Register Account

Login Help

ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 11
March 17, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


The ARRL has formally asked the FCC to reconsider and modify two aspects of its December 30, 1999, Report and Order that restructured the Amateur Radio rules. The League wants the FCC to continue to maintain records that indicate whether a Technician licensee has Morse code element credit. It also seeks permanent Morse element credit for any Amateur Radio applicant who has ever passed an FCC-recognized Morse exam of at least 5 WPM.

The League's Petition for Partial Reconsideration in the WT Docket 98-143 proceeding was filed March 13.

The League suggested that it would be less of an administrative burden for the FCC to maintain the Technician database as it has been doing. The database now identifies Technician and Tech Plus licensees by encoding the records with a "T" or a "P" respectively. The ARRL also said the inability to identify those Technicians that have HF privileges and those who do not could hamper voluntary enforcement efforts. It further suggested it would be wrong to put the burden of proof of having passed the Morse examination on licensees.

The League cited the demands of fairness in asking the FCC to afford Morse element credit to all applicants who have ever passed an FCC-recognized 5 WPM code exam. The rules already grant Element 1 credit to those holding an expired or unexpired FCC-issued Novice license or an expired or unexpired Technician Class operator license document granted before February 14, 1991. It also grants Element 1 credit to applicants possessing an FCC-issued commercial radiotelegraph operator license or permit that's valid or expired less than 5 years.

The League has asked the FCC to "conform the rules" to give similar credit to those who once held General, Advanced or Amateur Extra class licenses.


Participants in the WA2XSY experimental operation on 5 MHz have established beachheads on the most likely site of the next amateur HF band. The FCC issued the Experimental license for the 5 MHz tests to the ARRL in January 1999.

One goal for the project is to demonstrate that an amateur allocation at 5 MHz would improve emergency communication capabilities by filling the gap between 80 and 40 meters. Several WA2XSY participants are phone net members in the Caribbean and Gulf area who frequently handle hurricane-related traffic and now must alternate between those two bands. Other participants are members of a nationwide digital data-forwarding network.

Strict operating schedules have not yet been established but may be announced if monitoring reports are solicited as a part of the experiment. Recent tests among the 15 participating stations--WA2XSY-1 through WA2XSY-15--have involved contacts and roundtables on CW and PACTOR. Activity has centered on two frequencies, a primary and an alternate, between 5100 and 5150 kHz. To avoid interfering with existing services, the participants are confining their operations to a less-populated 50-kHz segment.

Geographically, the participating stations range from the West Coast to the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic, New England, the South, and the Caribbean. Participants in the WA2XSY experiment may run up to 200 W ERP. They're using trap dipoles capable of operation on 80 and 40 meters as well as at 5 MHz. Operations consist of short transmissions to determine propagation characteristics. Signals on experimental evening schedules reportedly have ranged from S5 to S9. Although the current solar cycle is near its peak, the activity adds little to 5 MHz.

An amateur allocation in the vicinity of 5 MHz has long been an objective of the International Amateur Radio Union. The IARU's Administrative Council has approved a long-term goal of "a narrow allocation, even on a shared basis in the vicinity of 5 MHz." The League's experimental license is considered one step in documenting the Amateur Service requirement.

Even if the experiment demonstrates the desirability of an amateur allocation in the vicinity of 5 MHz, it is likely to take several more years to win an allocation even on a domestic basis. Securing an international allocation will be more difficult and will take even longer. The subject of a 5 MHz Amateur Radio allocation is not likely to show up on the agenda of a World Radiocommunication Conference for several years, however.

The 5 MHz tests have attracted the attention of the Radio Society of Great Britain, which has inquired concerning the US experiments. The RSGB HF Committee also has been considering 5 MHz and may participate in the US tests if it can get operating authority in the UK


The FCC has told a former Houston, Texas, amateur that he's liable for a $17,000 fine for unlicensed operation and for failing to allow the FCC to inspect his radio equipment. A Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture--an NAL--was sent March 3 to Leonard D. Martin, formerly KC5WHN, by the FCC's Houston Office.

