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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 16
April 21, 2000

NOTE: Because ARRL HQ is closed on Friday, April 21, this week's editions of The ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News are being posted one day early. The solar/propagation bulletin will be transmitted Friday by W1AW and available via e-mail to bulletin subscribers. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.--Rick Lindquist, N1RL


+Available on ARRL Audio News


Nearly 90 applicants line up outside a midnight VE session in Mount Clemens, Michigan, awaiting their chance to help make Amateur Radio history. [Paul Valko, W8KC]

Despite dire predictions from some quarters, the "Big Day"--Saturday, April 15, 2000--dawned with nary a "10-4," a "roger beep" or "echo box" to be heard on the Amateur Bands. During the first weekend of restructuring, fledgling Generals and Extras were out in force on the HF bands, trying out their upgraded privileges and proudly appending the required "interim AG" or "interim AE" to each ID.

Amateur Radio has passed another milestone in its long history without incident. For the first time in more than 60 years, applicants for an Amateur Radio license seeking full HF privileges didn't need to take a 13 WPM or higher Morse code exam.

ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, was among those urging veteran hams to put out the welcome mat to all newcomers. "They will need to learn things that have never been part of any FCC test," he said in an open message published in the division newsletter, The Hudson Loop. Fallon advised experienced hams to be generous with their help, to be tolerant of mistakes and to be "friendly and tactful when you offer suggestions for improvement."

Linda Brodhurst of the ARRL-VEC staff helps handle the growing mountain of paperwork. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

Meanwhile, the ARRL-VEC team doesn't need any restructuring reminders. It's been dealing with an increased influx of applications for the past three months.

"You're a little early. It's taking about a month," Assistant to the ARRL-VEC Manager Wayne Irwin, W1KI, tells a newly upgraded caller whose new privileges have yet to show up in the FCC database or in his mailbox despite having tested March 22.

Irwin points out that VE teams have 10 days to get their paperwork into the mail or shipped to the ARRL-VEC. The 10 days does not include transit time to ARRL, which can be a week or more. The ARRL-VEC has an FCC-imposed 10-day deadline to check over the paperwork and send the files electronically to the FCC. But the volume of activity as a result of upgrade fever has put things behind the dime. Although it's hired on extra help, ARRL-VEC is still struggling to keep up. "The phones ring relentlessly with inquiries, and the e-mail runneth over," says ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ.

Over the weekend, thousands of hams took advantage of strategically scheduled upgrade and paperwork processing VE sessions, including some held at the stroke of midnight. Jahnke says he's gotten word of individual sessions with as many as 135 attendees. ARRL-VEC alone had nearly 250 separate sessions registered for April 15, so he's expecting an additional paperwork avalanche this week.

Nearly 90 applicants turned out for the Utica Shelby Emergency Communications Association's effort to be the first to offer amateur exams under the new rules. The club began administering tests at the stroke of midnight during its special VE session in Mt Clemens, Michigan. Club spokesperson Paul Valko, W8KC, says the first one in the door was William "Captain Bill" Heaver, KB8QMP, who directs the Mt. Clemens Salvation Army center where the upgrades took place.

Among ARRL Headquarters staff members caught up in the restructuring upgrade wave are Penny Harts, N1NAG, Carole Dimock, N1NAM, and Mary Lau, N7IAL, who upgraded to General, and Mike Tracy, KC1SX, and John Bee, N1GNV who upgraded to Extra.

Perhaps as a point of pride, more than a few hams hustled in the weeks remaining before April 15 in an effort to upgrade under the old rules. One was ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, WA1STO. Another was Don Wenger, WD8OTT--now "interim AE"--who wrote ARRL HQ to say the League's code tapes did the trick for him after years of struggling with the code. "I hold nothing against a 5 WPM Extra, but for my own personal satisfaction I did it the 'old way.'" he wrote.


The FCC says a lot of newly upgraded General class licensees have begun asking if they may operate in the current Advanced class subbands now that the new amateur rules are in place. "The answer is: Absolutely not," said the Bill Cross, W3TN, of the FCC's Public Safety and Private Wireless Division. "No privileges changed for any license class."

Cross pointed out that the Advanced class license did not cease to exist under restructuring, which went into effect April 15, although the FCC no longer accepts applications for Novice or Advanced class licenses. He said current Generals do not earn Advanced class privileges until they upgrade to Amateur Extra class, at which point they earn both Advanced and Extra privileges.

