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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 21, No. 37
September 20, 2002


* +Progress reported on 5 MHz compromise
* +Hurricane Watch Net, W4EHW activate for first time this season
* +Tennessee hams pass the acid test
* +FCC shuts down California UHF system
* +Digital fans enjoy annual ARRL/TAPR conference
* +Vintage Maxim QSL card brings record price
* +ARRL updates contest certificate designs
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Maximize your public relations efforts with new PC presentations
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award
     NASA names Whitson first ISS science officer
     ARRL DXCC Desk accredits 7O/OH2YY Yemen operation
     Ten-Tec announces annual hamfest
     Murphy G. "Murph" Ratterree, W4WMQ, SK

+Available on ARRL Audio News



ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, and General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD,
say they're optimistic about reaching a resolution to issues that could
otherwise block plans for a new 5 MHz band. Until surprise opposition
surfaced from the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA), the FCC appeared to have put ARRL's request for a
new, domestic-only, secondary amateur allocation at 60 meters on the fast

In an eleventh-hour move a month ago, the NTIA recommended in a letter to
the FCC--sent after the comment deadline--that the Commission not go
forward with a proposal for an Amateur Radio allocation at 5250 to 5400
kHz. The NTIA regulates radio spectrum allocated to the federal

"We are working together with the Federal agencies involved toward a
solution of the impasse raised by the NTIA letter," Imlay said after he
and Haynie attended a series of meetings September 19 in Washington, DC.

Acting NTIA Associate Administrator for Spectrum Management Fredrick R.
Wentland had said in an August 21 letter that critical federal agencies,
including the Department of Justice, the US Coast Guard and the Department
of Defense, were making extensive use of 5 MHz frequencies. He worried
that the 5 MHz proposal the FCC put forth last May at the ARRL's request
"does not adequately provide for protection from harmful interference to
these critical government operations."

After initially huddling this week with NTIA and FCC officials and staff
members, Haynie and Imlay met face-to-face with representatives of the
agencies involved to share mutual concerns.

"They are willing to work with us," Haynie said. "Chris and I left feeling
a whole lot better." Haynie said hammering out some differences will
involve some further meetings--including one with the US Navy--but that he
and Imlay were feeling much more positive about the situation.

"I feel confident we'll get something," Haynie said. "I don't think we'll
get everything we want, but it's certainly a start, and it's a lot better
than what it was this time last week."

One difficulty in the negotiations is that some of the information on the
government's use of the 5-MHz frequencies involved is classified. "We were
given some hints about the sensitivity and the seriousness of some of the
activity that's going on," Haynie said, "and we fully appreciate that
now--more so than before--because we just didn't, and couldn't, know. The
important thing is that we have established a good working relationship
with the Justice Department and the Coast Guard."

Imlay said the discussions tended to center on power restrictions and
frequencies but emphasized that no decisions were reached. The ARRL
proposal called for a 150-kHz wide band and the full legal power limit.
Imlay hinted, however, that perhaps a smaller band than the one requested
coupled with some power output limitations, was a real possibility.

The ARRL has called the 5 MHz allocation "an urgent priority of the
Amateur Service" and has asked that the proceeding to grant it be
expedited. Until the latest snafu, the FCC had been expected by early next
year to issue a Report and Order on proposals for the 5-MHz band, a new
low-frequency allocation in the vicinity of 136 kHz and primary Amateur
and Amateur-Satellite status at 2400 to 2402 MHz.


The Hurricane Watch Net <> activated this week for the
first time in the current hurricane season as a nascent hurricane
threatened Cuba and possibly parts of the Gulf of Mexico. HWN Manager Mike
Pilgrim, K5MP, said the net activated at midday on September 19 on 14.325
MHz while Isidore was still a tropical storm. The storm continued to gain
strength, however, and by the next day was a Category 2 hurricane packing
winds of 100 MPH, with higher gusts.

Members of the Hurricane Watch Net <> were continuing to
keep their eyes on the storm, which, at week's end, was closing in on
Western Cuba. As of September 20, tropical storm warnings and hurricane
watches were been posted for portions of Mexico's Yucatan
Peninsula--including the island of Cozumel. The National Hurricane Center
was predicting that Isidore would make landfall over Western Cuba. A
hurricane warning remained in effect for several provinces.

