ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 28, No. 14
April 9, 2009
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

*   Italian Hams Respond after Earthquake 
*   New ARRL Advanced Emergency Communications Course in the Works 
*   FCC Denies Michigan Ham's Request for Ruling 
*   Seattle Hosts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Seminar 
*   FCC, Indianapolis Police Department Address Unlicensed Operations 
*   New Section Manager Appointed in South Dakota 
*   Solar Update 
*   IN BRIEF: 
      This Week on the Radio 
      ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration 
      ARRL to Close in Observance of Good Friday 

NOTE: There will be no ARRL Audio News on April 10 or April 24. The ARRL
Letter is distributed one day early this week, as ARRL HQ is closed
Friday, April 10 in observance of Good Friday.

===========================================================
==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<http://www.arrl.org/members-only/faq.html#nodelivery>, then e-mail
<letter-dlvy@arrl.org>;
==>Editorial questions or comments only: S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA
<k1sfa@arrl.org>;
===========================================================

==> ITALIAN HAMS RESPOND AFTER EARTHQUAKE 

An earthquake that registered between 5.8 and 6.3 magnitude struck the
town of L'Aquila -- the capital of Italy's Abruzzo region, about 65
miles northeast of Rome -- early on the morning of April 6. News reports
say the quake has killed more than 250 people, with at least 50,000 left
homeless. Cluster spots reported that two HF frequencies -- 7045 and
3640 kHz -- were being used for emergency communications. Local hams
also reported that various VHF frequencies were also being used.

According to IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator Greg
Mossop, G0DUB, the 7045 kHz frequency is being used to link local rescue
and coordination centers with Protezione Civile in Rome. "Cell phone
capacity in the area is being increased," he said, "and a second wave of
volunteers and workers are being prepared to go to the area to take over
from the first responders." He asked that 7045 kHz be kept clear as the
Net remains active and stated that "it is now more important [to keep
the frequency clear now] that a formal Net seems to exist."

Alberto Barbera, IK1YLO, of Ponderano (near Milan), told the ARRL hams
are operating in VHF and UHF locally "because the area involved is not
that large. About 30 villages around L'Aquila are involved. Our
Dipartimento Protezione Civile does not need additional help at this
moment; perhaps it will be necessary in a second step, we will see."

Fabrizio Villanova, IK6GTF, of Pescara (about a 90 minute drive from
L'Aquila), said that several hams from his town and from Chieti are
providing communications support after the quake. "We are using
Pescara's repeaters to maintain contacts with hams in L'Aquila and to
coordinate the activity of Pescara/Chieti's hams," he told the ARRL. "We
operate from an institutional building especially equipped for
emergencies where, joined with the police, fire department, Red Cross
and other public services, all committed to provide aid. Our national
emergency service is working in a very good manner and all activities
seem to proceed well."

Rino Odoardi, IZ6BMP, of Alanno Stazione (near Pescara), told the ARRL
that he and other hams from the Pescara section of the Associazione
Radioamatori Italiani (ARI) "are in L'Aquila, involved in Civil Defense
activities with officials in L'Aquila. The earth is still shaking now --
I hope it will finish soon!" ARI
<http://www.associazioneradioamatoritaliani.it/> is Italy's IARU
Member-Society <http://www.iaru.org/>.

The death toll reached 260 people, including 16 children, after rescuers
pulled more bodies from the rubble in the days after the earthquake.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in total 28,000 had lost
their homes, with 17,000 now living in tents and the rest in free hotel
rooms or staying with family. Aftershocks from Italy's worst quake in
three decades lasted until April 8 in mountainous Abruzzo and were felt
in Rome. According to Reuters News, Berlusconi vowed to build "a whole
new town near L'Aquila."

==> NEW ARRL ADVANCED EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS COURSE IN THE WORKS

Over the past several months, ARRL staff have been reviewing the Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications online course program
<http://www.arrl.org/cep/> and have decided to combine two of the three
Emergency Communications courses. According to ARRL Education Services
Manager Debra Johnson, K1DMJ, the review included a critical examination
of the course content, as well as methods of course delivery and
interrelationships with government organizations. Johnson said that the
decision was made to revise the Level 3 course to become a new Advanced
Emergency Communications Course; this, she said, will replace both the
current Level 2 and Level 3 courses. The new advanced course is set to
be released during the last quarter of 2009.

"Our aim is to develop professional level courses which are widely
accepted by other organizations for the emergency communication
component of Amateur Radio," she said. "We are investigating
requirements that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently
putting in place for approved courses, as well as other possibilities to
develop emergency communications training that meets the emerging
training needs surrounding emergency communications."

