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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 18
April 30, 2004


* +League to White House: Withdraw support for BPL
* +NTIA releases extensive BPL field study
* +New two-ham crew making itself at home aboard ISS
* +Logbook of the World to open DXCC credits system
* +Ham-congressmen declare support for League's restructuring plan
* +Morse "@"; character official as of May 3
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     Ham radio emergency communications symposium planned in Kansas
    +Oklahoma ham earns first WAS-90 Award
     FCC designates former amateur's latest GMRS application for hearing
     SWLs may file BPL interference complaints
     US Department of Commerce honors Maryland amateur

+Available on ARRL Audio News



ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, has appealed to President and fellow
Texan George W. Bush to withdraw his support for broadband over power line
(BPL) technology and focus on "more suitable technologies" such as
wireless broadband. The League this week also issued a call for members to
support Haynie's request. In an April 26 speech at the Minneapolis
convention of the American Association of Community Colleges, Bush
advocated changing technical standards to encourage BPL deployment in the
US. Haynie told Bush that while the League supports universal and
affordable broadband access, BPL is the wrong direction to take.

"Power lines were designed to transmit energy," not broadband signals,
Haynie said in a fax. "The broadband signals radiate from power lines and
cause severe interference to radio reception."

Haynie said test sites throughout the US and elsewhere have amply
demonstrated BPL's potential to interfere. "You may have been told
otherwise; if so, you were misinformed," he said, directing the
president's attention to the BPL page on the ARRL Web site

Bush this week told the community colleges gathering that there need to be
technical standards to enable new broadband technologies such as
high-speed communication over power lines. "Power lines were for
electricity; power lines can be used for broadband technology," Bush said.
"So the technical standards need to be changed to encourage that."

"Once deployed," the president declared, "BPL has the potential to turn
every electrical outlet into a broadband pipeline." Bush also suggested
that BPL could supply broadband services to rural dwellers, a prospect
that the League and others claim is not economically feasible.

"BPL is sometimes touted as a solution for rural areas," said ARRL CEO
David Sumner, K1ZZ. "It is not." Sumner explained that BPL signals carry
only a few thousand feet down a power line and then must be repeated.
"This requires a lot of hardware and will not be economical in areas with
low population densities."

Bush also praised FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell and "his decision to
eliminate burdensome regulations on new broadband networks' availability
to homes." He also called for opening up more spectrum to make wireless
broadband "more accessible, reliable and affordable" and for no taxes on
broadband access.

In its BPL Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in ET Docket 04-37, the
FCC has proposed amending its Part 15 rules to adopt new requirements and
measurement guidelines for so-called "Access BPL" systems. The comment
deadline is Monday, May 3; reply comments are due by June 1.

In direct response to the Bush speech, the ARRL is asking its members to
support Haynie's request for the White House to withdraw its support for
BPL technology. "Using power lines to distribute broadband services is a
bad idea that should not be encouraged," said Sumner. "It is important for
radio amateurs to get the facts across to the White House as well as to
our Congressional representatives and senators."

The ARRL Web site provides an information package
<>. It explains how members can
contact the White House and members of Congress to express their views on
BPL deployment.

"Do it now!" Sumner urged. "We need thousands of responses from all parts
of the country, right away, if we are to make an impression."

For additional information, visit the ARRL's "Broadband Over Power Line
(BPL) and Amateur Radio" page <>. To support the
League's efforts in this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web site


The first phase of a long-awaited broadband over power line (BPL) study
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
released this week suggests it's possible to accommodate BPL technology
while managing the interference risk. In a cover letter to FCC Chairman
Michael K. Powell, Acting NTIA Administrator Michael D. Gallagher pledged
that the NTIA would "work with the Commission to establish a firm
technical foundation for responsible deployment of BPL to protect critical
federal communications systems." But, Gallagher added, "technical rules
governing their deployment must address potential harmful interference to
critical systems." Released April 27, NTIA Report 04-413
<> analyzes
10 million BPL system measurements.

"Most studies have been oriented to determine whether interference will
occur at the variously proposed limits," NTIA says in describing its
study's approach. "In contrast, NTIA has oriented its study to find a
solution that accommodates BPL systems while appropriately managing the
risk of interference to radio systems." The NTIA acknowledges that BPL
signals "unintentionally radiate" from power lines. But, the agency said,
"there is substantial disagreement as to the strength of the emissions and
their potential for causing interference to licensed radio systems." The
NTIA also said current FCC Part 15 measurement techniques may
"significantly underestimate" peak BPL field strength.

