Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Services ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  June 2006
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

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Lakefair Parade 2006

It is starting to get close to our annual support for the Lakefair Parade. It will be on Saturday, 22 July, starting about 1700. Over the years, we have expanded our communications coverage from the Announcer's 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 relay updates from the Comm Van NCS on parade units, etc. They will work from 1500 till the parades 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 Stevens Field, from noon till approx. 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.

-- Tom Dennis KA4VVA 786-5500 (wk)

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Power Line Interference

The FCC has issued a Citation to Lakeland Electric, a municipally owned utility in Lakeland, Florida, for violating Part 15 rules by interfering with a local radio amateur. º15.5(c) of the FCC rules requires that the operator of an "incidental radiator" must cease operating the device after an FCC representative notifies the operator that the device is causing harmful interference. The "incidental radiator" in this case is overhead power lines. Under an agreement, the ARRL and the FCC cooperate in resolving cases of line noise interference to Amateur Radio licensees.

"Power line noise continues to generate the bulk of interference complaints that ARRL receives," says ARRL Electromagnetic Compatibility Engineer Mike Gruber, W1MG, who says the League reviews hundreds of such complaints each year. About half of them are resolved promptly by the utilities, in some instances with assistance from the ARRL Laboratory.

Gruber says he believes this is the first time the FCC has issued a Citation to a utility in a case involving power line interference to ham radio.

The radio amateur involved, J. C. Flynn, W4FGC, told ARRL that Lakeland Electric has been good about fixing routine problems, but he doesn't think the utility personnel know how to resolve cases of power line noise. "I have been 10 years trying to get something done," he said, adding that the noise affects all HF bands. "It is terrible!"Flynn first noticed the power line noise around 1995. Subsequent complaints, assurances from the utility that it was addressing the problem -- or that it couldn't find one -- and even some FCC warnings followed before the FCC issued its Citation to Lakeland Electric on May 16. Flynn, who's now 84, told the League that as of June 7, nothing had been done to fix the severe line noise at his location, which he demonstrated over the telephone on several bands. He said he especially enjoys getting on 40 meter SSB with a large roundtable of friends.

Commented Gruber: "There has been no activity by the utility in resolving this problem in over a year, and Mr Flynn's noise case now appears to be at a standstill."

The League's involvement in the case goes back to January 2001, when Flynn requested the League's assistance. Gruber says the League's role is to provide technical information and guidance to utilities "to keep a complaint from reaching the point of a citation."

In late 2005, Gruber had a chance to check the line noise at Flynn's QTH firsthand. He had taken RFI gear to a Florida ham radio convention for a talk and demonstration. Afterward, on his own time, Gruber -- with help from ARRL West Central Florida Section Manager Dee Turner, N4GD -- took some noise measurements of his own.

Gruber submitted the results of his on-site inspection to the FCC. Personnel from the Commission's Tampa field office followed up with their own inspection before issuing the Citation, which lays the groundwork for a possible Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine the utility if the interference problem is not resolved.

"I hope this case serves as a precedent for FCC enforcement, where appropriate, in power line noise cases," said Gruber, who's compiled various reports and correspondence relating to the Lakeland Electric power line interference case into a booklet of approximately 60 pages. "While the League will work with amateurs in such cases for as long as it takes," he added, "we hope the FCC Citation will serve as a warning to electric utilities that it's not acceptable to take months or years to fix the problem causing the interference."

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Treasurer's Report

As of 5/31/06

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 2,701.82

            Income               258.77

            Expenses              45.26

        Ending balance         2,915.33

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance       $ 993.09

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance           993.09

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Electronics History

The Transistor

The transistor was invented on Christmas Day, 1948, by Emily Gerund, a high school teacher of English from Boston, Massachusetts, who was serving a 20 years to life sentence in the state penitentiary for throwing her husband's coat under a speeding truck. The judge was rather severe with her because her husband was still in the coat at the time.

The Governor of the state owned an electronics firm and so was able to provide surplus vacuum tubes to the prisoners so that they could decorate their Christmas trees.

Now Emily had an extremely tiny tree, much too small for a string of SV6s or even for a single QL4. But she just happened to find some germanium crystals lying around. She stuck three wires in each one and used them to decorate her tree. She was quite surprised when after she completed the tree, it started picking up the Jack Benny Show.

The Governor, upon learning about this and realizing its implications, immediately rushed to the prison and offered the English teacher a full pardon in exchange for the manufacturing rights to her invention.

