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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 12
March 24, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


As promised, the Chesterfield Islands TXØDX DXpedition debuted on the bands March 23. And while the Islands' DXCC status is pending, the advice from the experts is: "Work 'em now, worry later!"

A view of the 1993 FK5C Chesterfield Island IOTA DXpedition.

TXØDX already has overcome at least one hurdle on its way to becoming an official DXCC "entity." The International Amateur Radio Union has accepted the Association des Radio Amateurs de Nouvelle Caledonie (ARANC)--the Amateur Radio Association of New Caledonia--as an IARU member society. A letter to that effect was faxed March 23 to ARANC President Jean Phillippe Torregrossa, FK8FK, by IARU Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ.

ARRL Membership Services Manager Bill Kennamer, K5NX, says the Chesterfield Islands, located in the Coral Sea, now are "potentially eligible" as a DXCC entity because of their separation from New Caledonia--some 350 km away. The ARRL DX Advisory Committee and the ARRL Awards Committee still must vote to approve Chesterfield Islands as a DXCC entity. Kennamer says he's not sure when those votes might occur but thinks the DXAC vote could be "fairly soon."

TXØDX kicked off activity on 15 meter CW and SSB, as well as on 17 meter SSB, and 10 meter CW, working split. Pileups were described as bedlam. The station is expected to be on the air for the WPX SSB Contest the weekend of March 25-26, concentrating on a special 10-meter SSB frequency of 28.745 MHz. Using Yaesu FT-1000MP transceivers, the team expects to be able to operate CW and SSB simultaneously on the same band.

Announced operating frequencies are: CW--1834.5, 3504, 7004, 10,104, 14,024, 18,074, 21,024, 24,894, 28,024 and 50,115 kHz; SSB--3790, 7085, 14,195, 18,145, 21,295, 24,945, 28,480, and 50,115 kHz; RTTY--14083 and 21083 kHz. The TXØDX operators will announce their listening frequencies as appropriate for the areas of the world with propagation at the time.

QSLs for TXØDX (and for TX8CI) HF contacts go to Jarmo J. Jaakola, OH2BN, Kiilletie 5C30, Helsinki 00710 FINLAND; TXØDX QSLs for 50 MHz QSOs only will be handled by Kan Mizoguchi, JA1BK, 5-3 Sakuragaoka 4 Chome, Tama-City, Tokyo 206-0013 JAPAN.

Operation is expected to continue until Thursday, March 30. Regular bulletins will be posted to the TXØDX Web site throughout the operation.


New Mexico suffered what could be the largest power loss in the state's history March 18. Amateur Radio operators stood by to fill the communication gap as the outage that resulted from a grass fire left thousands without power.

"We had done our Y2K exercises well, and it paid off," said New Mexico ARRL Section Manager Joe Knight, W5PDY. Knight says smoke from a large grass fire caused the large insulators on a major power line to arc, shutting down the line. Three major power lines from the Public Service Company of New Mexico's Four-Corners Power Plant followed suit. The outage subsequently took out a major power generating unit. "In a domino effect, most of the state of New Mexico, a small part of southern Colorado and part of El Paso, Texas, were out," Knight explained. Thanks to emergency power, hams and repeaters remained operational.

"Needless to say, there were no cell phones, and the 911 system was jammed," Knight said. ARES/RACES was activated and in full operation through both local and linked repeaters throughout the state. "Operators were cautioned to transmit only for emergency traffic in order to conserve our battery power on the linked repeater system. Since the shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants, filling stations and traffic lights were down, it made for a real Y2K emergency."

Knight says the linked system was able to help keep the public up to date on what was happening. In addition, 21 battery-powered HF stations checked into the New Mexico Roadrunner Traffic Net and were on standby until the power was restored to most of the state. Two broadcast radio stations, KOB AM and KDEF AM, were on the air using emergency power generators. Knight said the New Mexico State Emergency Operations Center and the Albuquerque EOC also were on line using emergency power.

"There were several traffic accidents and a few burglaries, but the hospitals all operated on emergency power," Knight reported. Approximately 1.3 million people were without power for about three or four hours following the outage, which began around 4:30 PM Mountain Time.

In Las Cruces, officials had to halt the state's high school basketball playoffs when the power went out in the arena.

"It was certainly a wakeup call for amateurs in the affected areas," said Knight.


