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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 12
March 21, 2003


* +ARES/RACES teams assist following NJ explosion
* +"The Big Project" expands to 50 schools
* +Astronaut tells students he's not afraid in space
* +ARRL Executive Committee meets in Texas
* +ARRL surveying high-speed digital network interest
* +Paul Harvey airs kudos for ham radio's emergency role
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +Wake Forest University club honors Riley Hollingsworth
     California antenna bill hearing postponed
     New Jersey ham antenna bill still in committee
     ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW) 2002 results available
     Third edition of radiotelegraphy book still in print

+Available on ARRL Audio News



Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency
Service (RACES) teams in northwestern New Jersey assisted in the wake of a
liquid propane tank explosion March 14 in Newton. The blast moved several
houses in the area off their foundations and caused the evacuation of
approximately 1000 residents. ARES/RACES teams from Sussex and several
other New Jersey counties were among those who rallied last weekend to
help responding agencies, including The Salvation Army and the American
Red Cross as well as the Sussex County Office of Emergency Management.

"Residents were evacuated for a three-quarter mile radius--later reduced
to one-half mile," said ARRL Northern New Jersey Section Emergency
Coordinator Steve Ostrove, K2SO. "A shelter was set up, and the Sussex
County ARES/RACES group under Bob Stepanek, N2TTT, responded."

Because of its location, roads had to be closed and schools called off,
Stepanek said. During this week's activation, Sussex County ARES/RACES
staffed the incident command center and the emergency operations center on
a daytime basis to provide backup communication. Stepanek said the propane
fire was extinguished March 19, and ARES/RACES operations terminated the
following day.

The explosion occurred as a tanker truck was being loaded from an
approximately 10,000-gallon storage tank at Able Energy in Newton. The
blast flattened the facility. Stepanek says it's believed that a filling
hose came loose, and the liquid propane gas began to escape. No one was
killed or seriously injured in the incident. Most injuries resulted from
flying glass or debris, and a few people were hospitalized. The dozen or
so employees on the scene realized the gas was escaping and evacuated the
area before the gas exploded, preventing fatalities or more serious
injuries, he said.

Up to 400 residents evacuated took advantage of the Red Cross shelter
overnight following the explosion. Sussex County American Red Cross
Chapter Executive Director Pat Day said having the ARES teams at the
shelter site was a big help. "Ham radio operators provided Red Cross and
the clients at our shelter backup communication that was much
appreciated," Day said. "Historically, hams have been a big help to our

The American Red Cross shelter closed March 16, and the remaining
evacuated residents relocated to area hotels and motels. Other evacuees
stayed with friends and relatives.

In the early going, and with the Sussex ARES team starting to show signs
of fatigue, Ostrove requested additional assistance from outside the
county, since the shelter was scheduled to remain open for at least
another day. "We had hams come up from Somerset, Union, Morris and Hudson
counties," Ostrove told ARRL. In all, he said, more than two dozen
ARES/RACES members responded.

Mike Snuffer, KC2JHU, an emergency coordinator from the Secaucus ARES team
in Hudson County--some 60 miles away--was among those who arrived from
outside the area to help. "Everything was under control," Snuffer said.
"It was a very smooth operation. Everyone was well-trained."--Rich
Krajewski, WB2CRD, contributed information for this story


The ARRL Executive Committee has approved 10 new schools for the ARRL
Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program
<>, popularly known as "The Big Project."
The EC took the action during its March 15 meeting in Irving, Texas.

"That takes us to a total of 50 schools," said ARRL Education Project
Coordinator Jerry Hill, KH6HU. "I'm pleasantly surprised, because we never
expected to be able to fund this many schools this fast. It shows the
great passion within the Amateur Radio community to introduce ham radio to
the youth of America."

Hill said that when the program was launched in 2001, the original plan
was to approve 12 schools the first year and another dozen in 2002. "I'm
elated that we were able to get the program going in 50 schools. It's
really great!" he added.

