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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 32
August 15, 2003


* +Blackout response proves hams' readiness
* +ARRL president wants more Spectrum Protection Act cosponsors
* +UK youngsters enjoy ham radio space chats
* +Two more countries drop Morse requirement for HF
* +Roy Neal, K6DUE, SK
* +LF beacon on the air from Alaska
* +Contributions aiding BPL campaign
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     ISS commander takes a bride by proxy

+Available on ARRL Audio News



When a power blackout struck at least a half dozen eastern states August
14, many Amateur Radio operators were ready and able to provide whatever
assistance they could. Hardest hit were metropolitan areas like New York
City, Detroit and Cleveland. In New York, residents and commuters found
themselves stranded in electricity-dependent elevators and subway or rail
cars while visitors ended up stuck at airports, which were forced to shut
down. With the cellular systems overloaded or out altogether, the incident
turned into a test of Amateur Radio's capabilities to operate without
commercial power.

"It was a good drill," said New York City-Long Island Section Emergency
Coordinator Tom Carrubba, KA2D. But, he adds, it was a cautionary tale
too. "The lesson is that everybody gets a little complacent," he said.
"Have emergency power backup and make sure it's working!"

By and large, Carrubba said, ARES members did what they were trained to
do. "It's going to show the worth of Amateur Radio," he said of the
blackout response. "There were people on the air immediately."

Diane Ortiz, K2DO, the Public Information Coordinator for NYC-Long Island
was one of them. When power went down in her Suffolk County community, she
started up an informal VHF net. Over the next 20 hours or so, it passed
some 500 pieces of what Ortiz described as largely "health-and-welfare

"People are getting on and helping," she said. In addition to handling
messages for people stranded in the city, amateurs also relayed useful
information, such as which stores or filling stations were open and
operating. With many radio and TV stations dark, and hams were able to
help fill the information void, Ortiz said.

In the Big Apple itself, ARES teams provided communication support for Red
Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) set up at main transportation
centers in Manhattan. ARES members also accompanied ERVs on fire calls.

RACES activated in most Greater New York City area counties after a state
of emergency was declared. Some ARES teams--including a few across the
Hudson River in New Jersey--activated or remained on standby to help if
called upon. In New Jersey, a net linked the Red Cross lead chapter's
N2ARC in Princeton with other New Jersey ARC chapters.

Michigan Section Manager Dale Williams, WA8EFK, reports scattered ARES
activations. Williams, who lives in Dundee south of Detroit, was without
power August 15 and relying on his emergency generator. Some Michigan ARES
teams assisted emergency operations centers and the Red Cross.

In Ohio, Section Emergency Coordinator Larry Rain, WD8IHP, reports that
all ARES organizations in northern Ohio were activated after the power
grid went down. Still going strong at week's end were ARES teams in
Cleveland and Akron. "ARES is handling communication support for Ohio
Emergency Management in the affected cities and communities," Rain said.
Ohio VHF and UHF nets and the Ohio SSB net on HF have been handling
blackout-related traffic.

Nancy Hall, KC4IYD--who lives 20 miles west of Cleveland--said she's glad
she'd taken the ARRL Emergency Communications Level I class. "I have to
say that being a ham and knowing about emergency preparedness did make
life easier for me and my family," said Hall, who's now signed up for the
Level II class.

New England states were far less affected by the blackout. ARES/RACES
operators in the region were on standby after the blackout. Only
Connecticut and sections of Western Massachusetts reported significant
outages, and ARES nets activated in both states.

Bill Sexton, N1IN/AAR1FP, an Army MARS member, said his emergency power
capability permitted him to check into the Northeast SHARES (National
Communications System HF Shared Resources Program) net and maintain e-mail
contact after Berkshire County lost power.

"The experience proved once gain the great strength of ham radio in an
emergency," Sexton said. "It is self-starting, and it is everywhere."


ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, wants to see more letters urging members
of Congress to sign on as cosponsors of the Amateur Radio Spectrum
Protection Act bills in the US House and Senate. The identical measures,
an ARRL initiative, are on their third try in Congress. Noting that
cosponsor counts have changed little over the past month and that some
lawmakers he's contacted had not yet heard from constituents, Haynie
encouraged more League members to take the effort to write, call or e-mail
their representatives and senators to explain the bills' importance.

"Those letters are everything to a congressperson or a senator," Haynie
said. "Without letters from constituents, we're just spinning our wheels."
Conceding that Broadband over Power Line (BPL) has been taking the
limelight in recent days, Haynie said passage of the Spectrum Protection
Act remains important to the overall future of Amateur Radio.