A bill has been introduced in the New York State Assembly to codify the essence of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 in New York State law. Assembly bill A. 9947 would require localities to "reasonably accommodate" Amateur Radio antennas and would prevent localities from restricting antenna structures to less than 95 feet above ground level or from restricting the number of support structures.

ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, says New York hams now have the chance to enact a law to "solve most of our tower problems." According to Fallon, the bill represents two years of work by his Hudson Division PRB-1 Task Force, which spearheaded the bill's development as well as a strategy to get it enacted. The Task Force used other successful state PRB-1 bills as models and had assistance from ARRL Headquarters. Fallon's staff and all three ARRL section managers in the Hudson Division stand squarely behind the measure. Support also has been obtained from Atlantic Division section managers in New York, and plans are under way for a statewide promotional effort.

Ten states have PRB-1 laws in place. New York joins California and Kansas among the list of states that have pending PRB-1 legislation. The New York measure is one of the few to specify a minimum antenna height.

The bill, introduced March 7, is in the Committee on Local Governments, which must vote on the measure before it goes to the full Assembly. Assuming the measure makes it past both chambers, it would go to Gov George Pataki--a former amateur--for his signature.

Fallon is urging clubs and individuals to contact their New York State lawmakers--Assembly and Senate--to cosponsor or support A. 9947. Echoing the PRB-1 language, it would provide that any ordinance impacting the placement, screening or height of antennas "must reasonably accommodate Amateur Radio antennas and shall impose the minimum regulation necessary to accomplish the political subdivision's legitimate purpose."

The bill also would prohibit any local ordinance, by-law, rule or regulation, or other local law from restricting Amateur Radio support structure height to less than 95 feet above ground level or from restricting the number of antenna support structures.

For more information, contact ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon. N2FF.; 516-746-7652.


The FCC has rescinded a March 16 Public Notice that announced implementation of the FCC's agency-wide Commission Registration System (CORES) and the issuance of an FCC Registration Number (FRN) to each licensee. The new system, which would supplant Universal Licensing System registration for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau-administered licensees, was to have gone into effect next Monday, March 27. Some key FCC personnel said they were unaware of the new system until they saw the Public Notice on the FCC's Web site.

This week, the FCC said it was delaying implementation of CORES and FRNs and suspending the March 27 effective date "until further notice." The FCC said it plans to soon issue a new Public Notice "clarifying certain issues about the new program and providing a new effective date for implementation."

CORES registration is expected to replace ULS registration within a year and possibly as early as six months from now. Information provided to the ARRL by FCC officials indicates that a new CORES registration form will take the place of the ULS Registration Form 606 when the new system goes on-line. Once in place, CORES will assign a new 10-digit FCC Registration Number, or FRN, which will replace the Licensee ID Numbers now issued by ULS for WTB licensees. Most FCC licensees are handled by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

The ULS--which covers Wireless Telecommunications Bureau licensees and applicants--became effective for the Amateur Service last August, and the FCC still has not removed all the wrinkles from the system. Most hams have yet to register in ULS. Those who have automatically will be registered in the new system.


Nominations are open for the 2000 Newsline Young Ham of the Year award. The award is presented annually to an Amateur Radio operator 18 or younger living in the 48 contiguous states who has provided outstanding service to the nation and community or to the betterment of the state of the communications art through Amateur Radio.

Nominations are due before May 30, 2000, on an official application and accompanied by verification materials. Applications forms are available for a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: 2000 Young Ham of the Year award, c/o Newsline, 28197 Robin Ave, Santa Clarita, CA 91350.

Nominating applications and additional details also are available at Scroll down to "Young Ham of the Year Award."

Last year's Young Ham of the Year was Michelle Swann, KE4EZI, of Warner Robins, Georgia.

The award presentation is scheduled take place this summer at the 2000 Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama the third weekend in August. For more information, contact Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF,


Propagation prognosticator Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Spring is here, and 10 and 12 meters are the place to be. A high solar flux and shifting seasons are again producing conditions where low power mobiles can work the world on the highest HF bands.

Last year at this time, the average solar flux for the week was 147.5. This week it was 207.8, much higher, and almost 13 points higher than last week's average. A steady upward recent trend can be seen in the graph at

Geomagnetic indices have been quite low, but this should change. Active conditions are predicted for the next few days, due to recurring coronal holes and some recent flare activity.

