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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 8
February 25, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


A February 15 visit to League Headquarters by three Board members of the National Frequency Coordinators' Council has helped to solidify the relationship between the League and the NFCC. The NFCC had requested the meeting earlier this year.

"The main purpose of the meeting was simply to touch base," said Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ. Participants on both sides described the face-to-face session as constructive and positive.

On hand from the NFCC were President Owen Wormser, K6LEW, Secretary Dick Isely, W9GIG, and board member Nels Harvey, WA9JOB. Representing the League in addition to Sumner were Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, WA1STO, and National Frequency Coordinators' Officer Tom Hogerty, KC1J.

Participants discussed a potential shift in philosophy by the NFCC away from seeking mandatory coordination and toward serving as an educational organization, a repository for a master database, and a point of contact with the FCC on coordination matters. The NFCC also sees a role for itself as a "centrist" or neutral organization to mediate and arbitrate disputes that cannot be resolved at the local or regional level. Wormser said his Board believes the NFCC should "remain centrist in its dealings with everyone--keeping an open door policy."

Wormser emphasized, however, that any change in NFCC strategy would require a discussion and vote of the NFCC membership. Sumner suggested that the ARRL Board of Directors might be open to the change, given the directors' cool reception to the NFCC's draft Petition for Rulemaking last year that would have called on the FCC to codify mandatory coordination.

A letter last fall on repeater coordination issues from FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief D'Wana Terry also came up for discussion. The letter--in response to two amateurs' complaints about coordination in Southern California--reiterated the FCC policy of voluntary repeater coordination. Both sides agreed that while the letter simply represented a restatement of past FCC policy, it might inadvertently have resurrected some regional coordination issues.

NFCC representatives said that, in light of the Terry letter, they felt the time was right for them to meet with Terry and the WTB staff to educate them about the NFCC. Sumner encouraged them to do so. "Many FCC field offices know and work with the coordinators in their areas, but WTB hasn't had much recent contact with the coordination community," he said.

Repeater Directory policy also came in for considerable discussion. Sumner noted that recent League policy in producing the Repeater Directory has been to accept data only from coordinators. He said the League plans no changes with regard to areas that have functioning coordinators. "In those areas we will continue only to publish information on uncoordinated systems as supplied by the coordinator," Sumner said. For areas lacking a functioning coordinator, NFCC representatives expressed no objections to the League's accepting information from other sources, as long as there's no implication that the systems are coordinated.

In a statement following the session, Wormser said he and his colleagues came away with an "increased understanding and appreciation" for the issues both organizations face. Plans are being made for an in-person meeting of coordinators later this year, with invitations also to be extended to FCC and ARRL officials.


The ARRL says it supports an FCC proposal to adopt the slightly stricter International Special Committee on Radio Interference--or CISPR--standards for conducted emission limits for Part 15 and Part 18 devices. In comments filed in an FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ET Docket 98-80), the League said the proposed FCC standards will reduce both the potential for interference to Amateur Radio HF operation and manufacturers' costs for Part 15 and 18 devices.

Last fall, the FCC proposed to amend Parts 15 and 18 of its rules to revise the limits to which unlicensed Part 15 electronic devices and Part 18 Industrial, Scientific and Medical devices are permitted to conduct RF onto the ac power lines below 30 MHz. In comments filed January 31, the League called conducted RF energy into the power lines "a particularly significant concern in the high-frequency range" and called on the FCC to adopt the tighter standards.

In general, the current conducted emission limit for Part 15 devices between 450 kHz and 30 MHz is 250 µV. Part 18 limits are device-specific. The League pointed out to the FCC that the CISPR standards "are slightly more stringent than the current Part 15 and 18 regulations, offering at least a few dB of additional protection for HF over the existing Part 15 standard."

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, says it's "no accident" that the CISPR standards are as tight as they are. The International Amateur Radio Union is a member of CISPR and has participated actively in its meetings since the late 1980s, he explained. Sumner credited two hams in particular--Tom Sprenger, PA3AVV, and Christian Verholt, OZ8CY--who have represented IARU at CISPR meetings--with being instrumental in making sure that CISPR standards take sensitive HF receivers into account.

The ARRL also recommended the FCC conduct empirical studies on the levels of noise in the HF spectrum caused by unlicensed devices as part of an effort to quantify the rate of increase in RF interference in urban and suburban environments. The resulting data, the League said, could help the FCC in determining how to regulate conducted and radiated emission levels. It suggested that amateurs could contribute to such a study and offered the League's own services for the project.