Well-known Cuban amateur and International Amateur Radio Union Region 2
Area C Emergency Coordinator Arnie Coro, CO2KK, said it appeared that the
main impact of the storm was poised to strike the Isle of Youth (Isla de
la Juventud) and the western part of Pinar del Rio Province. Coro
requested protection from interference for 3740, 7040 and 7125 kHz. He
said amateur operators were deployed at CO9BNA at the Cuban weather
service, Instituto de Meteorologia.

Isidore was moving at about 8 MPH to the west-northwest. Heavy rainfall of
up to 30 inches and damaging surf conditions were forecast for the storm's
path. Official advisories are available on the NHC Web site

Assistant Amateur Radio Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4JR, at W4EHW at the
National Hurricane Center <>, reported that
W4EHW also commenced operations on September 19. W4EHW has HF stations on
both 20 and 40 meters. W4EHW is collecting reports via APRS, e-mail and
its on-line Hurricane Reporting Form.

The Hurricane Watch Net and W4EHW at the National Hurricane Center work
hand-in-hand to gather and disseminate real-time, ground-level weather
data and damage reports from Amateur Radio operators to assist
forecasters. The HWN also functions as a backup communication link for the
NHC, emergency operating centers and the National Weather Service.


Dozens of Tennessee hams passed the acid test after a train derailed near
Knoxville the morning of Sunday, September 15. The wreck of the
Norfolk-Southern freight dumped more than 10,000 gallons of concentrated
sulfuric acid, some of which leaked into Ft Loudoun Lake along the
Tennessee River. The resulting vigorous thermal reaction generated a
hazardous mist, prompting a massive evacuation. Two Amateur Radio
emergency teams activated to assist responding agencies.

ARRL Knox County Emergency Coordinator Greg Williams, K4HSM, says
authorities ordered the evacuation of all residents--some 9000
households--within a 1.3-mile radius and recommended those within five
miles also get out of the area.

Williams said the Middle East Tennessee Emergency Radio Service (METERS)
was called up at 12:30 PM on the Radio Amateur Club of Knoxville repeater
system. Nearby Blount County activated its ARES net as the potentially
toxic cloud drifted south by the prevailing winds.

"There were several immediate concerns," Williams said. "One was a bike
tour sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Society that had cyclists
traveling near the affected area." Williams said hams assisting with the
MS Bike Tour were alerted to the spill. Event personnel promptly called
off the remainder of the tour, evacuated the few remaining cyclists and
had paramedics check them for any symptoms.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross set up shelters to handle evacuees, and the
emergency operations centers for Knox and Blount counties activated.

Williams said Amateur Radio assistance, although offered, was not
immediately needed by the emergency services overseeing the situation. But
the Red Cross requested ARES activation by mid-afternoon due to overloaded
phone lines and a need to communicate with shelter workers. Amateur
operators were deployed throughout the afternoon and into the evening to
all shelters in Knox and Blount counties.

According to Williams, more than 50 amateurs checked into the METERS net
over the course of the 10-hour activation, which drew praise from Red
Cross officials. Williams reports that more than 50 amateurs checked into
the METERS net during the activation.


The FCC has ordered a UHF Amateur Radio system in the Los Angeles area
shut down until it either obtains coordination or comes up with an
acceptable plan to prevent interfering with a coordinated repeater just 10
kHz away. FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth says the
owner of the 447.250-MHz system on Mt Disappointment, Steven R. Decho,
KE6FX, has complied with the FCC request, which was included in a
September 4 Warning Notice.

"For over two years, your Mt Disappointment KE6FX station has been
characterized by lack of control and identification problems,"
Hollingsworth wrote. "The real basis of this matter seems to be that you
object to a recent change in spacing standards by the coordinator and do
not wish to conform to them." The regional coordinator, the Southern
California Repeater and Remote Base Association (SCRRBA), has told the FCC
that the coordination for KE6FX was abandoned.

