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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter

Volume 19, Number 31
August 18, 2000


+Available on ARRL Audio News


The ARRL has begun compiling a dossier of amateurs' experiences with CC&Rs--covenants, conditions and restrictions. Imposed by private homeowners' associations or by developers, CC&Rs--also known as "restrictive covenants" and "deed restrictions"--often impede or prohibit the installation of outside antennas.

In January, the ARRL asked the FCC to reconsider its denial of the League's request to extend the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 to restrictive covenants. The League has said it would like hams to be free to negotiate reasonable accommodation provisions with local homeowners' associations just as they do now with governmental land-use regulators.

"What we're trying to do is compile documentary evidence to present if and when the occasion to do so arises," ARRL Legislative and Public Affairs Manager Steve Mansfield, N1MZA, said this week. "The experiences of amateurs with restrictive covenants will help us to determine our future direction on this issue," he explained.

The ARRL is inviting narratives from amateurs who now are or have been denied the opportunity to install an antenna or support structure on a dwelling they own because of CC&Rs. Narratives should relate directly to situations involving restrictive covenants and should be no longer than one page for inclusion in the CC&R database. Submittals should include name, call sign, the address at which you were denied the opportunity to put up an antenna, and the basis upon which you were denied or would expect to be denied. Participants should include a copy of the contract language that would exclude your antenna or support structure and copies of any denial letters from a homeowners' association.

Submittals should be sent to ANTENNAS, c/o Steve Mansfield, N1MZA, American Radio Relay League, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. E-mail submittals are welcome to with the subject line "ANTENNAS".

In declining last fall to act on the ARRL's initial request to expand PRB-1, the FCC drew the line at proposing specific rule changes to bring private restrictive covenants under the PRB-1 umbrella . In asking the FCC to rethink the issue earlier this year, the League pointed out that since PRB-1 was first promulgated in 1985, the FCC has made it clear that it has Congressional authority to prohibit restrictive covenants that could keep property owners and even renters from installing antennas to receive TV, satellite and similar signals. The League asserts the same principle applies to Amateur Radio, in which the FCC has said it has a "strong federal interest."

The League's Regulatory Information Branch reports that the topic of restrictive covenants and antennas is one of the most frequently raised by members contacting the ARRL for information. "Not a day goes by that we in RIB don't hear from amateurs who are restricted by covenants," says the ARRL's John Hennessee, N1KB. "People want to know specifically how they can help, so now we have something to tell them."

While the FCC has yet to act on the ARRL's Petition for Reconsideration to apply the philosophy of PRB-1 to CC&Rs, the League is seeking "additional opportunities" to present its case, Mansfield said, and the narrative database is one step in that direction.


(L-R) REACT Board Chairman Frank Jennings, ARRL Southern Florida SM Phyllisan West, KA4FZI, and REACT International President Harry Hawkins, at the ARRL booth at the recent REACT International convention in Florida.

ARRL and REACT--Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams--took some first steps together this summer. The ARRL Board of Directors approved a memorandum of understanding between the two radio organizations at its July meeting.

The ARRL was on hand July 26-28 for the REACT 2000 International Convention in Kissimmee, Florida. The event included attendees from the US as well as from Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. ARRL Southern Florida Section Manager Phyllisan West, KA4FZI, coordinated activities for ARRL's representation at the event with Walt Young, convention chairman for the 25th annual REACT gathering.

"REACT folks are dedicated to public service, responding dependably to cover emergencies, marathons and other charity events," said West, who set up and staffed an ARRL exhibit table at the REACT event. "They operate mainly on GMRS and FRS to avoid problems of unlicensed CB channels, and are excited about working more closely with hams."

West said that copies of the ARRL Public Service Communications Manual at the ARRL table were snapped up. "REACT folks were interested in how hams handle NTS and tactical messages," West said. While a lot of REACT members already are amateurs, West said she encouraged those who were not to get ham licenses "to enhance their ability to participate in emergency communications."

