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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 13
March 26, 2004


* +Comment period opens on four ham radio petitions
* +ARRL recommends better FCC-NTIA working relationship
* +3B9C DXpedition wins Colvin Award
* +Missouri General Assembly considering ham antenna bill
* +ARRL Education & Technology schools win Best Buy grants
* +Pennsylvania hams win keys to the city
* +FCC clarifies docket number for BPL NPRM comments
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Nomination deadline for ARRL technical awards is March 31!
     Greater Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest still on
     Kentucky ham offers his good operating tips
     Forget your CORES/FRN password?

+Available on ARRL Audio News

NOTE: Because of vacation schedules, the March 26 editions of The ARRL
Letter and ARRL Audio News are being distributed one day early.


The FCC is seeking comment on three plans, one from the ARRL, that would
reshape the Amateur Service licensing structure. Each Petition for Rule
Making responds to World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 actions last
summer that made changes to Article 25 of the international Radio
Regulations. While differing substantially in some other aspects, the
three petitions call for modifications at Amateur Radio's entry level and
for a three-tiered license system. One petition goes beyond licensing
structure to recommend additional changes to amateur testing and HF
digital privileges. A fourth petition focuses solely on the Morse
requirement. Comments are due by April 24 on all four petitions.

Designated RM-10867, ARRL's petition asks the FCC to create a new
entry-level license class--being called "Novice" for now. It would offer
limited HF CW/data and phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters
plus certain VHF and UHF privileges. The League plan also would
consolidate Technician, Tech Plus (Technician with Element 1 credit) and
General licensees into a new General license that no longer would require
a Morse examination. Current Technician and Tech Plus licensees
automatically would gain General privileges, and Advanced license holders
automatically would be upgraded to Extra without further testing.
Applicants for Amateur Extra would still have to pass a 5 WPM Morse code
examination, but the General and Extra written exams would stay the same.

A news report "ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF
Access," <>, has further
details. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are addressed on the ARRL Web
site, <>.

In a wide-ranging petition designated as RM-10868, an "unincorporated
grassroots organization" calling itself the Radio Amateur Foundation (RAF)
has asked the FCC to modify the Technician ticket to allow limited HF
phone, image, data and CW privileges. HF phone/image privileges would be
restricted to portions of the 160, 15 and 10-meter bands.

The group also proposes retaining the 5 WPM Morse requirement for General
and Amateur Extra applicants, upgrading Advanced class holders to Extra
and Novices to Technician. The Radio Amateur Foundation said it sees no
need to change licensing requirements for General or Amateur Extra

The RAF also wants to scrap existing Amateur Radio question pools and
start over from scratch, keeping the question pools out of the public
domain and requiring a 10-day waiting period before retesting. In
addition, it would permit only Generals and Amateur Extras--or Technicians
licensed more than two years--to request vanity call signs.

The RAF has further asked the FCC to permit digital experimentation from
29.0 to 29.3 MHz at bandwidths of up to 15 kHz.

In his two-page petition designated RM-10869, Ronald D. Lowrance, K4SX,
calls on the FCC to retain the 5 WPM Morse code requirement for General
class applicants and to raise the Morse requirement to 13 WPM for Amateur
Extra class applicants. He called Morse code "the most reliable mode of
communication" in an emergency. Lowrance would make no change in
Technician licensing requirements.

The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) wants
the FCC to establish a new "Communicator" entry-level license. Its
petition, designated RM-10870, reiterates the NCVEC's call--first made
last fall in RM-10787--to altogether eliminate the Morse code testing

The NCVEC petition would upgrade all current Novices to Communicator
class, all current Technician and Tech Plus (Technician with Element 1
credit) licensees to General and all Advanced class licensees to Amateur
Extra without further testing. Once the Morse requirement goes away, the
NCVEC said in its filing, "there will be no effective difference between
the Technician and General class licenses."

The new Communicator ticket would permit a power limit of 100 W on bands
below 24 MHz and 50 W on all frequencies above 24 MHz. Communicator
licensees would have to use commercially manufactured equipment (or gear
built from a commercial kit). Communicator licensees could operate both
voice and digital modes on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters plus VHF and UHF up to
70 cm.

All three license restructuring plans call for changes to the present HF

Interested parties may view and comment on these petitions via the FCC
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) <>.
When entering the RM number in the ECFS "Proceeding" field, RM must be in
capital letters and the hyphen must be included.


