Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Services ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  September 2005
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents
--back to OARS home page

From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

Fall is rapidly approaching, and with it our winter storm season. Time to do all of the outside maintenance on our equipment while the weather is still nice. This is the time to check our antennas and coax to make sure that they have good, waterproof connections. This is especially important when we see the damage that can be caused by natural disasters such as the recent Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. We currently have three hams from the region deployed to provide assistance. From Grays Harbor County, George Stone, AC7AI, from Mason County, Omer Fournier, AD7DY and from Thurston County, our own OARS vice president, Duane Braford, WB7ROZ.

George and Omer, who went as volunteer radio operators through the ARRL ARES Mutual Assistance program, are in Covington, LA at this writing. George reported that local phone service was not restored there until Monday, September 12, which was two weeks after the storm.

Duane has gone down as a Red Cross Volunteer through Intel, where he works. He is currently in Austin, Texas, where he is helping to set up computer networking systems that are being deployed to various shelters to assist the people there with such tasks as finding housing, email, etc.

While we are on the subject of the hurricane Katrina disaster, I would like to suggest that the club members collect donations which can either be brought to this month's meeting or mailed to our club treasurer so that the club can make a contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund as they are in dire need of all the funds they can get.

Along these lines, the OARS Board of Directors recently voted to provide the local Red Cross office with new battery packs for there shelter radios. They had made the request to the Mt. Rainier Chapter just prior to the hurricane Katrina disaster and we quickly realized that with a disaster of this magnitude, they had little hope of getting the funding for this vital equipment. We should thank Paul Taylor, KC7LA, for his efforts and Ron Wilmont, of Electronic Resourcing Inc. as the local supplier for acquiring fresh batteries which all had a common expiration date, and providing them at a reduced price.

We should all be thankful that our major local natural disasters tend to be earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which luckily don't happen very often, as we each decide how much to contribute to this effort.

73 and see you on the 28th in room 280 at the courthouse.

-- Ken, K7TAG

Break Text

--back to table of contents

Amateur Radio Awareness Day to Feature Emergency Power Operating Event

What makes Amateur Radio unique is its ability to communicate with one another anywhere in the world -- and even in orbit -- without having to rely on any outside infrastructure whatsoever. Hams can even do this without being plugged into the wall socket. Experienced radio amateurs take this capability for granted, but the general public is far less aware of it. So, an Emergency Power Operating Event (EPOE) on Amateur Radio Awareness Day, Saturday, September 17, will highlight Amateur Radio's ability to communicate worldwide without commercial mains, the Internet, or a cellular telephone system.

"What better way to mark Amateur Radio Awareness Day than by calling attention to this unique capability?" says ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. "It is particularly appropriate since September is the Department of Homeland Security's National Preparedness Month."

Amateur Radio Awareness Day activities typically focus on increasing public awareness. Past events have included public demonstrations, talks to community groups and getting local media coverage. According to DHS, National Preparedness Month is aimed at encouraging Americans to prepare for emergencies and to raise public awareness about the importance of being prepared.

This Amateur Radio Awareness Day, September 17, the ARRL will sponsor a 15-hour Emergency Power Operating Event for stations operating off the grid. "It is not a contest," Sumner stresses. "It is simply a demonstration of what we amateurs can do without having to rely on the commercial mains, and what we will do whenever the need arises."

An announcement in September QST (page 49) spells out the details. The event kicks off at 1300 UTC on Saturday, September 17, and wraps up at 0400 UTC on September 18. The ARRL is inviting home stations to operate from generator or battery power. Mobiles and portable stations also are welcome to participate, although unlike Field Day, the emphasis is not on setting up a temporary station, but rather on operating your regular station on emergency power.

There is no set exchange; contacts may be casual, but operators are encouraged to share information on their emergency power sources in addition to the traditional signal report, name and location.

ARRL Maxim Memorial Station W1AW will be on the air for the event, running on emergency power from its 60-kW emergency backup diesel generator. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, says the whole point is to showcase that Amateur Radio is prepared during National Preparedness Month -- "and any time, for that matter," he adds. A special QSL will be available to stations contacting W1AW while running from an emergency power source. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with all QSL card requests, and indicate on your card the emergency power source used. (Address cards to W1AW, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.)

"I hope we can work stations operating on emergency power in all 50 states," says Sumner. "It should be a lot of fun, and we may even learn something!"

The League is encouraging participating radio amateurs or groups to invite local Citizen Corps leaders to see Amateur Radio installations in emergency power mode.

"The two events offer great opportunities for Amateur Radio to showcase its valued service to the nation," said outgoing ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO. She urged ARRL-affiliated clubs and Field Organization volunteers to take advantage of the occasion to set up public demonstrations of Amateur Radio and to present or even demonstrate -- under the banner of National Preparedness Month -- the free services Amateur Radio provides to the community.

