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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 23
June 4, 2004


* +Some disturbances in the BPL force
* +Hams support flood relief in Appalachia
* +No phone, no pool no pets on ISS
* +Georgia ARES holds drill; emergency breaks out
* +Oldest US ham, Tex Burdick, W5BQU, SK
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     More ARRL Emergency Communications course Level I Seats available!
    +FCC seeks assistance in illegal equipment sales
     D-Day Museum special event set
     J. D. Harper, K6KSR, wins QST Cover Plaque Award
    +AMSAT issues second call for Symposium papers
     K6KPH to transmit Field Day message

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The City of Manassas, Virginia, and broadband over power line (BPL)
franchisee Prospect Street Broadband have parted company, and the city is
seeking a new business partner. The decision to terminate the joint
venture was mutual, according to city officials, and the city has acquired
Prospect Street's interests. Manassas was planning to open bids from
prospective replacement BPL providers June 7.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, called the failure of the Prospect
Street-Manassas deal just another example of a BPL deployment decision
gone awry. He also predicted that BPL would not prove to be the revenue
generator the city anticipates. Under the franchise agreement, Manassas
receives 10.5 percent of BPL revenue and is responsible only for the
relatively small cost of equipment installation. The failure of the
franchise agreement leaves the city with obligations that far exceed
revenues, however.

The first municipally owned utility to offer citywide BPL, Manassas has
changed the name of its project from the Broadband over Powerline
Enterprise to the Telecommunications Services Enterprise. City budget
documents indicate that Manassas is prepared to loan $400,000 to the
Telecommunications Services Enterprise Fund "to finance operating
expenses" in Fiscal Year 2005.

The city's small BPL field trial involved fewer than a dozen homes and
businesses in an area with underground utility wiring and no nearby
Amateur Radio licensees. "Results of the eighteen-month pilot program were
favorable and demonstrated BPL as a viable technology for the delivery of
data services," the city's bid invitation declares. The city approved
full-scale BPL deployment last October and started offering the service in
February. The contract with Prospect Street Broadband apparently was
terminated several weeks later.

The city's glowing pro-BPL comments on the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule
Making in ET Docket 04-37, filed May 3, neglect to mention the
cancellation of the Prospect Street agreement.

The comments also say the city "remains sensitive" to Amateur Radio's
interference fears. Manassas Utilities Director Allen P. Todd, W4VUB, has
met with members of the Ole Virginia Hams (OVH) Amateur Radio Club to
address their concerns, the comments note, and a BPL connection was set up
in the home of OVH member Bob Zaepfel, K4HJF. The city made a letter from
Todd describing its efforts to cooperate with local amateurs part of its
comments to the FCC. That letter says that during informal tests in early
April, OVH members were "unable to identify any interference in the
amateur bands being caused by BPL installation." Todd's letter did not
provide test details.

The Manassas Journal Messenger reported this week that two neighborhoods
now are fully equipped for the service, and, to date, 200 customers are
using the service, although the bid proposal says the city's deployment of
BPL "passes more than 2000 homes with the fiber infrastructure passing
more than 4,000 homes, and fiber construction continuing each day."
Manassas charges $28.95 a month for its BPL service. The city is supposed
to complete its citywide BPL rollout by this fall. City officials told the
Journal Messenger that the Prospect Street contract termination will not
affect BPL delivery.

Elsewhere, Pepco, a utility serving 700,000 Washington, DC, and Maryland
customers, and its parent company, Pepco Holdings Inc, have decided to
forgo any investment in BPL. Pepco continues to operate a BPL field test
in Potomac, Maryland. The utility is continuing discussions with BPL
partner Current Technologies and has indicated it's open to proposals to
lease access to their power lines to deliver broadband service.

Pepco was said to be less interested in delivering broadband than in
finding ways to improve its billing systems. A company spokesperson said
the decision not to invest in BPL applies to all Pepco Holdings Inc

Additional information on BPL and video clips from field trial sites are
on the ARRL Web site <>.


Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) members in Western Virginia gave up
their Memorial Day weekend to assist American Red Cross flood recovery
efforts in extreme Southwest Virginia. Heavy rainfall in late May caused
creeks and small streams to overflow in Appalachian Mountain communities
in Russell and Tazewell counties. Virginia Gov Mark Warner has declared a
state of emergency in the two counties, where the flash floods May 25
affected hundreds of residents. The Virginia Department of Emergency
Management (VDEM) says flood waters destroyed more than 40 single-family
homes and five businesses in Tazewell County, while upward of 200 homes
suffered damage in Russell County. Dozens of other homes and businesses
were damaged, but no injuries were reported. ARES South Piedmont District
Emergency Coordinator Glen Sage, W4GHS, has been working directly with the
Red Cross in deploying ARES volunteers.