Martin has bumped heads with the FCC on several occasions. The FCC said it received a written complaint in May 1998 alleging that a station identifying as KC5WHN was operating on frequencies not authorized by his Technician ticket. FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth sent Martin a Warning Notice in November 1998 outlining the complaints. The Commission said Martin "generally denied the unauthorized operation."

After tracking transmissions on various 27 MHz frequencies to Martin's residence on at least two occasions in early 1999, an FCC agent was twice rebuffed in his efforts to inspect Martin's radio equipment. The FCC's Houston Office issued Martin an Official Notice of Violation last April. Martin acknowledged the complaint and promised that "no further action by the Commission" would be necessary. In July, he turned in his Amateur Radio license for cancellation.

Martin's troubles didn't end there, however. Last October, following up on complaints of RF interference to a telephone in Martin's neighborhood, the FCC again tracked 27 MHz transmissions to Martin's residence. Martin reportedly again refused to let the FCC inspect his equipment.

The FCC NAL said that, based on the evidence, Martin "repeatedly and willfully" violated Section 301 of the Communications Act by operating without an FCC license and by refusing to allow an FCC inspection of his radio station. Martin has 30 days to pay or to request reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.


Amateur Radio storm spotters were out all over Wisconsin Wednesday, March 8, when the earliest tornado on record hit Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. And Wisconsin's SEC says he thinks hams were first to report the phenomenon to the National Weather Service.

The storm hit around 6 PM near Mitchell International Airport--Wisconsin's largest airfield--and moved northeast. Several minor injuries were reported, some vehicles were overturned, buildings lost roofs, power poles and trees were downed, and some gas leaks were reported.

ARRL Wisconsin Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Kaplan, WB9RQR, reports that hams regularly fed the National Weather Service at Sullivan with hail and wind reports. "All ham traffic was fed directly to NWS by local repeaters," Kaplan said. "A number of hams were on-site near the tornado touchdown." It's believed that Amateur Radio storm spotters were the first to report the touchdown to the NWS. The Weather Service rated the tornado as an F1 category storm. It cut a swath between 50 and 75 yards long over a mile and a quarter. Hail of up to 1.75 inches in diameter was reported at one point, although most of the hail reported by hams and others was of the much smaller half-inch variety.

Milwaukee Area SKYWARN Association Executive Director Skip Voros, WD9HAS, noted that the March 8 tornado broke the old 1977 record of April for an early tornado.


Citing information provided by Richard Limebear, G3RWL, on the RSGB News Service on behalf of AMSAT-UK, AMSAT News Service reports the cost of transporting the Phase 3D satellite to its launch site approached $25,000. The Phase-3D spacecraft has a tentative launch opportunity aboard Ariane 507, now set for late July. The satellite is in its packing case in a clean room at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, awaiting the start of the launch campaign.

The AMSAT-UK Phase 3D fund paid $23,739 to cover costs of shipping Phase 3D from Atlanta to Kourou. The $1000 cost of trucking the satellite from the Orlando Integration Lab to the Atlanta airport was met by AMSAT-ZL. "It is assistance such as this, from these AMSAT organizations, that really makes Phase 3D a truly international effort, not only in technical aspects but also providing a financial partnership," AMSAT-NA Executive Vice President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, told ANS.

Last year, the AMSAT-UK Phase-3D fund also presented AMSAT-NA President Keith Baker, KB1SF, with a check for $13,340 to purchase thermal blankets for the spacecraft.--AMSAT News Service


East Timor--now under United Nations administration--has become the latest DXCC entity, and two stations already have been on the air from the former Indonesian territory. The International Telecommunication Union has assigned the prefix block 4WA-4WZ for use by radio stations within the areas administered by the UN Temporary Administration of East Timor--or UNTAET. The prefix assignment is for the use of UNTAET as long as it exists. It will be released to the ITU at the end of its existence.

