Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  February 2006
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

K6EKB to Iraq

Ed Braaten, K6EKB, has been activated by the military and is being sent into Iraq. Ed is a member of ARES/RACES. At the last OARS meeting he was nominated and voted in as a full member of OARS.

Regardless of your position on the Iraq situation, Ed is our man in Iraq. He deserves all the support we can provide him. To that end we want to send him some CARE packages. These will be items that in a sense bring aid and comfort to the troops. The recipient will usually utilize the items he/she wants and then gives the balance to the chaplain who will distribute the rest to those members who need things. Some of the troops there do not have much contact with people back here and really appreciate these things. Here is a list of items that we can send to him:

Travel size: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, eye wash, shampoo, mouth wash, hand sanitizer, etc.

Playing cards, crossword puzzle books, word search books, etc.

Hard candies, granola bars, chewing gum, individual sized cans of Pringles etc.


We will collect donations at the monthly OARS meeting and then make arrangements to ship them to Iraq.

KB7DFL will be running point on this activity. If you should have any questions regarding this, please contact me.

- 73 Dan KB7DFL

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Joel Harrison, W5ZN, elected ARRL'S 14th president

ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, of Judsonia, Arkansas, will be the League's president for the next two years. He'll succeed Jim Haynie, W5JBP, who chose not to run for a fourth term in the uncompensated, volunteer post. Gathering in Windsor, Connecticut, for its annual meeting, the Board voted 10 to 5 to choose Harrison over ARRL Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG, the only other nominee. Harrison, 47, said he believes Amateur Radio is looking at a different society -- and pool of potential licensees -- in the 21st century than in the past.

"One of the things we need to do over the next few years is realize that Main Street USA is not the Main Street USA it was years ago," Harrison commented after the vote. "We all remember those days when we became interested in radio and the magic that it provided to us. The magic is still there, but Main Street has changed."

Harrison says this means that the League needs to focus on doing a better job of attracting the average person on the new Main Street of today "into the magic of Amateur Radio."

First licensed in 1972 as WN5IGF, Harrison says he's interested in virtually all aspects of Amateur Radio, from HF DXing and contesting to VHF/UHF/microwave and moonbounce. He's an ARRL Life Member. His wife, daughter and son all are Amateur Radio licensees. He'll become the League's 14th president since its founding in 1914.

Harrison said the ARRL's initiative to create an improved entry-level license also will be among his top priorities as he assumes office.

"It is imperative for the Amateur Radio Service that we have an entry-level license that provides a wide variety of privileges for an individual to get into radio and learn a little bit about all of it," Harrison said, adding that the League believes this approach will keep new licensees interested in ham radio.

Harrison also says he will promote the League's Petition for Rule Making (RM-11306) to have the FCC regulate Amateur Radio allocations by bandwidth. "Right now we do that by mode, and we're one of the few countries in the world that does that," he pointed out. "We need to change that and move forward with this initiative of regulation by bandwidth instead of mode."

Harrison said he will continue and build upon the League's emphasis on Amateur Radio's emergency communication role -- especially in improving its response to catastrophic disasters like Hurricane Katrina -- and on Haynie's "The Big Project" initiative to get ham radio into schools, known formally as the ARRL Education and Technology Program (ETP).

"Whether or not it generates a large number of radio amateurs, it provides an introduction to Amateur Radio to kids," Harrison said of the ETP. "Having that awareness of Amateur Radio and what it provides is vital," because it imparts a broad-based knowledge of the service to tomorrow's citizens and policymakers.

The ARRL Board also elected Vice President Kay Craigie, N3KN, as First Vice President, succeeding Harrison, and Delta Division Director Rick Roderick, K5UR, to Vice President, succeeding Craigie. Both were unopposed.

ARRL Delta Division Vice Director Henry Leggette, WD4Q, will become Division Director. A new Delta Division Vice Director will be appointed.

The Board of Directors annual meeting is expected to conclude January 21. The Board will meet again in July.

-- from ARRL Bulletin ARLB002

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If you haven't already paid your dues for 2006, now would be a good time to mail your check to Ed Fitzgerald at the OARS PO box address.

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Treasurer's Report

As of 1/31/06

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $1,855.07

            Income              325.43

            Expenses              0.00

        Ending balance        2,180.50

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance      $ 990.62

            Income                0.00

            Expenses              0.00

        Ending balance          990.62

-- 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 on the dates of January 3, 17, and 24:


Net control stations reporting for the month were 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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New Puppy

I pulled into a crowded parking lot at the shopping center and rolled down the car windows to make sure my Labrador Retriever pup had fresh air. She was stretched full-out on the back seat and I wanted to impress upon her that she must remain there.

