ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  July 2004
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval Shack

Greetings from the Oval Shack in the Mythical Land of Yelm. Looking around here, seems I have added a few things in the past few weeks to supplement my HF CW station. I now have a small low powered VHF CW transceiver on 2 meters going to a 5/8 wavelength vertical on my roof. Can't hit the OARS repeaters yet, but at least I can call CQ. Now I'm looking for tropo/sporadic-e/meteor openings. Maybe some day. Might look into an Oscar QSO or two as well.

If this is July, we must have just had Field Day. Boy howdy, yowsuh! Wasn't that fun? Kudos to all who attended and/or operated, but especially to Lee Chambers, KI7SS, for organizing the entire Field Day event. The man even bought a motor home. That's dedication!

Murphy raised his ugly head slightly, but overall, Lee's effort resulted in an unqualified success. Also thanks to the organizations that provided the other motor homes. All three vans seemed to work well.

The CW operating position sure did work well once I figured out how to use the radio... Thank goodness they had the book! But with just a hundred watts into that beam, if I could hear 'em, I could work 'em. Most of our activity was on twenty meters, but fifteen was open during the day as well.

Our overall score for the entire operation was up a tad, I think. But I have to keep chanting my ARRL mantra: "Field Day is not a contest." "Field Day is not a contest." "Field Day is not a contest."

On a personal note, my XYL is having brain surgery to hopefully cure her epilepsy the middle of this month, so I'll be in Seattle during Lakefair, and probably during the OARS meeting as well. Please give our esteemed VP your attention during the 28th.

I was able to make it to most of the ARRL Northwestern SeaPac convention at Seaside, Oregon the weekend before Field Day. I saw several of you there, and you seemed to be enjoying it. I sure did. Got a couple more boat anchors, too. I seem to be going through that phase in my life... I still need to test the old circa-1970 Swan transceiver and Heath monitor I picked up there. Also got a soldering station to work on my Vectronics kits. Works like a dream.

That's all the news I can think of from Yelm in July. Hope everyone enjoyed Field Day as much as I. Wait till next year!


- Leroy, N7EIE

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Rally News

First, most may already know that Jerry Julian, KC7CZN, is now the official liaison between Thurston County ARES and the local Performance Rally group. (For those who don't remember, SCCA Performance Rally is composed of two categories: Pro Rally (the really hot national and international cars) and Club Rally (the more local and regional cars, formerly called Divisional Rally).

Also, Duane, KB7ROZ is applying his considerable computer skills to the task of making the whole rally schedule and ham assignment list available on the internet so that each person can download and print everything that he or she needs regarding their assignment.

On August 1st, there will be a Rally Cross in the Brooklyn, WA area. No hams needed, but anyone can enter without having specially-prepared cars and show their driving skills. More later on this event.

The next rally will be the Sou'wester and Simpson Stages, a Club Rally with perhaps 40 cars competing. This will occur on Sept. 11th and 12th in the area west of Shelton. We look forward to having all of our loyal rally-hams helping out with this one.

However, one note to be aware of: this rally will be held during a fire season. Simpson Timber Co. very kindly allows us to use their roads, but we have to be good forest stewards, too. Thus, it is quite possible that they may restrict the hours during which competition may not occur, and these times would be from 1 PM to 8 PM each day.

This leaves the rally organizers with two choices: one is to begin the rallies at 8 PM on both Friday and Saturday nights, probably ending at 4-5 AM. Not a great thought, although it has been done before. The other possibility is to begin the races at 6 AM on both Saturday and Sunday, ending all competition at 1 PM. A much better idea, but this means that many of us will have to report for duty at around 4 AM each day. It appears that the latter times will be the choice. Therefore, we will really appreciate your participation, especially when we will all have to arise at such ugly hours. William Donahoo (KD7RAW) will be calling soon to ask for your help, so please sign up! Thanks!. (And there will be a great awards banquet on Sunday evening!)

Also, the Rally Sprints and the Summer worker's appreciation BBQ will occur on August 7th and 8th. This is the fun event that formerly occurred at the ORV Park which is now closed. This year it will be on the property of long-time rallyists Ray and Janice Damitio, northwest of Montesano. They have 20 acres there; they have cleared a rally track almost a mile in length, and it is located on the banks of the beautiful Wynoochee River, with a big sandbar available for enjoyment. There is also plenty of space available for RVs or tent camping (Porta-potties will be available!).

