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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 22, No. 49
December 12, 2003


* +FEMA says BPL's benefits don't outweigh its shortcomings
* +Recess offers opportunity to promote ham radio bills
* +Expedition 8 commander thrills the madding crowd
* +Universal Licensing System to get a new look
* +German student-amateurs enjoy space chat
* +Morse code to gain a new character
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +FCC enforcement funding will not decrease in new fiscal year
     UK amateur copies signal from Mars Express spacecraft
     Amateurs complete 82-mile two-way DSSS link on 2.4 GH
     New 241-GHz record claimed
     Robert S. Bennett, W3WCQ, SK
     Aeronautical mobile special event to mark 100 years of flight
     "Toys, Trains, Dolls!" special event set

+Available on ARRL Audio News



A proverbial monkey wrench in the works for BPL? Expressing "grave
concerns" about likely interference from unlicensed Broadband over Power
Line (BPL) systems, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told
the FCC that BPL could "severely impair FEMA's mission-essential HF radio
operations in areas serviced by BPL technology." FEMA responded December 4
to last April's FCC BPL Notice of Inquiry, ET Docket 03-104. Now part of
the Department of Homeland Security--the agency said its primary worry is
BPL's potential impact on the FEMA National Radio System (FNARS) on HF.
FNARS is FEMA's primary command and control backup medium under the
Federal Response Plan.

"FEMA has concluded that introduction of unwanted interference from the
implementation of BPL technology into the high frequency radio spectrum
will result in significant detriment to the operation of FEMA radio
systems such as FNARS," FEMA asserted. "FNARS radio operators normally
conduct communications with signals that are barely above the ambient
noise levels." FNARS HF stations, FEMA said, typically are in residential
areas of the sort that BPL might serve.

As part of the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA's perspectives on BPL
could carry substantial weight at the FCC, which may issue a Notice of
Proposed Rule Making as early as February. The FCC's BPL Notice of Inquiry
has attracted more than 5100 comments--many of them from the amateur

FEMA said BPL also could render useless such "essential communications
services" as the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), the
Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) and the Civil Air Patrol. FEMA and
ARRL last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding that focuses on how
Amateur Radio may coordinate with the agency in disasters and emergencies.

Calling the HF spectrum "an invaluable and irreplaceable public safety
resource," FEMA said there's no current alternative to HF in terms of
meeting national security and emergency preparedness requirements at the
national, state and local levels. The agency advised the FCC to beef up
its Part 15 rules to ensure no increase in interference levels to existing
FCC or NTIA-licensed communication systems. Otherwise, FEMA predicted,
"any noise increase inevitably would diminish the ability to maintain
essential communications" and would "directly impair the safety of life
and property."

Likewise, FEMA pointed out, amateur HF transmitters could possibly
interfere with and interrupt BPL service, leading consumers not familiar
with Part 15 to blame licensed radio services.

Concluded FEMA: "The purported benefits of BPL in terms of expanded
services in certain communications sectors do not appear to outweigh the
benefit to the overall public of HF radio capability as presently used by
government, broadcasting and public safety users."

Additional information about BPL and Amateur Radio is on the ARRL Web
site, To support the League's efforts in
this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web site,


Just as the US House of Representatives was about to adjourn for the year,
the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act, HR 713, picked up three new
cosponsors. The addition of Democrats Sander M. Levin of Michigan, Brad
Sherman of California and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland brings the
cosponsor list to 77. The nation's lawmakers now have headed home and
won't be back in Washington until January 20. ARRL President Jim Haynie,
W5JBP, suggests that League members take advantage of the
opportunity--while members of Congress are on their home turf--to visit
their local offices and urge support for the spectrum protection measure
and for the so-called "CC&R bill," HR 1478.

"It wouldn't hurt to stop by and drop off a QSL card with a message asking
for support," Haynie said. "That's what it's going to take. Cards and
letters from individual voters do make a difference." Judging by the
number of cosponsors to date, Haynie says, the spectrum protection bill
appears to be gaining the attention of lawmakers.

Other recent Spectrum Protection Act cosponsors include Anibal
Acevedo-Vila (D-PR), Gil Gutknecht (R-MN), Bob Filner (D-CA), Betty
McCollum (D-MN) and Brian Baird (D-WA), who signed aboard during November.