I walked to the curb backward, pointing my finger at the car and saying emphatically, "Now you stay. Do you hear me?" "Stay! Stay!"

The lady in a nearby car gave me a strange look and said, "Why don't you just put it in park?"

-- from The Joke of the Day, via internet

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Ham Radio Operators "True Heroes," Rep Mike Ross, WD5DVR, Says in "Salute"

US Rep Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), this week offered "A Salute to Ham Radio Operators" on the floor of the US House. Ross, one of two Amateur Radio licensees in the House of Representatives (the other is Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI, R-OR), addressed his colleagues February 8 to recognize the contributions of the Amateur Radio community in the wake of last year's devastating hurricane season.

"Citizens throughout America dedicated to this hobby -- a hobby that some people consider old fashioned or obsolete -- were true heroes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as they were often the only line of communication available into the storm ravaged areas," Ross said.

He noted that while ham radio is often overlooked "in favor of flashier means of communication," Gulf Coast communities learned after the 2005 hurricanes that technology can be "highly vulnerable" to storm damage. "Ham radios, entirely self-contained transmitters, require no cell towers or satellites, simply a battery and a strip of wire as an antenna," Ross explained.

Because of the "critical intervention" of radio amateurs across the US, Ross said, many lives were saved following Hurricane Katrina.

"The dedication displayed by ham radio operators in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina sets a tremendous example for us all," Ross concluded, noting that "now more than ever" he's proud to be an Amateur Radio operator.

"The people whose lives were rescued as a result of the tireless dedication of ham radio operators will forever be grateful to these selfless public servants."

-- from the ARRL Letter

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As this is written, OARS is looking for another place to have their monthly meetings.

I think that's great. Jake Evans started getting a free room for OARS back in 1995, and after 11 years, it is time to move on.

Prior to 1995, OARS moved out of the Olympia Center due to a massive increase in room rent. For a awhile, they were at Red Cross, until it wanted money also for room rent, so OARS moved to the courthouse.

Kip, K7KIP's chambers are nice, but the benches do get a little hard to sit on for any length of time. It is election year, and rooms are not readily available for non-county agencies after normal working hours.

During a net recently, several suggestions came up at county locations, primarily fire stations. Seems the free OSAR Team building is too far to drive according to some.

My thoughts are this, maybe the city the club is named for would give up a Council Chamber for meetings -- what a concept!

The city opens its doors to the homeless as a shelter, union meetings and such. So, why not to the people who are community services minded, and who want to help the city in times of need?

A word of warning, this is the same city that wanted to charge you $10,000 a year for rent on your water tower site repeater until Larry/KC7CJO and the county got involved.

So, if you want to say "OLYMPIA" in your club name, get on the stick and ask around other than your elected officials for a place to have free meetings, say the library, the Port, (oh, they are a county organization also). How about a state office?

There has to be someone willing in this liberal city to support this club with a free room, don't you think? Just ask them what they want to be like after a disaster, Baton Rouge or NYC?

Good Luck!

-- Tom Dennis, KA4VVA

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Science Through the Eyes of Students

It's little consolation to those of us who bemoan the fate of the English language at the hands of our students, but they apparently do no better in coping with the sciences, as evidenced by these statements, reported verbatim by their instructors:

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Another ARRL Board Committee

One of the items the ARRL's HSMM Working Group has been trying to get some traction on is a NPRM to legalize the use of encryption on Amateur Radio Service frequencies above 50 MHz, particularly on those frequencies where there is a significant population of Part 15 operators. The latter includes the 902-928 MHz allocation, 2400-2450 MHz and the 5.8 GHz band. These bands have seen tremendous growth amongst Part 15 users, particularly those engaged in 802.11 digital operations.

Here is why this is important to Amateur Radio and to the delivery of emergency and disaster response communications support. Most government agencies, including FEMA and DHS, are placing a greater emphasis on "secure communications."

Further, the proliferation of "Privacy Policies" amongst a number of served agencies restricts the information that can be conveyed over Amateur Radio circuits. This limits our effectiveness and ability to deliver.

A good example of this is the American Red Cross' Privacy Policy and its impact on the kinds of information that can be sent over Amateur Radio circuits during sheltering operations. Then, too, is the impact from a host of new laws, including HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, that prescribe very tight limits on information release.

But the need for secure communications is only one reason behind this initiative. There is a need to modernize FCC regulation governing Amateur Radio operations on bands where we SHARE the spectrum with other users, particularly Part 15 operators. We are under an OBLIGATION to secure any station running under Part 97 rules from those who are not licensed in the Amateur Radio Service (97.313(e) ). In the world above 900 MHz, that is currently a virtual impossibility when attempting to operate in any of the IEEE 802.11 digital modes.