UN stations within East Timor may be assigned 4U prefixes for official use, while UN Amateur stations may use the prefix 4U1. This includes the UN Amateur Radio Club station, 4U1ET. All private Amateur Radio stations in East Timor will use the prefix 4W6. Permanent residents of East Timor who were previously licensed also may obtain permanent call signs. Third-party traffic is permitted within the area, and with countries that permit third-party traffic.

For DXCC purposes, UN Temporary Administration of East Timor will be added to the DXCC List with the effective date of March 1, 2000. QSL cards for QSOs made after that date will be accepted starting October 1, 2000.

Licensed operators operating these stations will act in a manner consistent with the primary purpose of the Amateur Service, as defined by the ITU, and will avoid participation in activities which may imply official commitment or approval by the United Nations or in activities of a commercial nature or otherwise inconsistent with the Amateur Service.

Ross Ballantyne, VK8UN--a UN Political Affairs Officer who's been in East Timor since last year--has been issued 4W6UN. He'll also serve as custodian for 4U1ET, a station to be established at the UNTAET Headquarters in Dili. 4W6UN QSL Manager Steve Gregory, VK3OT, reports that that Ballantyne has been somewhat active on 20, 15 and 10 meters SSB running a trapped vertical antenna, but that he is not set up for CW at this point. He also has a very limited amount of time in his schedule for ham radio.

This week, Thor, TF1MM, was licensed as 4W6MM. The QSL route for 4W6MM will be announced. He's been active on 10, 15, and 20-meter CW, up 6 kHz from the Extra band edge. Other 4W6 operations are pending.


ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, says time is running out to be a part of the world radio direction-finding championships in China this fall. He reports the roster of hams wanting to compete in the 10th Amateur Radio Direction Finding World Championships, October 13-18, is growing. The competition in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province is being organized by the China Radio Sports Association on behalf of the International Amateur Radio Union. A dozen from the US already have signed up for the event.

To allow time to make diplomatic and travel arrangements, a deadline of March 31, 2000, has been set for ARDF Team USA applications. After that, applications can be accepted only on a "space available" basis. The present Team USA roster includes hams from ages 14 through 58.

Detailed information about international-style foxhunting, ARDF Team USA, and the World Championships is available at Send applications and inquiries via e-mail to or to ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, PO Box 2508, Fullerton, CA 92837.--Joe Moell, K0OV


The man credited with being the father of SKYWARN--Sherman Carr, W9NGT, of Hartford, Wisconsin--died March 15. He was 83. Carr was an ARRL member for nearly 40 years.

Begun more than 30 years ago, SKYWARN is a cooperative effort through which real-time weather information is relayed via Amateur Radio to NWS offices during severe weather conditions. Carr was Wisconsin Section Emergency Coordinator in the late 1960s when he established the first Amateur Radio weather-spotting network, the Weather Amateur Radio Network--WARN-with assistance from Dave Theophilus, W9KWQ, a NWS meteorologist in Milwaukee. In those largely pre-repeater days, the network operated on 75 meters. Carr's idea worked so well that other states adopted its basic structure, which eventually was implemented as SKYWARN.

Last June, the National Weather Service honored Carr for his role in helping to create the SKYWARN program by presenting him with its Central Region Special Service Award. Wisconsin's current SEC Stan Kaplan, WB9RQR, called Carr "as much a pioneer as the first astronaut."

W9NGT Sherman C. Carr, W9NGT

"Carr leaves a legacy of creativity, incredible dedication and innovation in emergency communications, in technical excellence, and thousands of friends who will remember his chuckle and his grin," said Wisconsin ARRL Public Information Officer Jim Romelfanger, K9ZZ.

