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 2006
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 


Table of Contents



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ARRL plans federal court appeal of certain BPL rules

The ARRL Executive Committee is expected this weekend to ratify plans to appeal in federal court certain aspects of the FCC's Part 15 rules governing broadband over power line (BPL) systems. Assuming the EC signs off on the strategy, the League will file a Notice of Appeal by October 22 with the US District Court of Appeals - DC Circuit. ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the League went forward with its appeal plans only after considering the effect on licensed spectrum users of letting the BPL rules stand. "This decision was made after careful review of the FCC's October 2004 BPL Report and Order (R&O) and of the August 2006 Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) that dealt with petitions for reconsideration," said Sumner.

Several reconsideration petitions of the initial R&O -- including one from ARRL -- called on the FCC to strengthen rules aimed at protecting licensed radio systems from BPL interference. Instead, in a new rule only revealed after the FCC made the MO&O public, the FCC limited the extent to which an unlicensed, unintentional radiator has to protect a licensed mobile station.

The new rule, 15.611(c)(1)(iii), provides that BPL operators only have to reduce emission levels below established FCC permissible limits by 20 dB below 30 MHz and by 10 dB above 30 MHz -- even if that's not enough to resolve harmful interference complaints.

Sumner contends the rule change contravenes the International Radio Regulations and the Communications Act of 1934. "The FCC has, in effect, tried to redefine harmful interference," he said. "It can't do that. The Commission doesn't have the authority to do that, and we're going to demonstrate that to the Court of Appeals."

What the FCC has done with respect to licensed mobile services "should strike fear into the hearts of those who rely on public safety communications," Sumner added, especially since the rule requires BPL operators to do even less above 30 MHz than at HF.

The Commission also declined to adjust the 40 dB per decade "extrapolation factor" applied to measurements performed at distances from power lines other than those specified in Part 15. Sumner says this is an important technical point because the existing Part 15 rule causes test results to underestimate actual field strength. Petitions for reconsideration from the ARRL and others argued that a figure closer to 20 dB per decade was more appropriate. Sumner called the Commission's stand on the 40 dB per decade rule "clearly, demonstrably and inarguably wrong."

He said the principles that the FCC appears to be following for the first time -- if applied generally -- represent an abuse of licensees' rights. "It's unacceptable that the FCC would reduce the rights of its licensees in favor of unlicensed, unintentional emitters," he said. "Remember that 'unintentional emission' is just another term for 'spectrum pollution.'"

Sumner made it clear that the League is not suing BPL providers for causing interference, nor suing the FCC for failing to enforce its own rules against harmful interference. "We are not satisfied with the level of attention the Commission is paying to existing cases of BPL interference, but this is not the time to pursue that in federal court," he said.

While the separate standard for what constitutes harmful interference to a mobile and the 40 dB per decade extrapolation factor issues precipitated the decision to appeal, Sumner said, the arguments the League puts forward in its court filing may touch on other matters as well."The court is not going to rewrite the rules," Sumner explained. "The court can make the Commission go back to the drawing board and re-decide them, however."

- ARRL Bulletin ARLB018

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Greetings from Baghdad

Some of you are shaming me for not writing more often. I've been pretty busy lately with the new job I mentioned in August (I'm the Targeting/Fusion Cell NCOIC). When I'm not working, I've been running and sleeping. There isn't much exciting to write about with a schedule like this!

Speaking of running, they have a 10-mile run event coming up on the 8th of October where the participants who complete the run get a free t-shirt. I did a "test run" this morning doing 3 laps around our outside perimeter wall which is an even 9 miles (3 miles each lap). I was able to finish it in 1:29:52. The extra mile shouldn't be a problem, so my chances at a t-shirt are pretty good.

We had a visit by General Chiarelli (3-star) a couple of weeks ago. I had the honor of giving him a quick show and tell of our Fusion Cell and how we do targeting. You've probably seen General Chiarelli on TV since he does a lot of the press conferences. He looked pretty unusual here in person stomping around in his tanker boots.

The only other big news I have is that I may be staying here longer than planned. It looks like I'll be extended to cover my current job through the end of the 5th Special Forces Group's deployment here in Iraq. This means I'll be turning the shop back over to the 10th Group guys when they come back in March 2007. It's "only" 4 more months...