The event will commence at about 11 AM each day with rally cars repeatedly driving the stages, and at about 4 PM, they will do fun runs where you can have the chance to ride in a real rally car and see what that feels like! Then, at about 6:30, there will be a BBQ and campfire with all of the usual goodies that show the rallyists' appreciation for the work that we do.

To get to the area, take Highway 12 west through Montesano, and just after crossing the Wynoochee River, turn right. Go about three miles to a "T", take a left and go about another three miles to a big black mailbox with a yellow ribbon on it (794 Geisler Road). If you go too far, the road ends -- turn around and come back.

See you there!

-- Paul, KC7LA

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Utility Cuts Short BPL Trial That Was Target of Amateur Complaints

Alliant Energy has called an early end to its broadband over power line (BPL) pilot project in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The "evaluation system" went live March 30, and plans called for keeping it active until August or September. Alliant shut it down June 25. Ongoing, unresolved HF interference from the system to retired engineer Jim Spencer, W0SR, and other amateurs prompted the ARRL to file a complaint to the FCC on Spencer's behalf demanding it be shut down and the utility fined.

Alliant Energy's BPL Project Leader Dan Hinz says the ARRL complaint "certainly was a factor" in the utility's decision to pull the plug prematurely but "not the overriding factor." The main reason, he said, was that Alliant accomplished most of its objectives ahead of schedule. The primary purpose of the Cedar Rapids evaluation was to gain an understanding of BPL technology and what issues might be involved in a real-world deployment, Hinz explained. But, he added, regulatory uncertainty and other unspecified technical issues also factored into the choice to end the pilot early.

Hinz said Alliant is "moshing the data" to compile a written evaluation of the Cedar Rapids pilot, but the company has no plans at this point to move forward with BPL. Alliant did not partner with a broadband services provider, and it has no other BPL test systems in operation. The system used Amperion BPL equipment.

According to Spencer, five fixed Amateur Radio stations within proximity of the BPL evaluation system and two mobile stations formally reported BPL interference on HF. "The radio amateurs and Alliant Energy cooperated by sharing interference information," he said. "Alliant Energy turned the BPL evaluation system off twice to allow collection of extensive BPL frequency and signal level data -- with and without BPL." He said Alliant and Amperion tried various "notching" schemes to rid amateur frequencies of the BPL interference with only limited success.

The system included both overhead and underground BPL links to feed 2.4 GHz wireless "hot spots" for end user access. Hinz said the area's topography presented some challenges, especially with the wireless links. "I think in the end, we actually over-challenged ourselves with this specific pilot location," he said. And, despite "substantial progress" in mitigating interference, Alliant decided at this point that "it wasn't worth the extra effort" to resolve the thornier technical issues, Hinz added.

As for any broader implications, Hinz says he's always viewed BPL as a "strategic deployment technology," not one a company could roll out just anywhere and expect to be competitive with existing broadband services such as cable and DSL. "At least that's how we were looking at it," he said. "You have to find the right areas with the right topography with the right concentration of certain types of customers," he said.

"It's never been in my mind that BPL has to compete with the speeds of cable today," Hinz added. "It has to compete with the speeds of cable and the next best thing tomorrow as well, if it's going to be usable well into the future." He hinted that Alliant might want to take another look at BPL once the FCC has put BPL rules and regulations into place, and the technology has further evolved.

The ARRL's formal complaint to FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief David H. Solomon called on the Commission not only to close down Alliant's BPL field trial system but to fine the utility $10,000 for violating the Communications Act of 1934 and FCC Part 15 rules. Commenting on the termination of the Cedar Rapids BPL trial, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, pointed out that Alliant had tried for more than 12 weeks to fix the interference problem to a station 600 feet from its installation.

"In the end," Sumner said, "the interference was not eliminated except by shutting down the BPL system. Could the case against BPL deployment be any clearer?"

Spencer said he was happy with Alliant's decision, and he was gracious in expressing appreciation to the utility for working with him. "And thanks also to the ARRL and the Cedar Rapids BPL Steering Committee for their knowledge and efforts in making a truly professional evaluation," he added. Still outstanding are some chronic power line noise problems Spencer has experienced.

For additional information, visit the "Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) and Amateur Radio" page on the ARRL Web site http://www.arrl.org/bpl.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Treasurer's Report

As of 6/30/04

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance   $590.78

            Income           80.11

            Expenses        187.72

    Ending balance          483.17

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance  $ 976.76

            Income            1.85

            Expenses          0.00

        Ending balance      978.61

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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New Books

Here are a few titles for your summer reading list:

-- from David ZL3AI, via packet

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Music Appreciation

Little Harold was practicing the violin in the living room while his father was trying to read in the den. The family dog was lying in the den, and as the screeching sounds of little Harold's violin reached his ears, he began to howl loudly.

