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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 06
February 6, 2004


* +BPL rule making proposal on FCC meeting agenda
* +Growing Education & Technology Program "big" on enthusiasm
* +Alleged 10-meter offenders hear from FCC
* +ISS commander QSOs students at his UK alma mater
* +Vermont amateurs urged to support state antenna bill
* +AO-40 command team hoping for a break
* +New Jersey hams turn youngsters on to Amateur Radio
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Attention ARRL-Affiliated clubs
     DXCC Honor Roll deadline looms
     Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineers honors FCC engineer
     RadioFest 2004 moves to Monterey
     Sculpture auctioned, proceeds to ECHO project

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The FCC appears poised to release a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)
in the Broadband over Power Line (BPL) proceeding. When it meets February
12, the Commission is to consider an NPRM concerning changes to its Part
15 rules as they apply to so-called "access" BPL systems. Last April the
Commission issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in ET Docket 03-104
seeking input on possibly amending Part 15 regarding new requirements and
measurement guidelines for access BPL. Issuance of an NPRM would mark the
next step in the BPL proceeding.

The BPL NOI has attracted more than 5100 comments. Many within the amateur
community, including the ARRL and AMRAD <>, have
expressed concerns that BPL will wreak havoc on the HF amateur bands,
since the technology would apply high-frequency RF to parts of the power
grid. One aspect of the NOI was to gather information on potential
interference effects on authorized spectrum users.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell recently acknowledged interference concerns
raised by the amateur community and by at least two federal agencies: the
Federal Emergency Management Agency--now part of the Department of
Homeland Security--and the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA), which manages spectrum allocated to government
users. "We will continue to explore ways to support this technology while
protecting services from interference," the FCC chairman pledged in a
January 14 address to the National Press Club.

Last month, US Representative Greg Walden, WB7OCE, called on Powell to put
off further FCC action in the BPL proceeding until the NTIA had released
the results of its BPL study and the public has had a chance to comment.
"I feel that it is important to give the NTIA study thorough consideration
before proceeding further with BPL technology, in view of the importance
of avoiding interference to federal government HF communications," Walden
said January 15 in a letter to Powell. An Oregon Republican, Walden is one
of two Amateur Radio licensees in the US House.

The NTIA has expressed "broad concerns" about BPL's potential to interfere
with government HF users. Its BPL field work was scheduled to wrap up in
January, and its observations and conclusions are expected to be released
sometime during the first quarter of this year. The ARRL's own BPL field
engineering study is still under way. It will explore how BPL might affect
HF and low-VHF amateur operation as well as how Amateur Radio operation
could affect BPL systems.

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


Since becoming ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program
Coordinator some six months ago, Mark Spencer, WA8SME, has seen the number
of the program's pilot schools rise from 50 to 70. Fourteen schools came
aboard last fall, while another three schools already in the program
received progress grants of up to $500 to help them continue their program

"The new schools coming onboard are approaching this program with a lot of
enthusiasm that I hope will continue," Spencer said. He's hoping their
upbeat attitude will be infectious, and that other schools will follow the
lead of the ones that have experienced the greatest success.

"The success of a program school boils down to the teacher, community and
administration support and local Amateur Radio club support," Spencer
says. "Those schools that can get all these things together are really
doing well."

The ARRL program subsidizes the cost of an Amateur Radio station for each
participating school--typically about $2800, Spencer says. To better spell
out the League's expectations, lead teachers and principals now must agree
in writing to make a good-faith effort to integrate Amateur Radio and
wireless technology into their curricula for at least three years. "We
have a responsibility to our donors," Spencer explains.

Spencer sees his role as supporting pilot schools by helping teachers to
integrate the Education and Technology Program's curriculum into their
classroom pursuits. "This has to be a grassroots activity," he says. The
program curriculum is available on the ARRL Web site

On the other hand, he recognizes that schools in recent months have faced
heavy budget cuts that have compelled school administrators to pull back
on enrichment activities. "Our program has mitigated the costs for
schools," said Spencer. But since the ARRL cannot provide much more than
initial seed money for equipment, affiliation with a local club becomes
all the more essential.

