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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 42
October 24, 2003


* +ARRL puts Virginia city on notice regarding BPL rollout
* +Hara Arena will be home to Hamvention 2004
* +Two-ham Expedition 8 crew takes over ISS
* +AMSAT says OSCAR Echo set to launch next March
* +Texas antenna decision shows PRB-1 has teeth
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +Back on the water again
    +Alfred M. Gowan, W0LX, SK
     FCC cites Texas companies for alleged CB-related violations
     Ham radio operators get TV time in South Dakota

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The ARRL this week put officials in Manassas, Virginia, on notice that the
League will act on behalf of its members to ensure full compliance with
FCC regulations when the city's Broadband over Power Line (BPL) system
starts up in a few months. The League was responding to media reports that
Manassas--a Washington, DC, suburb--has approved plans for a citywide BPL
rollout. Manassas City Council reportedly voted unanimously October 16 to
grant a 10-year franchise to Prospect Street Broadband to expand a BPL
field trial and offer high-speed Internet service to the entire community
over municipal power lines. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, on October 22
faxed Manassas Mayor Marvin L. Gillum to point out BPL's dark side--the
potential for RF interference from and to any BPL system.

"Your advisors no doubt have made the Council fully aware of the great
potential for radio interference from such a system," Sumner said. "In
particular, you are no doubt well aware that Title 47 CFR §15.5 requires
that no harmful interference is caused to any radiocommunication service,
and that the operator shall be required to cease operation upon
notification by a Federal Communications Commission representative that
the device is causing harmful interference." Sumner noted that the same
FCC Part 15 rule also provides no protection against interference from the
operation of an authorized radio station.

"Tests conducted by ARRL technical personnel have shown that the system
planned to be deployed in Manassas causes harmful interference to the
Amateur Radio service," Sumner said. "We also have reason to believe that
the system will be susceptible to interference from normal amateur station

An article in Potomac touted the impending Manassas BPL rollout
as the first of its type in the US. Sumner said he was writing to alert
the City of Manassas "on behalf of its members who live in and use the
public thoroughfares of Manassas" that the ARRL "will ensure that there is
full compliance with the FCC regulations" once the city's BPL system is in

Prospect Street Broadband reportedly will offer the BPL service for $29.95
a month. One estimate predicts the city stands to gain up to $4.5 million
over the 10-year life of the contract, due to be signed this week.

The Manassas BPL field trial is one of the smallest now under way and
involves fewer than a dozen homes and businesses. It was installed in an
area that has underground utility wiring and no Amateur Radio licensees

BPL articles in major media have proliferated in recent weeks, many of
them painting the service in rosy hues and neglecting to point out the
potential for radio interference to and from BPL by other HF spectrum
occupants. An October 13 article in The Wall Street Journal, "A New
Outlet," by Walin Wong, quotes one trial user who calls the service
"fantastic." But Wong also notes that one "Achilles' heel" of BPL is that
serving rural areas would require installing costly repeaters every mile
or so along the power line. The article also deals with the reluctance on
the part of some electric utilities to embrace the technology.

Sumner also reacted to the WSJ article. In a letter to the editor not yet
published, he pointed out that BPL "amounts to sending a wideband radio
signal over unshielded wires that were not designed for the purpose" and
that do not work well for the 2 to 80 MHz signals common in BPL systems.
Instead, "they function as antennas," he said, and that can lead to
interference to radio services, including some involved with public

Sumner said potential broadband technology and delivery investors would be
far better off considering fiber in densely populated areas and
adaptations of wireless LAN technology in rural areas.

Additional information on BPL and video clips from field trial sites are
on the ARRL "Power Line Communications (PLC) and Amateur Radio" page
<>. To support the League's efforts
in the BPL fight, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web site


Hamvention <> will be at Hara Arena near Dayton,
Ohio, at least for another year. General Chairman Gary Des Combes, N8EMO,
announced the one-show contract this week. The last Hamvention contract
with Hara Arena was for five years. Des Combes also expressed confidence
that behind-the-scenes management changes he's instituted since taking
over July 1 will translate into success for "the world's largest Amateur
Radio gathering and trade show."

