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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 38
September 26, 2003


* +ARRL rebukes Commissioner's "Broadband Nirvana" comments
* +Ham radio enforcement "the Riley way" marks fifth anniversary
* +ARISS chalks up its 115th school group contact
* +Kind words for Amateur Radio hurricane assistance
* +Morse petitions' comment deadline is September 29
* +Digital Communications Conference 2003 gives a glimpse of the future
* +Rohn files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     Reputed "oldest ham in the US" turns 103
     New ARRL Section Manager named in Idaho
     Shooting for the moon yields first-ever US-Czech Republic EME QSO on
     EarthLink delay to ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service addressees
     ARRL Foundation Scholarships available for application starting
October 1

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The ARRL has strongly objected to FCC Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy's
suggestion that Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology will contribute
to what she described as "broadband Nirvana." Addressing the United
Powerline Council's annual conference September 22 in Arlington, Virginia,
Abernathy expressed unabashed enthusiasm for BPL and recommended a
combination of regulatory restraint and the elimination or substantial
modification of existing rules as steps along the "path to Enlightenment,"
as she put it. In a terse response faxed September 25 on behalf of the
League's 155,000 members, ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ,
asserted that Abernathy overlooked some significant issues in her Nirvana

"Nightmare is more like it," Sumner declared. "The technical showings
submitted by the ARRL and others in response to the Commission's Notice of
Inquiry (NOI) in ET Docket No. 03-104 clearly establish that BPL is a
significant source of radio spectrum pollution. It cannot be implemented
without causing harmful interference to over-the-air radio services."

Sumner told Abernathy that while BPL industry groups, such as the one she
addressed this week, prefer to deny the evidence, the FCC is obliged to
work to a higher standard.

In its comments in response to the FCC NOI, the League characterized BPL
as "a Pandora's Box of unprecedented proportions" and said the
Commission's Part 15 rules "should be modified so as to prevent
interference to users of the HF and low VHF spectrum" from the outset.

Abernathy's speech, "Reaching Broadband Nirvana," never broached the topic
of BPL's potential to interfere with other radio services. Recently, the
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
<>--which regulates spectrum allocated to federal
government users--expressed "broad concerns" about interference to
government users and launched an extensive modeling, analysis and
measurement program for BPL. In his letter, Sumner reminded Abernathy that
the radio spectrum is a precious natural resource.

"To squander that resource simply to add a redundant, unnecessary, and
relatively poorly performing 'last mile' connection for consumers, is
unconscionable," he said. Sumner expressed the hope that Abernathy will
give the League an early opportunity to explain its BPL concerns to her in

In her remarks to the UPLC gathering, Abernathy contended that it's been
regulatory restraint rather than heavy-handed regulation that has allowed
nascent platforms such as direct broadcast satellite (DBS) to become
competitively viable. "When the Commission completes this rulemaking," she
said, "I expect that we will eliminate many existing rules and
substantially modify others; the central question is the degree of
regulation that will remain during the transition to a more robustly
competitive market."

Individuals may e-mail Abernathy via her FCC Web site
<> or directly
<>;. The text of her prepared remarks also is available on
the FCC Web site

The League's initial 120-page package of comments and technical exhibits
<> and its reply comments
l> are available on the ARRL Web site. Additional information and BPL
video clips are on the ARRL "Power Line Communications (PLC) and Amateur
Radio" page <>.

To support the League's efforts in this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL
Web site <>.

To date, more than 4600 comments--many from the Amateur Radio
community--have been filed in response to the FCC's BPL NOI. They are
available for viewing via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System
(ECFS) <>.


Close to 1000 Amateur Radio enforcement cases have crossed his desk since
Riley Hollingsworth was tapped five years ago to resurrect the FCC's
Amateur Radio enforcement efforts. That doesn't include countless ham
radio "situations" he's resolved through informal counseling on the
telephone or through an exchange of e-mails. At the time he took the job
in the fall of 1998, Hollingsworth--whose official title is Special
Counsel for Enforcement--called it "a new day for Amateur Radio" after
years of amateur enforcement neglect on the Commission's part. As he sees
things today, rules compliance and on-air behavior have improved since the
new sheriff rode into town, but there's still lots to do.

