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New Scanner Laws announced
The FCC has amended its rules to strengthen existing prohibitions on scanning receivers that can receive cellular telephone transmissions. While the new rules contain specific exemptions for the Amateur Service, they will have important ramifications for the manufacture of new Amateur Radio equipment that scans frequencies outside the ham bands.
The new rules -- released March 31 in a Report and Order -- broaden the definition of a scanning receiver to include receivers that automatically switch among two or more frequencies between 30 and 960 MHZ that can stop at and receive a detected signal. Still exempted are receivers designed solely for operation as a part of a licensed station. In response to an ARRL request, the FCC clarified that the rules do not apply to Amateur Service receivers unless they cover frequencies outside the ham bands.
The FCC also widened its definition of "test equipment" exempted from the cellular reception restriction. The adopted definition defines test equipment by function, rather than by end user as proposed, thus permitting sale to the general public. Receivers that allow reception of cellular frequencies because of their poor image response would be illegal under the new rules. As it proposed, the Commission adopted a 38 dB rejection standard for signals in the cellular bands "for any frequency to which the receiver can be tuned."
The FCC abandoned a proposal to require manufacturers to limit reception of cellular service frequencies by "direct pickup" through the cabinet. The FCC also backed away from a proposal that could have required epoxy potting and non-removable components to prevent scanner modification. The League had argued that this could raise the cost of buying and repairing equipment and could preclude ham gear modification for CAP and MARS or for experimental purposes.
The FCC adopted a more generalized requirement that receivers be designed so that tuning, control circuits, and filtering be inaccessible, and that any attempted modifications render the receiver inoperative. The new FCC rules also prohibit modification of scanning receivers as a business or on an ongoing basis "regardless of the date of manufacture or number of units modified." The Commission also said modification of any scanning receiver is prohibited and invalidates the equipment authorization. New, permanent labels on scanning receivers also will be required.
Kits for scanning receivers would be treated the same as assembled equipment. The League plans to look closely at this provision to make sure it will not prevent amateur manufacturers from producing legitimate transverting equipment. The new rules become effective due 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register, but the FCC said it will include "transitional provisions" in its rules.
At least one ham is claiming that his computer has been hit by a virus that he got while working RTTY.
Well it appears that it has finally happened. A computer virus in RTTY ham radio. VK4WL says he was chatting to a ham on RTTY in Singapore when the 9 station said that his computer had shut down when he was reading some QDC's downloaded from a bbs in Europe.
He restarted the computer and it locked up. He tried everything and it stayed locked up. Finally he shut down and put the startup floppy in and had to reformat the hard drive. He got everything back on only because he had that backup cd disk.
Some who have heard this report are speculating that the Singapore station did contract the virus from RTTY. That it came from another source like the world wide web and that it activated when he re-booted after the failure of his radio teletype terminal program. (Q-News)
In DX, 6 meters remains a VHF hotspot with Ed Rodrugez, WP4O reporting on the VHF Reflector that he has worked XQ6ET in grid square FE37 on 50.105 MHZ. Ed says that the signal reports were a 5 by 6 both ways. The QSO took place on April the 6th.
G3USF has published a list of 6 meter beacons on the world wide web. According to Bob Carpenter, W3OTC, the site contains current information that was last updated on March 20th. The actual URL is:
http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/por/50.htm (DXNS VHF Reflector)
CARY ARC, Minutes for April 22, 1999
The Secretary was prevented from attending the business part of the April meeting due to a power outage in his neighborhood just before leaving for the meeting. No Minutes were forwarded for publication, except the WDCG Report, included below for interest of WDCG supporters.
The May 27, meeting will be conducted by Bob, K4HA, regarding Field Day. Please plan to attend AND plan to be involved in the 1999 CARC Field Day activities. Remember, you don't have to be there all 24+ hours. However, your presence and participation, even for a couple of hours, can be a
great encouragement to the entire effort. Put a big circle around Saturday and Sunday, June 26 and 27, on your calendars. W3HL
WDCG Report - April, 1999
As I have mentioned, we have finally lost the CNCLAN site at the house of Stan, WA4NRR, that has served us so well for so long. Stan deserves a big THANKS for the use of his site.
The CNCLAN has been moved to Al Clement's (N4VF) tower. As you probably know, that is as tall as any site around here, it is not far from Stan's. The installation has been made, and it appears to be working well.
The antenna there is just 2 meters, so that is the only part of CNCLAN that is working now. A new Comet CX-333 antenna, which is 2m, 220MHz, and 70cm, will replace the current one, along with hardline coax that has been donated, whenever Al and I can arrange an antenna party. (K4HA will be involved in this, also.) This will enable the backbone link on 440MHz to be reactivated, and will also give us some 220MHz linking ability.