The FCC also says General class operators may hold only Group C (1x3) or Group D (2x3) call signs, as it was under the old rules. Generals are not entitled to apply for or hold Group B (2x2) call signs under the new rules.

Cross cautioned newly upgraded licensees to check the revised Part 97 rules carefully to make sure they're not operating beyond their privileges. "Now that they've gotten the license, it's time to look at the real rules," he said.

Amateurs further are reminded that in order to apply for upgraded volunteer examiner privileges or for a vanity call sign reflecting new license status, a licensee first must have been issued an upgraded license grant by the FCC. Interim privileges conveyed by a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination--or CSCE--are insufficient for these purposes.

Revised FCC Part 97 rules are available on the ARRL Web site.

The FCC this week released the Errata to its December 30, 1999, Report and Order on restructuring. The Errata incorporate minor errors contained in the original R&O and already made in the version of the new rules that appeared in The Federal Register earlier this year.


Dennis Quaid stars as Frank Sullivan in the New Line Cinema thriller, Frequency. [©New Line Cinema]

In the movie Frequency, a father and son are reunited across time via Amateur Radio. On Monday, April 24, three of those involved in helping to rescue young pirate attack victim Willem van Tuijl and bringing him to the US for medical treatment will be brought together for the first time at the Dallas screening of the new film. Willem remains hospitalized in stable condition.

The media event--staged by the film's distributors, New Line Cinema--will unite three members of the rescue effort with the van Tuijl family at the AMC Glen Lakes movie theater (at 9450 N Central Expressway, Dallas) April 24 at 7:15 PM. On hand will be Willem's parents, Jacco and Jannie van Tuijl, KH2TD and KH2TE, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, US Rep Pete Sessions of Texas, and rescue coordinator Ed Petzolt, K1LNC.

After efforts to bring Willem to the US from a hospital in Honduras faltered, Haynie contacted Sessions' office for assistance. Subsequently, a team from Children's Medical Center in Dallas flew to Honduras and returned with the youth. Petzolt was among the several amateurs who helped to coordinate the rescue of the van Tuijls and their sailboat via the 20-meter Maritime Mobile Service Net. He appeared recently on an ABC 20/20 news magazine segment on the episode along with physician Dr Jim Hirschman, K4TCV, who provided medical advice as the family was headed for Honduras with their injured son. A story on the family's saga also appears in the April 24 issue of People magazine. NBC's Dateline also is said to be considering a TV segment.

On Monday morning, Haynie is scheduled to be a guest on The Merge 93.3 FM (KKZN-FM) morning radio program in Dallas between 8 and 9 AM. He'll be joined on the telephone by Jacco van Tuijl, who will be at his son's hospital bedside.

The Dallas Amateur Radio Club already has taken advantage of the movie's pending opening for its public relations value. The DARC van was set up April 18 for an advance showing at the Cinemark 17 theatre in Dallas. The movie was so popular with the largely Amateur Radio audience that it reportedly got a standing ovation. The movie opens nationwide on April 28, and the DARC van is expected to return for that occasion as well.

Amateur Radio manufacturers and distributors recently pledged a transceiver and other prizes for the club that does the best job of promoting Amateur Radio at a local theater screening Frequency. In addition, the ARRL will donate the choice of a 2000 edition of The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs or Handbook CD-ROM to each participating club.

For more information on "Frequency," visit


Dan Miller, K3UFG.

ARRL HQ staff member Dan Miller, K3UFG, has been tapped to provide staff support for the League's nascent Certification and Continuing Education Program. As ARRL Certification Specialist within Field and Educational Services, Miller's immediate challenge will be to develop a pilot program in Emergency Communications. The pilot program may serve as a template for future continuing education modules.

The ARRL Board of Directors approved the development and implementation of the self-education Certification Program for radio amateurs at its January meeting. The program is aimed at inspiring amateurs to continue to acquire technical knowledge and operating expertise beyond that required to become licensed. The League plans to have the initial phases of the program in place later this year.

During the past month, ARRL members have had the opportunity to participate in discussion forums on the ARRL Members Only Web site. Forums include discussions on a wide range of ideas relating to certification and continuing education in general, as well as more focused "special topics" forums. L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, has been serving as an interim forum moderator. Member interest has been particularly high in the Emergency Communications forum led by Pat Lambert, W0IPL. Lambert has already developed a tentative outline with the aid of other forum participants.

