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ARRL Bulletin 4 ARLB004 From ARRL Headquarters Newington CT January 14, 1999
The FCC's Amateur Radio enforcer, Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, turned up in an unexpected place January 13--75 meters. In what could be an unprecedented move, Hollingsworth, legal advisor for amateur enforcement within the FCC's Compliance and Information Bureau, showed up at around 3894 kHz to discuss enforcement and encourage compliance.
''A couple of them were pretty shocked,'' he said. ''This has never been tried before,'' Hollingsworth said the next morning. He said he broke in on an argument that was growing increasingly nasty in an effort to settle things down, then stayed to discuss enforcement with the hams on frequency.
Hollingsworth says he thinks one key to compliance is just getting people to listen to what he has to say. ''Most people, if you can just get to them on a one-to-one basis, they'll listen,'' he said,
reflecting his overall enforcement approach to attempt to reason violators into voluntary compliance rather than writing them up.
During his time on the air, Hollinsgworth confronted one individual he'd already been in touch with about alleged on-air misbehavior. Among other things, he told those on hand that noncompliance and inappropriate on-air behavior could even threaten the hobby's HF allocations. Hollingsworth advised hams to be more tolerant and patient and to avoid confrontation or retaliation.
''We all have to realize we're on a mission here: to save Amateur Radio,'' he said the day after his 75-meter appearance. ''There are going to be licenses lost and fines owed.'' The jammers already are well on their way to ''hanging themselves'' right now, he said.
Even as he preached better behavior, Hollingsworth says he understood from the others on frequency that someone was attempting to jam his signal. ''I hope the monitoring folks were on the frequency too,'' he said.
Hollingsworth advised the hams on 75 to contact him with enforcement problems, and he gave out his e-mail address and telephone number, firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-338-2502. ''I don't know what effect it will have,'' he said of his on-air foray. Hollingsworth says he'll ''do what it takes'' to improve amateur compliance, and that could include future on-air visits with amateurs.
''I've gotten a lot of feedback this morning by phone and e-mail asking me to do it more often,'' he said. ''We'll be listening more and asking to be allowed in QSOs more.''
Hollingsworth, who's based in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, took over the FCC's most recent Amateur Radio enforcement initiative last September.
"Fully half of the amateur problems on HF relate to a specific group of jammers--malicious interferers who apparently enjoy disrupting as much amateur communication as possible," said Hollingsworth, the FCC's point man for amateur enforcement within the Compliance and Information Bureau. "Enforcement action against this group is long overdue."
Hollingsworth has prepared a report to his boss, CIB Chief Richard D. Lee, detailing his findings and fingering the most serious violators in a "top 10" list which he declined to make public just yet. His memo urged "immediate enforcement action."
Hollingsworth said he's talked with more than 250 people on the amateur enforcement line (202-418-1184) since the end of September, when the FCC's latest amateur enforcement initiative kicked into high gear. In addition, he has received more than four dozen letters and e-mailed comments concerning problems in the Amateur Service. Hollingsworth has concluded that, while most amateurs abide by the rules, a few habitual offenders continue to flout the law.
"We are not going to stand for the Amateur Service to be further degraded or destroyed by them," he said.
Hollingsworth says that jamming and deliberate interference is the most common problem, accounting for 31% of all complaints. Repeater misuse and jamming account for another 29%. But he considers the HF abuses--most typically reported on 75 and 20 meters--to be the more serious offenses because they can be national or international in scope. Other general problems accounted for another 17% of the complaints, Hollingsworth said. A full 10% of complaints concerned an unlicensed individual in California who already has spent time in jail for past convictions.
Hollingsworth has sent out 30 informal "warning letters" to individual operators as a result of complaints. The letters warn the recipients that a complaint has been received about the recipient or someone using his or her call sign, indicate that the allegations--if true--could jeopardize the amateur's license, and request the recipient to contact the FCC to discuss the matter.
