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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 25, No. 18
May 5, 2006


* +BPL interference complaints keep coming in Manassas, Virginia
* +ARRL Education and Technology Program "a force for the future"
* +ISS astronaut Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ, has successful first school contact
* +Some WRC-03 ham radio rule changes now in effect; no decision on Morse
* +California high school offering Amateur Radio/EmComm-related class
* +Lone mine disaster survivor KC8VKZ remembers details of tragedy
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
    +AMSAT issues first call for papers for 2006 symposium
    +Astronaut Eileen Collins completes career of space firsts
     James T. Hanson, W1TRC, wins April QST Cover Plaque Award
     Former RSGB President John Case, GW4HWR, SK

+Available on ARRL Audio News <>

==>Delivery problems: First see FAQ
<>, then e-mail
==>Editorial questions or comments only: Rick Lindquist, N1RL,


Another Manassas, Virginia, radio amateur has joined the growing list of
those filing formal complaints about disruptive interference from the city's
broadband over power line (BPL) system. The May 4 letter from ARRL member
Arthur R. Whittum, W1CRO, went to the FCC's Spectrum Enforcement Division
just one day before the ARRL again prevailed upon the same office to act on
several earlier--and similar--complaints of BPL interference. Whittum
reported that BPL interference to his mobile station on April 25 and May 3
made 40-meter SSB operation impossible "during a transit of streets in
Manassas" covering about two miles.

"The digital hash from BPL obliterated even strong signals on 7255 kHz to
the point of unintelligibility," Whittum wrote the FCC. "Since I couldn't
identify who was transmitting or who was net control, I couldn't check into
the nets and couldn't even identify whether or not there was any radio
message traffic destined for this area."

Whittum said his latest complaint is the third he's attempted to submit.
"The first two seem to have gone astray, even though they were introduced in
advance by e-mail," he told Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Joseph
Casey. "I hope this one finds its way to you."

On May 5, the ARRL wrote Casey to ask when the FCC planned to respond to
longstanding interference complaints from four other Manassas radio
amateurs. The League said it also wants to know when it can expect the FCC
to require BPL system operator COMTek, equipment maker and the City
of Manassas "to comply with the Commission's rules governing radiated
emissions and the non-interference requirement of §15.5 of those rules."

On March 7, Casey called on the city and COMTek to follow up on the January
19 complaint of Dwight Agnew, AI4II, citing harmful BPL interference along
Virginia Business Route 234. The Commission instructed the city to conduct
measurements to ensure its system complies with FCC Part 15 rules and to
"resolve any continuing harmful interference." In another letter the same
day, Casey asked George Tarnovsky, K4GVT; Donald Blasdell, W4HJL; William
South, N3OH and Jack Cochran, WC4J, to provide additional information
regarding their longstanding interference complaints or the FCC would not
consider them further. All four provided the requested addenda by early

"Since then, no action has been taken by the Spectrum Enforcement Division,"
the League said in its May 5 letter to Casey. "An investigation of these
complaints is now long overdue and amply justified by the responses of
Messrs Cochran, Tarnovsky, Blasdell and South to your March 7, 2006,

On April 6, COMTek filed a report with the FCC in response to Agnew's
interference complaint. The company said it did not believe the Manassas BPL
system caused the interference Agnew and other Manassas ham radio operators
have heard. Agnew told the ARRL a few days after COMTek's report that the
BPL interference continues.

In a consolidated complaint on behalf of Tarnovsky, Blasdell and South filed
October 13, the ARRL asked the FCC to order the BPL system shut down "until
the operator can demonstrate compliance with the requirement that it not
cause harmful interference to licensed radio services."


To those who wonder--or worry--about what the League is doing to ensure the
future of Amateur Radio, ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH,
offers a prompt response: the ARRL Education and Technology Program (ETP).
More familiar to many as "The Big Project," the program has provided turnkey
Amateur Radio stations and educational materials to more than 170 schools
across the US. More important, Hobart says, the ETP each year exposes many
youngsters and their teachers to Amateur Radio, wireless technology,
electronics and even robotics--something that likely wouldn't happen if the
program didn't exist. With the ETP kicking off its 2006 fundraising campaign
this month, Hobart emphasizes that the program depends entirely on
individual donations.

"The Education and Technology Program is unique among ARRL's programs in
that it is totally funded by voluntary member contributions, so the onus to
continue to put stations in schools and to grow the program rests on those
willing to contribute," she says. "This is an awesome responsibility for the
Amateur Radio community."

