Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  January 2004
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackFirst Musings...

As I enter this esteemed office of the presidency of OARS, I am struck by the calls on the walls of past presidents of OARS. Perhaps we can discover more about OARS in 2004 and the future from those who have served here in the past.

All the way on the left, we have Fred Layton WB7COH, the first OARS president when it was founded in 1977. Some of these placards on the wall are not familiar -- some are: N7RV, WB7URK, WA7RDJ (1981 and 1987), KD7N. Ah, here's a name I recognize, if not the call: Lee Chambers WB7UEU in 1983, 1993, and 1994. WB7EJO, W6TLX, KA7NRA, N7HOE, NV7J. Steve Ward WC7I (1990) -- I know him! -- N7DHE. And our esteemed newsletter editor George Lanning KB6LE in 1992.

I recognize a lot of these calls now. K7JQR. Larry Watkinson, our present Member-at-Large was president in 1996, 1997, and 2000. Jeff Withers W3GE 1998. Dan Casler KD7N 1999. Our ex-Thurston County EC Dan Crane KD7DFL 2001. And the guy I just relieved, Ken Dahl K7TAG in 2002 and 2003.

Whew. Some pretty momentous calls in the annals of Amateur Radio in Western Washington. Every one of them has served you and OARS to the best of their abilities during their terms of office since OARS' inception in 1977. Every one of them has served as a part of OARS history in that time, and OARS is the Amateur Radio Society it is today in a large part due to their efforts over the past twenty seven years. The thanks of all of us go out to every one of them. Good job, folks. I have joined a very prestigious list.

In that spirit, in order to honor those that have served OARS in the past, let us move on to this year, and into the future! In 2004 I would like to see the members of OARS:

1. Pay your dues. We ain't a club without you. And once you do grace us with your presence this year, think about your friends who don't happen to be OARS members, new hams you have met, new members to other ham radio groups you frequent, and talk up OARS to them. New members are the lifeblood of this Amateur Radio Society for the future. We will be having fun with new members for decades to come.

2. Operate your radio. Check in to our nets, talk on our repeaters, and participate in activities when you can. And don't forget our new slow-speed CW net every Tuesday on 3.68 MHZ at 2000 local. Introduce someone to a CW net, they might like it.

3. Try a contest: As a rank amateur contester, I have really enjoyed operating in 19 different contests in the past ten months, and have only used 50 watts on HF into three (low) dipoles in my back yard. Those contests have been a LOT of fun, and facilitated the addition of hundreds of QSLs to my new collection. As a member of the ARRL, OARS can participate in the following ARRL-affiliated club competitions in 2004: the January VHF sweepstakes that is coming up January 17-19, the ARRL International DX Contests (CW FEB 21-22, Phone MAR 6-7), November Sweepstakes, December 160 meter contest and 10 meter contest. I would like to see actual OARS club activity on at least some of those contests. Any contesters out there? Let me know; we will organize something.

4. Serve the public. That's what we do, folks. This club has been an ARRL Special Service Club for many years. This is one of the most active Amateur Radio Societies I have ever seen. Between the road rallies, parades, ARES activities/call-outs, the Capital City Marathon, Field Day, and the literally dozens of other things we do throughout the year, there is hardly a month that goes by that there isn't something going on, and sometimes more than one activity is scheduled. Please help. You know you love it! Helping the public is a lot of fun.

What is the future of Amateur Radio? What will Amateur Radio be like in the year 2010? How about the year 2050? 2100? Think about it. Get back to me.

One not-so-little blip on the horizon of all services that use HF is BPL. The misuse of this technology has the potential to cripple HF and VHF communications throughout the world. Also, as you know, if there are countries that allow BPL on their power line antennas, that interference will carry very well to this country when the skip is in -- that possibility disturbs me.

Will CW go away? I doubt it. It is such an ingrained part of Amateur Radio all over the world that it will probably not die in my lifetime. Will the FCC pull the requirement of the 5 WPM code test from US Amateur Radio licenses? Probably.

