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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 04
January 23, 2004


* +ARRL Board okays "Restructuring II" proposal
* +League to establish four-tier mentoring program
* +Incumbent ARRL officers re-elected
* +FCC's Abernathy sidesteps "Broadband Nirvana"
* +Humanitarian, Leonard award winners announced
* +New ECHO satellite another step closer to launch
* +W4DR captures fourth straight DeSoto cup
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     DXCC rule change adopted
     Northern Florida ARES group activates after bus mishap
     Hamfest will happen, despite fire

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The ARRL will ask the FCC to create a new entry-level Amateur Radio
license that would grant HF phone privileges without a Morse code test.
The League also will propose consolidating all current licensees into
three classes, retaining the Element 1 Morse requirement--now 5 WPM-only
for the highest class. The ARRL Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved
the plan January 16 during its Annual Meeting in Windsor, Connecticut. The
proposals, put forth by the ARRL Executive Committee, were in response to
changes made in Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations at World
Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03).

"Change in the Amateur Radio Service in the US, especially license
requirements and even more so when Morse is involved, has always been
emotional," said ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, in
presenting the Executive Committee's recommendations. "In fact, without a
doubt, Morse is Amateur Radio's 'religious debate.'" Harrison said the
League's proposal would provide "a true entry-level license with HF
privileges" to promote growth in the Amateur Service.

The League says its proposal would continue a process of streamlining the
amateur licensing structure that the FCC began more than five years ago
but left unfinished in its Amateur Service license restructuring Report
and Order (WT 98-143) that went into effect April 15, 2000.

A new entry-level license class--being called "Novice" for now--would
require a 25-question written exam. It would offer limited HF CW/data and
phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters as well as VHF and UHF
privileges on 6 and 2 meters and on 222-225 and 430-450 MHz. Power output
would be restricted to 100 W on 80, 40, and 15 meters and to 50 W on 10
meters and up.

"The Board sought to achieve balance in giving new Novice licensees the
opportunity to sample a wider range of Amateur Radio activity than is
available to current Technicians while retaining a motivation to upgrade,"
said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. The ARRL plan would grandfather current
Novice licensees into the new entry-level class without further testing.

The middle group of licensees--Technician, Tech Plus (Technician with
Element 1 credit) and General--would be merged into a new General license
that also would not require a Morse examination. Current Technician and
Tech Plus license holders automatically would gain current General class
privileges without additional testing. The current Element 3 General
examination would remain in place for new applicants.

The Board indicated that it saw no compelling reason to change the Amateur
Extra class license requirements. The ARRL plan calls on the FCC to
combine the current Advanced and Amateur Extra class licensees into
Amateur Extra, because the technical level of the exams passed by these
licensees is very similar. New applicants for Extra would have to pass a 5
WPM Morse code examination, and the written exam would stay the same.
Sumner said the Board felt that the highest level of accomplishment should
include basic Morse capability. Current Novice, Tech Plus and General
licensees would receive lifetime 5 WPM Morse credit.

Among other advantages, Sumner said the plan would allow new Novices to
participate in HF SSB emergency nets on 75 and 40 meters as well as on the
top 100 kHz of 15 meters. The new license also could get another name,
Sumner said. "We're trying to recapture the magic of the old Novice
license, but in a manner that's appropriate for the 21st century."

The overall proposed ARRL license restructuring plan would more smoothly
integrate HF spectrum privileges across the three license classes and
would incorporate the "Novice refarming" plan the League put forth nearly
two years ago in a Petition for Rule Making (RM-10413). The FCC has not
yet acted on the ARRL plan, which would alter current HF subbands.

The ARRL license restructuring design calls for no changes in privileges
for Extra and General class licensees on 160, 60, 30, 20, 17 or 12 meters.
Novice licensees would have no access to those bands.

See "ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access" on  the
ARRL Web site, <>, for the
specific subband allocations ARRL is proposing for each class.

The amateur community and other interested parties will have an
opportunity to comment on the ARRL proposal once the League formally files
a Petition for Rule Making and the FCC puts it on public notice.


To help new licensees and those seeking to expand their horizons get more
out of Amateur Radio, the ARRL Board of Directors has approved development
of a four-level set of Amateur Radio mentoring programs. Proposed by the
Volunteer Resources Committee, the programs will be designed this year.
The mentoring program levels will be known as ARRL Club Mentor, ARRL
Mentor, Interactive Mentor and Special Interest Mentor.

