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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 25, No. 31
August 4, 2006


* +FCC tweaks BPL rules, denies reconsideration petitions
* +BPL interference report "flawed" and "misleading," ARRL says
* +ARRL Board boosts support for legislative action volunteers
* +Vanity call sign fee falls to $20.80 in September
* +League announces Hiram Percy Maxim, W1FB memorial award winners
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     WRTC 2006 announces prize winners
    +Montenegro operations continue apace
    +IARU Region 3 Conference special event on air
     Irish radio amateurs seek 500 kHz allocation
     Jack W. Herbstreit, ex-W0DW, SK

+Available on ARRL Audio News <> 

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


An FCC that's still optimistic and enthusiastic about BPL met August 3 to
consider and unanimously adopt a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) in
response to several petitions for reconsideration of its BPL rules -
including one from ARRL. But one commissioner stressed that the FCC has an
obligation to protect Amateur Radio operators from BPL interference and to
respond promptly to interference complaints. ARRL President Joel Harrison,
W5ZN, and General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, were on hand for this week's
meeting, during which the FCC suggested it was attempting to strike a
balance between interference to licensed services and the BPL industry's

"This rule making proceeding was initiated to provide regulatory certainty
that will encourage investments in BPL, particularly so that consumers can
reap the benefits," the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) told
the commissioners. "Equally important, the Commission sought to ensure that
licensed radio services are protected against harmful interference." The OET
said the Commission also wanted to provide guidance so compliance
measurements "are made in a consistent manner with repeatable results."

The FCC adopted its current BPL rules - under a new Subpart G of its Part 15
rules governing unlicensed devices - in October 2004. 

Commenting after the OET's presentation of the MO&O, Commissioner Michael J.
Copps reiterated that the FCC must also ensure that BPL providers protect
existing spectrum users from interference. 

"This applies with special force to Amateur Radio operators whose skills and
dedication once again proved so valuable in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina," Copps remarked. "Amateur radio serves the public interest in so
many ways that we must be always mindful of its needs."

Copps said he believes the FCC's MO&O "strikes an acceptable balance," but
added that the Commission "must be available and positioned to respond to
interference complaints with alacrity. Amateur operators shouldn't have to
wait for months to get complaints resolved - they deserve better."

The FCC denied a BPL industry request to extend the effective date to meet
equipment certification requirements, but it did create a limited exception,
the OET's Anh Wride said. BPL systems now will have another year to continue
installing or replacing equipment "that otherwise meets the Part 15 rules"
in their present coverage areas. "This relief is a reasonable accommodation
that will limit the proliferation of non-compliant equipment," Wride said.

In addition, the Commission rebuffed the BPL industry's request to drop the
30-day advance notification requirement for the public BPL database. Wride
said the advance notification provision ensures that licensed users are
aware of new BPL deployments in advance of their startup..

The Order also turned down requests by the ARRL and individual Amateur Radio
operators to exclude the use of the HF ham bands for BPL operations. The
Commission also denied petitions from the ARRL and others to prohibit BPL
deployment "pending the adoption of a definition for 'harmful interference,'
the completion of all ongoing studies of BPL and the initiation of further
studies of BPL interference characteristics," Wride said.

The FCC further denied requests to keep BPL signals off overhead
medium-voltage power lines and to impose more stringent technical
restrictions and measurement requirements on BPL operations.

Wride said the OET believes the requirements the FCC adopted in 2004
regarding emission levels and notching "are adequate to fully protect
amateur operations." She said going along with ARRL's request to reconsider,
rescind and re-study the BPL rules in further proceedings could leave radio
amateurs with less protection than they now have.

The FCC did grant a request from the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) to expand BPL exclusion zones in the
vicinity of certain radio astronomy systems.

"We continue to believe that the interference concerns associated with the
operation of these systems are adequately addressed through the adoption of
Access BPL rules in Part 15, particularly as a new generation of BPL
equipment that complies with our rules becomes available," Wride concluded.

The FCC released a public notice to report its August 3 BPL-related actions
<>. The
MO&O it adopted is not expected to become available to the public for a few


The ARRL has told the FCC it has found a radio interference report filed on
behalf of the Manassas, Virginia, BPL system "flawed in numerous respects."
The League responded this week to a July 17 letter and BPL interference
study the FCC mandated following repeated complaints from local radio

"ARRL objects to the report because it is based on improper engineering
practice and contrary to the instructions provided by your office in your
letter dated June 16, 2006," ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, wrote
FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Joseph Casey on August 2. In June,
Casey had ordered the City of Manassas and BPL provider COMTek to
investigate complaints from several Manassas radio amateurs of BPL
interference to their mobile operations and report back to the Commission on
their findings. The League, and local amateurs, contend the BPL system is
still causing harmful interference to Amateur Radio operations, despite the
clean bill of health the engineering report purports to present.

