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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 32
August 16, 2002


* +Grant-supported ARRL training program to start September 1
* +UPS backs away from SAVI proposals for 70 cm
* +FCC spells out power company's obligations
* +Ham petitions to allow FRS-type radios on 446 MHz
* +UK 5-MHz experiment off to an enthusiastic start
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program registration
    +ARES assists Red Cross in California wildfire
    +"Close but no cigar" for New York ham antenna bill
     Heil presents commemorative microphones to Queen Mary club station
     Japan refuses permission for power line communications systems
     Vanity HQ Web site seeking financial support
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News



Amateur Radio emergency communications training supported by a $181,900
federal homeland security grant will begin within a few weeks instead of
next year as reported initially. During its first year, the grant from the
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) special volunteer
program will reimburse the cost of Level I ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Course training for up to 1700 volunteers.

"It will begin with the recruitment of additional mentors and trainers for
the national program," said ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart,
K1MMH. Hobart and Dan Miller, K3UFG--formerly ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education Program Coordinator and now the Emergency
Communications Course Manager--have been working with CNCS to expedite the
grant details.

As Emergency Communications Course Manager, Miller will manage the CNCS
special volunteer program and United Technologies Corp training grants.
Replacing Miller as program coordinator August 19 will be Howard Robins,

The CNCS has accepted ARRL's proposal to commence the expanded emergency
training program September 1. The League was among several dozen nonprofit
organizations designated to receive some $10.3 million in federal money to
boost homeland defense volunteer programs.

Miller says that since the July 18 grant announcement, interest in the
subsidized training has been high. He urged those eager to participate to
stand by for announcements via the ARRL Web and other League news outlets.
The first priority when the grant-supported training effort kicks into
gear in September will be to recruit and train at least 200 Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications course mentors/trainers. These volunteers then
will help to manage and train the student load for the first year of the

This week, ARRL section managers were asked to recommend up to five
students to sign up to take the Level I Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications on-line course starting in September. These individuals
also will receive additional training to become instructors and mentors
for future classes.

"Although we have a core group of wonderful mentors and instructors who
have helped students through the courses given to date, we need more to
help with the volume of students training under the CNCS grant," Hobart
emphasized. "With the help of the section managers, we will ensure a good
distribution of mentors nationwide who can advise students about local
ARES groups and activities in addition to helping them with the course

Anyone who has already completed the Level I course is qualified to become
a mentor with some additional training. Mentor candidates should contact
Miller <>; for information on how to take part.

To comply with grant requirements, the ARRL also will survey served
agencies and certain segments of the amateur population, Hobart said. The
League wants to ensure that the course offered accurately represents "what
really happens in the field" during an emergency or disaster, she said.

Once the ARRL members hand-picked by section managers to train as mentors
have completed the program, registration for routine Level I training will
open October 1, initially for ARRL field appointees. Miller anticipates
that the program will continue to handle approximately 200 students per
month. "As much as we'd like to, we can't train everyone at once," he
said. "Please be patient."

Students taking advantage of Level I emergency communications training
under the grant program will be asked to pay for the course via credit
card during the registration process. Upon successfully completing the
training and certification, students will be reimbursed the $45 fee.
Miller said the goal is to dramatically improve the course completion rate
from the current 68 percent to nearly 100 percent.

Level I course candidates from Connecticut will continue to be trained
under $33,000 grant from United Technologies Corporation to expand Amateur
Radio emergency communications training opportunities. Hobart says the UTC
Connecticut grant paved the way for success under the new federal grant.

Hobart emphasized that community involvement is key. "It's not enough to
just finish the course," she said. "You're expected to join and take part
in your local Amateur Radio Emergency Service organization." The grant
training program is especially interested in attracting more
seniors--those 55 and older--and those for whom the course fee would mean
a hardship unless they were reimbursed.


United Parcel Service (UPS) now says it's neutral on SAVI Technology's
petition to deploy RF identification tag devices at 433 MHz at much
greater duty cycles than current Part 15 rules permit for such devices.
UPS clarified its position this week in an ex parte filing to the FCC.

