Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Services ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  December 2006
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackMessage from the President-Elect

As a new and inexperienced member of the Navy, I was introduced to the USS Buttercup in Newport Rhode Island. For those of you not familiar with the Buttercup, it is one of the ships used to train all on board how to save a ship if it is attacked and starts to sink. It is located in a pool of water, and it really will sink. My group discovered that first hand. I don't know if it was because we could not get the P-250 pumps started, or if we were just slow to patch holes. I did learn one thing for sure -- water coming in under pressure is hard to stop. I got knocked around by it. Frankly, my first impression was how crazy it was to put us in a ship that was destined to sink. If this had been a real experience the ship would have sunk.

The real learning experience followed our failure. A small group of experienced sailors were introduced to us. They repeated our exercise with different results. It was one of those learning experiences I will probably never forget. These guys were good. They were fast, they were a team, they were awesome. One Senior Petty Officer looked at us in a debriefing and said something I will never forget. He said, "when you are on a ship you are more than brothers, you are shipmates."

So what does that story have to do with the OARS? I don't know for sure, but one thing I do know is how thankful I am to be surrounded by so many experienced Hams. Hams know about life as well as radio. This is a great group! No, this is an awesome group. I have no aspiration to leadership, just a sincere commitment to get to know you, get you involved and help a great club grow.

This last OARS meeting was awesome. Ed Bruette is a true champion to amateur radio and had a great message for us. He was informative and interesting. If you missed the meeting you have got to see the video he played. I want to get to know each of you and look forward to serving you this coming year.

-- Bart AB7AX, President-elect

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Time to Pay Dues

Dues are payable by all members on the first of each year. Please get your 2007 dues to Treasurer Ed Fitzgerald. See the cover page for details.

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FCC to Drop Morse Testing for All Amateur License Classes

In an historic move, the FCC has acted to drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes. The Commission today adopted a Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 05-235. In a break from typical practice, the FCC only issued a public notice at or about the close of business and not the actual Report and Order, so some details -- including the effective date of the R&O -- remain uncertain. The public notice is located at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-269012A1.pdf.

Also today, the FCC also adopted an Order on Reconsideration, in WT Docket 04-140 -- the "omnibus" proceeding -- agreeing to modify the Amateur Radio rules in response to an ARRL request to accommodate automatically controlled narrowband digital stations on 80 meters in the wake of rule changes that became effective today at 12:01 AM Eastern Time. The Commission said it will carve out the 3585 to 3600 kHz frequency segment for such operations. Prior to the long-awaited action on the Morse code issue, Amateur Radio applicants for General and higher class licenses had to pass a 5 WPM Morse code test to operate on HF. The Commission said today's R&O eliminates that requirement for General and Amateur Extra applicants.

"This change eliminates an unnecessary regulatory burden that may discourage current Amateur Radio operators from advancing their skills and participating more fully in the benefits of Amateur Radio," the FCC said. The ARRL had asked the FCC to retain the 5 WPM for Amateur Extra class applicants only. The FCC proposed earlier to drop the requirement across the board, however, and it held to that decision in today's R&O.

Perhaps more important, the FCC's action in WT Docket 05-235 appears to put all Technician licensees on an equal footing: Once the R&O goes into effect, holders of Technician class licenses will have equivalent HF privileges, whether or not they've passed the 5 WPM Element 1 Morse examination. The FCC said the R&O in the Morse code docket would eliminate a disparity in the operating privileges for the Technician and Technician Plus class licensees. Technician licensees without Element 1 credit (i.e. Tech Plus licensees) currently have operating privileges on all amateur frequencies above 30 MHz.

"With today's elimination of the Morse code exam requirements, the FCC concluded that the disparity between the operating privileges of Technician Class licensees and Technician Plus Class licensees should not be retained," the FCC said in its public notice. "Therefore, the FCC, in today's action, afforded Technician and Technician Plus licensees identical operating privileges."

The wholesale elimination of a Morse code requirement for all license classes ends a longstanding national and international regulatory tradition in the requirements to gain access to Amateur Radio frequencies below 30 MHz. The first no-code license in the US was the Technician ticket, instituted in 1991. The question of whether or not to drop the Morse requirement altogether has been the subject of often-heated debate over the past several years, but the handwriting has been on the wall. A number of countries, including Canada, no longer require applicants for an Amateur Radio license to pass a Morse code test to gain HF operating privileges. The list has been increasing regularly.

