*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 42 October 22, 2004 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL Executive Committee focuses on digital petition, BPL * +League repeats call for Arizona BPL system shutdown * +Business decision forces end to California BPL pilot * +ARRL hopes toy drive will brighten holidays for Florida kids * +"SuitSat" is focus of ARISS International discussions * +FCC affirms $10,000 fine in California interference case * +League welcomes new Community Education Program Coordinator * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course registration Amateurs support hospital communications during telecommunications outage Radio amateurs aid in tornado response +Oldest US ham, ARRL Member Bill Diaper, KJ6KQ, SK +Available on ARRL Audio News =========================================================== ==>DRAFT BANDWIDTH PETITION, BPL FOCUS OF ARRL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING Meeting October 16 in Dallas, Texas, the ARRL Executive Committee (EC) devoted much of its fall session to a discussion of comments received on ARRL's draft FCC petition seeking regulation of subbands by bandwidth rather than by emission mode. The EC also authorized the filing of a Petition for Reconsideration in response to the BPL Report and Order (R&O) in ET Docket 04-37, which the FCC adopted October 14. Drafting and filing the petition must await release of the actual R&O, which should happen in a few weeks. Responding to a synopsis of the bandwidth petition and proposed rule changes posted on the ARRL Web site, several hundred League members and others in the ham radio community offered comments and suggestions. "The Executive Committee found considerable support for the concept of the petition," said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, "along with constructive suggestions to reduce both the impact of the changes on current amateur operations, as well as possible unintended consequences." Sumner's "It Seems to Us . . ." editorial, "Regulation by Bandwidth," in September QST addressed the bandwidth petition. Earlier this year, the EC decided to make a synopsis and explanation of the petition available to ARRL members before filing it with the FCC. At this month's meeting, the EC agreed to submit several recommended amendments to the proposed rules changes to the ARRL Board of Directors for its consideration in January. These include: * Retention of rules permitting automatically controlled digital stations (packet and other digital modes) in narrow HF subbands. The draft petition had proposed dropping these provisions. * A rule prohibiting so-called semi-automatic digital operation (automatic control in response to a communication initiated by a live operator) on frequencies below 28 MHz where phone is permitted. This addressed a concern that "robot" digital stations might take over the phone bands. * A segment for 3 kHz bandwidth (no phone) emissions at 10.135-10.150 MHz to accommodate existing and planned digital operations. * Deletion of the word "continuous" from the description of test transmissions authorized on most frequencies above 51 MHz. * Simplification of proposed changes to §97.309 to clarify that FCC-licensed amateur stations may use any published digital code as long as other rules are observed. "These recommendations are not intended to be the final word on the draft petition, but are intended to address the major issues raised to date," Sumner emphasized. The draft bandwidth proposals take into account the ARRL's prior "Novice refarming" petition to expand some HF phone bands, included in the "omnibus" FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making in WT Docket 04-140. The EC also authorized ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, to "prepare to pursue other available remedies as to procedural and substantive defects" in the BPL proceeding. ==>ARRL REPEATS CALL FOR SHUTDOWN OF ARIZONA BPL FIELD TRIAL The ARRL again has asked the FCC to immediately shut down a broadband over power line (BPL) field trial in the Cottonwood, Arizona, area that it says is interfering with Amateur Radio communication. The League's second shutdown request, sent October 11, accuses the FCC of doing "absolutely nothing" to enforce its rules or to protect licensed services from interference. In an accompanying 12-page technical analysis, the ARRL also cast serious doubt on the accuracy--and possibly the integrity--of the BPL system's FCC-required six-month report, filed more than two months late. Its review of the report from system operator Electric Broadband LLC (EB), the League said, indicated inconsistent test results demonstrating that ambient noise conditions at the test sites "were clearly misstated." "To be blunt, as can be easily determined from the EB report itself," ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, wrote in a cover letter to the ARRL's technical analysis, "one of two things occurred: either (1) EB altered the data to suit its false conclusion that the system is operating in accordance with FCC rules; or (2) its technical consultants were not qualified to conduct the tests and glaringly misinterpreted, among other things, the source of noise generated internally in their own test equipment." Imlay called the EB test results "completely compromised" and said they can't be used to determine whether or not the system is operating legally. "ARRL has previously established that the system is operating substantially in violation of Part 15 rules," he said, "and is causing