The father listened to the dog and the violin as long as he could. Then he jumped up, slammed his paper to the floor , and yelled above the noise, "For Pete's sake, can't you play something the dog doesn't know?"

-- from KD4GCA, via packet

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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 June 1, 8, or 22:


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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FCC Proposes $10,000 Fine for California Ex-ham

A new chapter has begun in the West Coast chronicle of Jack Gerritsen. The FCC now wants to fine Gerritsen $10,000 for violating the Communications Act because he doesn't have an Amateur Radio license yet continues to operate, despite an FCC notice that he no longer has authority to transmit and numerous complaints from Los Angeles-area amateurs. The Bell, California, man -- who was very briefly KG6IRO in 2001 -- contends the FCC acted improperly in setting aside his Technician license. He claims he still holds a valid ham ticket until the Commission affords him a hearing to decide its fate. The FCC says otherwise.

"Gerritsen's positing of arguments challenging the set-aside of his Amateur license does not give him any right to operate a radio station without a license issued by the Commission," the FCC said. It issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) June 15.

On its own motion, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) set aside its November 7, 2001, license grant to Gerritsen a week after issuing it. Citing 1.113(a) of its rules, the FCC based its action on complaints about the operation of Gerritsen's station. It also said Gerritsen's 2000 conviction for interfering with police communications raised questions about his qualifications to be a Commission licensee. His Amateur Radio license application remains in pending status.

FCC Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth, who wrote Gerritsen last November to tell him he no longer had authority to operate a radio transmitter, says the agency has quite often used 1.113 "to correct errors." The rule states: "Within 30 days after public notice has been given of any action taken pursuant to delegated authority, the person, panel, or board taking the action may modify or set it aside on its own motion."

Gerritsen cites a different section of the FCC's rules to claim it cannot take away his operating authority without first granting him a hearing. He continues to use KG6IRO, although the call sign appears in the FCC's Universal Licensing System as "terminated."

Gerritsen's history of radio-related problems extends back to 1999, when he was arrested and subsequently convicted in state court of interfering with police radio communications. Complaints about Gerritsen to the FCC resumed in 2003 after his release from jail after allegedly violating his parole by owning and operating radio transmitting equipment. Agents from the FCC's Los Angeles Office tracked 2-meter transmissions to Gerritsen's home and observed him holding a small portable radio transceiver. Gerritsen refused a request to inspect his radio equipment, the FCC said.

In the NAL, the FCC said it continues to receive complaints of unauthorized operation of KG6IRO. Unconfirmed accounts allege that Gerritsen also may have transmitted on various public safety frequencies, although the NAL does not cite such allegations.

Earlier this year, Gerritsen landed back behind bars for a month following a federal trespassing conviction. He received the maximum 30-day penalty plus a $2500 fine and court costs. It's not known if Gerritsen paid the forfeiture. Imposing a fine on Gerritsen is the next step in a case that eventually could lead to criminal prosecution. Amateurs and law officers -- some of them also amateur licensees -- already have expressed displeasure at the slow pace of progress in the Gerritsen case.

Hollingsworth says Gerritsen's pending Amateur Radio application is back in the hands of the WTB, which also will decide the fate of Gerritsen's General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) license. The Commission set aside that license last fall, basing its action on what it described as "continuing unlicensed operation and complaints of deliberate interference from transmitters you operate." A Hearing Designation Order for Gerritsen is still said to be slowly working its way through the FCC bureaucracy.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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At the Nursing Home

A little old lady was running up and down the halls in a nursing home. As she walked, she would flip up the hem of her nightgown and say "Supersex."

She walked up to an elderly man in a wheelchair. Flipping her gown at him, she said, "Supersex." He sat silently for a moment or two and finally answered, "I'll take the soup."

-- from Joke of the Day, via Internet

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Military Wisdom

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Radio Museum Flea Market

Greetings from the American Museum of Radio and Electricity. We are having a flea market July 17 and 18 as a fund raiser and are trying to get the word out to local radio clubs.

Radio Equipment Flea Market

July 17 & 18, 10 am - 4 pm

1312 Bay Street, Bellingham, WA 98225


Find treasures from 30 years of collecting: parts, vacuum tubes, radios, gizmos, devices and some very fine old pieces. New items added Sunday.

-- Carroll Ballard

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What Do Kids Think About God?

These questions were reportedly asked by elementary children and appeared in a newspaper article:

-- from Joke of the Day via Internet

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