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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 11
March 16, 2001


* +FCC turns down LA 2.4-GHz Experimental Application
* +ARRL 160-Meter Band Plan Committee open for business
* +ARISS thanks Expedition 1 commander for school contacts
* +ARRL seeks to expand hams' access to 216-220 MHz
* +"Boing-Boing" intruder invades 12 meters
* +A tale of two antenna bills
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
    +NAB hosts Beltway ham huddle
     Florida hams continue fire duty
     GEARS helps hospital
     Hams do good turn during snowstorm
     BCLs to get a clear shot at 1080 kHz
     Cambodia operations approved for DXCC
     New distance record on 76 GHz
     Slow Speed Code Practice Net on 40 meters
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News



Following objections from the ARRL, AMSAT and others, the FCC has turned
down an application from Los Angeles County, California, for an experimental
license permitting airborne microwave TV downlinks (TVDL) in the 2402-2448
MHz range. The FCC also canceled an experimental license grant to the City
of Los Angeles to operate a TV downlink system in same band. Amateurs have a
primary domestic allocation at 2402-2417 MHz and a secondary allocation in
the rest of the affected band. 

"Experimental licenses are not substitutes for regular radiocommunication
service licenses," said Charles Iseman, deputy chief of the Electromagnetic
Compatibility Division in the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.
OET issues all experimental licenses.

The ARRL, AMSAT and the Amateur Television Network as well as ARRL members
Art McBride, KC6UQH, and Thomas O'Hara, W6ORG, filed informal objections to
the County's application. The League, AMSAT and ATN also had objected to the
City's experimental grant. The FCC gave the City until December 1 to
terminate its operation and reserved the right to accelerate the
cancellation date if harmful interference occurs.

The LA County proposal, filed in August 1999, sought FCC authorization to
develop a TVDL system on four 2.4 GHz channels for use aboard sheriff's and
fire department airborne units. The FCC granted the City's WB2XEN
experimental license based on a similar submittal. The FCC said other public
safety agencies in Southern California, including Long Beach, Glendale and
Burbank, plan to deploy similar airborne units.

In protesting the County's plan, the ARRL called the application a "foot in
the door" toward gaining a permanent berth in the 2.4-GHz band. The County
and the City already are authorized to operate TVDL systems under Part 90
rules in the 2.450-2.483.5-GHz band, but both told the FCC that they had
experienced coordination and interference problems and sought the
experimental TVDL authorization as a result.

In light of the denial and the cancellation, the FCC did not address
potential interference issues raised by the objectors. Copies of Iseman's
letters are available on the ARRL Web site,


ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, has selected five amateurs to serve on the
ad hoc 160-Meter Band Plan Committee. The panel is open for input from the
amateur community regarding the current band plan for "Top Band" and
recommendations for changes. The ARRL Board of Directors approved formation
of the committee at its annual meeting in January.

"With the ever-increasing activity on 160, it is time to revisit the band
plan," said ARRL Delta Division Director Rick Roderick, K5UR, who was named
to chair the committee.

Also asked to serve on the panel were ARRL New England Director Tom Frenaye,
K1KI; ARRL Dakota Division Director Emeritus Tod Olson, K0TO; Jeff Briggs,
K1ZM, and Bill Tippett, W4ZV. All of the appointees are veteran amateurs and
familiar with 160 meters and the issues facing the band. Briggs, a perennial
Top Band contester and DXer, literally wrote the book on 160 meters, DXing
on the Edge--the Thrill of 160 Meters. Tippett has more than 300 DXCC
entities to his credit on 160.

ARRL Membership Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, will serve as
Headquarters staff liaison with the committee.

Unlike the other HF bands, 160 meters never has been divided by the FCC into
mode-specific subbands. Most amateur transceivers didn't even begin to
include the band until the influx of Japanese imports began in the 1970s. As
a result of that and the elimination of the HF LORAN system, 160 meters has
grown in popularity over the past couple of decades. Today, many modes--CW,
SSB, AM, RTTY and other digital--coexist on Top Band, although not always
harmoniously. Most operation also tends to cluster on the lower 100 kHz of
the band, and the lines between which modes operate where are becoming
increasingly blurred.

Roderick says the band plan committee is open for comments "from all
parties--the digital folks, DXers, ragchewers, anyone." The e-mail address
for comments is All comments must include a subject
line. The committee plans to report back to the ARRL Board of Directors with
its recommendations at the Board's July meeting.