"We've set up two communications centers at two distribution points," said
Sage. Because the affected communities are situated in narrow mountain
valleys, ARES volunteers have been using both VHF and HF.

The Red Cross's own radio systems are meager and cell service virtually
non-existent in the area, Sage explained. "We are their communication, and
I'd say we saved them 1000 to 2000 hours in work." Ham radio ingenuity
also came in handy. Since a lot of the newer Red Cross vehicles have
fiberglass bodies, the typical amateur mag-mount antenna was useless. Sage
said the ARES team made up J-pole antennas and simply taped them onto the
vehicles' non-metallic bodies instead. "Our communication has been very
very solid using this system," he said.

In addition to shadowing Red Cross volunteers to provide necessary
communication, Sage said, ARES volunteers also have helped those coming in
from outside the isolated region to find their way around. "We have a
couple of local hams who know the area very well," he explained. Some hams
also brought along their GPS units.

The area has been under a flash flood watch for most of the days since
ARES activated May 28. In the midst of it all, Sage and Red Cross
personnel were called away to Lee County--near the very tip of western
Virginia--to follow up on a tornado that destroyed a couple of houses and
damaged a few others.

In Russell and Tazewell counties, Sage said the Red Cross had arranged for
local motels to shelter anyone displaced by the flooding and at least one
shelter was opened. Most of those forced to flee were staying with family
members and friends, however.

"We got stories of some people who just barely got out," he said. "Some of
them linked arms, and one person had on waders and water was coming over
his waders, and if anyone would have slipped and fell, it probably would
have taken them all." One area received four inches of rain per hour at
the height of the downpour, Sage said. "It was real intense in a small
geographical area."

Floodwaters also took out bridges that connect those living near
overflowing creeks with the rest of their communities. Some local highways
were washed out, and a few schools were closed in both counties.

ARRL Assistant Virginia Section Emergency Coordinator Ron Sokol, K4KHZ,
says it was slow-going for Red Cross damage assessment teams as the rain
continued. "They worked in the mud," he said. Sokol said the ARES
volunteers also have assisted the Red Cross in distributing food and
water, delivering needed medications and passing out vouchers for
groceries and household necessities.

Sage had high praise for the Red Cross volunteers. "At this point, the
only active group I've seen out in the field has been the American Red
Cross," he said. "And they've just been doing a yeoman's job." While
cooperating during the relief effort, Sage said the ARES and Red Cross
volunteers have developed a great deal of mutual respect. "My back is sore
from being patted by the Red Cross," he remarked. "They're just thrilled
to death."

The vast majority of the ARES responders turned out from counties and
towns well away from the stricken region. In all, Sokol estimated that
some three dozen ARES members participated in the flash flood activation,
which was expected to wrap up by week's end.


A high school student's question about keeping pets aboard the
International Space Station almost stumped astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT,
on June 2. The query came during an Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station (ARISS) school group contact in which eight physics students
at Walton Central High School in New York participated. One of them asked
Fincke, who's NASA ISS Science Officer, if any astronaut had ever
considered having a pet on the ISS, and, if so, what pet. Fincke said it
was the toughest question he's ever had to answer about life in space.

"I'm not even sure pets can survive up here," he said. "We can feed them
and such, but they can't really move around. I'm not sure that many dogs
or cats or any other types of pets actually would be able to handle
weightlessness." Fincke said that while birds and rodents have been flown
into space as part of scientific experiments, they were not considered

Since Election Day will be nearly at hand when Fincke returns to Earth
from his six-month ISS duty tour, another student wanted to know what kind
of technology might permit US astronauts to exercise their right to vote
while still in space.

"We are not going to probably be able to use any kind of technology to
vote in space, although we had started to look at some different options,
but we can still always use the absentee ballot," Fincke said, provided
the launch is close enough to the election. Current duty tours are six
months, Fincke explained, but they could eventually be extended to one

Fincke also told the students that the ISS loses some 25 meters
(approximately 82 feet) per day in altitude, and the crew needs to adjust
the orbit approximately every three months to compensate. He said the crew
can use the thrusters from a docked Progress supply rocket or the
spacecraft's onboard thrusters to correct the ISS's orbit.

