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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 6
February 11, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


The FCC has cut a deal with former ARRL-VEC Volunteer Examiner Andrew Penn, N8JVA, whose license was designated for a revocation hearing in the wake of 1997 examination irregularities in Michigan. A February 7 letter to Penn from FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth affirms the terms of a voluntary agreement calling for Penn to turn in his Amateur Extra class license for three years, ten months in lieu of facing a license revocation hearing.

The FCC action stemmed from a June 3, 1997, Oak Park, Michigan, examination session for which Penn was a VE and submitted the paperwork for applicants, one of them Penn's son. As a result of an FCC investigation, the FCC downgraded the license class of two applicants and canceled the license of Penn's son, Steven A. Penn, formerly KC8HUM. FCC evidence indicated that Andrew Penn added to the exam session package paperwork for applicants who did not pass the required examination elements at the Oak Park session. Evidence also indicated that Andrew Penn apparently applied to the application papers the signatures of three other VEs without their knowledge.

The FCC says that three of the examiners knew nothing of the scheme. The other three VEs brought the situation to the attention of the ARRL-VEC and the FCC.

The FCC agreement calls for Andrew Penn to turn in his license by April 20, 2000. He will be allowed to request renewal of his license on February 21, 2004, the day before his current license term ends.


Anyone who ever held a Novice ticket--expired or otherwise--will be able to claim credit for Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse code examination, under revised Amateur Radio licensing rules going into effect April 15. The change was included in the version of the FCC's restructuring rules, published February 10 in The Federal Register.

The change affects §97.505(a)(5) of the rules that spells out element credit. That sentence now says: "An expired or unexpired FCC-granted Novice Class operator license grant: Element 1."

The rules already give Element 1 credit for those holding an expired or unexpired FCC-issued Technician Class operator license document granted before February 14, 1991, as well as to applicants possessing an FCC-issued commercial radiotelegraph operator license or permit that's valid or expired less than 5 years.

There's no indication, however, that the FCC intends to extend Element 1 credit to applicants who once held any other FCC-issued licenses now expired, including Tech Plus, General, Advanced, or Amateur Extra.

Because of other anomalies in the new rules, the ARRL is recommending for now that holders of Novice or Tech Plus licenses retain their license documents or copies in the event they need to claim Element 1 credit when upgrading under the new rules. When renewed after April 15, 2000, Technician Plus licenses will come back stamped "Technician," and the FCC has said it does not plan to keep track of which Technicians have Morse code element credit and which do not.

The FCC also has indicated to the ARRL that post-April 15 Technicians who subsequently qualify for HF operation by passing Element 1 will retain element credit for upgrading purposes only for 365 days--the term of a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination--not permanently, although this will not affect their ongoing Novice/Technician HF privileges. Without a change in the rules, affected Technicians attempting to upgrade more than a year after passing Element 1 would have to retake the Morse code examination.

The ARRL plans to file a petition for partial reconsideration asking the FCC to continue to keep track of which Technicians have Morse code element credit and which do not. The League also will ask the FCC to make Element 1 credit permanent for post-April 15 Technicians who successfully pass the Morse exam.


The FCC is investigating possible irregularities in a Huntington Park, California, ARRL-VEC examination session late last summer. In separate letters on January 28, 2000, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth posed a series of questions to the three Volunteer Examiners listed on the manifest for the September 12, 1999, session--Moises Morales, KB6QMR, of Garden Grove; Juan Huitron, AC6HK, of Santa Ana; and Daniel Granda, KA6VHC, of Whittier.

In his letter, Hollingsworth noted "several irregularities regarding the examinations" and requested the VEs provide specific details regarding several Form 610 packages submitted following the session. None of the 20 applicants in question at the September 12, 1999, session has been issued an Amateur Radio license.

The FCC asked for an explanation of missing and/or incorrectly graded Morse code and written examination documents. The FCC also asked each of the VEs whether he signed the documents in question; whether he authorized anyone to sign on his behalf and, if so, whom he authorized; whether he was present for the September 12, 1999, examination session at Huntington Park or any part of it; and his involvement, if any, in the examination session. The FCC also wants to know why 19 of the 20 applicants cited missed Question 5 of the Morse code examination.

The VEs were given 30 days to reply to the FCC. The ARRL-VEC is cooperating in the FCC investigation.


As part of a continuing audit of several W5YI-VEC examination sessions last summer and fall in South Carolina, the FCC is seeking details from two volunteer examiners concerning a test session in Iva, South Carolina. The FCC already is looking into W5YI-VEC exam sessions in Clemson last summer.