The FCC said today's R&O in WT Docket 05-235 comports with revisions to the international Radio Regulations resulting from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03). At that gathering, delegates agreed to authorize each country to determine whether or not to require that applicants demonstrate Morse code proficiency in order to qualify for an Amateur Radio license with privileges on frequencies below 30 MHz.

Typically, the effective date of an FCC Order is 30 days after it appears in the Federal Register. That would mean the Morse requirement and the revised 80-meter segment for automatically controlled digital stations would likely not go into effect until late January 2007.

The ARRL will provide any additional information on these important Part 97 rule revisions as it becomes available.-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB030

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Computer Gender

A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine. "House" for instance, is feminine: "la casa." "Pencil," however, is masculine: "el lapiz."

A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora") because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic.

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador") because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on.

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves.

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time, the ARE the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

-- from "A Joke a Day" via Internet

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Double Pain

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive double-pane energy-efficient kind. Yesterday, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the windows had been installed a whole year ago and I had never paid for them yet.

Hellloooo? Now just because I'm blonde doesn't mean that I am automatically stupid. So I told him just exactly what his fast-talking sales guy had told ME last year... namely, that in just ONE YEAR these windows would pay for themselves! Helllooooo? (I told him). "It's been a year!"

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung up. He hasn't called back, probably too embarrassed about forgetting the guarantee they made me. Bet he won't underestimate a blond anymore. Duh!

-- Chuck Massara

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Treasurer's Report

As of 11/30/06

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 2,250.77

            Income               235.99

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         2,486.76

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance       $ 998.14

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance           998.14

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Amateur Community Transitions Smoothly to New Allocations

With some confusion but little commotion, the amateur community took occupancy of more commodious HF phone subbands as the so-called "omnibus" Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 04-140 kicked in December 15 at one minute past midnight Eastern Time. Among other things, the wide-ranging R&O inflated the overall phone allocations on 75 and 40 meters and provided Generals with a little additional phone spectrum on 15 meters. On 75 meters, where the phone band expansion came at the expense of spectrum that had been allocated to CW, RTTY and data modes, some operators camped out above the new 3.600 MHz Extra class phone band edge to count down the switch.

"Anyone on that wants last CW es [and] first SSB?" pleaded one operator as the minutes ticked away. He'd been working a string of stations on CW, and when the appointed time arrived, he simply switched to SSB and carried on in that mode. There was no massive onslaught of phone stations, however, and several CW contacts continued largely unhindered, interspersed among a slowly growing number of SSB signals.

By week's end, the FCC had not acted on the League's Petition for Partial Reconsideration in the proceeding, filed December 11, so the changes went into effect as scheduled. The ARRL had called on the Commission to postpone the allocation change for 3600 to 3635 kHz while considering a request to maintain the status quo in that small segment. In its petition, the League emphasized that it was not seeking reconsideration of the entire 75-meter phone band expansion.

"Rather, we ask only that the Commission restore the privileges unintentionally withdrawn from those who operate and who utilize automatically controlled narrowband digital stations between 3620 and 3635 kHz," the League said. The ARRL pointed out that while the R&O left unchanged rules permitting automatically controlled narrowband digital in that segment, it eliminated RTTY and data as permitted emissions above 3600 kHz.

The League wants the Commission to make a "simple and equitable fix" by moving the dividing line between the narrowband and wideband segments of 80/75 meters to 3635 kHz. This would keep 3600 to 3635 kHz available to General and higher licensees for RTTY, data and CW and open to Novice and Tech Plus licensees for CW. It also would maintain access to the automatically controlled digital subband, 3620-3635 kHz.

"This is neither a minor matter nor an academic exercise in future band planning," the ARRL concluded. "It is an urgent problem which, unless corrected, affects a substantial number of existing Amateur Radio fixed facilities and an even more substantial number of mobile facilities."

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports indicated that some stations -- perhaps out of confusion regarding the effective time or a lack of concern -- fired up on the new phone segments well in advance of the effective time. Judging from those heard in the eastern US, everyone was enjoying -- and even wisecracking about -- the additional elbow room.

"It's just like up the band," quipped one operator attempting a QSO in the newly expanded 40-meter phone band. Retorted another operator: "It's no good down here. It's too crowded!"