The FCC considers the KE6FX station a repeater, while Decho, who resides
in Draper, Utah, calls it "a remote base." As a remote base, he has
claimed, KE6FX does not require coordination. But the FCC said Decho did
submit outdated coordination documents in his response last year to FCC

In either case, Hollingsworth again pointed out, the KE6FX system is
causing interference to the coordinated WA6UZS repeater 10 kHz away. If
it's a repeater, Hollingsworth explained, KE6FX is obliged to prevent
interference to the WA6UZS repeater under ß97.205 of the FC rules. If it's
an auxiliary station or a remote base, "the fact remains that it
interferes with the WA6UZS repeater," Hollingsworth said.

In previous communications with Decho going back about a year and a half,
Hollingsworth among other things cited "reports of dead carriers that last
for weeks, a tone that lasted continuously for three weeks, weekends of
2-meter rebroadcasts and a repeating CW identification that lasted for
weeks." Over the July 4 holiday this summer, the system re-broadcast other
repeater traffic and ignored attempts by WA6UZS repeater personnel to
contact Decho, the FCC said.

In August 2001, the FCC said the KE6FX beacon identifier that activated
without operational input, the rebroadcasting of other repeater traffic,
dead carriers, continuous tones or repetitive CW identifiers "must cease
immediately" and normal repeater traffic, if any, must not interfere with


More than 100 of the most active Amateur Radio digital enthusiasts from
around the world turned out in Denver, Colorado, September 13-15 for the
2002 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference. This year's event marked
the 21st conference. Agenda topics ranged from APRS (Automatic Position
Reporting System) to high-speed digital networking and software-defined
radio (SDR), among others.

Friday's forums were dominated by discussions of APRS. Topics included a
discussion of single-wire APRS weather stations, high-altitude balloon
tracking and recovery--presented by representatives from Edge of Space
Sciences <>--APRS in the Sydney Olympics and the
versatile <> on-line APRS database.

Saturday's sessions included forums on the prospect of using consumer
wireless devices (popularly known as 802.11b or "Wi-Fi" devices) to create
high-speed Amateur Radio digital networks. A forum on HF digital voice
also drew considerable interest.

One of Saturday's highlights was a demonstration of the new ICOM D-Star
< brochure.pdf> digital radio system. At
the heart of D-Star is the ID-1 transceiver, which ICOM had on display at
the Dayton Hamvention last spring. The ID-1 operates on 1.2 GHz and can
communicate using FM analog voice, digital voice and data. The transceiver
can be programmed with a desktop or laptop computer, or it can be operated
in a more conventional manner via a remote front panel. ICOM's Ray Novak,
KC7JPA, said D-Star will be available in the US in November. (Click here
for a sample of D-Star audio recorded at the conference.)

Bruce Perens, K6BP, <> was the featured speaker at the
Saturday evening banquet. His entertaining presentation stressed the
notion that individuals, not just corporations, still can innovate and
invent. Perens called for grassroots development of Amateur Radio software
and hardware according to the Open Source model. He also encouraged the
audience to become educators, because, he explained, "the future strength
of Amateur Radio is in our value as technology teachers."

SDR was another hot topic at the conference, and the Sunday seminar was
devoted exclusively to that subject. Projects such as GNU Radio
<> promise a day when
amateur transceivers will achieve extraordinary levels of flexibility.
Under the SDR paradigm, software, rather than the hardware, literally will
"define" the way in which a radio operates.

Proceedings of the 21st ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference
now are available for $20 (plus shipping and handling) via the ARRL Web
catalog <>;. Order item No 8756.


We're not certain if ARRL co-founder and first president Hiram Percy Maxim
would have been proud or surprised to know that one of his old 1AW QSLs
apparently set a price record for the sale of a single QSL card. A
1923-vintage HPM 1AW card recently went for $2125 on the eBay auction site

Neither the seller nor the buyer have been identified, but ARRL member
Paul Cassel, VE3SY, of Petersburg, Ontario, Canada, acted as the sale
agent and posted the card on the auction site. "The winning bidder is in
California and is a very serious QSL collector," he said after the auction
closed. Cassel pledged to donate half of his sale commission to the W1AW
Endowment Fund <>.