The ARRL Club Mentor will involve the participation of ARRL-affiliated
clubs in close cooperation with ARRL Headquarters staff. Affiliated clubs
will be encouraged to actively participate in this program to "mainstream"
more people, licensed and otherwise, into Amateur Radio. The club mentor
program also has the additional benefit of potentially increasing a club's
membership as well.

The ARRL Mentor program will work through ARRL Headquarters. An ARRL
mentor is a person with an interest in mentoring--or "Elmering"--new
licensees who may or may not be members of an ARRL-affiliated club. ARRL
Headquarters staff will support these mentors, who must be ARRL members.

The Interactive Mentor is intended to aid enterprising new hams via the
ARRL Web site by providing answers to basic questions and through forums,
where discourse between new hams and mentors would help new hams to get on
the air.

The Special Interest Mentor is intended to match people with interests in
advanced, specialized areas of Amateur Radio technology with mentors who
are experienced in these technologies. The ARRL Web site would refer
interested members to special interest Web sites and reflectors as part of
this mentoring effort.

In a somewhat related action, the Board approved a motion directing ARRL
staff to study various organizations that might be able to integrate
Amateur Radio into their activities. Such groups might include, but not be
limited to, recreational vehicle and boating groups as well as the US
Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Civil Air Patrol.

In addition, the Board voted to request that the new Programs and Services
Committee (PSC) investigate the possibility of establishing Amateur Radio
special interest group pages on the ARRL Web site. Special interests might
include such activities as AM phone operation, new technologies, VHF-UHF
"weak-signal" operation and Amateur TV. Under Board-approved bylaws
changes, the PSC will subsume the functions of the Volunteer Resources and
Membership Services committees.

The Board also asked ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ--working with the
League's Washington, DC, staff and consultants--to provide a package of
materials to each director, vice director and section manager that would
aid them in organizing a grassroots Broadband Over Power Line (BPL)
lobbying campaign. The materials would be designed to provide guidance to
individual amateurs and Amateur Radio clubs in how to establish dialogue
with members of Congress concerning the potential of harmful BPL

In other matters, the ARRL Board:

* agreed on a 10-5 vote to a bylaw change that reduces the ARRL membership
senior discount (for members in the US and possessions) from $5 per year
to $3, effective immediately. The basic dues rate remains at $39; the new
senior rate is $36.

* agreed that the Executive Committee should continue work on a proposal
to define Amateur Radio frequency subbands by bandwidth rather than by
emission type.

* directed the creation of an ad hoc committee to develop plans and
procedures for an effective grassroots lobbying campaign during the
current congressional session that would involve ARRL directors, vice
directors, section managers and ARRL members.

* approved an action plan to complete implementation of recommendations in
Volunteer Resources Committee Final Report to the ARRL Board of Directors,
An Evaluation of the ARRL's Field Organization, presented at the Board's
July 2003 meeting.


As reported (The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 03), the ARRL Board of Directors
re-elected President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, to a third two-year term during
its Annual Meeting January 16-17. There were no other nominees for the
post, and the Board re-elected Haynie without opposition.

Also winning new, two-year terms without opposition were ARRL First Vice
President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, and Second Vice President Kay Craigie,
N3KN. Board members agreed with a proposal to eliminate the third vice
president's position being vacated by Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, who was named as
an ARRL Honorary Vice President. The Board indicated it was doing away
with the third VP slot as a cost-saving measure and because the position
was considered superfluous. The Board also re-elected International
Affairs Vice President Rod Stafford, W6ROD.

Other ARRL officers elected without opposition were Executive Vice
President/CEO/Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ; Treasurer Jim McCobb, W1LLU;
Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY; Chief Development Officer
Mary Hobart, K1MMH, and Chief Operating Officer Mark Wilson, K1RO. The
Board created a new position of Chief Technology Officer and named Paul
Rinaldo, W4RI, to fill it. Rinaldo heads the League's Technical Relations
Office in Fairfax, Virginia.

The Board agreed to increase the number of directors who sit on the ARRL
Executive Committee and also named members to the panel. Chosen to sit on
the EC were Directors Rick Roderick, K5UR, Delta Division; Jay Bellows,
K0QB, Dakota Division; Walt Stinson, W0CP, Rocky Mountain Division; Frank
Fallon, N2FF, Hudson Division, and Dick Isely, W9GIG, Central Division.
Haynie chairs the EC, and Harrison  and Sumner sit on the panel as
non-voting members.

In addition, the Board filled three expiring seats on the ARRL Foundation
Board. Fallon, Stinson and Southeastern Division Director Frank Butler,
W4RH, were elected. Stinson is a newcomer to the Foundation Board.


