Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  October 2004
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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Emergency Communications Part 1

-- By Tom Dennis, KA4VVA, Thurston County ARES/RACES EC/RO

What a timely topic for this month's newsletter and meeting! We've all seen the activity at Mount St. Helens, and of course the local ham radio community has been gearing up for any possible eruptions, etc. What about yourself?

Don't believe all of the "out-house" rumors from people with no connection to local amateur radio emergency communications services. Read the following and try to be ready in case of need be.

A If you or others need assistance after a manmade or natural disaster event, get on any of the three OARS repeaters and call for help. If the repeater is not functioning, then use the OARS REPEATER OUTPUT frequency in SIMPLEX mode and ask for help. Due to your location, you may need to get another station to relay your message.

B. Next, follow this outline PRIOR to keying up the radio!

Want to know more about ARES/RACES? Check out our web page at: http://www.wwa-district3-ares.org/thurston_county/ or call me during the day at 786-5500.

-- Tom Dennis KA4VVA

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Mystery Signal

"Intruder signal" on 40 meters remains a mystery for now

An unidentified signal that's been showing up on the 40-meter phone band on or about 7238 kHz has mystified amateurs in the western US and Canada, where it's been heard frequently for the past few weeks. Although it resembles a steady carrier, a closer inspection suggests that the intruding signal actually is a series of closely spaced signals. Don Moman, VE6JY, in Edmonton, Alberta, says the signal is quite loud at his QTH.

"This signal looks a lot more interesting than it would sound -- just a broad tone/hum/buzz, depending on where you tune," he said. One spectrogram from VE6JY showed perhaps a half-dozen or more discrete signals. "It's certainly loud enough out here, peaking broadly south-southwest from Edmonton," he said. Moman was using a 5-element Yagi and was hearing the signal at 10 dB over S9.

That conforms with observations reported by Bob Gonsett, W6VR, at Communications General Corp (CGC). He says engineers at the CGC lab in Fallbrook, California took a quick look at the intruder September 6 at around 2120 UTC and found "several close-spaced CW carriers -- perhaps from one specially modulated transmitter, perhaps from transmitters at different locations," he reported. CGC reported the signals appeared on 7238.063, 7238.150, 7238.237 and 7238.412 kHz, with the 7238.237 kHz signal being "the strongest of the group."

While no one's sure what it is, the FCC HF Direction Finding Facility has been able to determine that it's coming from somewhere north of Prescott, Arizona, and west of Interstate 17. FCC monitoring indicates the "buzz" is centered on 7238.1 kHz with a bandwidth of about 1 kHz and spikes spaced at about 90 Hz apart.

Reports to the International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 Monitoring System indicate the signal has been heard from about 1700 to 2130 UTC, although Moman reported hearing it at around 0300 UTC and said the signal even went off the air for a few seconds while he was listening to it. Jack Roland, KE0VH, in Colorado also heard the signals for a couple of evenings this week. "Something is not right there," he remarked.

High Noon Net Manager Bill Savage, N5FLD, in Albuquerque, New Mexico said several net participants -- in Nebraska, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota and Arizona -- were able to hear the mystery signal.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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New Element Found

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Governmentium." Governmentium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 11 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no elections, it is inert. However, it can be detected, as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete, when it normally takes less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quality referred to as "Critical Morass."

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium -- an element which radiates just as much energy, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

-- found on the Internet

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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 September 7, 14, or 21:


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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Treasurer's Report

As of 9/30/04

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $299.69

            Income             65.06

            Expenses           43.00

        Ending balance        321.75

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance    $ 978.61

            Income              1.87

            Expenses            0.00

        Ending balance        980.48

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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ARRL Announces New Radio Frequency Propagation Course

A new course, "Radio Frequency Propagation" (EC-011), is the latest in the League's catalog of Certification and Continuing Education (CCE) courses. Registration for the propagation course will remain open through Sunday, September 26, and the first class will begin Friday, October 15.