Weekend conditions for the CQ Worldwide WPX Phone Contest could be stormy. The predicted planetary A index for the next five days, Friday through Tuesday, is 25, 30, 20, 10 and 10, so it looks like the best contest conditions may be on Sunday. On March 31 and April 1 conditions may be unsettled or active again, but should be quiet until April 18. Solar flux predicted for the next five days is 230, 240, 245, 245 and 235. Flux values are expected to bottom out around 185 on April 12 or 13, then peak near 250 around April 22 or 23.

Sunspot numbers for March 16 through 22 were 138, 152, 142, 208, 240, 191 and 212 with a mean of 183.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 184.4, 192.4, 194.8, 208.2, 210.3, 230.5 and 233.8, with a mean of 207.8. The estimated planetary A indices were 4, 6, 7, 8, 8, 6 and 11, with a mean of 7.1.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The CQ WW WPX Contest (SSB) is the weekend of March 25-26. See March QST, page 100, for more information. Just ahead: The EA RTTY Contest, the SP DX Contest, and the 500th Anniversary of Brazil Discovery Contest are the weekend of April 1-2. See April QST, page 100, for more information.

  • KF2GC is new Northern New York SM: Thomas A. "Tom" Dick, KF2GC, of Saranac Lake has been appointed Northern New York Section Manager to replace Chuck Orem, KD2AJ, who has stepped down. The term of office expires January 1, 2001. Members may contact Tom Dick at

  • HQ Web developer needed: Want to put your Web application development experience to work? ARRL Headquarters is looking for a Web Specialist with experience in HTML/CSS and Javascript and the ability to devise Web-based solutions using PHP, Perl and MySQL on the Linux platform. Forward resumes to Bob Boucher, c/o ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. E-mail resumes are accepted ( The ARRL is an equal opportunity employer.

  • QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the March QST Cover Plaque Award is Lew Smith, N7KSB, for his article "A Simple 10-Meter QRP Transmitter." Congratulations, Lew! The March QST Cover Plaque Award is the first to be awarded on the basis of an on-line vote of ARRL members. Voting for the best article in each issue of QST takes place on the ARRL Members Only Web site at More than 500 members participated in the voting.

    Plaque presentation
  • Rare opportunity: A rare opportunity for ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ (r), to present a QST Cover Plaque Award to an author in person occurred in an even rarer venue--the Skyfest 2000 Convention in Herceg-Novi, Montenegro, March 17-19. UBA (Belgian) society President John Devoldere, ON4UN, wrote the article judged the best in January QST ( "The 1999 Solar Eclipse and Amateur Radio") about UBA's project to observe the radio effects of last summer's eclipse. Sumner, Devoldere, and Jay Terleski, WX0B, of Array Solutions were invited guests and speakers at the convention in Montenegro.

  • FCC fines Washington firm for illegal amplifier sales: The FCC has affirmed a $7000 fine on Cellular Systems Northwest Inc of Enumclaw, Washington, for willful and repeated violations of the Communications Act and FCC rules relating to the sale of transmitting equipment. In a Memorandum Opinion and Order March 16, the FCC said Northwest, a consumer electronics dealer, on two occasions in 1997 and 1998 sold and offered to sell "external radio frequency power amplifiers--commonly known as 'linear amplifiers'" to two different FCC agents posing as a member of the general public. The FCC said the amps were capable of operating in the 27-MHz Citizens Band. A Notice of Apparent Liability was issued in June 1998. Northwest sought recission of the $7000 forfeiture saying it never intended to offer or recommend the linears for CB use; its violation was unintentional; that it had ceased selling the illegal equipment; and that it is "small retailer" attempting to make ends meet. The FCC was unmoved and upheld the $7000 fine. The company was given 30 days to pay.--FCC

  • Iridium QRT, but suitors still knocking: With their $5 billion constellation of 66 satellites now on the verge of destruction, Iridium officials have been given approval by the US Bankruptcy Court in New York to begin shutting down the company's mobile phone system. Service was terminated last Friday, and Iridium has asked the Bankruptcy Court to release up to $8.3 million in company funds to cover the closing of the operation. But there's still some eleventh-hour interest in keeping the Iridium array intact. This week, two groups have stepped forward: One is a group of investors led by hotJump Inc, a privately held content network. A group spokesman says it's made an acquisition bid for Iridium. The second, Las Vegas-based Merit Studios Inc, has contacted Iridium's attorneys to discuss a plan "to salvage the failed venture." There's been no comment from Iridium backer Motorola or from Iridium on either potential offer. Another potential suitor, Gene Curcio, of Crescent Communications Inc, last week expressed interest in buying the constellation and transitioning its management to General Dynamics if Motorola would agree to keep the birds in the air for another 60 to 90 days. Motorola reportedly declined, and Curcio didn't have the necessary up-front money. Barring the eventual emergence of a financial savior, Iridium will go forward with plans to deorbit and destroy the satellites. The de-orbiting process could take as long as two years.--press reports

