs. Those include the new Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Iraqi Border Patrol and Facilities Protection Services. Redd retired from the US Navy in 1998 as director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During 36 years of active duty, he commanded eight organizations, founded the Navy's Fifth Fleet--the first new US Navy fleet in more than 50 years--and served in several senior Pentagon positions. Redd also led all U.S. Naval forces in the US Central Command from 1994 until 1996. The 1966 graduate of the US Naval Academy and Fulbright scholar was the keynote speaker for ARRL's second donors' reception held in conjunction with Hamvention 2003. * Congressman-ham gets father's call sign: Rep Greg Walden (R-OR), one of the two hams in Congress, has a new call sign. With the assistance of ARRL, Walden was able to obtain his father's former call sign, W7EQI, via the vanity call sign program. A General class licensee and an ARRL member, Walden formerly held WB7OCE. The congressman's father, Paul E. Walden, died in March 2003. He had been licensed since 1934. Walden, a broadcaster, is a member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. * Barton replaces Tauzin: Texas Republican Rep Joe Barton was named the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee <http://energycommerce.house.gov/> on February 25. He replaces Louisiana Republican Billy Tauzin, who announced last month that he was stepping down as chairman and would not run for re-election in November. Energy and Commerce is the parent committee of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, which is considering two Amateur Radio-related bills: HR 713, the Spectrum Protection Act of 2003, and HR 1478, the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2003. Barton also serves on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, but he has not yet signed on as a cosponsor of either HR 713 or HR 1478. * HQ staffers get IC-7800 preview: Members of the ARRL Headquarters staff got a hands-on preview of the not-quite-yet-released ICOM IC-7800 transceiver, thanks to Icom Engineering Manager John Gibbs, KC7YXD. Gibbs visited Headquarters March 4 with a pre-production model of his company's new top-end Amateur Radio HF plus 6-meter transceiver. Among its multitude of features, the IC-7800 offers a seven-inch color TFT display, two independent receivers, a spectrum display, CW autotune, and RTTY and PSK31 capability just by plugging in a keyboard. The IC-7800 will replace the venerable IC-781 as the capstone of Icom's Amateur Radio product line. In terms of performance, Gibbs claims the IC-7800 will offer third-order intercept (IP3) performance in the +40 dBm range and two-tone, third-order intermodulation distortion dynamic range well in excess of 100 dB. Although a retail price has not yet been firmed up, it's anticipated that owning an IC-7800 will set buyers back less than $11,000. Musician Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, and audio expert and manufacturer Bob Heil, K9EID, were among the operators as the IC-7800 saw action at W1AW during the ARRL International DX Contest (Phone) March 6-7. The IC-7800 will be the focus of Icom's Hamvention exhibit May 14-16, and it could be on the market in a month or so. * Eastern VHF/UHF Conference set for April: The 30th annual Eastern VHF/UHF Conference, sponsored by the North East Weak Signal Group <http://www.newsvhf.com/>, will be held April 16-18 at the Radisson Hotel in Enfield, Connecticut. The conference has been moved from August to April to help eliminate conflicts with other ham radio activities and vacation schedules. Guest speakers, articles for the conference Proceedings, volunteers and prize donations are being solicited. Confirmed speakers include ARRL Contest Branch Manger Dan Henderson, N1ND, on the status of ARRL VHF/UHF contesting and awards; Jeff Klein, K1TEO, "16 Years of Contesting From Connecticut;" Gerald Youngblood, AC5OG, "Software Defined Radios SDR-1000 Beta" and Fred Stefanik, N1DPM, "Yagis: Bigger isn't Always Better." More information is on the Eastern VHF/UHF Conference Web page <http://www.newsvhf.com/vhfconf.html>. =========================================================== 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. 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