"In almost every case the recipient has contacted us," he said. "In one case, the licensee contacted us, apologized, and reports since that time indicate that the licensee has become a model operator." Some amateurs have reported to the ARRL that amateur behavior has improved--dramatically in some areas--since word hit the street that the FCC was taking amateur enforcement seriously. For its part, the League has said it is willing, for now, not to pursue its request to further privatize amateur enforcement.
Hollingsworth says the warning letters will continue, but now he's taking aim at the hard-core scofflaws within the Amateur Radio community. "We have now let everyone out there know we're back," he said. Continued violations will "guarantee" license revocations, fines, or--in extreme cases--equipment seizures.
"Church is out now," he said. "We mean business and we're strapped in and ready to ride." Hollingsworth said Amateur Radio rulebreakers "continue these violations at their own risk."
Time: November 2, 1998, approaching 18:29:46 EST. Place: 41.1016 deg N, 81.5629 deg W (more or less), a small park in West Akron near St. Sebastian's Church. Catherine and I stand looking at the sky to the north-northeast. As the moment approaches, what I take to be an airplane approaches the spot. I feel irritation, because it is very close to the time and it looks like the plane is going to fly right into our observation area. I stop paying attention to it, but Catherine doesn't. As she says "Brian, I think that's it", I look at it again. I focus on it and instantly decide that she's right. It gets much brighter, very fast, and then quickly dims and then vanishes. The whole event is over in under fifteen seconds.
If we didn't know what we had just seen, we might have suspected a UFO. But that isn't what it was. What we saw was an Iridium flare. This column will describe how you can see them, too.
An Iridium flare, also called an Iridium flash, is a reflection of sunlight at certain angles of incidence from the very reflective surface of an Iridium satellite. There are currently 79 Iridium satellites in low earth orbit, providing cellular telephone service to any point on Earth. Given this many satellites in only six orbital planes, it isn't hard to see an Iridium flash, if you know where to look. On average, in our area, we can expect to see one or two per day. Occasionally you can see several within a few seconds of each other. On November 15 in the Akron area, we should be able to see two at the same spot at the same instant. One photo posted on the web shows five trails in one image during a 90 second exposure.
The magnitude scale used for brightness is a logarithmic scale: large negative values are the brightest. We were fortunate to see a flash of magnitude -7, which is thought to be the maximum brightness for this phenomenon. For comparison, the normal brightness of an Iridium satellite is +6; the brightest star, Sirius, is -1.5; Venus at its brightest is -5; the moon is -12 and the sun is -27. Our flare was roughly six times brighter than Venus when we saw it, about 100 times less bright than the moon. The response of the eye is not linear (fortunately!), so while it looked very bright, it wasn't dazzling. The flash brightness is about 150,000 times brighter than the normal light reflected by an Iridium satellite.
How did we know where to look for the satellite? We used the web, of course. If you send your browser to http://www.gsoc.dlr.de/satvis/ , you will go to the German Space Operation Center Satellite Visibility home page. It's in English and isn't completely devoted to Iridium flares; it also covers other satellites and space artifacts that can be easily seen from the earth's surface. From this page, you need to specify your observation point's latitude and longitude and then you can look at a list of satellites that will be visible from your location in the near future (or which were visible in the recent past). The site also describes the phenomenon of Iridium flares and has a link to http://www2.satellite.eu.org/sat/vsohp/iridium.html , which has a very good, detailed description of many aspects of Iridium flares and the Iridium satellite program.
Specifying where you are located isn't as straightforward as you might think. The GSOC can provide you with generic latitude and longitude values for the city you live in, but these values are really not precise enough to allow an accurate prediction of flare intensity. The flare effect falls off rapidly with distance from flare center. We were less than two miles from flare center and we saw it at maximum brightness. If we had used the generic Akron city coordinates (positioned roughly at the intersection of Copley Road and White Pond Drive), we would have expected a less bright display. That location is about 2.5 miles from our location. You could easily be a lot farther away from that point, even if you live in Akron. So how do you get a precise position for the program? Read on.
