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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 18
May 5, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


Amateur Radio will be well represented when World Radiocommunication Conference 2000 opens this month in Istanbul. The International Amateur Radio Union has prepared its delegation to deal with conference issues that might affect Amateur Radio. At its meeting in Tours, France, April 18-19, the IARU Administrative Council gave final review and approval of its instructions to the IARU WRC-2000 delegation. The Istanbul conference, held under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union, runs from May 8 until June 2.

The veteran delegation consists of IARU President Larry Price, W4RA, IARU Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, and IARU Region 1 Executive Committee member Wojciech Nietyksza, SP5FM. Other amateurs will attend WRC-2000 in a variety of capacities, including several named specifically to represent the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services on their national delegations.

The issues facing the WRC-2000 conferees are wide-ranging. The conference is likely to be best remembered for how well it deals with allocations for IMT-2000, the next generation of mobile telecommunications systems. The 2300-2400 MHz band is on the list of possible candidate bands for IMT-2000.

During preparations for WRC-97, the specter was raised of a wholesale spectrum grab for amateur VHF and UHF bands by so-called "Little LEOs." While the Little LEOs have not gone away, no proposals targeting amateur bands have yet surfaced this time around. Little LEO advocates are looking elsewhere between 400 and 470 MHz, but they face strong opposition and there is no guarantee that their gaze will not again settle on one or more ham bands.

European Galileo radionavigation satellite interests may seek an allocation at 1260 to 1300 MHz. The IARU delegation will seek to avoid new constraints on amateur access to the 1240-1300 MHz band.

At WRC-2000, the IARU delegation will try to ensure that new spurious emission standards for space stations are not imposed in a way that would make the cost of amateur satellites prohibitive.

Allocations for the Super High Frequencies will come under scrutiny--and probable changes--at WRC-2000. These include a rearrangement of bands in the 71 to 275 GHz block as well as future allocations for spectrum at 275 to 1000 GHz.

The IARU also will support efforts to reduce so-called "country footnotes" that provide domestic allocations to amateurs inferior to those provided in the international Table of Frequency Allocations.

Delegates to WRC-2000 likely will decide which critical topics will wind up on the agenda for WRC-2003. Possibilities include broadcasting allocations in the 4 to 10 MHz range; so-called "harmonized" allocations for amateurs and broadcasting at 7 MHz; Article S25 of the International Radio Regulations, which deals with the regulations that apply specifically to the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Service, including the requirement for Morse ability to operate below 30 MHz; and synthetic aperture radar--or SAR--operation in the Earth Exploration Satellite Service in the 70-cm band. Studies have shown SARs as a potential interference threat to Amateur Radio. At WRC-2000, SAR proponents will try to have the issue placed on the agenda for WRC-2003 in an effort to obtain an allocation.

If conference activities permit, Sumner plans to leave Istanbul just long enough to attend the ARRL National Convention at the Dayton Hamvention May 19-21.


Jim Haynie, W5JBP [Rick Lindquist, N1RL photo]

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, thinks Amateur Radio is on a roll right now, and he wants to harness some of that momentum to keep the hobby on the crest of the wave in years to come. Enter "The Big Project."

The Big Project--as it's being called for now--is a corporate-education partnership that Haynie views as nothing less than a bold investment in the future of Amateur Radio.

"Our school initiative would put Amateur Radio in the middle schools," Haynie explained today during a visit to ARRL HQ. "We're in the process of developing the framework for this at the moment."

The project, now in its early stages and under the guidance of ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, WT3P, initially would attempt to raise $1 million in corporate and foundation contributions. The idea would be to not only develop a turnkey Amateur Radio curriculum but to provide equipment to bring it to life in the classroom.

The ARRL Board of Directors will hear a progress report on The Big Project when it next reconvenes for its July meeting.

Haynie said the League does not want to reinvent the wheel. The Big Project hopes to borrow from the best of what's already in place in terms of programs that integrate Amateur Radio into the curriculum. As he sees it, Amateur Radio could play a role in helping to enhance knowledge of geography, math, electricity and electronics, and physics.

"We've consulted with a lot of teachers throughout the United States to help us with the curriculum," he said. The initial pilot project could involve from 300 to 600 middle schools across the US. "It's time to do some bold things," Haynie declared.

Haynie does not expect The Big Project to immediately generate huge numbers of new licensees. He likened the concept to contributing to a retirement plan. "This is long-term," he said. "This is not instant gratification. This is an investment in the future of Amateur Radio."

During his visit to HQ, Haynie said he thinks license restructuring has brightened the overall mood of the Amateur Radio community. "What I see in my travels throughout the country is a resurgence--a revival if you will--of excitement in Amateur Radio, and this is good," he said. "This is something we've needed for a long time."