The 1AW card appears to verify reception of 9CTR on a wavelength of 193
meters rather than a two-way contact. "You were calling another 9," Maxim
wrote in the card's "Remarks" section. Although the card proclaims
"American Radio Relay League Station 1AW" across the top, the now-famous
call sign was Maxim's own personal call sign at the time, not the
League's, and Maxim operated from his home on Hartford.

Until the 1AW card sale, Cassel says the highest known price paid for a
single QSL card was more than $1100 for an AC4YN QSL from the Tibet
DXpedition of Sir Evan Nepean, G5YN, who died last March at age 92.


The ARRL Contest Branch has released newly designed certificates for
various ARRL-sponsored contests. The new certificate designs will be used
for all contests starting with those issued to qualifying participants in
the December 2001 ARRL 160-Meter Contest.

"They replace a design that has been in use by the ARRL for at least the
past 20 years," ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, said of
the new designs. He explains that part of the redesign involved
reformatting the certificates from a "landscape" (horizontal) to a
"portrait" (vertical) layout.

The ARRL November Sweepstakes certificate features an attractive red,
white and blue design and incorporates the popular outline map of the US
and Canada that has been appearing on Sweepstakes plaques.

Certificates for other HF events are highlighted by the "global" icon now
found on the International DX Contest plaques.

The VHF/UHF/Microwave contest certificates incorporate a moonbounce dish
antenna as a background motif.

While the criteria for winning an award vary among the various operating
events, certificates normally go to the top-finishing station in each
category from each ARRL/RAC section and DXCC entity.

"We are waiting for the new certificates to arrive back from the
printer's," Henderson said. "As soon as we have them in hand, we will
begin printing and mailing the backlog of certificates."


Heliophile Tad "House of the Rising Sun" Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Average sunspot numbers were up a bit this week compared to last,
and solar flux on average was about the same.

Solar flux peaked in the short term on September 10 at 220.5 and has been
mostly declining since. Solar flux on Tuesday through Thursday of this
week was 194, 176.8 and 165.3. For Friday though Sunday it's predicted at
165, 160 and 155. Sunday's value may continue for a few more days and
should be the minimum for the near term. Assuming returning activity from
the current solar rotation, solar flux is expected to peak again around
October 6-11.

Sunspot numbers for September 12 through 18 were 258, 246, 256, 168, 190,
228 and 225, with a mean of 224.4. The 10.7-cm flux was 212.4, 206.1,
206.9, 187.8, 182.6, 194, and 176.8, with a mean of 195.2. Estimated
planetary A indices were 17, 16, 11, 8, 8, 13, and 14, with a mean of



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL 10 GHz Cumulative Contest, the AGB
NEMIGA Contest, the SARL VHF/UHF Contest, the Scandinavian Activity
Contest (CW), the Collegiate QSO Party, the QRP Afield Event, the
Washington State Salmon Run, the Panama Anniversary Contest and the Fall
QRP Homebrewer Sprint are the weekend of September 21-22. JUST AHEAD: The
CQ/RJ Worldwide DX Contest (RTTY), the Scandinavian Activity Contest
(SSB). the Alabama, Louisiana and Texas QSO parties, and the Anatolian DX
Contest are the weekend of September 28-29. See the ARRL Contest Branch
page <> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL Satellite Communications course (EC-007) opens
Monday, September 23, 4 PM Eastern Daylight Time (2000 UTC). Registration
will remain open through Sunday, September 29. Classes begin September 30.
Registration for the Level III Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
(EC-003) and HF Digital Communications (EC-005) courses remains open
through Sunday, September 22. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification
and Continuing Education Web page <> and the C-CE
Links found there. For more information, contact Certification and
Continuing Education Program Coordinator Howard Robins, W1HSR, [C-CE logo]