In separate letters January 28, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth wrote volunteer examiners Eugene D. Watring, AF4DB, of Iva, and James F. Chambers, KF4PWF, of Greenville, both South Carolina. Hollingsworth requested that Watring and Chambers provide detailed information concerning the October 9, 1999, exam session in Iva at which both were listed as an assisting VE under William J. Browning, formerly AB4BB and AF4PJ, a central figure in the probe. Browning's Amateur Extra license was canceled after he failed to appear for retesting.

Copies of testing-related documents that Browning had submitted following the examination session accompanied the FCC inquiry. Hollingsworth asked Watring and Chambers if either signed the test session manifest or any Forms 610 or authorized anyone to sign on his behalf; if either was present for the exam session or any part of it, and, if so, the time and location; the nature of his involvement, if any, in the October 9 examination session, and, if not present, how he became aware that his "purported signature" appeared on the exam session documents. Watring and Chambers were requested to provide the information within 30 days.

The FCC has requested that Chambers retake his Amateur Extra class examination. Several individuals who took and passed examinations at the targeted South Carolina sessions last summer and fall were designated for retesting. The FCC already has canceled the licenses of two individuals tested at the October 9 session after the individuals failed to show up for retesting.

Chambers, Watring and Browning were said to have served as VEs for other W5YI-VEC testing sessions last summer, and the FCC also is looking into allegations of irregularities at those sessions. The W5YI-VEC is cooperating in the probe.


Lynn Gahagan, AF4CD Virginia Section Manager Lynn Gahagan, AF4CD, was among hams volunteering for flood duty during Hurricane Floyd.

Hams staff the Franklin EOC Hams staff the Franklin EOC during Hurricane Floyd.

Virginia's General Assembly has praised Amateur Radio efforts during the response to Hurricane Floyd last fall. A joint resolution unanimously passed the House and Senate January 27. A signing ceremony has been set for February 17, 11:30 AM, at the Capitol in Richmond.

The resolution praises the work of Virginia's ARES/RACES members last September when Hurricane Floyd totally isolated the City of Franklin, and rising flood waters forced city officials to abandon their Emergency Operations Center, forcing the city to rely completely on Amateur Radio for communication with the outside. "With traditional lines of communication inoperable, the Amateur Radio operators, members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), provided the only reliable communication into and out of the flood-ravaged Franklin area," the resolution says.

The resolution notes that the Hurricane Floyd activation was "the widest geographical and longest-running ARES/RACES activation in Virginia's history" and involved nearly 150 ARES/RACES volunteers who put in some 9500 hours of duty to help coordinate emergency operations in Franklin.

"Due to the tireless efforts of amateur radio volunteers, the tragic effects of Hurricane Floyd were mitigated, the lives of those in the flood zone safeguarded, and the suffering of Franklin's residents alleviated," the resolution said in expressing the General Assembly's "admiration and gratitude for the vital contributions of Virginia's amateur radio operators."--Tony Amato, KR4UQ


The League's newest section, West Central Florida, could gain another county. The ARRL Board of Directors has unanimously approved a resolution calling for a poll of all ARRL full members residing in Pasco County on whether they want to become a part of the West Central Florida section.

Late last year, ARRL members in Pasco County, which now is in the Northern Florida Section, petitioned the League for the change. West Central Florida became an official ARRL section on January 15.

Mail ballots are being prepared and are expected to go out to affected members within a week. Some 275 ARRL members live in Pasco County. The results will be reported to the ARRL Board, which makes the final decision on the change.

The new West Central Florida section--the 71st--includes Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. A proposal to create the new section won overwhelming approval from the nearly 1900 ARRL members late last year.


The ARRL has asked the FCC to dismiss Clearwire Technologies' Petition for Reconsideration on the revised spread spectrum rules issued last summer. The FCC's August Report and Order relaxed rules governing the use of spread spectrum techniques by hams and opened the door to the possibility of international spread spectrum communication. Apparently fearing the possibility of amateur interference with its Part 15 products, however, Clearwire Technologies now wants the FCC to reconsider portions of its Report and Order.

The League called the Clearwire petition "frivolous" and asked the FCC to dismiss it and to affirm its Report and Order.