Miller says he's stepping into his new responsibilities with enthusiasm and optimism. "Recent developments and renewed interest in Amateur Radio, thanks to the restructuring, leave no doubt that such a Continuing Education program is both needed and wanted," he said. "The next step is to formulate the means by which this can be accomplished." Miller said that no other single topic affects more people than Emergency Communications does.

With a strong team of volunteer technical and educational advisors, plus the support and participation of the overwhelming majority of active hams, Miller said, "We can enter the new millennium as the most proficient Amateur Radio operators ever in the history of our wonderful hobby."

Miller's strong background in education includes teaching both students and teachers, as far back as his military days in the 1960s. Miller and his K3UFG call sign hail from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he and his family plan to spend the Easter holiday.--Rosalie White, WA1STO

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The Six Meter Sprint, the DXYL-NAYL Contest (SSB) and the Low Power Spring Sprint are the weekend of April 22-23. The 432 MHz Spring Sprint is April 26. Just ahead: Information on the QRP to the Field event in April QST is incorrect. The event is April 29. Visit for up-to-date information. Also: The Florida, Nebraska and Ontario QSO parties, the Helvetia Contest, the County Hunters Contest (phone) and the North American High Speed Meteor Scatter Contest are the weekend of April 29-30. See April QST, page 100, for more information.

  • Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for April was Frank King, KM4IE, for his article "A $20 HF Mobile Antenna." Congratulations, Frank! ARRL members are reminded that the winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author(s) of the best article in each issue--now is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the ARRL Members Only Web site. There's still time to cast a ballot for your choice as the favorite article in the May issue of QST. Voting ends May 15.

  • ARRL Division, Section electronic newsletters now available to members: Effective this week, ARRL members who have registered for the Members Only Web Site will be able to receive ARRL Division and Section news in electronic form. Initially, those ARRL members who previously opted to receive The ARRL Letter or ARRL bulletins have been signed up for Division/Section news. New users will be offered Division/Section news as well as the other options currently available. Section Managers may send newsletters or announcements for their sections to Mary Lau, N7IAL ( Submissions will be remailed as received, and each message will have a brief note appended telling members how they can opt out of receiving further mailings if desired. Users may change their e-mail delivery options at any time via the "Member Data Page" under "What's available here?" on the Members Only home page.

  • ARRL First VP Harrison exhorts SVHFS confab: The Southeast VHF Society's annual conference the weekend of April 15-16 near Atlanta, Georgia, attracted some 80 amateurs. Conferees spent two days hearing presentations on a wide variety of VHF-UHF and microwave topics. Saturday banquet speaker and ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, urged his audience to remain upbeat about the future of the hobby. "Those who say that Amateur Radio is no longer on the cutting edge of technology ignore or are unaware of the progress amateurs are making" and "fail to appreciate what new frontiers we will discover." Harrison cited new distance records for amateur microwave contacts. He also noted the imminent launches of the AMSAT Phase 3B satellite and the International Space Station with Amateur Radio aboard. Conference Proceedings are available from ARRL for $15.--Sandy Donahue, W4RU

  • DXCC Yearbook 1999 out soon: The DX Yearbook 1999 was delayed slightly this year. The ARRL DXCC Desk says the book now is at the printer's and will be available in mid to late May. ARRL member-participants who submitted DXCC applications between October 1, 1998, and September 30, 1999, and/or current Honor Roll members receive a complimentary Yearbook copy in the mail. For more information, contact Bill Moore, NC1L, Desk

    Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) addresses Hams in Palm Harbor, Florida. West Central Florida Section Manager Dave Armbrust, AE4MR, is at the extreme left with an unidentified Lighthouse ARC member. [Paul Toth, NA4AR]

  • Florida hams meet with Spectrum Protection Act sponsor: Members of the West Central Florida Section leadership met with US Rep Michael Bilirakis (R-Clearwater) April 15 to discuss the future of Amateur Radio and the impact of federal regulation. Rep. Bilirakis is the author and chief sponsor of HR 783, the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act. The bill, current under consideration by a House Committee, would require the FCC to allocate comparable radio spectrum to the Amateur Radio Service in exchange for any current allocations the Commission may decide to auction off or reallocate to another service. Rep Bilirakis commended Amateur Radio operators for their continued commitment to public service in their communities. He cited the role Amateur Radio played in the recent rescue of Willem van Tuijl, shot and seriously injured when his family's sailboat was attacked by pirates off the coast of Honduras. "This was Amateur Radio at its finest," Bilirakis told the group. West Central Florida Section Manager Dave Armbrust, AE4MR, outlined the growing concern about the impact of deed restrictions and restrictive covenants on Amateur Radio. "We must find a way to give these operators and those who wish to become hams the opportunity to perform public service and emergency communications unimpaired by these artificial barriers," he said. The ARRL has petitioned the FCC to expand the scope of PRB-1 to include restrictive covenants. ARRL Southeastern Division Assistant Director Paul Toth, NA4AR, called on Bilirakis to support that change. The meeting was hosted by the Lighthouse Amateur Radio Club.

