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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 24, No. 02
January 14, 2005


* +League tells FCC interference persists at New York BPL trial
* +ARES/RACES rally in rain-soaked California
* +ISS crew restocks its larder, commander tells kids
* +Ham radio antenna bills in play in New Jersey, Connecticut
* +New York radio personality lends voice to ARRL radio spot
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration
    +ARRL Board of Directors January to meet
    +ARRL adds new scholarship to roster; 2005 application deadline looms
    +IARU Region 3 Chairman Peter Naish, VK2BPN, SK
     Ham-astronaut accepts WAC certificate
     AMSAT announces "51 on 51 Award"
     Wayne Long, K9YNF, wins December QST Cover Plaque Award

+Available on ARRL Audio News



The ARRL has questioned the veracity and technical competence of the
company operating a Westchester, New York, BPL field trial. It's also
faulted the FCC for not shutting the system down. In December, after an
on-site determination by ARRL Lab personnel and a local amateur that BPL
interference on 14 MHz had reappeared, the League renewed its request that
the FCC rescind its Part 5 Experimental license for Ambient Corporation's
BPL pilot in Briarcliff Manor. Ambient told the FCC in October that it had
addressed Amateur Radio interference complaints through improved software
and notching, and it repeated that claim January 6, saying it was unable
to detect the interference ARRL reported hearing. In a strongly worded
rebuttal that cited "obvious and preclusive" interference along one
BPL-active stretch of road, ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD,
questioned Ambient's credibility and competence.

"Ambient's claim that it was unable to find that noise in December is not
credible," Imlay wrote January 7 on the League's behalf. "If they were in
fact unable to find the noise, their technical staff is not competent."
The League said that Ambient's October 12 representation to the FCC that
it had corrected "all harmful interference" from the system "has proven
most assuredly false." Additionally, the League noted, an FCC Enforcement
Bureau staffer also has visited the site and could attest to the
interference observed on 14 MHz.

In its January 6 response, Ambient claimed it was "unable to confirm the
high signal levels" and said 80, 40, 30, 20, 15 and 10 meters "continue to
be notched." Ambient also objected to ARRL's assertion that the signals
constitute "harmful interference" and suggested the League was improperly
using the FCC's complaint procedures.

The League said its measurements on 20 meters along one stretch of BPL
lines were "between 20 and 40 dB higher" than when the BPL signal was not
present, and it invited FCC officials to review a video on the ARRL Web
site (click on "Videos of interference in Briarcliff Manor, NY")
documenting the interference. ARRL accused Ambient of not only failing to
remedy the interference but of stonewalling by arguing that the signals
ARRL detected ought not be considered "harmful interference" under FCC's
Part 15 rules.

Westchester County ARES Emergency Coordinator Alan Crosswell, N2YGK,
routinely travels on the roads in question and has just as routinely
experienced interference in those areas, the ARRL said. The League took
strong exception to Ambient's attempt in its January 6 letter to minimize
the issue of interference to mobile stations. "Ambient's flippant
suggestion that interference to Mr. Croswell's mobile Amateur Radio
communications is not an issue, and that he should merely 'drive away from
it' is not well taken and is unacceptable to ARRL," Imlay wrote. "It
should be unacceptable to the Commission as well."

In any case, given that the ARRL measured interference-level BPL emissions
up to three-quarters of a mile from a BPL modem at Briarcliff Manor, the
League noted, driving away would not be a practical remedy. "The system
needs to cease operating on all Amateur bands instead," The ARRL asserted.

Crosswell, who's also Westchester County RACES Officer, has documented BPL
interference, complaints and related information on his "BPL in Briarcliff
Manor" Web site <>.

The League said the lingering Briarcliff Manor BPL situation underscores
the "fundamental incompatibility" between Amateur Radio HF operation and
"unlicensed (and apparently unregulated) operation of BPL systems." The
ARRL also faulted the FCC for its "notable inaction over a period of many
months in responding to complaints" regarding the Briarcliff Manor BPL

"Ambient clearly is not in compliance [with FCC Part 5 Experimental
rules], and the Office of Engineering and Technology needs to, in this
most egregious case, finally do its job and shut this station down pending
compliance determinations and a demonstration that the system can operate
without causing harmful interference." It also demanded that the FCC
rescind Ambient's Part 5 experimental authorization and "determine other
appropriate sanctions" against the company.