All ARRL band plans are on the Web, .


Representatives of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
program have personally thanked ISS Expedition 1 crew commander William
"Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, for his participation in several ARISS school
contacts. Several far-flung participants in a last-minute Amateur Radio
contact on March 9 were tied in via the Sacred Hearts Academy telebridge
facility in Honolulu. 

Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Usachev, UA9AD, assumed the helm of the ISS this week
as the Expedition 2 commander. The other members of the ISS Expedition 2
crew are US astronaut Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, and US astronaut Jim Voss.

ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, thanked
Shepherd on behalf of ARRL and AMSAT for taking time out of his busy
schedule to speak with students at a seven schools over the past few months.
"He affected quite a few young lives," White said. 

Since coming aboard the ISS last November, Shepherd has answered questions
posed by kindergarten through high school students in Illinois, New York,
Virginia, Texas, Hawaii, American Samoa, Arizona and Ontario, Canada.

For his part, Shepherd said he enjoyed his experience with the ARISS school
contacts. "I can't tell you how much this has meant to me. It's been great!"
he said. "It's been fun to tell people about it too." Shepherd also
complimented the technical quality of the Amateur Radio transmissions. 

During the approximately 10-minute pass, ARISS Board Chairman Frank Bauer,
KA3HDO, also expressed his appreciation to Shepherd, as did Will Marchant,
KC6ROL, who's involved in setting up the operational aspects of each ARISS
school contact and coordinating schedules with NASA.

Shepherd requested the contact as his approximately four-month mission
aboard the ISS wound down, in part for the opportunity to chat with his
wife, Beth, as well as with his good friend and fellow shuttle astronaut
Kevin Chilton, KC5TEU and his wife, Sunny. Handling the contact in Hawaii at
Sacred Hearts was Dick Flagg, AH6NM. Also on line from Sacred Hearts was
teacher Nancy Rocheleau, WH6PN.

The crew of Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko, and Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, heads home
this weekend aboard the shuttle Discovery. Marchant said schools in
California and Mississippi are on the ARISS school contact schedule for late
March and early April. 

For more information on the ARISS program, visit the ARISS Web site,


The ARRL has suggested that the FCC expand the secondary amateur allocation
at 219-220 MHz to provide hams with access to the entire 216-220 MHz band.
The League commented this month in response to a Notice of Proposed Rule
Making, ET Docket 00-221, that proposes to reallocate 27 MHz of spectrum in
various bands, including 216-220 MHz, from government to non-government use.

In general, the FCC seeks to allocate the entire 216-220 MHz band to the
Fixed and Mobile services on a primary basis. At 219-220 MHz, Amateur Radio
now is secondary to the Automated Maritime Telecommunications System (AMTS).
Within the 1-MHz of spectrum, amateurs may install and operate
point-to-point digital message forwarding systems, including inter-city
packet backbones, but only under strict limitations.

While the FCC has promised to protect AMTS and other operations from new
interference, it extended no such assurances to amateur operations at
219-220 MHz. In its comments, the ARRL expressed fears that additional
co-primary users "will essentially foreclose what limited opportunities
there are now for amateurs to make use of the 219-220 MHz segment." 

The League suggested that in the face of such potential constraints at
219-220 MHz, permitting amateur access to the entire 216-220 MHz band on a
non-interference basis would be one means to accommodate Amateur Radio
operations in that portion of the spectrum. Such a move would, the ARRL
said, "provide at least some opportunity for amateurs to engineer fixed
links into the band, which would not be possible in the 219-220 MHz segment

Last month, in comments filed in PR Docket 92-257, the ARRL suggested
letting amateurs submit computer-generated field strength contours that
demonstrate a lack of interference potential to AMTS sites, in lieu of
having to get written permission. In this proceeding, the ARRL further
suggested that amateurs who proposed to operate in the 216-220 MHz band be
allowed to used "fixed-distance separations" in lieu of the present consent
requirements, as a means to demonstrate the absence of interference
potential to AMTS and other co-primary users.

A copy of the ARRL's comments in ET Docket 00-221 is available on the ARRL
Web site, . 


The ARRL Monitoring System will formally ask the FCC to monitor yet another
intruding signal, this time on the 12-meter amateur band. The widely
reported signal sounds a bit like a tightly wound, noisy spring being
repeatedly compressed and released. It's believed to be coming from a
surface-wave radar installation, possibly in Central or South America.

