Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  July 2007
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval Shack

President's Message

I have had an absolute blast being involved in Ham radio. Looking back at the past year I have made so many friends. If we are not good friends yet we soon will be, I enjoy getting to know everyone. There are so many great people involved in this hobby. In many ways I feel like I have more family now.

Field Day was a blast and I can say will be so much better and bigger next year. One of my biggest regrets was not being able to make it out to support the ARES field day. One of the primary goals of this field day was making a public relations booth. There was a tremendous amount of support there! In following up with our contacts and new ham prospects one thing has become very clear to me. There are a lot of people who would like to do this hobby, but feel some what overwhelmed with the amount of information there is to know. "What is packet?" "How do I hook it up?" "APRS -- where do I plug in the gps?" "Can you get shocked?" "What if I goof up?"

From where I sit it is clear we need new members and need to grow. I would like to see more meetings like our Antenna class. Back to the basics. I would love to see the Elmer concept work more in our club. I am going to begin a recruiting campaign. You will see me in the mall, at fairs, etc. Who wants to come and join me? I know of 5 hams studying for their license from our Field Day effort. If you want to teach a class, call me, or better yet call Lee KI7SS. We also are going to get our tower trailer up to snuff this summer and hopefully make a second one for a 20 meter beam. This will be fun!

Last but not least, we are needed to assist in Lakefair. This is a great opportunity to serve and sharpen our skills.

Let's get involved and get out there and have some fun!

-- Bart Tirrell

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Section Staff Openings

This message is being sent on behalf of SM Elect Jim Pace, K7CEX.

October 1 will be here sooner than we think and I am in the process of not only training, but preparing the section staff personnel for what I hope will be a busy but exciting next two years.

Two of our most dedicated and dependable Hams, in Western Washington, have decided to retire from their section leadership positions. Mary and Harry Lewis have worked hard for many years and have been some of the most important "spark plugs" in our section's development and progress and they have set the bar pretty high; their retirement is well deserved.

The following positions will need to be filled by October 1, 2007:

Section Technical Coordinator

Section Affiliated Clubs Coordinator

Official Observer Coordinator

If you have any interest in any of the above positions, please contact me at the address, email or phone in the signature block of this message. Job Descriptions for these positions are available at www.arrl.org.

Ed Bruette has agreed to remain as Assistant Section Manager, which will be very helpful -- especially during the transition period. Lee Chambers (SGL), Ken Dahl (SEC), Bill Frazier (STM) and Bruce Miller (PIC) have all agreed to stay on in their current positions. Western Washington Section cannot be managed by any one individual; it takes a team. If you would like to be part of that team, let me know -- I'd love to talk with you.

73, and have a good rest of the summer

Jim Pace K7CEX

Asst. Section Manager, Western Washington Section

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Bad Words

It was the first day of school after summer vacation. The kids had all arrived in the high school sophomore English class, and were chatting away, making new friends. Then In walked a very stern looking English teacher and a hush fell over the room as the kids scurried to their seats.

The stern teacher silently panned his gaze across all the kids. After about a minute or so, he spoke: "From the outset, I want you all to know that there are two words that are absolutely unacceptable in this classroom. You cannot use them as you recite, or in any of your papers, tests, or homework. Using these words even once, will get you a failing grade for the quarter. The first one is 'gross' And the other one is 'cool' Are there any questions?"

After a few moments of silence, this gawky teen at the back of the room raises his hand, and the teacher calls upon him. In a pubescent croaking voice, the kid asks "So, what are they?"

-- from JokeADay via Internet

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Alternative to Very Low Ohm, High Wattage Resistors

Some time ago a 0.05 ohm current sensing resistor for the ammeter in one of my power supplies failed, and it seemed as if the availability of these devices, in small quantities, had vanished from the earth. Who wants 50 of these items?

As a temporary fix, I used a short length of 3/32 inch Silicon Bronze Brazing Rod. The brazing current range for this size rod is 40 -- 100 amps and the supply was rated for 16 amps continuous, 20 amps ICS.

The resistance of 12 inches of the rod is about 0.6 ohms, but by adjusting the resistor in series with the ammeter a piece about 6 inches long was tried and found to be acceptable.

The "temporary" fix has now been in service for about eleven years.

Note: The ammeter was saved by a protective diode I had added sometime previously.