A copy of the ARRL's January 7 letter to the FCC is on the ARRL Web site
t0105.pdf>. For more information on BPL, visit the "Broadband Over Power
Line (BPL) and Amateur Radio" page on the ARRL Web site


Flooding and a devastating mudslide in Southern California kept Ventura
County ARES/RACES members on the move this week. Among other activities,
ARES/RACES has supported communication at shelters housing La Conchita
residents displaced by a massive and deadly mudslide January 10 that
killed at least 10 people. A town of some 250 inhabitants, La Conchita is
approximately 65 miles north of Los Angeles.

"Several communities were cut off from access to the outside world during
the flooding, including the Ojai area and the cities of Santa Paula,
Fillmore, and Piru," reports David Gilmore, AA6VH, ARES District Emergency
Coordinator and Ventura County RACES Radio Officer. He said five shelters
were opened during the course of the flooding, providing refuge to more
than 700 evacuees. Gilmore said the hospital in Ojai also experienced
flooding, but the community's flood-initiated isolation would have made it
extremely difficult to transfer patients to other facilities.

"An ARES/RACES member stood by at the radio communications room at the
hospital during this crisis, while the flooding was dealt with," he said.
"Fortunately, the effects of the flooding were able to be contained, and
the hospital was able to continue operating."

In the midst of dealing with the La Conchita mudslide and the subsequent
rescue/recovery effort, Ventura County also faced a forecast of additional
heavy rainfall plus a prediction that the Santa Felicia dam at Lake Piru
might overflow January 11.

"The integrity of the dam itself was never in doubt," Gilmore explained.
"However the amount of water flowing into the reservoir was of sufficient
volume that if an overflow occurred, the community of Piru--located at the
very eastern part of Ventura County and below the dam--was expected to
experience considerable damage."

In light of the threat, authorities ordered residents to evacuate to
higher ground, and requested Ventura County ARES/RACES to set up radio
communications inside the community. Access to Piru was already difficult,
Gilmore explained, and once flooding commenced the town was expected to
become completely inaccessible.

"We realized that any personnel who went to Piru could become stranded for
several days, along with the Piru residents," he said. Nonetheless,
Ventura County ARES/RACES members did not hesitate to volunteer for the

"Steve King, KE6WEZ, immediately packed his vehicle with supplies and
extra radio equipment, and headed out," Gilmore said. Although his trip
was hampered by closed or flood-damaged roadways, the California Highway
Patrol immediately let King through. "He drove the perilous journey along
Highway 126 to Piru, navigating through flowing water and mudslides that
already littered the road," Gilmore said.

Although two more operators--Dan Halpert, WA6JQB, and Karl Baird, KG6KRN,
had also prepared to go, King's vehicle was the last allowed in before
nightfall, when the highway became too dangerous to travel.

Once there King spent a busy--and uncomfortable--night supporting
communication for the more than 500 flood refugees, who had little in the
way of supplies. King was able to help coordinate the delivery of needed
provisions. At one point, he also handled traffic for the emergency
evacuation of a Piru resident who required medical treatment. The area
lost electrical power around 3 AM, and Gilmore says King was instrumental
in locating a small generator and getting it on line as dawn approached.

Fortunately, the anticipated heavy rain did not materialize, and the
release of water over the dam was held back enough to avoid affecting
residential housing. Piru residents were allowed to return home the next
morning, and King was able to get back home for a well-deserved rest,
Gilmore said.

As the severe weather wound down, so did the Ventura County ARES/RACES
activation. Gilmore said the team remains on standby if additional
communication problems arise.

Heavy rainfall in California in recent days has resulted in mudslides that
left at least two dozen people dead. California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger,
who toured La Conchita January 12, has declared a state of emergency in
Ventura County. The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are
cooperating in meeting the needs of those displaced by the flooding and


International Space Station Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao, KE5BRW,
says he and his crewmate, Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov, are off their
NASA-imposed diet. Chiao spoke via Amateur Radio January 7 with youngsters
at Mori Elementary School in Hyogo, Japan. The contact between 8N3M in
Japan and NA1SS aboard the space station was arranged via the Amateur
Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program.

"We received a Progress resupply ship on Christmas day, so now we have
plenty of food and water, so we're no longer on our diet," Chiao reported
in response to a "bonus" question, "Are you hungry now?" from 8N3M control
operator Kazuyoshi "Kaz" Tanaka, JG3QZN. In early December, NASA had asked
the Expedition 10 crew to trim 300 calories or so from its typical 3000
calorie daily intake to keep food supplies from running dangerously low
before the Russian Progress supply rocket arrived Christmas Day.