Identical versions of the Spectrum Protection Act have been introduced in
the House and Senate. The number of cosponsors for the Senate version, S
537, remains at eight. Sponsored in the House by Rep Michael Bilirakis
(R-FL) and in the Senate by Sen Michael Crapo (R-ID), the bill 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.

Meanwhile, the cosponsor count on the CC&R bill--known formally as HR
1478, the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of
2003--is holding at 29. Sponsored by Rep Steve Israel (D-NY), the CC&R
bill would require private land-use regulators such as homeowners'
associations to "reasonably accommodate" Amateur Radio antennas consistent
with the PRB-1 limited federal preemption. The ARRL is seeking a sponsor
for a companion bill in the US Senate.

For guidance on the best methods of contacting your members of Congress,
see "Communicating with Congress," by Derek Riker, KB3JLF, on the ARRL Web
site <> or in the April
2003 issue of QST (p 46).

Additional information--including the bills' texts, sample letters and
information on how to write members of Congress--is on The Amateur Radio
Spectrum Protection Act of 2003 Web page
<> and on the HR 1478, The
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2003 Web page

Those writing their lawmakers on behalf of the Spectrum Protection Act are
asked to copy their correspondence to the League via e-mail to Those writing on behalf of the Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications Consistency Act, HR 1478, are asked to copy their
correspondence to


International Space Station Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC,
thrilled the madding crowd in North America and Europe December 6 as he
got on the air to kick off the Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ARISS) Roy Neal, K6DUE, commemorative special event. The event
honors Neal, the SAREX/ARISS Working Group chairman, who died in August.

"Numerous ham radio operators in these parts of the world made contact
with Mike Foale or heard the ISS downlink," said ARISS International
Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO. "Those who heard or worked the ISS qualify
for a special ISS commemorative certificate.

One of those is past ARRL Roanoke Division Director and Vice President
John Kanode, N4MM, who lives in Boyce, Virginia. Kanode said that after
having his 2-meter radio set on the 145.800 MHz downlink all day December
6, NA1SS finally broke his squelch during the third of four suggested
North American passes--around 3 PM Eastern Standard Time.

"He was full quieting," said Kanode. A well-known DXer and now an ARRL
Honorary Vice President, Kanode said he'd never worked any space shuttle
missions with ham radio aboard or even the hams aboard the Russian Mir
space station. "I had no idea I was going to work him," Kanode said. "It
made my day!"

Another lucky operator to QSO Foale was Randy Shriver, KG3N. In November
2000, the Hanover, Pennsylvania, ham snagged the first-ever casual contact
with Expedition 1 crew commander William Shepherd, KD5GSL.

At week's end, ARISS was still not sure whether Foale would be able to get
on the air from NA1SS over the December 13-14 weekend. If he does, it will
be for passes over Japan, Australia and New Zealand (see "NA1SS Roy Neal
Event Operation Possible this Weekend for Japan, Oceania"
<>). A "very challenging
schedule" kept the Expedition 8 crew from getting on the air November
29-30 for the Roy Neal special event.

A retired broadcaster, Neal was instrumental in convincing NASA to make
Amateur Radio a permanent feature on human space flights. He also helped
to form the ARISS international team and moderated its gatherings.

Certificate requests, accompanied by a 9x12 envelope and adequate return
postage or IRCs, go to the appropriate QSL address listed on the ARISS Web
site <>. Bauer said it could take several weeks to
process certificate requests.


At week's end, the FCC was preparing to put a new face on the Universal
Licensing System (ULS) <>, which includes the
Amateur Service. The Commission was set to unveil the new on-line ULS
filing interface December 14.

To implement the changes, the ULS on-line filing system will be down from
12 AM EST Saturday, December 13, until 10 AM EST Sunday, December 14.

Among other features, the ULS makeover will include easier-to-read
on-screen forms that guide users through filing and simplify such routine
tasks as applying for license renewal, address change or vanity call sign.
The FCC says the introduction of its new system, called "ULS License
Manager," concludes phase one of an ongoing ULS overhaul by the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau.

ULS License Manager will be compatible with most, if not all, major Web
browsers and computer platforms and no longer will require downloading
Java and Java Script files. Screens also will be compliant with Web
screen-to-voice reader software. An FCC staffer involved with implementing
ULS License Manager notes that all features may not be in place when the
system debuts.