Lastly, how will computers tie in to the operation of Amateur radios in the future? Good question. The sky's the limit, folks. You make the future.

Thank you for electing me as president of OARS. I will do the best I can with what I got. All our officers and committee members will endeavor to support you, the OARS member, with whatever you want to do in Amateur Radio in 2004. Let's make it fun.


-- Leroy Smith, N7EIE

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Austrian Authorities Pull Plug on BPL Pilot Project

The Austrian Amateur Transmitter Federation (OVSV -- Osterreichischer Versuchssenderverband) http://www.oevsv.at/index.shtml reports that a Broadband over Power Line (BPL) field test in the city of Linz has been cut short as a result of excessive radio interference. OVSV, Austria's International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) http://www.iaru.org member-society, said in December that the Government Ministry for Commerce, Innovation and Technology closed down Linz Power Company's BPL pilot project because it was generating interference on the HF bands. Shortwave broadcaster Radio Austria's future Zone service http://futurezone.orf.at says the case that brought the issue to a head was a Red Cross report that emergency services radio traffic during a disaster response drill last May was the victim of massive BPL interference.

"The Commerce Ministry order not only means the end of the Linz BPL pilot project," the Radio Austria report said, "but the end of the deployment of this technology in Austria, especially given the interference to radio communication in places of business." According to the broadcaster, measurements were said to have indicated that radiation from the BPL system exceeded permissible field strength levels by a factor of 10,000.

OVSV says radio amateurs in Austria have opposed deployment of all BPL experiments as neither legal nor compatible with "vital, worldwide shortwave radiocommunication." Among other problems with BPL, OVSV has cited its potential to disrupt emergency communications and safety-of-life services as well as military operations on HF and navigation and aeronautical communication.

Last fall, OVSV representatives and Linz amateurs got together with power company representatives in an effort to resolve BPL's incompatibility with HF radio operation. The meetings followed news reports of interference to emergency service communications and QRM complaints from several area hams. "Because of the racket, expensive installations, such as a 20-meter monobander on a high-rise building, become totally worthless," OVSV said.

The utility agreed to look into the possibility of a 100-meter protective zone around each amateur's location, notch filters for amateur frequencies, network system filters and the use of 5 GHz wireless local area networks.

-- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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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 December 2003:


The net meets at 7:30 every Tuesday evening on the 147.36 MHz OARS repeater. All Hams are invited to check in.

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Treasurer's Report

As of 12/31/03

GENERAL FUND (checking account)

    Previous balance   $ 798.56

        Income             0.00

        Expenses           0.00

    Ending balance       798.56

REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

    Previous balance   $ 972.10

        Income             2.48

        Expenses           0.00

    Ending balance       974.58

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Emergency Communications

A man spoke frantically into the phone: "My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!"

"Is this her first child?" the emergency operator asked.

"No, you idiot!" the man shouted, "This is her husband!"

-- from W1GMF via packet

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What If The Peanuts Gang Grew Up?

Most cartoon characters remain frozen in time. Though they've been around almost 50 years, the members of the Peanuts gang are in some unspecified elementary school holding pattern. But what if they had been allowed to age like the rest of us?

Charlie Brown

Operates Good Grief Counseling Inc., which specializes in manic depressives and people who are just having a bad day. Moonlights as a pitching coach at high school and college levels. Married to Marcie. They have a roundheaded son who wears glasses.


Developer of Security Blanket Software, which is a hot item on the New York Stock Exchange. Worth millions, but is actively involved in charitable causes, including the Great Pumpkin 5K Fun Run every Halloween. Only man who makes Bill Gates nervous.


Serving her seventh term in Congress. On her third husband. Claims she hasn't thought about Schroeder in years, but the background music on her answering machine is Beethoven.


After years on the classical performing circuit, he runs a piano bar in Carmel, Calif. Won't let anybody lean on his piano.


Never quite got over being spurned by Linus. Has a cat named Sweet Baboo. Sells Mary Kay.

Peppermint Patty

Women's athletic director at a Midwest university. Her fashion credo "Sandals go with everything."