The approved schools include Allendale High School, Allendale, Michigan;
Coronado Middle School, Coronado, California; James B. Castle High School,
Kaneohe, Hawaii; Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School, Jamesville, New York;
Marlington High School, Alliance, Ohio; Newington High School, Newington,
Connecticut; Silver Stage High School, Silver Springs, Nevada; South Davie
Middle School, Mocksville, North Carolina; Southern Baptist Educational
Center (SBEC), Southaven, Mississippi; and Webster Intermediate School,
Webster, Texas.

Hill said the schools will now select their equipment and should have
complete stations on campus before school is out in June. A local ham
radio club in Mississippi is set to help run the program at SBEC as an
after-school program, while the group at Castle High in Hawaii has
expressed interest in satellite communication.

At Webster Intermediate School in Texas, the youngsters will have the
unique opportunity to learn from Nick Lance, KC5KBO, who trains US
astronauts in Amateur Radio.

The ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program employs ham radio
to enhance student learning through the application of mathematical and
scientific concepts. The project emphasizes integration of math, science,
writing and speaking, geography, technology and social responsibility
within a global society. While getting students licensed is not a primary
goal of the program, participating schools have generated many new, young
Amateur Radio operators.

In addition to a complete curriculum, the program resources include a
classroom bookshelf of ARRL technical manuals, an on-line sourcebook, an
interactive Web site and a complete Amateur Radio station.


Persistence paid off March 11 when students at Eugene Field School in Park
Ridge, Illinois, finally got to quiz astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT, about
life aboard the International Space Station. One earlier effort failed
when the earth station and NA1SS ended up on different 2-meter frequencies
due to a communication breakdown.

The contact, arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ARISS) program, also was postponed several times because of
schedule conflicts. When everything came together, however, Pettit was
able to answer 19 questions put to him by the students, who were obviously
well-prepared for the occasion.

Among other topics, Pettit described his interest and research into thin
films of water, which, he said, look much like soap bubbles in space. He
also described how a tin of food that would normally float off the table
while he was eating would stay in place if he applied a small drop of
water to the tin's bottom. Pettit explained that the surface tension of
the water will keep the container from floating off.

"Thunderstorms look like giant flashbulbs going off in the clouds," Pettit
told one student who asked what they looked like from the vantage point of
the ISS. To see meteor showers, he explained to another student, the
astronauts have to look down toward Earth--rather than up--to see the
meteors burn up in the atmosphere. The crew also has been able to see the
change of seasons on Earth.

Pettit--who has been handling the bulk of the ARISS school contacts for
the Expedition 6 crew--also told another youngster that he is not afraid
of being in space. "So far I haven't been afraid while I've been in space,
but I do get afraid when I see scary movies at the movie theater," Pettit
said. His reply drew a round of laughter in the classroom back on Earth.

Zero gravity, which Pettit has said he'll miss when he returns to Earth,
is a favorite question topic. "Being in zero gravity is like flying in
your dreams," Pettit said in describing the experience. Brushing your
teeth in space involves one twist. "You've got to swallow your toothpaste,
because there's no place to spit it out," he explained.

Audio of the contact was distributed to five other elementary schools and
two middle schools in the suburban Chicago school district. Several local
TV and radio affiliates showed up to record the contact and interview the
students afterwards.

The contact was handled via W6SRJ at Santa Rosa Junior College in
California. Two-way audio was handled via a WorldCom teleconferencing
circuit. Tim Bosma, W6ISS, moderated the QSO. ARISS is an international
project with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. For more information,
visit the ARISS Web site <>.


ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has told the League's Executive
Committee that he expects the FCC to release an "omnibus" Amateur Radio
Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) sometime in May. Imlay told the EC
that the NPRM likely will incorporate proposals resulting from several
petitions for rule making, including some from the ARRL. The FCC also
might propose additional items on its own motion, Imlay said.

Because the comment period for the omnibus NPRM could expire before the
ARRL Board of Directors meets in July, the EC discussed several issues
it's anticipated the NPRM will contain. While providing Imlay with
guidance in developing draft ARRL comments, the EC did not adopt any
positions as ARRL policy, since it's not yet clear which proposals the
NPRM might include.