* Maximize your public relations efforts with new PC presentations: Thanks
to the efforts of ARRL Public Relations Committee member and Santa Barbara
Section Public Information Coordinator Jeff Reinhardt, AA6JR, the ARRL is
happy to offer two new PowerPoint presentations to help field volunteers
get the most out of their public relations programs. Both presentations
can be found on the PR Department Web site <>. The
presentation "How to be a Media Relations Superstar"
<> is packed with lots of helpful
pointers to guide you in successfully promoting Amateur Radio in your
area. This presentation also would work well for anyone giving a talk on
how to promote ham radio. The presentation "100 Great Publicity Ideas for
your Amateur Radio Club" <> speaks for
itself. Check it out for great tips to help you build positive public
awareness about Amateur Radio all year long!--Jennifer Hagy, N1TDY

*Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for August was Declan Craig, EI6FR, for his article "The 2002 South
Sandwich/South Georgia Micro-Lite DXpedition." Congratulations, Declan!
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
<>. There's still time to
cast a ballot for your favorite article in the September 2002 issue of
QST. Voting ends September 30.

* NASA names Whitson first ISS science officer: NASA has named astronaut
Peggy Whitson, KC5ZTD, as the first NASA International Space Station
science officer. Whitson, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from Rice
University, became the ISS's first resident scientist when she arrived at
the orbiting outpost June 7. "Dr. Peggy Whitson is an obvious choice for
NASA's first ISS science officer," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in
making the announcement September 16. Before joining the astronaut corps,
Whitson's NASA career included time spent as a researcher. She helped
develop experiments to fly on the space shuttle, served as the project
scientist for the Shuttle-Mir program and co-chaired the US-Russian
mission science working group. The post of NASA ISS science officer is a
new duty assignment that will be made for a NASA astronaut on each ISS
crew increment. For now, NASA says, the science officer will focus on US
research conducted aboard ISS. When she returns to Earth this fall,
Whitson's science officer duties will continue for those experiments
conducted during Expedition 5.--NASA news release

*ARRL DXCC Desk accredits 7O/OH2YY Yemen operation: The ARRL DXCC Desk
reports that it has received evidence that the Yemen operation by Pekka
Ahlqvist, OH2YY, in May 2002 was conducted with written approval from the
Yemeni government. "Credit for QSOs with 7O/OH2YY from May 4 through May
11, 2002, will be given effective immediately," said ARRL Century Club
Manager Bill Moore, NC1L. Regarding the 7O1YGF operation, the DXCC Desk
says it still has received no evidence traceable to the Yemeni government
to accredit that operation for DXCC. "DXCC credit for this operation will
be given only after such evidence has been presented to ARRL," Moore said.

* Ten-Tec announces annual hamfest: Ten-Tec will hold its third annual
hamfest Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, at the company's plant in
Sevierville, Tennessee. Hours will be 5-9 PM Friday and 9 AM-3 PM
Saturday. On hand will be displays and on-the-air demonstrations of
Ten-Tec equipment, including the new Model 565 Orion and Model 516
Argonaut V. Other activities include technical forums, Amateur Radio
examination sessions, guided tours of the plant, tailgating (Saturday
only), a swap meet, equipment sales and trade ins. There will be free
refreshments Friday; barbecue will be available Saturday. On the forum
schedule are ARRL Sales and Marketing Manager and avid contester Dennis
Motschenbacher, K7BV; and QEX Editor and digital signal processing guru
Doug Smith, KF6DX, and well-known antenna expert L. B. Cebik, W4RNL.
Forums get under way at 10 AM Saturday. Ten-Tec is located at 1185 Dolly
Parton Parkway in Sevierville, about 30 miles east of Knoxville. For more
information, visit the Ten-Tec Web site <>. The
Ten-Tec Hamfest is an ARRL-sanctioned event.

* Murphy G. "Murph" Ratterree, W4WMQ, SK: Murph Ratterree, W4WMQ, of Rock
Hill, South Carolina, died September 9. He was 67. An ARRL member, was the
founder and first president of the International DX Association (INDEXA),
which promotes worldwide goodwill among Amateur Radio operators and
supports DX operations in countries with little or no amateur activity. He
also was a veteran member of the Carolina DX Association. A chapel service
was conducted September 11. Survivors include his wife, Margaret Sue, and
a son and daughter. Memorial contributions are invited to the American
Cancer Society, 500 E Morehead St, Suite 211, Charlotte, NC 28202.--Judy
Roush, AA7UC

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

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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