Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the
Olympia Amateur Radio Society
P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

 October 2000
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

In this issue

  •  Year 2001 OARS Candidates
  •  Directory correction
  •  FCC cuts deal in Texas amateur interference case
  •  Minutes of the Thurston County ARES/RACES October 12 meeting
  •  California governor vetoes PRB-1 bill
  •  Treasurer's Report
  •  Computer Speak
  •  Calling All YLs
  •  ARES/RACES Training Schedule
  •  OARS Net check-ins
  •  ARRL advises caution in deploying ultra-wideband
  •  Signs of the times
  •  Tolerance and a Welcome Mat
  •  Lightning most common weather hazard people face
  •  Mom's day out

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    Year 2001 OARS Candidates

    The nominating committee has proposed the following slate of officers for the year 2001:

    Additional nominations may be made from the floor at the October meeting -- the election will follow. Be sure to attend and cast your vote.

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    Directory correction

    In the directory published last month, KD6ZBS's name was spelled incorrectly. It should be Frank Bergess (not Burgess). Sorry, Frank.

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    FCC cuts deal in Texas amateur interference case

    A Texas amateur facing an $8,000 fine in a malicious interference case instead will give up his Amateur Radio license for five years and make a voluntary contribution to the US Treasury. In exchange, the FCC will drop the fine. The FCC this week adopted a consent decree terminating the forfeiture proceeding against Technician licensee Robert L. Meyers, N5WLY.

    Last spring, the FCC affirmed $8,000 fines levied on Meyers and General licensee Paul E. Holcombe, K4TOF, both of Houston. The two were charged with causing malicious interference on a local repeater and with failing to identify.

    The terms of the agreement call for Meyers to turn in his amateur license and to agree to not reapply for a period of five years. In addition, Meyers has agreed to make a voluntary $1,000 contribution to the US Treasury. In return, the FCC will cancel its Forfeiture Order against Meyers--$7,000 for malicious interference and $1,000 for failing to identify.

    The consent decree only affects the case against Meyers, who has demonstrated to the FCC that he was financially unable to pay the fine. "We are proceeding to collection of the Holcombe forfeiture," FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth said. He indicated that Meyers now is cooperating with the FCC in its investigation. Meyers and Holcombe each received a Forfeiture Order last May from the FCC's Houston office. The fines followed an FCC investigation last year that involved the use of direction-finding equipment to track interfering signals to Holcolmbe's and Meyers' vehicles. As part of the consent decree, Meyers agrees to not contest the findings of the Forfeiture Order, but he does not admit that he committed the violations either.

    After the FCC first sent a Notice of Violation and then a Notice of Apparent Liability to each licensee, each responded by denying the allegations. The FCC was unconvinced by their assertions, and said their denials were contradicted by the observations of the FCC agent, who surreptitiously observed each vehicle while the Memorial Emergency Repeater Association's 145.47 machine in Houston was being interfered with.

    -- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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    Minutes of the Thurston County ARES/RACES October 12 meeting

    Allan, W7SAY, called the meeting to order at 7:33 PM. There were 14 members attending.

    Allan collected the unit 2 ICS answer sheets.

    All members introduced themselves.

    Tom, KA4VVA, displayed a small bag that would work well for carrying small pieces of equipment and tools and also a vest. He then discussed the training schedule for the upcoming year.

    Lee, KI7SS, spoke on the necessity of having some procedures established that would allow hams to respond to an emergency that might occur at an event in which we were participating as communicators.

    Dan, KC7AVR, spoke about Red Cross events.

    Dan, KB7DFL, inquired as to the costs involved in having an 8 hour first aid course held for the membership.

    Gard, KF6GAQ, spoke on the issue of satellites.

    Paul, KC7LA, said there was an upcoming dinner for rally workers in January.

    Allan spoke on the SET and stated that the district 4 leadership would like to see more check-ins from Thurston County into the state nets. 

    Dan, KB7DFL, said that the simplex information that was distributed at the OARS meeting was outdated and should be ignored.

    The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.

    -- Dan, KB7DFL

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    California governor vetoes PRB-1 bill

    California Gov. Gray Davis has vetoed a proposed Amateur Radio antenna bill. The measure, SB-1714, had passed both houses of that state's legislature. Davis had until September 30 to sign the bill. ARRL Pacific Division Director Jim Maxwell, W6CF, and Southwestern Division Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, expressed extreme disappointment at Davis' action. 

    "We are disappointed, to say the least, by this decision of the governor," Maxwell said in a statement on behalf of Heyn and himself. "We are also puzzled, for SB-1714 was passed unanimously by both the Senate and Assembly, and to the best of our knowledge had no organized opposition."

    Maxwell said the "1714" Steering Committee would be reviewing the decision and deciding on a course of action over the next few weeks. The California legislature has adjourned and will not be back in session until next January 3.

    The California measure carried a price tag of between $70,000 and $100,000 to fund studies and a model ordinance that lawmakers required. In a statement to the California Senate, Davis said he declined to sign the bill because funds for the studies were not included in his budget. 

