*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 24, No. 21 May 27, 2005 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +Generating heat necessary to spur political action, forum told * +BPL faces uncertainty, FCC staffer says at Hamvention * +"Zero gravity" a misnomer, astronaut tells middle schoolers * +ARRL optimistic about new Motorola BPL technology * +FCC debuts e-news service * +New Section Managers elected in New Hampshire, West Texas * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration Former ARRL staffer Vicky Armentano, SK +Hurricane Watch Net, WX4NHC activate for early-season storm New Mexico ARES ready for flood and fire +Japan to relax Morse code licensing requirements +Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, firstname.lastname@example.org =========================================================== ==>DAYTON HAMVENTION: "GENERATE SOME HEAT" TO SPUR POLITICAL ACTION Amateur Radio licensees need to start taking personal responsibility for prodding politicians to pay attention to hot-button issues affecting the service, a Dayton Hamvention forum heard May 20. ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, told the League's Grassroots Lobbying Forum that when it comes to Congress, individual radio amateurs can help shape their own future. "Political lobbying is something people don't really want to hear about," Fallon conceded. "But politics controls everything we get." Fallon used the broadband over power line (BPL) proceeding as an example of how politics can overcome logical, technical argument. Fallon heads up the League's nascent grassroots lobbying initiative with assistance from Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, and Northern New Jersey ARRL Section Manager Bill Hudzik, W2UDT. Fallon focused many of his remarks on a US House of Representatives resolution, HRes 230, sponsored by Arkansas Rep Mike Ross, WD5DVR, and introduced earlier this year. The resolution calls on the FCC to "conduct a full and complete analysis" of BPL radio interference potential incorporating "extensive public review and comment," and--in light of that analysis--to "reconsider and review" the BPL rules it adopted last October. If approved by the full House, the non-binding resolution would express the requests as "the sense of the House of Representatives." The job at this point is to get cosponsors for the resolution and see it pass the House, and that won't happen "unless we can generate some heat," Fallon said. "So, if we are hanging out in the basement and doing nothing but building rigs and working DX, we're going to be victims" of the political process, Fallon told his audience. He explained that ARRL, as a nonprofit IRS Section 501(c)(3) organization, must adhere to strict limitations on its lobbying activities. It cannot endorse political candidates or contribute to political campaigns, he explained. "You can," he pointed out. "We can't." Fallon said one way ARRL members can get vocal about legislative issues of importance to Amateur Radio is to visit, write, e-mail or fax their US representatives or US senators. "Your letters, e-mails and visits to district offices give us entrťe to legislators in Washington," he said. "It won't happen without your help." Personal visits to lawmakers at their district offices, he said, help to "put a face on ham radio" for politicians. The focus of the ARRL Grassroots Lobbying initiative will be on measures that deal with FCC matters, because Congress oversees the Commission. Weaver told the gathering that grassroots lobbying is aimed at helping Amateur Radio to fashion its own future. Hudzik reiterated the important of personal involvement. "The more we're seen in a positive light, the easier it will be," he concluded. In the "ARRL Goes to Washington for You" forum that followed, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, continued in the same vein. Haynie debuted the ARRL's new video, "ARRL Goes to Washington," narrated by network news legend Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD. The video--produced by Dave Bell, W6AQ, Alan Kaul, W6RCL, and Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, but not yet available--depicts the League's more recent efforts in official Washington and on Capitol Hill to convey the importance of Amateur Radio as a national resource. Haynie and other members of League officialdom spend several weeks a year promoting visibility for Amateur Radio and the ARRL's views--as indicated by its membership--on pending legislation or FCC proceedings. The video also makes the point that ordinary citizens must get involved and orchestrate change by getting the attention of lawmakers confronted with hundreds of constituent interests and issues. "We've got to ratchet up our presence," Haynie said, urging more individual amateur participation in the political process. Individual licensees also are voters, and lawmakers are quite aware that there are radio amateurs in their districts, he said. Invitees to a reception May 19 honoring prominent League donors got a sneak preview of the "ARRL Goes to Washington" video. The showing drew a hearty round of applause and kudos to producers Bell, Kaul and Pasternak,who were on hand for the occasion. Reception guest speaker Tony England, W0ORE--the second