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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 24, No. 01
January 7, 2005


* +Amateur Radio gains high profile in tsunami's wake
* +FCC releases extensive BPL-related documentation
* +Oklahoma, Brazil youngsters QSO the ISS
* +Homeowners cited for interfering with ham radio
* +ARRL public service announcement available
* +Ham antenna bill in Vermont legislative hopper
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration
    +Southern Florida SEC Jim Goldsberry, KD4GR, SK
    +Arkansas club announces Field Day 2A plaque, 2004 winners
     Club announces "Project Diana" special event

+Available on ARRL Audio News



As the tsunami relief and recovery effort continues in South Asia, Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has joined those paying tribute to Amateur
Radio's ongoing emergency communication role. Director and Executive Vice
Chairman S. Suri, VU2MY, of India's National Institute of Amateur Radio
(NIAR), noted January 5 that the PM "was all praise for hams in India and
the entire world who helped us in this hour of need." Suri said the
administrator of hard-hit Car Nicobar Island has asked NIAR to keep on
duty Rama Mohan, VU2MYH, and five other radio amateurs who have been
providing communication with the island since shortly after the December
26 disaster.

"The district administration chief of Car Nicobar Island spoke to me this
morning to say even now it is only the ham communication that is aiding
them for relief and rehabilitation measures," Suri said in an e-mail to
Jay Wilson, W0AIR, of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response
Association (DERA) and shared with ARRL. Mohan, who had received DERA
training in the US, was part of NIAR's VU4NRO/VU4RBI DXpedition to Andaman
and Nicobar Islands. When the earthquake and tsunami struck the region,
DXpedition team leader Bharathi Prasad, VU2RBI, promptly shifted the
operation to handle emergency traffic and health-and-welfare inquiries
between the island and the Indian mainland. More than 20 Indian radio
amateurs are said to be involved in providing emergency communication
support in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Ironically, until the recent
NIAR DXpedition the Indian government did not allow Amateur Radio
operation from the islands. It's since cleared the way for all Indian hams
to operate from VU4.

In the disaster's immediate aftermath, Suri said, Mohan and other
DXpedition team members risked their lives to alert the chief of
administration on Andaman Island, since tsunami waves later overran the
road they'd traveled. NIAR staff member Jose Jacob, VU2JOS, was providing
emergency communication remote Hutbay Island.

Now back on the Indian mainland, Bharathi Prasad has reported that the
VU4NRO/VU4RBI logs are safe and at NIAR headquarters, and QSLing will
commence once the emergency operation concludes. DXer Charly Harpole,
K4VUD/HS0ZCW, now in Bangkok, Thailand, told The Daily DX
<> that QSL cards already are showing up at NIAR.

Harpole, who was visiting the DXpedition in Port Blair on Andaman Island
when the earthquake and tsunami hit, has since been helping to handle
emergency traffic from Thailand, where his wife's family lives. "I have
been listening to the traffic from VU4 back to the India mainland, and by
now it is smooth as silk with lots of H&W and some government messages
running almost constantly," he said in an e-mail made available by QRZ DX
<> Editor Carl Smith, N4AA. Harpole advised amateurs
worldwide to avoid the primary emergency traffic frequency of 14.190 MHz.

In Thailand, Harpole reports, hams have been using mostly 2 meters for
their emergency traffic "and doing a huge job." He said he's heard very
little from Bangladesh, and nothing from Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). The
earthquake's epicenter was some 100 miles off Sumatra, a part of

Just three days after the calamitous tsunami, Radio Society of Sri Lanka
(RSSL) President Victor Goonetilleke, 4S7VK, declared that "uncomplicated
short wave" radio had saved lives.

"Ham radio played an important part and will continue to do so," he said
in an e-mail relayed to ARRL. Goonetilleke said Sri Lanka's prime minister
had no contact with the outside world until Amateur Radio operators
stepped in. "Our control center was inside the prime minister's official
house in his operational room," he recounted. "[This] will show how they
valued our services."

Horey Majumdar, VU2HFR, in Calcutta, said improvisation was "the name of
the game" in the emergency's aftermath. "Hams had to switch to good old CW
and switch frequencies from 14.190 and 14.160 MHz to 7.090 MHz," he said.
Majumdar noted that hams from all over "have been checking into the VU
emergency nets and extending their fullest cooperation in the truest
spirit of Amateur Radio."

According to the latest estimate, more than 150,000 people died as a
result of the tsunami, about one-third of them children.