-- Ben Bennett, N7IVM

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Kenwood Purported to Merge with JVC in 2008

A consumer electronic magazine, This Week in Consumer Electronics (TWICE), reports that Kenwood has agreed to merge in 2008 with Victor Company of Japan (JVC) under a holding company. JVC is owned by Matsushita Electric Industrial Company.

Japan's Nikkei business newspaper reports that the final details should be worked out by the end of the month, and that under the plan, Kenwood will buy 20 billion yen ($161,469,466) in JVC shares as early as this summer, raising its stake to 13 percent. Matsushita will also sell part of its 52.7 percent of JVC to Kenwood's top shareholder, the Sparx Group. When JVC and Kenwood integrate operations under the holding company in 2008, Matsushita will sell the rest of its JVC shares to the holding company to complete the transaction.

The holding company's stock will be listed instead of Kenwood and JVC, according to Nikkei. Combined, Kenwood's and JVC's sales are 7.3 billion dollars annually for their fiscal year that ended March 31.

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Treasurer's Report

As of 6/30/07

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 3,039.57

            Income                 0.61

            Expenses             164.48

        Ending balance         2,875.70

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,003.19

            Income                 2.53

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,005.72

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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500 kHz Experiment

Hello All,

In the latest issue of QEX there is an article with the above title which is of considerable interest, I think, to those concerned with emergency communications.

With the changes in the Marine International Distress setup the 600 meter band [ 495 - 510 kHz ] has fallen into disuse. This band is of particular interest to Radio Amateurs for a number of reasons including:

a] Ultra-reliable emergency communications via ground wave,

b] Unique propagation and noise environment, and

c] Experimental work with antennas, modulation and signal processing.

The experimental group has an informative web page at http://www.500kc.com which mentions further sources of information.

-- 73 de N7IVM, Ben

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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 5,12,or 19:


Net control stations reporting for the month were K7TAG, KB7DFL, and 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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Books to Read

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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FCC Responds to ARRL's BPL Brief

On Monday, July 2, the FCC filed its reply brief with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FCC attempted to rebut the ARRL's challenge to the FCC's Broadband over Power Line (BPL) rules enacted in late 2004 and affirmed by the agency in 2006. According to ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, "The FCC's brief does not accurately describe ARRL's arguments concerning harmful interference."

Given what is in essence a 100 percent probability of interference from BPL systems to fixed and mobile HF facilities at significant distances from power lines, Imlay said Section 301 of the Communications Act does not allow unlicensed BPL systems to operate in the HF bands. "Basically, Section 301 says you can not operate a radio frequency emitting device without a license. The legislative purpose of Section 301 is clearly to avoid interference. FCC's Part 15 rules have assumed that certain very low power devices and systems can operate without predictable interference, thus allowing them to operate without a license, notwithstanding Section 301. But with BPL, the FCC has ignored conclusive record evidence which shows that there will be, and in fact our experience conclusively demonstrates, that BPL causes severe interference to licensed services," Imlay said.

The FCC claims that it has the authority to permit unlicensed BPL under Section 302 of the Act; this section allows the FCC to regulate the interference potential of RF devices. What Section 302 does not do, Imlay said, is to create a loophole in, or modify, or invalidate Section 301.

"It is the ARRL's position," Imlay said, "that the FCC can regulate and authorize BPL with certain safeguards, consistent with the terms of Section 301; however, the FCC simply cannot honestly maintain the position that BPL has an inherently low interference potential. It has a high interference potential, and the rules they have enacted to date are woefully inadequate and insufficient to address it." The ARRL has long maintained that BPL, when not adequately "notched," causes harmful interference to Amateur Radio operations. In its brief, the FCC claims BPL does not cause significant interference and the Courts must defer to the FCC's expertise to decide this issue.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said, "The FCC misrepresents the ARRL's position as being that the FCC has no authority to allow unlicensed devices that pose any risk whatsoever of causing interference to licensed services. That's not our position at all. Our position is that the FCC possessed clear evidence, at the time it made its BPL decisions, that the limits it was adopting would allow the deployment of BPL systems with a near-100 percent probability of causing harmful interference to radio receivers hundreds of feet from the power lines. Yet, despite this evidence it characterized the likelihood of harmful interference as 'low.'"