The Spectrum Protection Act would require the FCC to provide "equivalent
replacement spectrum" to Amateur Radio if the FCC reallocates primary
amateur frequencies, reduces any secondary amateur allocations, or makes
additional allocations within such bands that would substantially reduce
their utility to amateurs.

A sample letter on ARRL's The Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of
2003 Web page <> cites Amateur
Radio's role in public service activities. The page also contains
information on how to identify and contact members of Congress and links
to the Thomas Web site <http://thomas.loc/.gov/>, where the bills' text and
a list of cosponsors are available.

"Just bringing the Spectrum Protection Act to the attention of your
senator or representative is a major help in this effort," Haynie said.
"This is not one of those cases where we're looking for donations. This is
something that you--as a member--can do on behalf of Amateur Radio, and
the most it will cost you is some stationery and a 37-cent stamp."

Those writing their lawmakers on behalf of the Spectrum Protection Act are
asked to copy their correspondence to the League via e-mail

HR 713 now has 44 cosponsors, while the identical S 537 has six.
Cosponsorship lends support to legislation while it's in committee, and
Haynie says letters and e-mails from members to their lawmakers remains
the key to getting the legislation passed.


Youngsters at two locations in England got to speak via ham radio with
NASA International Space Station Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, this
month. Pupils at Neston Primary School in Wiltshire talked with Lu--at the
controls of NA1SS--on August 6. A group of somewhat older space
campers--aged 11 to 13--at Soar Valley College in Leicester had the same
opportunity two days later. Both successful contacts were arranged via the
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program

The primary schoolers, who took time away from their summer holiday to
participate in the space contact, prepared a list of 20 questions for Lu
and got to ask all of them during the roughly 10-minute direct 2-meter

A couple of the pupils asked about the construction of the ISS. "What was
the reason for building the ISS?" one asked.

"I think the big reason is to help us learn the things that we need to
learn before we start flying off to much further destinations--like to
Mars, back to the moon, the asteroids and to explore our solar system," Lu
responded. "There's a lot of things that we really need to learn--and
learn much better--before we're ready to go do that."

Lu explained that the ISS was still under construction, and he didn't
expect it to be completed for another five years--although even that
timeframe remains uncertain with the shuttle fleet still grounded.

At the Soar Valley College Science Camp, several students posed questions
about the food available aboard the ISS. One youngster asked if the menu
of canned and packaged meals ever got boring

"We probably have a couple of hundred different varieties of food that we
can choose from up here," Lu said. "So, pretty much every day you can eat
something different." Gone are the days when space travelers have to suck
liquefied meals through a tube, however. "What we've got right now is a
pretty good-sized area where we can eat," Lu said. The ISS galley includes
a table and food warmers and a supply of water to rehydrate meals. "Almost
nothing that we eat actually comes out of a tube anymore," he added.

While being in zero gravity can be fun, Lu told the science campers that
it has its advantages and disadvantages. "Sometimes, having no gravity up
here is great," he said. "You can fly places, you can move extremely heavy
objects." At other times, it's difficult to do certain tasks because of no
gravity. Lu said the crew needs to always remember to secure items to keep
them from floating around in the cabin, he said. "It's just a mindset you
have to get used to."

ARISS is an international project with participation by ARRL, NASA and
AMSAT.--some information provided by Gaston Bertels, ON4WF


Belgium and Germany are the latest countries to drop the requirement to
pass a Morse code examination to obtain HF operating privileges. Their
action followed the decision of World Radiocommunication Conference 2003
to delete the treaty requirement calling on applicants to prove Morse
proficiency to have HF access.

Belgians holding ON1-prefix Class B tickets can get new Class A HF
licenses and ON4, 5, 6 or 7 prefixes by applying to Belgium's
telecommunications authority and paying a 5 Euro fee. As of August 8, some
200 Belgian Class B licensees had taken advantage of the plan.

Starting August 15, an estimated 33,000 German Class 2 VHF/UHF-only
licensees will be permitted access to the HF bands on an equal footing
with current Class 1 licensees. "Morse telegraph knowledge as a
prerequisite to use the high-frequency bands is no longer required," said
a statement from the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Labor (BMWA).
"These rules apply for foreign Amateur Radio licensees with comparable
privileges operating during visits in Germany." At least for now, the
upgraded Class 2 licensees will use their current call signs (prefixes
include DB, DC, DD and DG).

