*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 26 June 25, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL says FCC has its mind made up about BPL * +Contact is key to gaining visibility for ham radio * +ISS astronaut uses packet system to announce daughter's birth * +Short-term renewal closes out enforcement case * +The FCC is 70! * +Vintage station now on the air at W1AW * +W3IZ is newest ARRL Headquarters staffer * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration W1AW Field Day message to be transmitted on both US coasts +Vanity call sign fee to rise Oklahoma ARES group assists in mass immunization drill Scott Redd, K0DQ, receives commendation Deadline looms for Young Ham of the Year nominations +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>FCC TURNING BLIND EYE IN BPL PROCEEDING, ARRL CHARGES The ARRL says the FCC apparently has already made up its mind about broadband over power line (BPL) and "wants no bad news" about the technology. In reply comments filed June 22 on the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule Making in ET Docket 03-47, the League called on the Commission to take "a fresh look" at BPL before enabling its deployment. Again asking the FCC to put the proceeding on hold for a year, the League recommended that the Commission in the meantime require BPL providers to conduct FCC-monitored interference testing with all stakeholders. The ARRL charged that while an overwhelming majority of comments oppose BPL due to interference concerns, the FCC continues to rely on what the League called "vacuous assurances that BPL would not cause harmful interference." Test data and a growing record of unresolved complaints indicate otherwise, the ARRL said. "ARRL is of the view that this proceeding has been prejudged and will, in the end, be decided not on the technical issues that should control the outcome of this proceeding, but on the politics of the matter," the League commented. "Given the evidence on the Commission's table, it cannot now authorize BPL at the radiated emission levels proposed, and without substantial restrictions." Among those restrictions, the League recommended keeping BPL altogether away from all Amateur Radio allocations, should the FCC decide to authorize BPL under its proposed rules. As an alternative, the FCC should guarantee that an interfering BPL system can be shut down immediately in the face of a valid complaint, "not after a BPL provider has taken months to discover that the interference cannot be resolved." To date, the ARRL contended, the FCC has seemingly ignored the League's BPL technical studies as well as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Phase 1 BPL study that clearly demonstrate BPL's interference potential. Five additional technical evaluations accompanied the ARRL's reply comments. "The Commission is obligated by the Administrative Procedure Act to look for fire where it is shown a good deal of smoke," the League said. "Here there is far more than smoke in the record." Any decision in the BPL proceeding "must be supported by substantial evidence," the ARRL asserted. The League said the results of both its studies and the NTIA's "are entirely consistent." Referring to the NTIA Phase 1 analysis, the ARRL said it's "quite reasonable to assume that the interference potential of BPL systems to fixed HF Amateur Radio stations is on the order of 460 meters (approximately 1509 feet) from the nearest BPL device." No proposals address BPL interference mitigation for mobile stations, the ARRL noted. While commenting extensively on--and in some instances agreeing with--the NTIA's late-filed comments, however, the League said they depict an agency that must "balance dual and, in this case, conflicting roles" as the White House telecommunications policy advocate. The League questioned the NTIA's contention that BPL is a "win-win" situation and its deployment would lead to lower power line noise. "Not so," the ARRL countered. "Licensed radio services operating in the sensitive HF environment should not have foist upon them a substantial interference risk from unlicensed devices or systems whatsoever." The League said replacing one interference source with another in the same bands is "not in any way beneficial." The ARRL also faulted the FCC for neglecting to acknowledge or respond to a mounting number of interference complaints, most from amateur licensees living in BPL field trials areas. "The Commission has, as of this writing, adjudicated not a single one and has ignored repeated requests from licensed radio amateurs for even a confirmation of receipt of their complaints!" the ARRL emphasized. The League also expressed little confidence in utilities that have failed to resolve power line noise complaints to do any better with BPL complaints. Earlier this month, the ARRL filed a well-documented and supported complaint on behalf of Jim Spencer, W0SR, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The League suggested such BPL complaints deserved careful analysis, but not the Commission's cold shoulder. "What ARRL is unwilling to tolerate is the continuation of the Commission's sweeping of these complaints 'under the rug,' which is exactly what has happened in this proceeding," the League commented. The Commission must put its zeal over BPL aside and "take a fair look at them before any action is taken in this proceeding." "The Commission has not