ARRL Club/Mentoring Program Manager Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, believes a public Emergency Power Operating Event offers a great opportunity to recruit prospective hams for licensing classes that clubs may be forming this fall.

-- from the ARRL Letter

Break Text

--back to table of contents

Thanks to OARS for Elmering


Wanted to thank you for getting me some assistance. I have met with Chuck and Steve and they came to my shack and checked things out and hopefully with a little better propagation I should be contacting like crazy. Please let members know that often new people need help, but sometimes are reluctant to ask so as not to be a pest.

I didn't feel like a pest after the fellows made their checks of the equipment. I feel a little more like a member of the ham community. 73

Michael Baxter, K7MBB

Break Text

--back to table of contents

Treasurer's Report

As of 8/31/05

GENERAL FUND (checking account)

    Previous balance     $1,563.88

        Income                0.35

        Expenses             64.15

    Ending balance        1,500.08

REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

    Previous balance      $ 986.06

        Income                0.00

        Expenses              0.00

    Ending balance          986.06

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

Break Text

--back to table of contents


While waiting to register at a hotel, I overheard the couple ahead of me asking for a room with a king, queen or double bed. The clerk apologized and said that the only rooms available had twin beds.

Disappointed, the man remarked, "I don't know. We've been sharing the same bed for 44 years." "Could you possibly put them close together?" the wife asked.

Several people nearby smiled, and someone commented, "How romantic." Then the woman finished her request with, "Because if he snores, I want to be able to punch him."

-- from Joke of the Day, via Internet

Break Text
--back to table of contents

OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net one or more times in the month of August, 2005 (no report was received for August 30):


Net control stations for the month were WB7ROZ, WC7I, and 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.

Break Text
--back to table of contents


-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

Break Text

--back to table of contents

ARRL.net Improvements

ARRL.net, the ARRL's free E-mail Forwarding Service will be adding new features -- and will still be free to members! A switch in vendors for this popular service allows us to offer both spam filtering and virus scanning on messages sent to ARRL.net addresses for forwarding on to members' real e-mail addresses.

It's been almost 8 years since we introduced the ARRL.net E-mail Forwarding Service. In that time, the service has proven one of our most popular member benefits with over 65,000 members and affiliated clubs using arrl.net e-mail addresses for forwarding their e-mail messages.

Unfortunately, unsolicited commercial e-mail (spam) appeared on the scene soon after the introduction and, as everyone is painfully aware, has exploded to a point where it threatens to overwhelm Internet e-mail. The writers of computer viruses stepped up their efforts as well, using e-mail to spread their malicious codes, wreaking havoc with personal computers and, in some cases, putting proprietary information at risk. Internet Service Providers have been fighting to reduce the volume of these messages ever since with some of the larger, national providers spending millions of dollars a year on spam filtering and virus scanning.

We at the ARRL have, nonetheless, been searching for a solution we could apply to the ARRL.net service that would help reduce the amount of spam sent through the service to our members. And today we are happy to announce that we are able to offer the users of the ARRL.net service some additional protection for their e-mail accounts.

Beginning Thursday evening, September 1st, the ARRL.net E-mail Forwarding Service will include two new features, spam filtering and virus scanning. You don't need to do anything. Everything else with the ARRL.net service will remain the same.

(Members can review or modify the e-mail address they've selected for e-mail forwarding by visiting the ARRL Members Only Web Page, www.arrl.org/members-only http://www.arrl.org/members-only.)

Both services are being made possible by a change in the vendor for the service. Beginning on September 1st, we will be switching support for the ARRL.net service to Interbridge.net, the League's corporate Internet Service Provider and members will be able to take advantage of the same spam filtering and virus scanning facilities provided to League Headquarters' staff by Interbridge.net. This change in processing should help reduce the amount of spam and virus laden messages forwarded to ARRL members through the ARRL.net service.

I should add a word of caution, however. While we believe these changes will help, no one spam filter or virus scanner can be guaranteed to eliminate 100% of the unwanted or malicious messages that are directed to you. The need still exists to properly protect your personal computers through the installation of the appropriate security and filtering software. And, in addition, you need to continue to protect yourself from spammers by carefully protecting your e-mail address, be it your arrl.net address or your "real" e-mail address. Experts continue to caution against posting your e-mail address on public web pages and urge you to understand the specific privacy policies of those companies and others to whom you provide your personal information. It's the combination of all these things that will help eliminate these unwanted intrusions on your e-mail in-box.

Spammers, et al, are constantly looking for ways around current filtering technologies and, when they find them, filters need to improve to meet the new challenges. It is a never ending battle and over time, you will see the volume of spam increase and decrease as spammers improve their methods and we adjust the filtering parameters to meet them. We will continue to try and reduce these intrusions as much as possible without jeopardizing your valid e-mail messages. Again, we cannot eliminate all the spam, but we can reduce it significantly.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank every member of the ARRL and specifically those of you using the ARRL.net E-mail Forwarding Service for your patience as we've tried to find a workable solution.


