*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 23 June 4, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Some disturbances in the BPL force * +Hams support flood relief in Appalachia * +No phone, no pool no pets on ISS * +Georgia ARES holds drill; emergency breaks out * +Oldest US ham, Tex Burdick, W5BQU, SK * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration More ARRL Emergency Communications course Level I Seats available! Clarification +FCC seeks assistance in illegal equipment sales D-Day Museum special event set J. D. Harper, K6KSR, wins QST Cover Plaque Award +AMSAT issues second call for Symposium papers K6KPH to transmit Field Day message +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>VIRGINIA CITY, BPL PROVIDER PART WAYS; PEPCO OPTS OUT OF BPL INVESTMENT The City of Manassas, Virginia, and broadband over power line (BPL) franchisee Prospect Street Broadband have parted company, and the city is seeking a new business partner. The decision to terminate the joint venture was mutual, according to city officials, and the city has acquired Prospect Street's interests. Manassas was planning to open bids from prospective replacement BPL providers June 7. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, called the failure of the Prospect Street-Manassas deal just another example of a BPL deployment decision gone awry. He also predicted that BPL would not prove to be the revenue generator the city anticipates. Under the franchise agreement, Manassas receives 10.5 percent of BPL revenue and is responsible only for the relatively small cost of equipment installation. The failure of the franchise agreement leaves the city with obligations that far exceed revenues, however. The first municipally owned utility to offer citywide BPL, Manassas has changed the name of its project from the Broadband over Powerline Enterprise to the Telecommunications Services Enterprise. City budget documents indicate that Manassas is prepared to loan $400,000 to the Telecommunications Services Enterprise Fund "to finance operating expenses" in Fiscal Year 2005. The city's small BPL field trial involved fewer than a dozen homes and businesses in an area with underground utility wiring and no nearby Amateur Radio licensees. "Results of the eighteen-month pilot program were favorable and demonstrated BPL as a viable technology for the delivery of data services," the city's bid invitation declares. The city approved full-scale BPL deployment last October and started offering the service in February. The contract with Prospect Street Broadband apparently was terminated several weeks later. The city's glowing pro-BPL comments on the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule Making in ET Docket 04-37, filed May 3, neglect to mention the cancellation of the Prospect Street agreement. The comments also say the city "remains sensitive" to Amateur Radio's interference fears. Manassas Utilities Director Allen P. Todd, W4VUB, has met with members of the Ole Virginia Hams (OVH) Amateur Radio Club to address their concerns, the comments note, and a BPL connection was set up in the home of OVH member Bob Zaepfel, K4HJF. The city made a letter from Todd describing its efforts to cooperate with local amateurs part of its comments to the FCC. That letter says that during informal tests in early April, OVH members were "unable to identify any interference in the amateur bands being caused by BPL installation." Todd's letter did not provide test details. The Manassas Journal Messenger reported this week that two neighborhoods now are fully equipped for the service, and, to date, 200 customers are using the service, although the bid proposal says the city's deployment of BPL "passes more than 2000 homes with the fiber infrastructure passing more than 4,000 homes, and fiber construction continuing each day." Manassas charges $28.95 a month for its BPL service. The city is supposed to complete its citywide BPL rollout by this fall. City officials told the Journal Messenger that the Prospect Street contract termination will not affect BPL delivery. Elsewhere, Pepco, a utility serving 700,000 Washington, DC, and Maryland customers, and its parent company, Pepco Holdings Inc, have decided to forgo any investment in BPL. Pepco continues to operate a BPL field test in Potomac, Maryland. The utility is continuing discussions with BPL partner Current Technologies and has indicated it's open to proposals to lease access to their power lines to deliver broadband service. Pepco was said to be less interested in delivering broadband than in finding ways to improve its billing systems. A company spokesperson said the decision not to invest in BPL applies to all Pepco Holdings Inc companies. Additional information on BPL and video clips from field trial sites are on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/bpl/>. ==>HAM RADIO SUPPORTS FLOOD RELIEF IN APPALACHIAN COMMUNITIES Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) members in Western Virginia gave up their Memorial Day weekend to assist American Red Cross flood recovery efforts in extreme Southwest Virginia. Heavy rainfall in late May caused creeks and small streams to overflow in Appalachian Mountain communities in Russell and Tazewell counties. Virginia Gov Mark Warner has declared a state of emergency in the two counties, where the flash floods May 25 affected hundreds of residents. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) says flood waters destroyed more than 40 single-family homes and five businesses in Tazewell County, while upward of 200 homes suffered damage in Russell County. Dozens of other homes and businesses were damaged, but no injuries were reported. ARES South Piedmont District Emergency Coordinator Glen Sage, W4GHS, has been working directly with the Red Cross in deploying ARES volunteers. "We've set up two communications centers at two distribution points," said Sage. Because the affected communities are situated in narrow mountain valleys, ARES volunteers have been using both VHF and HF. The Red Cross's own radio systems are meager and cell service virtually non-existent in the area, Sage explained. "We are their communication, and I'd say we saved them 1000 to 2000 hours in work." Ham radio ingenuity also came in handy. Since a lot of the newer Red Cross vehicles have fiberglass bodies, the typical amateur mag-mount antenna was useless. Sage said the ARES team made up J-pole antennas and simply taped them onto the vehicles' non-metallic bodies instead. "Our communication has been very very solid using this system," he said. In addition to shadowing Red Cross volunteers to provide necessary communication, Sage said, ARES volunteers also have helped those coming in from outside the isolated region to find their way around. "We have a couple of local hams who know the area very well," he explained. Some hams also brought along their GPS units. The area has been under a flash flood watch for most of the days since ARES activated May 28. In the midst of it all, Sage and Red Cross personnel were called away to Lee County--near the very tip of western Virginia--to follow up on a tornado that destroyed a couple of houses and damaged a few others. In Russell and Tazewell counties, Sage said the Red Cross had arranged for local motels to shelter anyone displaced by the flooding and at least one shelter was opened. Most of those forced to flee were staying with family members and friends, however. "We got stories of some people who just barely got out," he said. "Some of them linked arms, and one person had on waders and water was coming over his waders, and if anyone would have slipped and fell, it probably would have taken them all." One area received four inches of rain per hour at the height of the downpour, Sage said. "It was real intense in a small geographical area." Floodwaters also took out bridges that connect those living near overflowing creeks with the rest of their communities. Some local highways were washed out, and a few schools were closed in both counties. ARRL Assistant Virginia Section Emergency Coordinator Ron Sokol, K4KHZ, says it was slow-going for Red Cross damage assessment teams as the rain continued. "They worked in the mud," he said. Sokol said the ARES volunteers also have assisted the Red Cross in distributing food and water, delivering needed medications and passing out vouchers for groceries and household necessities. Sage had high praise for the Red Cross volunteers. "At this point, the only active group I've seen out in the field has been the American Red Cross," he said. "And they've just been doing a yeoman's job." While cooperating during the relief effort, Sage said the ARES and Red Cross volunteers have developed a great deal of mutual respect. "My back is sore from being patted by the Red Cross," he remarked. "They're just thrilled to death." The vast majority of the ARES responders turned out from counties and towns well away from the stricken region. In all, Sokol estimated that some three dozen ARES members participated in the flash flood activation, which was expected to wrap up by week's end. ==>NO PETS, VOTING BOOTHS IN SPACE, ASTRONAUT TELLS HIGH SCHOOLERS A high school student's question about keeping pets aboard the International Space Station almost stumped astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, on June 2. The query came during an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school group contact in which eight physics students at Walton Central High School in New York participated. One of them asked Fincke, who's NASA ISS Science Officer, if any astronaut had ever considered having a pet on the ISS, and, if so, what pet. Fincke said it was the toughest question he's ever had to answer about life in space. "I'm not even sure pets can survive up here," he said. "We can feed them and such, but they can't really move around. I'm not sure that many dogs or cats or any other types of pets actually would be able to handle weightlessness." Fincke said that while birds and rodents have been flown into space as part of scientific experiments, they were not considered pets. Since Election Day will be nearly at hand when Fincke returns to Earth from his six-month ISS duty tour, another student wanted to know what kind of technology might permit US astronauts to exercise their right to vote while still in space. "We are not going to probably be able to use any kind of technology to vote in space, although we had started to look at some different options, but we can still always use the absentee ballot," Fincke said, provided the launch is close enough to the election. Current duty tours are six months, Fincke