person to use Amateur Radio from space--told the more than 100 reception guests that the US needs to boost interest in engineering, and he sees Amateur Radio as one component in making that happen. ==>FCC STAFFER: BPL FACES UNCERTAINTY, TECHNICAL AND FINANCIAL VIABILITY ISSUES FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff member Bill Cross, W3TN, told the FCC Forum at Dayton Hamvention May 21 that "a lot of uncertainty" surrounds BPL, including questions as to its technical and financial viability and where, how and if it will fit into the communications future. Cross works in the WTB's Public Safety and Critical Infrastructure Division, and much of his work directly involves the Amateur Radio Service. Devoting nearly a quarter of his remarks to the standing-room-only audience to BPL, Cross discussed various aspects of the FCC's October 14, 2004, Report and Order in ET Docket 04-37. The R&O established new Part 15 rules to implement BPL systems. Cross said the Commission's expressed a lot of "potentials" and "coulds" in outlining its rationale for promoting BPL as another competing broadband pipeline. "Whether BPL catches on will be a decision made by economics, both for those who want to provide the service and consumers who have to decide it is better for them than other broadband services," Cross said. He also said the FCC recognizes BPL's potential to interfere with Amateur Radio and other radio services. "Also note that BPL is coming on the scene, at best, as the fifth player in a field already crowded with heavy hitters," he said. "Currently we have cable, satellite, non-satellite wireless broadband and telephone lines available and providing broadband service." Cross said telephone companies already are looking at installing fiber optic cable to the home to expand available bandwidth for consumers. At the same time, he said, cable companies "have been spending gazillions of dollars upgrading their systems to digital systems so they can provide services other than traditional TV service." Citing the current heavy level of advertising and even price-cutting by industry players for a bigger piece of a "fixed pot of dollars," Cross asked, "Where does BPL fit in?" Cross said he didn't believe anyone was now getting a barrage of offers for BPL-provided services. "Nor will we be anytime soon, from what I have read in the communications press." Cross pointed out that FCC Part 15 rules require that licensed radio services such as Amateur Radio must be protected from harmful interference. He also noted that the FCC was careful to carve out reservations and set specific prohibitions regarding BPL deployment on certain parts of the spectrum allocated to civil aviation users, in addition to imposing some strict requirements to mitigate interference. "You wonder, with all these restrictions--including some that prohibit BPL deployment in what appear to be very profitable areas--a reasonable question might be: Who would want to go into this business?" The current tug of war, he said, is between the three or four companies interested in BPL--who want less onerous restrictions--and the ARRL and other users who don't believe the restrictions go far enough. Both sides have filed petitions for reconsideration. "Those petitions are pending, and whatever is decided on them will affect the final rules for BPL and may very well affect its viability," Cross concluded. Regarding Amateur Radio proceedings now before the Commission, Cross was unable to pin down for FCC Forum attendees when they might expect to see a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in response to 18 petitions for rule making filed by ARRL, other Amateur Radio organizations and individual licensees. The primary hot-button issue in that proceeding is the future of the Morse code requirement for access to HF amateur bands. The FCC also is considering proposals to create a new entry-level license class and to implement some additional Amateur Radio license restructuring, including automatic upgrades from Technician to General and Advanced to Extra. Cross said he anticipates the FCC will combine the 18 petitions into one NPRM and invite another round of comments from the amateur community. "I suspect the proposed rule making will be coming out in late summer or this fall," Cross said. The comment period could extend into early 2006, he added, after which a Report and Order would be written. The amateur community also can expect a Report and Order as a follow-up to its April 2004 NPRM in WT Docket 04-140, Cross said. The main proposal in that proceeding--ARRL's so-called "Novice Refarming" plan--would eliminate the Novice/Tech Plus CW bands and use that spectrum to expand portions of the 80, 40 and 15 meter bands. Current Novice and Tech Plus licensees would get CW privileges in the current General CW bands. Cross said commenters generally seem to support the proposal, although he cited requests to establish even wider phone bands, "particularly in the 75-meter band." Among other issues, the FCC also has proposed in the same proceeding to essentially do away with its rules prohibiting the manufacture and marketing to Amateur Radio operators of amplifiers capable of operation on 12 and 10 meters. ==>NO "ZERO GRAVITY" ON SPACE STATION, ASTRONAUT TELLS