Students who have previously taken the Level 2 course will need to have
the new advanced course to complete the current Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications training program, Johnson explained. "Those who have
completed the Level 1 course may progress directly to the advanced
course when it is made available; this new course contains content
formerly included in the former Level 2 and 3 courses." Johnson said
that there are no current plans to change the Basic Level 1 course and
that that course will continue to be offered in its current format.

With the combining of the Level 2 and 3 courses, Johnson said that
anyone who had signed up for the Level 2 course set to begin April 17
may apply for a refund. Any scheduled field instruction of the Level 2
content, as well as Level 2 exam sessions, will also be suspended. "We
will honor exam sessions that have been previously scheduled and award
Level 2 certificates for any exams successfully completed up to May 31,"
she said.

"Our training program mandate is to provide the training that ham radio
communicators need to be prepared to serve our communities in time of
communications emergencies," Johnson explained. "This consolidation of
program content will streamline the delivery of the training and apply
volunteer and administrative support resources more effectively."

==> FCC DENIES MICHIGAN HAM'S REQUEST FOR RULING 

In October 2007, Christopher Kaczmarek, KB8MLC, of Saginaw, Michigan,
petitioned the FCC for a ruling regarding the installation of his
Amateur Radio antenna. Kaczmarek told the FCC that he received a notice
from the manager of his mobile home community stating the antennas were
not allowed and asked for "a ruling from the Commission recognizing
[his] right to an Amateur Radio antenna structure." On April 6, 2009,
the FCC denied Kaczmarek's request for a ruling in his favor, based on
the fact that PRB-1 protections do not extend to private homeowners'
agreements
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-774A1.pdf>. 

The Commission agreed with Kaczmarek that Section 97.15 of the
Commission's Rules provides that "state and local regulation of antenna
structures must not preclude amateur service communications, must
reasonably accommodate such communications, and must constitute the
minimum practicable regulation to achieve the state or local authority's
legitimate purpose." In its letter to Kaczmarek, the FCC pointed out
that it has not, however, extended this policy to regulations
promulgated by private parties.

Saying that it has considered this same question twice before, the FCC
told Kaczmarek that it "chose not to preempt private land use
regulations that restrict the installation of antennas and associated
support structures used by Amateur Radio stations. As agreements between
private parties are voluntarily established and freely entered into, the
Commission is hesitant to interfere with them unless it is shown that
private agreements will seriously disrupt the federal regulatory
scheme."

==> SEATTLE HOSTS AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS SEMINAR 

More than 250 hams and emergency communications professionals enjoyed
two days of focused programs and socializing at the 11th Annual
Communications Academy in Seattle over the weekend of April 3-4
<http://www.commacademy.org/>. Held at South Seattle Community College
in West Seattle, the conference drew attendees from across the country,
mostly from the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon and British
Columbia. "The organizing committee, led by Marina Zuetell, N7LSL, is to
be commended for putting together this useful annual event that
continues to get better each year," said ARRL Contributing Editor and
conference attendee H. Ward Silver, N0AX. "The beginner's track was
created by Brian Daly, WB7OML, who unfortunately was unable to attend
the conference due to some emergency situations at work. He recruited a
great team of individuals to take on teaching the five different
segments."

According to Silver, the conference is designed to interest everyone
from brand new hams to seasoned EmComm veterans -- even emergency
management and planning professionals. The breakfast keynote speakers
were King County (Washington) Emergency Management Director Robin
Friedman and ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis
Dura, K2DCD. Silver said the program was organized roughly along three
tracks: Introduction to Amateur Radio for new hams; technical topics of
interest to EmComm operation, and reports or training programs with
EmComm themes or subjects.

"The track for brand-new hams was particularly well received," Silver
said." Hosted by Scott Currie, NS7C, the programs began Saturday morning
with 'Getting Your First Radio' and concluded Sunday with 'I Get It Now!
Basic EmComm Equipment Needs.' This is no substitute for hands-on
Elmering and training, but it certainly helps the ham with a brand new
Technician license in need of some guidance."

Silver noted there were two technical programs on digital voice modes,
such as D-STAR <http://www.dstarinfo.com/> and Project 25
<http://www.project25.org/>. "The presenters guided the audience through
some of the intricacies of digital voice technology, comparing and
contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of each," he said. "Microsoft's
Groove communications technology
<http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/groove/HA101656331033.aspx> was
explored as a tool for EmComm teams along with the use of D-RATS
<http://www.d-rats.com/wiki/> -- a software package that makes use of
D-STAR's low-speed data mode. An 'Ask the Doctor' question-and-answer
session proved lively with questions ranging from 'how to' about
antennas through the regulations regarding identification on digital
voice modes. Staff from a local wireless store gave a standing-room-only
presentation on installing mobile radios of all sorts in vehicles."