Survivors include his wife, Marianne, and sons Mike and Sheldon. Visitation for Sherman Carr, W9NGT, will be Saturday, March 18, 1:30-5:30 PM at the Shimon Funeral Home, 824 Union, Hartford. The service will immediately follow the visitation.--Jim Romelfanger, K9ZZ


Solar sage Tad Cook, K7VVV, reports: Average solar flux was down slightly, and average sunspot numbers rose over the past week. There were no really disturbed days, but the geomagnetic field was active on March 12.

Solar flux has been declining this week and is expected to reach a short-term minimum near 170 from March 19 to 21. Flux values should quickly rise to another short term peak that is expected to be very broad. Solar flux should be around 220 from March 25 through April 4.

The projected solar flux for the next five days, Friday through Tuesday, is 180, 175, 170, 170 and 170. Planetary A index for these same days is expected to be 8, 8, 8, 8 and 12. Upcoming dates that may be disturbed are March 22-24, March 31 and April 1, and April 18 and 19.

Sunspot numbers for March 9 through 15 were 225, 231, 178, 188, 172, 193 and 167 with a mean of 193.4. The 10.7-cm flux was 205.8 203.4, 203.2, 203.2, 188.1, 182.6 and 177.8, with a mean of 194.9. The estimated planetary A indices were 5, 10, 12, 19, 4, 6 and 3, with a mean of 8.4.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The first CQ Spring VHF Activity Weekend is March 17-19 (see below); the Alaska and Virginia QSO parties plus the Bermuda Contest are the weekend of March 18-20. Just ahead: The CQ WW WPX Contest (SSB) is the weekend of March 25-26. See March QST, page 100, for more information.

  • First CQ Spring VHF Activity Weekend: The first CQ Spring VHF Activity Weekend, March 17-19, is a chance to get your feet wet in ham radio contesting without the pressure of a major event. The event takes place on VHF FM simplex frequencies (except 146.52 MHz). Just tune around starting at 6 PM local time on Friday and ending at 12 midnight local time on Sunday. No contest contacts are permitted on 146.52 MHz, and no repeater contacts are allowed, except FM satellite contacts. The exchange consists of your call sign and grid square. For details on this and other operating events, see the February issue of CQ magazine or visit and click on "Information Center."--CQ

  • VP2VI/52 commemorative special event: Past ARRL President Bob Denniston, W0DX/VP2VI, will stage a commemorative DXpedition/special event operation March 17-19 (UTC) to mark the 52nd anniversary of the first modern DXpedition. VP2VI/52 will be on 160-10, CW, up 25 kHz on all bands but 40 and 80, where he'll be 5 kHz inside the band. Denniston plans to use a combination of vintage and modern gear and wire antennas similar to the ones used in 1948 from the Bahamas as VP7NG (see "W0DX/VP2VI to Relive Thrill Of First DXpedition,"
  • ARRL invites input: A Web-based forum now is "live" to collect member input on how the new ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program should be designed and what it should include. ARRL Educational and Technical Advisor L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, is serving as interim forum moderator-facilitator. The forum site is Members are invited to suggest specific programs and areas of study or skills development they would like to see as part of the Certification Program. (Participants are requested to direct comments concerning ARRL policy to their respective ARRL Directors, listed on page 10 of any issue of QST.) The ARRL Board of Directors approved the development and implementation of the self-education program, aimed at inspiring amateurs to continue acquiring technical knowledge and operating expertise beyond that required to become licensed. The League will roll out the initial phase of the Certification and Continuing Education Program later this year.

    Miss Topeka, KB0MDX Heather Hollenbeck, KB0MDX
  • Amateur crowned Miss Topeka 2000: Heather Hollenbeck, KB0MDX, recently was crowned Miss Topeka 2000 and will compete in the Miss Kansas 2000 pageant this June. Heather comes from a ham radio family. Proud mama is Missy Hollenbeck, AA0OF, her dad, Fred, is N0WSA, her brother, Jacob, is KB0RMK, and her granddad, Gary Hoffsommer, W0TI, introduced her to Amateur Radio.--Missy Hollenbeck, AA0OF

  • ARRL Audio News now available in MP3 format: ARRL Audio News--highlights compiled from The ARRL Letter--now is available in MP3 format from the ARRL Web site at ARRL Audio News continues to be available from ARRLWeb in RealAudio format. It's also accessible via telephone at 860-594-0384.