Although the US does not have third-party traffic agreements with any of
the countries affected by the disaster, international emergency and
disaster relief communications are permitted unless otherwise provided.
While FCC Part 97 has not yet been updated to reflect revisions to
third-party traffic rules at World Radiocommunication Conference 2003, FCC
staff has told ARRL that if the government agencies responsible for the
Amateur Service in affected countries do not object to their amateur
stations receiving messages from US amateur stations on behalf of third
parties, the US has no objection to its amateur stations transmitting
international communications in support of the disaster.

Additional information on Amateur Radio and the tsunami disaster is on the
ARRL Web site.


The FCC has made public more than 650 pages of technical presentations,
correspondence and filings that it says it used in making its decision on
the BPL Report and Order in ET Docket 04-37. The Commission adopted new
rules to govern so-called Access Broadband over Power Line systems on
October 14, but they have not yet become effective. The ARRL subsequently
filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that called on the FCC
to release any studies the Commission had relied upon in deciding to
embrace the technology. Some information contained in the documents has
been blanked out or redacted.

"Certain portions of those presentations have been redacted, as they
represent preliminary or partial results or staff opinions that were part
of the deliberative process," FCC Office of Engineering and Technology
Associate Chief Bruce Romano said in a cover letter releasing the
documentation December 22. "Moreover, the redacted information was not
relied on by the Commission in making its decision," Among the FCC
Laboratory presentation charts the FCC redacted was one titled "New
Information Arguing for Caution on HF BPL."

The documentation includes presentations and graphs resulting from field
tests of BPL trials in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and North
Carolina. The tests, conducted by the FCC Laboratory's Technical Research
Branch, looked BPL technology by Amperion, Current Technologies, Ambient
Technologies and Main.Net.

The ARRL is continuing to review the extensive documentation in detail.
ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, maintains that the FCC documents
tend to back up assertions the League made in its filings.

"The FCC reports clearly show that BPL operating at the FCC Part 15
emission limits generates a strong RF signal for long distances along
overhead power lines," Hare said. "The FCC data showed noise that was many
decibels above otherwise quiet ambient noise levels." Hare said that even
in spectrum notched out by BPL system providers, the FCC-provided reports
indicate a measurable increase in noise levels on amateur frequencies.

Approximately 150 pages of the documentation consisted of technical
material and presentations by FCC staffers. The remaining 500-plus pages
include correspondence, technical reports and interference complaints from
radio amateurs to the FCC. Falling into the last category is extensive
correspondence involving the Alliant Energy BPL field trial in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa. That pilot project was abandoned after difficulties in
resolving interference issues with local radio amateurs proved

The FCC just this week provided additional spreadsheet data to ARRL under
separate cover. By releasing the information, the FCC made it part of the
official record in the proceeding. Some, but not all, of the BPL-related
material is on the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System under ET Docket

In an interview January 3, OET Deputy Chief Bruce Franca asserted there's
enough spectrum to permit Amateur Radio and BPL to coexist. Franca, who
heads the Commission's BPL Task Force, spoke with Broadband over Power
Line World's Marc Strassman

"There are enough frequencies that amateurs can operate and BPL can
operate in a compatible mode," Franca told Strassman. Franca also
expressed confidence in technological solutions to any Amateur Radio-BPL
interference issues that might arise. "I'm very optimistic at the end of
the day," he said. "Technology is going to solve this problem."

In another BPL-related development, Electric Broadband LLC reportedly has
dropped out of the Cottonwood, Arizona, BPL field trial, and project
oversight has shifted to Mountain Telecommunications Inc (MTI), which had
been handling system operations for EB. The FCC issued a Part 5
Experimental license to MTI on January 3.

On the same day, the Verde Valley Amateur Radio Association (VVARA) asked
the FCC to hold up the swap and instead dismiss the pilot project's WD2XMB
Part 5 license "with prejudice," alleging the operator had "failed to live
up to the terms of the instrument." The VVARA also said it wanted the BPL
field trial shut down.

"Mountain Telecommunications Inc has been involved in the field with the
Cottonwood BPL trial since its start and has not complied with the
requirements of the existing license by promptly mitigating harmful
interference on the 60 meter Amateur Radio band," VVARA Vice President
Robert Shipton, K8EQC, told the FCC, noting that six weeks have passed
since the interference report was filed.

The Cottonwood Experimental license stipulates that the licensee "must
establish and maintain a liaison relationship with the Verde Valley
Amateur Radio Association" and respond to interference complaints "in a
timely manner."


