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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 11
March 12, 2004


* +North Carolina hams get face time with FCC chairman on BPL
* +ARRL welcomes visit by Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, and Bob Heil, K9EID
* +Middle schoolers put NA1SS in their log
* +Hawaii ham radio antenna bills attracting mainland's attention
* +Weak signal raises hopes for AO-40's revival
* +Ham radio community aids injured amateur
* +Bob Sutherland, W6PO, SK
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Emergency Communications course registration
    +Scott Redd, K0DQ, heads to new job in Iraq
     Congressman-ham gets father's call sign
     Barton replaces Tauzin
     HQ staffers get IC-7800 preview
     Eastern VHF/UHF Conference set for April

+Available on ARRL Audio News



A Broadband over Power Line (BPL) home demonstration in the Raleigh, North
Carolina, area March 5 provided an opportunity for area amateurs to take
their concerns about the technology to FCC Chairman Michael Powell face to
face. While ARRL Public Information Officer Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, doesn't
believe his brief encounter with the FCC head and amateurs' longer
discussions with Commission and electric utility staffers will stop or
slow the seeming BPL juggernaut, they were valuable anyway.

"We consider the day successful in the context that we were able to speak
directly with several high-level FCC officials, key Progress Energy
officials and the CEO of Amperion--a BPL provider," Pearce said.
"Long-term success will be measured by how much of a problem BPL poses to
Amateur Radio, or how much of a problem is avoided."

While Pearce says he only spent about 30 seconds with Powell, he did tell
the chairman that amateurs believe BPL's interference potential has been
understated and will prove more difficult to resolve than the FCC has
suggested in its February BPL Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). "What
I didn't know when I talked to him," he added, "was that a question that
we had sent to the local newspaper had been posed earlier in the day at a
press conference about interference."

Powell had responded to the question by saying the FCC would not let BPL
interfere with critical services, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
"The question is whether it does, and to what extent, and what limits can
be placed to make sure it doesn't," Powell said. "We've been fully
committed to only allowing things within the range of what we're convinced
won't create impermissible interference."

But Powell went on to say that if BPL can provide broadband access
anywhere there's a power outlet, "We're not going to be easily dissuaded
from doing something that has that much potential."

Progress Energy and BPL partner Amperion now are operating three field
test sites in Wake County south of Raleigh. Acting on a tip, Pearce and
several other area amateurs--ARRL Technical Specialist Frank Lynch, W4FAL,
among them--showed up at the prearranged BPL demonstration at a residence
near Fuquay-Varina.

While Pearce witnessed the demo inside, others, including Wake County ARRL
Emergency Coordinator Tom Brown, N4TAB--an engineer--stayed outside to
chat with Powell Senior Legal Advisor Chris Libertelli. Brown said the
"outside" delegation reiterated the amateurs' belief that BPL industry
claims are misstated and wrong. "Overall," he said, I think we were
successful in illuminating a few issues and opening more doors instead of
closing them."

Pearce told ARRL that a few hams--most a half-mile or so away from the
field test sites--already have identified BPL interference on 10 and 12
meters. But he was unsuccessful in getting Powell or others in the FCC
delegation to take a quick spin in his mobile radio-equipped vehicle to
show him what BPL sounded like "from our perspective." The FCC officials
suggested instead that the amateurs arrange a similar demonstration in

Pearce and Brown believe that BPL is not technologically mature enough to
ensure the sort of "interference mitigation" the FCC envisions in its
NPRM. "Everyone is relying on the vendors' claims that their technology
can solve all the problems," Pearce said. Brown concurred. "It's not
anywhere near as adaptive as they would lead you to believe it is or want
you to--by absence of further information--allow you to delude yourself,"
he said. "It's not there yet."

Pearce said he was happy to be able to put "a human face" on Amateur
Radio's side of the issue. "We know they heard us and that we made a good
impression," he said. "We hope it was a deep one as well."


Well-known amateur and musician Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, of The Eagles, this
week visited ARRL Headquarters for the first time in his 43 years as a
ham. Accompanying Walsh to Newington March 5 and 6 was ham radio audio
expert and manufacturer Bob Heil, K9EID. Both are ARRL Life Members.
Besides touring ARRL, Walsh and Heil spent part of their weekend operating
W1AW with ARRL staff members during the ARRL International DX Contest

"I'm looking forward to a pileup," Walsh said beforehand. He says he was
bitten by the contest bug during a visit to the station of Ali Al-Futtaim,
A61AJ, in the United Arab Emirates. "There were 50 guys at a time calling
me, and before I knew it, I looked up and three hours had passed and I'd
been logging 350 QSOs an hour," he recalled. "Then I realized what
[contesting] was all about. It was like, 'Wow!' You just have to do it to
understand how much fun it is."