YOUNGSTERS A nephew of US Astronaut John Phillips, KE5DRY, was among the middle schoolers who spoke with the International Space Station May 16 via Amateur Radio. The contact with youngsters at Iroquois Middle School in Niskayuna, New York, was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. Responding to one student's question--how does the robotic arm function in zero gravity--Phillips took a moment to correct a widely held misconception about the spacecraft's environment. "There is gravity," Phillips explained. "That's what holds us in orbit, so let's not use the term 'zero gravity.' A lot of people use it, but it's not really right." In past ARISS contacts, other ISS crew members have described it as "microgravity." Phillips said the robotic Canadarm2 has to be really flexible, but it doesn't have to be very strong. "It's not like a crane because it doesn't have to lift heavy weights," he said, "because we're all just floating together here in orbit." The force the robotic arm needs to move objects is relatively small, but it must be very carefully controlled, he added. The young questioners included Phillips's nephew Paul Manning. His sister Julie was in the audience for the event. Paul asked about the types of experiments under way on the ISS. "Well, we're doing a lot of experiments in which we are the human guinea pigs to see how our bodies react to being in space," Phillips told his nephew. "We also observe the earth, and we do engineering and materials research to see how materials behave in the conditions that we can create only here in orbit." In response to the often-asked "food question," Phillips pointed out that there's no refrigerator on board to keep things cold. "And contrary to what you may have heard, there is no ice cream in space," he added. Phillips said reaching Mars is a goal of the human space flight program, but just how or when it will happen remain open questions. "And the idea of actually settling on Mars for a long-term stay, that's a long, long time away, in my opinion," he added. The crew's current mission, he explained, is to carry out scientific experiments and to "extend the human presence in space." Serving as the Earth station control operator was ARISS veteran Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, in South Australia. An MCI-donated teleconferencing link provided two-way audio from the ham radio contact with NA1SS to the school. ARISS is an educational outreach with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA. ==>ARRL ENCOURAGED BY NEW MOTOROLA BPL TECHNOLOGY The ARRL this week said it was encouraged to learn of Motorola's just-announced Powerline LV system--a BPL system that takes radio interference concerns into consideration from the outset. The Powerline LV system avoids using medium-voltage power lines and introduces broadband signals only on the low-voltage side of the power transformer, greatly reducing the system's radio interference potential. "We know that medium-voltage power lines are no place for broadband energy, since there is overwhelming technical evidence that radio interference from BPL is unavoidable if MV lines are used," said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. "By confining their Access BPL system to low-voltage lines and by adding hardware notch filters for additional protection to Amateur Radio frequency allocations, Motorola has addressed our interference concerns." Sumner explained this week that until Motorola Powerline LV came along, opposing BPL and opposing BPL interference were essentially one and the same. During product development, Motorola invited ARRL's suggestions and welcomed its input. Sumner said he hopes other BPL system providers now will see the benefit of cooperating with the ARRL that Motorola is now enjoying. "However, we can and should remain critical of the FCC's Report and Order, which makes no effort to distinguish between good and bad ways of pursuing BPL," he added. Sumner says the League is looking forward to seeing the first Powerline LV system in operation. The ARRL will continue to work with Motorola "to ensure that their new product is indeed the first BPL system that is a solution, not a problem," he said. There's more information about Motorola's Powerline LV system on the company's Web site <http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detailpf/0,,5519_5509_23,00.html>. ==>FCC LAUNCHES NEW SERVICE TO DELIVER CUSTOMIZED E-NEWS The FCC Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) is launching the Consumer Information Registry, an expanded and improved e-mail service that will deliver customized information about the FCC's actions and related developments in telecommunications and other communications services. "The Registry is an Internet database that can be customized to deliver information on whatever topics the subscriber chooses," the FCC said in a news release this week. Among the many choices are "Amateur Radio and Related Interests" and "Ham Radio." The topic checklist also includes Broadcast TV and Cable TV, but subscribers can also specify topics not on the list. Acting CGB Chief Monica Desai says the FCC is "delighted to be able to offer this valuable tool to everyone interested in communications issues." She says FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has expressed an interest in ensuring that consumers continue to enjoy the benefits of the best communications system in the world. "I believe the Consumer Information Registry has the potential to play an important role in achieving that goal," she added. The sign-up information is on the FCC CGB Web site <http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/contacts/>. Subscribers will be asked to indicate the subjects on which they wish to receive information. The service is free, and subscribers may unsubscribe at any time.