It's easy if you have a global positioning system receiver that generates latitude and longitude; you just read your position from it. I don't have one myself and you probably don't either. I do have the US Geological Survey 7.5 minute topographic map for West Akron. With a precise ruler and a calculator, I determined a pretty good value for our position. You probably don't have that map however, and since this is a web column, I set about finding how to get the same information using the web.
The first site I found was http://www.etakguide.com . All you have to do is type your street address and it will show you a map of the region you are in. You can then click on a radio button and get a latitude and longitude value for your address. Make sure not to move the marker from your address when you click. An alternate source for this information is http://tiger.census.gov . You'll have to zoom in on a map of your area and click on the spot for which you want the latitude and longitude value. It's a bit more work than the etak site, but you can use it for locations that don't have an address. It seems to be a faster site, too, so maybe the bit of extra work would be worth the quicker response. The two predictions varied by less than 500 feet; quite adequate for our purposes.
You know what you need now; go see some Iridium flares!
Les Rayburn, KT4OZ, email@example.com
Using a couple of IBM Wireless LAN PCMCIA cards operating on 2.4ghz, I and Tom Askew, KB5IHI, with the assistance of Bob Askew (a former ham), were able to exchange Real Video files containing our callsigns and other information today at around 6:10PM CST, November 24, 1998 (0410 UTC, November 25th).
The PCMIA wireless LAN cards are inexpensive. We purchased ours for less than $30 bucks each on the Internet. Most use either "Integral" or "Patch" style antennas and can have range of up to 1,600 feet at 100mw.
In our tests using two laptop computers, we were able to transmit successfully down to the corner about 800 feet away. We set up both laptops to run the Apache http server and the Real Media Basic Server (free for personal use) We then configured the LAN cards to use TCP/IP protocol and simply typed in the IP addresses into web browsers. When the streams were detected, the web browsers would launch the Real Media Players and we were able to have a QSO.
At 28.8 encoding, it was even possible to have two way (Full Duplex) QSO's but at 56K encoding the stream broke often. The Wireless LAN cards had a rated bandwidth of 512K but much of this is taken up by the protocol functions.
One way QSO's at virtually any encoding speed were possible, and high quality video (P5) was exchanged out to our maximum distance.
Please note that these transmissions would have been perfectly legal under Part 15. However, as we plan to add power and high gain antennas, we took the extra step of joining the Special Temporary Authorization of the TAPR. This will allow us to do several things that would otherwise be illegal such as ue a frequency hopping sequence that differs from the FCC's guidelines for amateur use.
Of Interest: Further comments from the packet folks in California reveals that they may have been pushing digital video through their high speed network as early as 3 years ago! They didn't even think it was important!
Another update from Dale Heatherington, WA4DSY: "Based on the date I created the CU-SeeMe directory on my hard drive I'd say the experiment took place in December of 1996 at the earliest. I was running an early OS/2 beta of CU-SeeMe which could only receive video and not transmit. Alan Adamson,NE1H, was running a Windows 95 CU-SeeMe program and transmitted some live video over the 56K RF link to me. The 56K link was kept pretty busy during the session. Due the RX only nature of my program we didn't try two way simultanious video. That's my memory of the experiment. If I'd known it was historic I'd kept notes."
For more information about TAPR, visit their web site at: http://www.tapr.org. Looks under "Spread Spectrum" for information about using digital spread spectrum technology on the Amateur bands.
I believe that high speed packet networks are the best route towards Digital ATV on a wide scale, however, we were eager to experiment with digital ATV, and to begin exploring options for networking. These cards are very inexpensive and therefore, we tried the spread spectrum route first.
Some amateurs in the TAPR spread spectrum STA have achieved ranges out to 14 miles using these cards with small power amps and gain antennas. We hope to try some of the "coffee can" ATV antennas soon and see what kind of range we can achieve here.
Any body out there have access to a high speed 56K packet backbone that so we could try this out on packet too?
Sources of Equipment: Here is a very inexpensive source of the IBM Wireless PCMIA cards (model #92G7787) that I had found earlier. I had not ordered from this dealer because at the time we were unsure of how the system might actually work and he could provide no real technical information. (Though his email was fast and very supportive.)