"Of course, Governor," she replied. "In this case, I'll be glad to let you end a sentence with a proposition."

-- from David, ZL3AI, 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 May 2, 9, and 23, 2006:


Net control stations reporting for the month were K7TAG, KB7DFL, 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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Hollingsworth to Amateurs -- "Lighten Up!"

FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth advised those attending the FCC forum at Dayton Hamvention 2006 to try kindness instead of confrontation when problems arise on the bands. Hollingsworth spoke May 20 to a nearly full house at Hara Arena, and for the most part he praised the behavior of the majority of Amateur Radio operators, especially those who volunteered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last year. But, he noted, radio amateurs still could be more courteous and less inclined to fly off the handle at some perceived on-the-air offense.

"You need to lighten up and not embarrass the Amateur Radio Service," Hollingsworth advised. "All of us make mistakes, especially with the new features you have on radios today. It's very easy to make a mistake, to be on the wrong frequency or be operating split and not know it -- there's a hundred ways to make mistakes." Hollingsworth said experience has shown him that at least 75 percent of the interference complained about is absolutely unintentional.

In Hollingsworth's view, radio amateurs all too often are hypersensitive and rude. "We have a radar going to detect offenses at all times, we assume the worst in people, we rarely give people the benefit of the doubt," he said. He joked that if there were three amateurs in a town, there would be two Amateur Radio clubs. "And there'll be two hamfests with 20 people each, because they wouldn't dare consolidate them," he added.

Hollingsworth acknowledged that "certain problem operators" remain, but the real troublemakers are rarely the newcomers to Amateur Radio. "If there's a downfall in Amateur Radio, it won't be caused by no-code Technicians or codeless anything else," he said. "It'll be caused by the microphone -- no doubt in my mind." He advised his audience to ignore the troublesome operators and not give them the attention they crave by engaging them on the air.

"Now, think about it: If what you're hearing annoys you, or angers you or is stupid, use the 'stupid filter,' which is that big knob -- that VFO that will take you somewhere else," he quipped. "It's the largest knob on the radio." He recommended moving to another frequency or even another band altogether.

Hollingsworth praised the Volunteer Examiner program as "outstanding" and noted there had not been a single complaint in the past year stemming from an examination session. He also said the Amateur Radio community should have a greater appreciation for what the ARRL is doing on its behalf.

"Most of you have no idea how much work is done in Newington for you and the Amateur Radio Service generally," he said. "I see it every day, but I think you have no idea of the hard work and dedication that comes out of that office up there, and I don't think we would be there if it weren't for [the League]."

"This country's communications infrastructure needs Amateur Radio," Hollingsworth emphasized, praising Amateur Radio's overall performance following Hurricane Katrina. "You have a tremendous amount to be proud of."

He also suggested that radio amateurs have an obligation to stay informed about what's going on in Amateur Radio that might affect their activities. "You have to not only keep up, you have to lead the way, because it's in your charter," he said, pointing to º97.1 of the Amateur Service rules.

Hollingsworth noted at the start of his talk that he could not address any questions dealing with the FCC's long-awaited decision on the Morse code requirement (Element 1), because he works in the Commission's Enforcement Bureau. "We don't meddle in rule making," he explained, but added that he didn't expect CW to decline if the FCC does drop the 5 WPM Morse requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes as it's proposed to do.

The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) handles Amateur Radio rule makings, Hollingsworth noted, including the "Morse code" proceeding, WT Docket 05-235, and the so-called "omnibus" proceeding, WT Docket 04-140. The WTB has said it will rule first on the omnibus proceeding, then tackle the Morse code proceeding, but it has not indicated when to expect either Report and Order.

No representative from the WTB was at Dayton Hamvention this year.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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From Patient Charts

Bizarre Doctor's Notes

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Two Radio Amateurs Die During Mobile Hidden Transmitter Hunt

Two ARRL members from California are dead after the vehicle in which they were riding during a mobile hidden transmitter hunt May 27 went over a cliff in rugged terrain near Lake Isabella in Kern County. They were identified as Michael G. Obermeier, K6SNE, of Anaheim, and David A. Gordon-Ross, N6IDF, of Yucaipa. Obermeier, an ARRL Official Observer in Orange County, was 46. Gordon-Ross was 35.

"Mike and Dave were some of the best T-hunters in the biz," said Scott Press, N6SAP, calling both "true assets to this hobby." In his role as an OO, Obermeier reportedly had participated in the infamous Jack Gerritsen radio jamming case in the Los Angeles area.