"It did so both before and after the tests conducted by COMTek; and there is
no doubt at all that the interference is from the COMTek BPL system operated
in the City of Manassas and not from any other source." The League
reiterated its demand that the system be shut down immediately.

"Unless the Enforcement Bureau is willing to do that, you are going to have
to send Commission staff to observe this interference and conduct their own
measurements in the presence of both COMTek and the local Amateur Radio
operators who are receiving the interference," Imlay asserted. Manassas
radio amateurs who have complained to the FCC about the BPL interference
also have suggested that the FCC must investigate the problem firsthand.

The League maintained that COMTek "has filed incorrect and misleading
reports" and has "manipulated the BPL system to show false readings." In
particular, the ARRL -- and local radio amateurs -- suggest that the BPL
system was not operating at peak user loading during the testing, as the FCC
had ordered. Either that or COMTek and BPL equipment manufacturer
adjusted system power levels downward for the testing, Imlay told the FCC. 

"The Commission is going to have to investigate this matter itself, without
advance notice to COMTek or the City, so that the system is not powered down
or otherwise manipulated to show other than peak loading characteristics at
the power levels typically used in Manassas," the ARRL stated. The League
said it's clear that the FCC can't rely on reports from consultants hired by
the system's operators while excluding the victims of the interference. 

In its dealings with the Manassas BPL system, the League concluded, the FCC
has "completely ignored" Part 15 rules requiring a BPL operator, upon
learning of harmful interference, to investigate and resolve it successfully
within a reasonable time. "The recent submission of COMTek and the City have
produced no resolution of the interference at all," ARRL said. "Rather,
COMTek and the City have shown a complete inability, and now, by their
denials, the unwillingness, to resolve the interference."


Meeting in Windsor, Connecticut, July 21 and 22, the ARRL Board of Directors
agreed to make $5000 already budgeted to the Grassroots Legislative Action
Committee available to cover volunteers' travel and administrative costs
and, on a trial basis, to recruit and train volunteers in several ARRL
divisions. The Grassroots Legislative Action Program is aimed at encouraging
ARRL members to contact their members of Congress to urge their
co-sponsorship and support of Amateur Radio-related legislation. It also
supports the efforts of legislative action volunteers to contact members of
Congress directly on behalf of their Amateur Radio constituents.

"Authorizing the committee to use funds currently budgeted to it as seed
money to support development of the project throughout several test
divisions will enable the committee to develop the basis for requesting
appropriate funding levels for the future," explained Grassroots Legislative
Action Committee Chair and Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, in
offering the motion.

The resolution said the Grassroots Legislative Action Program "offers great
potential to increase the effectiveness of the ARRL to influence legislative
efforts." It pointed out, however, that travel and administrative expenses
are often required to recruit and train ARRL volunteers to make the program

In its most complex action of the weekend, the Board agreed to amend the
League's Articles of Association and By-Laws, to clarify conflict of
interest criteria as they apply to ARRL directors and vice directors (or
candidates) as well as to the League's president, vice presidents and
treasurer. Dakota Division Director Jay Bellows, K0QB, offered the motions
needed to put the changes into effect.

"This is really an attempt to open up candidate eligibility and to make sure
our members are aware of any conflicts that might arise," Bellows said
afterwards. "These changes clearly define conflicts of interest, establish
an affirmative obligation on the part of covered individuals to disclose
conflicts of interest -- actual and potential -- and now provide a mechanism
to address them as they arise."

Bellows' amendments noted that present policy and rules could effectively
exclude otherwise eligible candidates, don't distinguish between present and
potential conflicts of interest and don't provide a means to review
conflicts that might occur during a director's or officer's term. 

Board members or prospective candidates having a financial interest in an
entity "engaged in an ongoing business or activity that directly competes
with" League business or activity would be "deemed to have a pervasive and
continuing conflict that would render him or her ineligible to be a Board

The new policy provides that Board members must promptly disclose any
conflicts and recuse themselves from being present for discussion or from
voting in any matter in which they have a material financial interest. In
that event, the division's vice director would act in the director's stead
during any discussion and vote on the matter in question.

Board members also accepted an invitation to hold the next ARRL National
Convention at the 2007 Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama. The event will take
place August 18-19 at the all-air-conditioned Von Braun Center.