Not just money but time is at a premium for today's educators, especially
for extra-curricular activities. "Teachers are already stretched too
thin," he says. That's where local Amateur Radio clubs come in. "The clubs
can do a better job than we can do from here in supporting a participating
school's program." Some clubs have provided additional equipment to the
schools too. Even more important: Club members often offer their ham radio
experience and expertise to mentor youngsters in participating schools.
Spencer says it's hard to put a price tag on that kind of contribution.

While the Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program typically is an
after-school activity, Spencer says more and more schools are integrating
Amateur Radio into their science curriculum. More private schools also are
applying to participate, and even home-schooled youngsters are making use
of the program's curriculum, he notes. Spencer reports there have been
more than 1200 downloads so far.

Although licensing students is not a primary program goal, many youngsters
have become Amateur Radio operators as a result of their program
involvement. More important to Spencer is the exposure to technology the
program provides. "They're spending an average of five hours per week
talking about wireless technology and Amateur Radio," he says.

There's more information about the ARRL Amateur Radio Education and
Technology Program on the ARRL Web site <>.
The ARRL Development Office invites support for this initiative


The FCC is working on at least two fronts to eliminate unlicensed
operation from the 10-meter band. In January, FCC Special Counsel Riley
Hollingsworth sent warning notices to two shipping companies regarding
reports to the Commission that some of the companies' vehicles may be the
source of illegal radio transmissions on the amateur band. One of the
companies, UPS, has offered its full cooperation.

"Many truckers use CB radio, which does not require a license,"
Hollingsworth pointed out in letters to UPS offices in Ohio and Indiana
and to R&L Transfer Inc of Ohio. "However, any person using a radio
transmitter on the Amateur Radio bands must possess a station and operator
license." Hollingsworth asked the over-the-road shippers to advise their
drivers that such radio operation could subject them to heavy fines and
seizure of their radio equipment.

UPS Attorney Daniel N. Tenfelde responded to assure Hollingsworth that his
company was taking its Warning Notice seriously and has launched a full
investigation. "We discovered that some employees had obtained CB radios
that contained a mechanism allowing them to switch frequencies into the
10-meter Amateur Radio band," he told Hollingsworth in a January 28
letter. "It is not UPS policy to allow equipment such as this to be used
in our vehicles." He said UPS' contract with the Teamsters Union allows
only for CB radios.

Tenfelde said UPS is working with its transportation and labor groups to
let drivers know that such unlicensed operation violates both UPS policy
and FCC regulations.

In a parallel development, the FCC issued a Citation to Jonathan Edward
Stone, doing business as Omnitronics/Pacetronics for alleged violation of
§302(b) of the Communications Act and §2.803(a)(1) of the Commission's
rules. An investigation by the FCC's Dallas field office led the
Commission to allege that Omnitronics/Pacetronics was offering more than
two dozen uncertificated "Citizens Band" transceivers via its Web site.
The FCC says Omnitronics/Pacetronics was marketing the units as Amateur
Radio equipment, which does not require FCC certification (formerly known
as "type acceptance").

"The Commission has evaluated radio frequency 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," said
the FCC Citation from FCC Dallas District Director James D. Wells. The FCC
said it concluded that the devices fall within the definition of CB
transmitters that "cannot legally be imported or marketed in the United
States." That would include so-called "export" models, the Citation said,
pointing to a 2000 revision of §2.1204(a)(5) of its rules.

Citing §95.655(a) of the FCC's rules, Wells noted that "dual-use CB and
Amateur Radio of the kind at issue here may not be certificated under the
Commission's rules." The clarification was added to Part 95--which governs
the Citizens Band--"to explicitly foreclose the possibility of
certification of dual-use CB and amateur radios and thereby deter use by
CB operators of frequencies allocated for Amateur Radio use," he said.

The FCC Citation also warned Unitronics/Pacetronics regarding the
requirement of FCC certification of external RF amplifiers or amplifier
kits capable of operating below 144 MHz as well as the prohibition against
marketing RF amplifiers or amplifier kits capable of operating between 24
and 35 MHz.


International Space Station Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, has
told students at The King's School in Canterbury, England, that he
believes human spaceflight has some significant advantages over robotic
space exploration. The British-born Foale, who once attended the school,
answered a dozen questions during a January 28 school group QSO with NA1SS
arranged through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
(ARISS) program.

"When the people get there they actually have to experience it firsthand,
they can communicate it better," Foale said of human space exploration,
"but most important they can understand the unusual things in a way that
the robots never could." He also pointed out that people are very good at
fixing things that go wrong, and added, "that's something I do quite a lot
of up here."