"UPS takes no position on the rule changes proposed in the SAVI Petition
because they will have virtually no impact on UPS's shipping operations
and are inconsistent with efforts to promulgate international standards
for RFID tags," the shipping company said. The change in position is
doubly significant because UPS has an equity interest in SAVI through its
UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund.

RFID tags are used for tracking shipments and packages, among other
applications. The ARRL has said that adopting SAVI's proposals would
result in severe and harmful interference.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the League was
pleased to learn that UPS had "done the right thing." Sumner had pointed
out UPS's support of the SAVI petition in his "It Seems to Us . . ."
editorial in the December 2001 issue of QST.

"The ARRL is very gratified that, upon careful consideration, UPS has
changed its position and now recognizes that the SAVI proposal for 425-435
MHz offers no benefit," Sumner said. "We are confident that if the FCC
devotes the same attention to considering the issue, it will come to the
same conclusion."

UPS said it wanted to clarify its position in light of the many comments
filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in ET Docket
01-278 that cited the shipping company's initial support of the SAVI
petition. UPS has not directly commented on the NPRM previously.

UPS now says that, after further consideration, it sees no particular
advantage to the changes SAVI has proposed. "UPS now does not envision any
of its applications requiring a transmission duty cycle in excess of what
is currently permitted under Section 15.231," UPS said.

UPS also cited concerns that the proposed operating frequencies "are not
fully compatible with frequency allocations" in many of the more than 200
countries and territories in which it does business. "Thus, it is of
limited benefit to global companies such as UPS should the FCC adopt the
proposed 10 MHz-wide RFID band from 425 to 435 MHz."

More than 130 amateurs filed comments in opposition to SAVI Technology's
RFID tags proposal, and most supported the League's position that the
proposed rules are flawed and should not be adopted.

A copy of the UPS ex parte filing in ET Docket 01-278 is available on the
FCC Web site


Electric utilities must correct equipment problems that cause harmful
interference to stations operating in the Amateur Service. Following up on
a recent pledge to get tougher on electric utilities that fail to promptly
fix faulty gear that generates interference, FCC Special Counsel Riley
Hollingsworth made that point doubly clear August 9 in an letter to
Reliant Energy Company of Houston. The case involves unresolved
interference complaints from Edward J. Gerber, W5GCX, of Houston.

"Reliant must do all things necessary, and bear any and all necessary
costs, to comply with its obligations as an operator of unlicensed devices
pursuant to the Commission's Part 15 regulations," Hollingsworth reminded
the utility's attorneys. He asked Reliant to provide a written report in
30 days detailing steps taken to eliminate the interference to W5GCX.
Hollingsworth said he'd hold off on enforcement action until he has the
report in hand but added that the FCC "expects a complete solution without
further delay."

In its reply to a May 23 letter from the FCC, Reliant had suggested that
the interference Gerber was experiencing had come from an otherwise
properly operating 250 kVA step-down transformer. The utility had proposed
to relocate the transformer at Gerber's expense.

Hollingsworth pointed out that the utility may not pass on the cost of
fixing the problem to the victim of the interference. "It is exclusively
the obligation of the operator of the unlicensed device," Hollingsworth
wrote, referring to the FCC's Part 15 rules.

Responding to the initial FCC letter, the utility's attorneys--Baker Botts
LLP of Houston--had attempted to claim it was not obligated to avoid
interference to amateur stations. Hollingsworth called the attempted
distinction "baseless."

A copy of the letter went to the office of Texas Public Utility Commission
Chairman Rebecca Klein.

The League has worked with the FCC and utilities to resolve dozens of
interference complaints. ARRL Electromagnetic Compatibility and Radio
Frequency Interference Engineer John Phillips, K2QAI, applauded
Hollingsworth's tenacious approach to dealing with interference complaints
involving power companies. "Amateur Radio is very fortunate to have
someone like Riley Hollingsworth in our corner," he said. "There is no way
that amateurs could ever hope to resolve some of these problems without
the backing of the FCC."