The brief goes on to say that, in the FCC's view, mobile stations and fixed stations are protected against harmful interference from BPL. But with respect to mobile stations complaining of interference, the FCC requires only that BPL operators reduce the radiated emission levels to 20 dB below the Part 15 maximum levels for radiated emissions. This, in the HF bands, still permits BPL noise at levels that preclude communications entirely. It offers mobile stations no protection whatsoever, Imlay stated.

Sumner explained, "The FCC claims that it continues to protect mobile stations from harmful interference, but it does so simply by defining whatever interference a mobile station might encounter from a notched BPL system as not harmful! None of the steps to limit the interference potential of BPL systems that the FCC took in this rulemaking proceeding reduce the likelihood of interference to the amateur service, and to this day the FCC has declined to enforce its rules even when protracted violations and interference have been documented."

The FCC's brief also attempted to justify its presumption that a BPL radiated interfering signal decays at a rate of 40 dB per decade of distance. "A 'decade of distance' is a factor of 10," Imlay explained. "For example, if a victim receiver moves from 3-30 feet from the power lines (10 times farther away), that is one decade of distance. For each decade of distance, the FCC believes that there is a 40 dB signal decay. In the HF bands, however, the evidence in the record shows that the signal decay is closer to 20 dB than 40 dB per decade of distance from the power lines. The FCC's brief claimed that there was conflicting evidence on the subject, but ARRL's view is that the FCC merely avoided consideration of the overwhelming evidence favoring the more conservative decay factor."

Imlay said the ARRL has asked the Court to order the FCC to "rethink the rules governing BPL and for the first time to take into account the evidence on the record concerning harmful interference to Amateur Radio." ARRL's reply brief is due for filing with the Court July 28, 2007. There is no date set yet for oral argument before the three-judge panel in Washington, DC.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Amateur Radio Now Legal in all Texas Public Schools

In what can only be termed a huge victory for the future of Amateur Radio in Texas, Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 11 (SB11) into law in June. Among many disaster response specifications, the new law contains two important Amateur Radio-related provisions: State employees who are ham radio operators may to take up to 10 days of paid leave while participating in a disaster response or training exercise, and Amateur Radio is now allowed in all Texas public schools.

A single sentence in Article 2 of SB11 modifies the legal definition of a banned paging device by adding the following ham radio exception: "The term does not include an Amateur Radio under the control of an operator who holds an Amateur Radio Station License issued by the Federal Communications Commission."

Texas is the first state to enact such a sweeping change allowing school-based ham radio programs statewide. It is hoped that similar measures will be enacted in other states. Local clubs in Texas are urged to contact their school boards and encourage them to bring school policies regarding student possession of RF devices into compliance with the new law.

A decades-old provision in the Texas Education Code (Section 37.082) long ago granted Texas schools blanket authority to ban student possession of all RF devices, including ham radios. The old law was originally enacted with the best of intentions, but had unintended negative consequences both for student safety and for the cause of Amateur Radio. More than 20 years ago Texas -- like many states at the time -- passed a law granting schools sweeping authority to ban student possession of "paging devices." The original intent of the law was to prevent on-campus drug dealers from communicating with one another using now-obsolete numeric pagers. Cut off their communication, the logic went, and drugs on campus would be seriously curtailed.

The old law broadly defined a prohibited "paging device" as any RF device which had the ability to vibrate, emit a sound, display a message, or in any way convey a communication to the possessor. There was no exception for school-based Amateur Radio programs or clubs. Practically all Texas schools immediately exercised their newly granted right by banning all RF devices to the maximum extent allowed by law -- and sometimes to a greater extent than the law allowed.

The result of the old law was that in most Texas schools, starting a ham radio club was simply out of the question. Existing ham radio programs were even removed from some San Antonio area schools as a direct result of the old law.

Although schools can still have basic rules of classroom decorum to insure that ham radio activities do not disturb academic instruction, SB 11 effectively puts ham radio programs on the same legal footing with all other student-initiated clubs and activities. Texas school teachers are now free to start ham radio programs. Students are now free to form school-based ham radio clubs. Individual students who have a ham license are even legally allowed to possess ham radios at school regardless of whether a club exists yet. SB11 takes effect on September 1.

James Alderman, KF5WT

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Interpreting Hotel Brochures

-- from David ZL3AI via packet

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