In reply to a question about how well his training on Earth prepared him
for living in space, Foale said his pre-flight training was sufficient to
learn the technical aspects but was unable to truly replicate the
environment of space--"the weightlessness, the view, and the brightness of
the sun and the darkness of space."

Foale said he believes a new phase in spaceflight is on the horizon. "I
think the most significant one will be commercial spaceflight," he told
the students. President George Bush's recent call to refocus NASA's goals
toward landings on the moon and Mars set a tone that he hopes the rest of
the world will follow, he said.

At the school, control operator Carlos Eavis, G0AKI, used the call sign
GB4FUN, which was borrowed from the Radio Society of Great Britain for the
occasion. Among those on hand were the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, school
dignitaries, representatives of the RSGB and AMSAT-UK, other students and
members of the news media.

ARISS <> is an international educational outreach
program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.


Vermont amateurs are hoping their state will be the 21st to adopt Amateur
Radio antenna legislation based on the limited federal preemption known as
PRB-1 <>. A
bill in the Vermont House, H.602, not only would incorporate the essence
of PRB-1's stance that local governments must "reasonably accommodate"
Amateur Radio communication with "minimal practicable regulation," it
would include a schedule of minimum regulatory heights for antenna
structures. H.602 has been referred to the House Local Government

"We need you to contact your local state representative and state senator
and ask them to support and/or cosponsor House Bill H.602," Vermont ARRL
Section Manager Paul Gayet, AA1SU, said in a letter to all Vermont hams.
"We need to get it out of committee and onto the House floor." Gayet says
the bill's sponsor, Rep Ira Trombley of Grand Isle, already has testified
on behalf of the measure in committee, and the legislative pace is picking
up. "Time is of the essence," Gayet said.

As drafted, H.602 would, in general, prohibit localities from restricting
the overall height of an Amateur Radio antenna and associated support
structure to less than 75 feet above ground level on lots smaller than one
acre. On larger tracts, the measure would keep municipalities from
restricting the height of an Amateur Radio antenna system to "less than
that specified in 47 C.F.R. §97.15(a)" of the FCC's Amateur Service rules.
While that provision does not actually specify a maximum height, it does
require owners of antenna structures more than 200 feet above ground level
and located at or near a public airport to notify the Federal Aviation
Administration and register them with the FCC.

Under the proposed legislation, municipalities could not restrict the
number of antenna structures for any lot size.

Special provisions would prevail in "duly designated design control or
historic districts." There municipalities would be permitted to restrict
antennas and associated support structures to overall heights of less than
75 feet, but they could not altogether prohibit ham radio antennas and
support structures. In such circumstances, an Amateur Radio antenna and
support structure could be at least as tall as "the highest permissible
construction in any other location" within the district.

The Vermont bill would essentially grandfather all Amateur Radio antennas
and support structures constructed prior to the effective date of the
proposed law and would permit their repair or replacement without further
permitting or municipal review.

Gayet credits ARRL Vermont Volunteer Counsel Trevor Lewis, KD1YT, for
drafting the legislation. A copy of the bill is on the Vermont legislative
Web site <>. Vermont
amateurs may find their local House of Representatives and Senate members
by visiting the Vermont Legislature Legislative Directory Web site


Ground controllers for the now-dark AO-40 satellite are waiting for
something to break aboard the spacecraft. Specifically, they want one of
the cells of the main battery bank to open up and "unshort" the power bus.
That open circuit then could mean the command team would be able use the
auxiliary batteries--now tied in parallel with the main battery bank--to
restart the satellite. The command team hypothesizes that a failure within
the main battery is clamping the bus voltage low. In the hope that a
receiver still is operating despite the low voltage, the command team
continues to signal AO-40 to turn off its main batteries and turn on the
auxiliary batteries and the 2.4 GHz "S2" downlink transmitter.

"If we have approximately 10 V on the main bus, then these commands should
be making it through," said ground controller Stacey Mills, W4SM, "but the
S2 transmitter was not designed to run below 20 V and is not coming on."

AO-40 has been silent since January 27 (UTC), in the wake of a precipitous
voltage drop. The satellite's controllers believe that one or more shorted
battery cells are at the root of the problem.