"I'm fairly satisfied with the progress that we've made in five years,"
Hollingsworth said in modest acknowledgment of the milestone, "but I think
we need at least five more years of this type--of this level--of
enforcement, because the bands have quite a long way to go. It's no time
to rest."

Five years ago, Hollingsworth began with a "top-10" list of alleged
high-profile Amateur Radio offenders. By and large, he's slowly--and most
would say successfully--worked his way to the point that many of today's
cases appear comparatively mundane. But they get the same level of

"The biggest problem we have now, I think, stems from conduct-type
problems--lack of courtesy, taking serious offense and reacting to what is
perceived as deliberate interference," Hollingsworth said this week.
"Ninety percent of the interference that's reported to me is not
deliberate." As he regards all enforcement cases, the remaining 10 percent
are "serious."

"I think a lot of the 'radio rage' has subsided, but I wish that people
would be a little more aware of just how valuable Amateur Radio is and how
they sound on the air," said Hollingsworth. That's a message he's repeated
often on the hamfest circuit.

"Maintenance mode" is a goal he'd like to see enforcement achieve.
Hollingsworth explained that's when the number of enforcement cases is
perceived to be in balance with the number of licensees. "I don't think
we're there yet in the Amateur Service, but I think that we can get
there," he said. Hollingsworth credits the amateur community's desire for
strong, even stern, enforcement for his program's success.

"Probably 99 percent of the reason it's worked is everybody wants it," he
said. "In this service they plead for enforcement. In every other service,
they don't want to see you coming." This attitude, he believes, stems from
a sincere desire by licensees to keep Amateur Radio a self-policing
service. He counts keeping the support of the amateur community among his
major accomplishments.

Looking out on the Amateur Radio enforcement horizon, Hollingsworth said
he'll "keep pedaling" and chipping away at the enforcement workload. He'll
also continue to look to the assistance and cooperation of his fellow
radio amateurs, whom he called "just good people."

Amateurs "have got to stick together and cooperate and stay away from the
infighting because they've got some very serious external threats,"
Hollingsworth said, citing BPL as just one example. "To the extent that
they're not rowing together, it makes those threats more dangerous."

In his many public appearances--including several at
Hamvention--Hollingsworth has stayed "on message" over the five years of
his amateur enforcement tenure. "I just want everyone to realize what they
have," he said. "We have incredible frequencies, power, modes, and so
forth." He said a realization of the value of Amateur Radio itself is a
deterrent to potential rule breakers, but he said Amateur Radio
enforcement is "permanently ensconced" at the FCC.

While he's had some very interesting assignments and enjoyed nearly every
day of his tenure with the FCC, he says the past five years have been the
highlight of his 30-year FCC career.

"My greatest satisfaction is thinking that I may have paid back a debt,"
said Hollingsworth, who's been licensed since age 13. "It's the most
rewarding thing I've ever done with the Commission."


Students from second grade through high school at Punahou School in
Honolulu, Hawaii, quizzed NASA International Space Station Science Officer
Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, on September 15 about how he's faring aboard the ISS. The
early morning contact between NA1SS on the ISS and WH6PN in Honolulu
marked the 115th Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
school group contact. Lu told the students that living in space makes him
appreciate life on Earth.

"One of the things about living in space is it makes you appreciate the
things you have on the ground," Lu said, "a lot of little things that you
never think about--for instance, we don't take showers up here." The other
side of the coin, though is being able to see how beautiful Earth looks
from space, Lu added. In response to a later question, Lu noted that
living in space is not as isolating as it once was, since the crew now has
access to e-mail and telephone.

