Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  November 2003
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackNovember is here. The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and another year is almost over.

At last month's meeting, the annual elections were held with a new slate of officers being elected. Leroy, N7EIE, will be president, and Duane, WB7ROZ, will be vice president. I believe that this change in leadership will be good for the club. Please give the new officers the great support that you have given to Lee, KI7SS, and me for the past 2 years.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Tom Dennis, KA4VVA, on his appointment as Thurston County EC/RO for ARES/RACES and to thank Dan Crane, KB7DFL, for his past service as EC/RO. We look forward to the participation of both of them in the future.

I have been reading some predictions about the future of wireless technologies, and it is said that the number of cell phones will surpass the number of landline telephones in the U.S. within 2 years. Plus, they are saying that the future of computing and networking is going to cause a huge increase in the deployment of other wireless technologies.

These technologies are going to place additional pressure on the commercial demands for the already scarce spectrum space, which will put more pressure on our available spectrum as more companies and technologies seek to get the bandwidth, and the FCC looks at it as an additional source of revenue.

I urge you to support our voice in Washington, the ARRL, in its efforts for the Spectrum Defense Fund. If you are not already, then I urge you to become a member of the ARRL, because they are our only organized lobby with the government and Congress.

Another way that you can support these efforts is to make sure that you report all the time that you spend in support of public service, either directly to the ARRL or through the local Emergency Coordinator, Tom, KA4VVA. All of the time reported is used to support the ARRL's lobbying efforts and to show that we really are meeting FCC 97 which uses the word "service" five times in the first paragraph as our reason for existing. The time reported should not only include actual public service events, but maintaining your station or the club's repeaters, and the training you take to support theses efforts, and also teaching or working with new and prospective hams to further these efforts.

I know that together we can continue to keep this hobby great, and protect our available bandwidth. 73.

-- Ken Dahl, K7TAG


No OARS meeting in November

As voted at a meeting earlier this year, when the normal 4th Wednesday meeting date falls on the day before Thanksgiving, that meeting is delayed by one week. This means that this year, the "November" meeting will be held on December 3. It will meet at the Thurston County Courthouse, Building 3, Courtroom #1. This will be the last meeting of the year.


From the VP

This solar flare business certainly has my attention! Band conditions are alternately great or lousy. and one doesn't know when the change will occur. The lousy piece came to me during JOTA. I was at Camp Thunderbird with a whole passel of scouts, had put up what I thought would be a great dipole setup, and then wasn't getting much propagation, I guess due to solar flares. No second-guessing Mother Nature, I guess! Anyway, we made contact with a few stations, notably one in California, and talked half the afternoon just fine. But I really wanted some DX!

The October OARS meeting saw the election of new officers, who will be picking up the OARS reins in January. We have, then, one "official" meeting left, the first Wednesday in December. And then we have -- I hope -- a holiday dinner somewhere. My son and his buddy have moved into my "studio" that I've hosted the holiday dinner at for the last two years, with the result that it's not really a good choice anymore. It is, if truth be told, a pretty good mess. So, the question is where, and when, or even IF, we do the holiday dinner? Got any good ideas? We need to make a decision on this soon. Personally I'd like to have the dinner in early January, as the holiday season usually sees my time squeezed pretty hard, and funds pretty well taken. Let me know of your favorite spot, please!

The Technician class is half way finished as I'm writing this. There are a dozen new hams in the making. I didn't get a chance to see how many General candidates are in the other room, but I'd guess half a dozen anyway. We will be having a test after the class, so if you're studying, come on out. It's November 22, one o'clock, at the Mormon Church on Overhulse Road on the westside.

I'm on the Board at TCTV, the community cable TV channel. Recently TCTV had a fund-raiser. They brought in environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy, brother of President Kennedy. I'm also a long-time Toastmasters member. Toastmasters teaches speaking technique, speech writing, and meeting management. I mention this to qualify myself as a reviewer of the TCTV fund-raiser.

Mr. Kennedy was the best speaker I've seen, ANYWHERE, and I've seen a lot of presenters and studied their styles more than carefully. I'd like to emulate the charismatic speaker mystique, and there's no one I'd like to emulate more than Mr. Kennedy! WOW!

You shoulda been there. I didn't see anyone from the ham community. Odd, I thought, but maybe you were all on the air and the QSOs were really interesting? Either you didn't hear of the speech, or why you weren't there is a total mystery. I'd like to know how come so few of you made this wonderful event!

TCTV is a little like the average ham club. You need special skills and interests to get involved in TCTV, and TCTV is your only real opportunity to do more than make home movies on cheap camcorders. They offer the skills training for free, by the way. Anyway, at TCTV you can use quality equipment and produce a quality video, one that the whole community will see. TCTV is viewed by 80,000 homes locally, so there really is an audience! But like the average ham club, it suffers from the geek syndrome. You know that one. Say to most people that "I'm a ham radio operator" and you'll get a startled stare. They don't have a clue. We're a niche group. So it is with TV-heads. There's only a couple hundred TV-trained people affiliated with TCTV, a measly number, given that it's essentially free.