As Haynie sees it, bringing The Big Project to fruition will continue to fuel the optimism that pervades the hobby. He says the League would be derelict if it did not take advantage of the opportunities The Big Project presents.

"Amateur Radio is on a roll right now," he said. "We want to stay on this roll of success."


As of the first of the month, your GPS receiver became a whole lot more accurate. President Clinton ordered GPS selective availability terminated as of midnight on May 1.

Eric Lemmon, WB6FLY, called the action "a huge benefit to hams who are into APRS, because the SA error will no longer hamper its accuracy." Selective Availability was an error introduced for national security purposes. It prevented GPS from being as accurate as it could have been for civilian users. With SA turned off, accuracy is expected to be as much as 10 times better.

Harry Pyle, AB7TB, charted the error at the changeover. His data show the GPS error--typically in the 100 to 200 foot range--dramatically dropping to something on the order of from 10 to 20 feet when SA was turned off.

Chuck Heron, KD7BWG, suggests one area of caution. "Most topographic maps used in the United States are in NAD27 CONUS datum. Some of the newer mapping programs available for APRS and computer usage are in WGS 84 datum," he points out. Before attempting to use GPS for some coordinated activity, such as during a disaster response, Heron recommends putting all GPS units on the same map datum (this is typically done via a navigation setup screen on the GPS unit). This will put all users on the same page, so to speak, when using GPS coordinates in conjunction with hard-copy or CD-ROM maps.

More information on the elimination of SA is at: to Eric Lemmon, WB6FLY; Chuck Heron, KD7BWG; and Harry Pyle, AB7TB


The ARRL is continuing its opposition to attempts by Los Angeles County, California, to obtain an experimental license permitting airborne microwave TV downlinks (TVDL) in the 2402-2448 MHz range. Amateurs have a primary domestic allocation at 2402-2417 MHz. In a filing with the FCC, the ARRL again asked the Commission to deny the County's application.

The LA County proposal, filed last August 9, seeks FCC authorization to develop a TVDL system for public safety purposes using four 10-MHz channels at 2.4 GHz to transmit video images from helicopter-borne cameras for use by public safety agencies. The ARRL has called the application a "foot in the door" toward gaining a permanent berth in the 2.4 GHz band. The League also has filed a Petition for Reconsideration of the granting of a similar experimental application filed by the City of Los Angeles.

In a Reply to Opposition to Informal Objection filed in late April, the ARRL reiterated that Los Angeles County has failed to justify its experimental authorization request. The League said the County has not provided any assurance that the TVDL system would not cause harmful interference to amateur users. The ARRL also contends that it would be impractical, if not impossible, to use frequency coordination, frequency agility, directional antennas and other technology--as the County has suggested--to cooperatively share amateur spectrum and still prevent unintentional interference.

The LA County proposal characterizes the 2402-2448 MHz band as "underutilized" and asserts that current occupants--including Amateur Radio and industrial, scientific and medical instrumentation--would not suffer harmful interference. The League called the LA County monitoring studies "fatally flawed" and said they don't reflect current band occupancy. Citing ATV repeaters and video links as well as the impending Phase 3D amateur satellite operation, the League said the 2.4 GHz band enjoys significant use by the LA area Amateur Radio community.

The League's Reply points out that TVDL operation already is permitted in the public safety frequency pool at 2450 to 2483.5 MHz. LA County is licensed for video operations on a single 2.4 GHz channel but says it encounters conflicts with broadcasters.


Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, has petitioned the US Court of Appeals for a rehearing in a last-ditch effort to retain his Amateur Radio license. Schoenbohm claims that he's being singled out for especially harsh treatment, and that the Court did not have the advantage of all the facts.

Now acting as his own attorney, Schoenbohm filed a Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc with the US Court of Appeals on April 12. A copy of his petition also was sent to the FCC. "The FCC is not required to respond unless the Court rehears the matter, which is doubtful in most cases," Schoenbohm told the ARRL.

In February, the Appeals Court turned down Schoenbohm's appeal of the FCC's decision to not renew his Amateur Radio license. The FCC in 1994 refused to renew Schoenbohm's ticket citing his 1992 felony fraud conviction and character issues. Subsequently, the FCC said that Schoenbohm had improperly solicited ex parte contacts with the FCC on his behalf.

Schoenbohm exhausted his FCC administrative appeals in 1998, when the FCC reaffirmed the denial of his renewal application. He then turned to the Appeals Court, which agreed with the FCC.

