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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 24
June 23, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


ARRL-VEC's Pete Warner checks applications from the restructuring upgrade rush. [Rick Lindquist, N1RL]

The ARRL-VEC has made it over the restructuring application mountain and down the other side. "We're completely caught up!" ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, exulted this week. All applications through June 16 receipts that were able to be "routinely processed" were set to be transmitted to the FCC June 22. ARRL-VEC staff members already have begun tackling receipts from this past Monday, June 19.

Jahnke said he anticipated very shortly getting back to a "normal" 10-day wait between test session and FCC license grant. He emphasized that the length of any applicant's wait continues to largely depend on when the test session paperwork arrives at ARRL-VEC.

Fred Maia, W5YI, of the W5YI-VEC reports he's closing in on being current and expects to be there by July 4. "This was the hardest spring period we ever had in our 16 years of doing this," he said. "We're starting to see daylight." As of week's end, W5YI-VEC had processed April and May test sessions and was working on session receipts of June 12.

On the downside, Jahnke says, some applicants could be in for additional delays because of missing or problematic information on their paperwork. Applications are not transmitted to the FCC until all information is complete and problems resolved, Jahnke said. The same goes for applications where the information provided does not jibe with what's already in the FCC database. He estimated that fewer than 1% of the 25,000 applications filed since January 1 fall into the "problem" category, however.

Among applications in the huge influx since the FCC announced restructuring last December, ARRL-VEC staffers have encountered incomplete or missing items, including element credit, proof of license, Social Security number, and even the applicant's or the volunteer examiners' signatures.

The FCC's Universal Licensing System also has burped on applicants' attempts to upgrade and renew their licenses at the same time. Because of a ULS software problem, combining a renewal with an upgrade--or with an address or a name change, for that matter--will cause the ULS to reject the application altogether, Jahnke explained. As a result, the transactions must be filed separately.

Upgrade applicants whose licenses turn out to be in the two-year renewal grace period also can expect delays. "You need a current license to get your upgrade granted," Jahnke explains, "so the renewal must be filed first, then the upgrade."

Other applicants unwittingly have stumbled into problems by filing separate applications with the FCC via the ULS. For example, a few individuals with pending upgrade applications in the meantime have applied for and been granted vanity call signs via the ULS. "What happens is the person ends up with another call sign that doesn't match the one on their upgrade application," Jahnke says. He advises applicants either to wait until their upgrades have been processed before applying for a vanity call sign or to let the ARRL-VEC know that they have another application pending via the ULS.

Jahnke advised applicants who attended an April or May ARRL-VEC test session and have not yet found the results of their earned upgrade on the ULS to contact ARRL-VEC by telephone (do not send e-mail) at 860-594-0300. He says the ARRL-VEC still is holding some applications with errors or missing information.


The ARRL says that Amateur Radio "is a fertile testing ground" for software defined radio technology and that SDR would be especially valuable to facilitate disaster communications. The League commented this week in response to FCC Notice of Inquiry ET Docket No 00-47 on SDR technology, released in March.

The League said its understanding of SDRs is that they are "in essence, digital computers connected to an antenna, controlled by software." True SDR functions, other than baseband DSP, are yet to be incorporated into commercial or even into sophisticated homemade amateur equipment, the ARRL noted.

The League said that because of its flexibility, utilization of multiple modes, and shared allocations, the Amateur Service provides the proper environment to develop, test and deploy SDR technology. Amateur Radio is not constrained by limitations imposed on other services and "serves as a reasonable paradigm for a regulatory structure that might be adapted to other services," the ARRL told the FCC. The League said it intends to give a "high profile" to SDR developments in the Amateur Service through its technical/experimental publication, QEX.

The ARRL said that SDR affords a level of flexibility and interoperability that could enhance Amateur Radio's performance in emergency communications and disaster relief efforts with respect to served agencies. "Amateur SDR equipment could be rapidly reprogrammed to be interoperable with that of served agencies such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, local civil defense offices, state OES offices, and public safety agencies," the League said. The result would be "an even more immediate and adaptable source of restored communications for disaster relief coordination" than previously available.

The ARRL told the FCC that SDRs would obviate the need for differing transmission standards in the future. SDRs automatically could shift transmission standards to overcome common communication roadblocks such as noise levels, propagation characteristics, QRM, and other factors.

The League cautioned the FCC against imposing equipment authorization requirements on SDR hardware or software designed for amateur use that could inhibit experimentation.

A copy of the League's comment in response to FCC Notice of Inquiry ET Docket No 00-47 is available on the web.


The words erupted over the radio just as Al Folsom, KY3T, was about to wrap up the Warminster Amateur Radio Club's support for the Willow Grove 2000 Sounds of Freedom air show: "Plane down!"