At W1AW, Walsh hopped from band to band working the contest, while Heil
took the quieter route of ragchewing on 17 meters. He also assisted the
contest effort by repairing a couple of headsets. Walsh and Heil at one
point put W1AW on AM on 40 and 75 meters. During the contest, more than a
few operators took a moment to say hello to Walsh or to tell them they
were fans.

Walsh said his HQ tour proved to be an eye opener. "You read all the
different things in QST--the DX columns and technical articles--but people
don't realize that there are a number of departments, and they're staffed
with real people, the many people that it takes to put out QST and provide
[member] services."

Walsh also marveled at Hiram Percy Maxim's rotary spark gap transmitter
"Old Betsy," now residing in the W1AW lobby. "It's special just sitting
here at W1AW, soaking up 100 years of Amateur Radio," he remarked. "It's
everything I expected it to be, and I've met a lot of great people."

Walsh, who's also performed with The James Gang and enjoyed a solo career,
says he got into Amateur Radio in 1960, shortly after moving to New York.
Becoming a radio amateur was a pivotal point in his life, he said, and his
personal experience was one of the reasons he's become a donor to the ARRL
Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program
<>. Recalling how the kindness of his
Elmer, Jim Walden, then W2IEY and now W6ESJ, had enriched his life back
when he was the new kid in town, Walsh said he wanted to somehow pay it

"I feel that I need to pass that kindness along and that's why I got
involved in the Education and Technology Program," he said.

Walsh said he envisions "some kid like me--new in town and new in
school--and there's going to be a ham station there. I want there to be
something there for him." Walsh said he worked hard for his license, and
he's enjoyed Amateur Radio over the years.

"I don't want those traditions and that fellowship to be lost," he said.
"I'll do what it takes to have that survive."

More information about Walsh's and Heil's visit is on the ARRL Web site
<>. A commemorative QSL
card is available for those who worked W1AW during the contest. QSL
requests go to W1AW, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Please include a
self-addressed, stamped envelope with each request.


Students at a South Carolina middle school who spoke via ham radio with
the International Space Station this week enjoyed the experience so much
they're already eager to do it again. On March 8, youngsters at DuBose
Middle School in Summerville questioned ISS Crew Commander Mike Foale,
KB5UAC, about life aboard the space outpost. The contact was arranged via
the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program.
Operating from NA1SS, Foale told the sixth through eighth graders that he
was able to see prominent features of South Carolina from his vantage
point in space. He said the ISS crew can see eclipses and other planets in
space as well.

"The moon just went by Jupiter, and it was really an amazing sight to see
as I was going into the dark side of Earth," Foale said. The ISS was
passing above the US West Coast at the time. In a follow-up reply, he
described the inky darkness of the cosmic void and how stars and planets
appear. "It is totally black in space," he said. "There are some parts of
space where there are no stars visible at all, because there are gas
clouds out there in the galaxy. And that is so dark, it's hard to
imagine." Foale said stars appear brighter and more colorful from space
than they do from Earth.

One youngster wanted to know if astronauts could wear such appliances as
hearing aids, braces or contact lenses in the zero-gravity environment of
the ISS. "Actually, I wear ear plugs just because it's noisy up here,"
Foale replied. "If I had braces, they wouldn't be a problem, and lots of
astronauts do wear contact lenses."

As he's indicated in past ARISS school group contacts, Foale said he
"absolutely" would like to participate in a future mission to Mars, but he
said he expected that job would fall to younger generations. "I do believe
you and your classmates and your friends have a better chance of doing
that than I do," he said.

When the 10-minute contact was done, DuBose eighth-grade science teacher
Alene Wilkins, KG4NKD, called it "the best experience I have had since I
started teaching."

Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, and Herb Sullivan, K6QXB, handled Earth station
duties at W6SRJ in California. An MCI teleconference circuit relayed
two-way audio between the two coasts.