On Saturday, the Board focused on a review and revision of the ARRL
Strategic Plan and the consideration selection of strategies for 2007. The
review process included "breakout sessions" to develop possible strategies
to address each of five goals to guide the League over the next three to
five years.

The ARRL Executive Committee will complete refinement of the strategy
document when it meets October 7 and recommend it for approval at the
Board's January 2007 meeting.


The regulatory fee to obtain or renew an Amateur Radio vanity call sign will
drop slightly starting with applications received by the FCC on or after
Wednesday, September 6, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB)
said this week. The new fee will be $20.80 for the 10-year license term.
This year promises to be a big one for vanity call sign renewals, since the
initial round of vanity grants under the current system occurred in 1996.
Licensees who want to retain vanity call signs issued under the current
(post-1995) system must pay the regulatory fee when renewing.

"Consistent with our established practice, we plan to collect these
regulatory fees in the August-September 2006 time frame in order to collect
the required amount by the end of the fiscal year," the FCC explained in a
July 17 Report and Order (R&O), "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory
Fees for Fiscal Year 2006," in MD Docket 06-68. The FY 2006 vanity fee is a
bit higher than the $20.10 for the license term that the Commission had
proposed in a Notice of Proposed Rule Making last March. The current vanity
call sign fee of $21.90 remains in effect for applications received by the
FCC before September 6.

Amateur Radio licensees may file renewal applications no sooner than 90 days
of their license expiration date. While the regulatory fee payment is
required from licensees wishing to keep their current vanity call signs
after renewal, vanity holders can opt to get a sequential call sign and
avoid paying any fee when they renew.

ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, says the FCC has been handling vanity
call sign license renewals from June without any delay or problems. "I'm
sure Gate 2 will go just as smoothly if you use one of the automated methods
of filing, such as via the ARRL or using the Universal Licensing System
(ULS)," she predicted. "Paper filings to the FCC can be confusing and
difficult." The FCC renewed nearly 3000 vanity call sign licenses during
June and July.

Amateur Radio licensees holding vanity call signs granted prior to 1996 do
not have to pay a regulatory fee when renewing. This is because Congress did
not begin requiring the FCC to annually recover its regulatory costs until
1993. Additionally, such licensees are not specifically tagged as vanity
call sign holders in the ULS.

The ARRL VEC will process license renewals for vanity call sign holders for
a modest fee. The service is available to ARRL members and nonmembers,
although League members pay less. Routine, non-vanity renewals continue to
be free for ARRL members. Trustees of club stations with vanity call signs
may renew either via the ULS or through a Club Station Call Sign
Administrator, such as ARRL VEC.

Somma says the ARRL's new license renewal/modification Web pages
<> contain complete
information on license-filing procedures, including step-by-step
instructions on how to renew or update a license using the ULS


A 13-year-old ARRL member and Amateur Extra class licensee, Jimmy Carter,
KG4SGP, of Burke, Virginia, is the winner of the 2005 Hiram Percy Maxim
Memorial Award. Jimmy is a student at Lake Braddock Secondary School, where
he organized the Lake Braddock Secondary School Amateur Radio Club, which he
serves as president. He says he got interested in ham radio from his
parents, both of whom are licensed. He envisions an engineering career.

"I don't know if it's ham radio becoming my career or my career becoming ham
radio," said Jimmy, reflecting how his interest in electronics has prompted
him toward further self-study as well as trying to enjoy as many different
facets of ham radio as he can. "I just get interested in a lot of different
things in ham radio," he said. That included a recent foray into 6 meters as
well as improving his Morse code speed, chasing DX and even building some of
his own gear.

"I just really like everything about ham radio," he said.

The HPM Memorial Award goes each year to a radio amateur under the age of 21
whose accomplishments and contributions are of the most exemplary nature
within the framework of Amateur Radio activities. The award was established
in 1936, and formal nominations come from ARRL section managers. 

After organizing his schools ham radio club, Jimmy found a teacher to
sponsor it and several classmates to join. The club now boasts 15 members, 6
of whom are licensed. Jimmy also was instrumental in his school's successful
application for an ARRL Education and Technology Program grant.

Aside from his club activities, Jimmy participates in weekly nets of the
Alexandria Radio Club and is a volunteer responder for disaster relief. He
is in several honor classes and is a varsity athlete. Jimmy recently took
third place in the Virginia regional science fair with his project, "How Q
Affects Bandwidth and Signal Strength." 

The winner of the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Award receives a cash award of
$1500, an engraved plaque, and travel and accommodations to the site of a
formal presentation. 