The hefty, two-volume NTIA Phase 1 study looks at BPL systems using the HF
and low-VHF spectrum from 1.7 to 80 MHz and "defines risks of interference
from BPL systems to local radio reception" while assuming the systems
comply with existing Part 15 rules. That spectrum, NTIA said, is home to
some 59,000 federal frequency assignments. The study proposes protecting
41 frequencies of the "most sensitive and likely most severely affected
federal systems."

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the NTIA study clearly demonstrates that
BPL systems pollute the radio spectrum. "How can any responsible public
official encourage the deployment of such systems," he asked, "and how can
any investor seriously consider pouring money into such an obviously
flawed technology?"

Among interference mitigation techniques, the NTIA study recommends
reducing BPL device output power--which it called "the single most
effective method" of reducing interference potential--and "shifting or
notching" BPL frequencies. Others included differential-mode signal
injection, absorbing filters, adopting a "one active device per frequency
and area" rule and using a single point of control for each BPL service

Interference calculations by the NTIA engineers indicated that a BPL
transmitter operating within Part 15 limits would significantly increase
the noise floor for land-mobile receivers on frequencies below 30 MHz. The
agency said it could be inferred from its calculations that "a
vehicle-mounted HF receiver" operating in a residential neighborhood next
to a BPL-energized line "may experience harmful interference" depending on
the frequency, distance along the line from the BPL transmitter, the BPL
transmitter's duty cycle and the number of BPL devices on the power line.

The NTIA study calculated that interference "is likely" to mobile stations
in areas extending to 30 meters and to fixed stations in areas extending
to 55 meters from a single BPL device and the power lines to which it's
connected. With "low to moderate desired signal levels," the NTIA study
continued, interference is likely at these receivers within areas
extending to 75 meters for mobiles and 460 meters for fixed stations.

The NTIA says its Phase 2 study will "evaluate the effectiveness" of its
Phase 1 recommendations and address potential interference via ionospheric
propagation of BPL "from mature, large-scale" deployed BPL networks.


After some six months living aboard the International Space Station, the
Expedition 8 crew of Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR,
have returned safely to Earth. Foale and Kaleri spent nearly 195 days in
space--making theirs the second longest ISS expedition. The Expedition 9
replacement crew of Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, and Gennady Padalka, RN3DT,
arrived April 21 via a Russian Soyuz vehicle and now is settling in aboard
the ISS. During their six-month duty tour, Padalka, 45, will serve as
Expedition 9 commander, while Fincke, 36, will be the NASA ISS science
officer and flight engineer.

A change-of-command ceremony aboard the space outpost April 26 marked the
passing of the baton from Foale to Padalka, but NASA says command
officially shifted April 29 when the hatches between the ISS and the Soyuz
spacecraft closed.

Accompanying Fincke and Padalka aboard the Soyuz "taxi" flight to the ISS
was European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andrť Kuipers, PI9ISS, of the
Netherlands. While aboard the ISS, he conducted experiments under a joint
agreement between the ESA and Russia. Kuipers was aboard the earthbound
Soyuz return flight with Foale and Kaleri, which arrived in the Kazakhstan
steppes early on April 30 (UTC).

Foale now has accumulated more time in space than any US astronaut.
Including this mission, a 1997 tour aboard the Russian Mir space station
and four shuttle missions, he has logged nearly 374.5 days in space.
Foale, Kaleri and Kuipers will travel to Star City, Russia, where they
will remain for mission and medical debriefings. Foale is expected to
return to Houston in mid-May.

While aboard the ISS Kuipers conducted two successful Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) school group contacts with schools in
his native country. On April 24, he answered questions posed by students
gathered at Space Expo in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The following day,
Kuipers spoke with youngsters from three schools--Saltoschool Hanevoet in
Eindhoven, Sint Joriscollege and the Einhoven Technical University. The
university's Amateur Radio club station PI4TUE hosted the event. Both
contacts were conducted in Dutch.

ISS crew members also learned last week that another of the ISS's three
control moment gyroscopes (CMG) had failed. NASA says the CMGs use power
from the solar arrays to control the station's orientation. The two CMGs
still operating are the minimum needed to control the ISS without
resorting to other means. NASA says a space walk will be scheduled within
the next month to correct the problem.--some information from NASA and
from Gaston Bertels, ON4WF


The ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) <> secure
contact database debuts its DXCC credits system Wednesday, May 5. As of
week's end, the credits system was undergoing some final testing. ARRL
Membership Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, says the long-awaited LoTW
component will permit users to apply contact "matches" in Logbook's 41.4
million QSO and growing database to their DXCC records. To date, Mills
reports, more than 2.5 million QSO matches already exist in the system.

"It's a pretty straightforward process," Mills said of crediting LoTW QSO
matches to DXCC. "What participants need to do first is go to the LoTW
site and read the instructions." Information available will include a list
of frequently asked questions--FAQs.

Before doing anything else, LoTW newcomers will have to obtain a Logbook
of the World digital certificate and download the software. Since LoTW
launched last September, it has validated nearly 10,000 digital
certificates from approximately 7000 individual users. Obtaining a digital
certificate, which authenticates each user under a particular call sign,
is free.

The Logbook of the World database is a repository of individual contact
records submitted by users in the US and abroad. When both QSO
participants submit matching contact records to LoTW, the result is a
"virtual QSL" that--while it bears little resemblance to a paper QSL
card--is good for DXCC credit. LoTW accommodates Windows, MacOS and Linux
RPM users, and several logging software developers have incorporated LoTW
components into their programs.

DXCC is the first and only award for which LoTW users will be able to
apply their credits. Mills says plans already are in the works to make the
system available to apply LoTW credits to other ARRL and possibly some
non-ARRL awards.

Getting the DXCC credits system up and running has involved a considerable
amount of programming--much of it by ARRL Web/Software Development Manager
Jon Bloom, KE3Z--followed by extensive testing.

LoTW users already holding digital certificates just need to click on the
"Awards" menu tab to access the new system that lets them apply QSL
credits to their DXCC records.

While the software and obtaining a digital certificate are free, it will
cost users to apply LoTW QSL credits to DXCC. The application fee for a
basic DXCC certificate remains the same, however, and users will only be
charged on the Logbook side of the system. Individual credits can cost as
much as 25 cents apiece, but users can save money by buying credits in
bulk. Purchasing more than 500 credits will drop the per-QSL cost to just
15 cents, Mills pointed out. "The fees are much more economical than the
postage and other costs associated with collecting traditional paper QSL
cards," he added.

The application fee for a basic DXCC Award is $10 and includes up to 120
card credits. Applicants pay 15 cents per each additional card applied. A
similar fee structure applies for those going the LoTW route, Mills says,
and you won't have to pay any additional fees on the DXCC side. The site
provides for secure payment via credit card.

One first: LoTW will be able to query the DXCC system and display an
individual's DXCC record. In the past, members have had to request their
DXCC records via e-mail. "This was actually an unintended consequence of
offering the DXCC credits system," Mills said.

For more information, contact the Logbook of The World staff


The only Amateur Radio licensees in the US Congress--Rep Greg Walden,
W7EQI (R-OR), and Rep Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), have written FCC Chairman
Michael K. Powell to urge adoption of the ARRL's restructuring Petition
for Rule Making (RM-10867) "in its entirety" along with rules changes
needed to put it into place.

"We believe that this plan will encourage the development, refinement and
use of new technologies; increase the number of young people involved in
Amateur Radio; and provide incentives for Amateur Radio licensees to
pursue technical self-training and opportunities for volunteerism in the
best traditions of our country," Walden and Ross said in an April 23
letter. "We urge you to support the ARRL's restructuring plan and to
implement it rapidly."

The FCC now is considering a total of nearly 1300 comments filed on the
League's restructuring plan and on two other similar petitions--one from a
group called the Radio Amateur Foundation, RM-10868, and the other from
the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, RM-10870. A
fourth petition from Ronald D. Lowrance, K4SX, RM-10869, dealt solely with
the Amateur Radio Morse code requirement. It attracted more than 200
comments before the April 23 comment deadline.

The ARRL plan proposes a new entry-level Amateur Radio license--being
called "Novice" for now--that would include HF privileges without
requiring a Morse code exam, consolidate the current six license classes
into three and retain a 5 WPM Morse test only for Amateur Extra class
applicants. It also would integrate current Technician licensees into
General and current Advanced licensees into Amateur Extra without
additional testing.

"The ARRL's license restructuring plan, once implemented, will complete
the Commission's [restructuring] plan, initiated in 1998, and will provide
a blueprint for licensing well into the next decade," Walden and Ross
said. The League's plan "is needed right now to promote greater growth of
the healthy, exciting and rewarding intellectual pursuit of Amateur

Walden--a member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet--and Ross invited Powell to share his thoughts on the matter.


The International Morse code officially gains a new character on May 3.
That's when the now-familiar "@"; symbol joins the Morse lexicon as the
letters "AC" run together (.--.-.). Known as the "commercial at" or
"commat," the @ symbol never rose to the level of usage that demanded a
unique Morse character until it gained currency as a critical component of
e-mail addresses during the past decade or so.

Last December, the International Telecommunication Union
Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) Study Group 8 agreed on the wording of a
Draft New Recommendation ITU-R M.[MORSE] that specified the international
Morse code character set and transmission procedures and included the new
Morse code character.

The pending change has attracted some attention in the media, including
mentions on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and in The New
York Times.


Substitute solar sage Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, reports: Solar activity
was at moderate levels at the beginning of the reporting period--Friday
April 23 through Thursday April 29--with several M1 and M2 class flares.
Solar activity decreased to low levels in the latter half of the reporting
period. Solar activity is forecast to be low for the next several days.

Geophysical activity ranged from quite to active levels during the
reporting period due to several isolated active periods occurring at high
latitudes. The geomagnetic field is expected to be at an active level on
April 30, returning to quiet to unsettled levels on May 1 and 2.

The smoothed sunspot number for May is predicted to be around 35--a far
cry from the peak of 121 in April 2000. As Cycle 23 continues its descent,
10 meter aficionados are becoming more and more dejected. On the other
hand, 160 meter users are perking up as solar minimum approaches.

Sunspot numbers for the reporting week will appear in next week's "Solar



* This weekend on the radio: The New England QSO Party, the US IPARC
Annual Contest (CW), the MARAC County Hunters Contest (CW), the UBA
Welcome to European Union Contest, the 10-10 International Spring Contest
(CW), the Microwave Spring Sprint, the AGCW QRP/QRP Party, the Indiana QSO
Party, the ARI International DX Contest and the US IPARC Annual Contest
(SSB) are the weekend of May 1-2. The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship
(SSB) is May 3. The ARS Spartan Sprint is May 4. JUST AHEAD: The
Mid-Atlantic, Nevada and Oregon QSO parties, the VOLTA Worldwide RTTY
Contest, the CQ-M International DX Contest,  the FISTS Spring Sprint, the
Internet CW Sprint Contest and the 50-MHz Spring Sprint are the weekend of
May 8-9. The  RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (data) is May 12. See the
ARRL Contest Branch page <> and the WA7BNM
Contest Calendar <> for
more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL RFI (EC-006) and Antenna Design and Construction
(EC-009) courses remains open through Sunday, May 2. Classes begin
Tuesday, May 11. Antenna Design and Construction students will, among
other things, learn about basic dipoles and the ground planes and how to
assemble combinations of these into more complex antennas. Students
participating in the RFI course will learn to identify various
interference sources. Registration for Technician Licensing (EC-010) will
remains open through Sunday, May 9. Classes begin Tuesday, May 18. With
the assistance of a mentor, students will learn everything they need to
learn to pass the FCC Technician license class test. To learn more, visit
the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE)
<> Web page or contact the ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education Program Department <>;.

* More Level I Seats! ARRL Emergency Communications course registration:
Registration opens Monday, May 3, 12:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time (0401
UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001).
Registration remains open through the May 8-9 weekend or until all
available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins
Tuesday, May 18. Thanks to our Level I grant sponsor, the Corporation for
National and Community Service, the $45 registration fee paid upon
enrollment will be reimbursed after successful completion of the course.
During the May registration period, approximately 300 seats--an increase
of more than 75 percent--are being offered to ARRL members on a
first-come, first-served basis. Senior amateurs are strongly encouraged to
take advantage of this opportunity. To learn more, visit the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<>. For more information, contact Emergency
Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <>;;

* Ham radio emergency communications symposium planned in Kansas: A
day-long program on Amateur Radio emergency communications will take place
Saturday, July 24, 9 AM, at The Salvation Army, 420 E Santa Fe, Olathe,
Kansas (15 miles southwest of Kansas City). The day begins with "New Ham
Orientation," sponsored by Johnson County, Kansas, Amateur Radio Emergency
Service (ARES). This session will provide an overview of ARES and explain
how amateurs can get involved. After lunch--which will be provided--the
Kansas Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) will sponsor
an ARRL Emergency Communications seminar. Geared to all emergency
communications volunteers, this four-hour interactive seminar will cover
the latest concepts and improvements in Amateur Radio emergency
communications, describe the ARRL on-line emergency communications
courses, utilize disaster scenarios for group discussions, and offer a
self-preparedness examination. Handouts and prizes will be given. Seats
are limited. Those planning to attend should contact Dan Miller, K3UFG,
<>;; 860 594-0340 to register. For additional information
contact June Jeffers, KB0WEQ, <>;, 913-856-8674.

* Oklahoma ham earns first WAS-90 Award: It took ARRL member Jerry
Rochelle, K5QM, of Altus, Oklahoma, only 72 hours to work all 50 US states
and submit his application for the new "WAS in the 90th" award, which
commemorates the League's 90th anniversary. ARRL Membership Services
Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, said Rochelle was the first amateur to receive
the new award. Valid contacts for WAS-90 must be made between April 3 and
December 31, 2004. The award is a mixed band and mode award. No official
endorsements are available, but amateurs may "roll their own" by working
the 50 states again in any way they wish, and then apply for another
award. Each application costs $10. Rochelle submitted his award
application electronically via the ARRL Web site at 12:28 AM on April 6.
Visit the ARRL Worked All States (WAS) page
<> for an on-line entry form and more
information about the award, including instructions on how to mail or fax
an application to ARRL. The League was founded in 1914 by Hiram Percy
Maxim, later 1AW, and Clarence Tuska, later 1AY.

* FCC designates former amateur's latest GMRS application for hearing: The
FCC has designated for hearing a second General Mobile Radio Service
application by former amateur licensee Richard Allen Burton, ex-WB6JAC.
Burton had applied last year for a GMRS license, but that application was
dismissed without prejudice on a joint motion of Burton, who cited health
reasons, and FCC Enforcement Bureau counsel. When Burton again applied for
a GMRS license in February, the FCC designated it for hearing as well. On
April 19, the Commission released a five-page Hearing Designation Order
that outlines Burton's lengthy enforcement history with the FCC, which
began with events leading up to the revocation of his General ticket in
1981 and included four felony convictions and two jail terms. "Burton has
a demonstrated history of willfully and repeatedly violating the most
basic of the statutory requirements within the Commission's purview--the
requirement to obtain a license from the Commission before operating a
radio transmitter," the FCC said in the HDO. One issue the FCC wants to
determine at hearing is whether Burton has engaged in unlicensed operation
of a radio transmitter following the October 2000 conviction that earned
him three months incarceration, a year of probation and court-ordered
psychological counseling. Burton will bear the burden of proof at the
hearing, at which an administrative law judge would decide whether or not
Burton is qualified to be an FCC licensee.

* SWLs may file BPL interference complaints: FCC Part 15 rules prohibit
interference to licensed services from unlicensed devices. This means
that, with limited exceptions, short-wave listeners (SWLs) may file formal
complaints if broadband over power line (BPL) signals interfere with their
reception. "There is no doubt that international broadcast listeners have
standing to complain about interference to the reception of foreign
broadcast signals," says ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD. "One does
not have to be a licensee of a transmitter in order to receive harmful
interference from a United States-based RF source and have standing to
complain about it." Listeners to international short-wave broadcasts
originating in the US, Imlay explains, do not have standing to complain,
however, because they are not the target audience for such broadcasts.
Imlay says that while FCC and court cases involving standing to file are
complex, "the cases are clear that the allegation of suffering actual
electromagnetic interference to reception of a broadcast service, even one
generated internationally, from a domestic RF source, is sufficient in
every case to demonstrate standing to file a complaint." International
Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations require member nations to "take
all practicable and necessary steps to ensure that the operation of
electrical apparatus or installations of any kind, including power and
telecommunication distribution networks, but excluding equipment used for
industrial, scientific and medical applications, does not cause harmful
interference to a radiocommunication service."--Gary Pearce, KN4AQ

* US Department of Commerce honors Maryland amateur: The US Department of
Commerce has honored Fredrick Matos, W3ICM/YI3DX, of Annapolis, Maryland,
with its Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Achievement. An employee of
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA),
Matos received the award for his work to help establish telecommunications
in Iraq, where he was deployed for nine months. In Iraq, he helped
institute a central telecommunications authority along with assigning
frequencies to local law enforcement groups. He was also responsible for
issuing YI Amateur Radio licenses to both nationals and visitors. In
presenting the award April 13, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans welcomed
Matos home and thanked him for his role in "expanding freedom around the
world." Matos is a member of the Potomac Valley Radio Club.--The Daily DX;

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
<>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely,
accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <> for
the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
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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
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==>How to Get The ARRL Letter
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The ARRL Letter

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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

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.

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