The ULS will require all filers to log into the system using an FCC
Registration Number (FRN) and Commission Registration System (CORES)
password. The FCC said it would no longer accept a Taxpayer Identification
Number (TIN)--a Social Security Number for most individuals--for log-in

Once the new system is up and running, all licenses and applications in
the ULS database will be converted to the new ULS License Manager filing

There's also a new paper version of FCC Form 605, dated December 2003. One
change is that Form 605 no longer requests a date of birth and will only
accept an FRN and CORES password. There are no Amateur Service-related
changes to any Form 605 schedules. The FCC says Amateur Service applicants
may continue to use the March 2001 (or later) edition of Form 605,
although it encourages use of the newest version. The new FCC Form 605 now
is available via the FCC Web site

To assist with any ULS issues after the changeover, the Technical Support
Hotline staff will be available Sunday, December 14, from 10 AM until 6 PM
EST. Normal hours are weekdays (except holidays) from 8 AM until 6 PM
Eastern Time. Technical Support is available via the FCC Web site
<> or telephone 877-480-3201 (TTY 202-414-1255).

ULS licensing support and forms information is available weekdays (except
holidays) from 8 AM until 5:30 PM Eastern Time via e-mail
<>; or telephone 888-CALLFCC (225-5322), Option 2 (users
also may call 717-338-2888).


ISS Crew Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, answered questions posed December 5
by students at the Berufliches Schulzentrum Elektrotechnik (Vocational
High School for Electrical Engineering) in Dresden, Germany. All seven
students who spoke with Foale were Amateur Radio licensees. The QSO with
NA1SS was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ARISS) program.

The students and their teacher, Thomas Hetland, DL8DXW, started preparing
for the Amateur Radio exam last summer. "The goal was to participate in a
radio contact with an astronaut on the ISS by using their own Amateur
Radio call signs," said ARISS Mentor Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ. The students
got their tickets September 27.

During the 10-minute contact, the students queried Foale on topics ranging
from gravity and artificial gravity to oxygen consumption and water
reserves on the ISS. One student wanted to know which antenna NA1SS was
using for the QSO. Another asked about the probability of the ISS being
hit by a meteorite. Foale squeezed in answers to 14 question before the
ISS got out of range. Before loss of signal there was just enough time for
a few quick words of farewell from Hetland and a round of applause from
the audience.

Kofler called the contact "a big success, and a superb illustration of the
educational power of the ARISS school contacts."

ARISS <> is an international educational outreach
program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. ARISS school
group contacts offer an opportunity for students to experience the
excitement of Amateur Radio by talking directly with ISS crew members.


The 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03) may have eliminated
the treaty requirement for prospective amateurs to demonstrate Morse code
proficiency to gain HF access, but the International Telecommunication
Union (ITU) hasn't forgotten Morse code altogether. In Geneva on December
5, the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) Study Group 8 agreed on the
wording of a Draft New Recommendation ITU-R M.[MORSE] that specifies the
international Morse code character set and transmission procedures. It
also includes a new Morse code character to cover the "@"; symbol used in
e-mail addresses.

Once it's made available in English, French and Spanish, the draft new
recommendation will go out to ITU member-states using a new procedure for
simultaneous adoption and approval. On December 3, the draft new
recommendation won the approval of Working Party 8A, which is responsible
for the Land Mobile and Amateur services.

Within the ITU, the international Morse code has been defined by the
Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), which is responsible for
the public telephone and telegraph network--mostly landline. A couple of
years ago, the ARRL pointed out to the US delegation to the ITU
Radiocommunication Advisory Group that Morse code's role more properly
resides in the radiocommunication realm, not wire, and should be the
responsibility of ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).

The transfer was agreed to, and International Amateur Radio Union (IARU)
President Larry Price, W4RA, proposed the draft new recommendation at the
November-December Working Group 8A meeting. The draft new recommendation
is almost unchanged from its ITU-T text.

"No one wanted to disturb something with more than 150 years of history,"
said ARRL Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI.

To keep up with the times, however, the IARU proposed adding a new
character--the commercial "at" or @ symbol--to permit sending e-mail
addresses in Morse code. The draft new recommendation proposes using the
letters A and C run together (.--.-.) to represent the @ symbol.