Imlay also told the EC that it may not be necessary to request temporary
relief from spread-spectrum automatic power control requirements at 2.4
GHz for a group of ARRL High Speed Digital and Multimedia (HSMM) Working
Group experimenters. Imlay suggested that the group could achieve its
objectives within existing Part 97 regulations. The Committee agreed to
have Imlay draft a letter, subject to staff review, to HSMM Working Group
Chair John Champa, K8OCL, explaining his interpretation. A copy also would
go to the FCC.

Committee members also took part in what was termed "a wide-ranging and
thoughtful discussion" of issues raised in a draft report on options to
better protect and deploy Amateur Radio in the bands between 902 MHz and
24.25 GHz. The EC concluded that the final report should include an
analysis of the concept of "strategic partnering" with nonamateur

Imlay also updated the EC on the status of several other pending FCC
matters. He noted that in a recent filing in the Ultra Wideband (UWB)
proceeding, Cingular Wireless echoed an oft-stated League argument.
Cingular agreed with ARRL's position that the FCC lacks authority to
permit operation of unlicensed devices except as explicitly provided by
statute. Imlay also noted that the Department of Defense has rebutted
claims by SAVI Technology that restrictions on the use of 425 to 435 MHz
under Part 15 rules can be relaxed without adversely affecting military
radars. The FCC has proposed relaxing certain restrictions in response to
SAVI's request to deploy RF identification tags.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, told the Committee that reintroduction in the
US House of Representatives of the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
Consistency Act was expected to happen soon. The measure seeks a
congressional solution to the problem of private deed covenants,
conditions and restrictions--so-called CC&Rs--that can impede or prevent
installation of outdoor amateur antennas.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, chaired the March 15 Executive Committee
meeting, held in Irving, Texas. Attending their first EC meeting as new
members were Roanoke Division Director Dennis Bodson, W4PWF, and Atlantic
Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN. Bodson was appointed to the EC to
fill a vacancy caused by the death February 6 of Pacific Division Director
Jim Maxwell, W6CF. Fuller was elected to the EC during the January Board
meeting. Minutes of the March 15 Executive Committee session are available
on the ARRL Web site <>.


The ARRL High Speed Multimedia (HSMM) Working Group is surveying the
amateur community to gauge interest in IEEE 802.11b "Hinternet" activity.
The HSMM Working Group encourages spread-spectrum communication modes
including such protocols as IEEE 802.11b operating on Amateur Radio
frequencies under FCC Part 97 rules. It's adopted Hinternet (a contraction
of "ham" and "Internet") as a way to describe the technology. The HSMM
Working Group's survey is on the ARRL Web site <>.

"The primary goal of the survey is to encourage amateurs to get on the air
and start playing with this cheap digital microwave gear," says HSMM
Working Group Chair John Champa, K8OCL <>;. Hinternet Radio
Local Area Networks (RLANs) typically use direct-sequence spread spectrum
between 2412 and 2437 MHz and are capable of simultaneously carrying
audio, video and data signals. Hinternet aficionados adapt commercial
802.11b interfaces designed for Part 15 operation to amateur use.

The HSMM Web survey is brief and permits an opportunity for open-ended
input. It asks if respondents have a IEEE 802.11 or "other high-speed
digital station" running under Part 97. If so, amateurs are asked to
register their stations. It also asks respondents to explain how they
might use a high-speed digital system or network if they were to set one

Champa urged Hinternet-minded amateurs to also report what they've learned
and any new applications to the ARRL IEEE 802.11b reflector operated by
Texas A&M University <>
(and linked from the "HSMM Resources" menu under "Contacts").

Asked if the Hinternet is catching on within Amateur Radio, Champa simply
points to the more than 15,000 hits to the HSMM Working Group's Web site.
The Hinternet also is the focus of the article "High Speed Multimedia
Radio" by Kris Mraz, N5KM, in the April 2003 issue of QST.