Communications Academy also offered planning and training programs,
including such seminars on how to recognize haz-mat situations through
"windshield surveys," ways to provide neighborhood-level communications,
methods to develop situational awareness and NOAA weather. "The most
difficult thing about the Communications Academy," Silver said, "is
deciding what programs to give up in order to see the ones you want!"
One course offered was on the Emergency Alert System. According to
Zuetell, the system is not an Amateur Radio system but is "a Federal
program used by emergency management officials that utilizes the public
broadcast system to send targeted local alerts out to the public. The
thrust of the presentation was to begin training Amateur Radio operators
to program the equipment on a regular basis to keep it current and
correct."

One of the highlights of the Communications Academy is an opportunity to
see the local EmComm organizations demonstrate their mobile
communications facilities. This year, nearly a dozen vehicles from small
cargo vans to full-sized trucks were lined up outside. "There was plenty
of time and excellent weather for attendees to tour the vehicles, with
radios spanning the low HF bands through microwave," Silver said. "While
not every club or team is fortunate enough to have its own mobile radio
center, you can't help but come away with ideas from improving any
EmComm station."

The building competition, wherein individuals submit examples of their
ability to create EmComm-related radio packages, is a recent addition to
the programs at Communications Academy. Silver said that this year's
theme was to build a portable radio system that could operate from
portable dc power and on as many EmComm-related bands and modes as
possible. "Each entry was judged by both a panel of judges and by the
attendees, with the winning score a combination of both," he said. "Like
the communication vans, even if you didn't have such a package yourself,
it was impossible not to walk away thinking of incorporating some of the
ideas at home or in your mobile station."

Silver said that one of the highlights of the Saturday morning "Donuts
and Danish" introductory remarks each year is learning how many millions
of dollars worth of volunteer time and thousands of driven miles are
contributed to the public good by ham radio operators, working together
to prepare and be ready: "As the news reports show, it's never very long
before the next opportunity to serve, no matter where you live!"

==> FCC, INDIANAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT ADDRESS UNLICENSED OPERATIONS 

In response to an investigation by the FCC, the Indianapolis
Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD)
<http://www.indy.gov/eGov/IMPD/Pages/home.aspx> has taken action to
prevent further use of Amateur Radio frequencies by unlicensed officers.
Any Amateur Radio equipment in the cruisers of unlicensed officers was
removed by order of IMPD Chief of Police Michael T. Spears.

According to the FCC, some IMPD officers were using the radios to
supplement their normal communications channels, including using amateur
frequencies for tactical communications during drug surveillance. As
part of its inquiry, the FCC reminded the IMPD of the large number of
tactical channels available on a secondary basis to police departments
from the public safety pool of frequency allocations.

"We are pleased that IMPD has put a stop to this unlicensed activity,"
said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. "The
investigation by the FCC, coupled with the expedient cooperation and
correction of the problem by the IMPD, eliminates a situation that had
raised serious concerns in the amateur community."

The FCC stated they would monitor the situation and follow-up
appropriately if needed.

==> NEW SECTION MANAGER APPOINTED IN SOUTH DAKOTA 

Scott Rausch, WA0VKC, of Piedmont, has been appointed Section Manager of
the ARRL South Dakota Section starting April 7. He will serve the
balance of the term of Rich Beebe, N0PV; Beebe passed away on March 16
<http://www.arrl.org/?artid=8834>. 

According to the Rules and Regulations of the Field Organization, when a
vacancy in the office of Section Manager occurs between elections, the
position is filled by appointment. Membership and Volunteer Programs
Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, in consultation with Dakota Division Director
Jay Bellows, K0QB, made the appointment effective Tuesday, April 7. 

Rausch has served as a South Dakota Assistant Section Manager since
2003; he is also an Emergency Coordinator and an Official Emergency
Station within the Field Organization. His term of appointment as
Section Manager continues through March 31, 2010. 