Schoenbohm said he was "deeply hurt" by the FCC's characterization of him as lacking the character needed to hold a ham ticket.

KV4FZ no longer appears in the FCC database. Schoenbohm has been permitted to continue operating until all appeals have been exhausted.


ARRL's Atlantic Division has named the FCC's Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, as its 2000 Amateur of the Year. An ARRL member, Hollingsworth--who lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania--serves as Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement. Since September 1998, he has been in charge of the FCC's amateur enforcement. "Almost every ham who wanted the amateur bands cleaned up has heard of him," said the Atlantic Division announcement, "and some of those who didn't clean up their act on the air have also heard of--and quite possibly from--Riley."

The Atlantic Division credited Hollingsworth with encouraging compliance with Part 97. "As a fellow Amateur Radio operator, Riley shares a passion for wanting our hobby to grow and for it to last for future generations," the announcement said.

The Atlantic Division's "Grand Ole Ham" lifetime service award for 2000 goes Bill Thompson, W2MTA. An ARRL Life Member, Thompson recently retired as Western New York Section Manager after 20 years of service. He's also been actively involved in the leadership of the National Traffic System.

The Atlantic Division's 2000 Technical Achievement Award goes to Frank Bauer KA3HDO. An electronics engineer, League and AMSAT member and active ham, Bauer, has been heavily involved in space-related Amateur Radio activities, including Phase 3D and the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or ARISS--project.

The 2000 awards will be presented in during the Atlantic Division Convention, held in conjunction with the Rochester, New York, Hamfest June 2-4.


Solar maven Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: It seems odd to view the solar disk at the peak of the solar cycle and see few sunspots, but that was the case this week. Solar flux, a measure of 2.8 GHz energy from the sun which correlates roughly with sunspots and the ionization of the particles which reflect HF radio waves, were down sharply this week.

On May 4, the thrice-daily solar flux numbers were 133, 134.5 and 134.7. Solar flux has not been this low since January. Average solar flux for this week dropped more than 30 points, and average sunspot numbers were down more than 70 points from the previous week. Geomagnetic conditions were fairly unsettled as well, with planetary A indices in the double-digits throughout the week, and K indices often as high as four.

Looking at monthly trends, the average monthly solar flux for January through April was 159, 174.1, 208.2 and 184.2.

The lower activity should continue for the next few days. Predicted solar flux for May 5-9 is 130, 130, 135, 145 and 150. The predicted planetary A index for those days is 10, 15, 12, 10 and 10.

Sunspot numbers for April 27 through May 3 were 163, 238, 142, 126, 121, 108 and 113 with a mean of 144.4. The 10.7-cm flux was 183.5, 183.4, 174.9, 169.5, 157.7, 152.8 and 137.3, with a mean of 165.6. The estimated planetary A indices were 13, 17, 12, 11, 14, 18 and 15, with a mean of 14.3.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The MARAC County Hunters Contest (CW), the ARI International DX Contest, the Danish SSTV Contest, the Indiana, Connecticut, and Massachusetts QSO parties, the US IPA Contest, and the VHF/UHF Spring Sprint (902/1296/2304 MHz) are the weekend of May 6-7. Just ahead: The CQ-M International DX Contest, the Fists CW Club Spring Sprint, the Nevada and Oregon QSO parties, and the VHF/UHF Spring Sprint (50 MHz) are the weekend of May 13-14. See May QST, page 91.
  • NASA says to get a grip: "Relax!" is the word of the day from NASA. The space agency says today (Friday, May 5) was not Doomsday--in case you hadn't already figured this out. And, NASA says, if any disasters do occur, please don't blame the planets. Rumors of a new apocalypse to arrive at 4 AM Eastern Time on May 5 probably got started when people realized that Earth's moon and the five bright planets--Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn--will line up, with the planets on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. "The world hasn't ended any of the other times that the planets moved into what astronomers call conjunction, so there's no reason to think it will this time,'' NASA says on its Web site, (We realize this item has nothing to do with Amateur Radio, per se, but a Doomsday could really mess up band conditions, not to mention your shack and antennas.--Ed)
  • Ham radio assists injured climber: Bill Manatt, KE6NHO, reports that Amateur Radio was instrumental in helping to rescue a mountain climber injured April 29 south of Iceberg Lake near the east face of Mount Whitney--the steepest face of the mountain. Amateur Radio operators, including Mike Franz, KA6HII, and Dave Whitaker, KO6ME, were involved in coordinating the helicopter rescue, Manatt said. The effort included at least one ham at the scene. Manatt said rescue traffic was being handled via the Mazurka repeater on 146.76, which is linked to the Little Lake 147.21 repeater, which he monitored. Manatt said the radio operator at the scene was having problems--possibly with weak batteries or a faulty antenna connection--and communication with KA6HII became increasingly difficult at one point. The injured climber was to be taken off the mountain by helicopter by midday on April 30. "KA6HII and the operator at the other end did a great job getting essential information," he said. "In addition, Mike Franz was a cool, efficient operator. He did a wonderful job coordinating the rescue."--Bill Manatt, KE6NHO
  • Kentucky hams respond to rail car incident: Mercer County, Kentucky, Emergency Coordinator James Tewmey, KE4LZP, and Boyle County EC Dave Spanyer, KD4POZ, were among amateurs in both counties who spent more than 24 hours on emergency communications duty after a rail car caught fire and forced an evacuation. According to information from the State of Kentucky, a chemical boxcar fire at a rail switching yard in Danville April 25 caused officials to evacuate everyone within a one-half mile radius. The fire involved sodium dithionite--a flammable chemical that can produce irritating, corrosive and possibly toxic gases. The car was later moved from the switching yard to a sparsely populated area south of Danville. A sharpshooter was brought in to shoot holes in the smoldering boxcar to accelerate a burnoff of the sodium dithionite inside. No injuries were reported in the incident.--SEC Ron Dodson, KA4MAP
  • PSK31 and QRP--this changes everything! ARRL staffer Steve Ford, WB8IMY, reports his PSK31 demonstration at the Vermont State Convention a few weeks back was a huge hit. The demonstration of PSK31 used tape-recorded signals and DigiPan software to show how the newly popular narrowband keyboard-to-keyboard mode works. Among PSK31's advantages is that successful contacts often can be carried out at very low power levels. One visitor--attracted to QRP operation but repelled by the prevalent use of CW among QRPers--suggested that PSK31 could be the answer to his prayers. "PSK31 changes everything," Ford quoted the prospective QRPer as saying.