By the way, CNCL96 is back on the air, currently at N4AJF's QTH. It is the real packet repeater, input is 444.05 MHz, output on 440.05 MHZ. The antenna is very low, so range is severely limited. Any reports will be appreciated. Lee H. Swanson, N4AJF, Unofficial Trustee, WDCG
Answer to the April Puzzle - The Resistor Problem:
The correct solution to last months brainteaser #1 was 1.1257 Ohms AND 22.207 Ohms.
Some people chose to iteratively solve the problem via trial and error (that works). Others came up with two equations for the current in this series circuit and solved for R. If you did it this way, the equations
yield a quadratic equation that does in fact have two answers. To view the actual solution with all the gory math, go to http://www.ipass.net/~falynch/ke4zeq/index.html (then select the technical corner).
The response to this problem was overwhelming. At last count there were over 25 people that submitted answers.
The Frequency Coordination Problem
There has been very few people that submitted answers to this one, so I think I'll let it bake for another month. This is one of those real world problems. As a piece of related news, the coordination group in
Southern California just this week adopted a new frequency plan on the 70 cm band. They are now going to be transitioning to 20 KHz channel spacing on 70 CM (44X.y00, 44X.y020, 44X.y040, etc) This will yield an additional UHF channel every 100 KHz at the expense of some more care
with dealing with upper and lower adjacent channels when doing frequency coordinations.
The May Brainteaser
Hold your hand between your eye and a lamp or other bright area. With your forefinger close to but not quite touching your thumb. Explain the phenomenon you observe when you look at the finger-thumb gap. What relationship does this have to VHF and UHF propagation? 73 Frank, KE4ZEQ
Kosovo and Ham Radio
For families of displaced Kosovo Albanians living overseas, communications with their loved ones has become very difficult. As the NATO action drags on and the regions infrastructure continues to be destroyed, communicating with those relatives trapped in the war zone gets even harder. Now comes a helping hand from ham radio as we hear from Q-News Graham Kemp, VK4BB:
Have you heard T94GB on air. This is Drago. Broadcasting from the only country in the Balkens with which the U.S. has a third party agreement. T94GB is QRV daily on 80 meters with war zone and refuge areas gathering health and welfare traffic. Then passing that to the 15 meter phone network of IEAU. IEAU - that is the International Assistance Unit operated by President Mike Christopher, KG2M.
Needless to say, this kind of publicity once again shows the importance in the work that the Amateur Radio Community provides to the world.
And it appears as if ham radio is beginning to handle more than just the good news. According to one television news report, hams involved with communications dealing with Kosovo refugees sometimes receive news of the death of someone's loved one. That information is passed on to the Red Cross which has people trained to inform the families. (Q-News, IEAU)
Retests and short term renewals
The FCC is now using a pair of old enforcement tools in a new way. If you seriously break the rules you may wind up being called in for a retest and you may wind up with a short time license.
The FCC's top amateur enforcer, Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, says he plans to make judicious use of both the short-term renewal and retesting to boost amateur compliance.
Hollingsworth employed a short-term renewal as a sanction in a recent amateur case where a newly licensed teenaged ham was found to be transmitting music on a police frequency using a modified hand held. On April 14, Hollingsworth reinstated the ham's Technician license, which had been suspended, but imposed a one-year renewal.
Local police in New Jersey had reported to the FCC that Mike Mustachio, now KC2EUT, had transmitted music on a police frequency for about 12 minutes on March 16, just days before his ham ticket was granted. Hollingsworth said he spoke with the 14 year old licensee and his parents before making a judgment call in the case to go with a short-term renewal.
He expects the sanction might come in handy in other pending enforcement cases as well, but he still expects to use it only "in rare cases where there are mitigating circumstances and a good likelihood of compliance." He said short-termed licensees may appeal, but then the case goes to a hearing, and the process can get much more formalized and complicated.
Retesting is another administrative prerogative that Hollingsworth has been taking advantage of. The FCC has the authority to request that any amateur who obtained a license through the Volunteer Examiner program retest either at an FCC office or using another Volunteer Examiner Coordinator.
Earlier this year, Hollingsworth notified a Delaware ham that she had to retake her Extra class examination or lose her ticket. More recently, the FCC asked a Michigan ham to retake his General and Advanced class examinations. Hollingsworth said this week that other retesting requests will be going out soon in several cases where licensees either have not responded to a written Warning Notice or where something about the licensee's actions or responses might have raised questions about the individual's qualifications.
He said the FCC also might decide to investigate or ask for a retest when it received "substantiated or well-founded complaints". Hollingsworth says recent testing "recalls" should not give rise to speculation that the Commission intends to institute routine retesting.