I really appreciate all the prayers, letters, e-mails and care packages from you folks. It's an honor to serve here. Life is tough at times, but the support back home makes a big difference and smooths out the rough spots! Thanks!

IS1 Ed Braaten, MID

FOB Central

APO, AE 09342

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Mis-directed Traffic

An Illinois man left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day.

When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email. Unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had written her email address, he did his best to type it in from memory.

Unfortunately, he missed one letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher's wife, whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her email, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream and fell to the floor in a dead faint. At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

DEAREST WIFE: JUST GOT CHECKED IN. EVERYTHING PREPARED FOR YOUR ARRIVAL TOMORROW.

P.S. SURE IS HOT DOWN HERE.

-- from "Joke a Day"

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Radio jammer Jack Gerritsen gets seven years, fines

It was a day a lot of radio amateurs in Southern California had been anticipating for a long time. On September 18, US District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner sentenced convicted radio jammer Jack Gerritsen, now 70, to seven years imprisonment and imposed $15,225 in fines on six counts -- one a felony -- that included transmitting without a license and willful and malicious interference with radio transmissions. Before sentencing, Gerritsen apologized to the federal government, the FCC and the local Amateur Radio community, which had endured the brunt of Gerritsen's on-air tirades and outright jamming. "I'm sorry, and I apologize to everyone here," Gerritsen told those in the courtroom.

Gerritsen's contrition did nothing to convince Klausner toward leniency. The judge berated Gerritsen as a repeat offender and said he believed Gerritsen would continue to commit similar offenses. The sentence even exceeded US District Attorney Lamar Baker's recommended 46 months incarceration.

In addition to the prison time, Klausner fined Gerritsen $225, payable immediately, and an additional $15,000 to be paid through the Probation Department. Klausner tacked on two years supervised probation and recommended Gerritsen remain in custody in Southern California during that period.

Klauser further ordered Gerritsen to participate in a substance abuse program at his own expense. He told Gerritsen he could not use any identification, including his previous Amateur Radio call sign KG6IRO, other than his real name when identifying himself, and he told Gerritsen he could not own, possess or use any radio transmitting equipment.

The FCC had been investigating complaints of illegal radio transmissions linked to Gerritsen for four years. According to court documents, the FCC investigation revealed that Gerritsen transmitted both prerecorded messages and real-time harassment and profanity for hours at a time, often targeting local Amateur Radio repeater systems and precluding their use by licensed operators.

Following trial last December, Gerritsen was found guilty of causing malicious interference with a communications system operated by the United States -- a felony. The court also found him guilty of two misdemeanor counts of willful or malicious interference with radio communications and three misdemeanor counts of transmitting radio signals without a license. Gerritsen has been in custody since his conviction.

The FCC has already levied $52,000 in fines on Gerritsen for violating its rules and the Communications Act.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB017

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Treasurer's Report

As of 9/30/06


    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 2,366.79

            Income                 0.48

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         2,367.27


    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance       $ 995.60

            Income                 2.54

            Expenses               0.00

    Ending balance               998.14


-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on September 19:


AA7YD AB7PS AC7MG K7TAG
K7VRE KB6LE KB7DFL KC7FEE
KC7LA KD7TQW KE7EJJ KG6EIE
KI7CQ KI7SS M5MUR N7IVM
N7WK W3OZ

Net control station reporting for the month was K7VRE. 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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Silent Key

We note with sadness the passing of former OARS member Robert Brown, KA7KSK.

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ARRL On-Line Auction

The first-ever ARRL on-line auction will begin October 23, 2006 at 10 am ET. You can preview the auction now at http://www.arrl.org/auction.

You'll find HF and VHF transceivers, ARRL Lab tested and reviewed equipment, exotic vacations, antennas, Amateur Radio jewelry, robotic kits, rare books, vintage gear, and more! Register now or anytime during the auction.

The ARRL On-Linen Auction will benefit a wide range of ARRL education programs. These encompass activities designed to license new hams, strengthen Amateur Radio's emergency service training, offer continuing technical and operating education with distance learning courses, and create varied instructional and educational materials.