Youngsters in Oklahoma and Brazil got a chance over the holidays to
question International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 10 Commander Leroy
Chiao, KE5BRW, about life in space. Both direct 2-meter contacts with
NA1SS came off largely without a hitch, and Chiao answered all questions
posed by each group. Sponsoring the contacts was the Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) program. Students in grades 3 through
12 from schools in Oklahoma and Texas gathered December 22 at the Tulsa
Air and Space Museum (TASM) for their contact.

"The kids were able to work in all 20 questions as well as wish the ISS
crew a merry Christmas," said Tulsa Repeater Organization (TRO) President
and ARRL Oklahoma Public Information Coordinator Mark Conklin, N7XYO.
"Wow!" Participating students had attended TASM's summer aerospace camps.

Among other things, the kids asked Chiao whether the G-forces from leaving
Earth's atmosphere cause you to have little red spots on your
face--G-measles, how far along the ISS construction was and the space
station's expected life, and what are the benefits of civilian space

The museum cooperated with TRO and AMSAT to arrange the contact. TRO's
Bill Griffin, NI5X, and AMSAT's Keith Pugh, W5IU, set up the Earth station
at TASM. Pugh served as the control operator, and the station used the TRO
WA5LVT call sign for the QSO.

Among those looking on were several news media representatives, including
three Tulsa TV stations, two newspapers and CQ magazine.

On December 27, a Scout group in Brazil participated in the first ARISS
school group contact with that country. Scouts from Rio de Janeiro and
elsewhere gathered at the Forte de Copacabana military base where the
contact took place. ARISS-Brazil member Tadeu Fernandes, PY1KCF, served as
the control operator at PY1ERR.

Chiao answered all 20 questions the scouts posed during the approximately
10-minute contact. The Expedition 10 commander took the opportunity during
his answers to describe the beautiful view from the ISS.

"The Earth looks wonderful from space," he told one Scout. "It is the most
fantastic view, everything is very brightly colored and that's one of our
favorite things to do--to look at the earth." The fact that space walks
can be tiring is offset by the beautiful view of Earth, Chiao told another

He also told the scouts that the crew enjoys viewing the stars--provided
the ISS is pointed the right way. The sun is "extremely bright," but the
moon is "very fascinating too."

Chiao told another Scout that the crew had not yet spotted any
unidentified flying objects yet, but he promised to keep looking.

Some 50 onlookers and news media turned out for the occasion. More than
200 amateur stations around Brazil were able to listen in on the contact
via HF and EchoLink outlets.

ARISS is an educational outreach program with US participation by ARRL,


Things aren't all that friendly in one Friendswood, Texas, neighborhood,
where a dispute over interference from one couple's battery chargers to a
neighboring radio amateur has resulted in an official FCC Citation to the
couple. The December 10 Citation is the latest chapter in a long-running
dispute that FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth has described as "an
unfortunate neighborhood situation." The Citation sprang from complaints
by ARRL member William Cooper, W5ZAF, that his next-door neighbors'
battery chargers were interfering with his ham radio activities. The FCC

"Investigation by the FCC's Houston Office revealed that on December 7,
2004, you were operating battery charging devices at your residence," the
Citation said. "These devices were observed to be generating radio
frequency pulses on various high-frequency radio bands. These radio
frequency pulses were determined to be causing harmful interference to the
Amateur Radio Service." Only after FCC agents visited the couple's home
did the interference cease. The FCC did not make the couple's names public
nor did it post the Citation on its Web site.

The ARRL Laboratory has been working with the FCC and Cooper to help
broker a resolution to the interference issue.

FCC Part 15 rules regulating "unintentional radiators" require that the
operator of such devices must cease operation upon FCC notification that
it's causing harmful interference. "Operation may not resume until the
condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected," the FCC

Since it began about a year ago--when Cooper first suspected the
interference he was hearing came from his neighbors' Christmas lights--the
squabble has escalated beyond the interference issue. Both parties have
hired attorneys, and volumes of correspondence have changed hands. Last
September, the couple complained that Cooper's antenna support structure
violated homeowners' association covenants.

After notices from the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau went
unanswered, Hollingsworth issued warning notices to the couple last June
and September alleging that the battery chargers--apparently used to
charge some electric scooters--were causing interference. Cooper provided
his neighbors with free toroid core devices that resolved the
interference, but the couple subsequently removed them. The couple told
Hollingsworth they'd initially been willing to work with Cooper but took
out the filters after he allegedly made disparaging remarks about them to
another neighbor and took photos of their house and property.