  • Does your repeater air ARRL Audio News? If your local repeater makes use of all or part of the League's weekly Amateur Radio news broadcast, ARRL Audio News, please let us know. We'd appreciate it if repeater managers would send the call sign, frequency, location, and sponsoring organization of the repeater as well as the time and day ARRL Audio News is aired to Rick Lindquist, N1RL, ARRL Audio News each Friday. ARRL Audio News--highlights compiled from The ARRL Letter is available in RealAudio and MP3 formats from the ARRL Web site at It's also available by telephone at 860-594-0384.

  • Douglas J. Terman, N1KQI, SK: Best-selling author Douglas Terman, N1KQI, of Warren, Vermont, died December 28, 1999. He was 66. An Air Force veteran who worked in intelligence and flew jet interceptors, Terman took up writing after moving to Vermont in the 1970s. His techno-thriller genre novels include First Strike and Free Flight, both best sellers. He also wrote a children's book, By Balloon to the Sahara.--Chip Taylor, W1AIM

  • Richard W. Kowitz, W8RCM, SK: A well-known W8-land amateur, DXCC Honor Roll member and WAS card checker, Dick Kowitz, W8RCM, of Dearborn, Michigan, died January 6. He was 79 and had been battling cancer. Kowitz had confirmed more than 335 DXCC entities. W8RCM was an active member of the Motor City Radio Club since being licensed in 1937 and was known as the antenna specialist as well as a VE and mentor. Kowitz was an ARRL member for 47 years.--Anne E. Travis, K8AE

  • World's fastest shooter, Joe Walsh, KB2LHI, SK: Joseph M. "Joe" Walsh, KB2LHI, of Parsippany, New Jersey, died February 28 in Port St Lucie, Florida.. He was 59. A retired officer with the Morris County Sheriff's Office, Walsh (not to be confused with rock singer Joe Walsh, WB6ACU) was renowned as "the world's fastest shooter" and was said to be listed in the Guiness Book of World Records.--Christopher D Linne, N2OPO, via The Hudson Loop

  • SETI League announces annual meeting: The SETI League will hold its annual meeting March 26, at SETI League Headquarters, 433 Liberty St, Little Ferry, New Jersey. The meeting gets under way at 1 PM. A non-profit organization, the SETI League supports a privately funded radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and its membership includes many Amateur Radio operators. The executive director is Paul Shuch, N6TX.--The SETI League


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.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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 and The American Radio Relay League.

Back issues published since 2000 are available on this page. If you wish to subscribe via e-mail, simply log on to the ARRL Web site, click on Edit Your Profile at the top, then click on Edit Email Subscriptions. Check the box next to The ARRL email newsletter, the ARRL Letter and you will receive each weekly issue in HTML format. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):

Editorial questions or comments: John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, at


The ARRL E-Letter e-mail is also available in plain-text version:

Outlook Express

1. From the Inbox view, select the Tools menu and the Options selection.

2. Click the Read tab

3. Check the Read All Messages In Plain Text box.  When you open the e-mail, it will be in plain text without images. Other e-mail programs may be able to make a Mail Rule for e-mail received from the address so that the plain-text-only display is selected automatically.

Outlook 2007

Use the same procedure as for Outlook Express, although the global option is under "Tools/Trust Center/E-mail Security".


Use the menu item "View/Message Body As/Plain Text" or "View/Message Source" options.

OS X Mail (Mac)

Use the "View/Message/Plain Text Alternative" menu item.


Use the "Message text garbled?" link in the drop-down menu at the upper right of the displayed message block. pine, alpine Set "prefer-plain-text" in your ~/.pinerc configuration file: feature-list=..., prefer-plain-text, ...


Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn