Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  June 2004
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

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From the Oval ShackSummer musings

Greetings from the Oval Shack of the esteemed Olympia Amateur Radio Society. This is the favorite month of many ham radio operators. Some folks, me included, look forward to Field Day as an annual opportunity to sharpen our emergency communication skills among old friends. It will be an ideal venue to get out there and do what we practice all year. I also hope we can have fun. Please let Lee KI7SS know how you can help in our Field Day effort. See you there!

BPL update, the subject that wouldn't die: Turns out PSE is not going ahead with that feasibility study on BPL because they don't want to fund the study. Seems the potential BPL provider doesn't want to fund the study either. Sure is a good thing this BPL is going to make everybody a lot of money. Well, maybe not.

I just read a huge article in Newsweek on wireless Internet access zones ("Wi-Fi hot-spots") around the world. The number of Wi-Fi hot-spots is growing every day, and a lot of them are free. We'll see how this technology plays out over the next five to ten years, but it ain't gonna be good for the companies that want to use power lines for BPL access. That's good. It also seems to me eventually the powers that be (with the money) will be able to launch satellites to make the whole planet an Internet Wi-Fi hot-spot. But that's just me.

In a related item, take a look on our web page. George was good enough to post the letter I/we sent to Maria Cantwell, our Washington Senator that happens to be on the United States Senate's Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee's Communications Subcommittee. I haven't heard anything yet, but we are talking about the government here.

A couple weeks ago I saw the movie "Day After Tomorrow." It was a pretty good movie, if a tad far-fetched, but it did get me to thinking... would we be ready as a club and ARES/RACES organization if, for instance, we had REAL bad weather? Take that "little" storm we had in western Washington last January. We got a foot of snow in Yelm. OK, let's triple that amount of snow in Thurston County. Then, just for good measure, let's say the temperature goes below freezing for two weeks. That could happen. Then the power goes out. Oh-oh. Now we've got the roads all closed from the frozen snow, no power, and people freezing in their homes, breaking up furniture to burn to keep warm. Could get real ugly real quick. What would you do? Is OARS ready? Are you ready? Something to think about while you're shoveling sunshine this month.

Late in the evening of Wednesday, June 16, I happened to be tuning around on forty meters and happened across a weak but readable signal calling CQ. I replied to the call, and W3CRR did respond to me, albeit he gave me a whopping 349 QRN signal report. That's all right, we were able to talk for twenty minutes or so. I found out his handle was Craig, and his QTH was Washington DC. Cool! I have now worked Maryland/DC in my progress toward the WAS-90 award!

Anyway, turns out he is a journalist in our nation's capital and was there for Reagan's funeral. It was 0130 Eastern time by then, and he had just got off work, and was winding down with a CQ call on 40. Well, that won't ever happen again. I will always remember having that QSO with Craig across the country that day of remembrance. Answer the next CQ call you hear, you can never tell who you will meet.

See you at the meeting on June 23rd, and on Field Day June 26th.


-- Leroy Smith, N7EIE

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How to Impress

Having just moved into his new office, a pompous new colonel was sitting at his desk when an airman knocked on the door. Very self-conscious of his new position, the colonel quickly picked up the phone, told the airman to enter, then said into the phone, "Yes, General, I'll be seeing him this afternoon and I'll pass along your message. In the meantime, thank you for your good wishes, sir."

Feeling as though he had sufficiently impressed the young enlisted man, he asked, "What do you want?"

"Nothing important, sir," the airman replied, "I'm just here to hook up your telephone."

-- found on packet

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FCC chairman responds to request to support ARRL restructuring plan

FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell has assured US representatives Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), and Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), that the Commission will act "as expeditiously as possible" on Amateur Radio restructuring. Walden and Ross wrote Powell a month ago to urge adoption of the ARRL's restructuring Petition for Rule Making (RM-10867) "in its entirety" along with rules changes needed to put it into place. Powell said the League's petition was one of many.

"At this time, the Commission staff is reviewing and analyzing carefully all of the petitions, comments and proposed rule changes in this area," Powell responded May 21. "Because this matter is of great importance to you and the almost 700,000 amateur radio operators nationwide, the staff is working diligently to create a comprehensive solution to address the proposals the petitioners have submitted." The next step in the process, he said, will be to prepare a notice of proposed rule making for the Commission's consideration.

