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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 10
March 5, 2004


* +NTIA spectrum initiative no threat to amateurs
* +League critical of Wall Street Journal BPL article
* +Michigan, Ohio youngsters talk to ISS via ham radio link
* +Hamvention 2004 moving full speed ahead
* +Hams' surprise leaves West Virginia governor at a loss for words
* +ARRL Foundation approves new officers, scholarships
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course registration
    +Hollingsworth issues interference reminder
     Bogus messages circulating via e-mail
     Musical pioneer Alvino Rey, W6UK, SK
     Clifford E. Fay, K7BQ, SK
     Hawaii Amateur Radio antenna bills advance
     New 241-GHz distance record claimed
     Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News



Apparently not to be outdone by the FCC's Spectrum Policy Task Force
(SPTF) and resulting proceedings, the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) has initiated its own spectrum
management Notice of Inquiry
<>. The NTIA administers
spectrum used by the federal government and advises the White House in
telecommunications matters. Comments on the NOI--which carries the
somewhat unwieldy Docket No 040127027-4027-01--are due by March 18. Some
in the amateur community believe the NOI represents a threat to Amateur
Radio. ARRL Chief Technology Officer Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, says the League
is taking a hard look at the NTIA NOI and its potential impact on the
Amateur Radio Service and will comment formally by the filing deadline.

"In a nutshell, there is no specific threat to the Amateur Radio Service
in this proceeding," Rinaldo said, "unless one considers opening spectrum
management to scrutiny as the US government does every so often."

As it did with the FCC's SPTF, the League's Washington office is
participating in meetings related to the NOI. On February 12 Rinaldo
delivered a presentation on Amateur Radio spectrum management at an NTIA
Forum on Spectrum Management Policy Reform, sponsored by the Computer
Science and Telecommunications Board of The National Academies.

Among other things, Rinaldo noted that amateurs are concerned about
potential interference from unlicensed Part 15 devices, "particularly
those that are broadband and distributed throughout residential areas."
Such devices, he asserted, should have "globally harmonized bands and
standards" designed to preserve a low-noise environment needed for
scientific uses and to avoid power escalation in radio services as the
noise level rises.

The NTIA released the NOI February 2 in response to a May 29, 2003,
executive memorandum from President George W. Bush called "United States
Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century." The NTIA NOI now is being viewed as
a counterweight to the FCC's SPTF.

The NTIA proceeding is broader than the FCC's SPTF initiative, however,
and it poses some fundamental questions--including whether the FCC and
NTIA spectrum management functions should be combined in a single entity.

"The League sees this NOI as a healthy opportunity for the airing of views
on spectrum management and not a threat aimed at the Amateur Radio
Service," Rinaldo concluded. "We appreciate an opportunity to hear
members' views."

FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Acting NTIA head Michael Gallagher met
February 27 to plan and coordinate the efforts of the FCC and the NTIA on
spectrum policy. The meeting included senior spectrum policy teams from
both government agencies.


The ARRL this week responded to a March 2 Wall Street Journal article,
"The Web's New Outlet," that presented a one-sided, rosy picture of
Broadband over Power Line while avoiding any mention of its interference
potential. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, faxed a letter to the editor of
the New York-based business and financial publication to point out some of
BPL's shortcomings, which were largely missing from the WSJ report.

"Any listing of the pros and cons of using power lines to deliver
broadband services must mention its major disadvantage: it pollutes the
radio spectrum, interfering with nearby radio receivers," Sumner said.
"The only known exception is a microwave system being developed by
Corridor Systems of Santa Rosa, California."

Sumner pointed out that BPL involves sending wideband RF "over unshielded
wires that were not designed for the purpose." Owing to the laws of
physics, Sumner continued, these power lines function much like antennas,
and BPL signals passing through wires in the vicinity can interfere with
radio reception.

"The frequencies in question are used by public safety agencies, the
military, aeronautical and maritime services, broadcasters, radio
astronomers, radio amateurs, and others," Sumner noted. He said BPL system
designers have had only limited success in resolving the interference
issue by notching certain frequencies.

"Yet BPL implementation cannot go forward without solving it, because for
very good and obvious reasons it is a violation of FCC regulations for a
BPL system to cause radio interference," he went on. "If BPL causes
interference--and it does--the BPL system must be shut down." Sumner
included references to the ARRL's BPL Web page
<>, which documents HF
interference the League monitored at four BPL field test sites last fall.