The ARRL has suggested that the FCC and National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) spectrum management professionals work
more closely and cooperatively. It also called for more open allocation
proceedings where federal/non-federal spectrum sharing is involved. The
League offered the recommendations in comments filed on an NTIA Notice of
Inquiry, "United States Spectrum Management Policy for the 21st Century"
<>. While the FCC oversees
private and commercial spectrum, the NTIA--part of the US Department of
Commerce--administers spectrum allocated to federal government users. It
also advises the White House on telecommunications issues. ARRL said the
current bifurcated spectrum management system has benefits and drawbacks.

"A significant advantage of maintaining the present scheme . . . is that
the separate functions provide a system . . . of checks and balances,"
ARRL said in addressing whether spectrum management should be centralized.
On the other hand, the League added, this separation can "delay needed
action and promotes somewhat parochial and divergent priorities."

The FCC "has acted as a self-described 'cheerleader' for new, typically
unlicensed, technologies without a firm grasp of technical compatibilities
and incompatibilities," the League said. On the other hand, ARRL
continued, the NTIA has tended to see its role as protector of the
noncommercial spectrum it administers.

The FCC has been "inconsistent at best" in spectrum protection, ARRL said,
while NTIA spectrum managers regularly provide "professional and impartial
evaluations of new technologies" and their interference potential. Amateur
Radio shares some of its allocations with federal users, especially in the
UHF and microwave spectrum.

Given "competing goals and interests," ARRL suggested the FCC and NTIA
return to the approach used in years past when spectrum management
officials of both agencies "worked closely and cooperatively," and there
was regular staff-level communication.

The ARRL cited the proceeding that led to the Amateur Radio 5 MHz (60
meter) allocation to emphasize its belief that spectrum management and
sharing should operate according to "negotiated rule making procedures" in
which all stakeholders participate. Last-minute NTIA intervention led to
the current five-channel allocation at 5 MHz instead of the band the ARRL
had sought and the FCC was poised to grant.

"The process for considering new federal and non-federal sharing plans
should be more open than it currently is," the ARRL asserted. "There was
no procedure for ARRL, FCC and NTIA (or the individual agencies concerned
about this allocation) to meet and address potential concerns." Lacking
any public procedure, the League said, the NTIA and FCC instead agreed to
a compromise that was "inadequate for the purpose."

The ARRL said a negotiated rulemaking procedure could address such issues
more quickly and efficiently than current procedures permit.

Comments in response to the NTIA NOI, including ARRL's, are available on
the NTIA's spectrum reform Web site


The Project Star Reach 3B9C DXpedition
<> to Rodrigues Island (AF-017) hit
the bands March 20 and by mid-week was already gaining on the 40,000-QSO
mark. Scheduled to continue through Tuesday, April 13, the DXpedition is
the recipient of an ARRL Colvin Award.

"This financial award has made an invaluable contribution to the expenses
incurred in mounting our major DXpedition," 3B9C Publicity Officer Don
Field, G3XTT/NK1G, noted this week. Field said the $4000 award would go
toward the cost of shipping several tons of gear by container from the UK
to Rodrigues Island and back. He said 3B9C team members were "delighted"
to get the grant.

The Colvin Award was established in 1994 with the proceeds of a life
insurance policy purchased by Lloyd Colvin, W6KG, that named the ARRL as
beneficiary. The award is conferred in the form of grants in support of
Amateur Radio projects that promote international goodwill in the field of
DX. From the 1960s into the early 1990s, Lloyd Colvin and his wife Iris,
W6QL, activated more than 100 DXCC entities. Lloyd Colvin died in 1993 and
Iris Colvin in 1998.

3B9C has been generating lots of activity on all HF bands as well as on 6
meters. Field said the DXpedition wants to extend its reach beyond the
usual DX chasers and is using 3B9C as an opportunity for education and
training in HF propagation, antennas and new modes. 3B9C on-line logs
<> are being posted roughly
every 24 hours.

The DXpedition is being sponsored by the Five Star DXers Association
(FSDXA), with assistance from many others. QSL direct to FSDXA, PO Box 73,
Church Stretton, SY6 6WF UK or via the RSGB QSL Bureau. Much more
information plus a form to request bureau cards is available on the 3B9C
Web page <>.--some information via The Daily DX


An Amateur Radio antenna bill now in play in the Missouri General Assembly
has received a favorable committee recommendation. Introduced in January
by Republican Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer of St Elizabeth, the measure--House
Bill 822--has several cosponsors. They include Harold Selby, KA0WXX--the
only Amateur Radio operator in the Missouri House. HB 822 would include
the language of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into
Missouri's statutes. ARRL Missouri Section leadership spoke in support of
the bill when it came up for hearing late last month.