Lu and Expedition 7 crew commander Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, will return
to Earth in October after having been aboard the ISS since April.
Malenchenko and Lu became the first primary ISS crew to travel to the ISS
via a Russian Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft instead of arriving on a US space
shuttle. With NASA's shuttle fleet still grounded, the crew will return on
a Soyuz vehicle as well. Astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC,
<> and cosmonaut Alexander
Kaleri, U8MIR <>--both
veterans of the Russian Mir space station--have been named as the ISS
Expedition 8 crew.

In responding to another question, Lu pointed out that ISS crews are
quarantined for about a week before launch, in part to make sure they are
not sick or coming down with something. But the quarantine period also
provides some needed quiet time, "to keep you away from all of the
hullabaloo that surrounds the launch," he said. "At that point you just
need to study and prepare and think about your mission and get ready."
Without the quarantine period, he said, "you wouldn't have any time to

"Aloha to everybody down there!" Lu said in wrapping up the contact. He
said he hoped to visit Hawaii and possibly the school within the next

Punahou School science center co-director Gail Peiterson said the
questions asked were a representative sample chosen through a student

Handling Earth station duties for the contact was Nancy Rocheleau, WH6PN,
who operated from the Sacred Heart Academy station. ARISS School Contact
Coordinator Tim Bosma, W6ISS, moderated the contact. Two-way audio for the
QSO was provided by an MCI-WorldCom teleconferencing link.

ARISS <> is an international project with support
from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.


Amateur Radio assistance in the Hurricane Isabel relief and recovery stage
has continued this week in the Southeast. Ham radio's role has drawn
compliments from the American Red Cross of Central Maryland, which praised
the amateurs' dedication.

"I want to thank the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the
amateur radio community for coming out and supporting the American Red
Cross over the critical 72 hours when Hurricane Isabel passed over
Maryland," said Frank M. Eilbacher, KC0EKL, a Red Cross disaster
communications lead. "We recognize you took time away from your families
and, for some of you, your own personal disasters to support us."

During the storm's peak on September 18, Eilbacher said, electrical power
and telecommunication problems abounded, but ham radio operators "filled
the gap providing a crucial communication link between Red Cross chapters
and shelter locations." Amateurs in the storm-struck region staffed state
and county emergency operating centers and shelters, as well as the
Maryland/Delaware American Red Cross Hurricane Watch Center.

The Salvation Army also has responded to affected areas including North
Carolina, where Hurricane Isabel came ashore September 18. Salvation Army
Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) volunteer Carlos Varon, K2LCV, from
Flushing, New York, this week accompanied two Salvation Army canteen units
from New York City to Morehead City, encountering heavy rain and wind on
the way.

Varon, who took along his "orange box" portable ham station, reports the
Salvation Army has been operating up to a half dozen field canteens.
Carteret County Emergency Coordinator Rich Wright, KR4NU, and his ARES
team have been supporting the SATERN operation. Operators were deployed
this week to provide communication between the canteens and the local
command post. Plans call for expanding the operation to shadows some
Salvation Army officers. Varon has been working out of a Salvation Army
warehouse facility, expediting the deployment of necessities bound for
storm victims.

The Salvation Army is providing relief to affected residents and emergency
response workers in North Carolina, Washington, DC, and Baltimore,
Maryland, as well as in smaller communities.

Earlier this week, ARRL North Carolina Section Manager John Covington,
W4CC, reported that some ARES teams were providing communication support
for localities--most in the hard-hit northeastern portion of the
state--that still lacked power and telephone service. Covington said hams
established point-to-point communication between shelters and emergency
operations centers in affected counties. In one community, hams helped a
fire dispatch center that lost its antennas in the storm.