--FCC ==>MEMBERS PICK NEW SECTION MANAGERS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, WEST TEXAS New Hampshire and West Texas will have new Section Managers starting this summer. Ballots in the two contested seats were counted and verified this week at ARRL Headquarters. In New Hampshire, Sterling Eanes, AK1K, of Manchester topped Russ Santos, K1TSV, of Milford by a vote of 333 to 200. An ARRL Life Member, Eanes has been active in the Nashua Area Radio Club where he has served as its chairman. He also helps run both local and statewide training courses and exercises and helps as an on-line mentor for the ARRL Emergency Communications Course. He's been licensed since 1962. Eanes will succeed Al Shuman, N1FIK, who chose not to seek another term after serving since October 2000. Shuman also was SM from December 1992 until June 1999. In West Texas, Bill Lawless, W5WRL, of Midland outpolled Ricky Dean, AA5AW, of Borger, 229 to 67 votes. A radio amateur since the mid-1970s, Lawless has been an Assistant SM since August 2004 and has been active in BPL issues in Texas. He has served as club president for the Key City Amateur Radio Club and as secretary/treasurer for the Permian Basin Amateur Radio Club. He's also a Frequency Coordinator for the Texas VHF FM Society. Lawless will take over the SM post from John Dyer, AE5B, who did not seek another term. Dyer has served as West Texas SM since October 2002. Six sitting ARRL Section Managers faced no opposition in the current election cycle and were declared elected for new terms. They are Tom Abernethy, W3TOM, Maryland-DC; Bob Beaudet, W1YRC, Rhode Island; Dick Flanagan, K7VC, Nevada; Bill Hudzik, W2UDT, Northern New Jersey; Charles McConnell, W6DPD, San Joaquin Valley, and Mel Parkes, AC7CP, Utah. Two year terms for successful SM candidates begin July 1. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Heliophile Tad "Sunshine Superman" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar and geomagnetic numbers for the past week were lower. All days were quiet except for Friday, May 20, when mid-latitude K and A indices indicated unsettled geomagnetic conditions, and planetary numbers indicated a geomagnetic storm. Average daily sunspot numbers this week were down more than 39 points to 36.6. The average daily solar flux dropped by more than 19 points to 83.5. A solar wind stream from a coronal hole is expected to affect Earth Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28. Predicted planetary A index for May 27-30 is 10, 20, 20 and 12. Solar flux is expected to rise slowly, reaching 100 around May 29 and peaking around 105 around June 3 and again on June 7-10. None of this should have a major negative effect on the CQ World Wide WPX CW Contest this weekend. Sunspot numbers for May 12 through 18 were 110, 100, 91, 69, 70, 45 and 46, with a mean of 75.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 117.4, 125.9, 99.5, 103, 99.1, 90 and 83.8, with a mean of 102.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 17, 27, 8, 105, 33, 19 and 13, with a mean of 31.7. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 13, 21, 4, 44, 18, 10 and 6, with a mean of 16.6. Sunspot numbers for May 19 through 25 were 34, 22, 37, 42, 36, 40 and 45, with a mean of 36.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 84.7, 83.5, 81.9, 82.1, 83.4, 85.2 and 83.8, with a mean of 83.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 11, 30, 21, 14, 7, 5 and 6, with a mean of 13.4. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 7, 17, 13, 10, 5, 2 and 2, with a mean of 8. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW WPX Contest (CW) and the ARCI Hootowl Sprint are the weekend of May 28-29. The Michigan QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint is May 30 (starting May 29 in US time zones). JUST AHEAD: The VK/Trans-Tasman 80-Meter Contest (CW), the IARU Region 1 Field Day (CW), the RSGB National Field Day, the QRP TAC Sprint and the Worldradio Friends' Day QSO Party are the weekend of June 4-5. The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (Data) is June 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) and Analog Electronics (EC-013) courses remains open through Sunday, May 29. Classes begin Friday, June 10. 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 learn about transmission lines, standing wave ratio, phased arrays and Yagis. Students participating in the RFI course will learn to identify various interference sources. Analog students will learn about the use of instrumentation, Kirchhoff's Laws, diodes, rectifier circuits, bipolar and field effect transistors, various amplifier configurations, filters, timers, op-amps, and voltage regulators. 