After that, we found some online documentation and figured out that this card should work fine but by then Bob Askew, our project engineer had found them for cheap elsewhere. In any event, here they are for only $30 bucks each! See http://home.eznet.net/~kento/lancard.html The latest system software drivers are here for download too.
Any day of the week you should be able to find these on http://www.ebay.com. Simply type in "Wireless LAN" into the search engine and bid. Right now they have a ton of them going in a dutch auction, meaning almost everyone who bids will win...for $50 bucks.
A quick search on AltaVista turned up numerous sources for PCMCIA adapter cards that will allow us to use the PCMCIA Wireless LAN cards on our desktop computers as well. They seem to sell in the $80-$100 dollar range, so I think for as little as $300 dollars you could have a working 2.4ghz spread spectrum Digital ATV system! (Assuming that you own the computers, etc..) But remember, that if you want to do anything that is beyond Part 15 limits, you'll have to join a STA or apply for your own from the FCC. Currently, the TAPR requires some documentation before granting the STA inclusion and the FCC is requiring some documentation after the fact. Read the TAPR STA carefully, and be sure that you are willing to comply before even asking to be included. (Editor's note: Also use caution - the 2.4 Ghz Part 15 band extends beyond the edge of the Amateur allocation - by adding an amplifier to the device for Amateur use, you could inadvertently operate outside the Amateur band. It may be easier to use 902-928 MHz Part 15 units instead of 2.4 GHz since the Part 15 band edges are the same as the Amateur allocation.) To search for these units, type in "PCMCIA Desktop" at AltaVista.
We are going to soon try some of the "Coffee Can" antennas that were in this quarters ATVQ with when I get back from vacation. Can't wait to see how that works!
This article is adapted, with permission, from discussions that first appeared on the Tallahassee ATV mailing list and was edited by Ed Mitchell, KF7VY. To join the discussion list, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and put the word "subscribe" on a line by itself in the BODY section of the email text. To unsubscribe, send an email to: email@example.com with only "unsubscribe" in the BODY of the email. To post to the list, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
There were no meetings, of course in November and December. The annual Christmas Dinner was held at the K&S Cafeteria. It appears to have been an ideal location for our Dinner. The evening was fun for those who attended. We hope increased interest in the Dinner will be in evidence next year.
The Christmas Project at the Cary Towne Center was limited to three days. The lower interest plus the awkward timing of the weekends suggested to us that three days would be enough for this year. Next year, maybe not.
The Charlotte, NC, Hamfest is March 13-14, 1999. CARC already has reserved two tables for CARC members and friends to use as a center of operations at Charlotte. At the January meeting, January 28, we will, again, have a group purchase of Charlotte tickets. This will save you the postage both ways, WHICH IS NOW $0.33, $2 per ticket, and the frustration of standing in line to get a ticket. Bring a check to the January meeting for $6, times the number of tickets you want. Make the check out to: Charlotte HAMFEST. We will have the tickets in time for distribution at the February meeting.
An additional item for Charlotte is a pre-paid parking ticket. If your car does NOT have a pre-paid parking ticket, the fee for parking is $5 - every time you come into the lot! Saturday and Sunday will cost $10. If you buy a pre-paid parking ticket for $3, you can come into the lot as often as you want for no additional charge. The real catch is: are you going to take your car or ride with someone else. Most of the time, when we buy our tickets for admission, we don't think ahead to whose vehicle is going to be used. However, the whole process of the pre-purchase exercise is TO SAVE MONEY!!! If you want a parking ticket, bring a separate check for $3, also made out to: Charlotte HAMFEST.
We will do the same ticket pre-purchase for the Raleigh ARS Hamfest, Sunday, April 11, at the February meeting for distribution at the March meeting. Details in the February FEEDLINE.
All the best for a great 1999. W3HL
ARRL Bulletin 105 From ARRL Headquarters Newington CT December 18, 1998 The FCC has acted in several Amateur Radio cases where it appears that individuals attempted to obtain an Amateur Radio license or upgrade by fraud or misrepresentation.