The FCC's actions to open our allocations to unlicensed operators has inundated the bands mentioned above with millions of unlicensed Wireless Access Points and users. Without the use of encryption and other security techniques, it is a certainty your Part 97 station will be accessed!

Despite what you might have read, the FCC does have the authority to permit the use of encryption for domestic transmissions. The international treaty provision that prohibits the use of ciphers and codes applies to international transmissions only. That provision was put into the treaty to thwart any effort Hams in Europe might attempt to circumvent government owned telecommunications monopolies there.

In the aftermath of last year's hurricanes, government agencies have been talking with Part 15 operators about organizing "secure communications teams" to assist with future disasters. This strikes me as wholly absurd given the presence of a licensed pool of operators who have been providing disaster response communications support for decades. The inequity in regulations (Part 15 can use encryption, Part 97 cannot) is the only thing standing in the way.

Your support for the HSMM's efforts will be most appreciated. Contact your ARRL Director and let him know the playing field needs to be leveled and ask for his support for this important NPRM.

-- de Paul, NA4AR, Former SEC - NNJ & WCF

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Shutdown "Imperative" in Face of Still-unresolved BPL Interference, ARRL Says

After the operator of the Manassas, Virginia, BPL system failed to meet its own commitment to resolve complaints of interference to local radio amateurs, the ARRL again demanded the system's immediate shutdown. Writing on the League's behalf, ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, told the FCC January 17 that Communications Technologies (COMTek), which operates the BPL system over the municipally owned electric power grid using Main.net equipment on frequencies between 4 MHz and 30 MHz, "has been given every opportunity" over the past 18 months to resolve interference complaints.

COMTek "is now apparently unwilling to voluntarily comply with its regulatory obligation to shut the system down," Imlay said, following a meeting January 17 between company officials and local radio amateurs. An ARRL representative also attended. Imlay said the meeting's outcome dictates "the urgency of the Commission's obligation to finally take action to stop the unlawful operation of the Manassas BPL system."

The League asserts that COMTek did not want to start the meeting with a local newspaper reporter present. Imlay said the company's "bizarre action" indicated that COMTek "was unwilling to subject itself to public scrutiny."

COMTek Vice President Walter Adams acknowledged at this week's meeting that its BPL system was causing harmful interference on Amateur Radio frequencies, despite its pledge to permanently notch ham bands by January 15, the League said. Even so, Adams "specifically declined to take any further steps to mitigate the interference," Imlay continued, calling COMTek's stance "totally unacceptable to the aggrieved licensees in Manassas."

In its letter, the League said it doesn't question COMTek's desire to eliminate the harmful interference. "However, the inescapable fact is that the Main.net hardware now in use in the city's BPL system is, and has been proven, incapable of being configured so as to function as intended without causing harmful interference to radio communication."

The League addressed its latest correspondence in the Manassas situation to FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Joseph Casey and to Katherine Power, an attorney in the division. Copies went to local radio amateurs George Tarnovsky, K4GVT, Donald Blasdell, W4HJL, and William South, N3OH, as well as to Manassas Journal newspaper reporter Jaclyn Pitts, COMTek and its attorneys, and the City of Manassas.

"Because COMTek has declined to do so voluntarily, it is imperative that the FCC order the system immediately to cease operation, in accordance with º15.5(c) of the Commission's rules," Imlay's letter concluded, "and that operation not resume unless and until new hardware is installed that is capable of operating without causing harmful interference."

Less than a month ago, the League called on the FCC to shut down the Manassas BPL system in another strongly worded letter. That communication was in response to a November 30 letter from Casey, who'd suggested further cooperation between the complaining radio amateurs and the city-owned BPL system.

"These meetings have not produced any solution to the interference problem but have, instead, created the illusion that the problem is being addressed," Imlay charged in his reply. Ham radio complaints of interference from the BPL system date back to early 2004.

A petition the League filed earlier last fall seeks to have the FCC modify the Part 15 BPL rules it adopted in 2004 to embrace more mature BPL technology with substantially less potential to interfere. Among BPL systems more likely to be involved in stubborn interference cases, the ARRL said, are those using DS2 or Main.net technology that lack fixed, permanent notches in the ham bands. Utilization of such BPL technology, the League maintains, has resulted in "substantial, extremely difficult-to-resolve incidents of interference" from BPL pilot programs and deployments to Amateur Radio.

A copy of the League's January 17 letter is on the ARRL Web site http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/filings/Manassas-Complaint-Final-January-2006.pdf

-- from the ARRL Bulletin

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