Hollingsworth responded by emphasizing that it's the couple's
responsibility to correct the interference--whether or not they accept
Cooper's help. Simply unplugging the chargers when not in use--as they had
suggested--was not an acceptable solution, he told them in his final
Warning Notice. Cooper claimed the chargers had been operating 24 hours a

The FCC Citation, which does not require a response from the couple,
warned that subsequent violations could lead to fines, equipment seizure
and even possible criminal sanctions.


The ARRL has released a topical public service announcement (PSA) for use
by radio stations. The 30-second PSA may be downloaded free from the
League's Web site in either .wav
<> or .mp3
<> formats.

"Ham radio works when other communications don't," is its central message.
Conceived, written and voiced by ARRL Media and Publications Manager Allen
Pitts, W1AGP, the PSA focuses on Amateur Radio's role in emergency
communication--including activity by South Asia amateurs in the wake of
the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

"It is directed at getting people who are community-minded to look into
becoming hams," Pitts commented. He urged ARRL Public Information
Coordinators and Officers to aid in distributing the announcement to
broadcasters. The PSA invites anyone interested in becoming a radio
amateur to contact ARRL via its toll-free number, 800-326-3942.

For additional information contact Allen Pitts, W1AGP.


Radio amateurs in Vermont have renewed efforts to get a ham radio antenna
bill signed into law in the Green Mountain State. Introduced in the 2005
session of the Vermont House of Representatives, the bill, H.12, would
require Vermont municipalities to "reasonably accommodate" Amateur Radio
communications with "minimum practicable regulation"--in line with the
limited federal preemption PRB-1. It also includes a schedule of minimum
regulatory heights for antenna structures.

"Reasonable accommodation for Amateur Radio antenna heights shall be
judged from the perspective of a particular applicant for a permit for an
antenna structure," the bill states in part. It goes on to spell out what
it means by "reasonable accommodation." H.12 further defines antennas and
antenna support structures complying with the proposed statute as "an
ordinary accessory use" and provides that applicants be granted a building
permit upon application.

"Antennas and antenna support structures shall not be subject to any
conditions, special review, or other processes that may be applied on an
exception basis to other types of permit applications," the draft
legislation declares.

ARRL Vermont Section Manager Paul Gayet, AA1SU, said the measure has three
sponsors instead of one this time around. "I am so pleased to have the new
legislators signed on this year!" Gayet said. "Having three
representatives sponsoring the bill will give it more prominence." An
identically worded measure failed to make it through the legislature last

As drafted, H.12 would generally prohibit Vermont localities from
restricting the overall height of an Amateur Radio antenna and associated
support structure to less than 75 feet above ground level on lots smaller
than one acre. On tracts an acre or larger, the measure would keep
municipalities from restricting the height of an Amateur Radio antenna
system to "less than that specified in 47 C.F.R. §97.15(a)"--which is
where PRB1 is outlined within the FCC's Amateur Service rules.

Presumably, that provision could permit antenna structures of 200 feet or
more. While §97.15(a) does not specify a maximum height, it does require
owners of structures "located at or near a public airport" to notify the
Federal Aviation Administration and register their structures with the FCC
if the structure will be more than 200 feet above ground level. Under the
proposed legislation, municipalities could not restrict the number of
antenna structures for any lot size.

The measure makes provisions for a locality to accommodate amateur
antennas in "a duly designated design control or historic district." In
those situations, a municipal ordinance, bylaw, or rule could restrict
amateur antennas and associated support structures to overall heights of
less than 75 feet, but it could not prohibit them altogether. The bill
also would grandfather all Amateur Radio antennas and support structures
constructed prior to the effective date of the proposed law.

If H.12 is approved by Vermont's House and Senate and signed by the
governor, Vermont would become the 22nd state to enact such legislation. A
copy of the bill is on the Vermont Legislature Web site


Astral aficionado Tad "Shining Star" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: Happy New Year! A week ago it looked like the solar flux would
stay above 100 over the following 10-12 days. Now the last of sunspot 715
is disappearing around the edge of the sun, and it looks like solar flux
should stay around 85 with sunspot numbers below 40 over the next week.

Saturday, January 8, could experience some unsettled to active geomagnetic
conditions, and January 13 could see unsettled conditions as well. Quiet
days are expected January 10-11.

Sunspot numbers for December 23 through 29 were 47, 42, 26, 16, 11, 27 and
27 with a mean of 28. 10.7 cm flux was 96.4, 97.2, 93, 91.7, 96.9, 105.2
and 98.5, with a mean of 97. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 4, 12,
10, 7, 16 and 18 with a mean of 10.4. Estimated mid-latitude A indices
were 5, 2, 6, 9, 6, 12 and 16, with a mean of 8.