    In his statement, Davis also said the topic of amateur antennas was "a local rather than a state issue."

    Amateur Radio operators in California had been urged in recent weeks to write Davis to encourage him to sign the measure into law. The bill was aimed at incorporating the language of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1 into state law. SB-1714 would have required any ordinance regulating Amateur Radio antenna structures to "reasonably accommodate amateur radio service communications" and "constitute the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the legitimate purpose of the city or county."

    So far, 10 states currently have incorporated PRB-1 wording into their statutes.

    -- from the ARRL Letter

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    Treasurer's Report

    As of 9/30/00

        GENERAL FUND (checking account)
            Previous balance $ 3,759.70
            Expenses              70.00
            Ending balance     3,757.16

        REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)
            Previous balance   $ 897.09
            Income                 6.90
            Expenses               0.00
            Ending balance       903.99

    -- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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    Computer Speak

    -- from ZL3AI, via packet

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    Calling All YLs !

    YOU are invited to check into the Evergreen Internet YL Net every Monday evening at 8:00 PM Pacific time on the BEARS repeater 145.33. This is a social net for women. It's purpose is to give all YLs an opportunity to communicate with others YLs and to encourage new YLs and give them an opportunity to become accustomed to speaking on the radio and using radio equipment. This is a great way to get acquainted with other YLs and make new friends.

    The net covers most of the Puget Sound area with check-ins from the Olympia area in the south to Bellingham in the North and many small towns in between. There is even a YL who checks in occasionally from Vancouver, BC

    Every March we have a table at the Mike and Key flea market in Puyallup -- our main opportunity to have an eyeball.


    Check in from wherever you are -- at home, your car or van, at a campground or on your boat!

    33 -- Hope to talk to you soon. 

    -- Sara AB7PS

    P.S. OMs -- do you have a wife, girl friend or daughter you would like to get interested in radio? Why don't you act as control operator and use your call sign to allow her to check in to the YL net?

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    ARES/RACES Training Schedule

    The Thurston County ARES/RACES training schedule for the remainder of 2000 and all of 2001 has been incorporated into the OARS web site calendar. From the web site, click on the calendar link, or go directly to the calendar using this URL:


    For November 9th 2000, the subject will be "Message Forms Certification," presented by Tom KA4VVA and Dan KB7DFL. This is a mandatory class for all ARES/RACES members.

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    OARS Net check-ins

    The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on October 3:

        AA7YD   AB7PS   K7CEZ   K7TAG


        KD6MNA  KI7SS   N6TPT   N7AGG

        N7GGX   N7JHJ   N7SSD   W3GE


    * Net Control Station

    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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    ARRL advises caution in deploying ultra-wideband

    The ARRL has advised the FCC to put its ultra-wideband -- or UWB -- technology proceeding on hold until more evidence is available on UWB's interference impact. Saying the technology could have enormous benefits for public safety, consumers and businesses, the FCC last May proposed amending its Part 15 rules to permit the operation of ultra-wideband on an unlicensed basis. The League filed comments September 12 in the Commission proceeding, ET Docket 98-153.

    UWB proponents claim the devices are capable of operating on spectrum that's already occupied by existing radio services without causing interference. The FCC says UWB deployment could permit scarce spectrum resources to be used more efficiently.

    The ARRL said that while it does not object "as a general principle" to authorizing UWB devices under Part 15, "UWB devices cannot be authorized on a blanket basis at this point without making assumptions which could very well be erroneous, and with potentially disastrous results for licensed radio services." The League said the UWB proceeding should be put on hold until test results are available on the impact of UWB and a further round of comments sought. Specific rules need to take into account "empirical evidence of interference potential from UWB devices," the ARRL said, and it questioned why the proceeding was issued before test results and analyses were received.

    The bulk of the League's comments focus on the potential for interference from UWB to Amateur Radio allocations. "Part of ARRL's reluctance is that some types of UWB operation will result in wideband noise across multiple amateur bands, something not likely to occur with most presently authorized Part 15 devices," the ARRL asserted. The League called upon the FCC to not authorize any UWB deployment below 2.5 GHz. The ARRL also asked the FCC not only to determine reasonable operating conditions for UWB devices but to also consider how it will address cases of harmful interference that may result from UWB deployment. And the ARRL said it wants the FCC to consider extending the protections it's considering for safety services -- such as GPS -- to the Amateur Service.

    The League attached to its comments rough calculations of the interference potential of various possible UWB configurations. It also offered to contribute to further studies now underway under the auspices of the NTIA and the Department of Transportation.

    "At this point, it is not reasonable to adopt rules for UWB devices," the ARRL concluded, "despite an apparent public interest in accommodating such devices." The ARRL's comments in the UWB proceeding are available at http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/et98-153/index.html

    -- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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    Signs of the times

    -- thanks to Donna Roylance

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    Tolerance and a Welcome Mat

    -- By Frank Faflon, N2FF, ARRL Hudson Division Director via the Hudson Loop

    April 15, 2000 marked an important milestone for Amateur Radio in the United States. It was the first time in over 60 years that US Amateurs can operate throughout all the HF bands without having passed a Morse code test at 13 WPM or higher. In 1937 the FCC upped the code speed to 13 WPM from 10 WPM.