ARISS <> is an international educational outreach
program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.--some information
provided by Charlie Sufana, AJ9N


Two Amateur Radio antenna bills are continuing to progress through the
Hawaii State Legislature. House Bill 2773 would allow Hawaiian amateurs
living in condominiums to install antennas on their units under certain
guidelines. HB 2774 would permit antenna installations, with conditions,
by Hawaiian amateurs living in subdivisions subject to homeowners'
association covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs).

The progress of both bills also is under close scrutiny by amateurs on the
mainland. The ARRL submitted testimony on the bills' behalf when they were
heard last month by the Hawaii House Committee on Consumer Protection and
Commerce, chaired by their sponsor, Rep Ken Hiraki.

ARRL Pacific Section Manager Kevin Bogan, AH6QO, says the two measures
passed a third reading in the House and are continuing their legislative
journey in the Senate, where they passed first reading March 9. The bills
likely will be referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing

"Several hams are working on the text of amendments to the bills, so the
bills aren't as broad and will have more chance of passing," Bogan said.
What he termed a "small working group of hams" also plans to visit
committee members to acquaint them with the bills, once they're referred,
ask for their support and answer questions. Bogan is calling on Hawaii
amateurs to draft e-mails or letters to their state senators or to even
visit them, if convenient.

"We aren't preparing form letters as we feel it is much more effective to
say it in your own words," he added.

Bogan is asking hams in Hawaii to develop written testimony in preparation
for an eventual Senate hearing and to attend the hearing, once scheduled.
He reminded amateurs to be sure to reference the bill numbers and their
descriptions when writing lawmakers and to clearly state why they're
seeking their support. He also asked amateurs to e-mail
<>; him to report any correspondence or contacts with
lawmakers regarding the bills.

Both bills are available on the Hawaii State Legislature Web site: HB
HB 2774:


A weak "noise" on the AO-40 2.4-GHz beacon frequency has raised hopes that
AO-40 may still be alive. 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

Colin Hurst, VK5HI, of the AO-40 command team reports that on March 9
between 0310 and 0320 UTC (orbit 1541) he "noted a noise peak of 4 to 5
dB" in the vicinity of the expected beacon frequency after he'd issued a
transmitter reset command sequence to the satellite. After listening for
about 15 seconds, he issued a command to shut down the transmitter, and
the noise disappeared. Hurst said he also transmitted several commands
involving the auxiliary batteries but did not attempt to turn the beacon
on again.

"This tends to suggest that the IHU [Internal Housekeeping Unit computer]
and L Band [1.2 GHz] receiver are operational," Hurst said.

The AO-40 command team theorizes that a cell in the main battery pack has
shorted, clamping the bus voltage below the point where it can operate the
satellite. The spacecraft's auxiliary batteries are believed to be in
parallel with the main batteries, and AO-40 Earth stations have been
attempting to command the satellite to switch to the auxiliary batteries.

Updates on AO-40 are available on the AMSAT-DL Web site


The Amateur Radio community has rallied to the aid of well-known Colorado
6-meter operator and ARRL member Mike Newbold, K0YO. Newbold, 52, is
recovering from injuries he received last December in Baja, Mexico, at the
hands of assailants who beat him savagely, stole his vehicle and radio
gear--virtually everything he owned was in his pickup truck--and left him
for dead. Now back home, he's had lots of support from the amateur

"My ham friends are some of the best in the world," Newbold said. "I am
making great progress on a long road which is made easier by their
kindness." His main physical problem is his eyesight, which suffered as a
result of head injuries received in the attack. Most of his medical
expenses are being covered.

Newbold's friend Gary Yantis <>;, W0TM, has been tracking
Newbold's progress and set up a Web page <> that
provides information for those interested in assisting K0YO. "Well wishes
have meant as much, or more, to Mike than replacement of any of the items
that were stolen," Yantis says. "He mostly needs to hear from people who

Newbold retired early from coal mining due to medical problems that have
kept him largely unemployed. He resides in modest circumstances in a
remote area, and ham radio, which Newbold took up in 1995, has provided
him with "a window to the world," Yantis said. Newbold's son, Travis, is
KC0VQJ, and the two sometimes keep in touch via ham radio. K0YO is also an
avid QRPer, DXer and CW op, among other things.

One bright spot for Newbold when he returned home from his hospital stay
in California was a QSL card from Hawaii--the last one needed for Worked
All States on 6 meters.