actual interference" on ham bands. The ARRL said that EB's report further indicates that in the low-VHF Public Safety allocation at 30-50 MHz, "the BPL system is operating at radiated emission levels significantly in excess" of Part 15 limits. In its report EB claimed to have spent "significant time and effort" looking into interference complaints from hams, running tests and "taking steps to mitigate any possible interference" the system was causing. It even invited the FCC to come and see for itself. EB and utility APS have been operating the BPL experiment at two Yavapai County, Arizona, sites since June under a Special Temporary Authorization (STA) the FCC granted EB in March. The League pointed out that the STA now has expired "but the system apparently continues to operate nevertheless." In its technical analysis, the ARRL said EB continues to deny any interference issues associated with its system, despite continuing complaints and "detailed and accurate" technical showings submitted by Cottonwood-area amateur licensees. Testing done in early September shows clearly "that BPL signals were present at various sites on frequencies where APS and EB claim it was not," the ARRL analysis asserted. The League also charges that EB's test methodology was flawed and not up to industry or regulatory standards. The FCC prompted release of EB's six-month report in a September 1 letter that took note of "several complaints" alleging interference to amateur operations from the experimental system. It also mentioned ARRL's August request, filed on behalf of Cottonwood-area amateurs, that the FCC shut down the system, revoke its STA and fine the system's operators. The first Amateur Radio complaint, filed in June, cited testing by the Verde Valley Amateur Radio Association (VVARA) in the 1.8-30 MHz range. It asserted that BPL interference makes attempts at ham radio communication useless. VVARA submitted a comprehensive report to the two companies and the FCC in late July detailing interference issues. In late September, the VVARA BPL Interference Committee met with representatives of APS and Mountain Telecommunications (MTIO, which handles system operations. According to VVARA, APS and MTI indicated that the BPL system operators had decided to proceed with "notching" amateur HF frequencies. A representative from Electric Broadband was not at the meeting, VVARA says. ==>AT&T, PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC DISSOLVE BPL PARTNERSHIP A BPL field trial in Menlo Park, California, where FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell had extolled the technology's virtues earlier this year, has been aborted before getting very far off the ground. The demonstration of BPL technology was co-sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and AT&T. ARRL learned this week that AT&T has decided to direct its business energies elsewhere, however, and pole-mounted BPL equipment has been dismantled. PG&E Director of Business Development Toby Tyler confirmed that his company and AT&T no longer were involved in the Menlo Park BPL pilot. "AT&T pulled out as a result of their strategic shift away from consumer markets," Tyler told ARRL. "Without a telecom partner, it didn't make business sense for PG&E to continue with a trial." AT&T spokesperson Michael Dickman said his company had "redirected its focus on serving enterprise customers," and, under the circumstances, has "limited involvement with BPL." When Powell visited the Menlo Park BPL pilot project in July, he applauded AT&T and PG&E for "leading the way for this innovative technology" that he claimed "holds the great promise to bring high-speed Internet access to every power outlet in America." The chairman reiterated those sentiments October 14, when the FCC adopted new Part 15 rules to govern the deployment of BPL. ARRL Santa Clara Valley Section Official Observer Coordinator Andy Korsak, KR6DD, told ARRL that AT&T pulled down the Main.net BPL boxes that he and his team had been monitoring in Menlo Park. "We heard only sparse Geiger counter-like clicks, indicating only perhaps system housekeeping between the four Main.net boxes I identified up on power poles," Korsak said. When Powell spoke at Menlo Park this past summer, he said the future was bright for BPL. His optimism, at least in the case of the PG&E-AT&T BPL partnership, now appears to have been ill-advised. ==>ARRL ANNOUNCES HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE FOR FLORIDA YOUNGSTERS The ARRL is coming to the aid of children in Florida displaced or left homeless in the wake of three hurricanes, by sponsoring a nationwide holiday toy drive. Clubs and individuals from across the US already have indicated they'll be taking part. Joanne Ramsey, KB1KWJ, one of the hurricane relief/recovery volunteers working in Central Florida, saw the devastation and the need following Hurricane Ivan. "This is really going to make a difference for those children," she said. "I still see the images of hungry little faces I was not able to feed. The sadness in their eyes was very hard for me to deal with." Thousands of families are without a permanent place to live, and that situation could well extend into the holiday season. "For a child suddenly living out of a tent, or car, or someone else's home, the 2004 holiday season will be anything but jolly," said ARRL Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP. "But hams across the country are coming to their rescue in a second new way through the League's program." Between now and Thanksgiving, hams radio operators