The WSJ article, in the paper's "Marketplace" section, focuses on the
announcement this week of what's said to be the largest rollout to date of
BPL by Cincinnati-based utility Cinergy Corp and its BPL partner Current
Communications. Cinergy and Current Communications hope to be offering the
service to between 60,000 and 1.5 million Cincinnati-area customers by
year's end and eventually to some 24 million potential customers elsewhere
who are served by smaller utilities.

While the article concedes that BPL "is unproven in wide use," it also
cites FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Ed Thomas, who called
the technology "ready for prime time." Thomas stopped short of saying that
the same was true for the BPL industry, however. It also quotes Cinergy
Executive Vice President Bill Grealis, who called BPL "the last-mile
solution" and said the service--at between $30 and $40 a month--would be
"cheaper and faster than DSL or cable."

A March 5 article about the Cinergy/Current Communications BPL rollout
appearing in the Cincinnati Enquirer
<> cites
Amateur Radio's concerns, although it also includes comments by FCC and
industry sources saying that interference is not a major worry. Featuring
a photo of ARRL Ohio Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE, the report
quotes the League's comments to the FCC in response to last April's BPL
FCC Notice of Inquiry (ET Docket 04-104). Phillips expresses his concerns
that interference from RF on unshielded power lines could interfere "with
all types of radio transmissions," including emergency agencies.

Sumner, in his letter to the Wall Street Journal, suggested that there are
better choices than BPL, even from the standpoint of business and
economics. "Potential investors in broadband delivery alternatives to DSL
and cable would be far better off considering the various methods of
delivering fiber-to-the-home in densely populated areas," he concluded.
"For rural areas, adaptations of wireless LAN technology are generally
recognized as offering far more promise than BPL."


Youngsters at schools in Michigan and Ohio were the latest to have an
opportunity to interview International Space Station Expedition 8
Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, via Amateur Radio. The contacts March 1 with
Armstrong Middle School in Flint, Michigan, and February 20 with Glenwood
Elementary School in Perrysburg, Ohio, were arranged via the Amateur Radio
on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. Foale was at the
controls of NA1SS for both QSOs. Originally set for January 12, the
Armstrong Middle School contact had to be rescheduled because of the ISS
air leak earlier this year. That now-resolved problem was the topic of the
first question from an Armstrong student.

"Yes, we did fix it. We found the leak using a special detector that
listened for hiss--ultrasound," Foale replied. The leak was from a hose
used to keep condensation from building up on a window. "Since then, we've
replaced the hose that went to that window, so we don't have the leak

Another youngster wanted to know what it was like to take off into space
from Earth. Foale said the space shuttle offers a harder ride than the
much-smaller Russian Soyuz vehicles the crews use now that the shuttle
fleet remains grounded.

"It's very very rough," Foale said, describing the shuttle take-off, which
he compared to lying on a washing machine in spin cycle with a pair of
sneakers inside. "On the Soyuz rocket--the Russian rocket--it's a lot
smoother," Foale continued, "but you still feel the same pressure on your
chest as the Gs build up. In fact, it's like having three people sitting
on your chest at the very end--after eight minutes."

Foale said that during his spare time, he enjoys using the NA1SS station
for casual contacts, and he likes taking pictures of Earth--so he'll have
something to remember his ISS experience.

Armstrong Middle School Science Coordinator Nannette Wolak selected the
students who participated in the contact. Local amateur and ARRL member
Duane Fischer, W8DBF, worked with the school and ARISS to make the ISS
contact a success. The school, which opened in 1970, was named for
astronaut Neil Armstrong--the first human to walk on the moon.

The ISS was over the US West Coast at the time, and W6SRJ at Santa Rosa
College handled the direct uplink and downlink, and the students were
linked via an MCI teleconference circuit. Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, was the
W6SRJ control operator.

Glenwood Elementary School Science Coordinator Linda Cutler, KC8RWJ, has
been waiting about three years for her students to have a chance to speak
with the ISS via ham radio. Among other things, the Glenwood pupils wanted
to know about ongoing research aboard the ISS.

"I'm working on experiments that grow plants that make new medicines to
fight cancer," Foale said, "and also we're studying how we might make
metals stronger." He noted that plants that can grow in space grow toward
the light. He also said that cells grow differently in the zero-gravity of
space than they do on Earth.

Space exploration is part of the curriculum at the kindergarten through
grade six school, Cutler said. Glenwood pupils were involved with
polishing mirrors for the Starshine 3 satellite project a few years ago.