In keeping with the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared," Venturing Crew 80 of
Alexandria--in Northern Virginia just outside Washington, DC--responded to
requests for assistance from the Alexandria EOC and Fairfax ARES as
Hurricane Isabel approached. The crew specializes in emergency
communication and first aid and counts several ARES members among its
membership and leadership. Some of the scouts remained on duty for several

Venture Crew members helped support communication at the Alexandria and
Fairfax EOCs, at the Alexandria American Red Cross chapter house and at
Red Cross shelters in both communities. While distributing bulk bottled
water to homes lacking running water, crew volunteers got to meet Virginia
Gov Mark Warner, who was visiting a shelter to thank volunteers.

Members of the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club and the Alexandria Radio
Club also provided communications support to Alexandria and Fairfax
operations. Repeaters operated by both clubs were used during the
emergency response.

"Things are still messy down here, and some of us are still recovering,"
said Bill Stewart, W2BSA, a Venture Crew 80 chartered organization
representative and committee member. "Most of Northern Virginia has power.
The biggest problem we have had is flooding."

Power has begun returning to the half-million or so residents who still
had none at the new week began. ARRL Virginia Section Emergency
Coordinator Tom Gregory, N4NW, reports commercial power finally returned
to his home September 24. He'd spent 141 hours running his home from an
emergency back-up generator. Gregory, who lives in Stafford County, lost
power September 18. This week he strongly advised amateurs involved in
public service communication to have a supply of emergency power available
for such situations, so they can remain on the air.


The period for public comments on seven separate Morse code-related
petitions for rule making--some of which would altogether eliminate
Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse test, from the Amateur Service rules (Part
97)--ends Monday, September 29. US amateurs may comment on the
petitions--RM-10781 through RM-10787--using the FCC Electronic Comment
Filing System (ECFS) <>.

As of week's end, the seven petitions had attracted more than 1800
comments from the amateur community. The FCC has yet to invite comments on
two other Morse-related rule making petitions. The petitions, both filed
in August, have not yet been put on public notice by the FCC.

Ireland (EI) and Singapore (9V) have become the latest countries to remove
the requirement for Amateur Radio applicants to pass a Morse code
examination for HF access. Ireland's Commission for Communications
Regulation (ComReg) announced September 15 that it took the action in line
with the outcome of World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03),
which removed the requirement for prospective amateur licensees to prove
Morse proficiency to operate below 30 MHz. All Class B licensees now have
"Full License" privileges and may operate on HF.

Singapore's iDA informed the Singapore Amateur Radio Transmitting Society
earlier this month that it would no longer require a Morse test for
General class applicants, although the test reportedly will continue to be
available to those wishing to take it. Restricted licensees will be given
an option of upgrading to General class.

In addition, Switzerland, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Norway, the
Netherlands, Austria, New Zealand and Australia have moved to drop their
Morse requirements or are expected to do so this year.


Despite Southern New England's brush with Hurricane Isabel a day earlier,
more than 100 Amateur Radio digital enthusiasts showed up in Windsor,
Connecticut, September 19-21 for the 2003 TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications
Conference (DCC). Friday and Saturday forums covered a wide range of
topics--from APRS to software-defined radio (SDR). The Sunday seminar by
Matt Ettus, N2MJI, focused on SDR. This year's conference also included a
number of beginner-oriented sessions on PSK31, APRS, WSJT and EchoLink.

ARRL Web and Software Development Department Manager Jon Bloom, KE3Z, came
away especially impressed by the SDR developments he observed at the
conference. "There's something happening here that will affect ham radio
in the not-so-distant future," he said

Alex Mendelsohn, AI2Q, was the Saturday evening banquet speaker. He
discussed the occasionally forgotten fact that Amateur Radio is still a
source of inspiration for engineers and technicians throughout the
communications industry. Many key individuals in industry today trace
their technical and engineering roots to early involvement in Amateur
Radio, he pointed out.

At the banquet, ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI,
presented the 2002 ARRL Technical Innovation Award to Jonathan Taylor,
K1RFD, who created the popular EchoLink Amateur Radio/Voice Over Internet
Protocol network.

This year's Digital Communications Conference was represented on the air
by the W1AW/1 HF-digital special event station. Despite poor band
conditions, the W1AW/1 operators still managed more than 100 contacts on
several digital modes.

