Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  August 2004
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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Oval Shack

Greetings from Yelm, and N7EIE/7 in Seattle. Yes, I have been up there just as much (if not more) than I have been home in Yelm the past month. My XYL is still at the University of Washington Medical Center following three brain surgeries to cure her epilepsy.

The first two were elective and expected, but the last one on 29 July was to fight an infection in her brain caused by the first two. She was pretty sick for a while. But the doctors finally got control of the infection, and she finally made it out of Intensive Care last week. She is able to communicate a little (if I interpret) and is starting to eat a little as well. She has a ways to go, but I should be able to bring her home to Yelm by the end of August.

For those who want to send her a card, her address is:

    Carolyn Smith, Room 4204

    University of Washington Medical Center

    1959 NE Pacific Street

    Seattle, WA 98195

And that, fellow OARS members, is that. About ninety per cent of my time the past month has been spent concerning her condition and care. Logically, ham radio had to take a (temporary, I assure you) back seat in my life. Many thanks to Chuck, NX6W, for covering for me as NCS of the OARS CW net in my absence. I'm back in Yelm on Tuesdays now, Chuck, thank you, good job!

One thing I did see today when I got my September QST was an article about Regulation by Bandwidth. This looks like a subject that's probably not a hot-button issue like BPL, but could have far-reaching ramifications for the future of ham radio, especially for you digital types. See what you think at http://www.arrl.org/announce/bandwidth.html.

Pardon me, but I have to go back to Seattle. Did I mention that the traffic to and from Seattle on I-5 is REALLY AWFUL? I hate the big city, I'm a Yelm boy.

I'll send Carol your best.


Leroy, N7EIE

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Visitor from Germany

A German ham (a friend of a friend of mine) will be visiting Lacey, visiting relatives, for about 5 weeks in August / September. He contacted me about contacts in your area to both talk back to Germany and to operate in the WAE contest in August. This would require a fairly significant station / antenna in your general area.

Could you spread the word and see if anyone (or a number of folks) in the area would host him at a station on a periodic basis. He does hold a US callsign so there are no licensing problems or issues. He is also a member of the Bavarian Contest Club and I expect he is a fairly decent operator.

Thanks in advance for your help and also thanks for sending me copies of WATTS NEWS.

73, Jim K9JF

ARRL Northwestern Vice Director

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FCC says new vanity fee really goes into effect August 10

FCC personnel have clarified that the new Amateur Radio vanity call sign regulatory fee of $20.80 for the 10-year license term actually becomes effective Tuesday, August 10, not Friday, August 6 as ARRL and others had announced based on information in The Federal Register.

A staff member at the FCC's Gettysburg office told ARRL that the Commission's computer system has been programmed to accept the new fee starting August 10. A management-level staffer in the FCC's Office of Managing Director explained that the Commission was not necessarily bound by the August 6 effective date The Federal Register indicates, which was 30 days after publication of the order containing the new fee schedule.

Applicants for amateur vanity call signs will continue to pay the $16.30 fee per vanity call sign application until the new fee goes into effect. All applications received at the FCC on or after Tuesday, August 10 must be accompanied by the new, higher fee.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB023

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2x3-Format Vanity Call Signs

The FCC has ceased issuing 2x3-format Amateur Radio vanity call signs that begin with the prefixes WC, WR, WK and WT (e.g., WR1AAA, WC4ZZZ). The Commission has acknowledged that it erroneously granted more than 150 WR and WC-prefix 2x3 vanity call signs from 1997 through September 2003, when it began rejecting such call sign requests.

In the late 1970s, the FCC announced a new Amateur Service call sign assignment system. It provided four standard call sign groups, designated Group A, B, C and D, delineated by license class and issued sequentially with no backfilling. The FCC's Bill Cross, W3TN, recently told the nation's volunteer examiner coordinators (VECs) that the FCC also had a "Group X." These included WC (RACES), WR (repeater), WK and WT-prefix 2x3-format call signs reportedly reserved for special-use licenses.

The FCC stopped issuing repeater call signs in 1983 and ceased renewing RACES licenses in 2000. After the current vanity program began in 1996, several ham clubs sought new and formerly held repeater and RACES-type call signs. When the Universal Licensing System came along in August 1999, however, the FCC encountered some licensing system programming shortcomings, including the anomalous assignments of WC and WR-prefix 2x3 call signs as acceptable formats.