The Amateur Radio frequency allocation charthttp://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/bands.html and the ARRL Band Plans http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/bandplan.html on the ARRL Web site have been updated to reflect the band changes. Revised FCC Part 97 Amateur Service rules reflecting all changes detailed in the FCC Report and Order in WT Docket 04-140, also are available http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/news/part97/ .

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Fire swept the plains and burned down the farmer's barn. While he surveyed the wreckage, his wife called their insurance company and asked them to send a check for $75,000, the amount of insurance on the barn. "We don't give you the money," a company official explained. "We replace the barn and all the equipment in it."

"In that case," replied the wife, "cancel the policy I have on my husband."

-- from A Joke a Day via Internet

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on November 21:


Net control station reporting for the month was WC7I. 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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How Cold Is It ?

An annotated thermometer as amended for amateur radio by KL7J.

50  - Miami rotators need heat applied

40  - Californians' guywires shiver uncontrollably

    - Wisconsinites go on field day

35  - Italian coax breaks

32  - Clean Water freezes

30  - You can see your breath freezing to the tower

    - You plan your DX vacation to Australia

    - Wisconsinites put on field day jackets

25  - Californians turn on car heater instead of radio

    - Wisconsinites think of antenna projects

    - Cat tries sleeping on your radio

20  - You can hear the antenna rotator groan

    - Miami residents plan DX vacation further South

    - Canadians enjoy outdoor operating field day

15  - You plan a DX vacation in Mexico sometime this winter

    - Cat insists sleeping on your radio

10  - California coax breaks

    - Minnesota hams finish up antenna work

    - Alaskans still building antennas before winter

5   - You turn on your amp to heat the shack

    - You look up to see why the antenna seems slow rotating

    - Ice detunes your yagi

0   - Mobile radio LCD will not work

    - Alaskans put on flannel shirts

    - Coax freezes to the side of the house

-15 - Alaskans build a field day igloo

    - North Dakota hams turn heat on in shack

    - Miami hams cease to exist

-20 - Cat moves to sleeping on the amp

    - Reading the technical manual becomes informative

    - Wisconsinites note mild antenna icing

-25 - Too cold to operate without feet on keyed amp

    - You need more than a new country to get DXers excited

    - You burn the old radio ads for heat

-30 - You scrape ice off the inside of the shack windows

    - You think of metal fatigue as the tower groans

    - You learn something new reading the small print in the manuals

-40 - Californian hams disappear

    - Wisconsinites note antenna rotators freezing

    - Canadians decide to stop antenna work

-50 - Congressional hot air about band reallocation freezes

    - Alaskans note the shack window has ice on the inside

    - Minnesota hams stay inside to read radio Magazines

-80 - Alaskan rotators freeze (-82 F recorded in Alaska!)

    - Alaskan coax breaks if moved

    - You ask your travel agent for a DX vacation in Bermuda

-- submitted by Ben Bennett N7IVM

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FCC corrects error in "Omnibus" Report And Order

The FCC has released an Erratum that corrects one error in the recent Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 04-140 -- the so-called "omnibus" Amateur Radio proceeding -- that inadvertently limited J2D emissions to an occupied bandwidth of 500 Hz. J2D emissions are data sent by modulating an SSB transmitter.

Had it been left to stand, the error would have rendered illegal below 30 MHz PACTOR III at full capability as well as Olivia and MT63 when operated at bandwidths greater than 500 Hz bandwidth, 1200 baud packet, Q15X25 and Clover 2000.

The FCC Erratum revises 97.3(c)(2) of the Amateur Service rules going into effect December 15 to read:

Data. Telemetry, telecommand and computer communications emissions having (i) designators with A, C, D, F, G, H, J or R as the first symbol, 1 as the second symbol, and D as the third symbol; (ii) emission J2D; and (iii) emissions A1C, F1C, F2C, J2C, and J3C having an occupied bandwidth of 500 Hz or less when transmitted on an amateur service frequency below 30 MHz. Only a digital code of a type specifically authorized in this part may be transmitted.

The Erratum is available on the FCC Web site, http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-268642A1.pdf

The FCC incorporated some unrelated editorial revisions in the version of the R&O that appeared November 15 in the Federal Register, http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20061800/edocket.access.gpo.gov /2006/pdf/E6-19189.pdf. The "omnibus" rule changes -- including those accounted for in the Federal Register and the Erratum -- take effect Friday, December 15, at 12:01 AM EST (0501 UTC).

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB028

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