In dog years, he'd be 350. What do you think would've happened to him? Linus created an endowment at Daisy Hill Puppy farm in Snoopy's memory.

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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New General Class Question Pool Released

The Question Pool Committee (QPC) of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators has released a revised and expanded Amateur Radio General class (Element 3) question pool into the public domain. The new question pool becomes effective July 1, 2004, and must be used to generate all General written examinations administered on or after that date.

"The pool has been expanded to 432 questions," said ARRL VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, a member of the Question Pool Committee, who notes that all sub-elements grew slightly. "The largest increase in questions this time around was in our Operating Procedures and Amateur Radio Practices sub elements," he said. The General class question pool does not contain any diagrams or symbols.

The new Element 3 question pool is available on the ARRL Amateur Exam Question Pools Web page at http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/pools.html in Adobe PDF and ASCII text format. It includes all questions and answers relating to Element 3.

The Question Pool Committee now is turning its attention to developing an outline for an updated Amateur Extra class (Element 4) question pool, which will be revised over the next 24 months, Jahnke said. It will go into effect July 1, 2006. The deadline to submit input to the Amateur Extra question pool syllabus is May 1, 2004.

Commenters may address specific Element 3 questions as well as inputs to the Element 3 syllabus and question pool to the Question Pool Committee via e-mail at, qpc@arrl.org.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB069

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Little known fact about Thomas A. Edison

Not many people know that Edison was an avid fisherman. He usually included some trout fishing in his infrequent vacations.

During one such trip to the west he was befriended by an Indian tribe. They provided free room and board, as well as expert fishing guides for his stay. On his first night he discovered that the only sanitary facility was an old-fashioned outhouse. To make things worse it had no light even though the village had electricity in the homes.

As a thank-you gift for their kindnesses, Edison purchased the necessary materials and personally installed lighting in the Indians' privy. He thus became the first person to wire a head for a reservation.

-- from "Joke of the Day" on Internet

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CW Testing Issue

From Greg Milnes W7OZ, ARRL Northwestern Division Director

I have attended two meetings recently: the Volunteer Resources Committee and the ARRL Executive Committee. Both were held in the Dallas - Ft. Worth area. We discussed a good many things, but top of the list was the CW question. Let me put forth some of my thinking.

There has been confusion concerning the code / no-code issue facing Amateur Radio. Last summer the IRU in effect changed the world requirement for licensing amateur operators. Previously one could only be licensed to operate in the HF spectrum (below 30 MHz) by demonstrating a knowledge of Morse code. That is not necessarily true in some places in the world now.

In the U.S., for HF operation, the F.C.C. requires that we be tested for Morse at 5 words per minute. Until a few years ago we had to know CW at 20 w.p.m. for an Amateur Extra license, 13 w.p.m. for Advanced and General licenses and 5 w.p.m. for Novice and Tech Plus. There was no CW testing requirement for what came to be known as no code Tech (no authority to operate on HF however). For testing at 13 and 20 w.p.m. there was a program allowing for a physician's waiver of the Morse test.

In 1999 the FCC changed the Amateur licensing structure to eliminate future grants for Novice, Advanced and Tech Plus licenses. These licensees, however, were allowed to continue to operate and to renew their licenses as before. Don't ask me to explain Tech Plus licenses. They were no longer to be issued but they still kept certain HF CW privileges. The FCC said they would not list "no code" Techs in their database, apart from Tech Plus. Let's just not go into the logic of this.

Except for those frozen licenses, there were to be just three classes of Amateur licenses granted in the future: Amateur Extra, General, and Technician. The first two require a 5 w.p.m. CW test and the latter is a no code entry license (with no HF authority).

Why, you ask, did the FCC retract from the 20 and 13 w.p.m. tests and simply require 5 w.p.m. knowledge? As I understand it, the FCC didn't want to deal with the somewhat controversial physician waiver situation. In my opinion that is why there will be no chance to return to 13 and 20 w.p.m. nor any other suggested speed above 5 w.p.m. even if we wanted to do so. For some reason, waivers have never been allowed for tests of 5 w.p.m.