The unmanned spacecraft brought 2.5 tons of food, fuel, clothing, supplies
and Christmas gifts to the complex. Chiao and Sharipov are now roughly
halfway through their six-month mission. Replying to the "food question"
that students typically ask, Chiao said the crew has a varied menu aboard
the ISS, including, he noted, "some Japanese curry that I brought with
me--curried rice--and also some tofu dishes."

Chiao fielded a total of 20 questions from the school during the
approximately 10-minute direct VHF contact. He told the youngsters that he
and Sharipov underwent lengthy and extensive training for their current
space mission.

"In fact, my crewmate and I trained for the better part of three and a
half years," Chiao said, "We were studying systems in both Russia and in
the United States and we also practiced working in spacesuits and we also
had to do physical exercise to stay in good shape." He urged a student who
asked about becoming as astronaut to study lots of math and science.

Chiao noted the crew will undertake a space walk later this month. On the
task list is moving some Japanese experiments from one side of the ISS to
the other, he said.

Responding to another question about the convenience of living aboard the
ISS, Chiao said the lack of gravity presents a mixed blessing. "Many
things are inconvenient about living in space," Chiao said, "because in
zero gravity it's very easy to lose things. They just float away." The
upside, he noted, is that "floating makes it very easy for you to move
around, so some things are convenient also."

A dozen Mori pupils prepared 19 questions for the contact, and Chiao
answered them all, plus the query from Tanaka just as the pass was coming
to an end. Looking on were about 100 visitors. The event attracted news
media coverage from five newspapers and a local TV cable channel. Founded
in 1872, Mori Elementary School is located near the city of Kakogawa and
has an enrollment of 363 pupils.

ARISS is an international educational outreach with US participation by
ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.--thanks to Satoshi Yasuda, 7M3TJZ/AD6GZ, who
provided information for this story


Amateur Radio antenna legislation has been proposed in New Jersey and
Connecticut. Introduced January 10, the New Jersey measure, Assembly Bill
3641 (A3641) is sponsored by District 22 Assemblywoman Linda Stender. It's
virtually identical to a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Matthew Ahearn,
KB2PNN, that failed to make it through the state's last legislative
session. The new legislation would incorporate the essence of the limited
federal preemption known as PRB-1 into the Garden State's law books.
Northern New Jersey ARRL Section Manager Bill Hudzik, W2UDT, said the
state's PRB-1 group plans to meet with lawmakers this month in Trenton.

"Please remember, the bill's passage is not a given, and we all must
continue to put Amateur Radio in the best possible light--as many clubs
did during this past Field Day--whenever we can," Hudzik exhorted members
on the NNJ Section Web site. "And there will continue to be opposition
from local governments who may view the bill as a threat to home rule."
Hudzik thanked Bob Bednard, KA8SAF, with helping to coordinate the bill's
introduction with Stender's office.

ARRL Southern New Jersey SM Jean Priestley, KA2YKN, also alerted her
section's members via the SNJ Section Web site. "We are back in business
and need to work on developing cosponsors and supporters," she said.
"There is lots of work to do on this in the coming year, so sharpen those

A3641 has been referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government
Committee. The proposed law would keep municipalities from adopting zoning
ordinances that prohibit construction or use of antenna structures by
Amateur Radio operators. It also would require that any application fees
be in line with those generally assessed for residential neighborhood
variances. The New Jersey bill also would prevent localities assessing
applicants for legal, technical or other consultation or advisory expenses
incurred by any agency evaluating an antenna support structure

In Connecticut's General Assembly, an antenna bill has been introduced in
the Senate by 6th District Sen Donald J. DeFronzo. If approved by the
Senate and House of Representatives, the measure, Senate Bill No 92 (SB
92), would require municipal regulation of Amateur Radio antenna
structures to comply with the limitations on local regulation spelled out
in PRB-1.

"To allow amateur radio station antenna structures to be erected at proper
heights and dimensions to accommodate amateur radio communication and
otherwise reasonably accommodate amateur radio service communications,"
says the bill's Statement of Purpose. SB 92 has been referred to the
General Assembly's Joint Committee on Energy and Technology.

To date, 21 states have adopted PRB-1 bills, and laws in some of those
states include a schedule of minimum regulatory heights for Amateur Radio
antenna structures. A PRB-1 bill has also been introduced in Vermont, and
ARRL anticipates similar measures to be introduced in other states as
legislative sessions get under way around the US.