In a seeming shift away from "Broadband Nirvana," FCC Commissioner
Kathleen Q. Abernathy <> this
week specifically cited Amateur Radio concerns about the interference
potential of Broadband Over Power Line (BPL). In remarks prepared for
delivery at her alma mater, the Catholic University of America's Columbus
School of Law <>, Abernathy said BPL should not be
widely deployed before dealing with ham radio's interference fears.

"I recognize that Amateur Radio licensees have raised concerns about
harmful interference," Abernathy said, "and that is something that will
have to be addressed before any mass market deployment can occur." She
addressed the convocation "The Journey to Convergence: Challenges and
Opportunities" January 22 on the school's Washington, DC campus.

Abernathy said that if engineers can find a way to prevent harmful
interference to other radio services, BPL would represent "a tremendous
advance for consumers, because it could bring broadband to any home that
has electricity."

In her speech, "Overview of the Road to Convergence: New Realities Collide
with Old Rules," Abernathy called BPL "another promising technology" that
electric utilities have already successfully field tested. As an "add-on
service to the existing electrical grid," she said, BPL might be a
cost-effective alternative to provide broadband service to rural and other
"underserved comunities."

Missing from her remarks was any mention of interference worries that the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have expressed to
the FCC in the BPL proceeding.

Abernathy drew fire from the Amateur Radio community last September after
she expressed unabashed enthusiasm for BPL in a talk before the United
Powerline Council's <> annual conference. In that
talk, she'd suggested that BPL was a step along the pathway to "Broadband

The ARRL led the barrage of strong objections in the wake of Abernathy's
characterization. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, pointed out that
preliminary testing already had established BPL is a significant source of
radio spectrum pollution" and that BPL could not be implemented without
causing harmful interference to radio services. Abernathy's office later
conceded that her "Broadband Nirvana" speech may have failed to make
sufficiently clear her concerns about potential BPL interference.

More than 5100 comments--many from the Amateur Radio community--have been
filed in response to the FCC's BPL NOI and are available for viewing via
the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)


The ARRL Board of Directors has named winners of the 2003 ARRL
International Humanitarian Award and the 2003 Bill Leonard, W2SKE,
Professional Media Award. The action came during the Board's Annual

Humanitarian Award winners Mike Young, KM9D, and Jan Heaton, KF4TUG,
sailed last April from Kanton Island, the Republic of Kiribati, carrying
medical supplies for a 16-year old girl--unconscious and bleeding and in
desperate need of medical attention--aboard a motor vessel adrift without
power some 100 nautical miles west of Kanton Island. At great personal
risk, Young and Heaton set out in their 10-meter sailing vessel,
eventually caught up with the distressed vessel and were able deliver
medical and other supplies.

Once under way, they maintained Amateur Radio contact with amateurs in the
Seattle, Washington, area--among them Bob Preston, W7TSQ, who contacted
the US Coast Guard in California and was put through to the Joint Rescue
Coordination Center in Hawaii.

The US Coast Guard cutter/icebreaker Polar Sea also intercepted the
drifting ship to render additional assistance. The Polar Sea took the
young woman, an elderly man and an interpreter aboard and provided medical
treatment. The young woman reportedly has made a good recovery and
returned to Kiribati.

Young said this week that he and Heaton "are proud of our performance and
humbled by the recognition awarded." As winners of the 2003 ARRL
International Humanitarian Award, Heaton and Young will receive a plaque
or medallion.

The 2003 Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award was awarded to Sari
Krieger, a staff writer with Virginia's Potomac News and Manassas Journal
Messenger. This award goes annually to a professional journalist or group
of journalists for outstanding coverage of Amateur Radio in TV, radio,
print or multimedia. The winner receives an engraved plaque and a check
for $500.

Krieger's winning submission was a story about the negative effects of
Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) on Amateur Radio, and the concerns of ham
radio operators nationwide. Her story focused on the city of Manassas,
Virginia, and its plans to implement BPL citywide.

Members of the League's Public Relations Committee judged the Leonard
Award nominations. Krieger's entry was judged the best of six entries

In Amateur Radio circles, Bill Leonard--a former president of CBS--is
remembered for his 1958 contribution to Sports Illustrated, "The Battle of
the Hams," which describes the "sport of DXing." Leonard died in 1994. In
1996, he was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.


The AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO satellite has edged a bit closer being launch-ready.
An initial integration effort recently determined that 90 percent of the
hardware onboard the new satellite tested out successfully, AMSAT-NA
<> reports. During the next six weeks or so, the
development team will resolve various outstanding issues, and final
integration will be scheduled.

"The launch window opens in late March, so the satellite is coming
together on plan," said AMSAT Marketing Manager Jim Jarvis, N2EA. He says
there's still time for satellite enthusiasts who donate to the ECHO
project to have their names placed in orbit aboard the new satellite. "The
names of all contributors will be placed inside the ECHO satellite," he
said. AMSAT-NA has not yet reached its $110,000 goal to pay for the
AO-ECHO launch.

Jim White, WD0E, and Mike Kingery, KE4AZN, headed the integration team
assembled in December at SpaceQuest in Fairfax, Virginia. In addition to
hardware testing, the integration team also wrapped up telemetry
calibration for the new bird. AMSAT says that even the experimental L-band
receiver and S-band transmitter functioned well during their first tests.

The satellite is tentatively set to go into space from Russia on March 31.
AO-ECHO's planned sun-synchronous orbit will be approximately 800 km above
Earth. Among other capabilities, AO-ECHO will allow satellite voice
communication using handheld FM transceivers.

Visit the AMSAT AO-ECHO Web page
<> for additional details.


For the fourth year in a row, Bob Eshleman, W4DR, has won the Clinton B.
DeSoto Cup for having the most DXCC band-entities in the DXCC Challenge
Award program <>.
When ARRL released the 2003 standings this week, they showed Eshleman
still at the top of the heap with 3083 points. While as excited about
Amateur Radio as ever, the veteran DXer is not optimistic about making it
five in a row, however.

"I have been DXing for 54 years, and I still think it the greatest sport
in the world," he said. "2003 was a very dry year, as I only worked four
new band-entities all year, one each on 160, 30, 17 and 6. This will
probably be my last year at the top."

The DXCC Challenge Award is achieved by working and confirming at least
1000 DXCC band-entities on the amateur bands 1.8 through 54 MHz. Entities
for each band are totaled to give the Challenge standing. For example,
contacting Romania on 40, 20, 17 and 12 meters would give a Challenge
participant four points, and six more points for Romania would still be
possible. A maximum of 3350 points is possible--335 DXCC entities times 10

The latest DXCC Challenge totals reflect checked card submissions through
September 30, 2003. Eshleman, a past chairman of the ARRL DX Advisory
Committee, holds Five-Band DXCC certificate No 1. He's also a member of
the CQ Contest and DX Hall of Fame.

Elsewhere in the top rung, Leif Ottosen, OZ1LO, took over third place on
the list in 2003 with 3051 points. Ken Bolin, W1NG, holds down the
number-two slot with 3076. Both will be awarded medals for their finishes.

Rounding out the top 10 were: 4, Rick Roderick, K5UR, 3049; 5, Rys
Tymkiewicz, SP5EWY, 3045; 6, Randy Schaaf, W9ZR, 3042; 7, Austin Regal,
N4WW, 3037; 8, Fausto Minardi, I4EAT, 3035; 9, Joe Reisert, W1JR, 3021;
10, Don Karvonen,  K8MFO, 3018.

So far, 1337 hams have earned the DXCC Challenge Award. The complete list
in on the ARRL Web site


Sol man Tad "Sunrise, Sunset" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
Average daily sunspot numbers and solar flux rose modestly this week.
Sunspot numbers were up by nearly four, and solar flux rose by nine

Last week, we reported that we were entering a solar wind, and its effects
can be seen in the planetary A index for last Friday. Geomagnetic indices
were down by Saturday. On Monday, January 19, energy from a coronal mass
ejection hit Earth, but it only caused high geomagnetic activity at high
latitudes. A strong solar wind from another coronal mass ejection hit
earth at 0130 UTC on January 22 causing a strong geomagnetic storm.

Another coronal mass ejection should hit earth on January 23 or 24,
although latest projections on Thursday show predicted planetary A index
for January 23-26, Friday through Monday at 25, 15, 15 and 10.