An amateur from Virginia has petitioned the FCC to allocate eight channels
in the 70-cm band for use by visitors from Europe and the United Kingdom
with Personal Mobile Radio (PMR 446) transceivers. The recently authorized
PMR 446 is similar to the US Family Radio Service. Dr Michael Trahos,
KB4PGC, a physician from Alexandria, filed the petition last January,
saying it would help to promote international goodwill. The FCC on August
8 designated the petition as RM-10521 and invited comments on the proposal
within 30 days.

A General-class licensee, Trahos wants the FCC to amend its Amateur
Service "and/or" Family Radio Service rules to allow
"visiting/transient/tourist non-amateur non-United States resident foreign
nationals" unlicensed access to certain frequencies between 446.0 and
446.1 MHz. He proposed to permit operation at up to 0.5 W PEP output. The
ARRL band plan for 70 cm designates 446.0 MHz as a national calling
channel. Other frequencies in the segment are for simplex or repeater use.

In his petition, Trahos said existing Part 97 Amateur Service rules
precluding the use of PMR 446 radios in the US "are essentially
unenforceable" and that granting his petition would have minimal impact on
existing amateur operations. "As such, Amateur Radio community oppositions
to this petition, though respected, would be misplaced and not in the
international public interest or good will," he asserted.

As of August 15, two comments had been filed on RM-10521 by amateur
licensees. Both opposed Trahos' petition, citing the potential for
interference to amateur operations.

Comments on RM-10521 are due by September 6 and may be filed via the FCC's
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)
<>. To view the Trahos petition and
filed comments, click on "Search for Filed Comments." To file comments,
click on "Submit a Filing." Enter "RM-10521" (the ECFS is case-sensitive)
in the "Proceeding" field of either form.


The so-called "Fivemegs Experiment" in the United Kingdom got off to an
enthusiastic start in early August. Several amateur stations wasted no
time in obtaining the required Notice of Variance--or NoV--to operate as
part of the experiment to investigate band propagation. The Radio Society
of Great Britain (RSGB) announced in July that the Radiocommunications
Agency (RA) and the UK's Ministry of Defence have granted permission to
allocate five frequencies in the range 5250 kHz to 5450 kHz.

"We now have over 200 Full Class A license holders authorized to operate
on the five spot frequencies," said RSGB Spectrum Director Gordon Adams,
G3LEQ, who's directing the experiment. Frequencies available in the UK are
5260, 5280, 5290, 5400 and 5405 kHz. Gordon says 5400 kHz is serving as a
calling channel, but UK stations have been looking for US experimental
activity on 5260 kHz. Activity in the UK has been on upper sideband.

Responding to an ARRL petition earlier this year, the FCC has proposed
allocating 5250 to 5400 kHz to US amateurs on a secondary basis. US
operation under the ARRL's WA2XSY Experimental license continues on an
occasional basis. Charly Harpole, K4VUD--a WA2XSY participant in
Florida--reports that Paul Gaskell, G4MWO, in England confirmed reception
of Harpole's 5-MHz CW signal on August 8 at 0200 UTC.

A transatlantic two-way on 5 MHz is the next logical step, but it's
unclear if WA2XSY participants are permitted to work the UK experimenters
within the scope of the WA2XSY license. The ARRL is researching that
question. In the meantime, crossband contacts remain an alternative.

As propagation indicators, the UK experimenters are listening for WWCR, an
international shortwave broadcaster at 5070 kHz. He advised WA2XSY
experimental stations in the US to check for USB stations RAF Volmet on
5450 kHz and Shannon Volmet on 5505 kHz.

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, was one of the first UK amateurs to receive a NoV on
August 5. "Within a few minutes he was on the air using a 100-W
transceiver and an end-fed wire tuned for the 5-MHz band," the RSGB
reported. He worked several other stations in England and Wales on his
first day of operation. The RSGB said Kirby's first impression of 5-MHz
propagation was that UK signals seem to be consistent throughout the day
and evening and that signals were better on 60 meters than on 40 meters
for certain paths.