explained, but they could eventually be extended to one year. Fincke also told the students that the ISS loses some 25 meters (approximately 82 feet) per day in altitude, and the crew needs to adjust the orbit approximately every three months to compensate. He said the crew can use the thrusters from a docked Progress supply rocket or the spacecraft's onboard thrusters to correct the ISS's orbit. Questioned about scientific research on the ISS, Fincke said the crew has been working with a new ultrasound device to see how the microgravity aboard the ISS might be affecting their internal organs. "It's pretty advanced," Fincke said, adding that the experiment marked the first time in space that a crew has been able to observe how different organs react to weightlessness. The experiment was one of approximately 100 ongoing ISS experiments, he said. To accommodate the ISS orbital path, ARISS Club Station NN1SS in Greenbelt, Maryland, handled the Amateur Radio end of the contact with NA1SS aboard the ISS. Mark Steiner, K3MS, served as the control operator. MCI provided a teleconference link to make two-way audio available to Walton Central High School. Will Marchant, KC6ROL, served as moderator for the event. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss/> is an international educational outreach with US participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. ==>GEORGIA ARES DRILL TURNS INTO EMERGENCY Georgia Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) <http://www.gaares.org/> members were drilling May 25 to assist state and federal agencies with this month's G8 Summit on Sea Island when a real emergency broke out. With much of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) staff deployed to the Georgia coast--some 250 miles away from their Atlanta headquarters--for the drill, a fire erupted in a pool and spa chemical plant in Conyers, an Atlanta suburb. "We were handling routine drill traffic when we learned that an actual emergency had occurred," said Georgia Section Emergency Coordinator Mike Boatright, KO4WX. The fire began just before dawn, but the ARES drill participants didn't learn about it until a dense cloud of toxic smoke a half-mile wide and eventually some 30 miles long forced the closing of I-20 during morning rush hour and the evacuation of hundreds of residents. As part of the G8 drill, Boatright already had established communications between Atlanta and GEMA's mobile communications vehicle (MCV) on the Georgia coast. "School system buses evacuated residents of homes, apartments and several nursing centers in the affected area and took them to two shelters," he said. Red Cross shelters were established at schools north and south of town. Because the emergency required resources from federal, state and county agencies, GEMA--in the midst of its full-up preparedness drill for the G8--had to respond, Boatright said. "As is typical in the early stages of a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) incident, there was conflicting information about evacuations and other critical information." Boatright said the relocated GEMA staff had communication capabilities, but the Amateur Radio link to the City of Conyers Command Center was considered reliable--and one not yet established by telephone. While still in drill session, Boatright said, the net handled priority traffic between command center and GEMA officials, assisting GEMA to assess how to respond to the event. Boatright says HF contact was established between the GEMA MCV and Earl Immel, KD4SLT, in Rockdale County, who later was dispatched to the command center. "For approximately one hour, the ARES net moved from drill session to emergency session at GEMA's request," Boatright said, "until it was asked to stand down once it was assessed that the threat of a communications emergency had passed." Locally, at the request of Conyers Emergency Communications Director Trish Woodward, WA4ZOT, Rockdale County Emergency Coordinator Tim Rosing, KC4ELV, established communication between the two shelters and the city's command center. Communications later were requested for a back-up command center south of the city, since the cloud threatened to force the primary command center to evacuate. The cloud shifted, however, and the relocated dispatchers were recalled. At midday the cloud threatened the local hospital for a short time, but a shift in wind headed off the need to evacuate. The emergency ended the next day, May 26, at 2:15 PM , when authorities reopened the restricted area and allowed residents to return home. During the local ARES callup, Rosing says 25 amateurs from Rockdale, Newton and DeKalb county ARES groups logged more than 226 work hours. ARES volunteers in the shelters and command center handled health-and-welfare requests, food distribution, special care/medicine coordination and shelter capacity information requests. Some 800 evacuees received care and housing at the shelters during the emergency. "In his post-drill assessment meeting with GEMA staff, GEMA State Operations Center Chief Dan Brown took special notice of the role of Amateur Radio during the drill, as well as of our ability to quickly respond to an actual disaster at the same time," Boatright said. Georgia ARES will go on full alert June 5 at 8 AM and remain on full alert through the conclusion of the G8 Summit