The ARRL also said it could not accept any liberalization of broadband emission limits that may result from the use of Part 18 fluorescent lighting devices or RF light bulbs. The League said the present limits for such devices already are "extremely liberal."

A copy of the League's comments is available.


California has become the latest state to consider PRB-1 legislation. ARRL Southwestern Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, reports Senate Bill 1714 was introduced February 23 in the California Senate.

Like a similar PRB-1 measure passed last year by Virginia's General Assembly, the California bill would require localities to accommodate Amateur Radio antennas of up to 200 feet, according to local population density.

Echoing the language of the PRB-1 limited federal preemption, the measure says that local ordinances regulating antenna placement, screening or height "shall reasonably accommodate amateur radio antennas and shall impose the minimum regulation necessary to accomplish the legitimate purpose of the city or county."

Under the proposed bill, cities or counties with population densities of 120 persons or less per square mile (according to the 1990 US Census) would not be able to restrict Amateur Radio antennas to less than 200 feet above ground. Localities having population densities greater than 120 people per square mile would not be able to restrict ham antennas to less than 75 feet above ground. In both cases, localities would not be allowed to restrict the number of support structures.

The bill stipulates that "reasonable and customary engineering practices" be followed in erecting Amateur Radio antennas. The bill would not preclude localities from regulating amateur antennas with respect to the use of screening, setback and placement, and health and safety requirements.

Heyn credited Michael Mitchell, W6RW, will helping to get the bill introduced, and he asked California amateurs and clubs to contact their state lawmakers to support the measure.


UO-14 is proving that you can teach an old bird new tricks. The venerable British satellite recently was switched to FM repeater mode, and reports already are coming in from hams who've worked it using pretty modest equipment.

The satellite's controller Chris Jackson, G7UPN/ZL2TPO, says UO-14 was launched in January 1990 and spent its first 18 months in orbit operating as an amateur store-and-forward satellite, prior to the launch of UO-22. It was then switched for use by Volunteers In Technical Assistance, who used it for messaging into Africa.

"Since the computer which is used for store-and-forward communications is no longer able to perform that task, UO-14 is no longer usable in this mode," Jackson says. "It is, however, possible to use the satellite as a single-channel FM voice repeater, and I have just configured the satellite to do this."

The satellite works as an "FM bent pipe repeater satellite" in full duplex. Operators with full-duplex transceivers will be able to hear their downlink signal as they transmit. Half-duplex operation also will work satisfactorily.

The uplink is 145.975 MHz, and the downlink is 435.070 MHz. Jackson says he plans to leave the satellite in FM mode for the next few weeks. "If it is useful, then I will probably leave it running," he said. "If it isn't used, it will be switched to transmitting telemetry."

Houston AMSAT Coordinator Bruce Paige, KK5DO, says no more than 5 W is required to make a contact with UO-14, and some have made it with as little as 1.5 W. "It should be a very suitable bird for those with an H-T and a rubber duck," he said.

"Cool satellite!" was the reaction of W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, who worked 11 stations during a "very short" near-horizon pass this week. "Some of the stations sounded like they were next door!"


Ballots were counted February 22 in section manager races in North Carolina and South Dakota. In North Carolina, John Covington, W4CC, of Charlotte outpolled G. Roger Allen, KD4MYE, 951 to 891. Covington will succeed outgoing SM Reed Whitten, AB4W. In South Dakota, incumbent SM Roland Cory, W0YMB, of Mobridge defeated challenger Katherine "Trina" Blanks, KB0TYW, 146 to 88.

Candidates in six other ARRL sections ran uncontested. In Louisiana, Mickey Cox, K5MC, was elected to succeed retiring SM Lionel "Al" Oubre, K5DPG. Cox holds an Extra ticket and lives in West Monroe. Incumbent section managers reelected were Robert Leiden, KR2L, Eastern New York; Tuck Miller, K6ZEC, San Diego; Allen R. Breiner, W3TI, Eastern Pennsylvania; Ronald Phillips, AH6HN, Pacific; and Lynn Gahagan, AF4CD, Virginia.

Terms of office begin April 1, 2000.


Hams in the Boston area spent several days earlier this month helping firefighters, volunteers, and victims in the wake of a fire that claimed five lives. Coordinator Mike Koenemund, KB1CKF, of the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network--or SATERN--said the fire broke out February 9 at an office building in Newton, Massachusetts. More than a half dozen hams participated on behalf of SATERN and the Boston Amateur Radio Club's Emergency Response Team by standing by at the scene or by being available to respond when needed. The volunteer effort continued until February 13.