Hinternet proponent Mark Williams, AB8LN, of Milford, Michigan, says he
envisions growth of amateur 802.11b operation to cover all large
metropolitan areas in the US, not just the few miles some contend is the
outer limit for such point-to-point connections. "This is just too easy,"
he says. "With some of the Amateur Radio pioneering that we are famous
for, we should be able to push this technology to its limits--50, 75 and
100-mile links at 2.4 GHz." He said wireless networks dedicated to Amateur
Radio stretching across states and linking hams everywhere with high-speed
voice and video are possible.

"File-sharing and e-mail, network gaming and pop-up chat are just the tip
of a titanic iceberg," he predicted.

Applications abound for public service work too. Amateurs recently
involved in the Texas search for debris from the shuttle Columbia used a
802.11b high-speed system on ham radio to link the net control station in
Nacagdoches with the Internet.

More information is available on the ARRL High Speed Digital Networks and
Multimedia Web page <>.


Veteran ABC Radio Networks commentator Paul Harvey this week offered some
kind words for Amateur Radio. The mention was the second item on "page
four" of his March 19 Paul Harvey Noon News and Comment program.

"America's quiet warriors are the legion of ham radio operators, 700,000
of them, who are always at ready for backup duty in emergencies--amateur,
unpaid, uncelebrated, civilian radio operators, during and after floods
and fires and tornadoes," Harvey said. "After the 9/11 attacks, hams were
indispensable in reuniting friends and families. Most recently it was they
who expedited the search for debris after the disaster to the space
shuttle Columbia, and right now, at this moment, they are involved in
homeland security to a greater degree than you would want me to make

The commentary's enigmatic and mysterious final sentence--typical of
Harvey's habit of leaving his listeners hanging--apparently refers to the
fact that many Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur
Emergency Service (RACES) teams have ramped up their alert status as
hostilities get under way in the Middle East.

The entire Wednesday noon broadcast is available on Paul Harvey's Web site
<>. Click on the Wednesday noon link under
"Listen Now."


Sun watcher Tad "Seasons in the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: This has been quite a week for geomagnetic storms. The average
daily planetary A index--a measure of geomagnetic activity averaged over
24 hours from the planetary K indices in the same period--was about 20
points higher this week than last. This was caused by a near-constant
strong solar wind accompanied by solar flares.

Solar flux and sunspot numbers declined this week over last. Average daily
sunspot numbers dropped nearly 82 points to 92, and solar flux was down by
more than 14 points.

This trend is expected to continue, with solar flux below 100 through the
middle of next week. Unsettled to active geomagnetic conditions also
should continue, at least over the next few days.

Sunspot numbers for March 13 through 19 were 88, 114, 124, 121, 80, 64 and
53, with a mean of 92. The 10.7-cm flux was 134.2, 138.9, 130.7, 128.6,
164.1, 118.4 and 108.2, with a mean of 131.9. Estimated planetary A
indices were 15, 25, 24, 23, 39, 26 and 14, with a mean of 23.7.



* This weekend on the radio: The Oklahoma QSO Party, the  CLARA and Family
HF Contest, the 9K 15-Meter Contest and the Spring QRP Homebrewer Sprint
are the weekend of March 23-24. JUST AHEAD: The CQ World Wide WPX Contest
(SSB) is the weekend of March 29-30. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the first class in Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006)
and for Satellite Communications (EC-007) opens Monday, March 24, at 12:01
AM EST (0501 UTC). Registration remains open through Sunday, March 30.
Classes begin Monday, March 31. Registration for ARRL HF Digital
Communications (EC-005) remains open through Sunday, March 23. Those
interested in taking an ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE)
course in the future can sign up to be advised via e-mail in advance of
registration opportunities. To take advantage, send an e-mail to On the subject line, indicate the course name or number
(eg, EC-00#). In the message body, provide your name, call sign, e-mail
address and month you want to start the course. 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,