Questioned about scientific research on the ISS, Fincke said the crew has
been working with a new ultrasound device to see how the microgravity
aboard the ISS might be affecting their internal organs. "It's pretty
advanced," Fincke said, adding that the experiment marked the first time
in space that a crew has been able to observe how different organs react
to weightlessness. The experiment was one of approximately 100 ongoing ISS
experiments, he said.

To accommodate the ISS orbital path, ARISS Club Station NN1SS in
Greenbelt, Maryland, handled the Amateur Radio end of the contact with
NA1SS aboard the ISS. Mark Steiner, K3MS, served as the control operator.
MCI provided a teleconference link to make two-way audio available to
Walton Central High School. Will Marchant, KC6ROL, served as moderator for
the event.

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


Georgia Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) <>
members were drilling May 25 to assist state and federal agencies with
this month's G8 Summit on Sea Island when a real emergency broke out. With
much of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) staff deployed to
the Georgia coast--some 250 miles away from their Atlanta
headquarters--for the drill, a fire erupted in a pool and spa chemical
plant in Conyers, an Atlanta suburb.

"We were handling routine drill traffic when we learned that an actual
emergency had occurred," said Georgia Section Emergency Coordinator Mike
Boatright, KO4WX. The fire began just before dawn, but the ARES drill
participants didn't learn about it until a dense cloud of toxic smoke a
half-mile wide and eventually some 30 miles long forced the closing of
I-20 during morning rush hour and the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

As part of the G8 drill, Boatright already had established communications
between Atlanta and GEMA's mobile communications vehicle (MCV) on the
Georgia coast. "School system buses evacuated residents of homes,
apartments and several nursing centers in the affected area and took them
to two shelters," he said. Red Cross shelters were established at schools
north and south of town.

Because the emergency required resources from federal, state and county
agencies, GEMA--in the midst of its full-up preparedness drill for the
G8--had to respond, Boatright said. "As is typical in the early stages of
a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) incident, there was conflicting information
about evacuations and other critical information." Boatright said the
relocated GEMA staff had communication capabilities, but the Amateur Radio
link to the City of Conyers Command Center was considered reliable--and
one not yet established by telephone.

While still in drill session, Boatright said, the net handled priority
traffic between command center and GEMA officials, assisting GEMA to
assess how to respond to the event. Boatright says HF contact was
established between the GEMA MCV and Earl Immel, KD4SLT, in Rockdale
County, who later was dispatched to the command center.

"For approximately one hour, the ARES net moved from drill session to
emergency session at GEMA's request," Boatright said, "until it was asked
to stand down once it was assessed that the threat of a communications
emergency had passed."

Locally, at the request of Conyers Emergency Communications Director Trish
Woodward, WA4ZOT, Rockdale County Emergency Coordinator Tim Rosing,
KC4ELV, established communication between the two shelters and the city's
command center. Communications later were requested for a back-up command
center south of the city, since the cloud threatened to force the primary
command center to evacuate. The cloud shifted, however, and the relocated
dispatchers were recalled.

At midday the cloud threatened the local hospital for a short time, but a
shift in wind headed off the need to evacuate.

The emergency ended the next day, May 26, at 2:15 PM , when authorities
reopened the restricted area and allowed residents to return home.

During the local ARES callup, Rosing says 25 amateurs from Rockdale,
Newton and DeKalb county ARES groups logged more than 226 work hours. ARES
volunteers in the shelters and command center handled health-and-welfare
requests, food distribution, special care/medicine coordination and
shelter capacity information requests. Some 800 evacuees received care and
housing at the shelters during the emergency.

"In his post-drill assessment meeting with GEMA staff, GEMA State
Operations Center Chief Dan Brown took special notice of the role of
Amateur Radio during the drill, as well as of our ability to quickly
respond to an actual disaster at the same time," Boatright said.

Georgia ARES will go on full alert June 5 at 8 AM and remain on full alert
through the conclusion of the G8 Summit June 10.


The man believed to be the oldest Amateur Radio operator in the US--Byrl
"Tex" Burdick, W5BQU, of El Paso, Texas--died May 30. He was 103. Admired
as much for his courteous and kind personality as for his longevity and
youthful appearance, Burdick was licensed for nearly three-quarters of a
century. During his many years on the air, he took pleasure in meeting new
friends and was a regular QSLer. When Burdick, an ARRL member, turned 103
last September, ARRL President and fellow Texan Jim Haynie, W5JBP,
extended congratulations and best wishes on behalf of the League.