The trouble is, TCTV is a lot more expensive than the average ham club, because TV costs much more to manage. TCTV is therefore always short of funds, and just now it's really stuck, to the tune of nearly $100K short. So some radical surgery will probably occur soon, if the station doesn't just disappear. That Kennedy thing was a loss -- despite a massive advertising campaign, a great keynote presenter, and an excellent location, it was a loss. If you've got any great ideas how to keep them on the air, let me know. TCTV is floundering.

So what do you think of the new repeater? Still has intermod, so clearly it wasn't our equipment and it is, in fact, not our doing. The subaudible tone seems to have helped, but not eliminated, the issue. The downside is the loss of access by all those older two meter radios that lacked subaudible tones. I have one, an IC-2AT, a 20+ years old handheld. But then, I've a use for it, as part of an APRS system.

We have a new V.P. coming aboard in a month, and the V.P.'s job is to set up the programs for the year. What particular interest do you have that we might highlight? Want to see more presentations like last month's, with Ron W7NN? How about some more DXpeditions on videotape? Or should we make the club meetings happen at JJ North's? It's YOUR club -- what do you want it to do; how do you want it to function? Now's the time to put in your 'druthers!!

See you December 3rd. Until then, 73!

-- Lee, KI7SS


Treasurer's Report

As of 10/31/03

GENERAL FUND (checking account)

    Previous balance     $ 2,545.60

        Income                  .80

        Expenses           1,743.15

    Ending balance           803.25

REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

    Previous balance       $ 972.10

        Income                 0.00

        Expenses               0.00

    Ending balance           972.10

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer


Conversion factors

For those who thought the hardest part of Physics 101 was the constant conversion from MKS or CGS units to English units, here are some useful English system conversions:

-- from Joke of the Day, on Internet

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Ditter II -- the Return of the Ditter

Some solid teamwork between the FCC and the ARRL and accurate direction-finding led some Amateur Radio volunteers to the source of an unidentified and continuous string of dits being transmitted without identification on 14.024.8 MHz. The situation last week was eerily similar to one more than three years ago, when another volunteer eventually tracked down another "ditter"

http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2000/07/28/2/ on the West Coast that had plagued 20 meters. After receiving reports of the more recent signal, ARRL Field and Regulatory Correspondent Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG, found he was able to copy it from ARRL Headquarters. The ARRL called upon the FCC's HF Direction Finding (HFDF) facility in Maryland to get a bearing on the signal.

"Really aggravating," is how the HFDF facility's Betty Mallay, KL7AP, described it. "Of course, it doesn't help when others try to 'dit-dit-dit' along with it," she added wryly.

The HFDF facility was able to localize the signal's source to the vicinity of Houston, Texas. Skolaut then called on ARRL South Texas Official Observer Coordinator Carl Griffin, KA5KQZ, to see if any of his volunteers had direction-finding equipment that could pin it down.

Two of them -- who prefer to remain anonymous -- took on the challenge. Their DFing led to a location in a Houston suburb that was within three miles of where the FCC's HFDF facility said it would be.

As in the earlier case, "Ditter II" apparently had no idea his station was transmitting. "I called him on the phone, and he went and checked the station and it had something up against the keyer," one of the volunteers said in his report to Griffin. "He was embarrassed." Left unanswered was why the unidentified amateur's transmitter was powered up and ready to transmit in the first place.

Complimenting the OOs on their quick work, South Texas Section Manager Ray Taylor, N5NAV, took a philosophical view. "I monitored it several times with about S7 signal," he said. "We all make mistakes at times."

-- from The ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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Awards on TV

Can you believe how many award shows they have now? It seems like they have an award show for everything. They even have awards for commercials! The Clio Awards -- a whole show full of commercials. I taped it and then I fast-forwarded through the whole thing.

-- 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 between September 2 and October 21:


The net meets at 7:30 every Tuesday evening on the OARS repeater: 147.36 MHz. All Hams are invited to check in.

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NWS/ARRL Skywarn Recognition Day Set for December 6

The fifth annual SKYWARN Recognition Day will take place Saturday, December 6, 2003, 0000 UTC to 2400 UTC. During the special event, Amateur Radio operators visit National Weather Service (NWS) offices and contact other operators around the world. The purpose of the event is twofold: to recognize Amateur Radio operators for the vital public service they perform during times of severe weather and to strengthen the bond between radio amateurs and their local NWS office. The event is cosponsored by the American Radio Relay League and the National Weather Service.

Traditionally, hams have assisted the National Weather Service during times of severe weather by providing real-time reports of severe events and storm evolution. "You simply can't put a price tag on it," said Scott Mentzer, N0QE, organizer of the event and Meteorologist-In-Charge at the NWS office in Goodland, Kansas. "The assistance that radio amateurs provide to the NWS throughout the year is invaluable."