June 10. ==>OLDEST AMATEUR IN US--BYRL "TEX" BURDICK, W5BQU, SK The man believed to be the oldest Amateur Radio operator in the US--Byrl "Tex" Burdick, W5BQU, of El Paso, Texas--died May 30. He was 103. Admired as much for his courteous and kind personality as for his longevity and youthful appearance, Burdick was licensed for nearly three-quarters of a century. During his many years on the air, he took pleasure in meeting new friends and was a regular QSLer. When Burdick, an ARRL member, turned 103 last September, ARRL President and fellow Texan Jim Haynie, W5JBP, extended congratulations and best wishes on behalf of the League. "A landmark and an icon to our great hobby" is how Kenneth Kuhblank Jr, K5KWK (ex-W6KWK), of El Paso described his friend in the article "A Voice from the Ether--B. H. "Tex" Burdick, W5BQ," by Steve Barreres, K2CX, in the December 2003 issue of QST. "You will not meet a more courteous operator." In the QST article, Barreres tells how a passing motorist talking on his mobile ham radio setup piqued Burdick's initial interest in ham radio. Soon, he passed the examination and had a ticket of his own. Burdick says he started out with a homemade transmitter and receiver--each one fitted with a single 201A tube. Born in San Angelo, Texas, Burdick attended the University of Minnesota. Returning to Texas in the late 1920s, he established a well-drilling, windmill and water supply firm, Burdick & Burdick, which remains in the family. To expedite his business travels throughout the Southwestern US and northern Mexico, Burdick became a licensed pilot in the 1940s and occasionally operated aeronautical mobile on the amateur bands. According to his obituary <http://www.borderlandnews.com/stories/obituaries/index.shtml> in the El Paso Times, he also was known to deliver newspapers to his customers via air drop and to provide transportation for disabled youngsters on behalf of the Lions Club. Burdick was a charter member of the El Paso Amateur Radio Club, and he donated a windmill tower for the new clubhouse to use as an antenna support. A similar structure holding a triband Yagi graces his own residence. Burdick retired in 1979. His recollections and photographs documenting the early days of his career were the focus of a 1992 book, Blades in the Sky, Windmilling through the Eyes of B. H. "Tex" Burdick, by T. Lindsay Baker. After retirement, he and his wife, Juanita, traveled the world. In addition to ham radio and an early interest in photography, Burdick also enjoyed hunting and fishing and spending his summers in Alaska and Colorado. In addition to his wife of 54 years, survivors include his son, Byrl Jr, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service was held Thursday, June 3. The family invites memorial donation to Hospice of El Paso, 1750 Curie Dr, El Paso, TX 79902, or to St Clements Episcopal Church, 600 Montana, El Paso, TX 79902. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar swami Tad "Black Hole Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: The sun appears nearly blank, with one small spot, Sunspot 621, facing Earth. There are no other noticeable areas of activity, however. Sunspots visible a few days have just faded from view. Sunspot numbers and solar flux are understandably quite low. Over the next week expect low geomagnetic activity. Planetary A index for June 4-8 is expected at 10, 8, 8, 10 and 10. Solar flux values for the same days are predicted to be 90, 95, 95, 100 and 100. Solar flux is expected to peak between June 11-16 around 110. We're in a late spring propagation mode now. The higher HF bands are seeing fewer openings, although this month we should see sporadic E skip. As the days grow longer, absorption during daylight hours should increase. Daytime propagation on 20 meters won't be as good as it was a few months ago, but late-night propagation should improve. Seasonal noise levels also will increase, especially on the lower HF bands. Field Day is still a few weeks off, but currently the SEC 45 Day AP forecast for planetary A index shows unsettled conditions predicted for the June 26-27 weekend, with A values of 15. Sunspot numbers for May 27 through June 2 were 62, 52, 57, 64, 54, 76 and 63, with a mean of 61.1. The 10.7 cm flux was 101.8, 102.4, 101.2, 99.6, 95.4, 90 and 90.4, with a mean of 97.3. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 9, 14, 13, 14, 16 and 11, with a mean of 11.9. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 5, 6, 12, 11, 11, 14 and 9, with a mean of 9.7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: 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. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL June VHF QSO Party, the ANARTS World Wide RTTY Contest, the Portugal Day Contest and the Asia-Pacific Summer Sprint (SSB) are the weekend of June 12-13. SARL Kid's Day and the RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (CW) are June 16. ARRL Kid's Day is June 19. 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 Technician Licensing course (EC-010) remains open through Sunday, June 6. Classes begin Tuesday, June 15. With the assistance of a mentor, EC-010 students learn everything they need to know to pass the FCC Technician class license examination. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education <http://www.arrl.org/cce> Web page or contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department <email@example.com>. * More ARRL Emergency Communications course Level I Seats available! Registration opens Monday, June 7, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC), for the on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration remains open through the June 12-13 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, June 22. 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 June registration period, approximately 300 seats 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 <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> Web page. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 860-594-0340. * Clarification: As reported in The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 22, "ARRL to sponsor Emergency Communications seminar in Arizona," the League will offer an emergency communications course seminar in conjunction with the ARRL Southwestern Division Convention, Friday, August 27, 1-5 PM. Those planning to attend should note that convention registration is necessary, although attendance at the seminar itself is free, thanks to the ARRL's Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) grant. Just show your registration ticket when you arrive at the seminar. Seating is limited. Anyone planning to attend should contact Dan Miller, K3UFG, <email@example.com>; 860-594-0340; FAX 860-594-0259. For more information, visit the ARRL Southwestern Division Convention Web site <http://www.hamradio2004.com/swdc2004>. * FCC seeks assistance in illegal equipment sales: The FCC says it's taking a close look at reports alleging sales of illegal (non-FCC certificated) radio equipment in various venues. "The Federal Communications Commission receives hundreds of complaints about alleged illegal equipment being offered for sale on the Internet or in publications," the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau said. "If you have any information about illegal or uncertificated equipment being offered for sale, please forward it to the FCC." The Commission says the sorts of useful information it's looking for would include an original advertisement or Web address where the illegal equipment is being advertised or offered for sale, highlighting the types of equipment about which the allegations are being made, the name of any Web auction site, the exact item number and auction opening and closing dates, and the name and address of the individual or business offering the item(s) for sale. The FCC also asks complainants to specify why they believe the equipment is not in compliance with FCC rules and the number of pieces or types of equipment about which the allegations are being made. Complainants should provide a name and telephone number to follow up, if necessary. The FCC said the information can remain confidential, if requested. E-mail information to the FCC <firstname.lastname@example.org> or send it via USPS to the FCC, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 445 12th St SW, Washington, DC 20554. * D-Day Museum special event set: The Jefferson Amateur Radio Club will mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day--the Allied invasion of Normandy--with special event Station W5D Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6. W5D will operate from the main floor of the National D-Day Museum <http://www.ddaymuseum.org/> in New Orleans. The station will be on the air from 1400 to 2300 UTC each day. A certificate will be available for those contacting W5D. Include $2.50 for postage and handling (or an SASE for a QSL). Certificate/QSL requests go to the Jefferson Amateur Radio Club, W5GAD, PO Box 73665, Metarie, LA 70033. * J. D. Harper, K6KSR, wins QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for May is J.D. Harper, K6KSR, for his article "Use the Right Phonetics." Congratulations, J. D.! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author--or authors--of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html>. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the June issue of QST. Voting ends June 30. * AMSAT issues second call for Symposium papers: AMSAT-NA <http://www.amsat.org/> has issued its second call for papers for the 2004 AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual Meeting, October 8-10 in Arlington, Virginia. The symposium will be held in conjunction with the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) international meeting October 10-13. Proposals for papers, symposium presentations and poster presentations are invited on any topic of interest to the amateur satellite program. An emphasis this year is AMSAT's educational outreach activities, including its educational outreach efforts with universities and the International Space Station. AMSAT-NA especially seeks papers on these topics: Students and education, ARISS, Echo, Eagle and other satellite-related topics. One-page abstracts are due by June 15; final papers--hard copy or electronic--are due by August for inclusion in the printed symposium Proceedings. Send abstracts and papers via USPS or e-mail to Daniel Schultz, N8FGV <email@example.com>, 14612 Dowling Dr, Burtonsville, MD 20866.--AMSAT News Service =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President. 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