Copies of the DCC 2003 conference Proceedings remain available from the
ARRL <>.


Rohn Industries <> filed a voluntary petition for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy September 16 in the US Bankruptcy Court for the
Southern District of Indiana. The best-known manufacturer of tower and
tower hardware for the Amateur Radio community, the Peoria, Illinois-based
company manufactures towers, antenna support structures and
"infrastructure equipment" for the telecommunications industry. In
business since 1948, the firm also makes security fencing and provides
design and construction services.

"Our immediate goal is to stabilize the company's financial situation and
utilize the Chapter 11 process to enable the company to conduct normal
business operations as the company works to complete a sale transaction,"
Rohn Industries President Horace Ward said in announcing the company's
bankruptcy filing. Rohn says it's now in discussions with an unrelated
third party regarding a proposed asset sale while it continues to conduct
business as usual. Ward told ARRL there is "no truth" to a rumor
circulating on some Internet newsgroups that disgruntled workers had
damaged manufacturing equipment beyond repair in reprisal for
consolidating fabrication facilities last January into a single plant in
Frankfort, Indiana.

The impact of Rohn's troubles on the Amateur Radio community is not clear,
but at least one major antenna products supplier reported earlier this
summer that it was having problems getting Rohn products, although it
continues to offer them. Ward told ARRL this week that Rohn intends "to
execute the orders we have and to continue to take orders in the normal
course of business."

In the company's statement, Ward attributed the bankruptcy filing to a
severe downturn in the telecommunications industry. In July, NASDAQ
delisted Rohn Industries after it was unable to meet its minimum bid price
requirement. The company remains eligible for listing on the Over the
Counter (OTC) Bulletin Board (OTC-BB: ROHN). During the past 52 weeks, the
company's stock has sold for as little as a penny a share.

At the same time it filed for Chapter 11 protection, Rohn has announced
it's entered into a $9.5 million debtor-in-possession credit line with its
lenders. The bankruptcy court must approve that agreement.


Solar Sage Tad "SPF-15" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: At last
the sun is showing one large sunspot. Sunspot 464 is expanding rapidly and
now is part of an extended dark area about 13 Earth diameters wide. A
helioseismic holography image shows a large sunspot currently on the side
of the sun that faces away from Earth.

The emergence of this spot has raised the sunspot count, and solar flux is
some 20 points higher than predicted a week ago. Solar flux for the past
few days has edged above 130, and the prediction for Friday through
Monday, September 26-29, is for flux values of 135, 130, 130 and 125.

On September 23, wee transitioned from summer to fall in the Northern
Hemisphere and from winter to spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Around
the equinox is a great time for worldwide DX, because all parts of Earth
are bathed approximately equally by the sun's energy.

Sunspot numbers for September 18 through 24 were 92, 71, 72, 64, 91, 133
and 121, with a mean of 92. The 10.7-cm flux was 109.2, 111.1, 111.9,
119.9, 122.6, 124.9 and 133.5, with a mean of 119. Estimated planetary A
indices were 40, 32, 25, 21, 18, 17 and 33, with a mean of 26.6.



* This weekend on the radio: The CQ/RJ Worldwide DX Contest (RTTY), the
Scandinavian Activity Contest (SSB) and the Texas and Alabama QSO parties
are the weekend of September 27-28. JUST AHEAD: The California QSO Party,
the SARL 80-Meter QSO Party, the TARA PSK31 Rumble, the Oceania DX Contest
(SSB), the EU Autumn Sprint (SSB), the QCWA QSO Party and the RSGB 21/28
MHz Contest (SSB) are the weekend of October 4-5. See the ARRL Contest
Branch page <> and the WA7BNM Contest
Calendar <> for more info.