    Many of the new upgraded hams will now be using the HF bands for the first time, and it appears there will be a lot of them from reports of crowds at recent VE sessions nation-wide. They will be operating both phone and CW, and some of them won't know what life is like on HF. They may not realize that one doesn't call CQ on HF by tuning to a quiet spot and announcing that they're "Listening on frequency." They won't know much, if anything, about band plans, about nets, about working "up," or a host of other things.

    They will need help, just as badly as you and I needed help when we first went on HF. They will need to learn things that have never been part of any FCC test. They will need guidance, not hostility and transferred anger from those unhappy with the new FCC license structure.

    Please, oh please, be generous with your help! Be tolerant of their mistakes and be friendly and tactful when you offer suggestions for improvement. Please, put out the welcome mat for them. Let them know also when they've done something right, not only when they've done something wrong. We certainly don't want a bunch of grouches turning them away from ham radio! It's going to be our task to Elmer them into Amateur Radio.

    Let's all provide them with a warm ham welcome.

    -- from ARNS, the Amateur Radio News Service

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    Lightning most common weather hazard people face

    While hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods capture most of the public's attention and concern, a dangerous weather hazard that most people encounter each year is a more frequently occurring and less recognized threat -- LIGHTNING. Based on improved scientific understanding of this deadly hazard, a group of experts is updating safety recommendations to reduce the danger. The recommendations are outlined in a paper in the October 1999 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society. 

    "Lightning occurs in the United States every day in the summer and nearly every day during the rest of the year. Since lightning strikes the ground with such great frequency and is so widespread, it is not possible to warn each person for every flash," the authors wrote. "For this reason, lightning can be considered the most dangerous weather hazard that many people encounter each year." According to the authors, studies show that from 1992 to 1995 there were an average of 21,746,000 cloud-to-ground flashes a year. 

    On average, lightning causes more casualties annually in the United States than any other storm-related phenomena, except floods. "After taking into account the under reporting of lightning deaths and injuries, about 100 people are estimated to be killed and more than 500 injured by lightning in the U.S. each year. 

    Inappropriate behavior

    "We found that many people incur injuries or are killed due to misinformation and inappropriate behavior during thunderstorms," said the authors. "Although the scientific understanding of lightning has advanced significantly in the last few decades, a consistent match between basic science and applications to safety had not been made."

    The group, made up of qualified experts in lightning safety and education issues, set out to standardize recommended actions during thunderstorms and lightning. The recommendations published in the October Bulletin were developed by the group and are now in the process of review. 

    The group recommended the safest locations during a storm are large enclosed structures (substantially constructed buildings) and fully enclosed metal vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses, vans and fully enclosed farm vehicles with windows rolled up. 

    Places to avoid even being near, the article reported, include high places and open fields, isolated trees, unprotected gazebos, rain or plastic shelters, baseball dugouts, communications towers, light poles, wooden, or metal bleachers, metal fences, convertibles, golf carts, and water. When inside a building, one should avoid using a telephone, taking a shower, washing hands, doing dishes, or making contact with any conductive surfaces with exposure to the outside, such as metal door or window frames, electrical wiring, telephone wiring, cable TV wiring, and plumbing. For individuals, the article noted, "Generally speaking, if an individual can see lightning and/or hear thunder, he/she is already at risk. Louder or more frequent thunder indicates that lightning activity is approaching, increasing the risk for lightning injury or death."

    "If the time delay between seeing the flash (lightning) and hearing the bang (thunder) is less than 30 seconds, the individual should be in or seek a safe location."

    Danger Ignored

    Many lightning casualties occur in the beginning, as the storm approaches, because people ignore. these precursors. Also, many lightning casualties occur after the perceived threat has passed. Generally, the lightning threat diminishes after the last sound of thunder, but may persist for more than 30 minutes. 

    When thunderstorms are in the area but not overhead, the lightning threat can exist even when it is sunny, not raining, or when clear sky is visible.

    Weather Fact:

    Heat lightning is not a special form of lightning. It is simply the reflection of regular lightning off atmospheric dust layers from distant thunderstorms below the horizon.

    This is from the spring 2000 issue of "The Storm Chaser," a publication of the National Weather Service, Cleveland, OH, & Skywarn, via ARNS.

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    Mom's day out

    My parents had not been out together in quite some time. One Saturday, as Mom was finishing the dinner dishes, my father stepped up behind her. "Would you like to go out, girl?" he asked. Not even turning around, my mother quickly replied, "Oh, yes. I'd love to."

    They had a wonderful evening, and it wasn't until the end of it that Dad confessed. His question had actually been directed to the family dog, lying near Mom's feet on the floor.

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