"A landmark and an icon to our great hobby" is how Kenneth Kuhblank Jr,
K5KWK (ex-W6KWK), of El Paso described his friend in the article "A Voice
from the Ether--B. H. "Tex" Burdick, W5BQ," by Steve Barreres, K2CX, in
the December 2003 issue of QST. "You will not meet a more courteous
operator." In the QST article, Barreres tells how a passing motorist
talking on his mobile ham radio setup piqued Burdick's initial interest in
ham radio. Soon, he passed the examination and had a ticket of his own.
Burdick says he started out with a homemade transmitter and receiver--each
one fitted with a single 201A tube.

Born in San Angelo, Texas, Burdick attended the University of Minnesota.
Returning to Texas in the late 1920s, he established a well-drilling,
windmill and water supply firm, Burdick & Burdick, which remains in the
family. To expedite his business travels throughout the Southwestern US
and northern Mexico, Burdick became a licensed pilot in the 1940s and
occasionally operated aeronautical mobile on the amateur bands. According
to his obituary
<> in the El
Paso Times, he also was known to deliver newspapers to his customers via
air drop and to provide transportation for disabled youngsters on behalf
of the Lions Club.

Burdick was a charter member of the El Paso Amateur Radio Club, and he
donated a windmill tower for the new clubhouse to use as an antenna
support. A similar structure holding a triband Yagi graces his own

Burdick retired in 1979. His recollections and photographs documenting the
early days of his career were the focus of a 1992 book, Blades in the Sky,
Windmilling through the Eyes of B. H. "Tex" Burdick, by T. Lindsay Baker.
After retirement, he and his wife, Juanita, traveled the world. In
addition to ham radio and an early interest in photography, Burdick also
enjoyed hunting and fishing and spending his summers in Alaska and

In addition to his wife of 54 years, survivors include his son, Byrl Jr,
as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service was
held Thursday, June 3. The family invites memorial donation to Hospice of
El Paso, 1750 Curie Dr, El Paso, TX 79902, or to St Clements Episcopal
Church, 600 Montana, El Paso, TX 79902.


Solar swami Tad "Black Hole Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports:
The sun appears nearly blank, with one small spot, Sunspot 621, facing
Earth. There are no other noticeable areas of activity, however. Sunspots
visible a few days have just faded from view.

Sunspot numbers and solar flux are understandably quite low. Over the next
week expect low geomagnetic activity. Planetary A index for June 4-8 is
expected at 10, 8, 8, 10 and 10. Solar flux values for the same days are
predicted to be 90, 95, 95, 100 and 100. Solar flux is expected to peak
between June 11-16 around 110.

We're in a late spring propagation mode now. The higher HF bands are
seeing fewer openings, although this month we should see sporadic E skip.
As the days grow longer, absorption during daylight hours should increase.
Daytime propagation on 20 meters won't be as good as it was a few months
ago, but late-night propagation should improve. Seasonal noise levels also
will increase, especially on the lower HF bands.

Field Day is still a few weeks off, but currently the SEC 45 Day AP
forecast for planetary A index shows unsettled conditions predicted for
the June 26-27 weekend, with A values of 15.

Sunspot numbers for May 27 through June 2 were 62, 52, 57, 64, 54, 76 and
63, with a mean of 61.1. The 10.7 cm flux was 101.8, 102.4, 101.2, 99.6,
95.4, 90 and 90.4, with a mean of 97.3. Estimated planetary A indices were
6, 9, 14, 13, 14, 16 and 11, with a mean of 11.9. Estimated mid-latitude A
indices were 5, 6, 12, 11, 11, 14 and 9, with a mean of 9.7.



* This weekend on the radio: The Major Six Club Contest, the
VK/Trans-Tasman 80-Meter Contest (CW), the UKSMG Summer Contest, IARU
Region 1 Field Day (CW), RSGB National Field Day, the QRP TAC Sprint, the
RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (data) and the ARS Spartan Sprint are the
weekend of June 5-6. JUST AHEAD: The ARRL June VHF QSO Party, the ANARTS
World Wide RTTY Contest, the Portugal Day Contest and the Asia-Pacific
Summer Sprint (SSB) are the weekend of June 12-13. SARL Kid's Day and the
RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (CW) are June 16. ARRL Kid's Day is June
19. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <> and
the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration for the Technician Licensing course (EC-010) remains open
through Sunday, June 6. Classes begin Tuesday, June 15. With the
assistance of a mentor, EC-010 students learn everything they need to know
to pass the FCC Technician class license examination. To learn more, visit
the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education <>
Web page or contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education
Program Department <>;.