Barry J. Shelley, N1VXY

Chief Financial Officer and Business Manager

ARRL, Inc.

Break Text

--back to table of contents

Comment deadlines set in FCC "Morse code" proceeding

The deadline to submit comments on the FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order (NPRM&O) in WT Docket 05-235, released July 19, is October 31. Reply comments are due November 14. The NPRM&O proposes to do away with the 5 WPM Morse code requirement for all license classes. The FCC turned away several other petition requests, however, including proposals to create a new entry-level license class.

Comment deadlines are established by the NPRM&O's publication in the Federal Register, which occurred August 31.

To file on-line comments on the FCC NPRM&O in WT Docket 05-235 or to view others' comments in the proceeding, visit the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Interested parties also may submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov.

People with disabilities may contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc) by e-mail, FCC504@fcc.gov, or telephone 202-418-0530; TTY 202-418-0432.

For additional information, contact William T. Cross, William.Cross@fcc.gov, in the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, 202-418-0680; TTY 202-418-7233.

An FCC Report and Order in this proceeding is not likely until late 2005 or early 2006.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLB021

Break Text

--back to table of contents

BPL Tales of Two Texas Towns: One Says "No," NPR Cites Success Elsewhere

An informational and lobbying campaign by local radio amateurs has headed off a broadband over power line (BPL) technology deal with a small Texas town that owns and operates the local electric utility. The city council in Castroville -- a town of about 3500 inhabitants -- voted 3-2 August 8 not to go into the BPL business with Broadband Horizons.

"For now, at least, BPL is a dead issue in Castroville, Texas," said ARRL member Ray Martinez, N5VRE, who credits the Amateur Radio community with researching BPL and helping inform decision makers and town residents of their concerns regarding its interference potential. Martinez says their message in letters to the editor and in contacts with city council members was that, while radio amateurs tend to support and embrace new technology, their collective opposition to the BPL proposal was "related solely to the interference issue."

But while hams in Castroville were successful, the same BPL purveyor was able to chalk up a victory in the City of Flatonia, which also owns its own utility system. The town's BPL experience was the focus of a very upbeat report August 16 on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program. NPR had contacted ARRL while producing the BPL segment, and the report that aired included a brief comment by ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, addressing BPL's interference potential.

"BPL that operates at the FCC limits can and does cause strong local interference problems on any spectrum it's using," declared Hare, who got approximately eight seconds in the approximately six-minute NPR piece.

But the BPL industry, NPR's Wade Goodwyn went on to assert, "has come up with a technological fix" to BPL interference to radio amateurs in the form of notching. Hare contends that what the network neglected to include from the much longer interview he gave NPR were his further observations that notching in and of itself is "not sufficient" to reduce interference to Amateur Radio or other HF users.

"We stressed several times and in several ways that notching helps, but it still leaves some interference to Amateur Radio," Hare recounted, "and that in system after system we have seen, international shortwave broadcast spectrum was not notched." Based on notching efforts in earlier BPL field trials, Hare says the BPL industry "is far from demonstrating that notching is a practical and effective way to address interference."

Included in the NPR report were BPL-flattering interviews with Flatonia Mayor Lori Berger, who called the $200,000 BPL deal "critical to the town's future." Also featured was a local woman who lauded the system's ability to quickly download e-mailed photos of her great grandchildren. Located midway between Houston and San Antonio, Flatonia boasts a dozen ham radio licensees among its some 1500 residents. The BPL system has been in operation since early August.

ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, says he was especially dismayed to hear Goodwyn's report, particularly after he and Hare had expended considerable effort communicating their concerns about the technology to Goodwyn. "I find it deeply disappointing to hear his sales pitch, in which major known flaws in BPL schemes are given one passing comment," he reacted. "NPR has a history of presenting fair, whole and balanced information on topics, but this piece lacked all of those qualities."

In its own 2003 comments to the FCC in the BPL proceeding, National Public Radio urged the FCC to "ensure that any use of BPL technology will not disrupt existing services," and, in particular, interfere with radio receivers. NPR's comments even cited an ARRL study that concluded BPL poses "a significant threat to Amateur Radio operations (and broadcasting) in the HF and low-VHF (TV channels 2-6) region."

Meanwhile, Texas Gov Rick Perry is mulling whether to sign Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), legislation that promotes and encourages BPL in the Lone Star State. The measure includes provisions to shut down interfering BPL systems. More information is on the Web site of ARRL North Texas Section Manager Tom Blackwell, N5GAR http://www.n5gar.info/.


Break Text

--back to table of contents


This is why we trail so many countries in math...

I was sitting in a cafeteria recently, next to a woman who was engrossed in her newspaper. One of the headlines blared: "12 Brazilian Soldiers Killed."

She shook her head at the sad news. Then, turning to me, asked, "How many is a Brazilian?"

-- from David, ZL3AI, via packet

Break Text

--back to table of contents
--back to OARS home page