Sunspot numbers for December 30 through January 5 were 34, 60, 51, 52, 43,
30 and 15 with a mean of 40.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 100, 98.5, 98.9, 100,
94.2, 88 and 88, with a mean of 95.4. Estimated planetary A indices were
15, 8, 15, 33, 22, 23 and 21 with a mean of 19.6. Estimated mid-latitude A
indices were 12, 5, 10, 20, 14, 16 and 11, with a mean of 12.6.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (CW), the ARRL
RTTY Roundup, the WQF QRP Party, the Midwinter Contest (CW), the EUCW
160-Meter Contest, the NRAU-Baltic Contest (CW/SSB), the Midwinter Contest
(SSB) and the DARC 10-Meter Contest, are the weekend of Jan 8-9. JUST
AHEAD: The North American QSO Party (SSB), the Hunting Lions in the Air
Contest, the LZ Open Contest, the Michigan QRP January CW Contest and the
Hungarian DX Contest are the weekend of January 15-16. 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, January 9. Classes begin Friday, January 21. 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 <>;.

* Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration
for the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level II on-line
course (EC-002) opens Monday, January 10, at 1201 AM EST and will remain
open until all available seats have been filled or through the January
15-16 weekend. Class begins Friday, January 28. 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.
Radio amateurs 55 and up are strongly encouraged to participate. During
this registration period, seats are being offered to ARRL members on a
first-come, first-served basis. 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; <>;.

* Southern Florida SEC Jim Goldsberry, KD4GR, SK: ARRL Southern Florida
Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Goldsberry, KD4GR, of Sunrise, died
December 27. He was 60. An ARRL Life Member, Goldsberry also served as an
ARRL Assistant Section Manager, District Emergency Coordinator and
Official Emergency Station. "Jim was an invaluable asset to the ham radio
community in South Florida," said Frank Marques, KG4EQY. "His passing will
leave a void that will be difficult to fill." Marques said Goldsberry
worked long hours to ensure that the Amateur Radio community was fully
trained and prepared to handle any emergency, especially during hurricane
season. "This hard work was well rewarded this year, when Jim worked
tirelessly to coordinate communication assistance teams to the west and
east coasts of Florida in response to hurricanes Charley, Frances and
Jeanne." Goldsberry assumed his first leadership role in Amateur Radio
public service in 1990 when he became an Emergency Coordinator. Earlier
this year, he stepped down as net manager of the 2-meter Southeast Florida
Traffic Net, a position he'd held for some time. "Jim Goldsberry was
always there whenever anyone was trying to find his/her place in the
amateur radio structure," commented Ford Beach, KB4WBY. "Jim welded the
SEFTN into a training and traffic net that became the envy of many who
checked in from other areas." Beach said Goldsberry also encouraged
members to upgrade and promoted Amateur Radio classes. A service was held
December 31 in Sunrise.

* Arkansas club announces Field Day 2A plaque, 2004 winners: The
Batesville Amateur Radio Club in Arkansas has announced the 2004 winners
of its W5VAE Memorial Trophy. The new award recognizes the highest class
2A ARRL Field Day score. The award honors the memory of Dr Myrlas
Matthews, W5VAE, who died shortly after operating with the club during
ARRL Field Day 2003. "Myrlas was an Elmer to many hams in Arkansas and a
pioneer in many aspects of the hobby," said BARC President David Norris,
K5UZ. "Myrlas loved Field Day, and we could not think of a better tribute
and memorial to a great Elmer." The club presented the 2004 trophy to Joel
Harrison, W5ZN, and Matthews' son Douglas, WB5OAQ. ARRL Contest Branch
Manager commended the club for coming up with an outstanding way to honor
a deserving member of the amateur fraternity. "I am sure Myrlas' love for
the hobby will live on in part because of the club's efforts," he said.
"Congratulations to all involved."

* Club announces "Project Diana" special event: The Ocean Monmouth Amateur
Radio Club (OMARC) in New Jersey will operate a special event station
January 15-16 to commemorate "Project Diana," the first-ever successful
moonbounce experiment, conducted January 10, 1946, by the US Army Signal
Corps. OMARC will operate N2MO on CW, SSB and possibly other modes in the
General and Novice-Technician subbands of 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. An
article on the Project Diana accomplishment, "A DX Record: To the Moon and
Back--How the Moon-Radar Feat was Accomplished," appeared in the April
1946 issue of QST. Special event QSL information and more on Project Diana
is on the OMARC Web site <>.--Steve Hajducek, N2CKH

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
<>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
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The ARRL Letter

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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