On December 14, the FCC downgraded two amateur licensees and canceled the ticket of a third in Michigan. Busted from Advanced to Tech Plus were Lawrence A. Repp Jr., N8HFN, and Alan E. Quirie, KA8ZRR. The FCC pulled the Tech Plus ticket of Steven A. Penn, formerly KC8HUM. The FCC had not updated its database as of December 17. The Commission said the three filed amateur applications claiming to have taken Amateur examinations at Oak Park, Michigan, on June 3, 1997, at an ARRL VEC session. The FCC says its evidence shows that the three did not sit for the exams. It says their names ''were added and signatures forged, sometime after the tests were administered, by one of the four examiners.'' That examiner--the father of one of the exam candidates involved--reportedly forwarded the session package on behalf of the VE team to the ARRL VEC for FCC filing.
The FCC said that three of the examiners knew nothing of the scheme. The other three VEs brought the situation to the attention of the ARRL VEC and the FCC. The FCC said it would act in the case of the fourth examiner by month's end. The Commission also is looking into possible enforcement action against another ham whose name was added to the list after the test session but whose application never was submitted to the FCC.
The FCC also dismissed two amateur applications in Puerto Rico after the applicants failed to reply to FCC inquiries. In the case of Jose R. Velez-Rivera, an FCC official said it appears that an imposter tried to change another amateur's call sign, address, and date of birth to his own to get a license without taking an exam. In the second case, the FCC dismissed the renewal and General class upgrade application of Hector A. Santiago, WP4DCB. An FCC official said it appears Santiago tried to renew as a General when he only had a Novice ticket. Velez-Rivera and Santiago were notified by the FCC October 23. The FCC updated its database this month to reflect the dismissals.
White Plains UMC is in need of five radios to help coordinate parking for the three services held on Sunday morning. The range required is only from one side of the church to the other. Five of the new singel channel "family radios" would cost about $400. If you know of any portable radios gathering dust, let us know. (It would be nice to have something that uses conventional batteries so we wouldn't have to invest in a bank of battery chargers.) Keep your eyes and ears open. If no used equipment becomes available, maybe we can make a donation toward the purchase of the personal radios available. KM4LB - 469-5129 email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / editor
A maker of "wireless modems" and a cable TV company that's been installing the units across the US have told the ARRL they'll do whatever it takes to keep the devices from causing interference to amateur HF bands. The ARRL contacted the two companies after receiving reports from members of the Northern California Contest Club about 80-meter interference from the devices. The devices, manufactured overseas by Phonex Corporation of Midvale, Utah, operate under Part 15 of the FCC's rules. This means that they may not cause interference to licensed services.
"Although the Phonex has complied with required FCC regulations, the ARRL has identified a potential interference problem on the low end of the 80-meter band," said Phonex Senior Engineer Scott Bullock, KK7LC. "We have several hams in our organization, and we do not want to cause any interference to any amateur band." Wireless modems are first cousins to wireless telephone jacks used to provide additional telephone jacks without wiring. Both are sold in pairs. One unit plugs into the telephone connection while the other serves as a telephone or modem jack; both plug into convenient ac outlets. The carrier-current devices impose RF on the power line to transmit data back and forth in the form of wideband FM.
Other units made by Phonex and sold as wireless extension telephone jacks under other brand names operate on 3.025 and 6.436 MHz, where they generally will not affect the ham bands. Unfortunately, the Phonex wireless modems operate on 3.52 and 8.27 MHz. Cable giant TCI has been installing these units in some subscribers' homes to make a convenient connectionfrom the cable box to the telephone line to transmit billing information. Wireless modems transmit a continuous carrier on the lower frequency, whether the phone connection is in use or not, and on both frequencies when the remote line is in use.
ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, says the League received reports in mid-December about persistent interference on the low end of 80 meters and on other bands. The interference, consisting of discrete, somewhat noisy and drifting carriers, typically showed up around 3520 to 3530 kHz, but harmonics have been reported as high as 20 meters. ARRL Lab tests verified that the devices pose a serious QRM problem on the lower part of 80 meters and possibly on other bands.