Mills said the AO-40 command team assumes the bus voltage aboard AO-40 is
lower than 12 V, and that the onboard IHU-1 ("internal housekeeping unit")
computer, the command receivers or the battery changeover relay have
insufficient power to operate.

There's some conjecture that the current problem may be related to the
near-catastrophic incident that occurred onboard AO-40 in December 2000
less than a month after its launch during testing of the 400-newton
propulsion system. Following that incident, the AO-40 command team was
able to restore some of the satellite's functionality.

Updates on the AO-40 situation are being posted on the AMSAT-DL Web site
<>. There's additional
information on AO-40 on the AMSAT-NA Web site <>.


Amateurs in the Trenton, New Jersey, area were out in force over the
January 10-11 weekend to promote Amateur Radio at the New Jersey State
Museum's "Super Science Weekend." It marked the first time ham radio was
included in the annual event, which attracts nearly 10,000 children and
parents. Super Science Weekend this year included a large Amateur Radio
display and working HF and VHF stations.

"Many of the children liked learning to send their names in Morse code
using a straight key and code practice oscillator," said ARRL PIO Gary
Wilson, K2GW, who coordinated the event.

Visitors saw the ARRL's Amateur Radio Today video, which explains Amateur
Radio's role in emergencies. They also could get literature on how to get
started in Amateur Radio, including information on licensing classes.
Contacts were made on SSB and PSK31 using the Delaware Valley Radio
Association's W2ZQ.

Taking advantage of record cold temperatures, the ingenious hams used
gallon jugs filled with water and frozen to the pavement to provide
antenna support guy wire anchors.

Led by the Delaware Valley Radio Association, hams from the Warminster
Amateur Radio Club and the David Sarnoff Radio Club also pitched in to
provide 15 hours of continuous coverage over the two-day event. The
amateurs now hope ham radio will become a regular feature of the Super
Science Weekend.

"Only by introducing kids to Amateur Radio can we assure a solid future
for our hobby and our ability to serve the nation," Wilson concluded.


Solar seer Tad "Shooting Star" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
Sunspots are back in view. Last week's update reported two days with no
sunspots, but this week the average daily sunspot number rose 28 points to
66.7. This is nice for short-term HF propagation, but now that January has
passed, a look at monthly averages shows a clear decline in the sunspot

The monthly average of daily sunspot numbers in January 2003 through
January 2004 were 150.0, 87.9, 119.7, 114.3, 89.6, 118.4, 132.8, 114.3,
82.6, 118.9, 103, 75.7 and 62.3. Average daily solar flux values over the
same months were 144, 124.5, 133.5, 126.8, 116.6, 129.4, 127.7, 122.1,
112.2, 155.5, 140.8, 116.1 and 114.1.

You can see that over the past 13 months average daily sunspot numbers
dipped below 100 several times but were never below 82.6 until December
and January, when they dropped to 75.7 and 62.3. Look for declining solar
activity over the next few years, with the predicted bottom of the solar
cycle still three years off.

Right now sunspot 551 is moving into the center of the visible solar disk,
the place where sunspots have the most effect on earth. Geomagnetic
conditions at mid-day today were unsettled, but unless the active region
around sunspot 551 spews forth, conditions should be normal over the next
few days. Predicted solar flux February 6-9 is 105-110. Solar flux values
should peak around 130 toward the middle of the month.

Sunspot numbers for January 29 through February 4 were 25, 42, 49, 57,
106, 103 and 85, with a mean of 66.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 87.4, 92.7,
94.4, 97.3, 101.5, 99.4 and 101.4, with a mean of 96.3. Estimated
planetary A indices were 10, 17, 12, 11, 21, 17 and 15, with a mean of