This year, radio amateurs once again proved their worth. On May 4, after tornadoes knocked out all communications in Stockton, Missouri, portable ham radio stations were set up and staffed by volunteers, with licensed NWS employees forwarding specific forecasts to hams at the Stockton Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In August, an Amateur Radio storm spotter in Iowa tracked a tornado until it lifted, providing the local NWS office in the Quad Cities with "ground truth." This resulted in more specific information and earlier warnings being disseminated to the public.

The story doesn't stop there. Deployed during a winter storm last March, hams in Fairbanks, Alaska reported pinpoint locations of freezing rain and snow. The information was relayed on 2 meters, which allowed the local NWS office to sharply define the warning area and provide detailed statements of ice accumulation. In Wisconsin, a volunteer operator reported to the NWS office at early one spring morning and solicited snowfall reports from amateurs across the region, allowing the NWS to produce a detailed snow graphic and make a public statement summarizing the storm. Amateur Radio success stories such as these occur every year, all across the country.

In 2002, participants logged nearly 23,000 QSOs during the 24 hour event. Last year nearly 70 countries were contacted. To learn more, check out the NOAA Web site. (Thanks to David Floyd, N5DBZ, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NWS Goodland, Kansas)

-- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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Senior Emergency

An elderly lady called 911 on her cell phone to report that her car had been broken into. She was hysterical as she explained her situation to the dispatcher: "They've stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal, and even the accelerator!" she cried. The dispatcher said "Stay calm, an officer is on the way."

A few minutes later, the officer radioed in. "Disregard," he said, "she got in the back seat by mistake."

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Texas Antenna Case Shows PRB-1 Is No Paper Tiger

A Texas amateur antenna case has affirmed again that the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/local/prb-1.html has teeth when it comes to compelling municipalities to reasonably accommodate Amateur Radio communication. It took some time, persistence and considerable aggravation, but in the end the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas -- Houston Division -- ruled in favor of Orin Snook, KB5F, of Missouri City. The court determined in late August that Snook could keep his 114-foot antenna structure.

In a 63-page Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law http://users3.ev1.net/~osnook/34.pdf that Snook has posted on his Web site, US District Judge David Hittner said the city "failed to meet the FCC's requirement of reasonably accommodating Snook's amateur communication needs in accordance with PRB-1." Missouri City had attempted to limit Snook's tower to 65 feet, limit the size of his antenna array and required removal of the 100-foot structure for which it already had granted him a building permit. Snook, who is ARRL Fort Bend County Emergency Coordinator and an Official Emergency Station, argued that he needed the higher structure to permit him to operate VHF and UHF effectively in an emergency.

The court declared the city's height restrictions, antenna array restrictions and structure removal requirement "preempted, void and unenforceable." Hittner ordered the city to grant Snook a specific use permit allowing his tower and antennas to remain, although Snook must maintain an existing screening of mature trees surrounding the tower.

Although Texas adopted a PRB-1 statute in 1999, it was Snook who made the city council aware of PRB-1. Even so, the city rejected the recommendation of its planner and building inspector to issue Snook whatever permit was necessary under the relevant federal law.

The court found the city "failed to attempt to negotiate a satisfactory compromise with Snook" and rejected consideration of any height extending above the trees. Snook secured the services of professional engineer Kent Marshall, W5TXV, who testified to Snook's need for a 100-foot structure instead of the compromise 65 footer.

For Snook, Hittner's decision is half a loaf because he failed to prevail on several other non-PRB-1 issues, including purported malicious prosecution and his convictions on 21 counts of violating city statutes in the course of the years-long row. Snook alleges that his wife also lost her job with the city as a result of the dispute. The battle, he estimates, also has left him some $35,000 poorer. "It's a tough victory that's extremely hollow right now," Snook told ARRL. "The 21 criminal convictions of ordinances written after the antenna went up were largely ignored." Hittner determined that the city had, indeed, changed its ordinance, then required Snook to comply with it, even though it already had issued him a building permit in 1999.

Snook also points out that while the court ordered the city to pay his costs, that does not include his attorneys' fees or a damage award. In addition, the city gets to keep its ordinance -- which he'd tried to get thrown out. "The judge ruled strongly in our favor but protected the city as best he could too," he said.

Hittner's decision was based on case law that's well known in amateur antenna legal circles. Among decisions cited was Pentel v City of Mendota, argued successfully by attorney and ARRL Dakota Division Director Jay Bellows, K0QB. Also cited was Marchand v Town of Hudson. In that case, ARRL New England Division Vice Director and Volunteer Counsel Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, represented the amateur involved in written and oral arguments before the New Hampshire Supreme Court, while ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, filed an amicus brief. Imlay and Bellows both discussed Snook's case with him by telephone.

Snook seeks contributions to his KB5F Legal Defense Fund via his Web site http://users3.ev1.net/~osnook/.

-- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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Although we were being married in New Hampshire, I wanted to add a touch of my home state, Kansas, to the wedding. My fiancee, explaining this to a friend, said that we were planning to have wheat rather than rice thrown after the ceremony.

Our friend thought a moment. Then he said solemnly, "It's a good thing she's not from Idaho."

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