Campaign revenue not only covers the cost of placing stations in schools,
Hobart notes. It also funds a burgeoning schedule of Teachers Institutes
each summer as well as ongoing efforts to guide national educational
standards in science and mathematics. Hobart called the Teachers Institutes
"a powerful tool" to inspire educators and to help them develop confidence
in teaching about wireless technology and electronics through Amateur Radio.

Generous gifts helped the ETP to expand to five the number of free Teachers
Institutes it's offering in 2006, its third year, and Hobart is optimistic
that the program will be able to afford additional sessions in the years
ahead. Some, but not all, of those who attend are Amateur Radio licensees,
while others become hams as a result of attending the week-long sessions. In
any event, Hobart points out that Teachers Institute alumni influence
thousands of youngsters each year.

In fact, the "poster boy" for the 2006 campaign is Ronny Risinger, KC5EES, a
teacher at LBJ High School in Austin, Texas--an ARRL "Big Project"
participant. Risinger attended the first ETP Teachers Institute in 2004 at
ARRL Headquarters. His success with the program became the centerpiece of
this year's ETP fundraising effort.

"Ronny's story is a powerful one," said Hobart. "He's a teacher and a ham
who's taken advantage of all the ETP resources at his disposal. This is why
we tell his story."

Risinger credits the ETP and the Teachers Institute with his success in
inspiring and teaching his students. He says the League program gave him a
strong sense of confidence that allows him to be a better teacher,
presenting his classroom material in unique and engaging ways--and
especially hands-on projects that captivate his students.

Hobart says Risinger is just one example of how ETP participation and
attendance at a Teachers Institute can inspire educators and help their
students to embrace both wireless technology and Amateur Radio.

"Supporting the ARRL Education and Technology Program is an opportunity to
do something about the future of Amateur Radio and attracting the younger
generation," Hobart says. "Outside of the League's ongoing and essential
effort to defend our spectrum, I can think of no other initiative that
prepares ham radio for its future."

Contribute to the ARRL Education and Technology Program by July 31 via the
secure donation Web site
Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.


US Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) cadets at Bob
Jones High School in Madison, Alabama, got the first shot at speaking with
new ISS crew member Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ. The Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) program arranged the May 1 contact with
NA1SS, which marked the inaugural school QSO of Williams' duty tour as part
of Expedition 13. Posing the first question was Williams' nephew, Adam
Williams, who wanted to know if his uncle found it difficult to adapt to
living in space.

"It takes a little bit of adaptation to get used to living in space, no
matter times you've been here, but after you've been here the first time,
you know what to expect, so it's a lot easier to adapt," Williams told his
nephew. "It still takes a little bit of time to adapt to the weightless
environment and to know your way around--in this case, in a new spacecraft,
the space station."

Williams flew aboard the shuttle Atlantis in May 2000 on a 10-day space
station assembly mission. During that flight, he performed a spacewalk
lasting almost seven hours. He told the Bob Jones students that he's already
looking forward to his next spacewalk, set for later in his mission. As
opposed to the initial jolt of a shuttle launch, Williams told the cadets,
the Russian Soyuz rocket launch is easier the first couple of minutes but
gets rougher as it continues its flight into space.

Williams also described the science experiments he and Expedition 13
Commander Pavel Vinogradov, RV3BS, have under way. "We do a variety of
experiments," he explained, adding that some projects deal with fluid
dynamics, to help understand how fluids behave in a weightless environment.
In addition, the crew is growing crystals to study materials science,
"because crystals will grow more uniformly and precisely in a weightless
environment without the force of gravity."

Other research is investigating the effects of weightlessness on the body
"so that we understand how to counter the impact on the body for future,
long-duration missions--especially to places like Mars or living on the moon
for a long period of time," Williams said.

Replying to a later question, Williams said he expects astronauts to again
land on the moon, but he added that he doesn't expect that to happen before
2010. "Nothing goes as quick as we want it to, but we will go back to the
moon--I'm confident of that."

The school's senior aerospace science instructor, Lt Col Randy Herd (Ret)
served as the master of ceremonies for the event as students and other
faculty members looked on. Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, served as the Earth
station for the event. Verizon Conferencing donated a teleconference link to
provide two-way audio between the school and Hutchison's QTH in Kingston,
Australia. The contact Dieter Schliemann, KX4Y, served as the ARISS mentor
for the Bob Jones High School contact, which was the 238th school QSO since
the first crew arrived aboard the ISS in 2000.

ARISS <> is an educational outreach of a nine-nation
consortium, with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.