Clearwire is a Part 15 device manufacturer that provides high-speed wireless Internet and network access devices operating at 2.4 GHz, where there's an amateur allocation. It wants the FCC to require that amateur transmitters capable of operating in excess of 1 W on bands in which its Part 15 devices operate be FCC certificated prior to marketing. It also wants transmitters in those bands to automatically transmit an ID and telephone number and the spreading algorithms needed to detect and decode the data made available on a public Web site.

In opposing Clearwire's petition, the ARRL pointed out that the company is a latecomer to the proceeding that did not file comments or reply comments on the ARRL's 1995 Petition for Rule Making nor on the FCC's 1997 Notice of Proposed Rule Making that stemmed from the ARRL's petition. "Frankly, Clearwire is stating its position in this proceeding more than a bit late," the League said.

The League says none of Clearwire's requests is reasonable and suggests the company has no standing to propose "new, burdensome restrictions" on amateur operation. The ARRL said the restrictions on Amateur SS operation that Clearwire suggests are aimed at allowing Part 15 users "to monitor amateur operation in bands allocated to the Amateur Service, and presumably to object to any amateur SS operation" that might cause interference to its devices. The League pointed out, however, that FCC rules do not afford Part 15 devices any protections from interference from licensed services, such as Amateur Radio.

In its Report and Order last summer, the Commission dismissed assertions from manufacturers of Part 15 devices that the proposed changes could "upset the delicate balance" on bands where hams share spectrum with Part 15 users--especially in the 915 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands.

The FCC's Report and Order in WT Docket 97-12 adopted rules to allow Amateur Radio stations to transmit additional spread spectrum emission types, among other things. The new rules became effective last November 1.

A copy of the League's comments opposing the Clearwire petition for reconsideration is available. TAPR--Tucson Amateur Packet Radio--this week also filed in opposition to the Clearwire petition. A copy of its petition is available via the TAPR Web site at


Solar seer Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Sunspot numbers and solar flux rose over the past week, with average solar flux up over 36 points and average sunspot numbers rising nearly 70 points compared to the previous week. Peak activity probably already occurred, with solar flux on Wednesday at 199 and sunspot numbers peaking on Tuesday at 198. Solar flux should decline for the near term, with the values for this Friday through Sunday at 176, 176 and 174. The next low is forecast around February 22-25 with a solar flux value around 130. The next peak is predicted for March 8-9, with solar flux near 195. Based on the 27.5 day solar rotation, the following near term solar flux minimum would be around March 20-23 at 130.

There were a couple of active geomagnetic days on February 6 and 7, when the planetary A index was 24 and 25 and the maximum K index was 5.

The predicted planetary A index for this Friday through Sunday is 15, 10 and 20. Conditions should be quiet for February 15-22, but active again around February 24 with predicted A index of 30. March 4 and 5 may also be active, and so may March 22 and 23.

Sunspot numbers for February 3 through 9 were 149, 136, 153, 173, 169, 198 and 189 with a mean of 166.7. The 10.7-cm flux was 154.1 167.4, 167.8, 177.7, 181.9, 173.6 and 199, with a mean of 174.5. The estimated planetary A indices were 8, 4, 9, 24, 25, 12 and 11, with a mean of 13.3.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The North American Sprint (CW), the YL-OM Contest (SSB), the Winter Fireside SSB Sprint, the WorldWide RTTY WPX Contest, Novice Round-Up, and the PACC Contest are the weekend of February 12-14; School Club Roundup is the week of February 14-19. Just ahead: The ARRL International DX Contest (CW) is the weekend of February 19-20. See February QST, page 96, for more information.

  • W1AW QRV during SCR, GOTA: Maxim Memorial Station W1AW will be active during the 14th Annual School Club Roundup, February 14-19. This event is geared towards young amateurs, and school clubs. Complete information can be found on the ARRL Web site. W1AW also will participate for the first time in the annual Guides on the Air (GOTA) event, February 19-20. During GOTA, Canadian and US amateurs help young women learn about Amateur Radio inviting them to communicate with their peers via Amateur Radio. GOTA stations will use all HF bands plus 2 meters on frequencies that end in "33" and "88." More information is available at (Johnson Space Center Amateur Radio Club W5RRR, Houston, Texas, also will be on the air for School Club Roundup.)