proposed any rules which would predictably and reliably protect HF and low-band VHF radio systems from interference," ARRL concluded. "The interference resolution mechanisms that are adopted should be real, rather than merely illusory." ==>CONTACT KEY TO GETTING HAM RADIO ON CONGRESSIONAL RADAR SCREEN If radio amateurs want to get their concerns on the congressional radar screen, they need to let their elected senators and representatives know about them, says the US Senate sponsor of the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 2003. Idaho Republican Michael Crapo notes that the hundreds of topics lawmakers face each day--from the Iraq war to the budget and health care--already make it an uphill battle to get ham radio matters noticed. Amateurs, he suggests, have to take a little initiative. "It's not Mount Everest, but it's very difficult to get the attention of a senator or congressmen these days, unless their constituency engages them on it," Crapo said. "Every Senator and every Member of Congress focuses on those issues which their constituency tells them are of importance to them." In turn, when radio amateurs write, e-mail or call their elected officials, Crapo pointed out, it makes it a lot easier for him to gain attention for Amateur Radio issues. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, says he couldn't agree more. He maintains that a high level of membership constituent contact not only puts ham radio on the map for lawmakers but paves the way for League officials to follow up during their periodic visits on Capitol Hill. Contacting Congress on Amateur Radio measures such as the Spectrum Protection Act of 2003 and the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2003--HR 1478, the so-called CC&R bill--may not pay off now, Haynie says. But, increased awareness of Amateur Radio in general could prove important down the road. "There are other issues that we have to deal with and other issues that will come up in the future," Haynie said. "The better visibility we have in Congress, the easier it will be to deal with them." That includes broadband over power line (BPL). Haynie cautioned that if BPL deployment becomes a major problem for amateurs, "we're going to have to have a lot of muscle on the Hill and try to influence the FCC in other ways." Taking 10 minutes to write a letter or e-mail or even to send a QSL card that includes a brief message can go a long way toward lifting Amateur Radio out of the noise level for senators and representatives, Haynie said. So far, 103 House members have signed on as HR 713 cosponsors. The Senate version, S 537, has eight cosponsors. The CC&R bill, HR 1478, has 35 cosponsors. Sample letters and additional information--including the bills' texts and information on how to write members of Congress--is on the ARRL's "The Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 2003" Web page <http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/arspa.html> and on the "HR 1478, The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2003" Web page <http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/hr1478/>. The sample letters cite Amateur Radio's role in public safety and emergency communication, but the League encourages members to adapt the substance of the sample letters to their own style and emphasis. Those writing their lawmakers on behalf of the Spectrum Protection Act are asked to copy their correspondence to the League via e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Those writing on behalf of the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act, HR 1478, are asked to copy their correspondence to <email@example.com>. ==>ASTRONAUT RADIOS BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT, CELEBRATES SPECIAL FATHER'S DAY IN SPACE International Space Station astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, and his wife Renita became parents for the second time Friday, June 18. Unable to contain his paternal pride, Fincke altered the beacon message on the RS0ISS Amateur Radio packet system aboard the spacecraft to transmit "It's a girl! Tarali Fincke" about once every minute as the ISS circled Earth. "Sure beats a stork sign in the front yard," quipped ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ranson, N5VHO, at Johnson Space Center. Fincke is the first US astronaut to celebrate the birth of a child from space. Father's Day was Sunday, June 20. Tarali is the couple's second child. She'll join a brother, Chandra, in the Fincke household. Fincke said his childrens' names have astronomical significance. "Her name is Tarali Paulina, and Tara is the Indian dialect meaning star," he radioed Mission Control in Houston shortly after the birth. "Our first boy, his name is Chandra, which means moon. So, my wife had already given me the moon, and now she's given me a star, and it's a privilege to happen aboard the International Space Station." Of Indian heritage, Renita Fincke, an engineer for Wyle Laboratories, works at Johnson Space Center. Until her husband returns to Earth in October, she says she'll help him experience the first few months of their daughter's life via teleconferences, video and e-mails. "This is a wonderful, exciting adventure for both of us," she said. "I hope that everything is successful for his mission, that he comes home safely." The couple has been married since 1999. NASA and Russian mission controllers extended