"The Committee in general was receptive to the bill, and, after a few
questions, testimony ended," said ARRL Missouri Section Manager Dale
Bagley, K0KY. "There was no opposition to the bill by any group or
individual at the hearing." Missouri Section Traffic Manager Dale
Huffington, AE0S, also testified at the February 24 hearing before the
Missouri House Communications, Energy and Technology Committee. On March
10, HB 822 was reported out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation.

"So far, so good," Bagley said. A PRB-1 bill in the 2001 Missouri
legislative session failed. So far, 20 states have passed Amateur Radio
antenna bills based on PRB-1, which is codified in ß97.15 of the Amateur
Service Rules

The latest Missouri measure would prohibit municipalities from enacting or
enforcing ordinances that fail to comply with PRB-1. "Any ordinance
relating to the placement, screening, or height of an Amateur Radio
antenna based on health, safety, or aesthetic considerations must
reasonably accommodate amateur communications and be of minimal
practicable regulation," the bill states.

There's more information on HB 822 on the Missouri General Assembly Web
site <>.


Four ARRL Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program (ETP)
participating schools are the beneficiaries of recent Best Buy Children's
Foundation Te@ch grants of $2500. Winning grants were Iowa Street School
in Fallbrook, California; Bloomington High School South in Bloomington,
Indiana, Astronaut High School in Titusville, Florida, and Northside High
School in Warner Robins, Georgia.

Iowa Street teacher Phil Leonelli, WF6L, says his school has integrated
the ETP <> into its grade 4 through 8
curriculum and works with the Fallbrook Amateur Radio Club. The school
will use the funds to purchase a computer as an adjunct to its amateur
station--including the addition of computer logging, transceiver control,
packet, ATV and on-line information retrieval.

Bloomington South High teacher Neil Rapp, WB9VPG, says Amateur Radio is
part of his school's chemistry curriculum as well as an extracurricular
activity. Days when ham radio is the focus of the class discussion are
among the most enjoyable for his chemistry students, he says. Proof of
their enthusiasm is the fact that many study for and pass their Amateur
Radio license examinations.

Rapp said he plans to use the Te@ch grant to purchase a video
projector--primarily for classroom and ham radio training course use--and
two VHF/UHF hand-held transceivers plus a programming cable. The handhelds
would be available for licensed students to borrow.

Astronaut High's Bill Canfield, W4RUN, says he and his students were
thrilled to learn they'd won a Best Buy Te@ch grant. Integrating ham radio
into his classroom has helped to provide his students with an
understanding of radio propagation, he explains. In a new course that
resulted--Communications Technology--students earn a Technician ticket in
the first nine weeks and a General in the second.

Canfield says the grant money will enable his school to add a weather
station to its ham station for use during Hurricane Watch Net
<> activations. He also wants to expand the ham
station's digital capabilities (VHF packet and PSK31) as well as add
features like satellite tracking and weather fax and, eventually, a solar
power setup.

Jim Fouts, AA4JF, at Northside High says his school also will use its
Te@ch grant to add a new weather monitoring station--with Internet and
Amateur Radio hookup software--and digital capability to its Amateur Radio
club station, K4NHS. The school serves as a Georgia Emergency Management
Agency (GEMA) shelter site. Amateur Radio would serve as the link between
the school and the National Weather Service, Fouts said.

The school also purchased two Family Radio Service units with GPS
capability for training and use at parades and sporting events.

The Best Buy's Children's Foundation's Te@ch Program awards recognize
programs or projects that "creatively integrate interactive technology
into the curriculum." The retailer this year awarded $2.9 million to
schools across the country. An application is available on the Best Buy
Web site


Amateur Radio input has helped to ensure complete interoperability for a
new mobile command post in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The fully decked-out
communications vehicle based in Wilkes-Barre is the result of a federal
grant and volunteer assistance from three radio amateurs and several other
volunteer radio experts, who got keys to the city in return. Armed with a
$300,000 federal grant, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom McGroarty wanted to put
some of the money toward a mobile command post--or MCP--project. He
approached Bill Harding, KA3QPQ, of the city's engineering office.
Harding, in turn, sought advice and assistance from Rich Arland, K7SZ.
Other team members included Greg Berholtz, N3SFO, David Anthony and Leigh

"The plan involved purchasing off-the-shelf communications gear and
configuring a mothballed GMC Suburban as a mobile communications asset to
support interagency interoperability during emergencies," said Arland. Ham
radio operators volunteer emergency communication services to 18
communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania, he noted. After a briefing from
Harding, the MCP project manager, regarding Amateur Radio Emergency
Service/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (ARES/RACES) operations,
Arland said, the mayor wholeheartedly agreed that ham radio definitely
should be part of the MCP equation.