* This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (SSB), the
Delaware, Minnesota and Vermont QSO parties, the QRP ARCI Winter Fireside
SSB Sprint, the FYBO Winter QRP Field Day, the 10-10 International Winter
Contest (SSB), the AGCW Straight Key Party and the Mexico RTTY
International Contest are the weekend of February 7-8. JUST AHEAD: The
ARRL School Club Roundup, the KCJ Topband Contest, the CQ WW RTTY WPX
Contest, SARL Kid's Day, SARL Field Day Contest, the Asia-Pacific Spring
Sprint (CW), the Dutch PACC Contest, the OMISS QSO Party, the FISTS Winter
Sprint and the RSGB First 1.8 MHz Contest (CW) are the weekend of February
14-15. The AGCW Semi-Automatic Key Evening is February 18. The ARRL
International DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of February 21-22. See the
ARRL Contest Branch page <> and the WA7BNM
Contest Calendar <> for
more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration opens
Monday, February 9, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level II
Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains
open through the February 14-15 weekend or until all seats are
filled--whichever occurs first. Class begins Tuesday, February 24. 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 60 seats are being
offered to ARRL members on a first-come, first-served basis. 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 Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan
Miller, K3UFG,, 860-594-0340.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the ARRL Antenna Modeling (EC-004) courses opens Monday,
February 9, 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time (0501 UTC). Registration will
remain open through Sunday, February 16. Classes begin Tuesday February
17. 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 Department

* Attention ARRL-Affiliated clubs: To be considered actively affiliated
with ARRL, a club needs to update its record with ARRL Headquarters at
least once per year--or as often as necessitated by changes in the club.
If your club has not recently submitted an update with ARRL, please visit
"The Affiliated Club Annual Report Form" page
<>. Follow the
instructions under "How to submit an update for your club records."
Special Service Clubs need to submit an update as well by visiting the
"Form FSD-7 Application for Renewal as an ARRL Special Service Club" page

* DXCC Honor Roll deadline looms: The deadline to appear in the next DXCC
Honor Roll listing is March 31. Submissions must be postmarked by that
date for submissions to be included. The DXCC Honor Roll list will appear
in August 2004 QST. At present there are 335 entities on the DXCC List,
and you must be within the numerical top 10 DXCC entities to qualify. The
minimum requirement for Honor Roll now is 326 current entities.

* Correction: In the story "SSB, Radar Pioneer Mike Villard, W6QYT, SK,"
which appeared in The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 05 (Jan 30), we incorrectly
described a civilian award to Villard from the Department of Defense. We
should have said that among his awards for contributions to the military
were a Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Air
Force and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

* Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineers honors FCC engineer:
The IEEE has named FCC engineer Michael J. Marcus, N3JMM, of the Office of
Engineering and Technology as an IEEE Fellow for "leadership in the
development of spectrum management policies." The honor recognizes IEEE
members having an extraordinary record of accomplishment. "I am pleased
that the IEEE has chosen to recognize Mike's contributions in the field of
radio technologies," said his boss, OET Chief Ed Thomas. "Mike's creative
technological vision significantly advanced policies that led to the
deployment of spread spectrum and Wi-Fi. The rank of Fellow is a fitting
tribute to Mike's extensive accomplishments." An ARRL member, Marcus
joined OET in 1979. As associate chief for technology, he specializes in
spectrum management policy, focusing on technological issues. He has
championed changes in FCC rules that enabled spread spectrum, use of
unlicensed devices in certain spectrum bands, and use of upper
millimeter-wave technologies. He's also provided key direction in
establishing a technical approach to solving issues of satellite jamming.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who's fluent in Japanese,
Marcus has spent considerable time in Japan both as a visiting researcher
at the University of Tokyo and as a Mansfield Fellow.--FCC

* RadioFest 2004 moves to Monterey: RadioFest 2004 will be Saturday,
February 28, 8 AM until 2 PM, in Monterey, California. Sponsored by the
Naval Postgraduate School Amateur Radio Club, the event has evolved into a
more casual hamfest with no commercial vendors. RadioFest 2004 will have
free Amateur Radio exam sessions, ham equipment swap tables, guest
speakers and technical demonstrations. It will be held at the Monterey
Moose Family Center, 500 Canyon Del Rey Blvd (Hwy 218), Monterey. Talk-in
will be on the K6LY 146.97 repeater (94.8 CTCSS) Swapfest tables are free
and available on a first come, first served basis (limit 2) the morning of
the event. Doors open for setup only at 6 AM. There's more information on
the RadioFest 2004 Web site <>.--Brian Broggie,

* Sculpture auctioned, proceeds to ECHO project: AMSAT-NA reports that its
sculpture of AO-40 sold January 31 in an eBay auction for $1225. The
proceeds, less sales fees, will benefit the AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO satellite
project. AO ECHO is set to launch March 31. There's more information on
the eBay Web site
News Service

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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