For more information on PRB-1, visit the ARRL PRB-1 Package page
<>. The
FCC discusses PRB-1 on its Web site


ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, says it's nice
to have friends in high places. One of the friends of Amateur Radio public
relations is Howard Price, KA2QPJ, of New York City's WABC-TV (Channel 7).
Pitts says Price--acting president of the Broadcast Employees Amateur
Radio Society (BEARS) <>, the ham radio organization
at ABC TV and Radio in New York City and an ARRL Special Service
Club--heard the League's new radio public service announcement (PSA) and
had an idea.

"He passed it on to Johnny Donovan, production director at WABC Radio in
New York City, who dressed it up in one night and made it available as
'network fill' on The Rush Limbaugh Show," heard on hundreds of radio
stations across the US. While most larger stations cover program breaks
with paid advertising, many smaller stations don't, "and their listeners
will hear this wonderfully enhanced PSA for ham radio," Pitts says.

Voicing the beefed-up PSA was Donovan himself, a WABC legend and also a
radio amateur. "Folks all over America will recognize his voice from
commercial radio," Pitts said.

ARRL has obtained permission to make the 30-second version of the radio
PSA <> featuring Donovan's voice
available on the League's Web site for audition and distribution to radio
stations. A 60-second version of the PSA
<>, voiced by ARRL Media
and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, and produced by Dave
Marthouse, N2AAM, also is available.


Sunspot seeker Tad "Sunshine On My Shoulders" Cook, K7RA, Seattle,
Washington, reports: For the second reporting week of 2005 (January 6-12)
solar flux and sunspot numbers were down, as expressed in the weekly
averages of the daily numbers. Average daily sunspot numbers declined more
than 9 points to 31.6, and average daily solar flux was down more than 5
points to 89.9. These are not big point spreads, but at this low level of
solar activity there isn't much room for decline. Over the next two years
we eventually will see increasing periods of consecutive days with a
sunspot count of zero and solar flux less than 70.

Solar activity has been rising over the past week. Solar flux is predicted
at 120 for January 14-15, and around 125 for January 16-20. This is a
sharp increase over the average daily value of 89.9 for the past week and
95.4 for the previous week. Solar flux values around 120-125 suggest daily
sunspot numbers rising toward (but not reaching) 100. Unsettled to active
geomagnetic conditions are predicted for January 14, and quiet conditions
for the following week.

Sunspot numbers for January 6 through 12 were 14, 22, 34, 28, 40, 25 and
58, with a mean of 31.6. The 10.7 cm flux was 83.2, 83.5, 88.5, 87.5,
90.1, 94.2 and 102.1, with a mean of 89.9. Estimated planetary A indices
were 4, 37, 30, 4, 6, 14 and 30, with a mean of 17.9. Estimated
mid-latitude A indices were 4, 21, 20, 3, 4, 9 and 18, with a mean of


* This weekend on the radio: 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. JUST AHEAD: The RSGB 80-Meter Club Championship (Data) is January
20. The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, the BARTG RTTY Sprint are the
weekend of January 22-23. The CQ 160-Meter Contest (CW), the REF Contest
(CW), the UK DX Contest (RTTY) and the UBA DX Contest (SSB) are the
weekend of January 29-30. 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 Antenna Modeling (EC-004) and Radio Propagation
(EC-011) on-line courses remains open through Sunday, January 16. Classes
begin Friday January 28. The Antenna Modeling course is an excellent way
to learn the ins and outs of antenna modeling. Computer-modeling expert
and noted author L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, has combined the expertise of his long
career as a college professor with his love and antennas and antenna
modeling to offer a comprehensive, yet practical, course of study.
Propagation students will study the science of RF propagation, including
the properties of electromagnetic waves, the atmosphere and the
ionosphere, the sun and sunspots, ground waves and skywaves, and various
propagation modes--including aurora and meteor scatter. 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 III on-line
course (EC-003) opens Monday, January 17, at 1201 AM EST and will remain
open until all available seats have been filled or through the January
22-23 weekend. Radio amateurs 55 and up are strongly encouraged to
participate. Class begins Friday, February 4. 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, 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.