throughout the US are invited to send new children's toys, accompanied by a QSL card, to Ham Radio, The United Way White Dove Project, 50 Kindred St - Suite 207, Stuart, FL 34994. Carol Hodnett, of Martin County United Way, said the hurricanes and their aftermath have been especially traumatic for children. "In addition to the frightening experience of going through the hurricanes," she pointed out, "youngsters are coping with a great deal of stress felt within their families and at school." Martin County United Way will handle the distribution end of the program. Pitts said the focus is on Central Florida communities because they took the brunt of the three storms. Additional details about the Hams for Toys program are on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/pio>. ==>ARISS INTERNATIONAL DELEGATES PONDER "SUITSAT" POSSIBILITIES If plans come together in time, an outdated Russian spacesuit could become the most unusual Amateur Radio satellite ever put into orbit. Being called "SuitSat" for now, the idea--from ARISS-Russia's Sergei Samburov, RV3DR--sparked wide-ranging discussion among delegates to the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International Team meeting October 11-13 in Alexandria, Virginia. With diminishing stowage space aboard the ISS, several Orlan spacesuits used for space walks have been declared surplus. Samburov's notion is to have an ISS crew equip one of them as an Amateur Radio satellite--possibly including a camera in the helmet area--and launch it during a space walk. ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, says the project is on a fast track because it must be ready to roll in less than a year. "It is on a very short schedule," Bauer said. "They're talking about launching in November of 2005, and to launch then, it really has to be ready in June of next year. It's going to be a big challenge," Bauer said. A second Orlan suit is expected to be available in 2007. Bauer says the fact that SuitSat will have to be integrated in orbit by cosmonauts adds even more to the complexity. And after all that, SuitSat might float in space just a month or two before deorbiting. As a result, delegates tried to keep the "KISS" principle in mind during their brainstorming on how to equip SuitSat. "We've got to keep it simple, and we've got to keep the costs down," Bauer commented. In addition to an onboard camera and a downlink transmitter, other ideas floated included the installation of temperature and radiation sensors, a beacon, a text-to-speech voice synthesizer so SuitSat could "speak" to students from data uplinked via packet, a full-duplex repeater and a GPS receiver to track SuitSat as it orbits Earth. The Orlan suits are pressurized and thermally protected, and have ample room inside. "I think we're doing a good job of engineering this thing on the fly," Bauer remarked during the discussions. "This has excited a lot of people." ARISS delegates agreed that the project might pique the interest of students, teachers and the news media. The ARISS Project Selection and Use Committee is studying the proposal, and ARISS is soliciting ideas from the Amateur Radio community on what to include. The ARISS delegates also heard updates on ISS hardware projects already in the pipeline, including launch of a multiband, multimode Yaesu FT-100D transceiver and a slow-scan TV system to the ISS, possibly within the next year. Re-elected during the session were Bauer as ARISS International Chairman, Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, as Vice Chairman, and Rosalie White, K1STO, as Secretary-Treasurer. Following the meeting, Bauer said he was pleased to see the ARISS team--now in its eighth year--"on the same page" and working smoothly. "Every time we have an ARISS meeting, the camaraderie, the teamwork internationally get better and better," he said. Samburov offered similar sentiments. "It seems to me we have become more than just colleagues," he said. "We have become friends, with a great deal of trust among ourselves." ==>FCC AFFIRMS FINE FOR FORMER CALIFORNIA AMATEUR LICENSEE In an October 5 Forfeiture Order, the FCC has affirmed a $10,000 fine it proposed earlier this year to levy on Jack Gerritsen, ex-KG6IRO, of Bell, California. The FCC asserts that Gerritsen doesn't have an Amateur Radio license but continues to operate. The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) promptly rescinded its 2001 Amateur Radio license grant to Gerritsen after learning of his California court conviction a year earlier for interfering with police communications. The fine is the next step in a case that eventually could lead to criminal prosecution. Responding to a July FCC Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), Gerritsen maintained that he still has a ham ticket. He asserted that the NAL failed to show that his interference conviction is under appeal, that the set-aside of his amateur license was unfounded and is only a claim made by Commission personnel; that he holds a valid license and that any possible suspension of his license is pending a hearing, making the NAL moot until a suspension actually occurs. Not so, said the FCC, citing chapter and verse to back up its Forfeiture Order. Section 1.113(a) of its rules gives the WTB 30 days from publication to modify or set aside an action, such as a license grant, on its own motion. As a result, the FCC said, Gerritsen's amateur application has reverted to pending status, and no license exists. Gerritsen also argued that he preserved his license by seeking a hearing