congratulations to Fincke, who is NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer. He and ISS Commander Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, have been in space since April. US and Russian flight controllers decided to end Expedition 9's first spacewalk June 24 after about 14 minutes when it was observed that Fincke's primary oxygen bottle was losing pressure faster than expected. The crew will try again the week of June 28. More info is available on the NASA Web site <http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/features/fincke_baby.html>. ==>PENNSYLVANIA HAM AGREES TO SHORT-TERM RENEWAL General class licensee Henry Schott Jr, KA3BMS, of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, has agreed to a short-term renewal of his license to settle what the FCC called "enforcement issues related to the operation of your station." Although Schott vigorously denied any wrongdoing, FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth says Schott signed the deal--spelled out in a May 10 letter--in which the FCC will grant him a two-year license renewal instead of the normal ten-year term. "At the end of the two-year period, you may routinely renew your license for a full term if there have been no valid complaints regarding the operation of your station," Hollingsworth told Schott. Last December, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau referred Schott's renewal application to the Enforcement Bureau for review based upon enforcement issues and "questions regarding your qualifications to be a licensee." Complaints filed with the FCC regarding operations attributed to Schott date back to 2000. In January, Hollingsworth wrote Schott to summarize the litany of complaints and asked him to respond to each. Schott essentially denied involvement or responsibility for all of them and expressed the belief that someone else may have been pirating his call sign. "Amateur Radio has provided me with enjoyment over the years," Schott told the FCC. "I wish to retain my Amateur Radio license and will abide by all of the laws, rules and regulations! The accusations filed against me are wrong." Nonetheless, Schott signed the voluntary short-term agreement, and the FCC renewed his license May 20. ==>THE FCC TURNS 70! The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) <http://www.fcc.gov/>, the agency that regulates the Amateur Radio Service, turns 70 years old on Thursday, July 1--the effective date of the Communications Act of 1934. Passed by Congress on June 19 of that year, the Act established the FCC as an independent US government agency. Although amended since, the Act--all 333 pages of it--remains in effect today and establishes the authority of the FCC to, among other things, issue license grants. It also spells out the official definition of an amateur station: "The term 'amateur station' means a radio station operated by a duly authorized person interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest." Upon its creation 70 years ago, the FCC directly inherited the personnel, funds and records of the Federal Radio Commission (FRC), then just seven years old. The FRC had shared regulatory duties with the Department of Commerce and the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Communications Act of 1934 put all the responsibilities under one roof. Most of the significant changes the Communications Act of 1934 introduced affected broadcasting. Directly responsible to Congress and charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable, today's FCC jurisdiction covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US possessions. When the FCC came into being in 1934, QST expended surprisingly little ink announcing the regime change to the Amateur Radio community. "The radio part of the law is almost exactly the same as before, and there is no change in any amateur regulation," said a short article in the August 1934 issue. "The League kept in close touch with this legislation as it progressed, and is assured that nothing in the new law adversely affects Amateur Radio." The original FCC was authorized to have seven members and up to three divisions. Today's FCC has five members--all appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate--and six bureaus. ==>W1AW NOW SPORTS VINTAGE AMATEUR STATION At least one corner of Maxim Memorial Station W1AW has taken on a "retro" look with the installation of a vintage AM-capable station--thanks to the generosity of entertainer Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, and audio pro Bob Heil, K9EID. The gear, which arrived June 18, consists of a National NC-303 receiver and Johnson Viking Valiant transmitter, along with a customized Heil microphone and other accessories. Neither Walsh nor Heil were able to be on hand for the installation. The gear, which dates from the late 1950s, began its journey in Studio City, California. It changed hands at Dayton Hamvention and then made a stop at the radio repair and restoration shop of Larry Yaw, W9AMR, who spiffed up and rigorously tested the units. Yaw, Jeff Wynegar, KA9TOC, and Jeff Benedict, AA9JC, then accompanied the vintage station on a nonstop drive from South Bend to Newington for the delivery. The idea for the station arose during an early March visit to ARRL by Walsh and Heil. Following the delivery and installation, W9AMR, KA9TOC and AA9JC came back the next day to make some W1AW/90 