Cards, letters or e-mails can be sent to Mike Newbold <>;,
27200 Rte 14, Oak Creek, CO 80467.--some information provided by Phil
Kirchbaum, N0KE


Robert I. "Bob" Sutherland, W6PO (ex-W6UOV), of San Mateo, California,
died January 11. He was 78. An active VHF-UHF operator in the 1960s
through the 1980s, Sutherland was on the West Coast end of the first
Amateur Radio moonbounce (EME) contact in 1960 when the Eimac Radio Club's
W6HB and W1BU worked each other on 1296 MHz EME. An employee of tube
manufacturer Eimac for nearly 50 years, Sutherland developed some of the
more famous Eimac tube-based amps.

"His contributions to the Amateur Radio field are legendary," said
well-known VHF-UHF and EME operator Dave Olean, K1WHS. Olean says that
while most amateurs know Sutherland for his EME work and his Eimac
accomplishments, "most of his great deeds went unnoticed by many except
for the legion of moonbounce operators whom he helped along the way."
Olean says he was one of them, recalling how Sutherland helped him set up
an EME station for 432 MHz.

An ARRL member, Sutherland authored several articles for Ham Radio
magazine, including "Design Data for a Two-Kilowatt VHF Linear" in 1969
and "High-Performance 144-MHz Power Amplifier" in 1971. He also wrote "A
High-Power Cavity Amplifier For The New 900-MHz Band" for QST in 1982.
Sutherland was the recipient of the Central States VHF Society's John T.
Chambers Award in 1977 for "his dedicated efforts in bringing EME
technical information to amateurs worldwide through distribution of the
famous Eimac EME Notes," which remain in circulation within the EME
community along with his amplifier designs.

Former QST "The World Above 50 MHz" Editor Bill Smith, W5USM, recalled
Sutherland as "a modest, kind man of considerable intelligence with
passion for his professional and Amateur Radio work." He credited
Sutherland with much of the success moonbounce enjoys today. "He was
accessible and willing to help," Smith said, adding, "I suggest looking
toward the moon and saying, 'Thank you, Bob. Well done.'"


Sun gazer Tad "Tequila Sunrise" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
Average daily sunspot numbers dropped from the week February 26-March 3 by
nearly 24 points, and average daily solar flux was about the same, down by
slightly more than two points. On March 9, Earth passed into a solar wind,
and geomagnetic indices rose. At mid latitudes HF bands were probably
usable on March 9 and 11 but not on March 10. In Alaska, however, the
bands probably sounded dead.

This propagation--or lack of it--is normal for Alaska, at least when
geomagnetic conditions are active or stormy. Those magnetic lines of force
converge toward the poles, and all that energy gets concentrated, yielding
polar cap absorption. The convergence and concentration was intense enough
this week that aurora was visible down into northern parts of the "Lower

Over the next few days geomagnetic conditions should settle down.
Predicted planetary A index for March 12-15 is 20, 15, 10 and 8. Solar
flux should drop down to around 100 by the beginning of the week (Monday,
March 15).

A large sunspot, number 570 is moving into the center of the visible solar
disk, directly facing Earth. It is a possible source of flares.

Sunspot numbers for March 4 through 10 were 53, 55, 61, 53, 55, 40 and 56,
with a mean of 53.3. The 10.7 cm flux was 97.5, 106.7, 104.5, 106.1,
107.8, 108.7 and 112.6, with a mean of 106.3. Estimated planetary A
indices were 7, 8, 5, 6, 6, 21 and 40, with a mean of 13.3.



* This weekend on the radio: 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.
JUST AHEAD: The RSGB 80 Meter Club Championship (SSB) is March 18. The
Virginia QSO Party, the 10-10 International Mobile Contest, the  BARTG
Spring RTTY Contest, the SARL VHF/UHF Contest, the Russian DX Contest, the
AGCW VHF/UHF Contest, the CLARA and Family HF Contest, the UBA Spring
Contest (6 M), the 9K 15-Meter Contest, the Spring QRP Homebrewer Sprint
are the weekend of March 20-21. The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (SSB) is
March 27-28. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Emergency Communications course registration: Registration opens
Monday, March 15, 12:01 AM Eastern Time (0501 UTC), for the Level III
Emergency Communications on-line course (EC-003). Registration remains
open through the March 20-21 weekend or until all available seats have
been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, March 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. To learn
more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (C-CE)
<> Web page. For more information, contact
Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG,, 860-594-0340.