* More ARRL Emergency Communications course Level I Seats available!
Registration opens Monday, June 7, 12:01 AM EDT (0401 UTC), for the
on-line Level I Emergency Communications course (EC-001). Registration
remains open through the June 12-13 weekend or until all available seats
have been filled--whichever comes first. Class begins Tuesday, June 22.
Thanks to our Level I grant sponsor, the Corporation for National and
Community Service, the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will be
reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During the June
registration period, approximately 300 seats are being offered to ARRL
members on a first-come, first-served basis. Senior amateurs are strongly
encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. To learn more, visit the
ARRL Certification and Continuing Education <> Web
page. For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course
Manager Dan Miller, K3UFG, <>;; 860-594-0340.

* Clarification: As reported in The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 22, "ARRL to
sponsor Emergency Communications seminar in Arizona," the League will
offer an emergency communications course seminar in conjunction with the
ARRL Southwestern Division Convention, Friday, August 27, 1-5 PM. Those
planning to attend should note that convention registration is necessary,
although attendance at the seminar itself is free, thanks to the ARRL's
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) grant. Just show
your registration ticket when you arrive at the seminar. Seating is
limited. Anyone planning to attend should contact Dan Miller, K3UFG,
<>;; 860-594-0340; FAX 860-594-0259. For more information,
visit the ARRL Southwestern Division Convention Web site

* FCC seeks assistance in illegal equipment sales: The FCC says it's
taking a close look at reports alleging sales of illegal (non-FCC
certificated) radio equipment in various venues. "The Federal
Communications Commission receives hundreds of complaints about alleged
illegal equipment being offered for sale on the Internet or in
publications," the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau said.
"If you have any information about illegal or uncertificated equipment
being offered for sale, please forward it to the FCC." The Commission says
the sorts of useful information it's looking for would include an original
advertisement or Web address where the illegal equipment is being
advertised or offered for sale, highlighting the types of equipment about
which the allegations are being made, the name of any Web auction site,
the exact item number and auction opening and closing dates, and the name
and address of the individual or business offering the item(s) for sale.
The FCC also asks complainants to specify why they believe the equipment
is not in compliance with FCC rules and the number of pieces or types of
equipment about which the allegations are being made. Complainants should
provide a name and telephone number to follow up, if necessary. The FCC
said the information can remain confidential, if requested. E-mail
information to the FCC <>; or send it via USPS to the FCC,
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 445 12th St SW, Washington, DC

* D-Day Museum special event set: The Jefferson Amateur Radio Club will
mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day--the Allied invasion of Normandy--with
special event Station W5D Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6. W5D will operate
from the main floor of the National D-Day Museum
<> in New Orleans. The
station will be on the air from 1400 to 2300 UTC each day. A certificate
will be available for those contacting W5D. Include $2.50 for postage and
handling (or an SASE for a QSL). Certificate/QSL requests go to the
Jefferson Amateur Radio Club, W5GAD, PO Box 73665, Metarie, LA 70033.

* J. D. Harper, K6KSR, wins QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of the QST
Cover Plaque Award for May is J.D. Harper, K6KSR, for his article "Use the
Right Phonetics." Congratulations, J. D.! 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 June issue of QST. Voting ends June 30.

* AMSAT issues second call for Symposium papers: AMSAT-NA
<> has issued its second call for papers for the 2004
AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual Meeting, October 8-10 in Arlington,
Virginia. The symposium will be held in conjunction with the Amateur Radio
on the International Space Station (ARISS) international meeting October
10-13. Proposals for papers, symposium presentations and poster
presentations are invited on any topic of interest to the amateur
satellite program. An emphasis this year is AMSAT's educational outreach
activities, including its educational outreach efforts with universities
and the International Space Station. AMSAT-NA especially seeks papers on
these topics: Students and education, ARISS, Echo, Eagle and other
satellite-related topics. One-page abstracts are due by June 15; final
papers--hard copy or electronic--are due by August for inclusion in the
printed symposium Proceedings. Send abstracts and papers via USPS or
e-mail to Daniel Schultz, N8FGV <>;, 14612 Dowling Dr,
Burtonsville, MD 20866.--AMSAT 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
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
in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to
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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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