"Overall, I think things are going very well," Des Combes said of progress
toward pulling together Hamvention's 53rd show, which will take place May
14-16. "I'm confident we're going to be successful." The always popular
annual gathering attracted slightly more than 22,100 visitors in 2003.
That figure was down by more than 10 percent from the 2002 crowd, and it
marked the third year in a row of declining Hamvention attendance.

Des Combes is banking that the management team and "best business
practices" approach he's put into place for next spring's show will turn
things around. One significant change is a shift away from jobbing out
Hamvention's production to paid professionals and returning to the strong
reliance on volunteers that was a hallmark of past Hamventions.

"Some of the volunteers, quite frankly, felt they were not welcome," said
Des Combes, who believes that moving away from an all-volunteer Hamvention
was a mistake and created some unease within the organization. Under his
regime, some volunteer staffers from the past now have returned to the
fold, Des Combes said. Most of the volunteers for the 2004 show are from
the sponsoring Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA)

The new order at Hamvention means that Garry Matthews, KB8GOL, is out as
the show's paid production manager (See "How Hamvention Happens"
<>, by Rick
Lindquist, N1RL, QST, Apr 2000). Matthews had served as the backstage
impresario for more than three decades of Hamventions. Des Combes said he
intends to spread out Matthews' former duties among several volunteers,
saving money in the process. He's also establishing--and in some cases
re-establishing--a set of committees responsible for various aspects of
Hamvention. The Hamvention assistant chairman is Jim Nies, WX8F.

"We have to just work smarter and tougher," he said, adding that the
management change will be invisible to those attending. "I don't think
John Q. Ham will see anything much different."

While the show is still in the planning stages, Des Combes said one
possible change would be to have the award winners' recognition ceremony
during Hamvention itself. The recognition event has replaced the
traditional Saturday evening banquet, done away with this year because of
slack attendance.

A project management professional, Des Combes says he anticipates the
all-volunteer approach will make it possible for Hamvention to more
economically mount a show that's of the same quality or better than those
of past years.

"I can tell you I am leading sweeping changes in how we operate
Hamvention," he said. All of them, he says, will better serve the vendors,
DARA and the amateurs who attend Hamvention. "I think it's going to be
good for everybody."

Ticket prices for the 2004 Hamvention will remain at the prices
established prior to Des Combes' taking over the reins. Advance tickets
for all three days are $20 ($23 park-n-ride bus transportation). Tickets
at the gate will cost $25. All under 12 years of age are admitted free.
Des Combes says arrangements are under way to enable on-line ticket

There's more information on the Hamvention Web site


The new two-ham crew of Expedition 8 Commander and NASA ISS Science
Officer Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Russian Cosmonaut and ISS Flight Engineer
Alexander "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, officially took over the reins of the
International Space Station this week. A formal change-of-command ceremony
took place Friday, October 24.

The contingent of space travelers aboard the ISS expanded to five this
week with the arrival of the Expedition 8 crew and European Space Agency
(ESA) astronaut Pedro Duque, KC5RGG, who accompanied them into space.
Duque, who spent the week aboard the ISS, conducted two Amateur Radio on
the International Space Station (ARISS) <>
contacts with school groups in his native Spain using the special call
sign ED4ISS. He'll return to Earth October 27 with Expedition 7 Commander
Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ,
aboard the Soyuz transporter that's been docked with the ISS. Malenchenko
and Lu have been aboard the ISS since April.

The Expedition 8 crew, which left Earth from Russia October 18, will spend
the next six months on the ISS. The two teams have been conducting crew
hand-over activities during their eight days of joint operations. Duque,
who flew under a commercial agreement between the Russian space agency
Rosaviakosmos and the ESA, also conducted a series of scientific studies
during his ISS stay. This mission mark Duque's second space flight.

The Expedition 7 crew chalked up several human spaceflight milestones.
During its tour, the crew marked the 1000th day of ISS habitation on July
29, Lu's 40th birthday on July 1, and Malenchenko's marriage by proxy on
August 10 to Ekaterina Dmitriev, a native of Ukraine who now lives in
Texas. Upon his return, the couple reportedly plans a church wedding in

Expedition 8 Commander Foale, 46, is a veteran of five space flights and
has spent a total of nearly 180 days in space--including more than four
months on the Russian Mir space station in 1997. During his Mir stay,
Foale found ham radio a valuable supplement to conventional Russian and
NASA communication systems after the station was damaged in a collision
with an unmanned Progress cargo rocket. Kaleri, 47, flew on three Mir
missions and has logged 416 days in space.--information provided by NASA
was used in this report