Switzerland was the first country to drop the Morse requirement, albeit on
a provisional basis while it makes the rule change permanent. The UK soon

Radio Amateurs of Canada is conducting a national on-line Morse survey
<> to record Canadian amateurs'
preferences on the current 5 WPM Morse requirement for HF access. The RAC
Board of Directors will consider the results of the survey in arriving at
a recommendation for Industry Canada, which will decide the matter in


Retired NBC News space correspondent, producer and executive Roy Neal,
K6DUE, died August 15 in High Point, North Carolina. He was 82. Neal
underwent major heart surgery August 12.

Recognized as a leading news expert in spaceflight and science, Neal--born
Roy N. Hinkel--covered all of the Mercury missions for NBC and later
reported the Gemini and Apollo missions and the early space shuttle
flights. His space news experience led him to become involved with the
Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX)--now the Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) program. ARISS, a joint project of
ARRL, AMSAT and NASA, put Amateur Radio aboard space shuttles and
developed the first permanent ham station in space aboard the ISS. Neal
chaired the SAREX/ARISS Working Group and moderated ARISS international
team gatherings and, quite often, school group contact teleconferences.
Earlier this year, he was inducted into the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame
for his role in persuading NASA officials to allow Amateur Radio operation
from space in the 1980s.

Neal also was a regular visitor and sometime presenter at Hamvention. He
hosted the 1987 ARRL video production, New World Of Amateur Radio, an
overview of ham radio in space.

A Pennsylvania native, Neal's broadcasting career began at WIBG radio in
Philadelphia. He served as a combat infantry officer during World War II
and later became a program manager for the Armed Forces Radio Network in
Europe. After the war, he was a television pioneer at WPTZ-TV in
Philadelphia. He subsequently set up NBC's West Coast news bureau.

An ARRL member and active amateur operator throughout his adult life, Neal
enjoyed DXing, HF and VHF. Survivors include his wife Pat and sons David
and Mark. Arrangements are pending.


An Alaska amateur has launched a beacon on 136 kHz under an FCC Part 5
experimental license, and he's already confirmed a reception report from
British Columbia and received an unconfirmed report--or "trace"--from the
UK. Laurence Howell, KL1X (ex-GM4DMA), reports his WD2XDW CW beacon from
Anchorage (BP41xd) is now on the air 24/7 at 137.77350 kHz--a slight
change from his initial frequency to avoid LORAN C spurs.

"A lot of experimenters are still reeling after the recent refusal by the
FCC to allow a 136-kHz allocation to the Amateur Service," Howell told
ARRL. "This Part 5 license approval is most welcomed by the experimental

In May, the FCC unexpectedly turned down ARRL's petition to grant 135.7 to
137.8 kHz to amateurs. In its denial, the FCC cited arguments put forth by
power companies that amateur operation in the vicinity of 136 kHz might
interfere with power line carrier (PLC) systems used to control the power

Howell says Steve McDonald, VE7SL--some 2100 kms away in British
Columbia--was able to copy a part of the WD2XDW call sign about 45 minutes
before dawn on August 15. The "capture" matched up with the beacon's

"Given the time of year and solar/geomagnetic conditions, this is a very
good sign," he said.

The WD2XDW beacon is being used for propagation experimentation within the
US and to check transpolar propagation to Europe on paths over the high
Arctic. It's transmitting very slow-speed CW--so-called "QRSS"
transmissions of one dit every six seconds--at up to 2 W ERP.

The beacon's antenna is a 32-meter (105 feet) wire vertical with a
capacity top hat, about 1 mH of base-loading inductance and a killer
ground system that covers several acres. Despite the extensive ground
system, Howell says, the antenna system remains pretty lossy at LF.

Howell notes that Alaska is in a period of essentially 24-hour daylight,
but he expects things to heat up on LF in late September or early October.
Experimenters use software such as Argo <http://www.weaksignals/.com/> to
"copy" the weak-signal LF transmissions.

Howell said he hopes his beacon will promote a better understanding of
complex propagation modes associated with what he termed "this fascinating
part of the spectrum."


Over the past six weeks, donations from ARRL members and friends have
built a war chest to assist in the League's fight against efforts to
implement Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology. ARRL Chief
Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, reports that the Spectrum Defense
Special Campaign so far has raised approximately $225,000 from more than
4200 donors.