  • ASUSat-1 stops transmitting: Assi Friedman, KK7KX/4X1KX, has told AMSAT News Service that it appears the recently launched ASUSat-1 satellite has stopped transmitting. Received telemetry indicates the batteries aboard the satellite did not receive any charge from the solar array. As a result, the satellite worked for about 15 hours on battery power alone. Friedman says the ASUSat-1 team at Arizona State University has not been able to pinpoint the cause of the problem. Friedman says the ASUSat1 team is disappointed but still pleased that the satellite was able to provide useful telemetry when it was working. ASUSat-1's downlink frequency is 436.700 MHz. ASUSat-1 contained an amateur packet hardware system and a 2-meter/70-cm FM voice repeater. The ASUSat Web site is --Assi Friedman, KK7KX/4X1KX, via AMSAT News Service

  • Spectrum Protection Act bill update: The Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act now has 138 cosponsors. The bill would require the FCC to replace with equivalent spectrum any current Amateur Radio spectrum it removes from access or limits access to. Several new cosponsors signed on to HR 783 over the New Year's break.

  • Kansas has PRB-1 legislation in the hopper: Kansas has become the latest state to introduce a PRB-1 companion bill in its legislature. HB 2644, the Kansas Amateur Radio Service Act, cites PRB-1, reinforces the concept of "reasonable accommodation" and sets minimum allowable restriction heights for three tiers of lot sizes. The bill was introduced by 121st District Rep Jim Morrison, K0CVY, (R-Colby). Morrison says the bill has a good chance to become law. HB 2644's author Kerry Steffens, W0ON, of Wichita and ARRL Midwest Vice Director Bruce Frahm, K0BJ, of Colby led a group that testified before the House Utilities Committee in Topeka February 8 on behalf of the measure. For more information, visit .--Bruce Frahm, K0BJ

  • France authorizes 136-kHz amateur band: The French Confederation of Radio Amateurs and Radio Listeners reports that the 135.7-137.8 kHz was authorized for use by French amateurs as of December 31, 1999, in a secondary basis and in conformance with conditions existing in other European countries, in accordance with CEPT Recommendation T/R 62-01. Maximum radiated power is 1 W.

  • Former Vermont SCM, James H. Viele, W1BRG, SK: Former Vermont Section Communications Manger James H. Viele, W1BRG, of Burlington, died January 2. He was 90. Viele served as Vermont's SCM from 1972 until 1976. During his professional years, he rose to become president of Vermont Hardware Company. He also was active in church and community affairs. He was a member and past officer of the Burlington Amateur Radio Club. His wife, Helen, and two children are among his survivors. Services were January 10 in Burlington.--Joseph E. Frank, W1SOV

  • Hallicrafters engineer Ferdinand W. Schor, K6HPB, SK: Former Chief Engineer of the Hallicrafters Company, Ferdinand W. Schor, K6HPB, died January 14, 2000, in Santa Barbara, California on. He was 94. During World War II and the years following, Schor was responsible for the design of many of the Hallicrafters products and receivers, including the S-40, SX-42 and SX-62. Survivors include his son, Warren Schor, KD3GA, and daughters Kathleen and Mary.--Warren Schor, KD3GA

  • Larsen Antenna Founder Jim Larsen, K7GE, SK: The founder of Larsen Antenna, Leland J. "Jim" Larsen, K7GE, of Vancouver, Washington, died February 3. He would have turned 82 years old later this month. An ARRL member, Larsen had been a ham for more than 67 years. He was a contester and DXer, enjoyed CW, and was a member of the First-Class CW Operators Club. Paul Nyland, K7PN, described Larsen as an "experimenter and mad scientist." Services were February 8. Condolences may be sent to Christina Larsen at PO Box 2248, Vancouver, WA 98668.--thanks to Paul Nyland, K7PN and Ron Stark, KU7Y

  • Wilbur E. "Bip" Bachman, W6BIP, SK: Well-known San Francisco-area amateur and contester Wilbur E. "Bip" Bachman died of heart failure February 2 at his home. He was 88. During his working years, Bip Bachman was employed as an electrical engineer at Ford Aerospace. An ARRL member for nearly 70 years, Bachman also was an active member of the South Peninsula Amateur Radio Klub in Palo Alto. "Bip" Bachman was an active CW operator, and W6BIP was a familiar call sign in the ARRL November Sweepstakes and many other contests. Services were February 7. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Elsie, and five children.--R. Gary Hendra, W6NOE/SPARK

  • Former San Diego SM hospitalized: Former San Diego Section Manager Harry Hodges, W6YOO, fell and broke his hip February 9. He was scheduled to undergo surgery February 11 and expected to be able to go home a few days later. Cards of encouragement are invited to Harry A. Hodges, W6YOO, 2435 Our Country Rd, Escondido, CA 92029-5715 or via e-mail to to Tuck Miller, K6ZEC


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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