FCC rules permit the unlicensed devices to radiate signals on HF of up to 30 uV/met er, even on an amateur band. Device operators--TCI in this case--must correct any resulting interference, however. TCI Senior Engineer Tony Werner said TCI plans to eliminate the 3.52 MHz wireless jacks it's installed "as expediently as possible" by replacing them with 3.3 MHz units or by running a hardwired telephone connection. TCI will immediately replace units that cause interference and automatically replace other 3.52-MHz units during routine customer service and plans to usenothing but 3.3-MHz units in the future. Hams experiencing harmful interference they believe is related to these devices should contact their local TCI office. TCI says it will be at least a few weeks before it has service information and replacement units on hand.
Phonex says it's made the necessary production changes to move the operating frequency of its units to 3.3 MHz. If one of its units causes interference, he said, Phonex will retune or replace it. Hams can contact Phonex Customer Service at 800-437-0101.
"Both companies have been refreshingly cooperative," said Hare, who--as his W1RFI call sign reflects--is the League's point man for interference issues. "If every RFI problem that involves Amateur Radio could be fixed so quickly, I would probably be out of a job."
Hare said hams with questions about this issue may contact him directly at ARRL HQ at 860-594-0318; e-mail email@example.com. Additional information is available at http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/rfiteljx.html
ARRL Bulletin 103 From ARRL Headquarters Newington CT December 4, 1998
Starting Saturday, January 2, 1999, Maxim Memorial Station W1AW will be on a new operating schedule that reinstates morning code practice on four weekdays and expands weekday operating hours for visiting hams.
The new schedule reinstates one hour of code practice Tuesdays through Fridays at 9 AM, while discontinuing morning bulletin transmissions. This makes room to expand visitor operating hours on weekdays by three hours. The new visitor hours will be 10 AM until 4 PM, Monday through Friday.
The new schedule eliminates weekend code practice and bulletins, however. The demise of weekend hours also means an end to Saturday W1AW operation by visiting hams. The evening code practice and bulletin schedules remain almost unchanged, except that the final transmission of the day will be a code bulletin at 11 PM Eastern Time. The midnight digital and 12:45 AMvoice bulletins will be discontinued.
Effective January 2, 1999, the W1AW code practice and bulletin schedule is changed. What follows is the complete schedule of times (in Eastern Time) and m
Time (ET) Mode Days
9 AM CW Slow Wednesday, Friday
9 AM CW Fast Tuesday, Thursday
4 PM CW Fast Monday, Wednesday, Friday
4 PM CW Slow Tuesday, Thursday
5 PM CW Bulletin Daily
6 PM Digital Bulletin Daily
7 PM CW Slow Monday, Wednesday, Friday
7 PM CW Fast Tuesday, Thursday
8 PM CW Bulletin Daily
9 PM Digital Bulletin Daily
9:45 PM Voice Bulletin Daily
10 PM CW Fast Monday, Wednesday, Friday
10 PM CW Slow Tuesday, Thursday
11 PM CW Bulletin Daily
Visitor Operating Hours are 10 AM to 4 PM ET, Monday through Friday.
CW: = 1.818, 3.5815, 7.0475, 14.0475, 18.0975, 21.0675, 28.0675, 147.555
DIGITAL: = 3.625, 7.095, 14.095, 18.1025, 21.095, 28.095, 147.555
VOICE: = 1.855, 3.99, 7.29, 14.29, 18.16, 21.39, 28.59, 147.555
CW frequencies include Morse Code practices, Qualifying Runs and CW bulletins.
CW Slow = Slow Morse Code practice = 5 - 7.5 - 10 - 13 - 15 WPM
CW Fast = Fast Morse Code practice = 35 - 30 - 25 - 20 - 15 - 13 - 10 WPM
CW Bulletin = Morse Code Bulletins = 18 WPM
Digital Bulletin = BAUDOT (45.45 baud) and AMTOR-FEC (100 Baud). ASCII (110 Baud) is sent only as time allows.