ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  August 2005
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackPresident's Message


At last month's club meeting it was decided to permanently do away with the August picnic and allow the Field Day Potluck to fulfill that function instead. It seemed that two picnic functions so close together were difficult to organize and we definitely wanted to keep the field day function. For the future we need to decide if we want to hold a regular club meeting in August or have it as a free month.

In a step toward future event planning we decided that we would again like to hold our holiday potluck in January and directed Tom, KA4VVA, to see if the OSAR facility would be available to us for Saturday, January 7, 2006 to hold this event.

Another summer is almost over and we are getting ready for fall. It is time for everyone to start thinking about who should be on our slate of officers for 2006 who will be nominated at the September meeting. I will be unavailable to hold office next year, and Duane, WB7ROZ, has indicated to me that he will also be unavailable due to the requirements of his job for the next year. Therefore, we are going to have to come up with at least a new president and vice president for the year 2006.

Fall is rapidly approaching and it time for all of us to think about doing any external maintenance that is required on our stations while the weather is still nice. This can include things like checking antennas and guy wires, coax connections, etc. Coax and antenna connections that are exposed to the weather are susceptible to weather damage from all the moisture that we have in our area, so they are especially good to check. It is much easier to do now while it is still pleasant to work outside rather than later this fall or winter when you start experiencing difficulties and must do the work under less than ideal conditions. Moisture seeping into the coax can cause some very elusive problems and is impossible to ever get dried out, so preventive maintenance is the best alternative to a costly cable replacement.

As we move into the fall, it is a good time to think about how we as a club can get more people actively involved with our group. What kind of changes could we make that would not only get more members for the club, but also get more people to attend our meetings? Please think about this and let your leadership know.

One thing that I believe would help is an "Elmering" program to help new hams get on the air and get actively involved in our hobby. This would be an easier project if we had a permanent club house like some clubs, but since we don't, we need to investigate alternatives. For this to work, a location to hold events at no cost is key.

One thing that I would like to see arranged soon is a day to check out many of our HTs and mobiles for their power output and deviation. This could be arranged for a Saturday at a convenient location where we set up our equipment and provide a test and tune up day for our members -- maybe even any interested local hams.

On the subject of a permanent club station location, it has been suggested in the past that we might be able to work with Olympia Search and Rescue (OSAR) to develop a permanent club station location at their facility on the Yelm Highway.

Let us know your opinion on these and other issues.

-- 73, Ken K7TAG

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FCC proposes dropping Morse code requirement entirely

The FCC has proposed dropping the 5 WPM Morse code element as a requirement to obtain an Amateur Radio license of any class. The Commission included the recommendation in a July 19 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in WT Docket 05-235, but it declined to go along with any other proposed changes to Amateur Service licensing rules or operating privileges. Changes to Part 97 that the FCC proposed in the NPRM would not become final until the Commission gathers additional public comments, formally adopts any new rules and concludes the proceeding with a Report and Order specifying the changes and an effective date. That's not likely to happen for several months.

"Based upon the petitions and comments, we propose to amend our amateur service rules to eliminate the requirement that individuals pass a telegraphy examination in order to qualify for any amateur radio operator license," the FCC said. The NPRM consolidated 18 petitions for rule making from the amateur community -- including one from the ARRL -- that had proposed a wide range of additional changes to the amateur rules. The FCC said the various petitions had attracted 6200 comments from the amateur community, which soon will have the opportunity to comment again -- this time on the FCC's NPRM.

The Commission said it believes dropping the 5 WPM Morse examination would encourage more people to become Amateur Radio operators and would eliminate a requirement that's "now unnecessary" and may discourage current licensees from advancing their skills. It also said the change would "promote more efficient use" of amateur spectrum.

To support dropping the code requirement, the FCC cited changes in Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations adopted at World Radiocommunication Conference 2003. WRC-03 deleted the Morse testing requirement for amateur applicants seeking HF privileges and left it up to individual countries to determine whether or not they want to mandate Morse testing. Several countries already have dropped their Morse requirements for HF access.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said he was not surprised to see the FCC propose scrapping the Morse requirement altogether, although the League had called for retaining the 5 WPM requirement only for Amateur Extra class applicants. Sumner expressed dismay, however, that the FCC turned away proposals from the League and other petitioners to create a new entry-level Amateur Radio license class.

"We're disappointed that the Commission prefers to deny an opportunity to give Amateur Radio the restructuring it needs for the 21st century," he said. "It appears that the Commission is taking the easy road, but the easy road is seldom the right road."

Sumner said ARRL officials and the Board of Directors will closely study the 30-page NPRM and comment further once they've had an opportunity to consider the Commission's stated rationales for its proposals.

In 2004, the League called on the FCC to create a new entry-level license, reduce the number of actual license classes to three and drop the Morse code testing requirement for all classes except for Amateur Extra. Among other recommendations, the League asked the FCC to automatically upgrade Technician licensees to General and Advanced licensees to Amateur Extra. In this week's NPRM, the FCC said it was not persuaded such automatic upgrades were in the public interest.

The FCC said it did not believe a new entry-level license class was warranted because current Novice and Tech Plus licensees will easily be able to upgrade to General once the code requirement goes away. The Commission also said its "Phone Band Expansion" (or "Omnibus") NPRM in WT Docket 04-140 already addresses some of the other issues petitioners raised.