* Scott Redd, K0DQ, heads to new job in Iraq: Retired Vice Admiral Scott
Redd, K0DQ, has been appointed deputy administrator and chief operating
officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq.
Redd, an ARRL member who lives in Marietta, Georgia, is one of two deputy
administrators reporting to CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer. Redd will
direct the CPA's programs for the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure.
That task includes awarding $18.4 billion in contracts through the project
management office for major improvements to Iraq's electricity, oil,
transportation, water resources, education, housing and construction, and
communications networks, a CPA news release said. He also will be
responsible for policy affecting Iraq's security programs. Those include
the new Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Iraqi Border Patrol and
Facilities Protection Services. Redd retired from the US Navy in 1998 as
director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During 36 years of active duty, he commanded eight organizations, founded
the Navy's Fifth Fleet--the first new US Navy fleet in more than 50
years--and served in several senior Pentagon positions. Redd also led all
U.S. Naval forces in the US Central Command from 1994 until 1996. The 1966
graduate of the US Naval Academy and Fulbright scholar was the keynote
speaker for ARRL's second donors' reception held in conjunction with
Hamvention 2003.

* Congressman-ham gets father's call sign: Rep Greg Walden (R-OR), one of
the two hams in Congress, has a new call sign. With the assistance of
ARRL, Walden was able to obtain his father's former call sign, W7EQI, via
the vanity call sign program. A General class licensee and an ARRL member,
Walden formerly held WB7OCE. The congressman's father, Paul E. Walden,
died in March 2003. He had been licensed since 1934. Walden, a
broadcaster, is a member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications
and the Internet.

* Barton replaces Tauzin: Texas Republican Rep Joe Barton was named the
new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
<> on February 25. He replaces Louisiana
Republican Billy Tauzin, who announced last month that he was stepping
down as chairman and would not run for re-election in November. Energy and
Commerce is the parent committee of the House Subcommittee on
Telecommunications and the Internet, which is considering two Amateur
Radio-related bills: HR 713, the Spectrum Protection Act of 2003, and HR
1478, the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2003.
Barton also serves on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet, but he has not yet signed on as a cosponsor of either HR 713 or
HR 1478.

* HQ staffers get IC-7800 preview: Members of the ARRL Headquarters staff
got a hands-on preview of the not-quite-yet-released ICOM IC-7800
transceiver, thanks to Icom Engineering Manager John Gibbs, KC7YXD. Gibbs
visited Headquarters March 4 with a pre-production model of his company's
new top-end Amateur Radio HF plus 6-meter transceiver. Among its multitude
of features, the IC-7800 offers a seven-inch color TFT display, two
independent receivers, a spectrum display, CW autotune, and RTTY and PSK31
capability just by plugging in a keyboard. The IC-7800 will replace the
venerable IC-781 as the capstone of Icom's Amateur Radio product line. In
terms of performance, Gibbs claims the IC-7800 will offer third-order
intercept (IP3) performance in the +40 dBm range and two-tone, third-order
intermodulation distortion dynamic range well in excess of 100 dB.
Although a retail price has not yet been firmed up, it's anticipated that
owning an IC-7800 will set buyers back less than $11,000. Musician Joe
Walsh, WB6ACU, and audio expert and manufacturer Bob Heil, K9EID, were
among the operators as the IC-7800 saw action at W1AW during the ARRL
International DX Contest (Phone) March 6-7. The IC-7800 will be the focus
of Icom's Hamvention exhibit May 14-16, and it could be on the market in a
month or so.

* Eastern VHF/UHF Conference set for April: The 30th annual Eastern
VHF/UHF Conference, sponsored by the North East Weak Signal Group
<>, will be held April 16-18 at the Radisson Hotel
in Enfield, Connecticut. The conference has been moved from August to
April to help eliminate conflicts with other ham radio activities and
vacation schedules. Guest speakers, articles for the conference
Proceedings, volunteers and prize donations are being solicited. Confirmed
speakers include ARRL Contest Branch Manger Dan Henderson, N1ND, on the
status of ARRL VHF/UHF contesting and awards; Jeff Klein, K1TEO, "16 Years
of Contesting From Connecticut;" Gerald Youngblood, AC5OG, "Software
Defined Radios SDR-1000 Beta" and Fred Stefanik, N1DPM, "Yagis: Bigger
isn't Always Better." More information is on the Eastern VHF/UHF
Conference Web page <>.

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
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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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