under §1.85 of the FCC's rules and, further, that he'd been told by FCC personnel that he would get a hearing. Wrong again, the FCC concluded. The Commission pointed out that §1.85 spells out when the FCC may suspend an operator license, but since Gerritsen has no license, just a pending application, there is no license to suspend, and §1.85 doesn't apply. A Hearing Designation Order for Gerritsen is said to be working its way through the FCC bureaucracy. Reports from Los Angeles area hams indicate that Gerritsen continues to use KG6IRO, although the call sign appears in the FCC's Universal Licensing System as "terminated." Recent letters have implored the ARRL to somehow intervene in the situation. "Imagine BPL--a million times worse," one radio amateur recently wrote the League. For some time now, repeater owners have been shutting down their machines rather than let an unlicensed user transmit through them. The FCC said in its Forfeiture Order that agents who tracked transmissions to Gerritsen's house and interviewed him said he admitted to transmitting on various Amateur radio frequencies as well as on various business radio frequencies. In a handwritten letter Gerritsen wrote while in jail last March on a federal trespassing conviction to the president of one repeater association, he suggested that repeater owners should tolerate his commentaries "a few times a day." ==>ARRL WELCOMES W1WJB AS COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAM COORDINATOR Bill Barrett, W1WJB, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, is the newest member of the ARRL Headquarters family. He joined the ARRL Field and Educational Services (F&ES) staff October 18 as ARRL Community Education Program Coordinator. In that position, he'll execute a pilot program to enlighten a dozen US localities about the value of Amateur Radio to community safety and security. And he'll be exploring the best ways Amateur Radio can work with Citizen Corps councils to show them what ham radio can do. Barrett plans to make the most of his experience as an ARES District Emergency Coordinator, more than 40 years of Amateur Radio experience, and his work producing video and film projects for corporate clients. "I enjoy bringing a message to groups that expands their capabilities," Barrett said. As an emergency coordinator, he developed a PowerPoint presentation that local officials could view right at their desks. "A new presentation will grow out of that, with a lot of new material better suited to the new audience," he added. The one-year position Barrett is filling is new at ARRL HQ. Both the position and the program are funded by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The funding of nearly $90,000 will enable the League to develop the Community Education Project (CEP) and carry ham radio's message to communities. ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, says now that more amateur licensees have been trained in how to handle emergency communications, they have some educating to do. "Hams can contribute so much to Citizen Corps council members," she said, "not just to served agencies like the Red Cross and The Salvation Army, but also when communication problems confront grassroots community institutions such as hospitals, utilities, blood banks, shelters and even schools." F&ES Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, says Amateur Radio is fortunate that many hams newly trained in emergency communications are getting involved in ARES groups and ARRL-affiliated clubs. "ARES groups and affiliated clubs and Citizen Corps councils haven't necessarily started working together in many US communities," she said. "The new CEP hopes to start connecting the dots." Barrett said his plan is to share the message about ham radio and emergency communications with community leaders, and have local ARES and ARRL-affiliated club members demonstrate their expertise to Citizen Corps councils. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Propagation maven Tad "Sunrise, Sunset" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar activity made a comeback this week. Average daily sunspot numbers from last week to this week rose nearly 45 points, and solar flux was up by more than 6 points. The solar flux Wednesday, October 20, was 111. The next day it was 112 and through the October 22-24 weekend, it is predicted to be 115, 120 and 115. Less than two weeks ago the sunspot count was zero for two days straight, but on October 20 it stood at 129. Sunspot numbers for October 14 through 20 were 38, 26, 43, 51, 86, 86 and 129, with a mean of 65.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 90.7, 89.2, 91.7, 91.9, 96.2, 99.1 and 111.3, with a mean of 95.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 27, 9, 5, 3, 4, 4 and 12, with a mean of 9.1. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 12, 6, 3, 0, 4, 3 and 9, with a mean of 5.3. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The ARCI Fall QSO Party, the W/VE Islands QSO Party, the 50 MHz Fall Sprint and the FISTS Coast to Coast Contest are the weekend of October 23-24. The CQ World Wide DX Contest (SSB) and the 10-10 International Fall Contest (CW) are the weekend of October 30-31. JUST AHEAD: The ARS Spartan Sprint is November 2. The ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW), the North American Collegiate Amateur Radio Club Championship (CW), the IPARC Contest (CW/SSB), the Ukrainian DX Contest, the High Speed Club CW Contest and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are the weekend of November 6-7. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/> for more info. * ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration for the ARRL HF Digital Communication (EC-005), Technician Licensing (EC-010) and VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses remains open through Sunday, October 24. Classes begin Friday November 5. HF Digital Communication students will learn to use a variety of HF digital modes. With the assistance of a mentor, EC-010 students learn everything they need to know to pass the FCC Technician license examination. Students participating in VHF/UHF--Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) will explore some of the lesser-used and more intriguing aspects of VHF/UHF operation. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce/ > or contact the ARRL CCE department, email@example.com. *Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration: Seats are still available for the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level III on-line course (EC-003). Registration will remains open through the October 23-24 weekend. Amateurs aged 55 and older are strongly encouraged to participate. Class begins Friday, November 5. Thanks to our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National and Community Service and the United Technologies Corporation--the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will be reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During this registration period, seats are being offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page <http://www.arrl.org/cce>. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, firstname.lastname@example.org; 860-594-0340. * Amateurs support hospital communications during telecommunications outage: When construction equipment accidentally severed two telecommunications trunk lines serving Tustin Hospital and Medical Center (THMC) in California on October 6, the hospital knew just whom to call. Members of the Orange County Hospital Disaster Support Communication System (HDSCS) responded promptly to fill in, as the 177-bed facility suddenly found itself without telephone, e-mail, fax, fire alarms or paging service. The initial seven HDSCS responders eventually grew to two dozen over the course of the 16-hour outage that began in the late afternoon and continued until the following morning. April Moell, WA6OPS, and two other fixed-stations handled incoming and outgoing telephone calls on behalf of THMC. Message traffic began to flow as soon as HDSCS operators got to their assigned stations, and hospital staffers re-established links with patients' physicians on the outside. "Although we have participated in numerous drills at THMC in the past, some newer employees were unfamiliar with Amateur Radio's capability," said Moell, who founded the 80-member ARES group in 1980. "They seemed amazed that HDSCS support has been completely free of cost to them. It's a true community service." HDSCS has agreements to provide backup communication to 34 acute-care medical facilities in Orange County. This month's activation marked the 85th in HDSCS' history for a hospital communication failure and the fifth emergency activation this year. * Radio amateurs aid in tornado response: After severe weather rumbled through the Missouri Bootheel October 18, radio amateurs from three states rushed to help however they could. More than 60 possible tornadoes were reported to the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Memphis, Tennessee. Pemiscot County Emergency Coordinator Loyd Avis, KC0MWU, reports three people died near the small community of Cooter, when a tornado destroyed their homes. Dunklin County also suffered storm damage, while hail and high winds were reported elsewhere. A tornado touched down in extreme southeastern Missouri then jumped the Mississippi River into Dyer County, Tennessee, causing considerable damage there. Throughout the storm period, Missouri District E Emergency Coordinator Larry Anthony, WB0VAM, supplied information on hail, damage to homes and power outages to public service operators in the Missouri Bootheel and in northeastern Arkansas as well as to local broadcasters. * Oldest US ham, ARRL Member Bill Diaper, KJ6KQ, SK: William F. "Bill" Diaper, KJ6KQ, of Union City, California, died October 10. He was 104 and apparently the oldest radio amateur in the US--if not the world--as well as the oldest member of the ARRL. A native of Great Britain, Diaper had been living in a long-term care facility and occasionally was able to get on the air from a ham shack in the facility's basement. ARRL Pacific Division officials had invited Diaper to attend Pacificon--the Pacific Division convention--this past weekend. "The response was 'ill and unable to travel,'" said Pacific Division Vice Director Andy Oppel, N6AJO. "We had planned to offer a toast in his honor at the convention banquet." Instead, Oppel said, he asked those attending the ARRL Forum to remember and honor all of the seniors in Amateur Radio. An acquaintance, Thomas "Fergy" Ferguson, N6SSQ, said Diaper had been a radio amateur for a relatively short time, first becoming licensed when he was around 75 years old and upgrading to Advanced when he was in his early 90s. Robert Galbasin, W0MHN, of Lakewood, Colorado, apparently succeeds Diaper as the oldest ham in the US. He will turn 104 on December 27. =========================================================== 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. 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