While the draft new recommendation is still a working document, its
expected to become a Recommendation within six months or so, pending
approval by member-states.


Ra the Sun god Tad "Seasons in the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Declining sunspot numbers and high geomagnetic activity made for
rough conditions this week. Average daily sunspot numbers for the week
dropped by 57 percent from the previous week, and average daily solar flux
was down by 34 percent. Average daily planetary A index more than tripled
to 28.7.

Currently Earth is inside a high-speed solar wind. The interplanetary
magnetic field points north, but geomagnetic conditions would be even more
active if it pointed south. The wind is from a large coronal hole, and the
stream began affecting Earth on December 8. No sunspots now face Earth.

Solar flux is expected to stay below 100 until Tuesday, December 16, and
then rise suddenly Thursday and Friday, December 18-19.

Unfortunately, conditions should be rough for the ARRL 10-Meter Contest
this weekend. Predicted solar flux values for Friday through Monday,
December 12-15, are 85, 90, 90 and 95. Predicted planetary A index numbers
for the same period are 40, 35, 25 and 20. Ten-meter paths really need a
high MUF value to sustain them, and the low sunspot numbers we're seeing
now don't help.

Sunspot numbers for December 4 through 10 were 115, 88, 87, 53, 49, 23 and
46, with a mean of 65.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 115.8, 111.7, 108.9, 92,
93.7, 92.2 and 89.2, with a mean of 100.5. Estimated planetary A indices
were 9, 43, 22, 15, 39, 31 and 42, with a mean of 28.7.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL 10-Meter Contest and the Great
Colorado Snowshoe Run are the weekend of December 13-14. JUST AHEAD: The
AGB Party Contest, the Russian 160-Meter Contest, the OK DX RTTY Contest,
the Croatian CW Contest and the International Naval Contest are the
weekend of December 20-21. See the ARRL Contest Page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens
Monday, December 15, 12:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time (0501 UTC), for the
Level III Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-003). Registration
remains open through the December 20-21 weekend or until all available
seats have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday,
December 30. Thanks to our grant sponsors--the Corporation for National
and Community Service and the United Technologies Corporation--the $45
registration fee paid upon enrollment will be reimbursed after successful
completion of the 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 HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and UHF-VHF
Beyond the Repeater (EC-008) courses opens Monday, December 15, 12:01 AM
Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration will remain open through
Sunday, December 22. Classes begin Tuesday December 23. Registration for
the ARRL Antenna Modeling (EC-004) course remains open through Sunday,
December 14. 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 (C-CE)
<> Web page and the C-CE Links found there. For
more information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Program

* FCC enforcement funding will not decrease in new fiscal year: The
omnibus budget bill that the US House of Representatives approved this
week directs the FCC to maintain next fiscal year's funding for
enforcement activities at least at its current level. The Congressional
Record reports that a House-Senate conference agreement includes nearly
$274 million for the FCC, with all but $1 million to be offset by fee
collections. "The conferees direct the FCC to expend for enforcement in
fiscal year 2004 an amount equal to or greater than the amount expended
for enforcement in fiscal year 2003," the House Conference Report on HR
2673, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 states. The US Senate
will consider the budget measure in January after it returns from the
holiday break.

* UK amateur copies signal from Mars Express spacecraft: Using what he
described as "just a quick throw-together" system, Charlie Suckling,
G3WDG, this week received a signal in the UK from the European Space
Agency's Mars Express
<> spacecraft. Now
in deep space, Mars Express is expected to reach the Red Planet on
Christmas Day and deploy its Beagle 2 lander for six months of
exploration. G3WDG reports he heard the Mars Express signal on X band (8.4
GHz) December 9 using a 3-meter dish. "Signals seemed very consistent for
about two hours," he said in a message to James Miller, G3RUH, who'd
provided him with advice. Finding the signal, G3WDG said, took about 10
minutes of searching plus or minus 100 kHz and tweaking his azimuth and
elevation settings. In mid-November, a team of German amateurs was able to
copy the Mars Express signal from a far more sophisticated setup in
Bochum, Germany, that's equipped with a 20 meter parabolic antenna.
Reception of the Mars Express signal provided a test run for the facility,
which will serve as the ground control station for AMSAT-DL's Phase P5-A
Mars orbital mission planned for 2007. There's a complete report on the
AMSAT-DL Web site <>.