"It was repeated three times, really quickly," Folsom recalled. "We raced out the door and saw the cloud of smoke." Only minutes earlier, he'd been commenting to a Navy doctor on how smoothly things had gone at this year's event.

The crash of the Navy F-14 Tomcat had claimed the lives of the pilot and a radar intercept officer aboard the plane. No one on the ground was seriously hurt. The plane went down into a wooded area near Willow Grove Naval Air Station near Philadelphia.

The initial shock wore off quickly, and the two or three dozen hams on hand Sunday, June 18, didn't miss a beat in their assigned duties. "We had discussed what to do in such a situation," Folsom said, "and I was extremely proud of how well the hams responded."

The WARC has been handling medical communications needs at the annual US Navy air show in Willow Grove for more than a decade, but this was the first time there had been a crash. For the most part, he said, the hams stayed at their original posts to handle any medical concerns among the 50,000 or more spectators on hand for the two-day event. In a normal year, Folsom said, the hams deal with nothing more serious than an occasional fainting spell, dehydration, heat cramps, and sunburn.

Two hams--Bill Strunk, K3ZMA, and Mark Kempisty, N3GNW--were dispatched promptly to the crash site. Hugh Hart, N3SOQ, manned a supply van traveling around the base and back and forth to the crash site. George Brechmann, N3HBT, was net control. Al Konshak, WI3Z, was in the tower monitoring the crowd when the plane went down. Another amateur was sent to the operations center to assist with communications needs.

It turned out to be a good thing the hams were there. "The Navy had rented a large number of Motorola radios for communications, but the accident occurred at the end of the second day, and they all rapidly lost their charge and became useless," Folsom explained. As a result, many of the requests for materials and personnel needed to respond to the crash were relayed via Amateur Radio.

Folsom said he was especially pleased and proud at the way his 16-year-old son, Tom, KB3CRZ, handled the flow of traffic in and out of the base clinic as requests were relayed from there to the crash site and back.

Folsom said all WARC members performed well and a few "really went above and beyond" after the crash occurred. Other participants included Bob Phillips, KA3VKU, Steve Larsen, KA3ZLY, and Don Schwarzkopf, N3OZO, who remained at the site for the entire operation.

It turned out to be a long day for the amateurs, many of whom had arrived that morning around 7:30. "At the end, five of us stayed at the base until about 11 PM," Folsom said. "Navy medical personnel were extremely grateful for our assistance."


Embattled Amateur Radio licensee Herbert L. Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, says he'll petition the US Supreme Court in an eleventh-hour effort to retain his license. Schoenbohm told the ARRL that he plans to ask the high court to grant a writ of certiorari, calling on the justices to request the record of his case from the US Court of Appeals for review.

Schoenbohm, of Kingshill, Virgin Islands, has until early August to file, but he's not optimistic that his strategy will succeed. "But, hope springs eternal that someday someone will see this for what it really is," he said.

Schoenbohm claims that he's arbitrarily being singled out for especially harsh treatment on the issue of character, and that the Appeals Court did not have the advantage of all the facts. The Appeals Court recently turned down Schoenbohm's request for a rehearing by the full bench after rejecting his appeal of the FCC's decision to not renew his Amateur Radio license in February. "I'm not so sure 'character' is something the FCC should be judging for a hobby type of license," he said. Schoenbohm pointed out that the FCC is not challenging his commercial tickets, just his ham license.

Schoenbohm's call sign no longer appears in the FCC database, but he has been permitted to continue operating as KV4FZ during his appeals. Legal observers share Schoenbohm's assessment of his chances before the US Supreme Court. Assuming that his petition is turned away, the FCC would send Schoenbohm an official, written notification that he no longer may operate. If Schoenbohm wins a review, however, his case would not be heard until the court's next term, which begins in October.


Christopher Arthur, KT4XA

Christopher Arthur, KT4XA, a 17-year-old from Russellville, Alabama, has been named Newsline Young Ham of the Year for 2000. That announcement came this week from Newsline producer and award administrator Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF. The award is jointly sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Amateur Radio Newsline, Yaesu USA, and CQ magazine.

As Young Ham of the Year, Christopher will receive--courtesy of Yaesu--an expense-paid trip to the 2000 Huntsville Hamfest and a gift of Yaesu equipment. CQ will treat him to a week in Spacecamp Huntsville in addition to a variety of CQ products. Newsline will present a plaque at the award ceremony.

A rising senior at Russellville High School, Christopher holds an Amateur Extra class license and has been a ham for four years. His numerous Amateur Radio achievements include founding the League of Young Radio Amateurs and the International Youth Communications Council, both dedicated to the advancement of youth in Amateur Radio. He's a member of the ARRL and was an Assistant Section Manager in 1998 and 1999.