When the FCC implemented programming corrections that halted the issuance of Group X call signs in September 2003, it did not advise the amateur community. As a result, several amateurs who filed for 2x3 WC or WR-prefix call signs had their applications dismissed without any explanation beyond saying that the applicant's call sign choice was unavailable. That remains the case. The FCC has not indicated whether it plans to address the WC and WR-prefix 2x3 call signs it's already issued.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB022

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net one or more times in the month of July 2004:


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.

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Check-in Correction

The OARS Net Check-in list in the July Watts News included KB6ZBS. It should have read KD6ZBS.

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Getting Older

-- from "Joke of the Day" via Internet

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OARS License Exams

Hello -

Please take a look at the web page I put together for the exam on August 21, and let me know any problems encountered, or suggestions for changes to it. Also have anyone else in the club look at it for their suggestions as well. I plan to direct people to it with my outgoing message on answering machine by the end of this week (Aug 7).



-- Klaus, AC7MG

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A young couple were touring southern Florida and happened to stop at a rattlesnake farm they discovered along the road. After seeing the sights, they engaged in small talk with the man that handled the snakes.

"Gosh!" exclaimed the young woman. "You certainly have a dangerous job. Don't you ever get bitten by the snakes?"

"Yes, on rare occasions," answered the handler.

"Well," she continued, "what do you do when you're bitten by a snake?"

"I always carry a razor-sharp knife in my pocket, and as soon as I am bitten, I make cut across the fang entry and then suck the poison from the wound."

"What, uh...what would happen if you were to accidentally sit on a rattler?" persisted the woman.

"Ma'am," answered the snake handler, "that will be the day I learn who my real friends are."

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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"ARESCOM" Plan to Enhance Emergency Communication Capability

The ARRL Board of Directors has adopted a resolution encouraging further development and expansion of an inaugural network to enhance the emergency communications capability of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). The action came during the Board's meeting July 16-17. The Board had charged an ad hoc committee, dubbed "ARESCOM," with developing an augmented ARES telecommunications system that would include rapid and accurate handling of long-range emergency communications. ARESCOM recommended deployment of a digital e-mail system based on Winlink 2000 software. The Board encouraged the deployment of e-mail via Amateur Radio -- "as exemplified by Winlink 2000" -- to meet the needs of served agencies and others involved in providing disaster communications.

"The digital network will provide a value-added service for ARES and will continue to be viewed very positively by our served agencies," the committee said in its report to the Board. "This allows ARES to be viewed as modern and necessary instead of antiquated and invasive."

The committee, chaired by Great Lakes Division Vice Director Dick Mondro, W8FQT, said situations arise when ARES must "pass message traffic across the nation quickly and accurately." It also said the need for such a nationwide ARES capability is likely to increase in light of the ARRL's Citizen Corps partnership with the Department of Homeland Security.

Winlink 2000 -- a worldwide Amateur Radio digital radio e-mail system -- already is widely used by the blue water boating and recreational vehicle communities. Members of the ARRL Programs and Services Committee witnessed a Winlink 2000 demonstration at ARRL Headquarters the day before the board meeting.

The ARRL Board extended the committee's charter until its January 2005 meeting so ARESCOM can complete an implementation plan that ensures that ARES has "the prominent role" in managing the national network and that ARES officials and appropriate ARRL Headquarters staffers have a chance to critique the network's operation to ensure it meets the requirements of ARES and its served agencies.

A two-part series appearing in the August and September 2004 issues of QST, "Winlink for ARES," by ARRL South Texas Section Emergency Coordinator Jerry Reimer, KK5CA, outlines an enhanced ARES network that would include e-mail capability over HF links.

-- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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Treasurer's Report

As of 7/31/04

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $483.17

            Income              0.00

            Expenses           61.98

        Ending balance        421.19

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 978.61

            Income               0.00

            Expenses             0.00

        Ending balance         978.61

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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The Circus Couple

A husband and wife had a human cannonball act in the circus. One day the wife ran off with the lion tamer. The husband was extremely dejected. The strong man asked him what he was going to do. The husband answered, "This is a disaster. I don't know where I'm going to find another woman of her caliber."

-- from Joke of the Day, via Internet

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AMSAT-UK announces new amateur satellite project

AMSAT-UK Chairman Martin Sweeting, G3YJO, has announced that an Amateur Radio transponder will be part of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Student Space Exploration and Technology Initiative (SSETI) "Express" satellite. Onboard will be a 2.4 GHz transmitter and a 437 MHz receiver. The pair will be turned into an amateur FM voice transponder after the transmitter serves initial telemetry duty.