Technical support for the direct contact came from the Wood County Amateur
Radio Association and other local amateurs--among them James French,
W8ISS, an AMSAT member and ham radio-in-space enthusiast. Larry Reitz,
WA8CWD, was the primary liaison between the school and ARISS, and his call
sign was used for the Earth station.

ARISS <> is an international educational outreach
program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.--some information
provided by NASA, AMSAT, Duane Fischer, W8DBF, and Bill Chaikin, KA8VIT.


Hamvention <> General Chairman Gary Des Combes,
N8EMO, reports all is going smoothly as the 2004 show approaches.
Hamvention will take place Friday through Sunday, May 14-16, at Hara Arena
in Trotwood, near Dayton, Ohio. The theme for the 53rd Hamvention is "The
Year of the Contact."

"Things are going well, and my team is outstanding," Des Combes said in
summing up Hamvention's preparations to date. "I really am fortunate to
have the best volunteers in the world."

Des Combes says all forum slots have been filled, and about two-thirds of
the inside exhibit spaces have been spoken for--which, he points out, is
ahead of last year. Des Combes says advanced ticket sales and flea market
signups appear to be strong. "We are compiling data now, but demand is
very high," he said. Hamvention has another mailing in the works in an
effort to attract additional exhibitors. Des Combes also notes that the
Hamvention Web site has been upgraded and now provides for on-line, credit
card ticket purchases.

Under the banner of its Great Lakes Division, the ARRL will offer a
Hamvention forum, "How Grassroots Action Gets Lawmakers' Reaction," on
Friday, May 14, 12:15 PM. Moderated by ARRL Great Lakes Division Vice
Director Dick Mondro, W8FQT, the forum will feature an introduction by
ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, and participation by
ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, who will discuss "How to Influence
Congressional Representatives," ARRL New England Division Vice Director
Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, on "Getting State Legislators to Work with Us" and
ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, who's titled his remarks "ARRL: Tighten
that Cinch, and Go Do It!"

The annual ARRL Forum gets under way at 8:30 AM on Saturday, May 15. Check
the Hamvention Web site <> for additional


It's not often one sees a state governor at a loss for words. Upon
learning that the call sign of his late father, Robert Wise Sr, WA8AYP,
was going to be used by the ham radio station in the new Kanawha County
Metro Emergency Operations Center in Charleston, West Virginia, Gov Bob
Wise quietly said, "I don't know quite what to say."

In a February 17 ceremony, Gov Wise prepared to present a $50,000 check to
Kanawha County officials to purchase Amateur Radio gear for the new
EOC--set for completion next spring. However, he was interrupted by a
voice calling him on the ham radio set up in his office for the event.
Control operator Bill Hunter, K8BS, identified the station as WA8AYP. When
he handed over the mike, the surprised governor responded, "This is the
son of WA8AYP."

It was then that Gov Wise learned that the call sign of his father, who
died in 1986, had been secured for the ham station at the new EOC. It was
an emotional moment. "Thank you very much for remembering Dad," he said.
"I can't think of anything that would make him happier." Then he quipped,
"Do I get a QSL card for this?"

To the governor's surprise, officials then unveiled a specially designed
WA8AYP QSL card and passed out copies, later signed by the governor for
the eager hams in attendance.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, W8CHS, said Amateur Radio
operators provide the county with $25,000 to $30,000 a year in free
services during disasters.

Some of the state funds also will provide ham gear for a new Mobile
Command Center.

On hand was the West Virginia Legislature's only ham radio operator,
Kanawha County Delegate Sharon Spencer, KC8KVF, who also serves as the
section's ARRL Affiliated Club Coordinator.--Jim Damron, N8TMW


The ARRL Foundation <> elected the following
officers during its annual meeting, held via teleconference on February
12. President: ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI; vice
president: ARRL Dakota Division Director Jay Bellows, K0QB; treasurer:
ARRL Treasurer Jim McCobb, W1LLU, who succeeds Roger W. Franke, K9AYK; and
secretary: ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, who succeeds
Mary Lau, N1VH.

The change in secretary reflects the first step of a plan to shift the
administration of the ARRL Foundation from Field and Educational Services
to the ARRL Development Office over the coming months. This will help to
align ARRL and Foundation efforts to provide a single contact point for
fund-raising activities. The Foundation Board recognized and expressed its
appreciation for the exceptional service and support that outgoing
secretary Mary Lau has provided to the Foundation over the past 15 years.

