Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the
Olympia Amateur Radio Society
P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  August 2003
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

  •  From the Oval Shack
  •  Hams a bright spot during power blackout
  •  Does your dog bite?
  •  Treasurer's Report
  •  Notes from the VP
  •  OARS Picnic August 27
  •  ARRL urges improved RFI immunity standards for consumer electronics
  •  Signs of the Times
  •  OARS Net check-ins
  •  Equipment for Sale
  •  Amateur community responds to potential BPL threat
  •  Style Invitational
  •  Real Science Answers
  • --back to OARS main page

    I hope that everyone has been enjoying the beautiful summer that we have been having, but as we move towards fall it is time to start thinking about preparing our antennas and feed lines for the winter when we typically spend more time on the radio. No one really wants to be repairing or replacing these once the winter rains start.

    I mention this because just last weekend we went to the Olympia Red Cross office to check out the wire antenna there because it did not seem to be getting out very well, and found that on the 75 meter band it had an SWR of 16:1. Definitely not good! Apparently, water had gotten into the traps, so that antenna needed to be replaced.

    While working on it and the vertical, we found that the coax connectors had never been waterproofed. Luckily, no moisture had gotten into the connectors, so these need to be sealed against moisture in our rainy climate.

    Now while we have this warm sunny weather is the best time to be checking out these parts of our stations because the best radio in the world is only as good as the antenna connected to it.

    This month, we will not be having a regular meeting but will be having a potluck picnic at the QTH of Jeff Withers, W3GE. It was very nice of Jeff and his YL, Lisa, KB7PNX, to offer to host it for us this year. I look forward to seeing you there.


    -- Ken Dahl, K7TAG

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    Hams a bright spot during power blackout

    When a power blackout struck at least a half dozen eastern states August 14, many Amateur Radio operators were ready and able to provide whatever assistance they could. Hardest hit were metropolitan areas like New York City, Detroit and Cleveland. In New York, residents and commuters found themselves stranded in electricity-dependent elevators and subway or rail cars while visitors ended up stuck at airports, which were forced to shut down. With the cellular systems overloaded or out altogether, the incident turned into a test of Amateur Radio's capabilities to operate without commercial power.

    "It was a good drill," said New York City-Long Island Section Emergency Coordinator Tom Carrubba, KA2D. But, he adds, it was a cautionary tale, too. "The lesson is that everybody gets a little complacent," he said. "Have emergency power backup and make sure it's working!"

    By and large, Carrubba said, ARES members did what they were trained to do. "It's going to show the worth of Amateur Radio," he said of the blackout response. "There were people on the air immediately." 

    Diane Ortiz, K2DO, the Public Information Coordinator for NYC-Long Island was one of them. When power went down in her Suffolk County community, she started up an informal VHF net. Over the next 20 hours or so, it passed some 500 pieces of what Ortiz described as largely "health-and-welfare traffic."

    "People are getting on and helping," she said. In addition to handling messages for people stranded in the city, amateurs also relayed useful information, such as which stores or filling stations were open and operating. With many radio and TV stations dark, hams were able to help fill the information void, Ortiz said.

    In the Big Apple itself, ARES teams provided communication support for Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) set up at main transportation centers in Manhattan. ARES members also accompanied ERVs on fire calls. RACES activated in most Greater New York City area counties after a state of emergency was declared. Some ARES teams -- including a few across the Hudson River in New Jersey -- activated or remained on standby to help if called upon. In New Jersey, a net linked the Red Cross lead chapter's N2ARC in Princeton with other New Jersey ARC chapters.

    Michigan Section Manager Dale Williams, WA8EFK, reports scattered ARES activations. Williams, who lives in Dundee south of Detroit, was without power August 15 and relying on his emergency generator. Some Michigan ARES teams assisted emergency operations centers and the Red Cross. 

    In Ohio, Section Emergency Coordinator Larry Rain, WD8IHP, reports that all ARES organizations in northern Ohio were activated after the power grid went down. Still going strong at week's end were ARES teams in Cleveland and Akron. "ARES is handling communication support for Ohio Emergency Management in the affected cities and communities," Rain said. Ohio VHF and UHF nets and the Ohio SSB net on HF have been handling blackout-related traffic.

    Nancy Hall, KC4IYD -- who lives 20 miles west of Cleveland -- said she's glad she'd taken the ARRL Emergency Communications Level I class. "I have to say that being a ham and knowing about emergency preparedness did make life easier for me and my family," said Hall, who's now signed up for the Level II class.

    New England states were far less affected by the blackout. ARES/RACES operators in the region were on standby after the blackout. Only Connecticut and sections of Western Massachusetts reported significant outages, and ARES nets activated in both states.

    Bill Sexton, N1IN/AAR1FP, an Army MARS member, said his emergency power capability permitted him to check into the Northeast SHARES (National Communications System HF Shared Resources Program) net and maintain e-mail contact after Berkshire County lost power.