* Wake Forest University club honors Riley Hollingsworth: The Wake Forest
University Amateur Radio Club (WF4DD) honored FCC Special Counsel Riley
Hollingsworth March 6. Hollingsworth is a 1973 graduate of the WFU School
of Law. Formed in 2001, the Wake Forest ham club recently created a
chapter for WFU alumni, and Hollingsworth was initiated as the inaugural
member of the alumni chapter. Following presentation of a commemorative
plaque, Hollingsworth spoke on the importance of Amateur Radio and its
role in the community, calling it "the only fail-safe method of
communication." Hollingsworth also called on amateurs to bring new hams
into the service and praised amateur innovation on the digital front,
including Internet linking of repeaters. "Riley Hollingsworth has become
an icon within the amateur community because of his dedication to making
Amateur Radio a service of which anyone can be proud to be a member," said
club president Chris Plumblee, KG4CZU.

* California antenna bill hearing postponed: A legislative committee
hearing on California's latest attempt to pass an Amateur Radio antenna
bill, Assembly Bill 1228, has been postponed until April 2 while the
lawmakers turn their attention to more pressing matters. "They are going
ahead full speed on the budget now," explained ARRL Pacific Division
Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, who had been among those scheduled to testify
on behalf of the bill. AB 1228 was introduced February 21 by Assemblyman
Bob Dutton (R-63rd) and has been referred to the Committee on Local
Government. Mike Mitchell, W6RW, who is spearheading amateur activity in
support of AB 1228 says letters to the committee in support of the measure
must be received by Friday, March 28, to be considered at the Wednesday,
April 2, hearing. Send letters to Committee Chair and Assembly Member
Simon Salinas, Assembly Local Government Committee, 1020 N Street, Room
157, Sacramento, CA 95814. In large letters on the envelope and below the
address on the letter itself write "AB 1228 (Dutton) SUPPORT." Letters
will be summarized for the committee's consideration.

* New Jersey ham antenna bill still in committee: New Jersey's two ARRL
section managers are urging League members to write lawmakers to move the
Garden State's pending Amateur Radio antenna bill, A 3065, out of
committee. "Now is the time for all New Jersey hams to write a letter
asking for the bill to be voted on in committee," said ARRL Northern New
Jersey SM Bill Hudzik, W2UDT. The bill, introduced last December by
Assemblyman Matt Ahearn, KB2PNN, (D-Fair Lawn), would codify the limited
federal preemption known as PRB-1 into New Jersey's statutes. It also
would preclude regulation via any ordinance or regulation that effectively
prohibits an antenna support structure of 70 feet or less above ground
level--exclusive of any antenna upon the structure. A copy of the bill is
available on the New Jersey Legislature Web site
<>. Hudzik and
Priestley urge letters to Deputy Assembly Speaker Jerry Green
<>, who chairs the Housing
and Local Government Committee, and General Assembly Speaker Albio Sires
<>. More information and a
sample letter are available on the ARRL Hudson Division Web site

* ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW) 2002 results available: The report and
complete scores for the 2002 running of ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW) now
is available to League members on the ARRL Web site
includes a summary with photos, written by Randy Thompson, K5ZD, who notes
that the 2002 CW event attracted 1319 official entries. The top-scoring
operator worked 1468 of the 2584 call signs determined to have been active
during the contest. Complete, searchable, indexable line scores also are
available as well as Soapbox comments and photos posted after the event.
The next running of the November Sweepstakes (CW) will be the weekend of
November 1-2, 2003.

* Third edition of radiotelegraphy book still in print: The third edition
of The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy by the late Bill Pierpont, N0HFF,
remains available. A spiral-bound, compact-print book, measuring 5-1/2 by
8-1/2 inches, is now in its sixth printing from the Radio Amateur
Educational Society (RAES) <>; in Edmonton, Alberta. A
giant-print edition also is available, as well as a free downloadable
version. Visit the RAES Web site <> for
details. The FISTS CW Club is scheduled to have a fourth edition available
at Dayton Hamvention.--Ken Pierpont, KF4OW; Mike Dinelli, N9BOR

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,
accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <> for
the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
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weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter.

Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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==>How to Get The ARRL Letter
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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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