"As Amateur Radio meets the most serious threat to our service in decades,
the generosity of ARRL members, clubs and advertisers is making a
tremendous difference, enabling ARRL staff and leadership to take all
needed steps in this campaign," said Hobart. "The ARRL's effort against
BPL would not be able to go forward in the coming months without the
generous, voluntary contributions of supporters."

Funded by the special campaign fund, the ARRL Laboratory staff continues
to prepare technical reports for official filings. Information and data
gathered to date include calculations of the interference levels that
radio amateurs can expect from BPL. These calculations were included in
the 120-page filing ARRL submitted to the FCC in July. Since then, actual
field measurements have been taken at four BPL trial sites in
Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York. The ARRL also documented the
interference in a dramatic video available via the ARRL Web site (see "BPL
is 'Spectrum Pollution,' ARRL President Says"
<http://www.arrl/.org/news/stories/2003/08/08/2/>). Additional video
documentation will accompany future filings to the FCC.

In addition, Spectrum Defense Fund contributions have borne the cost of
ensuring that test equipment meets National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) standards. The campaign against BPL also requires ARRL's
persistent and significant presence in Washington, DC, to contact key
legislators on Capitol Hill as well as staffers at the FCC and at other
government agencies to present Amateur Radio's case. Voluntary
contributions help cover the travel expenses of ARRL President Jim Haynie,
W5JBP, and others as needed, plus legal fees and the cost of professional

To find out more or to support the League's efforts in this area, visit
the ARRL's secure BPL Web site

The period to comment in direct response to the Broadband over Power Line
Notice of Inquiry (ET Docket 03-104) ended July 7. The FCC now is seeking
only "reply comments." A reply comment is a comment on or a rebuttal to
specific comments already filed by another party. Reply comments are due
by the recently extended deadline of Wednesday, August 20. The ARRL will
file reply comments in the BPL proceeding.

Interested parties may file reply comments using the FCC's Electronic
Comment Filing System (ECFS) <http://www.fcc/.gov/cgb/ecfs/>, which also
permits users to view all comments on file. To file a reply comment, click
on "Submit a Filing" under "ECFS Main Links." In the "Proceeding" field,
type "03-104" and complete the required fields. You may type your remarks
into a form or attach a file. ECFS also accepts comments and reply
comments in this and other proceedings via e-mail, per instructions on the
ECFS page.

To view documents already submitted in the BPL proceeding, click on
"Search for Filed Comments" under "ECFS Main Links" and type "03-104" in
the "Proceeding" field.


Sun watcher Tad "Good Day Sunshine" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: The average daily sunspot numbers for the week was about the same
this week as last, and daily solar flux was only slightly higher. Solar
flux is expected to peak over the next few days--such as it is in this
declining phase of the solar cycle. Expect solar flux values around 135
for Saturday, August 16. Solar flux is expected to gradually decline to
below 100 around August 24. Geomagnetic indicators should be unsettled to
active Friday, August 15, but should quiet down over the next week.
Predicted planetary A index for August 15-18 is 20, 15, 10 and 10.

Currently there is just one sunspot group facing Earth, and it seems to be
growing fast as it moves into optimum position for Earth-directed
radiation. This presents a wild card for conditions over the next couple
of days, since it could be the source of increasing solar wind.

Sunspot numbers for August 7 through 13 were 121, 111, 107, 112, 118, 114
and 112, with a mean of 113.6. The 10.7-cm flux was 137, 132.9, 130,
131.1, 129.2, 123.3 and 130.8, with a mean of 130.6. Estimated planetary A
indices were 15, 32, 15, 12, 11, 25 and 17, with a mean of 18.1.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the SARTG
World Wide 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 16-17. JUST AHEAD: The ALARA
Contest, the Hawaii QSO and Ohio QSO parties, the TOEC World Wide Grid
Contest (CW), the NRRL 75th Anniversary Contest and the CQC Summer QSO
Party are the weekend of August 23-24. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<http://www.arrl/.org/contests/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration for the
United Technologies Corporation grant-sponsored Level II ARRL Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002) remains open
through midnight Sunday, August 17, or until all seats are filled. Class
begins August 26. Registration opens Monday, August 18, 12:01 AM Eastern
Daylight Time (0401 UTC), for the Level III Emergency Communications
on-line course (EC-003). Registration remains open through the August
23-24 weekend or until all available seats have been filled--whichever
comes first. Class begins Tuesday, September 2. Thanks to the United
Technologies Corp grant, the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment
will be reimbursed after successful completion of the Level III course.
During this registration period, approximately 50 seats are being offered
to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information,
contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG,; 860-594-0340.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL VHF/UHF--Life Beyond the Repeater (EC-008)
<> and the High Frequency
Digital Communications (EC-005)
<> courses opens Monday, August
18, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC). Registration remains open through Sunday,
August 24. Classes begin Tuesday afternoon, August 26. Registration for
the ARRL Antenna Modeling (EC-004)
<> course remains open through
Sunday, August 17. 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#) and the month you want to start the
course. In the message body, provide your name, call sign, and e-mail
address. Please do not send inquiries to this mailbox. To learn more,
visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<http://www.arrl/.org/cce> and the C-CE links found there. For more
information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program
Coordinator Howard Robins, W1HSR,