contacts on 75 and 40 before heading back to Indiana. The W1AW vintage/AM station is available for visitors to use. ==>ARRL WELCOMES W3IZ TO HEADQUARTERS STAFF Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, is the newest member of the ARRL Headquarters family. As ARRL Affiliated Club/Mentor Program Manager, Fusaro--who joined the ARRL Field and Educational Services (F&ES) staff May 17--is responsible for ARRL Affiliated Club support as well as for inaugurating a volunteer mentor program and an enhanced volunteer instructor program. The position is a new one at Headquarters, and Fusaro said he plans to make the most of his past informal experience as an "Elmer"--or mentor--helping new licensees to get up and running in Amateur Radio. "Something I did on the local level was to be the guy to go out there and extend a helping hand, offer some guidance, open the station up for visitors," said Fusaro, who notes that he would have liked similar support when he first got his ticket some 20 years ago. F&ES Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, says the League created Fusaro's position after recent survey results indicated that far too many new licensees either never get on the air at all or don't remain active. "We want people to enjoy Amateur Radio or to keep enjoying Amateur Radio," White said. She believes Fusaro's background in retail sales and customer service will stand him in good stead in his new post. In addition to Elmering many new hams in the past, Fusaro has also taught ham radio licensing classes. In his new position, he'll work with both clubs and individuals to establish a network of mentors. "The goal is to get the newly licensed ham some practical guidance and maybe some hands-on training," he said. He hopes to offer eventually a Web mentoring database new licensees can use to find assistance in their localities. In addition to contesting, Fusaro enjoys ragchewing and RTTY. His favorite on-the-air events include the Pennsylvania QSO Party, the ARRL November Sweepstakes and the ARRL International DX Contest. He's an active HF mobile and portable operator too. His wife, Debbie, is N3ZXF. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar Seer Tad "Hey, Mister Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: This is Field Day <http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2004/rules-fd-2004.html> weekend! Conditions don't look bad, although there is the chance of geomagnetic conditions becoming unsettled. This week the sunspot numbers have improved, while geomagnetic conditions were quiet, which is a great combination. Average daily sunspot numbers rose more than 50 points from last week to 116. Average daily solar flux was up almost 18 points to 113.7. Sunspot numbers were the highest on June 20 and 21, Sunday and Monday, and both the planetary and mid-latitude A indices were very low--in the lower single digits. Sunspot groups 634 and 635 provided most of the activity. Today they are moving out of view. The solar flux forecast for Friday through Monday, June 25-28,is 100, 95, 95 and 90. Predicted planetary A index for the same four days is 12, 12, 15 and 15. For Field Day 2004, 20 meters will be your best band, and possibly 15 as well. Ten meters may be good for some sporadic E skip. Forty and 80 meters should be good after dark. Sunspot numbers for June 17 through 23 were 106, 118, 90, 142, 139, 113 and 104, with a mean of 116. The 10.7 cm flux was 111.3, 107.8, 112.7, 119.1, 115.8, 116.7 and 112.5, with a mean of 113.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 8, 5, 3, 4, 4 and 5, with a mean of 5.1. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 7, 10, 4, 3, 3, 1 and 2, with a mean of 4.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: ARRL Field Day, the UK DX Contest (CW), the Ukrainian DX DIGI Contest, the Marconi Memorial HF Contest, ARCI Milliwatt Field Day and His Majesty the King of Spain Contest (SSB) are the weekend of June 26-27. JUST AHEAD: The RAC Canada Day Contest is July 1. The Venezuelan Independence Day Contest (SSB/CW), the World Lighthouse Contest, the DL-DX RTTY Contest, the Original QRP Contest and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are the weekend of July 3-4. The Michigan QRP July 4th CW Sprint is July 4-5. The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (CW) is July 5. The ARS Spartan Sprint is July 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 HF Digital Communication (EC-005), ARRL VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) and ARRL Technician Licensing (EC-010) courses remains open through Sunday, June 27. Classes begin Tuesday July 6. Students participating in VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) will enjoy exploring some of the lesser-used and more intriguing aspects of VHF/UHF operation. HF Digital Communication students will become acquainted with and use a variety of HF digital modes. With the assistance of mentor students in Technician Licensing (EC-010) will learn everything they need to know to pass the FCC Technician class amateur license test. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE) Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/> or contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department, firstname.lastname@example.org. * W1AW Field Day message to be transmitted on both US coasts: Correctly copying the W1AW Field Day message is an easy way to earn bonus points for Field Day 2004, Saturday and Sunday, June 26-27. For the first time, the Maritime Radio Historical Society's K6KPH will transmit the Field Day message for the benefit of West Coast stations on 3581.5, 7047.5, 14,047.5 and 21,067.5 kHz, CW only. K6KPH will transmit the 2004 Field Day message Saturday, June 26, at 1430 UTC, and Sunday, June 27, at 0030 and 1430 UTC. The K6KPH club station in California is comprised of past operators of the former commercial shore station KPH, now maintained--and occasionally operated--as a historical site, with receiving station in Pt Reyes and transmitters in Bolinas. The K6KPH transmissions will complement the traditional W1AW Field Day message transmissions on CW, digital (including PSK31) and phone. W1AW will transmit the Field Day bulletin Saturday, June 26 on CW at 0000, 0300, and 1400 UTC; on RTTY (teleprinter) at 0100 UTC; and on phone at 0145 and 1500 UTC. The Field Day bulletin will air Sunday, June 27, on CW at 0000 and 1400 UTC; on RTTY (teleprinter) at 0100 UTC; on phone at 0145 and 1500 UTC; and on PSK31 at 1600 UTC. CW frequencies are 1.8175, 3.5815, 7.0475, 14.0475, 18.0975, 21.0675, 28.0675 and 147.555 MHz. Teleprinter frequencies are 3.625, 7.095, 14.095, 18.1025, 21.095, 28.095 and 147.555 MHz (includes PSK31). Phone frequencies are 1.855, 3.990, 7.290, 14.290, 18.160, 21.390, 28.590 and 147.555 MHz. * Vanity call sign fee to rise: The FCC regulatory fee to obtain an Amateur Radio vanity call sign will rise from $16.30 to $20.80 later this year. The FCC announced the new fee in a Report and Order (R&O) in MD Docket 04-73, "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2004." The FCC says it anticipates 7800 applications for FY2004--2000 fewer than the previous fiscal year. The FCC expects revenue collected from the vanity call sign regulatory fees in FY2004 to rise by more than $2100. The R&O becomes effective 30 days after it's published in The Federal Register. ARRL will announce when the new, higher vanity fee becomes effective. * Oklahoma ARES group assists in mass immunization drill: The Southern Oklahoma Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) Club in Ardmore, Oklahoma, recently participated in a mass inoculation drill. The Carter County Health Department sponsored the exercise in association with the Oklahoma Department of Health and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The drill scenario, a smallpox release, marked the third of its type in Oklahoma this year. Although the local Amateur Radio community was not included in planning the drill, ARES District Emergency Coordinator, Mike Key, N5KEY, said health officials told the hams to show up during the "walk-around" day, and "they would see if they needed us." When the hams arrived, the incident commander presented them with a box of Family Radio Service (FRS) transceivers from the state health department--units that had not proven up to the task in the first two drills. The ARES group determined the FRS units would work okay within a building but not between buildings. At the officials' request, Key developed a plan to coordinate communication between buildings and cleared it with the incident commander and the primary communications manager. After checking in the morning of the drill, the team set up stations in the command center and at strategic locations, including the inoculation station and triage area. The VHF FM simplex net had two or three operators at each station. Traffic passed from the command center to the appropriate station via ham radio and to its final destination via FRS. Key reports the net was very busy and ran smoothly. Following the drill, Mindy Spohn, director of the Carter County Health Department said, "I am now a firm believer in your group and your abilities." A dozen amateur volunteers participated, and Key said Amateur Radio definitely will take part in the planning of any future drills. * Scott Redd, K0DQ, receives commendation: Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer recently presented retired Vice Admiral Scott Redd, K0DQ, with the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Redd served as deputy administrator and chief operating officer for CPA with responsibility for reconstruction projects in Iraq. The award commends Redd's "extraordinary leadership and vision" while serving in Baghdad as one of Bremer's two deputies. Redd has returned to Washington to assume duties as executive director of the Presidential Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Redd said he left Baghdad with mixed emotions but reiterated his strong belief that the "strategic course we are pursuing is right and enduring." * Deadline looms for Young Ham of the Year nominations: The deadline is Wednesday June 30 to nominate a deserving young amateur for the 2004 Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award. A nomination form is available on the Newsline Web site <http://www.arnewsline.org/yhoty/yhfrm204.doc>. The YHOTY Award goes to an amateur licensee aged 18 or younger and living in the contiguous 48 states who has made a significant contribution to the community or the nation through Amateur Radio. More information is available on the Newsline Web site <http://www.arnewsline.org/>. =========================================================== 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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