Roger Hayward, KA7EXM, of Beaverton, Oregon, is the recipient of the 2005
Doug DeMaw, W1FB, Technical Excellence Award. Created to honor the late Doug
DeMaw, W1FB -- one of the most widely published technical authors in Amateur
Radio history -- the award is bestowed upon the author or authors of the
best QST or QEX technical article during the prior year, as judged by the
ARRL Technical Advisor group. DeMaw served as ARRL Technical Department
Manager and Senior Technical Editor from 1970 to 1983. Hayward's article, "A
PIC-Based HF/VHF Power Meter," appeared in the May/June 2005 issue of QEX.
Hayward says he's honored to have his work recognized through the DeMaw

"What excites me further is to see so many hams continuing to design, build
and experiment on their own workbenches at home," he said. "It has been
great to correspond with so many hams using the meter for SA construction,
QRP projects and receiver design. The project was just as much fun to write
about as it was to design."

An ARRL Life Member, Hayward was first licensed in 1979. He is active in
portable VHF hilltopping as well as experimenting in the shack. His first
QST article, "The 'Ugly Weekender,'" appeared in the August 1981 issue.

The DeMaw Award consists of an engraved nine-inch pewter cup.


Solar Seer Tad "(The mornin' sun is shining like a) Red Rubber Ball" Cook,
K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: Last Friday, July 28, a high speed solar
wind stream hit earth, and created a geomagnetic disturbance that drove the
planetary and mid-latitude A index up to 29 and 26, respectively.  This
actually began in the early hours of Friday UTC, which was Thursday
afternoon and early evening in North America.  Both mid-latitude and
planetary K index rose to six.  If you noticed some periods of high
absorption, or when the only propagation seemed to occur north to south,
that would be why.

Now we are moving slowly toward the fall equinox, and HF radio conditions
tend to get better when the hours of light and darkness are equal between
the northern and southern hemispheres.

This week we saw the average daily sunspot number rise over five points to
20.  We will see little variations like this as the solar cycle declines
toward its minimum next year.  Solar activity still seems too high to be at
the bottom though.  A glance at graphs of smoothed sunspot numbers shows we
are still experiencing more sunspots than the minimum back in 1996. The
prediction for the smoothed sunspot number for August 2006 is the same as
for August of next year, and the minimum is somewhere in between. a year
from now the new solar cycle will be bouncing back from the minimum, and
rising past the point where we are now.  The smoothed numbers are averaged
over many months to help us see past the "noise" of daily variations. July
is over, so we can look at some monthly averages of sunspot numbers and
solar flux.

For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL Technical
Information Service Propagation page at

The average daily sunspot numbers for the months July 2005 through July 2006
were 68.7, 65.6, 39.2, 13, 32.2, 62.6, 26.7, 5.3, 21.3, 55.2, 39.6, 24.4 and
22.6.  Average daily solar flux for the same months was 96.5, 92.4 , 91.9,
76.6, 86.3, 90.8, 83.4, 76.5, 75.5, 88.9, 80.9, 76.5 and 75.8.



* This weekend on the radio: The North American QSO Party (CW), the ARRL UHF
Contest, the TARA Grid Dip Shindig, the 10-10 International Summer Contest
(SSB), the European HF Championship, the RSGB RoPoCo 2 and the SARL HF Phone
Contest are the weekend of August 5-6. The NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint is
August 9. JUST AHEAD: The WAE DX Contest (CW) and the Maryland-DC QSO Party
are the weekend of August 12-13. The ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, the North
American QSO Party (SSB), the SARTG World Wide RTTY Contest, and the New
Jersey QSO Party are the weekend of August 19-20. The Run for the Bacon QRP
Contest is August 21, 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, August 13, for these ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education (CCE) online courses: Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications 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, September
1. These courses will also open for registration Friday, August 11, for
classes beginning Friday, October 6. To learn more, visit the CCE Course
Listing page <> or contact the CCE
Department <>;.