A 60-day period for the public to comment on the NPRM in WT 05-235 will begin once the notice appears in the Federal Register. Reply comments will be due within 75 days.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB018

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Fractured Dictionary

-- from David ZL3AI, via packet

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Treasurer's Report

As of 7/31/05

GENERAL FUND (checking account)

    Previous balance     $1,600.56

        Income                0.32

        Expenses             37.00

    Ending balance        1,563.88

REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

    Previous balance      $ 986.06

        Income                0.00

        Expenses              0.00

    Ending balance          986.06

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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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, 2005:


Net control stations for the month were WB7ROZ, K7TAG, WC7I, and K7VRE. Thank you for your support!!

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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ARRL board adopts modified regulation by bandwidth proposal

Following considerable discussion and debate, the ARRL Board of Directors has approved a modified set of recommendations to regulate the use of amateur spectrum by emission bandwidth rather than by emission mode. Last April, the ARRL Executive Committee reached consensus on a set of regulation-by-bandwidth proposals (which can be found on the web at http://www.arrl.org/announce/bandwidth.html ) to serve as the basis of an FCC Petition for Rule Making. Following additional fine tuning based on hundreds of comments from the amateur community, the Board formally adopted a further-modified plan at its July 15-16 meeting.

The revised plan includes a stipulation that the League "will promptly undertake a procedure to establish a band plan to be utilized with the proposed sub-band allocation petition, and, until such time as that band plan is in place, the existing band plan will be in force." ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, remarked after the Board's 12-3 vote that improved band planning is critical to the success of the League's regulation-by-bandwidth proposals and will require the support of the amateur community at large.

"I think it's fair to say that the Board recognizes that regulation by bandwidth is not going to work without a spirit of cooperation among amateurs pursuing different interests," he said, "any more than current regulations would be adequate without a spirit of cooperation." Sumner pointed out that under the current rules, RTTY and data enthusiasts may, by rule, operate in the low end of the CW subbands. "They don't, because to do so would disrupt amateur CW," he said.

Sumner said that if the FCC ultimately implements the modified ARRL recommendations, there's no reason to believe that amateurs will operate right up to the absolute limit of what the FCC says they may, any more than they do now.

The regulation-by-bandwidth issue dominated the Board's second meeting of the year in Windsor, Connecticut. After a great deal of give and take among its members, the Board ultimately okayed raising the maximum bandwidth proposed for frequencies below 29 MHz from 3.0 kHz to 3.5 kHz. A provision permitting the continued use of double-sideband AM with bandwidth of up to 9 kHz was retained.

Significantly, the Board also agreed that maximum permitted bandwidth should be defined in terms of necessary rather than occupied bandwidth. In addition, the modified proposal removes the exception for independent sideband (ISB) emissions and drops certain mode restrictions on Novice and Technician class operators.

The ARRL proposal would leave two important FCC rules unchanged. Part 97.307(a) says: "No amateur station transmission shall occupy more bandwidth than necessary for the information rate and emission type being transmitted, in accordance with good amateur practice." Part 97.101(a) reads: "In all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules each amateur station must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice."

Per the Board's motion, the ARRL Executive Committee will review the final rule making petition, which will be filed with the FCC at the Committee's discretion.

The Board began work on the bandwidth concept in 2002.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB017

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Bill's barn burned down, and his wife Polly called the insurance company. Polly told the insurance company "We had that barn insured for fifty thousand, and I want my money."

The agent replied, "Hold on just a minute, Polly. Insurance doesn't work quite like that. We will ascertain the value of what was insured and provide you with a new barn of comparable worth."

There was a long pause before Polly replied, "Then I'd like to cancel the policy on my husband."

-- from David ZL3AI, via packet

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Oxymoron: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness) Here are 25...

-- from "Joke of the Day" via internet

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Radio Amateur Loses Life Installing Emergency Communications Antenna

An Ohio radio amateur died July 30 while attempting to perform a public service for his county's RACES/ARES program. Preble County RACES Radio Officer Robert W. "Bob" French II, N8EHA, of Eaton was on a tower at the New Paris fire station installing an antenna for the RACES/ARES program when an element came into contact with a power line. The shock knocked French from the tower, and he reportedly fell some 40 feet to the ground. French's son Aaron, KA8VUS, Al Stone, KB8RPO, and other members of the work party administered CPR to no avail.

"Bob started back up the tower, pulling the antenna up by the feed line as he climbed," Stone recounted in a message shared with ARRL by Ohio Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE. "At one point Bob thrust his hand upward to grab another rung of the tower, with the feed line in his hand. The antenna began swinging, and when he went for that last rung, the antenna came in contact with [the] power line." Stone said the ham volunteers were installing two antennas on the New Paris fire station's tower as part of a project to equip every firehouse in the county with an antenna and ham radio for emergency backup communication.

French, 51, belonged to the ARRL. He was a founding member of the Preble Amateur Radio Association and very active in the club. "He was one of the biggest advocates for Amateur Radio I have known," said Gary Hollenbaugh, NJ8BB, who eulogized his friend at an August 3 service. "His leadership, organizational skills, knowledge and enthusiasm cannot be easily replaced."

Hollenbaugh says French was wearing a safety belt but not a fall restraint harness. "He was still climbing the tower and not able to secure off," he said, conceding that his friend did not follow several safety rules. He also questioned why the tower was sited so close to power lines.

ARES District 3 Emergency Coordinator Ron Moorefield, W8ILC, represented the ARRL at French's service. Survivors include his wife Cathy, KA8RWX, and their daughter and son. The family invites memorial contributions to the Preble Amateur Radio Association, 7810 US Hwy 35 E, W Alexandria, OH 45381.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Senior Golfers

There were four 80-year old men playing golf.

One complained the hills were too high. The second complained the bunkers were too deep.

The third said the holes were too wide. The fourth one said, "Shut up! At least we're still on the right side of the grass!"

-- from David ZL3AI, via packet

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