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 Headquarters to be closed for Memorial Day: ARRL Headquarters will be closed Monday, May 30, in observance of Memorial Day. There will be no W1AW code practice or bulletin transmissions that day. ARRL Headquarters will reopen Tuesday, May 31, at 8 AM EDT. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend! * Former ARRL staffer Vicky Armentano, SK: Former ARRL Headquarters staff member Victoria "Vicky" Armentano of Newington, Connecticut, died May 15. She was 79. Armentano began her 21 years of ARRL service in 1977 in the former Club and Training Department, where she helped support volunteer instructors and ARRL-Affiliated clubs. After an ARRL reorganization, she worked in the former ARRL Field Services Department, where she became solely responsible for clubs and the newer Special Service Clubs. Armentano retired in 1998, shortly after the Field Services and Educational Activities departments merged into Field & Educational Services. "Many ARRL members who held the responsibility of Affiliated Club Coordinator remember Vicky well," says ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO. "She cared about her work with the clubs and volunteer instructors and developed personal relationships with many Affiliated Club coordinators and presidents of the Special Service Clubs and affiliated clubs." Armentano's survivors include her daughter Gail Iannone, an ARRL Field and Educational Services staff member, and a son, Ben. A service was held May 19. The family invites memorial contributions to St Mary's Church, 505 Willard Ave, Newington, CT 06111 or to the American Diabetes Association, 300 Research Pkwy, Meriden, CT 06450. * Hurricane Watch Net, WX4NHC activate for early-season storm: The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) on 14.325 MHz and Amateur Radio Station WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center activated May 19 as Tropical Storm Adrian approached the Pacific Coast of Central America. Eventually gaining hurricane strength, Adrian raked El Salvador before crossing over the isthmus into the Caribbean. Adrian was the first named storm of the 2005 hurricane season, which does not officially begin until June 1. HWN Manager Mike Pilgrim, K5MP, said the net stood down after 15 hours of operation. "Many thanks to all of you who helped to route interested parties to our net frequency and otherwise provided your silent support while we performed our duties," he added. The HWN and WX4NHC work hand-in-hand to gather and disseminate ground-level observed and/or measured weather data from radio amateurs and weather watchers within a storm's path. The information collected helps National Hurricane Center forecasters to better predict a given storm's behavior. The storm left two people dead in a mudslide in Guatemala. Flooding and additional mudslides prompted by heavy rains were considered continuing dangers in Adrian's wake. Adrian made landfall early May 20 in El Salvador where more than 20,000 evacuees reportedly took refuge in emergency shelters. There was some wind damage in the capital city of San Salvador as well as in other localities. * New Mexico ARES ready for flood and fire: With melting snow threatening to flood northern New Mexico and early-season forest fires breaking out, this spring and summer promise to be busy for New Mexico Amateur Radio Emergency Service members. Just this week, a radio amateur driving outside Los Alamos reported smoke and fire near the Valle Calderas. Sandoval County ARES District Emergency Coordinator Mike Scales, K5SCA, announced on the Sandoval County ARES (SCARES) repeater that a second fire has broken out near Regina, while a third fire is burning in Rio Arriba County. All of these fires are in remote locations. With all rivers in New Mexico experiencing above-average water flow, flooding remains a concern. Taos, San Juan, Rio Arriba, and San Miguel Counties were reported under a flash flood watch due to present snow pack melt conditions. Residents in Questa are sandbagging their homes in an effort to keep overflowing waters from encroaching on their homes. Local emergency managers are keeping an eye on river flow and are expecting a continued rise in levels throughout the week. ARES teams in Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos are on standby should conditions warrant an evacuation and to provide necessary communication support. In a typical situation, ARES members would deploy to emergency operations and Red Cross evacuation centers as well as to emergency command posts in the field. * Japan to relax Morse code licensing requirements: The Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) took action May 24 to relax Morse code requirements for Amateur Radio licensing, but it did not eliminate them altogether. Effective October 1, 2005, the MIC will reduce the requirements for First and Second class licenses to 5 WPM--solid copy for two minutes. The previous code requirements for these licenses were 12 and 9 WPM respectively. The MIC will drop the Morse requirement, now 5 WPM, for the Third class license.--submitted by Joe Speroni, AH0A =========================================================== 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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