==>SOLAR UPDATE 

Tad "The golden weather greeting on the Sun-warm hills" Cook, K7RA, this
week reports: Recently, the 45 day forecast for daily solar flux and
planetary A index has consistently predicted a solar flux at 70 for
every day into the future. The last of these was on March 24. Then on
March 25, the prediction was for the solar flux to be at 72 for March
28-31. That changed on March 26, showing solar flux at 72 on March
28-April 2. On March 27, the solar flux rose to 72 (actually 71.6) and
the forecast was the same, but extended the 72 number through April 3.
Solar flux has not reached 72 since then, but the March 28 forecast
extends the reading of 72 through April 4. On March 29, it extends to
April 5, and on March 30, to April 6. On March 31, it extends 72 until
April 9 -- three additional days -- but it also shows a new period with
a flux of 72, April 23-May 6. April 1 is the same, but April 2 the flux
is dropped to 71 for April 3-9. The April 3 prediction gives up on the
slightly higher flux values for the near term, but still predicts 72 for
April 23-May 6. The forecast remains the same until April 7, when the 72
flux for April 23-May 6 is shortened to April 23-29. So it appears that
even these near term predictions for a very small increase in activity
are continually revised downward. In the April 8 forecast, it shows the
planetary A index for April 9-10 at 15 and 8, then dropping to 5 until
April 21. Early on April 9, we are experiencing the effects of a solar
wind stream, and planetary K index rose from 3 to 4 at 0300 UTC. Sunspot
numbers for April 2-8 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0 with a mean of 0. The
10.7 cm flux was 70.6, 70.4, 70.1, 70.4, 68.8, 70.2 and 70 with a mean
of 70.1. The estimated planetary A indices were 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, 2 and 5
with a mean of 3. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 0, 2, 0, 3,
2, 2 and 4 with a mean of 1.9. Geophysical Institute Prague predicts
quiet to unsettled conditions April 10, quiet April 11-14, quiet to
unsettled April 15 and unsettled April 16. For more information
concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information
Service Propagation page
<http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/propagation.html>. To read this week's
Solar Report in its entirety, check out the W1AW Propagation Bulletin
page <http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/prop/>. This week's "Tad Cookism" brought
to you by Lucy Maud Montgomery's "Spring Song"
<http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/spring-song-2/>. 

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This Week on the Radio: This week is the NCCC Sprint Ladder on April
10 and the PODXS 070 Club PSK 31 Flavors Contest on April 11. On April
11-12, look for the Georgia QSO Party, the Yuri Gagarin International DX
Contest and the JIDX CW Contest. The SKCC Weekend Sprint and the UBA
Spring Contest (SSB) are April 12. The Low Power Spring Sprint is April
13. The 222 MHz Spring Sprint is April 14 (local time) and the NAQCC
Straight Key/Bug Sprint is April 15. Next week is the NCCC Sprint Ladder
on April 17. Be sure to check out the Holyland DX Contest, the TARA
Skirmish Digital Prefix Contest, the ES Open HF Championship and the
Feld Hell Sprint on April 18. The Michigan QSO Party, the Ontario QSO
Party and the YU DX Contest are April 18-19. The Run for the Bacon QRP
Contest is April 20. The SKCC Sprint and the 432 MHz Spring Sprint are
April 22 (the 432 MHz Sprint is local time). All dates, unless otherwise
stated, are UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/>, the ARRL Contest Update
<http://www.arrl.org/contests/update/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. Looking
for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL Special Event
Station Web page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html>. 

* ARRL Continuing Education Course Registration: Registration remains
open through Sunday, April 19, 2009 for these online course sessions
beginning on Friday, May 1, 2009: Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
Level 1; Radio Frequency Interference; Antenna Design and Construction;
Technician License Course; Analog Electronics, and Digital Electronics..
Each online course has been developed in segments -- learning units with
objectives, informative text, student activities and quizzes. Courses
are interactive, and some include direct communications with a
Mentor/Instructor. Students register for a particular session that may
be 8, 12 or 16 weeks (depending on the course) and they may access the
course at any time of day during the course period, completing lessons
and activities at times convenient for their personal schedule. Mentors
assist students by answering questions, reviewing assignments and
activities, as well as providing helpful feedback. Interaction with
mentors is conducted through e-mail; there is no appointed time the
student must be present -- allowing complete flexibility for the student
to work when and where it is convenient. To learn more, visit the CCE
Course Listing page <http://www.arrl.org/cep/student> or contact the
Continuing Education Program Coordinator <cce@arrl.org>;.

* ARRL to Close in Observance of Good Friday: ARRL Headquarters will be
closed in observance of Good Friday on Friday, April 10. There will be
no W1AW bulletin or code practice transmissions that day. "The ARRL
Letter" will be posted a day early on Thursday, April 9; there will be
no "ARRL Audio News" on April 10 or April 24. ARRL Headquarters will
reopen Monday, April 13 at 8 AM Eastern Daylight Time. We wish everyone
a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

=========================================================== 
The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the
American Radio Relay League: ARRL--the national association for Amateur
Radio, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax
860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Joel Harrison, W5ZN, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential and general
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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole
or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be
given to The ARRL Letter/American Radio Relay League.

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Copyright 2009 American Radio Relay League, Inc.
All Rights Reserved 


 

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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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