While REACT has been associated primarily with Citizens Band in the past, the organization has widened its focus to embrace amateur and other services. Young called REACT "just another radio group that is doing the same basic job as ham radio operators" that provides emergency communications when and where needed.

"The trick is to get various groups to work together," he said.

Approximately one-quarter of the REACT conventioneers were ham operators, and one of the official events at the convention was the Amateur Breakfast, at which West and her husband, Art, were guests. FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, presented an FCC seminar during the REACT convention.

REACT International has a Web site at


A California man with a long history of alleged unlicensed operation has been arrested . The FCC reports that Richard Allen Burton was taken into custody August 5. The action follows Burton's indictment in May by a grand jury for the US District Court for the Central District of California. Burton, a former amateur licensee, has been charged with six felony counts of violating the Communications Act of 1934.

The FCC says Burton was operating without a license on Amateur Radio repeaters in Southern California after his license was revoked. Formerly WB6JAC, Burton's General ticket was lifted in 1981. He was convicted in 1982 on four counts of transmitting without a license and two counts of transmitting "obscene, indecent or profane words, language or meaning." Burton initially was sentenced to serve six months of an eight year prison term, with the remainder suspended. Upon appeal, the US Ninth District Court of Appeals upheld the unlicensed operation conviction but threw out his obscenity conviction. The FCC says that Burton transmitted without a license while on probation in 1984 and again in 1990. After the second incident, he was fined $2000 and received a year's probation.

In 1992, Burton attempted to get his Amateur Radio license back, but the FCC refused to reinstate him. He was briefly successful in getting a ham ticket in 1996, when he passed a Technician exam at a VE session. The FCC granted Burton a new license and the call sign KF6GKS, which was promptly set aside as soon as the Commission realized its error.

The FCC said that bail for Burton was set at $20,000. He's out on bond. Burton pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, and a trial has been set for October 3.


The FCC has declared that use of Kenwood's "Sky Command" remote station control system does not comply with Amateur Service rules. In an Order released July 28, the FCC also declined to grant a waiver of the rules to make Sky Command legal.

"We conclude that Sky Command does not comply with Section 97.201(b), and that a waiver of the rules is not warranted," the FCC said.

Sky Command, which lets the user control a fixed HF station via a pair of dual-band transceivers, has been on the market for almost three years. The ARRL has declined to permit Sky Command advertisements in QST, however, maintaining that the system was not legal to use as configured. Sky Command operates in full duplex, using a 70-cm frequency to transmit audio and control commands to a dualband transceiver at the remote station and a 2-meter frequency to transmit received audio via the remote station's Sky Command transceiver to the operator's transceiver. The VHF channel also contains a Morse code ID.

The League has maintained that Kenwood's use of a 2-meter frequency would cause amateurs using the system to violate Section 97.201(b), which limits auxiliary operation to certain frequencies above 222.15 MHz.

The FCC agreed, saying the VHF link was integral to Sky Command and that Kenwood's view represented "at best a tortured interpretation" of the rules. The Commission also declined to issue Kenwood a requested blanket waiver of the applicable rules because it said the manufacturer failed to meet the standards required to grant a waiver.

The League has called Kenwood's Sky Command System "a fine product" that would be of interest to many hams if designed for frequencies on which auxiliary operation is legally permitted.

Paul Middleton, KD6NUH, Kenwood's national sales manager for amateur and marine products, said the company has suspended shipment of the SkyCommand PG-4R interface cable, but says that it "can't change product software, manuals and literature." Middleton said the company has not yet made a decision on the future of SkyCommand or on future entreaties to the FCC.


In a final effort to renew his Amateur Radio license, Herbert L. Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, has petitioned the US Supreme Court. Schoenbohm told the ARRL that his request to the high court to grant a writ of certiorari was accepted for filing on August 1. It calls on the justices to request the record of his case from the US Court of Appeals for review.

