Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  March 2007
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

Like many of you, I have written a lot of letters lately to my legislators expressing my views on protecting our hobby. I have been pleasantly surprised that I have received responses that were favorable. Two responses thanked me for helping them see "loopholes" that could damage radio capability, and compromise communications during an emergency. Expressing our views does make a difference -- in fact, I believe it makes all the difference.

I am making an attempt to talk to everyone in OARS and find out what I can do to make a difference. Thank you for your feedback. It is appreciated. Without a doubt the most commonly expressed concerns are the repeaters. There is a feeling that the time has come to upgrade. That is being discussed by the board and repeater committee. Everyone wants dependable, high quality repeaters.

We are also pursuing becoming a 501 (c)(3) organization. This will give us an advantage with taxes and encourage contributions.

We are also creating a brochure describing OARS and advantages of membership. This will be available to all members to pass out and promote our club.

Field day preparation is underway. Having a strong public relations effort tent will be a highlight. Field Day will be a great event that will be captured on DVD and put to music. We want to make our hobby visible and encourage others to join us.

Our meeting this month will be presented by Fred Baker W7SIX, on soldering and making good connections. It will be a great meeting. Our meeting in April will be presented by Steve Ward, WC7I. He will talk about Antenna modeling programs and how to make an antenna and predict how it will work. Both of these meetings are very practical and will present material you can take home and use! If you come, you will learn something as well as have fun.

In conclusion, I invite you to participate. Bring a friend and come on out and lets have some fun! My job this year is to serve you. My email is AB7AX@arrl.net <mailto:AB7AX@arrl.net>. I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Never think your opinion doesn't count -- it does, at least is does with me.

Best regards,

Bart, AB7AX

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Treasurer's Report

As of 2/28/07

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 2,698.07

            Income               270.51

            Expenses             170.04

        Ending balance         2,798.54

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,000.69

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,000.69

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Silent Key

We note with sadness the passing of former

OARS member Don Warner, KA7SLA

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on February 13:


Net control station reporting for the month was KB7DFL. 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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A man and his wife are dining at a table in a plush restaurant, and the husband keeps staring at an old drunken lady swigging her gin, as she sits alone at a nearby table.

The wife asks, "Do you know her?" "Yes," sighs the husband, "She's my ex-wife. she took to drinking right after we divorced seven years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since."

"My gosh!" says the wife, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"

-- from David ZL3AI via packet

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ARRL Invites Comments on New HF Digital Protocol

The ARRL is seeking comments from amateurs concerning development of an open-source (non-proprietary) data communications protocol suitable for use by radio amateurs over high-frequency (HF) fading paths. This is not a Request for Proposals (RFP). An RFP may or not be forthcoming depending on evaluation of the information received.

Specifically, the League is asking for comments and information on the following issues:

* Access Method: Is Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) the best candidate technology, or should other competitive technologies be considered?

* Data Rate and Bandwidth: What data rates/throughputs are achievable at various bandwidths up to 3 kHz bandwidth?

* Adaptivity: What adaptive features should be considered, such as automatic adjustment of transmitter power, modulation waveform and coding, in order to maximize throughput and efficiency in two-way contacts?

* Robustness: What is achievable for reliable operation at power levels typical in the Amateur Radio Service and low signal/noise and interference ratios?

* Error control: What are the appropriate applications of error control suitable for HF channels? For example, how should Repeat reQuest (ARQ) and Forward Error Control (FEC) be applied to two-way contacts and one-to-many (roundtable and bulletin) transmissions?

* Activity Detection: What is an effective method of determining whether a frequency is busy prior to transmission?

* Operating System: What operating systems (such as Windows or Linux) are appropriate for Amateur Radio use with this protocol?

* Hardware: What practical and affordable hardware platforms are suitable for amateur stations? Consider the use of personal computers with or without sound cards. Provide any information about the need for an additional "box" if needed.

Please provide the following with your response: (1) name of respondent, (2) respondent's contact information, (3) related experience, and (4) type of respondent: (individual, partnership, corporation or group). Do not include proprietary information as part of your response.

Post, fax or e-mail your response by 1900 UTC, May 15, 2007, to ARRL Chief Technology Officer Paul Rinaldo, W4RI <w4ri@arrl.org>, 3545 Chain Bridge Rd -- Suite 209, Fairfax, VA 22030; Fax: 703-934-2079.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Playful Plates

These are actual license plates found on cars throughout the USA:

-- from David ZL3AI via packet

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"Cellular Telephone" Bills Pose Potential Problems for Ham Radio Operation

Bills aimed at thwarting "driving while cellular" and "driving while distracted" behavior have been introduced in several states, and most are worded broadly enough to potentially proscribe some Amateur Radio mobile operation. ARRL Regulatory Information Specialist Dan Henderson, N1ND reginfo@arrl.org, so far has catalogued 11 active pieces of legislation. Bills introduced in Montana and New Mexico have been sidelined for now, but related measures -- more than one in some states -- remain alive in Georgia, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. Henderson reports that ARRL Field Organization volunteers and members called the League's attention to the various pieces of pending legislation, none of which specifically exempt Amateur Radio mobile operation.