In fact, the question now before us is whether there will continue to be ANY CW testing requirement for any class license. As I mentioned above, there is no longer an international requirement for Morse code testing. Now, each administration (country) can decide for themselves whether to require Morse testing. A number of countries have been quick to erase code testing from their regulations. Previously most all U.S. government agencies, military and civilian dropped their requirements and use of Morse. Does this mean we Amateurs have to do likewise? It does not. The FCC will decide this, probably sometime in 2004.

There are many reasons to continue Morse testing for the Amateur Service. There is our tradition and history, the fact that it takes up less bandwidth, gets through in emergencies, helps ease language differences and demonstrates a commitment and dedication to the hobby/service. There are other reasons too numerous to list here that also argue for a continuation of Morse testing.

On the other hand there is much merit in the arguments of those who advance a position for elimination of Morse testing for HF operation. Some people have physical disabilities preventing them from passing a CW test. Others suggest there is no logic in requiring CW skill for those who will probably never use it. Why they ask, do we require CW talent to obtain HF phone privileges? Isn't CW just old fashioned? Whether real or perceived, why do we continue to set up barriers to those wanting to investigate Amateur Radio? There are many other arguments against the continuation of CW testing.

To make things more difficult, many hams advocate for a kind of middle ground: eliminate CW requirements from the General class but retain it for Amateur Extra only.

It is up the ARRL to make a recommendation to the FCC. We can advocate that CW testing be retained or eliminated or otherwise changed. What should we as Amateurs recommend to the FCC? Whatever we urge, the FCC will still have the final say and they will decide. But we as the ARRL should take a position and urge the FCC to adopt it. It is our responsibility.

Please let me know what you think I should do as your representative on the ARRL Board of Directors. I am one of fifteen Board members. I'm elected from and represent the Northwestern Division of the American Radio Relay League (Alaska, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Western Washington). Because there is no other large Amateur Radio organization, we essentially represent all U.S. Amateurs. We are the National Organization for Amateur Radio.

The ARRL will meet as a Board of Directors in mid-January 2004 and take up the CW question. I'll be there. We may also suggest other things that can impact the CW issue such as a modification of our licensing structure (maybe ask for a better entry level license). Even though I'll do my best to act in the best interest of Amateur Radio, I know many people will be disappointed, even angered by whatever our position turns out to be. I thank you for your opinions.

Again, please let me know your position on the CW testing issue.

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A fellow is getting ready to tee off on the first hole, when a second fellow approaches and asks if he can join him. The first says that he usually plays alone, but agrees to let the second guy join him.

Both are even after the first couple of holes. The second guy says, "Say, we're about evenly matched -- how about we play for five bucks a hole?"

The first fellow says that he usually plays alone and doesn't like to bet, but agrees to the terms. Well, the second guy wins the rest of the holes and as they're walking off of the eighteenth hole, and while counting his $80, he confesses that he's the pro at a neighboring course and likes to pick on suckers.

The first fellow reveals that he's the parish priest at the local Catholic church, to which the second fellow gets all flustered and apologetic, and offers to give the priest back his money. The priest says "No, no. You won fair and square, and I was foolish to bet with you. You keep your winnings."

The pro says, "Well, is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"

The priest says, "Well, you could come to Mass on Sunday and make a donation. Then, if you bring your mother and father by after Mass, I'll marry them for you."

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Interesting Signs Spotted

In a toilet of an office:

Toilet out of order, Please use floor below.

In a laundromat:

Automatic washing machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.

In a department store:

Bargain Basement Upstairs

In an office:

Will the person who took the stepladder yesterday please bring it back, or further steps will be taken.

In an office lunchroom:

After tea break staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.

Outside a secondhand shop:

We exchange anything -- bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?

In health food shop window:

Closed due to illness

In a safari park:

Elephants please stay in your car.

Seen during a conference:

For anyone who has children and doesn't know it, there is a day care on first floor.

Notice in a field:

The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.

Message on a leaflet:

If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons.

On a repair shop door:

We can repair anything. "Please knock hard on the door: the bell doesn't work.

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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