"All in all, the van has the capability to communicate on all ham bands
from 160 meters through 70 cm on CW, SSB, data and FM," Arland reports. Of
course, it also contains a full complement of low and high-band public
safety (police, fire and emergency medical services) communications gear.
Future plans call for the addition of a high-end GPS unit and a 2-meter
transceiver dedicated to APRS. Needless to say, the van literally bristles
with antennas--15 in all--most for VHF and UHF, although there's a
screwdriver-type antenna for HF.

So far, the MCP has been sent out twice--to support emergency operations
following flooding in Wayne County and to assist after a prisoner escaped
from a county lockup.


The FCC says anyone filing comments on the its Broadband over Power Line
(BPL) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in ET Dockets 03-104 and 04-37
should reference only the latter docket number, not both docket numbers.
The ARRL was among those who had asked the FCC to clarify the matter. The
deadline to file comments is Monday, May 3. Reply comments are due
Tuesday, June 1.

"To simplify this filing process and minimize the burden on both
interested parties and the Commission's resources, we are requesting that
parties responding to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making submit comments,
replies and any other pleadings or information only in the newly
established ET Docket No 04-37," the FCC said this week in a public
notice. Written comments may be filed via the Electronic Comment Filing
System (ECFS) <>.

The Commission says that commenters should include their full name, US
Postal Service mailing address and ET Docket No 04-37 when completing the
transmittal screen. The FCC ECFS Express system
<> also now is accepting brief
comments on the BPL proceeding, which is the top item on the list.

For additional information on filing comments, see the FCC public notice


Solar swami Tad "Sunshine of Your Love" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Solar flux and sunspot numbers rose this week, and geomagnetic K
and A indices were down. This is a perfect combination for the first days
of spring. HF operators always love to see the K index lower than 3 and
the A index below 10. There is nothing magic about those numbers, but
lower numbers are better, and those are below the values (about 3 and 15)
that we think of for unsettled conditions.

For quiet conditions, it's hard to beat this last Wednesday, March 24,
when the mid-latitude K index was zero for most of the reporting periods.
A good resource for comparing the daily variations in mid-latitude,
high-latitude and planetary geomagnetic indices is the NOAA Space
Environment Center Web site

Early spring is also a time when auroras are more intense, which of course
is an indicator of elevated geomagnetic activity. The outlook for the next
few days is good, with some active conditions probably returning around
March 29-30. Solar flux should stay above 110 through the weekend, and
above 100 during the first few days of April.

Sunspot numbers for March 18 through 24 were 107, 89, 82, 65, 87, 110 and
109 with a mean of 92.7. 10.7 cm flux was 115.4, 112.2, 113.6, 111.2,
116.4, 118.3 and 119.7, with a mean of 115.3. Estimated planetary A
indices were 10, 6, 9, 13, 11, 8 and 4, with a mean of 8.7.

NOTE: This is a preliminary report, a day earlier than normal. For the
full bulletin for the week check the ARRL Web site
<> Friday, March 26.



* This weekend on the radio: The CQ World Wide WPX Contest (SSB), the
Spring Break RTTY Sprint. and the UBA Spring Contest (2 meters) are the
weekend of March 27-28. JUST AHEAD: The SARL 80-Meter QSO Party is April
1. The Kids Roundup, the SP DX Contest, the EA RTTY Contest, the Missouri
QSO Party, the QCWA QSO Party and the RSGB RoPoCo 1 are the weekend of
April 3-4. The 144 MHz Spring Sprint and the RSGB 80-Meter Club
Championship (CW) are April 5. The ARS Spartan Sprint is April  6 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 Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006) Antenna
Design and Construction (EC-009) and Technician Class for Ham Radio
Licensing (EC-010) courses remains open through Sunday, March 28. Classes
begin Tuesday April 6. Students taking Radio Frequency Interference
(EC-006) will learn how to identify and take steps to cure various kinds
of interference. Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009) covers basic
antenna theory and practical construction techniques. With the assistance
of a mentor students in the Technician Licensing course will learn
everything they need to learn to pass the FCC Technician license class
test. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Web page <>. For more information, contact
Certification and Continuing Education Program Department,