"Until I hear from the Supremes, I can stay on the air," he said. If the Supreme Court declines to hear his case, however, Schoenbohm's interim operating authority immediately disappears without further notice from the FCC.

Schoenbohm concedes his chances of getting the Supreme Court to review his case are small. "The courts today rarely, if ever, overturn the decisions of administrative agencies, who have become a power unto themselves," he said, referring to the FCC.

The FCC has cited Schoenbohm's 1992 felony fraud conviction and character issues in refusing to renew Schoenbohm's ticket. Subsequently, the FCC said that Schoenbohm had improperly solicited ex parte contacts with the FCC on his behalf. A federal Appeals Court 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.

Among several issues raised in his Supreme Court filing, Schoenbohm asks the court to review whether the FCC's imposition of a broad character standard is "arbitrary, capricious, vague and thus unconstitutional." He also wants the high court to look into whether the FCC violated its own rules by basing its action on a crime that was not serious enough to trigger denial of his license renewal application. Elsewhere, he accuses the FCC of abuse of process and further suggests the Commission abused his "civil and individual rights." Schoenbohm concludes his filing by claiming that he is "the first ham in the history of ham radio to lose his license for reasons of 'character'."

If Schoenbohm is successful in getting the high court to review his case, it would not be heard until the court's next term, which begins in October.


The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has issued an experimental license to a California company to test market a wireless Internet system in the San Diego area on 2300 to 2305 MHz. Amateur Radio has a secondary allocation on 2300-2310, the lower segment of the 13 cm band.

According to the ARRL band plan, the 2300-2305 MHz segment supports a variety of amateur activities, including weak-signal CW, SSB, digital modes and moonbounce as well as beacons and translator inputs and outputs. The ARRL continues efforts to get 2300-2305 MHz elevated to primary status for amateurs.

The FCC issued the call sign WB2XIK to ArrayComm Inc of San Jose to deploy its "i-BURST" wireless Internet technology using up to 3000 "market trial" participants with portable units and up to 50 base station nodes, each with 50 W EIRP. The license, granted in April but only recently made public by the FCC, is good for two years. Typically, the FCC gives no notice of experimental applications until they are granted.

The experiment would be conducted within a 35-mile radius of San Diego. Market trial users will be equipped with laptops and i-Burst wireless modems that operate at a maximum EIRP of 1.3 W. The company says it will make clear to participants that the system is experimental and temporary.

ArrayComm said it chose the 2300-2305 MHz band for its propagation characteristics and because it's near frequencies under consideration for so-called third-generation or "3G" services. "The band has not been allocated for a primary use and this is not heavily encumbered with existing users," the company said in its application materials.

ArrayComm acknowledged Amateur Radio's secondary occupation of the segment but downplayed the likelihood of interference between its experiment and amateur weak signal work in the vicinity.

The City of Los Angeles recently was granted an experimental license to operate a TV downlink system in the 2402-2448 MHz band. The ARRL has protested that grant as well as a similar application from Los Angeles County. The ARRL has no immediate plans to protest the ArrayComm grant. Experimental licenses are granted on a non-interference basis.


Radio Amateurs of Canada has asked Industry Canada--the Canadian equivalent of the FCC--to discontinue that country's 12 WPM Morse code requirement in favor of a 5 WPM test. During the past year, RAC says it has consulted with the Canadian Amateur community on the issue, and the RAC Board has concluded that a majority of Canadian Amateurs support dropping the 12 WPM Morse test--although RAC acknowledges that many are against the change.

"A decision by Canada to drop the 12 WPM test would be in harmony with what is happening in other parts of the world and would simplify the negotiation and implementation of reciprocal operating agreements," an RAC bulletin said this week.

In a recent letter to Industry Canada, RAC President Kenneth Oelke, VE6AFO, recommended that full HF operating privileges be granted to amateurs who have passed a 5 WPM Morse test. At the same time, Oelke requested that the IC consider beefing up written tests to strengthen and expand the requirements for operator knowledge and skills in the areas of station setup and operation, on-air procedures and operating practices, and to include more questions on modern modes of communication employed by radio amateurs.

