*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 22 May 28, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +NTIA hints at Phase 2 BPL report findings * +FCC extends BPL reply comment deadline by three weeks * +ARISS contact marks two "firsts" * +Amateurs assist following tornados * +Nurture ham radio's newcomers, Haynie tells Dayton forum * +FCC chairman assures congressmen on restructuring * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration ARRL to sponsor Emergency Communications seminar in Arizona +W1RFI to represent ARRL at BPL session Commemorative Air Force-Memorial Day special event set Indy 500 special event station gets the green flag National Hurricane Center's WX4NHC sets annual test +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== NOTE: ARRL Headquarters closed Monday, May 31: Because of the Memorial Day holiday, ARRL Headquarters will be closed Monday, May 31, and W1AW will suspend its normal transmission schedule. ARRL Headquarters reopens Tuesday, June 1, at 8 AM EDT. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday! =========================================================== ==>NTIA TIPS HAND ON ITS ADDITIONAL BPL FINDINGS National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Acting Administrator Michael Gallagher says his agency's complete Phase 2 broadband over power line (BPL) study is targeted for release later this year. In remarks May 17 at the United Telecom Council's "Telecom 2004," Gallagher hinted at some findings in the Phase 2 study, which NTIA says will provide "additional guidance" on contending with BPL interference. The NTIA advised against putting the present FCC rule making proceeding on hold until release of its full Phase 2 report, however. "Key Phase 2 technical analyses have been completed," Gallagher told the UTC gathering, "and the findings are appended to NTIA's comments on proposed rules." The NTIA has posted its Phase 1 BPL study on the proceeding, ET Docket 04-37, and has indicated to the FCC that it will file its comments on or about May 28. Responsible for developing telecommunications policy for a White House that's promoting BPL, as well as for administering federal government radio spectrum that could be affected by the technology, the NTIA finds itself with a stake in both sides of the BPL controversy. The principal concern, Gallagher acknowledged, is that BPL systems might interfere with federal government and other radio services. The NTIA's Phase 1 study showed that interference risks already are high under existing Part 15 rules. Among its recommendations for reducing interference were frequency shifting and notching as well as "refined compliance measurement procedures." Gallagher says the NTIA's Phase 2 study has determined that BPL aggregation (ie, total emissions from multiple BPL systems) and ionospheric propagation "is not a potential near-term problem." The agency predicts that millions of BPL devices can be deployed under the rules the FCC is expected to adopt--probably later this year--before ionospheric propagation and aggregate BPL emissions become an interference issue. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, says he's curious to hear the NTIA rationalize its "near-term" assertion. "Does this mean it's okay to go ahead with a bad idea if the problems it causes are sufficiently far in the future?" he asked. The Phase 2 study also will evaluate the effectiveness of proposed Part 15 measurement techniques and recommend a "height-correction factor" of 5 dB to BPL measurements made at a height of 1 meter, Gallagher said. The NTIA acknowledges that peak field strength is as much as 20 dB higher--a factor of 100--than the peak measured at a height of 1 meter under current Part 15 rules. Because the peak does not occur consistently at a particular distance from a BPL device along the power line, the NTIA will advise requiring a peak field strength measurement search along the entire power line at a distance of 10 meters and at a height of 1 meter. The agency has determined that a moderate-to-high probability of interference exists to a fixed station from BPL power lines at a distance of 450 meters--approximately 1480 feet--and to a mobile station at a distance of 55 meters--approximately 180 feet. To "fulfill special protection requirements," Gallagher said, the NTIA will suggest "minimal" coordination areas--where a specified authority would coordinate all planned BPL deployment--plus excluded bands and exclusion zones. The NTIA recommends "voluntary coordination" with respect to other radio operations plus "mandatory Access BPL power control, frequency agility and shut-off capabilities" to reduce interference risks and to expedite interference mitigation. The NTIA further proposes that BPL rules provide for "prompt response to complaints of suspected interference," recasting the FCC's Part 15 shutdown requirement as "a last resort." "Our BPL study of more than 10 million signal samples shows that solutions exist to all identified BPL technical issues," Gallagher concluded. That's true, Sumner said, "but only if you include shutting a BPL system off and keeping it off as a 'solution.'" During a White House meeting May 20, ARRL officials asked the Bush administration to heed its own NTIA experts and back away from its support of BPL. The League also has called on the FCC to put its BPL proceeding on hold to allow more thorough research of its interference potential. For additional information, visit the "Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) and Amateur Radio" <http://www.arrl.org/bpl> page on the ARRL Web site. ==>FCC EXTENDS REPLY COMMENT DEADLINE IN BPL PROCEEDING The FCC has extended to June 22 the deadline to file reply comments (comments on filed comments) in its broadband over power line (BPL) Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), ET Docket 04-37. The FCC acted this week on a request from the National Antenna Consortium and the Amherst Alliance (NAC/Amherst) for a much longer filing deadline extension. The organizations said the June 1 reply comment deadline would not allow stakeholders adequate time to prepare comments that address the full two-part National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) BPL study. The FCC said the NTIA has indicated it soon will submit comments and a technical appendix that will include key findings of the Phase 2 report, which is due for release later this year. "We believe that three weeks should provide ample time for review and analysis of this information, and accordingly grant the extension for that period," said FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Edmond J. Thomas, who signed the May 26 Order Granting Extension of Time. NAC/Amherst had sought to have the FCC postpone the filing comment deadline until either September 1 or two months after the public release of the NTIA's Phase 2 study--whichever came later. Noting that its Part 15 rules already permit Access BPL systems and that its February BPL NPRM places additional requirements on BPL systems over and above current Part 15 requirements, the FCC asserted that any further delay would diminish the Commission's ability to protect licensed users now occupying the HF spectrum. A further extension, the FCC added, also would "needlessly increase regulatory uncertainty" about BPL. The FCC turned down a request that it reissue in substantially greater detail the provisions of its proposed BPL rules concerning interference prevention and mitigation and the enforcement of standards. The FCC does not routinely grant such time extensions, and it denied earlier petitions, including filings from the ARRL and NAC/Amherst, to extend the initial May 3 comment filing deadline. The League and others had said commenters needed more time to digest the NTIA's Part 1 BPL study, released April 27. ==>ARISS SCHOOL GROUP CONTACT A FIRST FOR ASTRONAUT, EXPEDITION 9 NASA Expedition 9 International Space Station Science Officer and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, logged what's believed to be his first-ever Amateur Radio contact May 25 from the spacecraft's NA1SS. The QSO also marked the first Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school group contact for the Expedition 9 crew. The US astronaut and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, arrived aboard the ISS in late April. Fincke advised a dozen youngsters gathered at Erie Planetarium <http://www.eriecountyhistory.org/planetarium.htm> in Pennsylvania, that the crew must take a space walk in the next few weeks to replace a failed remote power controller module for one of the four ISS control moment gyroscopes, or CMGs. "I'm really looking forward to it," Fincke told the youngsters, who attend several schools in the Erie area. In addition to the CMG repair EVA, the Expedition 9 crew will carry out two other space walks during their six-month tour. Responding to another question, Fincke said he's really enjoying the weightlessness of space, although he noted, some caution is in order. "I love being weightless," he said. "I can fly around like Superman and pick up very big things." He cautioned, however, that crew members need to "take it nice and easy" in weightlessness to avoid banging into things and injuring themselves. For fun and recreation, Fincke said, the crew has laptop computers and can watch DVDs--although there's no television aboard. "The whole space station is a little bit fun to play in and do fun things," he said, "but just being aboard the International Space Station is like a dream come true, so it's all fun--every minute of every day is really fun." In all, the youngsters asked 18 questions of Fincke before the ISS went over the horizon from the telebridge station of Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, in South Australia. MCI donated a teleconferencing link to handle the two-way audio between VK5ZAI and the planetarium. Fincke has twice before visited the Erie Planetarium, run by the Erie County Historical Society. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss> is an international educational outreach program with US participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. ==>AMATEURS AID AS TORNADOS DEVASTATE NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES From storm spotting through recovery support, Amateur Radio operators were on duty this week, aiding tornado-stricken communities in Nebraska and elsewhere in the Midwest. A May 22 tornado virtually destroyed most structures and was blamed for one death in Hallam, a town of approximately 300 some 20 miles south of Lincoln. ARRL Nebraska Section Emergency Coordinator Reynolds Davis, K0GND, said Lancaster County ARES/SKYWARN spotters activated the evening of May 22 in response to a report of an approaching front. Within a half-hour, W0NWS at the National Weather Service office in Valley already was receiving tornado damage reports via the Lincoln Amateur Radio Club K0KKV repeater. "When the system