  • AMSAT 2000 symposium set: Recent and future development in Amateur Radio satellites will be presented in Portland, Maine, October 27-29, 2000, during the 18th Space Symposium and AMSAT-NA Annual Meeting. The 2000 Symposium Chairman is George Caswell Sr, W1ME. Details are available at or from For more information on AMSAT-NA, visit News Service
  • California PRB-1 bill gets committee assignment: The proposed California PRB-1 bill, SB 1714, has been assigned to the Local Government Committee of the California Senate. A hearing was held May 3. The group of experts organized to testify included Pacific Director Jim Maxwell, W6CF, Harry Styron, K6HS, Dean Straw, N6BV, and Dave Leeson, W6NL.

    The Phase 3D satellite was moved out of the Integration Lab earlier this year to begin its journey to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. [AMSAT-NA photo]

  • Phase 3D Integration Lab adjusts its mission: AMSAT Phase 3D Integration Laboratory Manager Lou McFadin, W5DID, says now that Phase 3D is at the launch site in French Guiana, the Lab's mission will change somewhat. "We have cleared out much of the laboratory and taken down our clean room," McFadin said, adding that much of the support equipment for Phase 3D has been put into temporary storage. McFadin says the Lab still has Phase 3D work to do, however. Ground support equipment that AMSAT borrows from individual hams still needs to be shipped to French Guiana to support the launch site integration and testing, he explained. Other equipment will remain in place until Phase 3D is safely in orbit and everything has been verified. The Lab also will have a role in preparing some of the ham radio hardware that will be flying to the International Space Station in August. For additional details, visit The site has recently been updated.--AMSAT News Service
  • RT Systems exits amateur retail business: RT Systems in Huntsville has dropped out of the Amateur Radio retail business and has sold its remaining inventory to Amateur Electronic Supply. RT Systems says the move will allow the company to concentrate on the software sales and development. The company also expressed its appreciation to its Amateur Radio equipment customers.
  • Mendelson's reopens after fire: Have no fear. A fire that struck Mendelson's Liquidation Outlet April 24 won't keep the parts peddler away from Dayton Hamvention. The Dayton Daily News reports the fire was apparently a case of arson. No one was hurt, but the fire caused an estimated $110,000 in damage to the building and inventory. The store was closed for a day but has since reopened. A $1000 reward has been posted.

  • KO6NM is NAB award winner: Mike Dorrough, KO6NM, was the radio recipient of the National Association of Broadcasters prestigious 2000 Engineering Achievement Award. The presentation was announced at the NAB annual convention last month in Las Vegas. Dorrough is known as the developer of discriminate audio processing, now widely used. With the support of volunteers, the ARRL maintains a booth at every NAB convention to promote Amateur Radio and the League's public service announcements.


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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