"In most cases we try to work to have language exempting Amateur Radio inserted into the bill, rather than narrowing by definition the behavior or activity the bill seeks to address," Henderson explains. "It is a far easier approach and removes ambiguity down the road."

Henderson says that, if requested, the League will advise radio amateurs preparing to testify about a bill before a state legislative committee. "We offer some suggestions regarding what to cover and how to approach their testimony," he said. "We also will speak with legislators or their aides to try and clarify questions or help them craft language that help accomplish our goal of specifically exempting Amateur Radio operation from these measures." Most of the measures include exceptions for emergency communication and law enforcement agencies.

In Georgia, House Bill 5 (HB 5) would assess those anyone found to be "driving while distracted" while using a wireless communication device one driver's license infraction point. The bill defines "device" to cover not only cellular or mobile telephones -- whether or not they're hands-free, but any "wireless communication device, personal digital assistant, radio or citizens band radio." HB 5 thus appears to include such routine activities as changing the station on your car radio.

In Montana, House Bill 233 (HB 233) would restrict drivers from "the use of electronic communication devices, or any other activity that causes the driver to become inattentive." This bill was tabled in committee on January 30, following a hearing a few days earlier.

In New Jersey, Assembly Bill 1966 (A 1966), would broaden the scope of that state's existing law prohibiting the use of a hand-held wireless telephone while driving. It would expand the law to cover "distracted driving" by prohibiting a motor vehicle operator from engaging in "any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle."

In New Mexico, House Bill 241 (HB 241) would prohibit a driver from using "a mobile communication device while operating a motor vehicle." The measure has been tabled.

Three related bills now are in play in Oregon: House Bill 2482 (HB 2482) and Senate Bill 293 (SB 293) contain essentially the same language, making it an offense to operate a motor vehicle "while using a mobile communication device" without a hands-free accessory. Senate Bill 246 (SB 246) establishes such behavior as an offense, punishable by a fine of up to $180 and providing more serious consequences if property damage, injury or death result -- up to and including license suspension and prison terms.

In Texas, Senate Bill 154 (SB 154) would prohibit a motor vehicle operator from using a "wireless communication device" while under way, unless equipped for hands-free operation.

In Vermont, two measures are in play. House Bill 31 (HB 31) would make it a violation to use a "cellular telephone" while in motion on the highway, except in the event of an emergency. Enforcement would be secondary; i.e., police would have to first stop a driver for a suspected violation of another traffic offense. A more-restrictive bill, HB 126, addresses "distracted driving," and cites "any activity involving the use of one or both of the driver's hands if the activity is not necessary for the operation of the vehicle or any of its installed accessories." The bill would include activities ranging from smoking, eating or drinking to "performing personal grooming," "interacting with pets or unsecured cargo" and "using personal communications technologies." Hands-free cell phone operation would be permissible, however.

In Washington, House Bill 1214 (HB 1214) would outlaw such activities as "reading, manually writing or sending a message on an electronic wireless communications device." The measure does not include an exception for hands-free devices.

In Wyoming, two nearly identical measures are alive. The more general legislation, House Bill 152 (HB 152) addresses using "a cellular or satellite telephone while operating a motor vehicle" without a hands-free device. House Bill 284 (HB 284) contains essentially identical language but specifies drivers operating under an "intermediate permit." Both incorporate an exemption for Citizens Band, but not for Amateur Radio operation.

Henderson advises ARRL members to contact their Section Manager http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/org/smlist.html to learn about any initiatives under way to address the ham radio implications of a particular state bill.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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HB-2335 the Repeater Leasehold Excise Exemption

Success -- so far!

On Fri. 2 Mar. the following Hams attended the House of Representatives Finance Committee meeting in Olympia: Art N7CC, Bill KL7BB, Dave KC7RRH (with harmonics Ben and Sarah), Lee KI7SS, Mark KE7AYD (with his bride, Carolyn), Scott N7SS, and of course I was there. We all signed up to testify for HB-2335 but the bill's sponsors cautioned that the committee was very pressed for time and were already in favor of the bill. Based on that, KE7AYD and N7NVP provided the testimony. When one of the committee members asked a question about who else occupies a typical communications site on public land, KC7RRH provided a clear, succinct answer. Also testifying was a representative of the Pacific Co. Sheriff's office, who stated that during the Nisqually earthquake in 2001 the only communications out of the county was Amateur Radio. The Sheriff is very appreciative of the Amateur Radio support the county receives and encourages the legislature to pass the tax exemption.