RAC says its proposal would give Canadian radio amateurs operating privileges similar to those currently accorded to US amateurs who successfully pass a 5 WPM Morse test.--RAC


Propagation prognosticator Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: An interplanetary shock wave struck the earth's magnetosphere on August 12, triggering a powerful geomagnetic storm. Since this was near the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, many observers witnessed the rare spectacle of an aurora as the backdrop for a meteor display. Planetary A index reached 60 last Friday and 109 on Saturday. The K index went as high as eight.

During the past week average sunspot numbers were higher than the previous week by more than 36 points, and average solar flux was up by nearly 33 points. Solar flux peaked this week for the short term at 1700 UTC on Saturday when it was 195.3, although the official number for the day was the 2000 UTC reading of 189.3. There was another peak on Tuesday when the morning, noon and afternoon readings were 192.5, 193.9 and 195.

For this weekend, Friday through Monday, predicted flux values are 175, 175, 170 and 170, and expected planetary A index is 10 through the next week. Flux values are expected to meet minimum near 150 around August 27-29, then peak again near September 8-10.

Sunspot numbers for August 3 through 9 were 133, 137, 161, 174, 189, 188 and 176 with a mean of 165.4. The 10.7 cm flux was 154.2, 154.2, 158.6, 166, 166.9, 170.8 and 182.2, with a mean of 154.7. The estimated planetary A indices were 12, 18, 26, 18, 9, 9 and 7 with a mean of 14.1.

Sunspot numbers for August 10 through 16 were 141, 170, 186, 196, 266, 209 and 244 with a mean of 201.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 181, 187.3, 189.3, 186, 189.5, 193.9 and 185.6, with a mean of 187.5. The estimated planetary A indices were 23, 60, 109, 16, 12, 12 and 11 with a mean of 34.7.

In Brief:

  • This weekend on the radio: The ARRL 10 GHz and Up Cumulative Contest, the New Jersey QSO Party, the North American QSO Party (SSB), the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend, and the SEANET Contest are the weekend of August 19-20. Just ahead: The TOEC WW Grid Contest (CW), the Ohio QSO Party, and the CQC Summer QRP QSO Party are the weekend of August 26-27. See August QST, page 104, for details.

  • Alfredo Luciano, LU6DJX, SK: World-class DXer Alfredo Luciano, LU6DJX, died August 7. He was 91. QST DX Editor Bernie McClenny, W3UR, described Luciano as "the top DXer from South America and the leading DXer outside of the USA." He was on the DXCC Honor Roll with 384 countries confirmed (mixed). During the 1999 Dayton DX dinner, Luciano was awarded a special plaque in honor of his accomplishments. He was first licensed in 1928.--Mario dos Santos/LW1EWY; Bernie McClenny, W3UR

  • George D. "Dewey" Wilson Sr, W7HF, SK: The ARRL's most senior member has died. George "Dewey" Wilson, W7HF, of Aberdeen, Washington, died July 8. He was 102 and had been a member of the League and an active amateur for more than 70 years. "Besides being a tremendous Amateur Radio supporter and enthusiast, he was also the last of a local pioneer lumber family of Aberdeen," reports Bob Maxfield, W7LEO, president of the Grays Harbor Amateur Radio Club to which Wilson belonged. He says Wilson's family settled in the area before Aberdeen became incorporated in 1888. Wilson also was an active QCWA member. Born November 1, 1897, he was first licensed in 1913 (although he admitted to a little bootlegging before that time) as 7GW, making him among the nation's earliest licensed amateurs. He also was active in the Masons, the Elks and Rotary International. A memorial service was held July 13.--Bob Maxfield, W7LEO

  • ARRL Club 2000 Awards--your club can earn one! Active Amateur Radio clubs can earn a $1000 award and a spot in the limelight as part of the ARRL Club 2000 Awards program. Find out more at the Club 2000 Achievement Awards Web site. The program is aimed at rewarding the achievements of ARRL-affiliated clubs by recognizing clubs that are growing, thriving, and developing positive community relations. For more information contact Club Programs Coordinator Margie Bourgoin, KB1DCO, 860-594-0267; FAX 860-594-0259.