"We're going to use this very carefully," Hollingsworth said. "We don't want to scare everybody into thinking that they could get a recall in the mail." Hollingsworth says that the recent spate of retests should not give rise to speculation that the FCC intends to institute wholesale retesting. He indicates that those retest letters are being reserved for those who have done the very worst. (ARRL)
EAS legal problems
Meanwhile, the company that developed the technology that the Emergency Alert System is based on may have to fight to get paid for its use by broadcasters and others. This, after complaints from National Association of Broadcasters and the National Weather Service have lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to re-examine for a third time a patent it issued for the system.
According to the publication Broadcasting and Cable, Quad Dimension Incorporated developed the circuitry is included in all versions of the Emergency Alert System. So last December, QDI sent letters to broadcasters asking them to pay royalty fees of about fifteen dollars a month for its use. But the NAB argues that broadcasters should not be obligated to pay a copyright fee because the government gives them no option other than to use the QDI technology.
QDI obtained a patent for the technology in June 1992. The FCC said it is looking into the matter. Meanwhile, broadcasters seem to be totally ignoring the QDI payment demand. (Published news items)
Wrong orbit satellite
A $250 million missile-warning satellite launched two weeks ago is stranded in the wrong orbit. The Defense Support Program satellite was lofted into a low Earth orbit by a U.S. Air Force Titan 4 rocket in the first launch for the booster since a spectacular mid-air explosion last August.
A two-stage Inertial Upper Stage was to have raised the satellite into a 22,300 mile geostationary orbit above the equator. Although the two rocket firings appeared to have occurred, the satellite ended up in an egg-shaped orbit instead. (Published news reports)
Too fast for comfort
From the science page comes word that scientists have been able to slow the speed of light to a relative crawl. Harvard University researched light speed. VK2VPC shared with those on packet a most enlightening article showing how Harvard University Physicists have slowed the speed of light.
Light, which normally travels the 240,000 miles from the moon to the Earth in less than 2 seconds has been slowed to the speed of a mini van in rush hour traffic, 38 miles per hour. An entirely a new state of matter, first observed 4 years ago has made this possible.
Apparently when atoms become packed super closely together, at super low temperatures, in a super high vacuum they lose their identity as individual particles and act like a single super atom with characteristics similar to a laser.
Such an exotic medium can be engineered to slow a light beam 20 million fold 186,282 miles per second to a poky 38 miles per hour. In this odd state of matter, light takes on a more human dimension. "You can almost touch it.", said one Harvard University Physicist. And they commented it is fascinating to see a beam of light almost come to a stand still. The process is described in detail in the February 18th issue of the scientific journal Nature. There's no practical application yet for slowing the speed of light, but scientists say it eventually could be used to improve communication Technology, but at the moment they are, well just not sure just how. (Q-News)
FCC to hams: Don't play on Free Band
Hams that the allegedly used their stations on the so called Free Band between 11 and 10 meters are the latest enforcement target of the FCC.
We have already reported on one of these people. Back in February, FCC Engineers from the Houston, Texas field office attempted to inspect the station of Leonard Martin, KC5WHN. This, after monitoring signals on 27.535 MHZ and 27.350 MHZ that they traced to Martin's home. Martin refused them entry. Now the FCC has sent Martin an Official Notice of Violation. The April 2nd letter accuses the Technician class ham of unlicensed operation and refusing a legitimate request by FCC Field Office personnel to inspect his station.
The FCC's Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, reports that he has spoken with Martin on numerous occasions. The FCC had also warned Martin in writing last November 3rd about operation on frequencies other than those authorized under his Technician class Amateur Radio license. The regulatory agency has now told Martin that he has only 10 days to reply in writing to the FCC's Houston Field Office. (FCC, ARRL)
Arthur C. Clarke and Y2K
AMSAT member 2001 has a lot to say about Y2K. Arthur C. Clarke, author of "2001: A Space Odyssey," and AMSAT member 2001 feels so strongly about people calling next year a new millennium that he issued a public statement to correct them.
According to Clarke, because the Western calendar starts with Year 1, and not Year Zero, the 21st Century and the Third Millennium do not begin until January 1, 2001. He says that while some people have great difficulty in grasping this concept, there is a very simple analogy to explain it. He asks if the numbers on your grocer's scale were to began at 1 instead of 0, would you be happy when he claimed he'd sold you 10 kg of tea?
Clarke says that the same is true regarding what is and is not the real Y2K. He says that we will have had only 99 years of this century by January 1, 2000. We will all have to wait until December 31, 2000 for the full hundred. (Y2K Science Watch)
NCI talks to FCC
An organization dedicated to the abolition of Morse code testing in he United States has had an audience with the Federal Communications Commission to make its case.
March 19th saw two members of NCI Board of Directors traveling to the Federal Communications Commission Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to present a presentation to the FCC.