    "The experience proved once gain the great strength of ham radio in an emergency," Sexton said. "It is self-starting, and it is everywhere."

    -- The ARRL Bulletin, Electronic Edition

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    Does your dog bite?

    There was a hound dog laying in the yard, and an old geezer in overalls was sitting on the porch.

    "Excuse me, sir, but does your dog bite?" the tourist asked.

    The old man looked up over his newspaper and replied, "Nope."

    As soon as the tourist stepped out of his car, the dog began snarling and growling, and then attacked both his arms and legs. As the tourist flailed around in the dust, he yelled, "I thought you said your dog didn't bite!"

    The old man muttered, "Ain't my dog."

    -- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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    Treasurer's Report

    As of 7/31/03

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance $2,553.88
            Income            1.10
            Expenses          0.00
        Ending balance    2,554.98

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance  $ 969.41
            Income            0.00
            Expenses          0.00
        Ending balance      969.41

    -- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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    Notes from the VP

    Greetings, fellow hams! I've been thinking about the term fellowship quite a bit lately inasmuch as I belong to several service organizations and have a "fellowship" in each. I belong to OARS, Toastmasters, TCTV, Olympia Beekeepers, Northwest Road Rally, OMUG, the Linux SIG (Special Interest Group) which is a sub-group of OMUG, and ARES. Each group has the same problem -- many members, few workers, fewer leaders. And what's curious is that members of each are very committed to each group; there is a fellowship. Just not an active one -- they won't participate! At least, there is a common thread here. I've talked with leaders within the Rotary Club, within the Mason organization, within the Lions club -- everyone agrees, fraternal or social organizations are on the wane. People just aren't as civic-minded as in the past.

    What to do? Great programs at club meetings ought to raise enthusiasm for the club. It doesn't seem to, oddly, for we HAVE great presentations, attended by a small crowd of the faithful. I don't get it. The meetings are free, there are good, interest-specific presentations at most events, yet far and away the majority of Oly-area hams stay away! Maybe it's me and my style -- or, maybe it's our respected President Ken, K7TAG, but nobody's suggested that, directly.

    However, IF that's the case, the time to make a change is coming up! We've got officer elections soon, and IF you'd like a differently-run club, you need to either step up and lead, or at least, put someone else up to lead. It is your club -- it is your hobby, and it is your chance to affect EVERYTHING for the next year, so put your hand in, make a difference!

    Potluck August 28 at W3GE's place -- see you there. Road Rally September 6 and 7; please, please help Alex KD7RAX get it put together. He's scrounging 36 hams for Saturday and 35 for Sunday, a near-impossible feat.

    This isn't much of a fellowship, says I, when, with 1000 hams in the county, you can't get 36 out for a major, fun, international event that really needs us!

    I'm putting together another ham class, probably in late October, first Saturday of November. Know anyone who'd like to get a Technician license? Or maybe a refresher of the rules (they have added some new requirements, like the part about RF exposure limits). If you've had a license for years, you may not even know that this requirement exists -- but it does. In any event, say something to everyone you meet -- get them to take the class and get radio-active. My phone number is 866-0800. Get anyone interested to call me.

    There will be a BBQ and potluck for everyone who participated in the Capitol Lakefair ham-support effort, sponsored by the Lakefair committee. If you'd like to come, let me know. They're trying to figure out how many people will come.

    Toastmasters teaches public speaking. If you ever have a need to get up in front of a crowd and expound, Toastmasters will help you do it effectively. I'm Membership Chairman of a Toastmasters' club that meets Wednesdays at noon for an hour. You can come visit -- the meetings aren't closed. We meet in the Natural Resources building on the capitol campus; there are large signs by the elevators saying where we're meeting, but usually it's room 462, right off the elevator. Check us out, or one of the other TM clubs. There are 53 of them in the South Sound area, meeting morning, noon, and evenings.

    TCTV stands for Thurston Community Television, and is a wonderful resource. They're on the westside, over by the hospital, next to AT&T. You can walk in and get a tour most anytime -- or I'll guide you through myself, if I'm there. Check out cable channel 3 or 22 or 27 for some of their work.

    The antennas are up! 73!

    -- Lee, KI7SS

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    OARS Picnic August 27

    In place of the regular OARS meeting in August, we will have a potluck picnic at the home of Jeff, W3GE, and Lisa, KB7PNX. Drinks are at 5 PM; dinner starts at 6 PM. Everyone is welcome. Hamburgers will be provided by Jeff; everyone else is requested to bring a potluck dish.

    If your last name begins with: A-E bring a dessert, F-M bring a salad, N-S bring bread/beverage, R-Z bring a main dish.

    Jeff and Lisa live 12 miles south of Olympia. Go south on I-5, take exit 88, which is Hwy 12 West toward Aberdeen. Turn right off the freeway, right at the traffic lights, (which is north on Elderberry St.) and straight until it dead-ends at 193rd. Turn right (east) on 193rd Ave. We are the 3rd house on the left (painted white), with a 70 ft. antenna tower. Mailbox says 6010. Only 1/4 mile from the freeway, all told.

