Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

May, 2000                                                                                                         Edited by George Lanning KB6LE

Contents of this issue

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GPS selective availability is history

As of the first of the month, your GPS receiver became a whole lot more accurate. President Clinton ordered GPS selective availability terminated as of midnight on May 1.

Eric Lemmon, WB6FLY, called the action "a huge benefit to hams who are into APRS, because the SA error will no longer hamper its accuracy." Selective Availability was an error introduced for national security purposes. It prevented GPS from being as accurate as it could have been for civilian users. With SA turned off, accuracy is expected to be as much as 10 times better.

Harry Pyle, AB7TB, charted the error at the changeover. His data show the GPS error -- typically in the 100 to 200 foot range -- dramatically dropping to something on the order of from 10 to 20 feet when SA was turned off. 

Chuck Heron, KD7BWG, suggests one area of caution. "Most topographic maps used in the United States are in NAD27 CONUS datum. Some of the newer mapping programs available for APRS and computer usage are in WGS 84 datum," he points out. Before attempting to use GPS for some coordinated activity, such as during a disaster response, Heron recommends putting all GPS units on the same map datum (this is typically done via a navigation setup screen on the GPS unit). This will put all users on the same page, so to speak, when using GPS coordinates in conjunction with hard-copy or CD-ROM maps. 

More information on the elimination of SA is at:


-- thanks to Eric Lemmon, WB6FLY; Chuck Heron, KD7BWG; and Harry Pyle, AB7TB 

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Restructuring Army Signal Corps style

by Tom Dennis

All this talk about license changes and restructuring the code requirements is not new to some of us. The United States Army Signal Corps went through the same situation over 20 years ago. At that time, field communications job titles, or Military Occupational Skills (MOS) went something like this: 

O5B (That's an "Oh," not zero) Radio / Morse Code Operator

O5E Voice Radio Operator

O5D Teletype / Morse Code Operator

O5F Teletype / Radio Operator

And finally my job, a combination of all of the above, an O5C "Radio and Teletype / Morse Code Operator".

We worked out of shelters on the back of trucks and using the abbreviation for Radio and Teletype, we were forever RATT Rig operators. (That's RAT not RATTIE.)

To graduate Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia, you had to copy 15 words per minute, (five random characters per word), before you could pass. They would send 5 minutes of constant text and numbers, and then score you by the best area where you had a solid 75 characters with no errors.

Well, in 1978 the Army realized code had passed its useful life, like the signal mirror and lantern. They restructured the jobs to where you were either a radio / morse operator with Special Forces / Rangers / Delta Force (O5B), and for all others became Radio / Teletype operators (O5C).

We "code" people did not take it well. So, the Army gave us special identifiers on the end of our MOS skill codes, and we became O5CA4's, the A4 showing we were code qualified at 15 WPM. When promotion time came around, it was an advantage in that it was considered "specialized training skills" and gave people more points towards the next rank.

In my twelve years with the Signal Corps, I never sent or received one message by Morse code. But to many of us it was a pride issue, and we would spend time testing one another using those confusing military "Z" and "Q" signals.

By my retirement in 1988, they had restructured again, eliminating the field telephone wireman and radio / teletype into one job title: "Combat Signaler." I have heard that after Desert Storm, different job titles are now the "in names" like 'data specialist' and 'tactical communications technician' the grandsons of Morse code, Teletype and Radio. Now the Army only trains about a few people a year on code and mainly for special operations.

So we finally have restructured in amateur radio. We see the Army knew it was coming almost a quarter of a century ago. They have even restructured twice since then! Maybe they should have told the ARRL and FCC when they first started. I don't think anyone in uniform had to become a silent key before the changes took effect.

With Packet, APRS, ATV and the like, maybe we hams are becoming just "data specialists" also, and for those die-hard code senders, maybe they should get a special designation on their license, kind of like a vanity specialty call sign.