"These frequencies will enable the many amateurs who already have AMSAT OSCAR 40 equipment to use it in an exciting new way," Sweeting said. Sweeting told participants at the 2004 AMSAT-UK Colloquium July 30 - August 1 that AMSAT-UK has arranged with the ESA to provide -- at very short notice -- an S band transmitter for the SSETI Express. The 2.4 GHZ transmitter will become the downlink of the single-channel FM U/S transponder. Holger Eckart, DF2FQ, will provide the UHF receiver.

An AMSAT-UK team is developing the 2.4 GHz downlink exciter, switching-mode power supply and control interfaces. A 3 W 2.4 GHz power amplifier -- identical to the one flying in the recently launched AO-51 "Echo" spacecraft -- already has been completed. The S band antennas consist of three flat-plate patches, engineered and produced by Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland.

The SSETI Express is believed to be the first-ever pan-European student satellite with more than 100 students and their teachers at several European universities working on the project. The 2.4 GHz downlink transmitter will send satellite telemetry and data at 38.4 kb/s before being switched over to voice transponder operation once onboard experiments have been completed.

Spacecraft integration is due to start this month at the ESTEC laboratories in the Netherlands. Plans call for launching the 80 kg spacecraft into a 680 km sun-synchronous orbit next April from Plestek, Russia.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLS012

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Two Good Reasons

One Monday morning, Johnny refused to get up for school. His mom banged on his door, but Johnny didn't answer. So she entered the room and hollered, "Get up and go to school!"

Johnny replied, "No! I am not going to school."

Johnny's mother then said, "Give me two good reasons why you should not go to school."

Johnny answered, "First, the teachers all hate me, and secondly the students don't like me either." He then said, "Now you give me two good reasons why I should go to school."

Johnny's mother responded firmly, "First you're over 50 years old and second, you're the principal!"

-- submitted by Lee, W7RLL

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Radio Equipment for Sale

I am a former ham fan, but since our move to "Jubilee" at Lacey, WA I can no longer use any radio "stuff" here in our retirement community. Hence I have a few items for sale:

(1) Comet GP 9 Ultra high gain dual band antenna

(1) Alinco DM-340 MV DL power supply

(1) 2 meter antenna (car mount).

All are new and in original containers except for the 2 meter antenna which I used on our RV. I would like to get something for them but in the same breath am not asking top dollar. Should you or anyone you know have an interest, please contact me at 360 491-8525 or e-mail at: mailto:/lafosmire25@comcast.net

Thanks, Les Fosmire

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Grassroots Lobbying Effort

The ARRL Board of Directors has formalized a grassroots congressional lobbying program with an initial focus on BPL. Acting July 16 during its second meeting of 2004 in Windsor, Connecticut, the Board acknowledged the need to "immediately begin a BPL grassroots lobbying campaign" this year.

To establish a coordinating structure, the Board created the positions of Division Congressional Action Chair, Congressional Action Coordinator and Congressional Action Assistant. The Board authorized the League's 15 division directors to appoint qualified volunteers to these positions.

Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, who headed the Ad Hoc Committee on Grassroots Lobbying, sees the creation of a national "political machine" as a practical way to protect Amateur Radio spectrum. "We're going to use our members as constituents to talk to key legislators," Fallon said after the meeting. While the campaign will zero in on BPL in the near term, it eventually could expand to support bills dealing with spectrum protection with and deed covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and their impact on amateur antennas.

Fallon said member-constituent contacts can serve to open the door to later meetings between members of Congress or their staff members and League officials.

Under the plan the Board adopted, the Division Congressional Action Chair, one in each ARRL division, would be a cabinet-level volunteer with some experience in lobbying activities. There would be at least one Congressional Action Coordinator in each state, ideally selected in consultation with section managers. These volunteers also would be members of the director's cabinet. Working with the director, the Congressional Action Coordinator will designate and develop a number of Congressional Action Assistants to "accomplish the mission of getting the ARRL message to legislators," the ad hoc committee's report explained.

Fallon said the grassroots lobbying effort will fold into a comprehensive broadband over power line strategy, which the Board discussed at length but did not make public. The Board expressed the hope that the lobbying effort could be up and running by fall.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB021

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