    We plan to start early and stay late, join us!

    --back to table of contents

    ARRL urges improved RFI immunity standards for consumer electronics

    The ARRL has told the FCC that improved interference standards for consumer electronic devices is the most pressing need as the Commission considers the interference immunity performance of receivers. The League filed comments July 21 in response to an FCC Notice of Inquiry (NOI), "Interference Immunity Performance Specifications for Radio Receivers" (ET-03-65), released last March. 

    Stating that no receiver immunity standards are necessary or practical in the "essentially experimental" Amateur Service, the ARRL said that the real need for receiver immunity specifications is in the area of consumer electronics and the FCC must establish stronger interference rejection standards for such devices. 

    In its 21-page reply to the NOI, the ARRL recited the recent history of efforts to come to grips with interference from RF sources, including amateur stations, to receivers used in other services, such as TV and radio broadcasting, and to consumer electronics.

    "ARRL continues to believe that receiver immunity should be on the order of 3 V/m for receivers that might be in the near field of an Amateur Radio station," the League said.

    The ARRL suggested the FCC mandate a standard for all consumer electronics or adopt a labeling or grading system, and that the FCC not rely exclusively on manufacturers to set standards.

    -- ARRL Bulletin ARLB051

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    Signs of the Times

    -- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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    OARS Net check-ins

    The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net one or more times on July 1, 8, or 15.


    * Net Control

    The net meets at 7:30 every Tuesday evening on the 3 linked OARS repeaters: 147.36, 224.46, and 441.40 MHz. All Hams are invited to check in.

    --back to table of contents

    Equipment for Sale

    Keith McDonald, N7JSK, is assisting the widow of a good friend in disposing of some radio equipment:

    If you are interested, or would like more details, contact Keith at: 360-352-2514, or email sarcapt1@juno.com.

    --back to table of contents

    Amateur community responds to potential BPL threat

    Members of the Amateur Radio community have responded to the potential threat posed by Broadband over Power Line (BPL) by opening their wallets in a most generous fashion. ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, says BPL has hit a major hot button with amateurs, but more help is needed.

    "We're now up to nearly $193,000 from more than 3690 donors," Hobart said as July drew to a close. The goal for the special Spectrum Defense campaign is $300,000 by August 31.

    Possibly equally significant is the fact that the number of donors to the BPL campaign substantially exceeds the number of individuals and organizations -- approximately 1900 -- who filed initial comments in response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on BPL earlier this year. While the deadline for initial comments has passed, the FCC this week extended the reply comment deadline to August 20 http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-03-2590A1.doc. 

    The League filed a 120-page package of comments and technical exhibits http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/et03-104/ on July 7, and it plans to file reply comments.

    A form of power line carrier (PLC) technology, BPL would use existing electrical power lines to deliver high-speed (i.e. broadband) Internet services to homes and businesses. Because it would use frequencies between 2 and 80 MHz, HF and low-VHF amateur allocations could be affected if such systems are deployed. Proponents -- primarily electric power utilities -- already are testing BPL systems in several markets. Although FCC rules already allow BPL, industry proponents want the FCC to relax radiation limit, which could further increase the interference potential to Amateur Radio operations.

    ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, is continuing his efforts to assess and quantify the effects of BPL on HF amateur allocations. Just back from a more than 1300-mile trip to evaluate the effects of BPL systems now in the testing stages, Hare described the interference he monitored on the HF bands as "devastating." Meanwhile, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, and members of the ARRL Technical Relations Office staff have been working to build the Amateur Radio case against BPL in Washington.

    In a recent solicitation focusing on the BPL issue, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said no prior threat has posed a challenge more serious. "The threat is as close as the power lines right in your neighborhood," Sumner said in issuing a call to action to all amateurs. "Only by joining forces financially will we be able to educate government officials quickly and effectively on the impact of this new threat to Amateur Radio spectrum."

    BPL technology already has been deployed in some European countries, and amateurs there have experienced interference from the systems. Responding in part to concerns expressed by its amateur community, Japan last year decided not to adopt the technology because of its interference potential.

    For additional information on BPL, visit the ARRL "Power Line Communications (PLC) and Amateur Radio" page http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/. Hobart invites donors to visit the ARRL Spectrum Defense campaign page https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/bpl/.

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    Style Invitational

    The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

    -- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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    Real Science Answers

    "To keep milk from turning sour: keep it in the cow."

    "The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects."

    "The skeleton is what is left after the insides have been taken out and the outsides have been taken off. The purpose of the skeleton is something to hitch meat to."

    "A permanent set of teeth consists of eight canines, eight cuspids, two molars, and eight cuspidors."

    -- from "Joke of the Day" via Internet

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    --back to OARS main page