Well, now that I have stirred the HF pot up some more, I'll ZKJ INT RGR K. 

-- Tom Dennis, KA4VVA

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Walla Walla Onion Fest

Mel KK7SR sent this, and it sounds like a lot of fun.

The Ham and Onion Patrol of the Walla Walla Valley Amateur Radio Club will help commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion (the one and true sweet onion) with a Special Event Station on July 14-16, 2000.

Held in conjunction with the annual sweet onion music festival, station W7O will operate on or around the following frequencies: 3,960, 7,260, 14,260, 21,360, and 28,460 MHz.

Special prizes will be given to contacts in a number of categories such most tearful contact, best onion related phonetics in a call sign, and others that we make up as we go. Rumor has it that our technical department is trying to figure out a way to power a QRP transmitter using an onion as a power source.

The WWVARC Art Department has come up with what will be THE certificate of year. It features a picture of the H&O Patrol on maneuvers. Those wishing one to commemorate their participation in this event should send a 9X12 SASE to W7O, c/o Mel Hickman, P. O. Box 2234, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

This is definitely a station to look forward to with relish, one that will leave you crying if you miss it.

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President Haynie proposes "The Big Project"

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, thinks Amateur Radio is on a roll right now, and he wants to harness some of that momentum to keep the hobby on the crest of the wave in years to come. Enter "The Big Project."

The Big Project -- as it's being called for now -- is a corporate-education partnership that Haynie views as nothing less than a bold investment in the future of Amateur Radio.

"Our school initiative would put Amateur Radio in the middle schools," Haynie explained today during a visit to ARRL HQ. "We're in the process of developing the framework for this at the moment."

The project, now in its early stages and under the guidance of ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, WT3P, initially would attempt to raise $1 million in corporate and foundation contributions. The idea would be to not only develop a turnkey Amateur Radio curriculum but to provide equipment to bring it to life in the classroom.

The ARRL Board of Directors will hear a progress report on The Big Project when it next reconvenes for its July meeting.

Haynie said the League does not want to reinvent the wheel. The Big Project hopes to borrow from the best of what's already in place in terms of programs that integrate Amateur Radio into the curriculum. As he sees it, Amateur Radio could play a role in helping to enhance knowledge of geography, math, electricity and electronics, and physics. 

"We've consulted with a lot of teachers throughout the United States to help us with the curriculum," he said. The initial pilot project could involve from 300 to 600 middle schools across the US. "It's time to do some bold things," Haynie declared.

Haynie does not expect The Big Project to immediately generate huge numbers of new licensees. He likened the concept to contributing to a retirement plan. "This is long-term," he said. "This is not instant gratification. This is an investment in the future of Amateur Radio."

During his visit to HQ, Haynie said he thinks license restructuring has brightened the overall mood of the Amateur Radio community. "What I see in my travels throughout the country is a resurgence -- a revival if you will -- of excitement in Amateur Radio, and this is good," he said. "This is something we've needed for a long time."

As Haynie sees it, bringing The Big Project to fruition will continue to fuel the optimism that pervades the hobby. He says the League would be derelict if it did not take advantage of the opportunities The Big Project presents.

"Amateur Radio is on a roll right now," he said. "We want to stay on this roll of success."

-- from The ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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Treasurer's Report

As of 4/30/00

GENERAL FUND (checking account)

Previous balance   $ 2,080.29
Income                 960.27
Expenses              1305.00
Ending balance       1,735.33

REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

Previous balance     $ 890.32
Income                   0.00
Expenses                 0.00
Ending balance         890.32

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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FCC debuts ULS Internet filing

Amateurs now can file Universal Licensing System applications via the Web! With little fanfare, the FCC opened ULS to Internet filers on April 29. It formally announced the system this week.