  • International Marconi Day reminder: More than 40 International Marconi Day special event stations will be on the air around the world on April 29. These Marconi Day Stations will represent historic Guglielmo Marconi transmitting and receiving site and will commemorate milestones in the development of worldwide wireless communications by Marconi. The Marconi Radio Club W1AA/IMD of Massachusetts will represent the Marconi Transatlantic Station where Marconi completed his first spark gap radio transmission between the United States and Europe on January 18, 1903. Visit the Marconi Radio Club W1AA site.--Whitey Doherty, K1VV

    John Hennessee, N1KB, checks out some copies of the latest edition of The ARRL's FCC Rule Book.

  • New edition of The ARRL's FCC Rule Book available: The rules have changed significantly, and The ARRL's FCC Rule Book (12th Ed) reflects the realities of the regulatory world. Edited by John Hennessee, N1KB, The FCC Rule Book incorporates the complete text of Part 97, including all changes that became effective on April 15, 2000. It has details on license restructuring and everything you'll ever need to know about the Universal Licensing System (at least until the FCC changes it) plus RF exposure guidelines and other technical standards. There's also a greatly enhanced chapter on repeaters, crossband operation and linking. The ARRL's FCC Rule Book is $12. Order Item 7857. Visit ARRLWeb or call toll-free 888-277-5289.

  • New York PRB-1 effort gets companion Senate bill: A companion PRB-1 bill, S.7324, has been introduced in the New York State Senate by Sen Dale M. Volker of Buffalo. The Senate measure mirrors the assembly bill. A.9947, submitted earlier. ARRL Hudson Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, urges amateurs to write their state senators and assembly representatives in support A.9947 and S.7324. Proponents are hoping for a hearing in the Local Government Committee. A directory of senators and representatives is available at and Sample letters and links to the state legislators are also accessible at Fallon, N2FF, via The Hudson Loop

  • Rhode Island PRB-1 bill in committee: The Rhode Island PRB-1 bill, S-2304, has been moved to the General Assembly's Corporation Committee. The amateur spearheading the bill, Hank Grilk, WA2CCN, of Lincoln, is urging Ocean State amateurs to write their state senators and representatives urging support for the measure. The bill's sponsor, Sen Jonathan F. Oster, is stressing Amateur Radio's history of emergency communications. The bill, as submitted, has a minimum 50-foot tower height. Grilk is attempting to muster support for a 75-foot minimum. Rhode Island hams may contact Grilk at or write him at 1 West Butterfly Way, Lincoln, RI 02865.

  • Wacky WARN videos available: The Weather Amateur Radio Network's answer to Weird Al Yankovic--Rob Reider, WA8GFF, performs "Up on My Roof," a witty parody detailing the escapades of an ill-fated weather spotter caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, see "Twista," the Pink Flamingo-centric sendup of Twister. (The pink flamingo is the WARN mascot.) The performances were part of the fun at WARN's annual SKYWARN training session. Thanks to WARN Webmaster Brad McConahay, N8QQ, the latest batch of videos and audio files now is posted on the WARN site at Enjoy!--Mike Nie, KB8VMX/WARN

  • ARRL not HPM's only "League": History buffs may be interested to know that ARRL co-founder Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW, also founded another "League"--the Amateur Cinema League. Author and historian Alan Kattelle, who's writing a book that includes a chapter on HPM, says the Amateur Cinema League--the first national organization for amateur movie makers--was founded in 1926. Hiram Percy Maxim, the man behind the whole idea was named President, and Col Roy W. Winton, US Army retired was named Executive Director. The stated objectives of the League were to publish a monthly magazine (later called Movie Makers), to increase the pleasure of making home motion pictures by aiding amateurs to originate and produce their own plays, to promote amateur cinematography as a national sport, and to maintain home motion picture making on an amateur basis. The League's membership was taken over by the Motion Picture Division of the Photographic Society of America in 1954.


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.

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