* Corrections: The story Hams Still Active as Cooler Weather Helps Tame
Montana Wildfires, which appeared in The ARRL Letter, Vol 22, No 31 (Aug
8, 2003) contained an incorrect call sign for Flathead County ARES
Emergency Coordinator Don Ross, KJ7IZ. Also, Bart Pulverman, WB6WUW, was
the winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for July. We reported the
incorrect issue.

* Ohio ARES members assist following flooding: Amateur Radio Emergency
Service (ARES) members in Stark County, Ohio, were called to assist both
the county emergency operations center (EOC) and the American Red Cross as
flood waters devastated parts of Canton and Louisville, Ohio. The flooding
followed nearly four inches of rainfall in a three-hour period July 27.
"County safety officials knew they were in for serious trouble as the
Nimishillin Creek rose from a normal depth of two feet to over eight feet
in only two hours," said Stark County ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator
Terry Russ, N8ATZ. "The unexpected and fast-moving water made islands out
of homes, businesses and churches." Flooding also caused a chemical spill
at a local business. Stark County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed
Cox notified ARES EC David Beltz, WD8AYE, early July 28 after flood waters
forced the evacuation of more than 300 area residents. Ham radio supported
communication between the EMA office and the Canton Fire Department as
well as between Red Cross shelters and chapter headquarters. By mid-day
July 28, nearly 20 ARES members had established stations at the fire
department, both Red Cross evacuation centers, the county EMA office and
Red Cross chapter headquarters. "Daylight saw the full devastation the
flood waters had caused in the community, and ARES members dug in for what
was to be a long week of communications efforts," Russ said. With several
local clubs pitching in, operations switched to supporting Red Cross
relief efforts by staffing shelters and the mobile feeding wagons that
moved into the hardest-hit areas. The ARES operation continued for 10
days, Russ said.

* ISS commander takes a bride by proxy: In a space travel first,
International Space Station Expedition 7 commander Yuri Malenchenko,
RK3DUP, took a bride right on schedule August 10. The twist, of course,
was that Malenchenko was circling the globe some 240 miles in space, while
his betrothed, Ekaterina Dmitriev, stood on Earth next to a cardboard
cutout of her husband. The bride and groom blew kisses via videophone
during the private ceremony for family and friends at Johnson Space
Center. Under Texas law, a proxy can stand in for one or both of the
parties in a wedding. Associated Press reported that the life-sized cutout
of the groom greeted guests at the wedding reception, which was held at a
restaurant decorated with silver stars and mannequins dressed as
astronauts. The couple plans a more traditional church wedding after
Malenchenko returns to Earth in late October. The couple reportedly plans
a honeymoon in Hawaii. AP says Malenchenko wore a bow tie with his blue
space garb for the ceremony. Dmitriev, who just turned 27, is a US citizen
and lives in Houston. She and Malenchenko--a Russian Air Force
colonel--have been dating for about a year. Malenchenko is 41. Fort Bend,
Texas, County Clerk Dianne Wilson issued the marriage license July 17.
Malenchenko arranged to have a wedding ring flown up aboard a Progress
cargo vehicle that arrived at the ISS in June. ISS NASA Science Officer Ed
Lu, KC5WKJ, served as best man during the Sunday ceremony and played the
wedding march on his electronic keyboard. NASA so far has remained mum on
the marriage. At one point, Russian space officials tried to get
Malenchenko to call off the nuptials until he returned to Earth, but,
apparently, love ultimately won them over.

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;
<http://www.arrl/.org>. 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 <http://www.arrl/.org> for
the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
<http://www.arrl/.org/> offers access to news, informative features and
columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl/.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a
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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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==>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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