"It sounds like someone playing with a really noisy spring, or a very poorly
tuned guitar string," says ARRL Monitoring System Administrator Brennan
Price, N4QX. "This signal is also unique in that it precisely occupies the
entire 12-meter band, from 24,890 to 24,990 kHz, with the same pitch and
tempo throughout the band."

While the signal does not appear to be overly disruptive to amateur
communications, it is almost certainly an intruder. "The 12-meter band is
allocated to amateurs on an exclusive basis worldwide," Price says. "This is
not one of those instances where the observed station has as much right to
use the frequency as United States amateurs; any non-amateur signal on 12 is
an intruder."

Informal discussions with professional monitors suggest that the rough
pulses--about two per second in frequency--are characteristic of a CODAR
(Coastal Ocean Dynamics Applications Radar) transmitter. CODAR is a specific
type of HF radar used to map ocean surface currents in coastal zones. 

An overview of CODAR theory and applications is available on the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Web site, .


Hams in Nevada are boosting their Amateur Radio antenna bill, while a
similar measure appears dead for now in Indiana. Several states are
considering ham radio antenna proposals during the current legislative

At a legislative hearing this week in Nevada, no one spoke in opposition to
three sections of an Amateur Radio antenna bill that's under consideration
there. The Nevada Assembly's Government Affairs Committee heard testimony on
Assembly Bill 61 March 14 in Carson City and Las Vegas. A section of the
bill that would prohibit antenna restrictions from future deed covenants,
conditions and restrictions--or CC&Rs--in Nevada did generate some negative
comments, however.

Introduced February 1 by Assemblyman Bob Beers, WB7EHN, AB 61 would require
municipal ordinances to "reasonably accommodate amateur service
communications" and "constitute the minimum level of regulation practicable
to carry out the legitimate purpose of the governing body." The bill would
not apply to historic or architectural preservation districts. 

The contentious Section 3 of the Nevada measure would make "void and
unenforceable" any provision in a deed covenant, restriction or condition
that "precludes amateur service communications" or "unreasonably restricts
the placement, screening or height of a station antenna structure" in a way
that diminishes performance or precludes an alternative at comparable cost,
efficiency and performance. The Nevada bill is believed to be the first
Amateur Radio antenna proposal to address the issue of CC&Rs. Its provisions
would not apply to CC&Rs in place when the bill takes effect, however.

Assistant Nevada Section Manager Dick Flanagan, W6OLD, said the Government
Affairs Committee make no decision on the bill's disposition at this point.
"It appears a sub-committee will be formed for the purpose of resolving the
concerns raised by Section 3 and to recommend a course of action to the
Government Affairs Committee," he said. 

Flanagan urged Nevada amateurs to register their opinions on AB 61 via the
Internet at . AB 61 is one of the
top vote getters on the Nevada Assembly's Web site polling page. More
information on the bill is available on the Carson Valley Radio Club Web
site, .

Meanwhile, an effort by Indiana amateurs to incorporate the limited federal
preemption known as PRB-1 into state law appears to be dead for the current
General Assembly session. The bill failed to make it through a third reading
in the state Senate.

ARRL State Government Liaison Dennis Gilbey, K9JZZ, said he's already laying
plans for the next legislative session. Two Amateur Radio antenna bills were
submitted in the Indiana General Assembly, one in the House and another in
the Senate. Gilbey said a decision was made to concentrate on getting the
Senate Bill, SB 331, passed. In addition to incorporating the essence of
PRB-1 into state law, SB 331 also sought to prohibit localities from
restricting Amateur Radio antennas to less than 75 feet above ground level.

Gilbey said hams had less than a day's notice that the bill was coming up
for a committee hearing. "We did not have the horses at the Senate hearing,"
he said. "We did not have a plan of action. We probably tried to bite off
more than we could chew." 

Ten states have incorporated PRB-1 wording into their laws. So far, only
three--Oregon, Virginia, and Wyoming--include minimum regulatory height
limits in their Amateur Radio antenna laws based on PRB-1.


Propagation prognosticator Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports:
Solar flux declined this week after reaching a short-term peak on March 7.
But average daily solar flux and sunspot numbers were higher this week than
last. Daily sunspot numbers reached a peak of 174 on Monday--the highest
since February 9 (179) or January 23 (178).