NCI, that stands for No Code International. NCI pointed out to the FCC that the historical reason for requiring Morse code testing in the Amateur Service has evaporated. NCI pointed out that many other countries are taking action to eliminate high speed code testing or to grant all band privileges at a minimum code speed. It is anticipated FCC Commissioners will be taking final action on the U.S. Morse Code examination requirements sometime in the next 90 days.
No Code International was represented at the FCC meeting by Carl Stevenson, WA6VSE and William Sohl, K2UNK. The ARRL and several VEC's have also made presentations on the Morse code issue before the FCC as well.
Alleged unlicensed broadcaster enjoined off the air
A United States District Court issued an injunction against an unlicensed New York City radio station and ordered it off the air. On March 12th, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the government's motion to enjoin the station known as "Steal This Radio." Judge Michael B. Mukasey also denied a complaint filed by "Steal This Radio" that sought to enjoin the FCC from taking enforcement action.
DNA conducts electricity
A pair of Swiss scientists say that it may be possible to grow parts for future high speed computers because of their discovery that DNA is actually an efficient semiconductor. As a result, Hans-Werner Fink and Christian Schoenenberger of the University of Basel say that DNA might someday be used to replace wires in computers, chips and transistors.
The two scientists have been working on this research for several years. The results of their study suggests that a study suggests that DNA conducts electricity as well as any other known semiconductor. They say that if DNA strands could be genetically engineered with a switch to turn the current flowing through them on and off, they could be used to build extremely tiny electrical devices that are the basic building blocks of computers and other electronic devices. (Mir Sholom Science News)
Morse saves stranded fishermen
Morse code was once again a life saver. This time for a pair of fishermen who were stranded after their small boat swamped on New Jersey's Round Valley Reservoir.
The February 25th edition of the Hunterdon County Democrat news reported the plight of the two would-be anglers. Not having any radio gear or a cellular telephone with which to summon assistance, the two used a flashlight to send an SOS distress call in Morse. As luck would have it, a passing motorist recognized the message and called the rescue squad. They located the two men about three miles from where they'd put their boat into the water.
As an aside, the news report said that the motorist had learned the code as a Boy Scout. And talk about coincidence. The story also reported that he spotted the fishermen's SOS as he was listening to a radio broadcast dealing about the bronze whistle recovered in 1993 from the doomed passenger liner Titanic. (ARRL. others)
Several hams are reporting over the VHF Reflector that Icom has introduced a new four-band hand held radio to its domestic market in Japan. According to the reports, the new radio is called the IC T-81 and covers 6 meters, 2 meters, 440 Mhz and 1.2 GHZ bands. The over the counter price in Japan is about 48,000 yen. At 110 to the dollar that's $436.00 in United States currency. (VHF Reflector)
It's Dejavu all over again...
In the computer world, Intel now says that an alleged flaw in its new Pentium's serial number system is still open to debate. Intel says that it is in talks with the German magazine, Computer Technology, which alleges that a defect in the software Intel provided for turning off the serial number can be breached from outside the machine.
Intel provided an "on-off" system in response to privacy concerns over the issuance. Advocates said that the serial numbers could be used to track users to their machines. Intel agreed to ship machines with the serial number turned off but the German magazine said it found a way to thwart that Pentium software and void the "on-off" switch. It said it did so without a user's knowledge.
An Intel spokesman says that if the software that controls the serial numbers is found to be defective, Intel will work on a software fix. (Published news reports)
Ham Trader Yellow Sheets goes QRT
After thirty-eight years the Ham Trader Yellow Sheets is going QRT. Larry Hogue, W6MOF reports over the VHF Reflector that the twice-monthly classified publication announced in its latest edition that it is being absorbed into the Amateur Radio Trader magazine. Yellow Sheets subscribers will automatically get an Amateur Radio Trader subscription. Hams who subscribed to both will have their Amateur Radio Trader subscription extended. Amateur Radio Trader of Crossville, Tennessee, is published by TAP Publishing. These are the same people known in aviation circles for the famed Trade-A-Plane magazine. (W6MOF, others)
Ham Radio rejoins the Great Circus Train
Amateur Radio will be back on board when the Great Circus Train. This as it makes its annual run between Baraboo and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, later this year.
According to Jim Romelfanger, K9ZZ, ham radio first rode the rails with the circus train in 1965. But last summer the circus train's sponsor, Circus World Museum, cited severe space limitations and opted to accept an offer of communication services from a cellular provider. As a result, the hams who had devoted countless man hours to this event were figuratively left at the station.
But it will not be that way in 1999. While no reason was given for the hams to be called back, special event station W9R will operate on the high frequency bands from aboard the train during its annual journey from July 2nd to the 5th. Current plans call for operation on 40, 20, and 15 meter SSB. Members of the West Allis Radio Amateur Club will also operate special even station W9C from the show grounds once the train reaches Milwaukee. (K9ZZ, ARRL)