For more information on the UK experimental activity on 5 MHz, visit The
Fivemegs Experiment page
<> on the RSGB Web


Propagation prognosticator Tad "Sunshine On My Shoulders" Cook, K7VVV,
Seattle, Washington, reports: The sun showed renewed activity this week.
There was a dip in solar flux and sunspot numbers centered around August
6-8, but with the appearance of giant sunspot number 69 and more than 10
smaller groups, the indices are again on the rise. Mean daily sunspot
numbers this week were up 9.3 points over last week, and average daily
solar flux rose by precisely the same amount. Solar flux reached a recent
peak of 241.5 on July 26, dropped over 100 to 134.6 on August 8 and may
peak again above 240 around the middle of next week.

Geomagnetic numbers over the past week indicated unsettled to active
conditions, and this is expected to continue. On August 14 a coronal mass
ejection appeared that wasn't squarely Earth-directed, but there is a fair
chance it will cause upset on Earth. Predicted planetary A index for
August 16-18 is 30, 15 and 10, and there is a 10 to 20 percent chance of a
severe geomagnetic storm.

Sunspot numbers for August 8 through 14 were 150, 164, 140, 180, 230, 214
and 254, with a mean of 190.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 134.6, 140.1, 148.4,
172.3, 183.9, 191.8, and 208.1, with a mean of 168.5. Estimated planetary
A indices were 10, 15, 16, 15, 15, 13, and 15, with a mean of 14.1.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the SARTG
WW RTTY Contest, the ARRL 10-GHz Cumulative Contest, the Keyman's Club of
Japan Contest, the SEANET Contest (CW/SSB/digital) and the New Jersey QSO
Party are the weekend of August 17-18. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program registration:
Registration for the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level II
(EC-002) and Antenna Modeling (EC-004) courses will remain open through
the weekend of August 17-18. Registration for Level III and HF Digital
Communications courses opens Monday, August 19, at 4 PM Eastern Time. To
learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<> and the C-CE Links found there. For more
information, contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education

* ARES assists Red Cross in California wildfire: San Luis Obispo County,
California, ARES members provided communications support to the American
Red Cross July 15-16 after more than 100 people were evacuated from their
homes during a wildfire in Los Padres National Forest. North San Luis
Obispo County Emergency Coordinator Bob Alberti, W6TTX, issued a
preliminary announcement on the countywide ARES repeater, asking ARES
members to monitor for a possible callout. W6TTX also activated the North
County ARES telephone tree. With 40 homes in the path of the fire, the
California Division of Forestry (CDF) began evacuating residents to an
emergency shelter at the Atascadero High School gymnasium the evening of
July 15. ARES members took part in various activities during the three-day
fire, which eventually burned some 1300 acres. Amateurs staffed the Red
Cross shelter at the high school and the emergency communications center
at the regional Red Cross office in San Luis Obispo--20 miles away and
over a mountain range. ARES members also helped CDF and the county sheriff
to redirect to the high school shelter a number of confused residents who
sought refuge at the nearby Santa Margarita Elementary School, a shelter
site during previous fires. One especially grateful couple from Arizona
was able to return from the shelter to their evacuated RV about 10:15 the
first evening, after hams notified the shelter that CDF had reopened that
road.--submitted by James K. Palmer, W6FOB