"The tragedy was drawn out over four days while firefighters searched through the building looking for four of the victims," Koenemund said. Amateur Radio operators from SATERN and BARC were on the scene day and night to coordinate logistics and supplies coming into the disaster scene via the BARC 145.23 repeater, he said. BARC's Mike Ardai, N1IST, said the fire was in a commercial building that had stores on the first floor and offices on the others. Ardai said Amateur Radio filled the gap when cellular telephone circuits initially became overloaded.

The Salvation Army Disaster Services Unit mobile canteen was at the fire scene serving meals to approximately 150 individuals, and hams assisted with the feeding effort. Koenemund said the hams' assistance freed up Salvation Army volunteers and clergy to provide counseling and comfort to emergency workers and family members awaiting the outcome of the search and recovery efforts. The bodies of the four victims eventually were recovered. A fifth victim died at a hospital.--Michael S. Koenemund, KB1CKF; Mike Ardai, N1IST


The first International Space Station expedition crew and its backup crew have received some initial training on the use of the initial US-provided Amateur Radio gear to be installed as part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, effort. The session was conducted at Russia's Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre.

As part of the ARISS training effort, NASA's Matt Bordelon, KC5BTL, is preparing a consolidated schedule for training in the US and in Russia that will include familiarization with equipment, packet theory and hands-on training, using a hardware mockup, and simulation. Training will focus on general principles of ham radio as well as preparations to use ham radio, equipment types and operating modes, and general packet module information and software.

Bordelon has held an initial training session with astronauts and cosmonauts that provided exposure to the actual hardware. Other training has included the information required to obtain an US Amateur Radio license. The first ISS crew includes US astronaut Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, and Russian Cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and the recently licensed Yuri Gaidzenko, whose call sign was not available.--Carolynn Conley, NASA


Sharon Bennett, KB1EDW (left), assists Hilda Sullivan, KB1EHY. At the Kids' Klub meeting in Bloomfield, Connecticut, each youngster built a 2-element 2-meter quad antenna. [Photo courtesy of Dave Bourgoin, KB1ETN]

The ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee has established the Club 2000 Achievement Awards to reward the achievements of ARRL-affiliated clubs. The new incentives program is aimed at recognizing growing, thriving clubs that are having a positive public impact through their activities.

Throughout 2000, ARRL Field and Educational Services staff will review the activities of participating clubs. The Volunteer Resources Committee will pick four exemplary clubs--one in each eligible category. Selections will be announced at the ARRL Board meeting next January.

Eligible club categories include clubs with more than 100 members; clubs with fewer than 100 members, but more than 25; clubs with 25 or fewer members, and school clubs. Clubs earn points for such activities as ARRL recruitment nights, regular monthly meetings that are open to the public; instructional workshops; ARES and National Traffic System group activities; and special event stations.

Clubs with highest point values at midnight December 31, 2000 will be considered finalists. A $1000 check from The ARRL Foundation will be awarded to the club in each category with the highest number of achievement points. Details on how clubs can accumulate points are available on the ARRL Web site. For more information about this award program, contact Dan Miller, K3UFG, or telephone 860-594-0340.


Solar scion Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Solar flux and sunspot activity were down last week, but are headed back up. Average solar flux for last week compared to the previous week was down almost four points, and sunspot numbers were off about 28 points. The low point was Friday, February 18, when the three solar flux measurements for the day were 139.6, 141.1 and 140.4 (the noon measurement of 141.1 is the official reading for the day).

Solar flux is expected to rise, with the projection for Friday through Tuesday of 197, 197, 200, 200 and 204. Solar flux for the near term is expected to peak around 205 on Wednesday or Thursday, March 1 and 2, then decline to below 170 by March 9, and bottom out near 130 around March 23 or 24.

Sunspot numbers for February 17 through 23 were 152, 146, 126, 131, 122, 129 and 155 with a mean of 137.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 168.4 141.1, 144.8, 153.3, 152.1, 172.3 and 185.1, with a mean of 159.6. The estimated planetary A indices were 6, 2, 4, 5, 15, 5 and 9, with a mean of 6.6.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW 160-Meter SSB Contest, the REF French Contest (SSB), the UBA Contest (CW), YL International QSO Party (SSB), the RSGB 7 MHz Contest (CW), the CQC Winter QRP QSO Party, and the North Carolina QSO Party are February 25-27. See February QST, page 96, for more information. Just ahead: The ARRL International DX Contest, (SSB) is March 4-5. See December 1999 QST, page 99 for details.