Sunspot numbers for January 15 through 21 were 57, 68, 56, 72, 87, 94 and
104, with a mean of 76.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 119.1, 120.3, 122.6, 119.5,
134.6, 128.9 and 130.1, with a mean of 125. Estimated planetary A indices
were 16, 26, 14, 18, 17, 16 and 12, with a mean of 17.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, the CQ
160-Meter Contest (CW), the REF Contest (CW) and the BARTG RTTY Sprint are
the weekend of January 24-25. JUST AHEAD: The North American Sprint (CW)
and the UBA DX Contest (SSB) are the weekend of January 31-February 1. See
the ARRL Contest Branch page <> and the
WA7BNM Contest Calendar <>
for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL RFI (EC-006) and the ARRL Antenna Design and
Construction (EC-009) courses opens Monday, January 26, 12:01 AM EST (0501
UTC). Registration will remain open through Sunday, February 1. Classes
for RFI (EC-006) begin Tuesday February 3. Classes for Antenna Design and
Construction, (EC-009) begin Tuesday February 10. Registration for the
ARRL HF Digital Communications (EC-005) and UHF-VHF Beyond the Repeater
(EC-008) courses remains open through Sunday, January 25. 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 learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education (C-CE) <> Web page. For more
information, contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program Department <>;.

* Correction/clarification: The story "Austrian Authorities Pull Plug on
BPL Pilot Project," in The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 2 (Jan 9, 2004),
contained some incorrect information. Austrian Amateur Transmitter
Federation President Mike Zwingl, OE3MZC, explained this week that the
Austrian Ministry for Commerce, Innovation and Technology last fall
requested that the Linz Power Company's BPL project immediately halt all
instances of interference. But the Ministry fell short of altogether
shutting down the pilot project, which continues to operate. Zwingl said
authorities did order a BPL shutdown at one location where BPL was causing
harmful interference to a radio amateur, however. "The press did read it
differently," he conceded. Zwingl said that BPL has been deployed over a
large part of Linz, and all power lines--not just individual BPL
users--are radiating HF interference. Legal action reportedly is pending.

* DXCC rule change adopted: At its January meeting, the ARRL Board of
Directors removed paragraph 1.c) "The entity has a separate IARU
member-society" from the criteria for determining a DXCC entity. This
provision, implemented in 1998 as part of the DXCC 2000 Program, had
provided that "An entity will be added to the DXCC List as a political
entity if it. . . has a separate IARU member-society." Since then, the
rule has allowed for the addition of four new DXCC entities and the
retention of one existing entity. Unfortunately, the provision also had
the unintended consequence of stimulating applications for IARU membership
that do not further the objectives of the IARU, creating an unfortunate
and unnecessary administrative burden. The rule change will have no effect
on entities created by or as the result of the rule. According to DXCC
Rule II, 5. C), "A change in the DXCC criteria shall not affect the status
of any entity on the DXCC List at the time of the change." The other two
criteria for the determination of a political entity for DXCC continue in

* Northern Florida ARES group activates after bus mishap: Duval County,
Florida, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) activated on the morning
of January 18 after a bus rolled over in Jacksonville near the junction of
Interstates 10 and 95. ARRL Crown District Emergency Coordinator Miller
Norton, N4RYX, reports the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD)
initiated the Northern Florida ARES group's activation through an
automatic telephone notification service. "In Duval County, ARES is
automatically paged out by JFRD communications when a Level III
mass-casualty incident occurs," Miller explained. "Level III means an
event with 22 or more casualties. We began receiving radio check-ins
within moments of launching the system." In all some 30 ARES members
checked into the net. The bus had rolled down an embankment, landing
upright, Norton said. More than 20 injured bus passengers--both adults and
children--were transported to three area hospitals. None of the injuries
was considered life-threatening. Duval County ARES dispatched amateur
operators to the three hospitals receiving victims. Ten JFRD rescue units
and five private ambulances responded to the scene along with other
emergency vehicles and the JFRD Command and Communications Center mobile
unit, Norton said. The call-up service Duval ARES uses is a telephone
message-forwarding service called, which is able to alert
all ARES members quickly once an activation has been called. "This is a
superior way to notify ARES members without the need for a telephone tree,
which wastes precious time," Norton said. "Hats off to Duval County EC Bob
Nelson, N4CUZ, and his group for a job well done!"

* Hamfest will happen, despite fire: Dixiefest 2004, the annual Memphis
hamfest, will take place February 14-15 despite a fire in December that
destroyed the Shelby County Building, the hamfest's home for the past few
years. Dixiefest Committee members opted to move the event to the Pipkin
Building which is also at the Mid-South Fairgrounds and only a few feet
from the old location. "The fire created a big problem for the Dixiefest
Committee," said Ben Troughton, event chairman, "but now that we have
decided to move next door to the more modern Pipkin Building, I think
we're going to continue our tradition and put together another great
Dixiefest." Those planning to attend or sell at Dixiefest are invited to
visit the event's Web site <>.

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

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