Several FCC Part 97 Amateur Radio rule revisions to implement changes agreed
to at the international level during World Radiocommunication Conference
2003 (WRC-03) went into effect May 3 upon their publication in The Federal
Register. The FCC Order
<>, released
in January, affects §97.111, Authorized transmissions; §97.113, Prohibited
transmissions; §97.115, Third party communications, and §97.117,
International communications. The FCC has yet to deal with the so-called
"Morse code proceeding," WT Docket 05-235, which also stemmed from decisions
made at WRC-03. The Commission has proposed deleting the Element 1 5 WPM
code test as a requirement to obtain any Amateur Radio license.

"These amendments will ensure that the Commission's Amateur Radio Service
rules conform to Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations adopted
at the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference, and will further the
Commission's ongoing efforts to streamline its Amateur Service Rules," the
FCC Order said.

The FCC Order revises:

* §97.111(a)(1) to permit "transmissions necessary to exchange messages with
other stations in the Amateur Service, except those in any country whose
administration has notified the ITU that it objects to such communications.
The FCC will issue public notices of current arrangements for international
communications." The old language permitted communication among amateur
stations in different countries "except those in any country whose
administration has given notice that it objects to such communications."

The FCC said the change does not prejudice its consideration of comments to
rule changes it's proposed to §97.111(a)(2) in WT Docket 04-140--the
so-called "Omnibus" proceeding that covers a wide range of rule changes and
proposals. The Commission wants to amend that rule section to clarify that
amateur stations may at all times and on all authorized channels transmit
communications necessary to meet essential needs and to facilitate relief

* §97.115(a)(2) to facilitate the transmission of international
communications on behalf of third parties in emergency or disaster-relief
situations, whether or not a third-party agreement is in place between the
US and the countries involved. The revision now permits communication with
any non-US station "when transmitting emergency or disaster relief
communications" as well as with any non-US station "whose administration has
made arrangements with the United States to allow amateur stations to be
used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third

The revised rule further provides that no station may transmit third-party
traffic other than emergency or disaster relief communications to a station
whose government has not made a third-party arrangement. Still excepted from
the prohibition is any third party eligible to be the control operator of an
amateur station.

* §97.113(a)(4) to prohibit amateur stations exchanging messages with
amateur stations in other countries from making transmissions that are
encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except for control
signals exchanged between Earth command stations and space stations in the
Amateur-Satellite service, something Part 97 already provides for. The old
rule referred to the use of "codes and ciphers."

The same rule also already prohibits transmitting music, communications
intended to facilitate a criminal act, obscene or indecent words or language
and false or deceptive messages, signals or identification.

* §97.117 to state that amateur stations may transmit communications
incidental to the purposes of the Amateur Service and to remarks of a
personal character.

The FCC also revised §97.3 and 97.309 to update the definition of
International Morse code and of various digital codes in the amateur rules
to reflect changes in the Radio Regulations.

The WRC-03 Final Acts revising the international regulations that apply to
the Amateur and the Amateur Satellite services became effective July 5,
2003. These latest Part 97 revisions now bring the FCC's Amateur Service
rules into conformance with the international Radio Regulations.


A California high school that's participating in the ARRL Education and
Technology Program (ETP--also known as "The Big Project") will offer a
year-long elective course, "Radio Amateurs and Disaster Operations" (RADIO),
starting this fall. Moorpark High School math and meteorology teacher Tom
Baker, NC6B, says the course is the first of its kind anywhere in the US.
The class curriculum was created in conjunction with the ARRL, the American
Red Cross and various Ventura County agencies. ARRL ETP Coordinator Mark
Spencer, WA8SME, gives the new course high marks and says it has a great
chance to succeed.

"This program has in place all three components that will be necessary for
success: a motivated teacher, supportive school administration and strong
support and involvement by the local ham community," Spencer said. He
attended an April 4 meeting at the school to discuss its "Learn and Serve
Program," and he believes the support shown at that session will greatly
boost the RADIO initiative.

"The meeting was well attended, and the attendees included representatives
of all the emergency management participants in the program, the mayor's
office, the school and district office, school support staff and the ARRL
Division and Section," Spencer said. Among those on hand were ARRL
Southwestern Division Director Dick Norton, N6AA, and Santa Barbara Section
Emergency Coordinator Jennifer Roe, AA6MX.

The elective RADIO course is open to students in grades 9 through 12, and it
will feature instruction from certified experts in their respective fields.
After studying, testing and meeting any practical skills requirements, all
RADIO students will come away with an Amateur Radio license (at least
Technician class), American Red Cross First Aid Training Certification,
American Red Cross CPR Training Certification and American Red Cross AED
Training (Automated External Defibrillator) Certification.