While the staffer was reading the bill and its analysis, the Committee Chair commented that he had received more email on this bill than any other issue this year with the exception of the NASCAR track. Translated, that means you all did good! You deserve a "Very well done" for your part in the email/letter/phone call campaign. Thank you!

At this point the Finance Committee has received so many emails that their email accounts are overloaded and they don't have the time to answer all of the letters of support sent. I will prepare and mail a thank you letter, on your behalf, thanking them for their support of Amateur Radio.

Once our testimony was done, the public portion of the meeting was closed and the Chair opened the Executive session and called for a vote on our bill which was passed unanimously. Note that HB 2335 was one of four bills read to the committee that morning. None of the other three were voted on.

Current Status

Reps. Miloscia and Priest are shepherding the bill through the rest of the process. It needs to be "pulled" to the floor for a vote before it goes to the Senate. Representatives have been identified to pull the bill, and support for it on the floor is positive but still needs reinforcement. The sponsors are confident in their ability to get the bill passed by the full House floor vote. They will keep KE7AYD and me informed of the progress and will advise when we need to target the Senate with another communication barrage from the constituency.

The expectation is that the full House will vote on it this week. Their action will be documented at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2335 .

In addition to your letters and phone calls, some of the information provided to the committee to convince them that Amateur Radio repeaters are important; of the almost 25,000 licensed Hams in WA, almost half are restricted by license level and must use a repeater in order to provide emergency communications (I didn't mention simplex for clarity). They were also told we put in 40,000 volunteer hours and drove 87,000 miles during the last 10 months of 2006. And, they were reminded that the state has a history of supporting Ham radio as evidenced by our call sign vehicle license tags, significantly reduced rent at DNR communications sites for our repeaters and an annual Governor's proclamation for Amateur Radio week at the end of June.

Getting to Second Base -- What you can do to get the bill out of the House.

The next major step is for House Bill 2335 to be approved by the entire Washington State House. We anticipate the bill will come up for vote sometime this week (March 6-11). It is critical that statewide we express to our representatives how important it is for House Bill 2335 to be passed. Please contact your local district state representatives and let them know your feelings about House Bill 2335 as soon as possible.

Help them understand the important role Amateur Radio repeaters play in emergency communications. Let them know that Amateur Radio groups are unable to charge for the use of the repeaters because of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Tell them that without the passage of House Bill 2335 many of these systems may be forced to shut down because of the leasehold excise tax obligation. We anticipate that most House Representatives will be supportive of our case. Please be friendly, considerate and respectful. They will want to hear from you their constituents about the "HB-2335 Amateur Radio Repeater Leasehold Excise Tax relief bill."

To find out whom your local representatives are and their contact information please refer to http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/StateWide.aspx . Click on the map to link to your legislative district.

If you already know who your representatives are, you can lookup their email address at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/memberemail/Default.aspx?Chamber=H

Be sure and CC: your comments to Frank Chopp Speaker of the House: chopp.frank@leg.wa.gov.

Success can be assured with an effort by all the friends of Amateur Radio in Washington. This is progressing at a very rapid pace. Please do not delay in e-mailing your letter of support.

You can track the progress of the bill online by going to http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2335 . At that site you can also read all of the supporting documents that have been attached to the bill.

Please address any questions to: n7nvp@arrl.org .

Thank you very much to all who took an active part in getting us this far.


-- Ed, N7NVP

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The Ham and the Bum

A bum, who obviously has seen more than his share of hard times, approaches a well-dressed gentleman on the street.

"Hey, Buddy, can you spare two dollars?"

The well-dressed gentleman responds, "You are not going to spend in on liquor are you?"

"No, sir, I don't drink," retorts the bum.

"You are not going to throw it away gambling, are you?" asks the gentleman.

"No way, I don't gamble," answers the bum.

"You wouldn't waste the money at a hamfest for radio equipment, would you?" asks the man.

"Never," says the bum, "I am not a ham."

The man asks the bum if he would like to come home with him for a home cooked meal. The bum accepts eagerly. While they are heading for the man's house, the bum's curiosity gets the better of him. "Isn't your wife going to be angry when she sees a guy like me at your table?"

"Probably," says the man, "but it will be worth it. I want her to see what happens to a guy who doesn't drink, gamble or go to hamfests."

-- Bill Vodall WA7NWP

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