moved into Lancaster County shortly after 8:30 PM, it destroyed almost every structure in the town of Hallam," Davis said, leaving the residents homeless. The NWS rated the tornado that struck Hallam as an F-4 on the five-point Fujita Scale--207 to 260 MPH. The storm also severely damaged the high school in Norris and plucked the tower supporting the K0RPT repeater's south receiver from the ground. The tower remains missing. The tornado went on to destroy additional homes to the northeast, and its path of destruction finally ended south of Bennet, he said. More than 50 amateurs participated in the SKYWARN net, said Davis, who also serves as Lancaster County Emergency Coordinator. The National Weather Service Omaha office logged dozens of weather and storm-damage reports from radio amateurs in several Nebraska counties on May 22. Once the SKYWARN Nets closed, the K0RPT VHF repeater was put into service to support Red Cross communications among the tornado scene, the chapter house and a shelter set up in a Lincoln high school for residents displaced by the storm. Two ARES nets activated May 23 to coordinate damage survey and assessment, and reports logged via K0EOC at the Lancaster County Emergency Operations Center. Davis said that by the time both damage survey nets shut down, 41 operators had driven nearly 2200 miles and surveyed 100 square miles. Gov Mike Johanns declared a state of emergency after more than a dozen tornados swept several southern Nebraska counties. In Missouri, Grundy County EC Glen Briggs, KB0RPJ, reports that Amateur Radio groups in the northern part of the state relayed severe weather reports to the National Weather Service and to local emergency management and law enforcement officials May 22. Hardest hit areas were near Chillicothe and Brookfield. After one repeater was knocked off the air, amateurs switched to backup repeaters and simplex. Some 18 operators in nine Missouri counties participated, he said. ==>EXPERIENCED HAMS MUST NURTURE NEWCOMERS, HAYNIE TELLS FORUM It's up to today's Amateur Radio veterans to cultivate the younger generation, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, told the ARRL Forum at Dayton Hamvention 2004 May 15. Calling the statistic "shocking," Haynie cited ARRL survey data showing that more than one-fifth of new amateur licensees never get on the air. He suggested that too few experienced amateurs take new licensees under their wing to help them get started. "One of the things that we need to do is open up our hearts and open up our minds a little bit about the new generation coming along," he said. The addition of another half-dozen ARRL Education and Technology Program (ETP) <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/> pilot schools has raised the total to 81, Haynie pointed out. While its primary goal is using Amateur Radio to educate youngsters about wireless technology, the ETP has resulted in thousands of new hams--teenagers and younger. "What makes these programs successful, of course, is the local hams, the local clubs getting behind the program and teaching these kids the kinds of things we all know," Haynie said, adding that nothing is too basic or simple. "I didn't know how to put on a PL-259 when I got my General," Haynie admitted, recalling that he'd more than once forgotten to slip the connector's shell over the end of the cable before soldering the plug. Haynie suggested that today's older hams also need to consider that technology is changing, and the questions appearing on the ham radio examinations of tomorrow will be ones "that haven't been thought of yet." In 1972 when he took his General, he said, his test included questions on Hartley and Colpitts oscillators. In contrast, today's examinations cover topics such as phase-locked loops, satellite operation and digital technology. The ARRL president asserted that many Amateur Extra class licensees couldn't pass today's Element 4 examination if they had to do. Haynie said that if and when the FCC changes Amateur Radio licensing requirements in response to various petitions for rule making--including one from the League--it will not be a matter of "dumbing down" Amateur Radio. "It's not that Amateur Radio is dumbed down," he said. "People like me have failed to keep up, and if you look in your heart, you're going to say the same thing." "Amateur Radio is what you make of it once you get your license," Haynie continued. Getting a ham ticket doesn't make anyone more intelligent, and learning the ropes usually begins after someone already has a license in hand. "You learn by doing," he said. Haynie said the ARRL Board did not take lightly its latest restructuring proposal, and he acknowledged that the League's petition has not won universal praise. "It was not an overnight decision," he said, adding that the Board wanted to take a fair and evenhanded approach to restructuring. How the FCC will act on the Morse code requirement and restructuring "is anyone's guess," Haynie said, but he predicted that the Commission will never reinstate higher code speed requirements as some have requested. "The FCC is not going to go back to 13 and 20 words per minute, and you can take that to the bank," he predicted. "It's not going to happen." "Whatever you enjoy about Amateur Radio, it's not going to change" as a result of any restructuring Haynie said. While the FCC might take "the path of least resistance," he believes it's more likely to take bits and pieces of the various petitions to come up