Geomagnetic conditions have been quiet, with A indices in the single digits.
Quiet conditions should continue.

Solar flux is expected to be around 135 on Friday and 130 for the following
few days, then rise to around 145 on March 22-24. By comparison, a year ago
the average sunspot number and solar flux reported in this update was 193.4
and 194.9 respectively.

Sunspot numbers for March 8 through 14 were 98, 113, 131, 139, 174, 110 and
159 with a mean of 132. The 10.7-cm flux was 167.2, 161.4, 160.1, 157.8,
157.6, 147.3 and 142.2, with a mean of 156.2. Estimated planetary A indices
were 6, 6, 5, 4, 10, 7 and 7 with a mean of 6.4.



* This weekend on the radio: The Virginia and Alaska QSO parties, the BARTG
Spring RTTY Contest and the Russian DX Contest are the weekend of March
17-18. JUST AHEAD: The CQ WW WPX Contest (SSB) is the weekend of March
24-25. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, and for more info.

* NAB hosts Beltway ham huddle: For the second time in six months,
Washington, DC, area hams and ARRL officials huddled inside the Beltway
earlier this month to discuss some of the major issues facing Amateur Radio.
On hand to talk about the League's agenda were ARRL President Jim Haynie,
W5JBP; First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN; and Executive Vice
President Dave Sumner, K1ZZ. Some 45 hams employed in the telecommunications
area or closely associated with telecommunications heard Haynie, Harrison
and Sumner describe ARRL's efforts relating to the protection of Amateur
Radio spectrum and amateurs tower and antenna concerns. The group met at
National Association of Broadcasters headquarters. NAB's Vice President for
Science and Technology John Marino, KR1O, served as host for the gathering.
Sumner said a cooperative spirit exists between NAB and Amateur Radio. "It's
a traditional relationship that stems from there being so many hams involved
in broadcasting from its very beginning," he said. In a lighthearted
reference to recent efforts to allow DC hams to acquire automobile ham
plates, ARRL Legislative and Public Affairs Manager Steve Mansfield, N1MZA,
presented license-plate-sized ARRL "Amateur Radio" tags to all of those
attending the luncheon.

* Florida hams continue fire duty: Amateur Radio Emergency Service team
members in Martin County, Florida, activated March 3 when a large wildfire
threatened homes and residents there. County EC Don Marquith, N3PYQ, said
the incident arose when both of the county's ARES/RACES repeaters were down
in preparation for a move to a new tower. "Obviously, this would be the
moment of vulnerability that Murphy always exploits," he said. The County
took Marquith up on his offer of ARES' services, and hams were requested to
place operators at an American Red Cross shelter being set up at a church as
well as at Red Cross headquarters. An ARES/RACES emergency net was activated
on the Martin County Amateur Radio Association's WB4VOL 2-meter repeater and
subsequently moved to the quickly re-activated WX4MC repeater. Amateur
volunteers were deployed to the shelter and the Red Cross HQ, while other
ARES team members remained on standby. Residents of 50 homes were evacuated
and some homes were damaged, but none were destroyed. "Although none of the
evacuees ever went to the shelter, it was clear that the Red Cross and
ARES/RACES were very good neighbors that day," Marquith said. ARES/RACES
teams in various parts of Florida have been called up in recent weeks as a
result of wildfires. 

* GEARS helps hospital: The Glendale (California) Emergency Amateur Radio
Service, or GEARS, pitched in to fill a communications gap March 7 after a
backhoe operator inadvertently cut an underground cable carrying telephone,
fax, and data communications to and from Glendale Memorial Hospital.
Incoming calls soon were routed to a bank of telephones set up in the
Emergency Operations Center of the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter of the
American Red Cross--just one block away. Amateur Radio operators stationed
at critical areas inside the hospital made outgoing calls to doctors,
nurses, and other staff members. Using both VHF and UHF mountaintop
repeaters owned by the Crescenta Valley Amateur Radio Club, the GEARS group
used the 2-meter repeater for autopatch calls and the 70-cm machine for net
control. In all, more than 20 amateur radio operators participated in the
10-hour emergency.--State of California OES Auxiliary Communications Service