Christopher is an member of the Franklin County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and has served as a net control station during training exercises and in actual emergencies. He's also involved in SKYWARN and has coordinated the Field Day efforts of the Franklin County Amateur Radio Club and the Tri-State Radio Group.

He also has served as net control of the Alabama Traffic Net M, started the Franklin County Ten Meter Net, and managed the annual Alabama Heart of Dixie QSO Party for the past two years.

The 2000 Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award will be presented August 19 at the Huntsville Hamfest. The award goes each year to an Amateur Radio operator aged 18 or younger who has provided outstanding service to the nation and/or the community for the betterment of the state of the art in communications through Amateur Radio.

For more information, visit Radio Newsline press release


In the spirit of David Letterman, Arkansas ARRL PIC Bill McEntire, KC5ECB, passes along an ARRL Field Day Top 10 list of his own:

Number 10: Catch up on your microphone keying techniques--20 contacts with left hand keying, 20 contacts with your right, and repeat. Feel the (RF) burn! After 100 contacts, take a break by barbecue grill for the rest of the hour.

Number 9: Two words: barbecued brisket.

Number 8: Practice your untangling techniques with coax that has been boxed up since 1999 Field Day.

Number7: Go by the ham using the Collins tube rig and say, "I wonder if this is this how bug lights were invented".

Number 6: Remember just how much fun you can have on 80 meters at 3 AM with no sleep.

Number 5: Remind your teenager that your laptop computer he borrowed to do "homework" still has that working logging program on it.

Number 4: Rotate old cans of insect repellent spray with the cans you'd left in the deer camp trailer last season.

Number 3: Stop by the CW position and nod your head with the operator as if you can also copy his traffic at 30 words per minute.

Number 2: Debate with other hams on the Field Day antenna setup crew just what formula to use to calculate thunder vs lighting distance.

And the Number 1 reason to go to Field Day: With all that time you spent studying for your ticket, you've earned it!!--Bill McEntire, KC5ECB


Propagation prognosticator Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: Average solar flux and sunspot numbers rose slightly this week, and geomagnetic indices were lower. Planetary and mid-latitude A indices have been mostly in the single digits. Unfortunately, geomagnetic conditions may be a bit more active for Field Day this weekend. The predicted planetary A index for Friday through Tuesday is 15, 15, 20, 20 and 12, but no major disturbance is likely.

Solar flux for the same period is expected to be around 175, 175, 170, 165 and 165, and should begin rising again around July 1. The short term outlook is for flux values to slowly rise and then peak around 200 before the middle of next month.

Sunspot numbers for June 15 through 21 were 261, 252, 211, 250, 194, 219 and 226 with a mean of 230.4. The 10.7 cm flux was 202.4, 197.5, 193.1, 187.6, 178.4, 183.7 and 188, with a mean of 190.1. The estimated planetary A indices were 20, 9, 10, 11, 9, 9 and 8, with a mean of 10.9. Here is a forecast for this Field Day weekend:

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: ARRL Field Day is the weekend of June 24-25. Follow this link for complete rules or see May QST, page 84. Just ahead: The Canada Day Contest is July 1. The IARU HF World Championship, the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint, and the CQ WW VHF Contest are the weekend of July 8-9. See July QST, page 100, for more information.

  • Correction: In the our report on the Mir-school contact in The ARRL Letter, Vol 19, No 23, the call sign of Tom Daniels, N3CXP, was incorrect.

  • Frequency promotion deadline looms: Clubs that promoted Amateur Radio at local movie theaters showing the movie Frequency have until June 30 to be considered in the promotion competition being sponsored by several manufacturers and the ARRL. An ICOM IC-746 HF+VHF transceiver is among the prizes pledged by manufacturers for the club that did the best job of promoting Amateur Radio to moviegoers. Winners of the competition will be selected based on each club's written description of its promotional activity. Prize awards will be determined by a panel of representatives of manufacturers and suppliers who donated to the prize pool. Activity descriptions must be submitted no later than 5 PM Eastern Time June 30, 2000, to Marjorie Bourgoin, KB1DCO, Field and Educational Services, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Decisions of the awards panel are final.

  • Wichita hams participate in terrorist bombing drill: Hams in the Wichita, Kansas, area participated in a simulated terrorist bomb attack June 15 that was organized by Sedgwick County Disaster Management. Mike Afton, K0PY--president of the Intra-City UHF Club and local RACES HF officer--reports that the incident simulated the release of a biological agent that could damage eyes, skin and airways by direct contact. Afton said that in addition to the many law enforcement, disaster management, paramedic, fire, US Army, and FBI personnel, two Amateur Radio Operators were stationed at the "bomb" site and another was in the county EOC. "Two large parking lots were taped off, and there were people lying on stretchers and others running around screaming [and] rubbing their eyes simulating being victims," Afton said. He says that ICUC member Mike Jennings, KB0BJS--who's also the Sedgwick County RACES ATV officer--drove the RACES emergency van to the site and operated one of the two ATV stations there. Afton deployed his own ATV-equipped vehicle. Using the club's ATV repeater and simplex frequencies, the two hams worked side-by-side to maintain a direct, live link from the simulation site to the EOC, staffed by Roger Teachman, KD0ME, who also was running the local RACES net. The ICUC will deploy an ATV station at its Field Day operation this weekend. Afton says the club sees a role for ATV in storm-spotting as well.--Mike Afton, K0PY

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  • Rainscatter record? On June 17, ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, and noted VHF-UHFer Al Ward, W5LUA, completed a 515 km (321 mile) rainscatter QSO on 10 GHz. The contact could be a record for that mode of propagation. Details are at Harrison says the trick was to keep a sharp eye on the weather radar, looking for very strong, appropriately positioned storm cells. "We have tried this a few times before," Harrison reports, adding that the pair once managed a 5.7 GHz rainscatter contact. "This time, everything fell into place!" Harrison says the longest distance he's aware of for a 10 GHz rainscatter QSO is 240 miles.
  • Illinois declares Amateur Radio Awareness Month: The State of Illinois has declared the month of June as Amateur Radio Awareness Month. Gov George H. Ryan has signed a resolution noting that the more than 23,000 hams and 63 Amateur Radio clubs in Illinois put the state among the top five in the number of amateurs. "Hams have demonstrated their value in public assistance by providing emergency radio communications networks," the proclamation notes. It also points to amateurs' use of HF, packet, satellites and DSP, and, last but not least, mentions that Field Day is the weekend of June 24-25.--thanks to Rob Orr, KB9RST

  • KB7UV gets Emmy Award: Andy Funk, KB7UV--along with several of his colleagues--received the first Technical Achievement Emmy awarded by the Atlanta Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Funk, who's Assistant News Operations Manager for Atlanta's FOX5 TV station, is responsible for the newsroom's live capability. As part of FOX5's live coverage of the 1999 Peachtree Road Race, the station devised a live "RunnerCam," operated by station personnel who actually ran in the race. The microwave antenna pointed as close to straight up as possible to a helicopter above, so the RunnerCam's signal could be relayed to the studio. The achievement was recognized June 10 at the Southern Regional Emmy Awards. For more information, visit Funk's Web site.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP (left), and Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN, pose in front of BSA National Headquarters.

  • League officials visit BSA HQ: ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, and ARRL Atlantic Division Director Bernie Fuller, N3EFN on June 15 visited the National Headquarters of The Boy Scouts of America in Irving, Texas. The meeting with Associate Director Ray Moyer, WB8JKV, was to emphasize the League's interest in the Scouting program and the Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) events held here in the United States and around the World. Haynie and Fuller also discussed the radio merit badge offered by the Boy Scouts. Haynie encouraged cooperation among League members and Scout leaders.
  • Public Service Don'ts and Dos: ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, WT3P, presented a portion of the "Public Service Wants You!" forum at the Dayton Hamvention-ARRL National Convention 2000 on May 20. "Public Service Don'ts and Dos" looks into what motivates Amateur Radio operators to volunteer for public service activities. Now, she's sharing her notes and Power Point presentation on the ARRL Public Service Web Page.

  • Top 10 most wanted: The 1999 ARRL DXCC Yearbook now has hit the streets, and North Korea remains the most-wanted DXCC entity. Some observers believe that a thawing in relations between North Korea and South Korea could lead to more activity from P5, however. The other nine are: (2) BS7H, Scarborough Reef; (3) BV9P, Pratas Island; (4) A5, Bhutan; (5) VU4, Andaman and Nicobar Islands; (6) 7O, Yemen; (7) E3, Eritrea; (8) 3Y, Bouvet Island; (9) FR/T, Tromelin Island; and (10) VU7, Lakshadweep Island.

  • Understanding WRC-2000: Ken Pulfer, VE3PU, who attended WRC-2000 in Istanbul representing Radio Amateurs of Canada as part of the Canadian delegation, has posted a synopsis of the meeting that focuses on issues of importance to amateurs. The World Radiocommunication Conference took place from May 8 to June 2. Visit the RAC web site for more information.--RAC

    A workman removes deteriorated grout in the brickwork on the W1AW building's north side.

  • W1AW getting a facelift: Workers from the Bridgeport Restoration Company have been attending to some much-needed masonry repair on the W1AW building on the ARRL Headquarters campus in Newington, Connecticut. Other refurbishing will include replacing the copper flashing. Built in the 1930s, the W1AW structure was dedicated in 1938 in a ceremony that was nationally broadcast on the CBS Radio Network.


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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