AMSAT-North America <> has announced that launch of
the AMSAT OSCAR-E Amateur Radio microsat--the "Echo Project"--has been
moved up to March 31, 2004. Earlier plans had called for a May 2004
launch. Echo Project Team member Richard Hambly, W2GPS, reported at
AMSAT-NA's Annual Meeting and Space Symposium October 18-19 in Toronto,
Canada, that the Echo project has made significant progress in recent

"The Project Team met with our contractor, SpaceQuest
<>, and at this meeting we decided that
spacecraft integration would take place this December and scheduled the
launch for March," Hambly told the gathering. Integration will take place
at the AMSAT Integration Lab at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in

A Russian Dnepr LV rocket--a converted SS-18 intercontinental ballistic
missile--will carry the approximately 10-inch-square satellite into a
low-Earth orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hambly reported that the project team powered up the Echo flight hardware
in late summer in a "flat-sat" configuration at SpaceQuest. Data
communications, command and control, and attitude control subsystems were
tested, in addition to the radio equipment, power systems and cabling.

The satellite will incorporate two UHF transmitters, each running from 1
to 8 W and capable of simultaneous operation, four VHF receivers and a
multiband, multimode receiver capable of operation on the 10 meter, 2
meter, 70 cm and 23 cm bands. Echo will feature V/U, L/S and HF/U
operational configurations, with V/S, L/U and HF/S also possible. FM voice
and various digital modes--including PSK31 on a 10-meter SSB uplink--also
will be available.

During the Symposium, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
(ARISS) Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, outlined the delivery of the
so-called Phase 2 ham equipment to the ISS. A Progress rocket already has
delivered a Kenwood TM-D700E VHF/UHF transceiver to the ISS. The unit will
mean a significant boost to the power output of the ARISS initial station
gear--from 5 W to 25 W.

Bauer said a Yaesu FT-100D and SSTV equipment, along with some new
headsets, tentatively are set for transport to the ISS in January on
another Progress flight. Additional ARISS gear will not go up until the
space shuttle returns to flight in September 2004, however. Bauer said the
equipment still on the ground will be tested in November in Moscow to
validate that the Phase 1 and 2 systems are compatible. RF testing will
also be conducted.

According to Bauer, plans call for the Expedition 8 crew of Mike Foale,
KB5UAC, and Alex Kaleri, U8MIR, to install the Phase 1 and 2 70-cm
hardware after ground tests are complete. Previous crews already installed
four Amateur Radio antennas to cover HF, 2 meters, 70 cm and microwave

In addressing the general membership meeting, AMSAT-NA President Robin
Haighton, VE3FRH, asked the Board of Directors to continue its support of
ARISS and that it go ahead with the OSCAR-Eagle project.


A Texas amateur antenna case has affirmed again that the limited federal
preemption known as PRB-1
<> has teeth
when it comes to compelling municipalities to reasonably accommodate
Amateur Radio communication. It took some time, persistence and
considerable aggravation, but in the end the US District Court for the
Southern District of Texas--Houston Division ruled in favor of Orin Snook,
KB5F, of Missouri City. The court determined in late August that Snook
could keep his 114-foot antenna structure.

In a 63-page Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
<> that Snook has posted on his Web
site, US District Judge David Hittner said the city "failed to meet the
FCC's requirement of reasonably accommodating Snook's amateur
communication needs in accordance with PRB-1." Missouri City had attempted
to limit Snook's tower to 65 feet, limit the size of his antenna array and
required removal of the 100-foot structure for which it already had
granted him a building permit. Snook, who is ARRL Fort Bend County
Emergency Coordinator and an Official Emergency Station, argued that he
needed the higher structure to permit him to operate VHF and UHF
effectively in an emergency.

The court declared the city's height restrictions, antenna array
restrictions and structure removal requirement "preempted, void and
unenforceable." Hittner ordered the city to grant Snook a specific use
permit allowing his tower and antennas to remain, although Snook must
maintain an existing screening of mature trees surrounding the tower.

Although Texas adopted a PRB-1 statute in 1999, it was Snook who made the
city council aware of PRB-1. Even so, the city rejected the recommendation
of its planner and building inspector to issue Snook whatever permit was
necessary under the relevant federal law.