* Nomination deadline for ARRL technical awards is March 31! Nominations
for ARRL technical awards
recognizing service, innovation and microwave development in the technical
arena are due at ARRL Headquarters Wednesday, March 31. Supplemental
information, not to exceed 10 pages, must arrive no later than Thursday,
April 15. Nominating forms are available on the ARRL Web site. The ARRL
Technical Innovation Award goes each year to a radio amateur or group of
radio amateurs whose accomplishments are of the most exemplary nature
within the framework of technical research, development and application of
new ideas and future systems within an Amateur Radio context. The
recipient(s) receive(s) $500 in cash and an engraved plaque. The ARRL
Technical Service Award goes each year to a radio amateur or group of
radio amateurs whose service to the amateur community and/or society at
large is of the most exemplary nature within the framework of Amateur
Radio technical activities. The ARRL Microwave Development Award goes each
year to a radio amateur or group of radio amateurs whose accomplishments
and contributions are of the most exemplary nature within the framework of
microwave development (ie, research and application of new and refined
uses and activity in the amateur microwave bands). The recipient(s) The
ARRL Technical Innovation and Microwave Development awards receive(s) an
engraved plaque and may request up to $100 in ARRL publications. Any ARRL
member may place a nomination for any of these awards.

* Greater Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest still on: The 33rd annual
Greater Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest <> will
take place as scheduled Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28, at the Maryland
State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. Sponsored by the Baltimore
Amateur Radio Club <>, the hamfest is host to the
ARRL Maryland State Convention. Doug Wittich, N3VEJ, of the hamfest
committee says the cancellation the Maryland-DC Convention, held at the
same location but later in the year, caused some confusion within the
amateur community. "We're definitely on," he reassured those planning to
attend. ARRL Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, and
Maryland-DC Section Manager Tom Abernethy, W3TOM, will lead an
ARRL/Maryland-DC Section Leadership forum Saturday at 9 AM. ARRL Contest
Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, will moderate the ARRL forum Saturday
at 11 AM. Special event station W3FT will be on the air from the hamfest
both days on or about 7.265 and 14.265 MHz.

* Kentucky ham offers his good operating tips: Don Snodgrass, K4QKY, of
Murray, Kentucky, believes that being a good "Elmer" (Amateur Radio
mentor) involves much more than assisting someone to pass the license
examination. A supporter of the ARRL's recent Petition for Rule Making
<> to the FCC, Snodgrass
says he's eager to do his part to welcome new operators to the HF bands
when the time comes. In the meantime, he's offering his recommended "Good
Operating Practices"
<> on
his Web site. "Most hams develop their operating practices--most good, but
some not so good--simply by listening to more-experienced hams," Snodgrass
said. "These suggested guidelines are based on what one ham feels he has
learned from listening to other hams since 1972." His philosophy,
expressed within his list of dos and don'ts, is that amateurs who develop
good operating practices will help to sustain Amateur Radio's "long and
proud tradition of self-regulation." At the top of his "do" list: "Always
be polite, regardless of the circumstances. If not, avoid transmitting."

* Forget your CORES/FRN password? It's possible to reset your CORES/FRN
(Commission Registration System/FCC Registration Number)
<> password  via the FCC
Web site for electronic application filing. This might come in handy if
you have forgotten your password, need to change it to another password or
were automatically registered for CORES through a Volunteer Examiner
Coordinator and don't know your password. Visit the secure "Forgot your
Password" <> Web site and complete
all the required fields. You will need to supply your FCC Registration
Number (available via ULS or through many on-line call sign servers, such
as ARRL's) as well as your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), typically
your Social Security number. Applicants also will need to supply name,
e-mail address and telephone number.

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.

==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!):
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==>ARRL News on the Web: <>
==>ARRL Audio News: <> or call

==>How to Get The ARRL Letter
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The ARRL Letter

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

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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.

Back issues published since 2000 are available on this page. If you wish to subscribe via e-mail, simply log on to the ARRL Web site, click on Edit Your Profile at the top, then click on Edit Email Subscriptions. Check the box next to The ARRL email newsletter, the ARRL Letter and you will receive each weekly issue in HTML format. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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