  • Great Super Secret QRP Special Event: The weekend of February 26-27, several ARRL staffers--through a local QRP club--will operate the Great Super Secret QRP Special Event from an undisclosed location in Newington, Connecticut. The event begins with a scheduled QSO on 7041.5 kHz at 2300 UTC on February 26. The first QSO will use the original Tuna Tin 2, built in 1976 in the ARRL Lab by the late Doug DeMaw, W1CER. For the rest of the weekend, operators will make QRP CW QSOs on 40, 30 and 20 meters, on or near 7.040, 10.110 and 14.060 kHz. A special "certifi-cat" will be issued to those who work the station. "In keeping with the secret nature of this event, we are not announcing what call sign we are using, but most old-time hams and QRPers will know it when they hear it," said ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, who will be among the participants. "Give a listen to that first historic QSO at 2300 UTC. You will be glad you did!"--Ed Hare, W1RFI

  • Canadian special event call sign: The special event call sign VC4X has been assigned from February 27 through March 26, 2000, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1950 Winnipeg Flood. For more information, contact Derrick Belbes, VE4VV,

  • Clarification: Our obituary of Dawn Cummings, K1TQY, in The ARRL Letter, Vol 19, No 7, was incomplete in listing her ARRL appointments. She served as manager of the First Region Net, Cycle 2, of the ARRL National Traffic System and as an Official Relay Station.

    Bob Davis, K7IY, SK Bob Davis, K7IY, SK

  • Nevada SM Bob Davis, K7IY, SK: Nevada Section Manager Robert J. "Bob" Davis, K7IY, of Reno died February 24 after reportedly suffering a heart attack. He was 51. Davis had served as Nevada's SM since July 1997. Prior to that, he served for two years as an Assistant SM. Services are pending. Survivors include Marina Brenes, KI7DK.--thanks to Dick Flanagan, W6OLD, and others

  • Pre-March 21, 1987, Technician redux: To qualify for a General class license starting April 15, 2000, applicants must present valid credit for Elements 1, 2, and 3 at a volunteer examiner session. Those who held a Technician license, now expired or otherwise, prior to March 21, 1987, may claim Element 1 (5 WPM Morse code) and new Element 3 (current Element 3B, General exam) credit. Those who held a Technician license, now expired or otherwise, prior to February 14, 1991, may claim only Element 1 credit, as may anyone who has ever held a Novice ticket. The FCC rules provide Element 2 credit only for individuals who are currently licensed (or within the two-year grace period for renewal) at least at the Technician level. This means that before applying for a General license, a former amateur licensed as a Technician prior to March 21, 1987, and no longer licensed or within the two-year grace period for renewal, also must obtain Element 2 credit. To currently qualify for the Technician license (which conveys Element 2 credit) requires passing a 65-question two part exam (Novice and Technician). Starting April 15, Element 2 will be a single 35-question exam.

  • YL 2000 update: The International YL 2000 gathering gets under way September 29 and continues until October 2 in Hamilton City, New Zealand. A YL 2000 update information page and on-line registration form now are available on the YL2000 Web site. The pages include information on the YL2000 Award. A mirror site is at and may offer faster access for some countries. The International YL 2000 event is sponsored by New Zealand Women Amateur Radio Operators.--Bev Osborne, ZL1OS

  • Enhanced DXCC card checking coming: The ARRL DXCC Desk says that effective April 1, 2000, DXCC members may have their cards checked by local card checkers without having to mail cards to ARRL Headquarters. Under the new program, DXCC card checkers will be able to check all awards except 160 meter DXCC, as well as all QSLs from any current DXCC entity. This will apply to both new awards and endorsements. QSOs made up to 10 years prior to the current year will be eligible for field checking, while older cards and those from deleted entities still may be sent to ARRL HQ. The current DXCC Field Checking program ends March 31, 2000. Reappointment of DXCC Card Checkers under new criteria will be necessary. For more information, contact Bill Moore, NC1L,; 860-594-0234.--DXCC

  • ARRL Assistant Director Chuck Baer, W4ROA, recovering: Chuck Baer, W4ROA, is reported at home and on the mend after double bypass surgery. Well-wishers may write Charles Baer, W4ROA, 9061 NW 21 Manor, Sunrise, FL 33322.--Jim Goldsberry, KD4GR; Chuck Baer

  • QST Cover Plaque Award winner: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for January was John Devoldere, ON4UN, for his article "The 1999 Solar Eclipse and Amateur Radio." Congratulations, John!


The ARRL Letter

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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