The course curriculum was written by Ian Poole, G3YWX, and edited by Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, and Terry Dettmann, WX7S. A noted DXer, Luetzelschwab writes the "Propagation" column for WorldRadio magazine and occasionally fills in for Tad Cook, K7RA, to write the weekly ARRL propagation report. Dettmann is the CCE program's mentor coordinator and also a propagation expert.

Those signing up for EC-011 will study the science of RF propagation, including the properties of electromagnetic waves, the atmosphere and the ionosphere, the sun and sunspots, ground waves and sky waves, and various propagation modes -- including aurora and meteor scatter.

Over the course of 15 learning units they'll also engage in various listening and logging activities and visit several Web sites that deal with solar phenomena related to radio wave propagation. The course runs 12 weeks and students can earn 2 Continuing Education Units.

Tuition for the course is $65 for ARRL members and $95 for nonmembers.

RF Propagation students will need to have an HF receiver to complete the various course-related activities. All on-line CCE courses also require access to a computer with an Internet connection as well as e-mail and Web navigational skills.

Poole's text, Radio Propagation -- Principles & Practice, is the optional reference manual for the course. Published by the Radio Society of Great Britain, the 112-page book offers a practical understanding of radio propagation and serves as a guide to choosing the right band at the right time for the desired communication path.

To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page http://www.arrl.org/cce or contact the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Program Department cce@arrl.org.

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Are These Really the Golden Years?

Three old guys are out walking. First one says, "Windy, isn't it?" Second one says, "No, its Thursday!" Third one says, "So am I. Lets go get a beer."

A man was telling his neighbor, "I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect." "Really," answered the neighbor. "What kind is it?" "Twelve thirty."

Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young lady on his arm. A couple of days later the doctor spoke to Morris and said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?" Morris replied, "Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.'" The doctor said, "I didn't say that. I said, 'you have got a heart murmur. Be careful.'"

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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FCC Poised to Act on BPL Report and Order in mid-October

The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) will present a draft broadband over power line (BPL) Report and Order to the full Commission when it meets October 14, the ARRL has learned. More than 6100 comments have been filed on the topic since the FCC released its initial Notice of Inquiry in the proceeding, ET Docket 03-104, in April 2003 and a subsequent Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), ET Docket 04-37, in February of this year. The ARRL so far on this round has taken its concerns regarding Amateur Radio and BPL to three of the Commission's five members. In a meeting this week with FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, an ARRL delegation again asserted that the FCC is pushing the proceeding to a predetermined conclusion with little regard for technical issues.

"Because the FCC has been unwilling to release for public review the results of its own tests and observations of BPL systems, the ARRL has no confidence that the draft Report and Order will be based on sound engineering and believes the rush to adoption is unwarranted and premature," ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said in a follow-up letter to Adelstein. The letter reiterated the League's key points that, it said, "represent the minimum protection" that should be incorporated into the BPL Report and Order prior to Commission adoption.

"Without adequate safeguards, the deployment of BPL systems will result in the pollution and degradation of the unique natural resource of the high-frequency radio spectrum," Sumner said.

The League argued that a reduction in the radiated emission limit for BPL systems be included in the R&O. The ARRL wants the limit set 30 dB below current Part 15 requirements, which, it says, were established with narrowband point-source radiators in mind. "The record in this proceeding clearly establishes that BPL is not a point-source radiator," the ARRL's letter asserted.

The ARRL pointed out that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has concluded that at the current Part 15 limit, interference is "likely" to receivers in land vehicles 75 meters from BPL-connected power lines and to fixed stations 460 meters from such power lines.

"Given the number of amateur stations and the fact that they almost invariably are located near power lines, the areas of potential interference at the existing Part 15 limit are clearly too large to permit case-by-case resolution of interference issues," Sumner said. Based on past experience with BPL field trials, the ARRL told Adelstein, "widespread BPL deployment at the existing Part 15 radiated emission limit will result in an unmanageable incidence of interference."

Arguing for a reduction in the radiated emission limit, the ARRL said mandatory "notching" of the amateur bands by 30 dB would reduce the probability of interference to amateur stations sufficiently that the remaining interference cases might be resolved on a case-by-case basis. "However," the League added, "such notching would not solve the problem for other radio services."