In addition to the League's filing, Powell pointed out, the Commission received 17 other petitions for rule making that address examination requirements and operating privileges for Amateur Service licensees. The various proposals attracted more than 5000 comments, he noted -- more than 800 of them on the ARRL's petition alone.

In their letter to Powell, Walden and Ross expressed their belief that the ARRL's plan "will encourage the development, refinement and use of new technologies; increase the number of young people involved in Amateur Radio; and provide incentives for Amateur Radio licensees to pursue technical self-training and opportunities for volunteerism in the best traditions of our country."

Other restructuring plans were filed by the Radio Amateur Foundation, RM-10868, and by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, RM-10870.

Fifteen other petitions for rule making came down on one side or the other of retaining the Amateur Radio Morse code examination requirement to operate on HF. Judging from Powell's letter to Walden and Ross, the FCC plans to address all 18 petitions within the framework of a single rule making proceeding.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB018

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Lakefair Parade

It is starting to get close to our annual support for the Lakefair Parade. It will be on Saturday, 17 July, starting about 1700. Over the years, we have expanded our communications coverage from the Announcers' locations, to staging areas and actual coordination of the parade units within the parade route.

This is NOT just an OARS or ARES event. This takes many Amateur Radio operators to get the whole job done.

This year, we need a few more hands to help. People get bored doing the same old job and drop out. We need some replacements. There are various places and times to participate, from 1300 in the afternoon till 2000 in the evening.

Announcer's location: Hams here get and relay updates from the comm van NCS on parade units, etc. They will work from 1500 till the parade ends around 2000.

Check in point located at Olympia High School: Hams here relay unit names and numbers to the comm van and parade officials, provide maps for visiting personnel, and give other information as to the Lakefair event. We need a couple of folks here from 1300 till approximately 1700.

Marching unit staging located at Steven Field: From noon till approximately 1800, they will assist in staging marching units, getting the comm van NCS updates, and getting them to the parade coordination point.

Parade Coordination Point: This is where all of the action is when the parade actually starts. Hams here will mix floats, vehicles, marching units and horse units into the parade route. Working times are from 1300 till the last unit starts down the parade route, about 1900.

We'll be working simplex and the OARS 2 meter repeater.

Want to have some fun? Give me a call and we'll work you into the schedule. My numbers are 754-6651 (home) and 786-5500 (work).

-- Tom Dennis, KA4VVA

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Each evening bird lover Tom Rowe stood in his backyard in Devon, England, hooting like an owl -- and one night, an owl called back to him.

For a year, the man and his feathered friend hooted back and forth. Rowe even kept a log of the "conversation." Just as Rowe thought he was on the verge of a breakthrough in inter-species communication, his wife had a chat with next door neighbor, Nancy Hollis.

"My husband spends his nights ... calling out to owls," said Mrs. Rowe. "That's odd," Mrs. Hollis replied. "So does my John."

Then it dawned on them.

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Treasurer's Report

As of 5/31/04

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

    Previous balance $ 370.00

        Income         225.08

        Expenses         5.00

    Ending balance     590.08

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

    Previous balance $ 976.76

        Income           0.00

        Expenses         0.00

    Ending balance     976.76

-- 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 May 4, 9, and 18:


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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The BPL Fight Continues

Here is a good nugget from Qwest:

"In addition to safety concerns, BPL could interfere with the services of other providers, both in their networks and within the individual premises receiving BPL service. Not knowing the specific deployment configuration(s) of BPL, Qwest cannot properly assess the scope or magnitude of these concerns. Qwest is cognizant of the fact, however, that telephone lines at a customer's premises run close to the electrical wiring. Absent appropriate shielding, this proximity could easily give rise to crosstalk or other interference."

From Sprint:

"Sprint is also concerned about the potential for interference with ADSL 2+ and VDSL services, which operate at speeds up to about 10 MHz, within the spectrum which would be used by BPL. Some crosstalk might be experienced without proper precautions. Thus, interference with these two services would be investigated."

And Verizon delivers a strong blow too:

"BPL may also potentially interfere with the next generation of DSL technology, VDSL or Very High Bit Rate Digital Subscriber Line service, which does overlap with the frequency spectrum used for BPL."

-- from the BPL reflector

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Preventive maintenance

Quantas Airlines asks every pilot to fill out a form called a gripe sheet, telling mechanics problems encountered with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problem, writing on the lower half of the form the action taken. Below are examples of actual forms.

(P = problem logged by pilot. S = Solution and action taken by the mechanics.)