According to media accounts, a Kern County Sheriff's Department search-and-rescue team located the victims early Monday, May 29. Obermeier was driving the 1991 4-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee that apparently went out of control on Cook Peak Road while the pair was proceeding to the next hidden transmitter site. After caroming off a rock wall, the vehicle crossed the road and plunged down a 900-foot cliff. They were reported missing after failing to check in with T-hunt organizers.

Greg Pitta, KF6DBJ, reports Obermeier and Gordon-Ross were on a half-day multiple-transmitter T-hunt. "Both K6SNE and N6IDF were expert transmitter hunters, each with hundreds of hunts completed, ranking with top scores in most," he said.

ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, knew both men. He notes that Obermeier had suffered a sports-related spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic. "He did all the adaptive work on his vehicles, of which he had quite a few that he used over time for RDF," Moell said. Despite his physical limitations, Obermeier also enjoyed foxhunting from his wheel chair.

Moell says Gordon-Ross had been a proficient mobile T-hunter for many years. He took a brief hiatus after his first child was born in April 2005 (his wife, Melanie, is KF6GWV), but he recently became active again.

According to Moell, the mobile transmitter hunts take place on the fourth Saturday of each month on 2-meter FM simplex, starting out from a hilltop in Rancho Palos Verdes. He says it's not uncommon for the main hidden transmitter to be hundreds of miles away -- 175 highway miles in this instance.

The 147.435 Amateur Radio Repeater System is collecting donations to help Melanie Gordon-Ross, a stay-at-home mom. It also will donate all proceeds from its 16th annual 435 Chili Cook-off June 10. Visit the 147.435 Web site http://www.435online.com for additional information.

-- from The ARRL Letter

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Vermont Governor Signs Amateur Radio Antenna Bill

Vermont Gov Jim Douglas has signed Amateur Radio antenna legislation that puts the language of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into the Green Mountain State's statutes. Vermont is the 23rd state to adopt an Amateur Radio antenna law.

"Today we reached a milestone in Vermont Amateur Radio history," exulted David Cain, W1DEC, on May 30. "PRB-1 is now officially codified into Vermont's statutes." Cain chaired the PRB-1 Committee and serves as Vermont ARRL State Government Liaison. "To all of you who worked so hard on this a hearty 'thank you' and 'well done.'"

ARRL New England Division Vice Director Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, offered his congratulations to all involved in seeing the bill through. "This is a major achievement for Vermont, the New England Division and the hobby," he said. The legislation, H.12, cleared Vermont's General Assembly on May 10.

The new law requires local ordinances to comply with 97.15(b) "by allowing for the erection of an Amateur Radio antenna or an Amateur Radio antenna support structure at a height and dimension sufficient to accommodate Amateur Radio Service communications."

Cain notes that a PRB-1 bill has been in the General Assembly hopper in Vermont for more than three years. "Hard work and persistence paid off," he said, noting that lawmakers "recognized the value of ham radio and the need for reasonable accommodation."

Section 1 of the bill declares it Vermont policy "that Amateur Radio use and Amateur Radio antennas and support structures protect and promote the public interest by providing important communications support to both government and the public during times of emergency when other communications infrastructure is disabled or overburdened and by presenting the public with an opportunity for public service, self-training, communications and technical investigation."

Language in the original Vermont antenna bill outlined a schedule of minimum regulatory heights, below which localities could not impose restrictions. That language did not survive the legislative process, however.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB010

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ARRL Field Day June 24-25

Be sure to take part in the premier operating event of 2006, the annual ARRL Field Day.

OARS's Field Day site this year will be on the Capitol campus. Come and help operate, or just drop by to say hello. If all goes as planned, you will see some interesting balloon antennas in use.

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When Adam stayed out very late for a few nights, Eve became upset. "You're running around with other women," she told her mate.

"Eve, Honey, you're being unreasonable," Adam responded, "You know you're the only woman on earth."

The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by a strange pain in the chest. It was his darling Eve poking him rather vigorously about the torso.

"What do you think you're doing?" Adam demanded.

"Counting your ribs," said Eve.

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Cowboy: "Well, I suppose you've been all right. You've been a decent horse, I guess. A bit slow sometimes, but a decent horse, and..."

Horse: "No, you idiot! I didn't ask you for FEEDBACK! I said I wanted my FEEDBAG!"

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