* Amateurs complete 82-mile two-way DSSS link on 2.4 GHz: ARRL High Speed
Multimedia (HSMM) Working Group <> member Ken
Cuddeback, NT7K, reports that his students at Weber State University
<> in Ogden,
Utah, recently completed two-way direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS)
communication on 2.4 GHz over a distance of 82 miles. The WSU
students--which include one ham, Brandon Checketts, KG4NZV, and several
prospective licensees--broke the current world record of establishing a
wireless link on 2.4 GHz with DSSS (using IEEE 802.11b "Wi-Fi" protocol).
Cuddeback says his students used PrimeStar dishes with unamplified Cisco
Aironet 350 cards--which run about 100 mW--in each laptop. "We set up a
NetMeeting session and transferred a 2.5 MB mp3 file successfully," he
said. ARRL HSMM Working Group Chairman John Champa, K8OCL, extended his
congratulations to NT7K and his students on what he called "this fantastic

* New 241-GHz record claimed: Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, has bested his
previous record on 241 GHz. The new claimed record is 61.8 km, which tops
his previous 34.9 km claimed record of November 14. "We had some rather
dry weather here in Virginia, and I just couldn't pass up trying to better
our own DX record for the band," Justin said. "After shorting out a set of
gel cell battery terminals while setting the gear up, I thought we'd never
make the QSO!" The mishap melted a 1/4-inch plug on the cable end of the
CW straight key, but it didn't prevent the contact from going forward.
Operating as W2SZ/4 in FM07fm, Justin worked W4WWQ in EM97xe. There's
information on Justin's other microwave accomplishments on the Mount
Greylock Expeditionary Force Web site <>.

* Robert S. Bennett, W3WCQ, SK: Bob Bennett, W3WCQ, of Baltimore,
Maryland, died December 6. He was 67. Bennett was an ARRL Atlantic
Division Assistant Director and, as president of the Baltimore Radio
Amateur Television Society (BRATS), was well known within the Amateur TV
community. "W3WCQ was our expert on ATV," said Atlantic Division Director
Bernie Fuller, N3EFN. "He will be missed." Bennett also was an
acknowledged expert on weak-signal VHF work and once served as the
Atlantic Division representative of the now-defunct VHF-UHF Advisory
Committee (VUAC). ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, N3KN, was among
Bennett's many friends. "I respected him not only for his technical
knowledge and willingness to share it with others, but also for his good
humor, common sense, candor, and ability to speak and write extremely
well," Craigie said. "He was a valued advisor to several Atlantic Division
directors, myself most definitely included." An ARRL member, Bennett also
belonged to the Quarter Century Wireless Association and served as a local
chapter president. A service was held December 10.

* Aeronautical mobile special event to mark 100 years of flight: Special
event station K1F will be on the air until December 20 to commemorate the
100th anniversary of "heavier-than-air" powered flight. "I will only be
using this call sign while operating aeronautical mobile," said Ken Eckel
Jr, AB5A, of Santa Fe, Texas--a professional pilot. Eckel says he's
indebted to the pioneers of aviation for making the dream of flight a
reality. Listen for K1F on 40, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meters (SSB) as well
as on 6 meters/VHF/UHF. Eckel says he'll try to be on the air for at least
an hour a day, and on December 17 will be airborne at 10:30 AM EST (1530
UTC), the actual time of the first flight, on or about 14.325 MHz. QSL
requests go to AB5A, 2020 Cemetery Rd, Santa Fe, TX 77517-3755. There's
more information on his Web site

* "Toys, Trains, Dolls!" special event set: The Schenectady (New York)
Museum Amateur Radio Association (SMARA) will operate Special Event
Station W2S Sunday, December 14, 1700-2100 UTC, to commemorate the "Toys,
Trains, Dolls!" exhibit at the Schenectady Museum & Planetarium. The
exhibit runs through January 4. W2S operate in the General class phone
segments on 80, 40 and 20 as well as on the W2IR 146.79 MHz repeater. QSL
via W2IR or Schenectady Museum Amateur Radio Association, W2IR, PO Box
6143, Schenectady, NY 12306-0143.--Gerald Murray, WA2IWW
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,
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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
in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to
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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.

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