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FCC releases long-awaited "Omnibus" Amateur Radio Report and Order

Ending a protracted waiting period, the FCC's Report and Order in the so-called "Omnibus" Amateur Radio proceeding, WT Docket 04-140, was adopted October 4 and released October 10, 2006. In it, the FCC adopted nearly all of the proposed changes in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released back in 2004. The FCC has:

+ expanded the phone subbands in the 75 and 40 meter bands;

+ permitted auxiliary stations to transmit on portions of the 2 meter band;

+ permitted the use of spread spectrum on 222-225 MHz;

+ permitted amateurs to retransmit communications from the International Space Station;

+ permitted amateur licensees to designate a specific Amateur Radio club to receive their call sign in memoriam;

+ prohibited an applicant from filing more than one application for a specific vanity call sign;

+ eliminated certain restrictions on equipment manufacturers;

+ permitted Amateur Radio stations in Alaska and surrounding waters more flexibility in providing emergency communications;

+ clarified that "amateur stations may, at all times and on all frequencies authorized to the control operator, make transmissions necessary to meet essential communication needs and to facilitate relief actions";

+ deleted the frequency bands and segments specified for RACES stations;

and

+ deleted the requirement for public announcement of test locations and times.

In addition, the FCC took several other miscellaneous actions:

In "refarming" the frequencies currently authorized to Novice and Technician Plus licensees, the Commission increased the voice segments for General, Advanced and Amateur Extra licensees.

On 75 meters, Generals will be able to use voice from 3800-4000 kHz, an increase of 50 kHz. Advanced class licensees will be able to use voice from 3700-4000, an increase of 75 kHz, and Amateur Extras will be able to use voice from 3600 to 4000 kHz, a generous increase of 150 kHz.

On 40 meters, Advanced and Extra Class licensees will be able to use voice from 7125-7300 kHz, an increase of 25 kHz. General class licensees will be able to use voice on 7175-7300 kHz, an increase of 50 kHz.

On 15 meters, General class operators will have phone privileges on 21275-21450 kHz, an increase of 25 kHz.

ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, expressed the ARRL's gratitude to the FCC Commissioners in a letter dated October 11: "On behalf of the ARRL and the Commission's licensees in the Amateur Radio Service I want to express appreciation for your release yesterday of the Report and Order in WT Docket 04-140 (FCC 06-149) amending Part 97 of the Commission's Rules. The Commission's action in clearing this pending proceeding will assist the Amateur Radio Service in meeting its objectives, particularly with regard to providing emergency and public service communications.'"

The changes will go into effect 30 days after the R&O is published in the Federal Register.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB019

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ARRL requests members' input on recent FCC "Omnibus" Report and Order

The ARRL is requesting member input concerning the FCC's Amateur Radio proceeding, WT Docket 04-140, released October 10. The Report and Order will not take effect until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. This publication date is not yet known.

The complete text is available for viewing as a PDF file on the FCC Web site,

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-06-149A1.pdf. A summary is available on the ARRL Web site, http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2006/10/11/100/.

The ARRL is specifically seeking member guidance on how the changes will affect current operating activities on 80, 40 and 15 meters (see the current ARRL band plans,

http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/bandplan.html , and an ARRL FAQ, http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/wt04-140/faq.html , which includes a chart showing the band changes).

Comments may be submitted by e-mail to bandplan@www.arrl.org. All e-mails will be read and considered, but individual responses will not be possible due to the message volume expected. The deadline for comments is October 31.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB020

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Oops!

The photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene was too thick to get any good shots, so he frantically called his home office to hire a plane. "It will be waiting for you at the airport!" he was assured by his editor. As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway.

He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, "Let's go! Let's go!" The pilot swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air. "Fly over the north side of the fire," said the photographer, "and make three or four low level passes." "Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I'm going to take pictures! I'm a photographer, and photographers take pictures!" said the photographer with great exasperation. After a long pause the pilot said, "You mean you're not the instructor?"

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Milkman

One morning, after her husband had gone to work, his wife decided to have a leisurely bath. She undressed and then remembered that the gas was still on in the kitchen. Wrapped in a towel, she went downstairs.

She was about to turn off the gas when she heard footsteps. She realized at once that it was the milkman since the arrangement was for him to deliver the milk to the kitchen. So she ran to the nearest door, the broom cupboard, and made it just in time.

The footsteps grew louder and the door opened. It was the man from the Gas Company who had called to read the meter.

For a moment she was speechless. Then she said, "Sorry, I was expecting the milkman."

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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Performance Evaluations

(Purported to be actual employee performance evaluations. Sure...)

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

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