Students will learn about and how to seamlessly interface with the National
Incident Management System (NIMS), Incident Command System (ICS) and local
government infrastructure. They'll also learn search-and-rescue techniques
among other disaster and emergency preparedness skills. RADIO participants
will even learn peer mediation skills.

The RADIO course not only will provide service-learning opportunities for
students but will make them prime candidates as volunteers for service
organizations and, later, as potential service professionals.

Moorpark High School, which has an enrollment of approximately 2700,
established its Amateur Radio club, W6MHS, last August, and it became an
ARRL-affiliated club in October. In December, W6MHS won an ARRL ETP grant
and received station equipment through the program (some 170 schools now
participate in the "Big Project"). This August, Moorpark High School will
host one of the ARRL ETP Teachers Institutes.

"We are very excited about this program," said Baker of the RADIO course. He
has offered to help other schools in the US to establish RADIO curricula.
"This will be quite a challenging and enjoyable class. It will give students
skills to become positively and directly involved with their community, and
it gives this high school a pool of talented, trained individuals who can
assist with many on-campus situations."

Contact Baker (805-378-6305) for more information or visit the RADIO page on
the school's Department of Meteorology Web site


Randy McCloy, KC8VKZ--the lone survivor of the January 2 Sago Mine disaster
in West Virginia--has expressed his sorrow to the victims' families and
shared his personal recollections of the tragedy.

"I cannot explain why I was spared while the others perished," McCloy wrote
April 26, the Associated Press reports. The letter publicly revealed for the
first time McCloy's memories of the incident that almost took his life.
Following weeks of hospital treatment and rehabilitation, McCloy, 26, is
still recovering from the ordeal.

While he does not remember the explosion that trapped 12 colleagues and
himself in the mine, he said he does recall the mine's filling quickly "with
fumes and thick smoke," making breathing difficult. He said at least four of
the emergency air packs failed to function, so the miners shared the units
that did and there were not enough to go around.

The trapped miners also tried to signal their location by beating on mine
roof bolts and plates with a sledgehammer, McCloy told the victims' families
in his letter. As they began to accept their fate, he said, the group prayed
and wrote letters to their loved ones. He says as his co-workers lost
consciousness one by one, he just sat and waited, "unable to do much else."

McCloy, who did not testify during a public hearing into the Sago disaster
this week, said he didn't know how long it was before he also fell
unconscious from the gas and smoke. He was rescued after 41 hours

The McCloys and their two children live in Simpson, West Virginia.


Heliophile Tad "Seasons in the Sun" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: This was a nice, quiet week with no notable geomagnetic activity.
In fact, the middle latitude K index was zero for a 36-hour period centered
on April 30. At approximately the same time the high latitude college K
index was zero for 51 hours straight. Average daily sunspot numbers were
nearly double those of the previous seven days, rising by more than 29
points to 59.7.

As of early May 5, the IMF was pointing south, leaving Earth vulnerable to
solar wind. The planetary A index reached five on Thursday, May 4, and it's
predicted to hit 20, 30, 20 and 12 for May 5-8. Geophysical Institute Prague
gives a forecast until May 11 of active geomagnetic conditions on May 5 and
6, unsettled May 7, quiet to unsettled May 8, quiet on May 9, back to
unsettled on May 10, and unsettled to active on May 11.

Sunspot numbers for April 27 through May 3 were 63, 68, 64, 62, 51, 58 and
52, with a mean of 59.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 100.7, 100.1, 101.2, 99.9,
93.4, 89.4, and 89, with a mean of 96.2. Estimated planetary A indices were
5, 12, 3, 1, 2, 4 and 3, with a mean of 4.3. Estimated mid-latitude A
indices were 3, 10, 2, 0, 2, 4 and 2, with a mean of 3.3.



* This weekend on the radio: The New England, Seventh Call Area and Indiana
QSO parties, the MARAC County Hunter Contest (CW), the 10-10 International
Spring Contest (CW), the Microwave Spring Sprint, and the ARI International
DX Contest are the weekend of May 6-7. The RSGB 80-meter Club Championship
(Data) is May 10. The Thursday NCCC Sprint Ladder is May 12 (UTC). JUST
AHEAD: The Mid-Atlantic QSO Party, the VK/Trans-Tasman 80-Meter Contest
(phone), the VOLTA Worldwide RTTY Contest, the CQ-M International DX
Contest, the F.I.S.T.S. Spring Sprint and the 50 MHz Spring Sprint are the
weekend of May 13-14. The Run for the Bacon QRP Contest is May 15. The NAQCC
80-Meter Straight Key/Bug Sprint  is May 18, the RSGB 80-Meter Club
Championship (CW) is May 18 and the Thursday NCCC Sprint Ladder is May 19
(UTC). See the ARRL Contest Branch page <> and
the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration:
Registration remains open through Sunday, May 21, for these ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education (CCE). Program on-line courses:
Amateur Radio Emergency Communication Level 1 (EC-001), Radio Frequency
Interference (EC-006), Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009), Analog
Electronics (EC-012) and Digital Electronics (EC-013). Classes begin Friday,
June 2. To learn more, visit the CCE Course Listing page
<> or contact the CCE Department