  • Neat star/satellite tracking site: A new star/satellite tracking site, Heavens-Above, is on the Web at . The site is primarily devoted to visual observing, but it recently added the capability to provide Amateur Radio satellite pass predictions. Heavens-Above draws on the support of the German Space Operations Center, which hosts the Web site.--thanks to Steve Ford, WB8IMY

  • Southeastern VHF Society 2000 Conference set: The Southeastern VHF Society holds its fourth annual conference Friday and Saturday, April 14-15, at the Atlanta Marriott Hotel Northwest, Marietta, Georgia. Dick Hanson, K5AND, is the conference chairman. The conference gets under way Friday at 8 AM and continues through the Saturday banquet. Among other activities, the event will include VUCC Award verification, antenna gain and preamp noise-figure testing, Amateur Radio testing, a flea market and vendor displays, plus the annual business meeting April 14, and the SVHFS auction and banquet April 15. ARRL First Vice President (and avid VHF enthusiast) Joel Harrison, W5ZN, will be the banquet speaker. The ARRL will publish conference Proceedings. The Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club will offer a final chance to upgrade under the old FCC rules at 10 PM Friday, April 14. At the stroke of midnight, amateurs may take one of the new exams or turn in credit for an upgrade. Testing is being coordinated by Brennan Price, N4QX, For additional conference information, visit, e-mail Program Manager Bob Lear, K4SZ, or write SVHFS, PO Box 1255, Cornelia, GA 30531.

  • Second annual International DX Convention Contest Dinner: The Northern California Contest Club has announced the second annual International DX Convention Contest Dinner, Friday, April 14, 8 PM, Holiday Inn Visalia, 9000 West Airport Dr, Visalia, California. Tickets are available from Champion Radio Products, 888-833-3104 (toll-free); fax 530-758-9062;; PO Box 2034, El Macero, CA 95618. Order deadline is Friday, April 7. Tickets are not being sold at the door.

  • Timewave acquires ANC-4 noise canceller: Timewave Technology has acquired the rights to the ANC-4 antenna noise canceller from JPS Communications Inc. Timewave says it will start production of the ANC-4 immediately and expects to start shipping units to dealers by May 10. The company also will service and support JPS Communications-made ANC-4 units. JPS left the Amateur Radio market last year. For more information, contact Randy Gawtry at Timewave Technology: 612-452-5939; or visit Technology news release

  • Sydney Olympics special event call sign to debut: AX2000--the call sign commemorating the Olympics in Sydney, Australia, gets its first workout this month. The New South Wales Division of the Wireless Institute of Australia has authorized a number of NSW Amateur Radio clubs to use the call sign during 2000. The Manly-Warringah Radio Society will activate the call in the CQ WW WPX Contest March 25-26 and will continue to use the call sign through March 31. In April, the Wahroonga Amateur Historical Radio Association will be active as AX2000/IMD on International Marconi Day, April 29. Other New South Wales radio clubs will activate the call at various times throughout the year, and AX2000 will be on the air from the WIA Divisional headquarters during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. By the way, the call sign will be "pronounced" as "A-X-two thousand." The Australian Communications Authority has announced that Australian radio amateurs may use the optional AX call sign prefix June 15 through November 2 to commemorate the Sydney Olympic Games.--WIA/Q-News

  • Contacting ITS to verify a prior Amateur Radio license: Those electing to contact FCC archives contractor ITS Inc to document having held an amateur license in the past are advised to telephone ITS instead of e-mailing. For a fee, ITS will research prior licensing records and should be able to provide you with the necessary documentary proof. Call ITS at 717-337-1433 to place an order (eg, for "verification of a pre-March 21, 1987, amateur license"). The verification letter you receive will be on FCC stationery and stamped with the FCC seal. The ITS Web site is Credit card orders are welcome.


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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