with something that's would be workable and "give Amateur Radio a shot in the arm." "We need that," Haynie concluded. ==>FCC CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO REQUEST TO SUPPORT ARRL RESTRUCTURING PLAN FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell has assured US representatives Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), and Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), that the Commission will act "as expeditiously as possible" on Amateur Radio restructuring. Walden and Ross wrote Powell a month ago 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. Powell said the League's petition was one of many. "At this time, the Commission staff is reviewing and analyzing carefully all of the petitions, comments and proposed rule changes in this area," Powell responded May 21. "Because this matter is of great importance to you and the almost 700,000 amateur radio operators nationwide, the staff is working diligently to create a comprehensive solution to address the proposals the petitioners have submitted." The next step in the process, he said, will be to prepare a notice of proposed rule making for the Commission's consideration. In addition to the League's filing, Powell pointed out, the Commission received 17 other petitions for rule making that address examination requirements and operating privileges for Amateur Service licensees. The various proposals attracted more than 5000 comments, he noted--more than 800 of them on the ARRL's petition alone. In their letter to Powell, Walden and Ross expressed their belief that the ARRL's 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." Other restructuring plans were filed by the Radio Amateur Foundation, RM-10868, and by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, RM-10870. Fifteen other petitions for rule making came down on one side or the other of retaining the Amateur Radio Morse code examination requirement to operate on HF. Judging from Powell's letter to Walden and Ross, the FCC plans to address all 18 petitions within the framework of a single rule making proceeding. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Sun gazer Tad "Ain't No Sunspots When You're Gone" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Conditions weren't bad this week. Average daily sunspot numbers were down about 13 points and average daily solar flux was off about 6 points. There were no major geomagnetic disruptions. Solar flux is expected to remain around 100. Predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday, May 28-31 is 10, 10, 12 and 15. Predicted solar flux for the same days is 100, 100, 105 and 105. Currently holographic helioseismic imaging reveals another sunspot group on the sun's far side, so perhaps activity will remain at the current moderate levels. The Australian Space Weather Agency has warned of possible increased geomagnetic activity due to a solar wind stream from a coronal hole around Jun 1-3. Sunspot numbers for May 20 through 26 were 109, 82, 79, 127, 118, 101 and 89, with a mean of 100.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 104.6, 106.9, 102.4, 104, 105.2, 102.4 and 103.3, with a mean of 104.1. Estimated planetary A indices were 13, 10, 11, 12, 11, 8 and 6, with a mean of 10.1. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 11, 6, 7, 9, 8, 5 and 3, with a mean of 7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (CW), the Great Lakes QSO Party and the ARCI Hootowl Sprint are the weekend of May 29-30. The MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint is May 31-June 1. JUST AHEAD: The Major Six Club Contest, the VK/Trans-Tasman 80-Meter Contest (CW), the UKSMG Summer Contest, IARU Region 1 Field Day (CW), RSGB National Field Day, the QRP TAC Sprint, the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (data) and the ARS Spartan Sprint are the weekend of June 5-6. 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 Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009) courses remains open through Sunday, May 30. Classes begin Tuesday, June 8. Students participating in the RFI course will learn to identify various interference sources. Antenna Design and Construction students will, among other things, learn about basic dipoles and ground planes and how to assemble combinations of these into more complex antennas. Students also will learn about transmission lines, standing wave ratio, phased arrays and Yagis. Registration for Technician Licensing (EC-010) will remain open through Sunday, June 6. Classes begin Tuesday, June 15. With the assistance of a mentor, students will learn everything they need to learn to pass the FCC Technician class Amateur Radio examination. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce> or contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department, email@example.com. * ARRL to sponsor Emergency Communications seminar in Arizona: The ARRL will offer a free Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course seminar in conjunction with the ARRL Southwest Division Convention in Arizona. The seminar, Friday, August 27, 1-5 PM, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Phoenix, is open to all interested hams. The seminar will *not* include the Level I course itself. A PowerPoint presentation will include background information, group discussion of multiple disaster scenarios, comments from emergency communications leadership, ARECC mentors and students, discussion about the ARRL Amateur Radio emergency communications courses, current status of our federal grant from Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the grant from our corporate partner, United Technologies Corporation, updates on emergency communications tools being developed nationally and a quiz to determine personal preparedness. Senior citizens are strongly encouraged to participate. All ARES/RACES volunteers, ARECC course participants at every level, and ARRL Field Organization leadership are welcome. Course participants are invited to share their experiences. Field Organization Leadership--SMs, SECs, DECs and ECs--are encouraged to brainstorm ideas to motivate volunteers and coordinate activities. Attendees will receive handouts and be eligible for a prize drawing. Seating is limited. Anyone planning to attend should contact Dan Miller, K3UFG, <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 860-594-0340; FAX 860-594-0259. For more information, visit the ARRL Southwest Division Convention Web site <http://www.hamradio2004.com/swdc2004>. * W1RFI to represent ARRL at BPL session: ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, will represent the League June 7 at a meeting to consider the development of standards for BPL technology. The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) will sponsor the gathering, "Call for Interest in Standards Development for Broadband over Power Lines (BPL)," in conjunction with the IEEE Power Engineering Society. The IEEE says the meeting will focus on understanding how standardization of BPL technologies will accelerate its development. Among the session's stated objectives is to identify regulatory issues, including interference. This session will be take place during the IEEE Power Engineering Society general meeting in Denver. Hare is a member of the American National Standards Institute C63 Accredited Standards Committee on Electromagnetic Compatibility <http://www.c63.org/> on which he chairs the ad hoc BPL/PLC working group and the subcommittee on immunity. * Commemorative Air Force-Memorial Day special event set: Commemorative Air Force-Memorial Day special event station KD4SFF ("Super Flying Fortress") will be on the air from Asheville, North Carolina, from 1600 UTC May 29 until 1600 UTC May 31. The Commemorative Air Force's B-29 Super Fortress "Fifi" and B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil" are scheduled to be at Asheville this weekend. The special event will honor all who gave their lives defending the United States as well as Col Robert K. Morgan USAFR/Ret, who died May 15 <http://cgi.citizen-times.com/cgi-bin/story/news/54976>. The single-station operation will rotate among the General-class segments of 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. Operation also is anticipated on 6 and 2 meters as well as on the AO-27 satellite and packet via RS0ISS aboard the International Space Station. An SASE should accompany QSL or 9x12 certificate requests to Experimenters Group ARC N4ISS, c/o Al Lark 301 Shannon Dr, Greenville, SC 29615-1814. * Indy 500 special event station gets the green flag: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club (W9IMS) has been designated the official Amateur Radio club of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway--the first time a ham radio club has received this distinction. A W9IMS special event operation continues through Sunday, May 30, the day of the Indy 500. Operation will center around 1.840, 3.840, 7.240, 14.070 (PSK31), 14.240, 21.340, 28.340, 50.140 and 144.240 MHz, as well as 146.52 MHz FM simplex. W9IMS also will operate special event stations for the other two races in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Triple Crown--the United States Grand Prix (Formula One) June 20 and the Brickyard 400 (NASCAR) August 8. Those operations will begin about three weeks before each race and end on the respective race days. Stations working or monitoring W9IMS are eligible for an official W9IMS Indianapolis Motor Speedway QSL card. Include an SASE with QSL requests to Indianapolis Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club, PO Box 18495, Indianapolis, IN 46218-0495 USA. Stations outside the US may QSL via the bureau. For more information, contact David Spoelstra, N9KT, <email@example.com>. * National Hurricane Center's WX4NHC sets annual test: A reminder: Amateur Radio station WX4NHC <http://www.wx4nhc.org/> at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami will conduct its 2004 on-the-air station test Sunday, May 30, 1300-2200 UTC. WX4NHC Amateur Radio Coordinator John McHugh, KU4GY, says the test provides an opportunity to test all of the station's radio gear prior to the official start of the 2004 hurricane season June 1. The WX4NHC event will be just an equipment and operator test, and no nets will be activated. WX4NHC will be on the air on HF, VHF and UHF as well as on APRS. HF operation will center on 7.268, 14.325, 21.325 and 28.525 MHz on SSB; 14.035, 21.035 and 28.035 MHz on CW; and 14.070 MHz on PSK31. WX4NHC will also be on IRLP and EchoLink South Florida-area VHF and UHF repeaters as well as 146.52 MHz FM simplex and 144.200 MHz SSB. Participating stations report call sign, signal report, location and a brief weather report ("sunny," "rain," etc). Include an SASE with QSL requests to W4VBQ. =========================================================== 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. 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