* Hams do good turn during snowstorm: Mike Christopher, W2IW, says he and
two other members of the Mid-Island Amateur Radio Club on New York's Long
Island helped to transport medical personnel to a local hospital during a
recent nor'easter. Christopher, who's club president, says South Side
Hospital in Bay Shore called to ask him if any club members with
four-wheel-drive vehicles could taxi essential medical personnel to the
hospital for the midnight shift. Christopher volunteered himself, and with
Dominick DiSalvo, KC2HLL, and Raymond Larsen, N2ZEM, assisted South Side
Hospital in getting personnel to work on time. Christopher says Long Island
was one of the hardest hit areas by the March 5-6 winter storm that dumped
more than a foot of snow on the Greater New York City area and was
accompanied by high winds. Two base stations run by Michael Grant, N2OX, and
Steven Straus, KC2ACL, assisted the mobile stations by giving directions to
various locations and serving as a liaison between the hospital and the
mobile units.

* BCLs to get a clear shot at 1080 kHz: Broadcast listeners can get a clear
shot at clear-channel 1080 kHz on the Standard Broadcast dial Sunday, March
18, when the two dominant stations on the channel shut down briefly. WTIC in
Hartford, Connecticut, and KRLD in Dallas, Texas--both Infinity Broadcasting
outlets--have arranged to briefly "go dark," so BCL enthusiasts can listen
for the other station as well as for the other stations that occupy 1080.
"We found out we were going to be doing scheduled maintenance during the
same month and decided it would be a nice gesture to the DXing community to
coordinate this maintenance, since it would be quite impossible for this to
happen naturally," said WTIC Chief Engineer Jeff Hugabone, N1KBY. KRLD will
go down first, at 0600 UTC (12 midnight Central Time) and remain off for an
undetermined period. WTIC is set to leave the air at 0630 UTC (1:30 AM
Eastern Time) and stay off for at least one hour. Hugabone says if KRLD
doesn't get back on the air before WTIC's planned return at 0730 UTC (2:30
AM Eastern Time), he will take WTIC off the air for a brief listening
window. Handling the KRLD shutdown will be Chief Engineer Eric Disen,
WB6LCO. WTIC requests reports on what listeners hear to WTIC Engineering,
c/o Jeff Hugabone, 10 Executive Dr, Farmington, CT 06032. He said WTIC is
good for a QSL.

* Cambodia operations approved for DXCC: Two XU7AAZ operations in Cambodia
have been approved for DXCC credit. The XU7AAZ operations took place
December 25, 1999, to January 5, 2000 and from December 20 to December 23,
2000. Approval for these operations had been withheld for lack of
documentation. The ARRL DXCC Desk has reviewed and accepted XU7AAZ
documentation, and stations now can receive DXCC credit. Rejected XU7AAZ
submittals can be updated without having to re-submit a QSL by contacting
the DXCC Desk, Cards also may be included in a subsequent
DXCC submittal. 

* New distance record on 76 GHz: A new world distance record on 76 GHz is
being claimed by Palo Alto Amateur Radio Association member Bob Johnson,
KF6KVG, and his partner, Will Jensby, W0EOM, of the 50MHz and Up Group. The
new claimed record for 76 GHz  was set February 1. Johnson was located
southwest of San Jose, California, on Mount Loma Prieta running 1mW to a
12-inch dish antenna. Jensby was located on Mount Vaca near Vacaville
running 5 mW to an 18-inch dish. The total distance covered was 145
kilometers based on the "center of grid square to center of grid square"
measurement approach.--adapted from PAARAgraphs March 2001 

* Slow Speed Code Practice Net on 40 meters: The Metro Amateur Radio Club's
Slow Speed Code Practice Net meets on the second, third, and fourth
Wednesday of each month at 7 PM Central (currently 0100 UTC) on 7.138 MHz
(plus or minus QRM). Listen for "CQ MAC" and send your call sign at your
speed. The net will QRS to match the speed of the slowest op. FISTS members
are free to exchange numbers with other participants. Net control is Philip,
K9PL. For more information, send e-mail to or visit the MAC Web
site, . 

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winners of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for March were Dave Benson, NN1G and George Heron, N2APB, for their article
"The Warbler--A Simple PSK31 Transceiver for 80 meters." Congratulations,
Dave! 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--is
determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the
ARRL Members Only Web site at
As soon as your copy arrives, cast a ballot for your choice as the favorite
article in the May issue of QST. Voting ends April 15. 

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President

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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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