The court found the city "failed to attempt to negotiate a satisfactory
compromise with Snook" and rejected consideration of any height extending
above the trees. Snook secured the services of professional engineer Kent
Marshall, W5TXV, who testified to Snook's need for a 100-foot structure
instead of the compromise 65 footer.

For Snook, Hittner's decision is half a loaf because he failed to prevail
on several other non-PRB-1 issues, including purported malicious
prosecution and his convictions on 21 counts of violating city statutes in
the course of the years-long row. Snook alleges that his wife also lost
her job with the city as a result of the dispute. The battle, he
estimates, also has left him some $35,000 poorer. "It's a tough victory
that's extremely hollow right now," Snook told ARRL. "The 21 criminal
convictions of ordinances written after the antenna went up were largely
ignored." Hittner determined that the city had, indeed, changed its
ordinance, then required Snook to comply with it, even though it already
had issued him a building permit in 1999.

Snook also points out that while the court ordered the city to pay his
costs, that does not include his attorneys fees or a damage award. In
addition, the city gets to keep its ordinance--which he'd tried to get
thrown out. "The judge ruled strongly in our favor but protected the city
as best he could too," he said.

Hittner's decision was based on case law that's well known in amateur
antenna legal circles. Among decisions cited was Pentel v City of Mendota,
argued successfully by attorney and ARRL Dakota Division Director Jay
Bellows, K0QB. Also cited was Marchand v Town of Hudson. In that case,
ARRL New England Division Vice Director and Volunteer Counsel Mike
Raisbeck, K1TWF, represented the amateur involved in written and oral
arguments before the New Hampshire Supreme Court, while ARRL General
Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, filed an amicus brief. Imlay and Bellows both
discussed Snook's case with him by telephone.

Snook seeks contributions to his KB5F Legal Defense Fund via his Web site


Sun gazer Tad "I Wear My Sunglasses At Night" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: The big news this week is a colossal sunspot that
appeared on Sunday, October 19, and a related large solar flare.
Scientists are predicting this activity could affect radio, cellular
telephone and communications satellites and possibly the power grid.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment
Center (SEC) <> reports the passage of a
"geomagnetic sudden impulse" at 1450 UTC today--a result of a coronal mass
ejection--or solar flare--earlier in the week. It also issued a space
weather alert for a geomagnetic K index of 6. The SEC predicted solar
activity would be at high levels, with sun regions 484 and 486 "very
capable of producing major flares."

The sunspot first emerged at about seven times Earth's diameter, but by
Tuesday, October 21, it had grown to around the size of Jupiter. That's
the equivalent of 11 Earth diameters. This is one of the largest sunspot
groups to appear during the current cycle 23. Along with this large spot
have been CMEs--solar flares--upsetting Earth's magnetic field. There was
an additional spot by mid-week. One CME caused a radio blackout on Sunday,
October 19, around 1650 UTC.

The solar flare activity certainly is not good news for operators planning
to participate in the CQ World Wide DX Contest (SSB)
<> this weekend.

As of Thursday, October 23, the forecast was for a planetary A index of 50
for Friday through Sunday, October 24-26, but this could be a modest
projection. The solar flux has risen since October 14, when it was only
92, and it should top 200 by the middle of next week.

The mounting solar activity is dramatic enough to make national news.
MSNBC <>, The Seattle
<>, The Honolulu
<> and
The Huntsville Times
140.xml> were among those picking up on this celestial story.

The solar flux value of 191 for October 22 is the value measured at the
Penticton Observatory in British Columbia. The number from the NOAA Space
Environment Center was lowered to 154, probably because of a flare
enhancement to the Penticton reading. Those who keep records may want to
lower the value for that day to 154 from 191, which would make the week's
average for the daily solar flux 123.4 rather than 128.7.

Not shown here is the following day, October 23, when the observatory at
Penticton measured 209.3 while the SEC reported it as 183. These seem to
be estimates based upon the morning measurements made three hours before
local noon, which were both around 154 and 183 for the two days.

Sunspot numbers for October 16 through 22 were 28, 66, 91, 89, 113, 144
and 117, with a mean of 92.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 95.2, 98.8, 108.6,
120.4, 135.1, 151.5 and 191, with a mean of 128.7. Estimated planetary A
indices were 26, 31, 27, 32, 30, 39 and 33, with a mean of 31.1.