* WRTC 2006 announces prize winners: World Radiosport Team Championship 2006
(WRTC 2006) in Brazil has announced its various post-event prize winners
<>. Winners of the WRTC 2006
"lottery," picked at random from among operators who sent in their IARU HF
World Championship logs before the deadline -- 1322 in all, were Michal
Tomec, OK7MT, and Charlie Hansen, W0HW. Each wins a visit for two of up to
four days at one of the WRTC 2006 contest stations in Southern Brazil. The
prize includes accommodations, meals, transport to and from the airport plus
tours of the area. The 72 stations working all of the WRTC 2006 stations
will receive certificates and T-shirts. The two stations working all 46
competing stations on SSB and CW -- KA9FOX and PY0FF -- will get plaques as
well. The 212 stations working at least 25 WRTC 2006 stations will get
certificates. Recipients were based on the logs of WRTC 2006 participants.
The WRTC 2006 Committee will contact stations at the addresses given in
their log files. Direct questions to Thomas Carlsson, PY2ZXU/SM0CXU

* Montenegro operations continue apace: As of late July, the Montenegro
International DX Festival 4O3T operation
<> already
had put 50,000 QSOs in the log with a couple of more weeks to go. An online
searchable log is available on the SRACG Web site
<>. Martti Laine, OH2BH, said
the first wave of operators from various parts of the continent and the US
did "a mammoth job." They also contended with setting up camp in
temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees F. "They have not seen clouds or
rain during the entire week," he said. During a dinner cruise for home-bound
operators July 27 on the Bay of Kotor, International Amateur Radio Union
(IARU) Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, announced that he was looking forward
to circulating a proposal on behalf of Montenegro to become an IARU
member-society. DXpedition leader Ranko Boca, YT6A, indicates that
everything is on track for the next 50,000 contacts with the fresh fleet of
operators that came aboard over the July 29-30 weekend. The 4O3T stations,
operating from sites in Obosnik and Klinci, have been putting loud signals
into North America. Meanwhile, the unrelated YU6AO Montenegro DXpedition
team <> also has been making the new DXCC entity
available on several bands and modes. There is a log search engine for YU6AO
too <>.

* IARU Region 3 Conference special event on air: India telecommunication
authorities have authorized the operation of a special event station in
conjunction with the 13th International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3
Conference. Using the call sign VU13IARU, the station commenced operation
August 3 and will remain active until August 11 on HF and VHF from the
conference venue, Hotel Hari International in Bangalore. Amateur Radio
Society of India (ARSI) Governing Council member A.R. Prathap Kumar, VU2POP,
will manage the special event station.--ARSI

* Irish radio amateurs seek 500 kHz allocation: According to the Radio
Society of Great Britain (RSGB), the Irish Radio Transmitters Society has
applied to Irish communications regulator ComReg for a small allocation in
the region of 500 kHz for Amateur Radio experimentation. The move follows a
similar proposal made by the RSGB to UK regulator Ofcom in 2004. Ofcom has
not yet made a decision on the RSGB proposal, but the society is hopeful of
an allocation between 501 and 504 kHz. There is also a possibility that
Ofcom might designate the spot frequency of 500 kHz as a maritime memorial
frequency. In recent years, there has been little traffic on the band 415 to
526.6 kHz, after most countries stopped using it as a Morse emergency
maritime frequency in the 1990s.

* Jack W. Herbstreit, ex-W0DW, SK: Jack W. Herbstreit, ex-W0DW, of Boulder
Colorado, died May 1. He was 88. Among the pioneers in radio propagation
research, Herbstreit was a radio engineer with the Central Radio Propagation
Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards (now National Institute of
Standards and Technology) from 1946 to 1965. An ARRL member, he was director
of the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR), a predecessor of
the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization
Sector (ITU-R) in Geneva from 1966 to 1974. He served briefly as consultant
to the director of the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences (a CRPL
successor organization) until retirement in 1975. Following graduation from
the University of Cincinnati, Herbstreit briefly worked for WLW and the FCC.
During World War II, he and Kenneth A. Norton conducted radio communication
studies in Panama and the South Pacific for the military and participated in
the development and evaluation of a wartime LORAN (Long Range Aid to
Navigation) system. At the CRPL following the war, Herbstreit participated
in a wide range of radio wave propagation and noise studies, including
investigations of air-to-ground propagation for the military. One study for
the US Air Force resulted in his winning a Department of Commerce Gold
Medal. Herbstreit became an internationally known telecommunication expert
by participating on the US delegation at the HF broadcasting conferences in
Mexico City (1948-1949) and in Rappolo, Italy (1950) and in CCIR plenary
assemblies in the 1950s and 1960s. He became a fellow of the IRE (now IEEE)
in 1958 and received the IEEE Harry Diamond Award in 1959. His son-in-law,
Bruce Miller, now holds W0DW.-Based on information compiled by C. Gordon
Little and Ernest K. Smith 

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League: ARRL--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 and general news
of interest to active radio amateurs. Visit the ARRL Web site
<> for the latest Amateur Radio news and news updates.
The ARRL Web site <> also offers informative features
and columns. ARRL Audio News <> is a
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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
The ARRL Letter/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.

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