Other points the ARRL has stressed in its meetings with Commission members include:

* consider including the NTIA's recommendations to standardize measurement procedures and to require that Access BPL systems be certificated, not merely verified.

* requiring independent confirmation of rules compliance before a BPL system is placed in operation.

* the need for advance public notification of BPL system locations and characteristics, something not included in the NPRM.

* performance standards for interference mitigation that would require that interference be terminated immediately upon notification to the operator; and meaningful penalties for non-compliance, including fines.

* require BPL marketers to "give clear notice to potential customers that licensed radio services have priority and that the delivery of broadband service via BPL cannot be guaranteed."

In addition to Adelstein, ARRL representatives have met so far with Commissioners Kevin J. Martin, and Michael J. Copps. The League hopes to meet with the principal advisors to Chairman Michael K. Powell and Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy before the October 7 cutoff for ex parte communications in the proceeding.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB027

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Humor Articles

-- A note from the Editor

I like to include material that I find humorous in each issue of Watts News, and have received quite a bit of favorable comment on that practice. However, I received a complaint regarding the article "Plastic Surgery" in last month's issue, stating in effect that politically oriented material is out of place in a radio club newsletter.

I included it for what I considered its humor, not with the intent of affecting anyone's vote, but I offer my apologies to those who found it offensive. That said, here is this month's quote on politics: "Politicians and diapers both need to be changed often -- and for the same reason."

-- George, KB6LE

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At age 4 success is . . . . not peeing in your pants.

At age 12 success is . . . having friends.

At age 16 success is . . . having a drivers license.

At age 35 success is . . . having money.

At age 50 success is . . . having money.

At age 70 success is . . . having a drivers license.

At age 75 success is . . . having friends.

At age 80 success is . . . not peeing in your pants.

-- from KD4GCA via packet

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One evening after dinner, my five-year-old son Brian noticed that his mother had gone out. In answer to his questions, I told him, "Mommy is at a Tupperware party." This explanation satisfied him for only a moment.

Puzzled, he asked, "What's a Tupperware party, Dad?" I've always given my son honest answers, so I figured a simple explanation would be the best approach. "Well, Brian," I said, "at a Tupperware party, a bunch of ladies sit around and sell plastic bowls to each other." Brian nodded, indicating that he understood this curious pastime. Then he burst into laughter.

"Come on, Dad," he said. "What is it really?"

-- from David, ZL3AI via packet

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Australian Amateurs Seek to Stake a Claim at 500 kHz

The Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) has announced plans to request the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) to establish an experimental amateur allocation at 500 kHz.

"The best way to do this is to establish a small slice of spectrum around 500 kHz -- probably 495 to 510 kHz -- as an Amateur Radio band," said WIA Director Glenn Dunstan, VK4DU. "The band would also provide a unique opportunity for experimentation with antennas, propagation, advanced narrowband modulation techniques and receiver digital signal processing."

A former shipboard radio officer, Dunstan noted that 500 kHz was the international maritime Morse code distress frequency for most of the 20th century. Following the introduction of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) in 1999, 500 kHz use has declined rapidly, Dunstan said. China, the last official user of the frequency, plans to discontinue operation there next year.

Dunstan concedes that since 500 kHz remains allocated to the Maritime Service, gaining a permanent amateur foothold there is "some way off," but the WIA is hoping that Australian authorities will grant access to some spectrum there in the meantime for experimental use.

The ARRL and the RSGB have expressed some interest in a 500 kHz Amateur Radio allocation. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1 and various US amateur long-wave groups also are actively pursuing experimental use of 500 kHz. Additionally, the IARU favors a worldwide Amateur Radio band at 135.7 to 137.8 kHz and is seeking support for such an allocation at World Radiocommunication Conference 2007.

-- The ARRL Bulletin

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I realized that my five-year-old grandson had been watching too many reality TV shows the day we attended a relative's wedding. As the four bridesmaids walked down the aisle toward the front of the church, he turned to me and asked, "Is this where the groom decides which one he wants to marry?"

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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