ULS users now can file applications and notifications via the Internet for all services previously only available by dial-up connection to the Commission's Wide Area Network. To access the new capability, visit the ULS home page http://www.fcc.gov /wtb/uls and click on "Online Filing." (Users may ignore the on-line survey.) Applicants must first be registered with ULS and use their ULS password to log onto the system.

The ULS -- the FCC's interactive on-line licensing application, modification and renewal system for wireless telecommunications services -- was deployed for the Amateur Service last August 16. ULS also lets users research the status of applications filed in ULS and licenses issued by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

WTB Chief Thomas Sugrue said this week that many ULS users had requested the ability to access ULS through the Internet in order to utilize their high speed Internet connectivity. He also addressed concerns about the security of transactions handled via the Internet.

"We now have the technology in place that assures the integrity and security of data transmitted over the Internet along with high speed connectivity," he said. "This is another step forward in the expanding functionality of ULS."

The FCC has told the ARRL that making online payments -- to file a vanity call sign application and pay on line, for example -- requires that users be running the 128-bit encryption version of Netscape Communicator Ver 4.73 or later. The FCC says Netscape 4.7, 4.61 and 4.51 have been tested and are compatible with the ULS. While different browsers and platforms other than Windows-based systems may work for some ULS functions, the FCC currently supports only these recent versions of Netscape for online filing tasks. Netscape 4.6 and versions earlier than 4.51 are not compatible with ULS, however.

Filers should configure browsers to enable Java and Java Script and to accept all cookies. Users also will need to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 or later as a plug-in to their Web browser. Netscape and Acrobat are available free via the Internet.

ULS support for other browsers and platforms, such as the Mac, is in the works and should be available shortly. The FCC will continue to provide dial-up access to the ULS. Information on making a dial-up connection is available via the ULS home page by clicking on "Connecting to ULS."

Those experiencing problems logging onto the ULS should contact ULS Tech Support at 202-414-1250.

-- from The ARRL Letter

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Sunday School

In Sunday School, they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. 

Later in the week, his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said,

"Johnny what is the matter?"

Little Johnny responded,

"I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife."

-- from "Joke of the Day"

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ARRL launches continuing education pilot project

The ARRL has launched the developmental phase of a Certification and Continuing Education Program pilot project in emergency communications. That announcement came this week from Dan Miller, K3UFG, who recently assumed responsibilities as ARRL Certification Specialist in the new program. 

Since February, members have been offering comments and suggestions via the Certification and Continuing Education Program's Web-based educational forum http://www.arrl.org/members-only/forums/w-agora.php3. Responses showed a need and desire for emergency communications to be the very first -- and most important -- topic for further study and learning. A special interest forum was begun in March under the leadership of Pat Lambert, W0IPL, to gather more details.

Results and progress can be found by browsing the Emergency Communications topic of the forum, http://www.arrl.org/members-only/forums/w-agora.php3?bn=agora_certemerg

Miller says the next step in putting together an emergency communications curriculum will be to pull together all the training material available from various sources. Once the information's in one place, it can serve as a resource in disaster-response planning.

"If you have a current training plan for any type of public disaster and/or emergency communications, such as SKYWARN, ARES/RACES, NTS-affiliated, or other plan, please share with us so we can share with the world," Miller said. E-mail submittals are preferable, but regular mail also is acceptable. Send submittals to Dan Miller, K3UFG, k3ufg@arrl.org, or to ARRL Continuing Education Pilot Program, ATTN Dan Miller, K3UFG, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.

Miller said he hopes to have the emergency communications curriculum in place for the pilot project by the end of this summer.

The ARRL Board of Directors approved the development and implementation of the self-education Continuing Education and Certification Program for radio amateurs at its January meeting. The program is aimed at inspiring amateurs to continue to acquire technical knowledge and operating expertise beyond that required to become licensed.

Miller says that anyone wanting to participate in the program who is not yet an ARRL member can take advantage of a special membership offer for those taking part in the Continuing Education Pilot Project. Call or e-mail Miller for details at 860-594-0340; fax 860-594-0259; e-mail dmiller@arrl.org.