* ARRL Board of Directors January to meet: The ARRL Board of Directors
will meet January 21-22 in Windsor, Connecticut. A variety of policy,
regulatory and legislative issues is on the agenda for consideration.
Likely to come up for discussion is the League's anticipated Petition for
Reconsideration in response to the FCC's October 14 BPL Report and Order
in ET Docket 04-37. The ARRL Administration and Finance and Programs and
Services committees will meet prior to the board session at ARRL

* ARRL adds new scholarship to roster; 2005 application deadline looms:
The ARRL Foundation <> has announced the
availability of a new scholarship--the Jean Cebik Memorial Scholarship.
Endowed through the generosity of Jean and L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, this $1000
scholarship--as are other ARRL Foundation Scholarships--is intended
exclusively for educational expenses at an accredited four-year college or
university, including tuition, room, board, books and other essential
fees. Applicants must be US citizens and hold at least a Technician class
Amateur Radio license. A reminder: The deadline to submit applications for
this and other ARRL Foundation scholarships with transcripts and SAT/ACT
scores affixed is Tuesday, February 1, 2005. There are no exceptions.
Information on 2005 academic year scholarships, downloadable applications
and instructions are on the ARRL Foundation Scholarship Programs Web page

* IARU Region 3 Chairman Peter Naish, VK2BPN, SK: International Amateur
Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 Chairman Peter Naish, VK2BPN, died January 9
after suffering an apparent heart attack a few days earlier. Naish had
been unanimously elected last February in Taiwan to succeed Fred Johnson,
ZL2AMJ, as chairman of the IARU Region 3 Board. Naish previously served as
federal president of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and was
WIA's national secretary at the time of his death. IARU President Larry
Price, W4RA, expressed condolences to IARU Region 3. "In the brief time
that he was with the other members of the IARU Administrative Council, he
exhibited a remarkable understanding of complex issues and a ready
willingness to accept new challenges," Price said in a message to IARU
Region 3 member-societies. "He will be sorely missed." ARRL CEO and IARU
Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, concurred. "He served both the Wireless
Institute of Australia and the International Amateur Radio Union with
skill and dedication," Sumner said. "Both his talents and his engaging
personality will be sorely missed in both organizations." A native of the
UK and originally licensed as G3EIX, Naish continued as an active radio
amateur after relocating to Australia. Survivors include his wife, Monica.
A service was held January 14. The WIA has invited tributes and thoughts
via e-mail <>;.

* Ham-astronaut accepts WAC certificate: During his International Space
Station Expedition 9 duty tour, astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, became the
first ISS crew member to contact all seven of the world's continents via
Amateur Radio. Now he has the International Amateur Radio Union's Worked
All Continents (WAC) certificate for his wall. Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) Ham Radio Technical Coordinator
Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO (right in photo) presented the award to Fincke
recently at Johnson Space Center. Operating NA1SS Fincke worked KC4AAC at
Antarctica's Palmer Research Station for his last contact--actually a
"bonus continent" not required to earn WAC. During that QSO, Fincke and
ARRL Life Member Chuck Kimball, N0NHJ, compared and contrasted life in
their respective outposts. After returning to Earth in October, Fincke
said he's not sure everyone in the NASA community understands and
appreciates what Amateur Radio means for the rest of the world. "It
promotes the space program very well," he said. "It is in NASA's interest
to continue Amateur Radio operations onboard ISS." Fincke said he'd also
like to do make the first Amateur Radio contact from the moon. His WAC is
not the first such award from a ham station in space. In 1992, shuttle
astronauts David Leestma, N5WQC, and Kathryn Sullivan also worked Palmer
Station to complete their WAC list.

* AMSAT announces "51 on 51 Award": AMSAT has announced its new 51 on 51
Award <>, given to a station
making contact with 51 different stations on AMSAT's Echo satellite
(AO-51) during 2005. "The award is designed to promote friendship, and
encourage contact with handheld and first-time satellite users," says
AMSAT Contests and Awards Director Bruce Paige, KK5DO. Contacts may be in
any mode (Voice/Packet/PSK31) and on any band configuration (V/U, V/S,
L/S, L/U, H/U). To receive the award, submit log entries electronically or
in hard copy form. Entries must indicate date and time (UTC) of the
contact, call sign and grid square of the contacted station and mode used.
Only QSOs made in 2005 are eligible. The deadline to submit 51 on 51 logs
is April 30, 2006. QSL cards are not required. The donation for this award
is $5 for AMSAT-NA members and $10 for nonmembers. Since production costs
for this award have been underwritten by an anonymous donor to honor Robin
Haighton, VE3FRH--who served as AMSAT president during the construction
and launch of AO-51--all fee receipts will be applied to the AMSAT Eagle
launch fund.

* Wayne Long, K9YNF, wins December QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of
the QST Cover Plaque Award for December is Wayne Long, K9YNF, for his
article "The Christmas Tree." Congratulations, Wayne! 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 on the QST Cover
Plaque Poll Web page, Cast
a ballot for your favorite article in the January issue by Monday, January

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 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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