* Reputed "oldest ham in the US" turns 103: The man believed to be the
oldest Amateur Radio operator in the US--Byrl "Tex" Burdick, W5BQU, of El
Paso--turned 103 on September 25. First licensed in the fall of 1930,
Burdick is on the air every day--most recently on 15 meters (look for him
on or about 21.314 MHz), and he enjoys ragchewing. On behalf of the
League, ARRL President fellow Texan and Jim Haynie, W5JBP, this week wrote
Burdick to extend congratulations and best wishes. Burdick is an ARRL
member and a routine QSLer. Happy Birthday, Tex!

* New ARRL Section Manager named in Idaho: Idaho has a new ARRL Section
Manager, effective September 23. ARRL Field and Educational Services
Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, has appointed Doug Rich, W7DVR, of Boise to
take over from John Cline, K7BDS, who has stepped down. An Amateur Extra
class licensee, Rich will complete Cline's term, which runs through next
September. Cline submitted his resignation with regret this week because
he's changing jobs within the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services (hence his
"BDS" suffix) and pursuing a master's degree. Cline called Rich "highly
respected with the ham radio community in southern Idaho." Rich is the
Chief Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) Communications Officer
for the State of Idaho, Bureau of Disaster Services, and has served two
terms as president of the Voice of Idaho Amateur Radio Club. Idaho ARRL
members may contact Rich via e-mail

* Shooting for the moon yields first-ever US-Czech Republic EME QSO on
24-GHz: Amateur Radio moonbounce (Earth-Moon-Earth, or EME) and microwave
history was made September 24 at 1400 UTC when Josef Sveceny, OK1UWA, and
Al Ward, W5LUA, completed the first-ever 24-GHz EME QSO between the Czech
Republic and the US. "This was Josef's first 24-GHz EME QSO, and he was my
third initial on 24 GHz," said Ward. He noted the successful effort marked
the second scheduled attempt during September. OK1UWA has a 3-meter Prime
Focus dish with 35 W at the feed, vertically polarized. W5LUA's station is
a 3-meter Prime Focus dish with 70 W at the feed, horizontally polarized
to account for the spatial offset between NA and Europe. Previous
international 24 GHz EME QSOs have take place between the US and Canada,
the US and Russia and Canada and Russia.

* EarthLink delay to ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service addressees continues:
Despite several discussions with EarthLink, the Internet Service Provider
continues to delay messages sent via the ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service
<> ( to e-mail addresses. As a result of EarthLink's actions, ARRL
cannot guarantee timely delivery of messages forwarded via the ARRL E-Mail
Forwarding Service to its members' EarthLink e-mail addresses. EarthLink
contends that the domain is a spam source based on its internal
standards and analysis. While EarthLink appreciates the concept of a
simple e-mail forwarding system like and concedes that the spam
is not originating from the ARRL E-Mail Forwarding System, it maintains
its position that blocking all messages--including valid e-mail--from this
domain is an effective tactic in its efforts to fight spam. EarthLink has
told ARRL that it will continue to delay messages until the amount of spam
being sent through this system is reduced to a level EarthLink deems
acceptable. ARRL advises affected members to consider changing the ISP to
which their ARRL E-Mail Forwarding System e-mail is forwarded. ARRL
members logged onto the ARRL Web site can make necessary changes through
their Member Data page <>
(click on "Modify membership data"). Note that it may take up to 24 hours
for changes in your e-mail address to take effect. Affected members also
may consider contacting EarthLink <
<>; on their own. ARRL apologizes for any
inconvenience and continues efforts to resolve this situation.

* ARRL Foundation Scholarships available for application starting October
1: The window opens October 1 to apply for ARRL Foundation scholarships
for the 2004-2005 academic year. The full listing of available
scholarships is available on the ARRL Foundation Scholarship Programs Web
page <>. Use one application to
apply for the main pool of scholarships. Applicants must fill out a
separate application to apply for The William R. Goldfarb Memorial
Scholarship <>. The application,
transcript, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Student
Aid Report (SAR) package must be received at ARRL Headquarters by February
1, 2004.

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
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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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