* AMSAT issues first call for papers for 2006 symposium: AMSAT-NA has issued
a first call for papers and presentations for its 2006 Space Symposium
October 6-8 near San Francisco, California
<>. Speakers
are invited to submit and present papers dealing with the science of Amateur
Radio satellites and associated technologies. Speakers originally scheduled
to present at the cancelled 2005 Symposium are encouraged to resubmit their
papers for 2006. Recommended topics include--but are not limited to--AMSAT
Phase 3E, AMSAT Eagle, microsatellites, cubesats and nanosatellites, ARISS,
antennas, ground stations and more. The AMSAT-NA Board of Directors will
meet October 5-6, and the annual general membership meeting will be October
6. AMSAT International will meet October 8. In addition, the IARU Satellite
Committee will hold a public roundtable discussion on frequency coordination
October 8. The ARISS International Delegates Meeting takes place October
9-10. Applications to present papers must be submitted by July 15, and
papers are due August 1. An online registration system is available to
submit and track abstracts
<>. This
system lets users submit papers and subsequent changes online. Complete
information on the 2006 Symposium is available on the AMSAT Web site

* Astronaut Eileen Collins completes career of space firsts: Astronaut
Eileen Collins, KD5EDS, is leaving NASA. The first woman to command a space
shuttle and the leader of the shuttle Discovery return-to-flight mission
last year, Collins plans to pursue private interests and spend more time
with family. "Eileen Collins is a living, breathing example of the best that
our nation has to offer," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. A veteran
of four space flights, Collins' career at NASA has been punctuated by
firsts. She was the first woman selected as a pilot astronaut, the first
woman to serve as a shuttle pilot and the first woman to command a US
spacecraft. Mike Coats, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center called
Collins "a true pioneer in space and on Earth." Collins was selected as an
astronaut in 1990. She served as the shuttle pilot on Mir space station
rendezvous missions in 1995 and 1997. In addition to the 2005 Discovery
mission, Collins commanded the shuttle Columbia on the 1999 flight that
launched the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. NASA Flight Crew Operations Director
Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, described Collins as "a gifted leader who knows what
it takes to get a team through the most difficult of times."

* James T. Hanson, W1TRC, wins April QST Cover Plaque Award: The winner of
the QST Cover Plaque Award for April is James T. Hanson, W1TRC, for his
article "A Home-made Ultrasonic Power Line Arc Detector." Congratulations,
James! 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 May issue by Wednesday, May 31.

* Former RSGB President John Case, GW4HWR, SK: The Radio Society of Great
Britain (RSGB) reports that a past society president, John Case, GW4HWR, has
died. Case served as RSGB President in 1991 and continued to be active in
Society affairs until the mid-1990s. Case was the longtime chairman of the
RSGB Training and Education, and he led the team responsible for the
introduction of the Amateur Radio Novice license and was the author of a
number of RSGB training guides and other publications. A service was held
April 24 in Cardiff.--RSGB

* Corrections: In The ARRL Letter, Vol 25, No 17 (Apr 28, 2006), the news
brief "Armed Forces Day 2006 military/amateur activities set," contains an
incorrect or incomplete hyperlink to the detailed Armed Forces Day crossband
communication test information. The tentative schedule of Armed Forces Day
on-the-air events--including a list of participating stations, the Secretary
of Defense's message transmission schedule and more information--is on the
US Army MARS news page <>. Click on the
"Armed Forces Day" link. In the same issue, the story "Supply and Demand:
VU4AN Andamans Operations Create a Clamor," contained some incorrect
information: (1) Indian telecommunications authorities granted licenses to
approximately 30 foreign licensees for the Andamans event (ie, approximately
70 operators total). (2) Bharathi Prasad, VU2RBI, won the 2005 Dayton
Hamvention Special Achievement Award. (3) Individual participating stations
will announce QSL routes. Only a few stations are accepting QSL requests via

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;
<>. Joel Harrison, W5ZN, 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
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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!):
==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL,
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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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