By the way, Quantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.

S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.

S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.

S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.

S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

S: That's what they're there for.

P: IFF inoperative.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.

S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.

S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.

S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

S: Took hammer away from midget.

-- from kd4gca via packet

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Field Day message from the WWA SM

WWA Clubs & ARES/RACES groups,

This year I intend to try something different for Field Day (FD). During your efforts to contact as many FD stations as possible, I'm going to visit as many of your sites as I can. There are lots of you and you are spread out over a fair amount of geography so I won't make it to every site. If you would like to have me visit your club's FD site I need directions to be able to locate it. Please email the directions so that I can find your site easily.

My mobile will, in all likelihood, be up on APRS. So, if you are planning to claim the points for an APRS demonstration you can participate in "Where is the SM?" I may operate in stealth mode periodically too.

Some of you, like the Clallam and North Kitsap clubs, have run with the local proclamation idea and have gotten good results. A proclamation is on its way to the Governor for his signature.

GOTA stations are a great way to get technicians, non-licensed folks and even some "old" novices on the air. It just may be the extra kick in the seat of the pants someone needs to get licensed or upgrade their license. Let's make an extra effort to get new licensees and those who may have drifted away from our hobby out to FD so they can experience the teamwork, camaraderie and fun of operating under less than optimum conditions.

Remember, a major part of FD is setting up and tearing down the site safely. Hard hats, gloves, climbing belts and other safety equipment should all be part of the package we deploy with. Appointing a safety officer is a good idea too.

"See" ya on Field Day!


Ed Bruette, N7NVP

Section Manager, WWA

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One evening, in the midst of dinner preparation, our 10-year-old daughter asked, "Mommy, what's puberty?" My wife was rushed at the moment, so she suggested that Peggy look up the word in the dictionary, after which they could talk about it.

A few minutes later, Peggy returned. Her mother asked what the dictionary had said. "Puberty means," announced Peggy, "the earliest age at which a girl is able to bear children." "What do you think of that?" my wife asked."I'm not sure," Peggy replied. "I've always been able to bear children. It's adults I can't bear."

-- from Joke of the Day via Internet

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Amateur Enforcement Cases Declining

The number of Amateur Radio enforcement cases has continued to drop since a five-year peak of 350 in 2001. FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth told the Dayton Hamvention 2004 FCC Forum May 15 that 240 ham radio enforcement cases crossed his desk last year. As his tenure in amateur enforcement enters its sixth year, he's estimating only 175 cases in 2004.

"Two years ago at Dayton, I said that I hoped the day would come soon when enforcement would not be an issue in the Amateur Service," Hollingsworth said. While he doesn't believe amateur enforcement is in "maintenance mode" yet, it's well on its way, he said. But he urged his audience not to become complacent just because there's active FCC Amateur Service enforcement. Although the percentage of "hard-core" cases is very small and rapidly declining, the remaining cases include "some real nasty ones," he said.

Hollingsworth said his main worry remains inappropriate or illegal on-the-air behavior and the sometimes-negative image it can present to decision makers at a time of broadband over power line (BPL) and other threats to amateur spectrum. He proposed that amateurs concentrate on improving how they conduct themselves on the air while letting him deal with the remaining bad apples that require his attention.

"No enforcement program in the world can save certain people from themselves or from being an embarrassment to the entire service," he said -- reiterating a refrain that's now almost become his mantra. "If anything is the downfall of Amateur Radio, it will probably be the microphone. You have to focus on your image -- what you sound like -- all the time."

Hollingsworth also told the forum he's convinced that further Amateur Service restructuring is a necessity. He also suggested that amateurs be less concerned about any perceived "dumbing down" of the licensing requirements, because ham radio will continue to thrive in any event. "It's not really what you do to get into Amateur Radio that counts. It's what you do once you get on the air," he said.

-- from the ARRL Bulletin

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Puzzle Answer

Here is the answer to last month's puzzle:

The well known proverb is "Birds of a feather flock together."

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At the Hospital

Irving was just coming out of anesthesia after a series of tests in the hospital, and his wife, Sarah, was sitting at his bedside.

His eyes fluttered open, and he murmured, "You're beautiful." Flattered, Sarah continued her vigil while he drifted back to sleep.

Later he woke up and said, "You're cute."

"What happened to 'beautiful'?" Sarah asked.

"The drugs are wearing off," he replied.

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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