* "Close but no cigar" for New York ham antenna bill: ARRL Hudson Division
Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, says supporters of an Amateur Radio antenna
bill for the Empire State are now setting their sights on 2003. "We seem
to have gone as far as we can this year," Fallon said of the current
legislation that passed the state Senate but not the Assembly. "I keep
hoping that the Assembly will return, but that is no longer anything but a
real long shot. Close but no cigar, unfortunately." The bill would have
incorporated the wording of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1
into New York law and set minimum regulatory heights for antenna
structures. Fallon said he remains upbeat in view of how the bill fared
this year. "We learned a lot. We got better in our presentations of the
issues," he said. "We had proclamations from both the governor and the
legislature, which will be a big help in all future lobbying efforts for
Amateur Radio in this and other states." Fallon said state lawmakers
praised Amateur Radio's emergency communications capabilities and
response. "We will be back next year better than ever," he said. Fallon
said he and Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, continue to
monitor the situation and will send a delegation to Albany if the
legislature goes into a special session. He said New York's PRB-1 Task
Force will meet and plan for the 2003 session. Fallon thanked all who
contacted state lawmakers to urge their support for the measure.

* Heil presents commemorative microphones to Queen Mary club station:
Amateur Radio manufacturer Bob Heil, K9EID, of Heil Sound Ltd, and rocker
Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, of the Eagles presented special commemorative
microphones to the W6RO Amateur Radio club station aboard the Queen Mary.
The July 27 presentation in the radio room of the ship, berthed in Long
Beach, California, honored 23 years of continuous operation of W6RO by the
Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach. "The new microphones are an exact
replica of the broadcast microphones used by radio stations and recording
studios during the years the Queen Mary was at sea," Heil said. The Queen
Mary is a popular Southern California attraction, and W6RO is on the air
daily. The six new microphones were built by Heil Sound Ltd specifically
for W6RO. Heil Sound, of Fairview Heights, Illinois, specializes in audio
equipment for the Amateur Radio and personal communications markets.
Nearly 50 people--including ARRL Los Angeles Section Manager Phineas
Icenbice, W6BF, and ARRL Southeastern Division Vice Director Sandy
Donahue, W4RU--attended. More information, including audio of Walsh's
presentation, is on the Heil Sound Web site <>.

* Japan refuses permission for power line communications systems: As a
result of strong opposition from the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL),
Japan's government says it's too soon to allow power line
communications--variously called PLC or PLT--between 2 MHz and 30 MHz, due
to its interference potential to other HF users. JARL had expressed deep
concerns about PLC to the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs,
Posts and Telecommunications earlier this year. Field tests last January
looked into the potential for RF leakage from power lines--specifically in
cases where PLT was used to provide Internet access to homes via power
lines. "JARL is glad that the Ministry's study group on PLC concluded that
it is not suitable to allow PLC between 2 MHz and 30 MHz," said JARL
President Shozo Hara, JA1AN. "However, we need to keep in mind that the
future course of environmental demonstrative tests, their direction and
international standards planning need to be watched very carefully." JARL
Director Masao Matsumoto, JA1AYC, is in Germany to research the PLC
situation in Europe. Meanwhile, the Radio Society of Great Britain reports
that it's continuing to press for tight limits on emissions from wired
telecommunications systems such as PLC and is working with other HF users
to try to ensure that the spectrum remains uncontaminated by wideband
noise. The JARL's Web site has more information

* Vanity HQ Web site seeking financial support: After announcing the
popular Amateur Vanity Call Sign Headquarters Web site
<> was in danger of going dark, Webmaster Michael
Carroll, N4MC, has been encouraged by recent financial support from within
the amateur community to continue the site at least for a while longer. "I
appreciate everyone's expression of support and encouragement, and I will
do what I can to keep Vanity HQ on the air!" Carroll said in a posting on
the site this week. Carroll had announced that Vanity HQ, which has been
available since 1999, would be shutting down due to a lack of funds.
Carroll revealed that he'd been out of work all year and could no longer
afford the expense of keeping the site in operation. He's provided a
PayPal link as well as a US Postal Service address for those for those
wishing to contribute.

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for July was Hal Kennedy, N4GG, for his article "The N4GG Array."
Congratulations, Hal! The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award--given to
the author of the best article in each issue--is determined by a vote of
ARRL members. Voting takes place each month on the Cover Plaque Poll Web
page <>. If you haven't
already done so, case a vote for your favorite article in the August issue
of QST. Voting ends August 31.

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

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely,
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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.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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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.

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