* This weekend on the radio: The CQ Worldwide DX Contest (SSB) and the
10-10 International Fall Contest (CW) are the weekend of October 25-26.
JUST AHEAD: The ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW), the North American
Collegiate ARC Championship (CW), the QRP ARCI Running of the QRP Bulls,
the IPA Contest (SSB), the High Speed Club CW Contest, the Ukrainian DX
Contest and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are the weekend of November
1-2. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <> and
the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education registration: Registration
for the Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) course (EC-006) opens Monday,
October 27, 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration
remains open through Sunday, November 2. Classes begin Tuesday, November
4. Registration for the HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and
VHF/UHF--Life Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses remains open through
Sunday, October 26. Those interested in taking an ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education (C-CE) course in the future can sign up to receive
advance notification 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
<> and the C-CE Links found there.

* Back on the water again: David Clark, KB6TAM--the oldest person to
circumnavigate the globe solo--is back under sail, this time to spend some
time in the Caribbean. Clark, now 79, completed his near-disastrous
round-the-world sail on December 7, 2001, when he sailed into Fort
Lauderdale, Florida, after two years on the high seas. During his
adventure, Clark used ham radio to keep in touch with his wife, Lynda, in
California, and with friends around the world. Ham radio also helped save
his life after his first vessel, the Mollie Milar, foundered off South
Africa and was lost. Clark subsequently resumed his voyage in another
vessel, which he named Mickey in honor of his canine traveling companion
of the same name who was lost when the Mollie Milar went down. Lynda Clark
reports that her husband planned to spend a few days in Nassau, the
Bahamas, and might play clarinet at one of the Poop Deck restaurants owned
by his friend Eloy Roldan. He has ham radio aboard the Mickey. She says
Clark is continuing to work on a book about his circumnavigation. An
article by Clark appeared in the September issue of Soundings,
<> a boating industry publication.

* Alfred M. Gowan, W0LX, SK: Former ARRL Dakota Division Director Alfred
M. "Al" Gowan, W0LX (ex-W0PHR), of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, died August
8, 2003. He was 92. Gowan served as Dakota Division Director from
1952--when he took over the division leadership after his predecessor,
Goodwin L. "Dos" Dosland, W0TSN, became ARRL president. Gowan served as
Dakota Division Director until 1960. A graduate of Iowa State Teachers
College (now the University of Northern Iowa) and of the University of
Iowa, Gowan served as a faculty member and academic dean at the University
of Sioux Falls. Shortly before his death, the South Dakota School of Mines
and Technology expressed its appreciation to Gowan for his contribution of
a complete bound set of QST to the school's library. Survivors include his
wife, Fay, to whom he was married for more than 60 years.--some
information provided by Rich Beebee, N0PV

* FCC cites Texas companies for alleged CB-related violations: The FCC has
cited David P. Pace Jr of Nacogoches, Texas--doing business as Pacetronics
and Pace Marketing--for alleged violations of Section 302(b) of the
Communications Act and §2.803(a)(1) of FCC rules. The FCC says its
investigation determined that Pace, through his companies, was offering
for sale more than three dozen types of non-FCC-certificated CB
transceivers. The FCC citation noted that Pace was marketing the devices
as amateur transceivers. "The Commission has evaluated radiofrequency
devices similar to those listed and concluded that the devices at issue
are not only amateur radios but can easily be altered for use as Citizens
Band devices as well," the Commission citation said. The FCC said dual-use
CB and amateur radios can not be certificated under FCC rules. In
addition, the FCC warned Pace that §2.815(b) of its rules requires FCC
certification for external RF power amplifiers or amplifier kits capable
of operation between 24 and 35 MHz. The FCC asked Pace to submit a written
statement describing actions taken to correct the apparent violations. The
FCC's Dallas office issued the citation.

* Ham radio operators get TV time in South Dakota: Ham radio operators in
South Dakota will be featured during an upcoming segment of the Public
Television program "Dakota Life." The show will highlight how local hams
have contributed during emergencies. It will air November 6, 8 PM
Central/7 PM Mountain Time. Reruns are scheduled for November 9, 1 PM
Central/ noon Mountain Time and November 25, 9:30 Central/8:30 Mountain
Time. Visit the South Dakota Public Broadcasting Web site for more
information <>.

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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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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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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