-- from The ARRL Letter

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State Mottoes

-- AB7RG via packet

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OARS Net checkins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on April 26, 2000:

        AA7YD     AB7PS     K7CEZ

        KB7JDL    KC7FED    KC7LA

        KD6ZBS *  KI7SS     N7DDE

        N7JHJ     N7SSD     W7SAY


* Net Control Station

The net meets at 7:30 PM every Tuesday evening on the 3 linked OARS repeaters: 147.36, 224.46, and 441.40 MHz.

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Satellite APRS tracking

As you plan your summer trips, remember that there are 9 amateur satellites you can use with your mobile FM rig and a whip antenna! From 7 to 12 AM and PM local sun time there is almost always one in view wherever you are. Use them to communicate your position/status/messages or Email. If you are traveling in remote areas, plan on taking advantage of them!

Three are FM voice.

Three are BBSs, with message store and forward.

Three are live digipeaters at 1200 baud needing only a laptop (no TNC) to send back E-MAIL and/or status/ messages to a web page Two may be live two-way digipeaters for live QSOs and text messaging.

We hope traveler communications from all will be available via WEB pages. To serve these travelers, we also need volunteer ground stations too - you can even do it with an HT and a handheld antenna!

See http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/astars.html

or join aprssat@lists.tapr.org and tell us you are new so we can fill you in on the details.

de WB4APR, Bob

thanks to Steve Stroh N8GNJ

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Third party traffic

Third Party Traffic, what's that? Well, as officially defined, third party traffic is "a message from the control operator of an amateur radio station (first party), to the control operator of another amateur radio station (second party), on behalf of another person (third party)." If someone gives you a message to send to another station, that's third party traffic. If you let a visitor to your station pick up the mike and say "hello," that's third party traffic. Sending or receiving formal radiograms is third party traffic. Autopatching and phone patching are third party traffic. And so on -- you get the idea. 

Generally, third party traffic is allowed between any stations licensed by the FCC. But also generally, third party traffic is prohibited with most foreign stations -- not by the FCC, but by the foreign governments. The following is a listing of the foreign governments that have signed third party agreements with the US. So a visitor to your station can talk to an amateur in Canada, but not an amateur in France! 

V2 - Antigua/Barbuda
LU - Argentina
VK - Australia
V3 - Belize
CP - Bolivia
T9 - Bosnia-Herzegovina
PY - Brazil
VE - Canada
CE - Chile
HK - Colombia
D6 - Comoros (Federal Islamic Republic of)
TI - Costa Rica
CO - Cuba
HI - Dominican Republic
J7 - Dominica
HC - Ecuador
YS - El Salvador
V6 - Federated States of Micronesia
C5 - Gambia, The
9G - Ghana
J3 - Grenada
TG - Guatemala
8R - Guyana
HH - Haiti
HR - Honduras
4X - Israel
6Y - Jamaica
JY - Jordan
EL - Liberia
V7 - Marshall Islands
XE - Mexico
YN - Nicaragua
HP - Panama
ZP - Paraguay
OA - Peru
DU - Philippines
VR6 - Pitcairn Island*
V4 - St. Christopher/Nevis
J6 - St. Lucia
J8 - St. Vincent and the Grenadines
9L - Sierra Leone
ZS - South Africa
3DA - Swaziland
9Y - Trinidad/Tobago
TA - Turkey
GB - United Kingdom **
CX - Uruguay
YV - Venezuela
4U1ITU - ITU, Geneva
4U1VIC - VIC, Vienna

* Since 1970, there has been an informal agreement between the United Kingdom and the US, permitting Pitcairn and US amateurs to exchange messages concerning medical emergencies, urgent need for equipment or supplies, and private or personal matters of island residents. 

** Limited to special-event stations with callsign prefix GB (GB3 excluded).

-- from ARNS, Amateur Radio News Service

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