  • Hurricane skips Hawaii, but hams were ready: ARRL Pacific Section Manager Ron Phillips, AH6HN, reports that Hurricane Daniel "got everyone excited in Hawaii" earlier this month. "All the emergency systems were activated and everything worked out very well," Phillips reports. "We were all relieved when the storm decided to spare us and move on into the western Pacific." Phillips expressed his thanks and appreciation to who participated in the 40-meter activity and said the weather reports from all islands were very helpful in preparing for the storm that never arrived.--Ron Phillips, AH6HN

  • Logo sought for Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Program: The Certification and Continuing Education pilot project has a name, thanks to the 383 people who took the time to vote. The winner: "Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Program." The next step is to gather suggestions for a logo for the program, the first block in the League's Certification and Continuing Education Program. ARRL Certification Specialist Dan Miller, K3UFG, requests that proposed logo designs be simple and in black-and-white. The new emergency communications course is in the final stages of development and is expected to be offered as an Internet class in September. The outline and related materials can be viewed on the Web. Send suggested logo designs to Dan Miller, K3UFG. An acknowledgment will be sent within two working days.--Dan Miller, K3UFG

    View Proclamation (L-R) New Mexico State Convention Chairman Marcus Lieberman, KM5EH; ARRL New Mexico SM Joe Knight, W5PDY; Gov Gary Johnson. [Gerry Smith, W6TER, photo]
    View proclamation

  • New Mexico proclaims Amateur Radio Week: To coincide with the New Mexico ARRL Convention August 26-27, New Mexico Gov Gary Johnson has proclaimed August 20-26 as Amateur Radio Week in the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico SM Joe Knight, W5PDY, reports he was in Santa Fe earlier this month to meet with Gov Johnson--whose proclamation expressed appreciation for Amateur Radio communication assistance during the wildfires in New Mexico (which are still burning). Gov Johnson has indicated he might attend the section convention, which is held in conjunction with the Duke City Hamfest. "The governor and staff were extremely supportive, and the governor was very positive to assure us he would support us in a new push for PRB-1 type state legislation to improve on some of our tower height restrictions," Knight said.--Joe Knight, W5PDY

  • New W6 Incoming QSL Bureau manager, address: ARRL Outgoing QSL Manager Martin Cook, N1FOC, reports that ARRL W6 Incoming QSL Bureau Manager Archie Willis, W6LPJ, is retiring after almost 27 years in the job. ARRL Directors Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, and Jim Maxwell, W6CF, have appointed Steve Frick, N6QEK, as the new manager. The new W6 Incoming QSL Bureau address will be: ARRL Sixth District Incoming QSL Bureau, PO Box 900069, San Diego, CA 92190-0069.

  • Vanity fee stays at $14 this fiscal year: The annual regulatory fee for an Amateur Radio vanity call sign will stay $14 ($1.40 per year for the 10-year license term). The FCC has revised its Schedule of Regulatory Fees in order to collect the $185,754,000 that Congress has required the Commission to collect for Fiscal Year 2000, but it proposed no change in the vanity fee. The Commission adopted the proposed schedule of fees on June 30. (FY 2000 began last September; the fees are paid in arrears.) The FCC said it anticipates 8000 applications for vanity call signs during FY 2000.

  • Albert H. Wohlers name change: Albert H. Wohlers, the administrator for the ARRL Amateur Radio equipment insurance program, has changed its name to Seabury & Smith. The change does not affect the ham radio equipment program, which Wohlers has been administering for nearly 20 years. For more information, contact Seabury & Smith, 847-493-4581; 800-900-9772.--Seabury & Smith


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