In other action, the board approved the adoption of the new Indian River
Amateur Radio Club (IRARC) Memorial Joseph P. Rubino Scholarship. Existing
funds were transferred to the foundation from the Florida club, which has
asked the Foundation to administer the pre-existing scholarship.


Sun watcher Tad "Sunshine On My Shoulders" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: Propagation should be good for the ARRL International
DX Contest (SSB). Geomagnetic conditions are expected to be quiet, with
predicted planetary A index at 10 for Friday, March 5, and just 8 for the
following three days. Solar flux is expected to rise to 105 for Friday and
110 for the following three days. Solar flux is currently expected to stay
above 100 until March 17.

Average daily sunspot numbers for the past week were up nearly 15 points
to 76.9, compared to the earlier week, and average daily solar flux
increased more than 5 points. Geomagnetic indices were about double this
week over last. A solar wind stream caused this, but no geomagnetic storm
erupted. Around March 10-11, Earth should enter another solar wind, and
this could cause a geomagnetic storm, possibly lasting until March 12.

Sunspot numbers for February 26 through March 3 were 105, 90, 104, 81, 66,
50 and 42, with a mean of 76.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 120.8, 122.2, 115.8,
110, 101.8, 98.8 and 90.4, with a mean of 108.5. Estimated planetary A
indices were 5, 11, 20, 21, 18, 17 and 15, with a mean of 15.3.



* This weekend on the radio: The ARRL International DX Contest (SSB), the
Makrothen RTTY Contest, the Open Ukraine RTTY Championship, the DARC
10-Meter Digital Contest are the weekend of March 6-7. The RSGB 80-Meter
Club Championship (CW) is March 10, and the Pesky Texan Armadillo Chase is
March 11. JUST AHEAD: The YL-ISSB QSO Party (SSB), the RSGB Commonwealth
Contest, the AGCW QRP Contest, the Oklahoma and Wisconsin QSO parties, the
SOC Marathon Sprint, the North American Sprint (RTTY) the UBA Spring
Contest (CW) and the NSARA Contest are the weekend of March 13-14. See the
ARRL Contest Branch page <> and the WA7BNM
Contest Calendar <> for
more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration opens
Monday, March 8, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level II
Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-002). Registration remains
open through the March 13-14 weekend or until all seats are
filled--whichever occurs first. Class begins Tuesday, March 23. 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.

* Hollingsworth issues interference reminder: FCC Special Counsel for
Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth says no Amateur Radio stations are exempt
from the requirement to avoid unnecessarily interfering with ongoing
communications. "It is very important for all stations, including
automated ones, to realize that they are responsible for any interference
caused when they come on top of existing communications," Hollingsworth
said in response to a recent inquiry. 'There are no exemptions for
automated stations." FCC Part 97
<> Amateur
Service rules generally address interference with other communications in
ß97.101(d): "No amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere
with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal." An
amateur had written to Hollingsworth alleging that what appear to be
automated PACTOR stations routinely start transmitting atop PSK31 QSOs on
40 and 30 meters. The amateur also contacted one of the PACTOR stations in
an effort to "dialogue about it not just complain." Hollingsworth
expressed the hope that all involved could work things out. He also points
out that stations responding to automated interrogations are equally
responsible for not causing interference. "It doesn't mean the frequency
is clear merely because they were interrogated by another station," he
told ARRL this week. "It's a two-way responsibility."

* Bogus messages circulating via e-mail: Several members have
notified ARRL that they have received e-mail messages alleging to be from
the ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service
<>, "The team" or
some variation. The messages, which often carry a subject line along the
lines of "Warning about your e-mail account," indicate that the
recipient's ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service <call sign> address
will be closed within three days because of an alleged violation of
acceptable practices. These messages are false and did not come from The
ARRL Forwarding Service. They are the result of one of the variants on a
number of viruses now permeating the Internet. A file usually is attached
to these messages. As always, do not open any attachments that you cannot
identify. Opening the file could result in your computer being infected by
a virus. This is only one of the several virus-laden messages currently
propagating across the Internet. The ARRL advises its members to be
cautious in opening any message and/or attachment, even if it appears to
be from someone you know. All of these viruses use e-mail addresses from
the address book of an infected computer to falsify the "From:" address in
the header to make it appear that the message is from someone the
recipient knows.

* Musical pioneer Alvino Rey, W6UK, SK: Alvino Rey, W6UK, of Sandy, Utah,
died February 24. He was 95 and had been in failing health. An ARRL
member, Rey was a well-known musician for several decades and was
considered "the father of the pedal steel guitar." Born Alvin McBurney in
California and raised in Cleveland, Rey was an inveterate tinkerer who
gained a reputation both as a musician and an electronics whiz who got his
ham ticket at an early age. During the Big Band era he was a star of the
Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights and later formed his own ensemble.
The Alvino Rey Orchestra's biggest hit, "Deep in the Heart of Texas," came
in 1942, but his trademark was novelty music and creating new sounds. At
one point during World War II, however, he found himself out of the music
business and working as a mechanic in an aircraft factory. He subsequently
joined the US Navy and led a service band. Rey and his orchestra were
featured during the 1960s' "The King Family Show" on TV, and he was
married to Luise King, who died in 1997. An active amateur, Rey and his
"talking guitar" performed at more than one ARRL Southwestern Division
convention in past decades. "He was great and a lot of fun as well as a
long-time League member," recalled ARRL Honorary Vice President and former
Southwestern Division Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, who also remembers
hearing Rey talking to his friends on HF.

* Clifford E. Fay, K7BQ, SK: Cliff Fay, K7BQ, of Peoria, Arizona, died
February 28. One of the oldest members of the Amateur Radio community, Fay
turned 100 last December 2. An ARRL member, Fay remained active on the air
until very recently. He was an active DXer and a regular participant in
the Lions Club's annual Hunting Lions in the Air contest. First licensed
as 9ARG in 1919 when he was 16 and living in St Louis, Fay had held a ham
ticket continuously since then--nearly 85 years. "Cliff was a truly great
person," said his friend Ken Hopper, KD7KH. "His mind was sharp as a tack
to the very end of his life." Hopper said Fay made arrangements for him to
donate his Amateur Radio gear to an organization that encourages young
people to become licensed. Survivors include a son, Ted, and a daughter,
Barbara. Fay's family requests memorial donations in Cliff Fay's name to
the Sierra Winds Charitable Foundation, 17300 N 88th Ave, Box PL 2,
Peoria, AZ 85382.

* Hawaii Amateur Radio antenna bills advance: Two Amateur Radio antenna
bills under consideration in the Hawaii State Legislature soon will move
from a House to a Senate committee, according to their sponsor, Rep Ken
Hiraki. House bills 2773 and 2774 would provide for Amateur Radio antennas
in housing developments, condominiums and subdivisions governed by
covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). HB 2773 would allows
condominium apartment owners who are licensed Amateur Radio operators to
install antennas on their apartment units. HB 2774 would permit the
installation of amateur radio equipment in subdivisions. Following a March
1 hearing in the Hawaii House Committee on Consumer Protection and
Commerce, committee members amended the bills to have an effective date of
2099, unanimously approved them and advanced them for consideration by a
Senate committee. The 2099 effective date will permit additional time for
the committees to amend the bills and integrate them with other
CC&R-related legislation. The ARRL submitted written testimony on behalf
of the measures (see "ARRL Submits Testimony Supporting Hawaii Antenna
Bills" <>).

* New 241-GHz distance record claimed: Perennial microwave-band record
seeker Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, has claimed a new world and North American DX
record for the 241 GHz band. On February 17, WA1ZMS/4 in EM96wx worked
W2SZ/4 in FM07fm at a distance of 79.6 km (49.35 miles). The two stations
used slow-speed CW (QRSS). Pete Lascell, W4WWQ, was the W2SZ operator.
Both stations used Spectran <>
software to aid in receiving the slow-speed CW, in which a dit lasted
about one second and each dah lingered for three. "The entire QSO took
well over an hour to complete, with both stations having to send the
exchanges several times," Justin said. "Some portions of the CW were
copied by ear, but the DSP software came through in the end to help make
the QSO happen." Justin says the QSO marked the fifth grid W2SZ needed for
the ARRL VUCC Award <> for 241 GHz--the
first VUCC on that band. Additional details are on the Mount Greylock
Expeditionary Force Web site <>.

* Vote on QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award
for February is Dan Clark, W9VV, for his article " A Historic Receiver
from a Radio Pioneer--Fred Schnell." Congratulations, Dan! The winner of
the QST Cover Plaque award--given to the author--or authors--of the best
article in each issue--is determined by a vote of ARRL members. Voting
takes place each month on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page
<>. Cast a ballot for your
favorite article in the March issue of QST. Voting ends March 31.

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,
accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <> for
the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
<> offers access to news, informative features and
columns. ARRL Audio News <> is a
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
The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

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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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