Next meeting is May 25.
RESTRUCTURING - FCC TO GENERALS:
STAY OUT OF ADVANCED CLASS BANDS
Late breaking news from the FCC. It comes as a warning from the regulatory agency to newly upgraded General class licensees. The FCC says that you may not operate in the current Advanced class subbands under the new amateur rules.
According to Bill Cross, W3TN, of the FCC's Public Safety and Private Wireless Division there are no privileges changed for any license class. Cross says that the Advanced class license continues to exist under restructuring, which became effective April 15th even though the FCC no longer accepts any applications for Novice or Advanced class licenses. As a result, current Generals do not earn Advanced class privileges until they upgrade to Amateur Extra class, when they earn both Advanced and Extra privileges.
The bottom line is this. If you are a General -- new or old -- stay in the General class bands. Roy. (FCC, ARRL, W5YI, Newsline, others)
DXCC Field Card Checkers - An Editorial by K5IDX
Many DXers may not be aware of a major policy change by the ARRL regarding DXCC Field Card Checkers that occurred on April 1, 2000. First there are new Field Checking Rules. Beginning April 1, 2000 DXCC field checkers are able to check cards for all DXCC entities for everything except 160 meters. Cards must be less than 10 years old. Prior to this date, there was a list of entities that the field checker could not verify.
On April 1, 2000, all previous DXCC Field Checkers were removed from the qualified list of checkers, and have to reapply. Now here comes the bad news...The ARRL is currently limiting the number of appointments of DXCC Field Checkers. The Section Manager may appoint one. (Which must be personally known by the SM), and each ARRL Affiliated DX organization may appoint one. Case in point is the North Texas Section, previously there were 6 or 7 checkers in the area. These checkers worked at Hamcom (The big hamfest in the Dallas/Ft Worth area) checking cards usually along with Bill Kenamer of the ARRL. Yes, some of the checkers on the list were in name only. Not really doing the job, just wearing the badge. Now with the new rules, there are can only be two checkers. This writer has been appointed by the North Texas Section Manager, and the Lone Star DX Association may appoint one other. (Since the LSDXA is the only ARRL affiliated DX Club in North Texas).
Next Month at Hamcom, the DXCC Field checking will be done by one or two individuals, not by the 4 to 6 as usual, resulting in long waits to have your cards checked. I'm sure this will be the case at other hamfests around the country.
The ARRL has told me that the reason for this change in policy is to cut expenses. It was expensive to do special mailings to each of the old field checkers, when some were not fulfilling the job. Also I was told to remember that not too long ago, we all had to send every card to ARRL headquarters in Newington to be checked by Don Search himself.
I agree that in some areas the previous policy was abused, but the new policy is too strict on appointments. Furthermore, what does the SM of most sections know about DXing anyway? The Section Manager of the North Texas Section certainly isn't a DXer. The only way we can change this policy is thru you ARRL Division Director. Urge your Director to change the policy at the July ARRL board meeting.
A SHACK IN SPACE NEARS REALITY
A new chapter in the history of Amateur Radio will begin later this year when ham gear is installed aboard the International Space Station for the first time. Three major events must happen before the first QSO is made from the ISS, however.
First, the Russian-built Zvezda Service Module is scheduled for launch in early to mid-July, providing the living quarters for the first ISS crew. Then, the initial amateur station hardware will be sent up to the ISS aboard shuttle mission STS-106 in August. Finally, the initial crew of US astronaut Bill Shepard, KD5GSL, and Russian Cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Yuri Gaidzenko will be launched in October from Russia aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for what's expected to be a long-duration mission.
Amateur Radio will be available to the first crew members once it's been installed temporarily aboard the Zarya Functional Cargo Block module, already in space. Earlier plans had called for the initial station gear--primarily VHF and UHF hand-held transceivers--to be put aboard the Service Module. Launch delays forced the change, however. The amateur gear likely will be transferred to the Service Module next year. The initial station will use existing antennas on the Functional Cargo Block. The system is being adapted to support Amateur Radio operation on 2 meters but not on 70 cm.
A Russian station license and call sign, RZ3DZR, have been granted for the ISS ham radio station. Long-term plans call for obtaining an international call sign for the ISS station to recognize the cooperative nature of the ARISS project. With assistance from the International Amateur Radio Union, efforts are under way to request a specific ISS call sign block from the ITU.
"A multinational call sign block is the most desirable route," said ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, after a meeting of the ARISS international partners earlier this year in the Netherlands. ARISS team members continue to pursue licenses in their respective countries. A German call sign, DL0ISS, has been issued, and a US call sign has been applied for.
The initial ISS amateur station will provide primarily FM voice and "improved" packet capability on 2 meters and--once aboard the Service Module--on 70 cm using Ericsson hand-held transceivers. It's expected that slow-scan TV, various types of amateur TV, and experimental projects eventually will be added.
A primary goal of ARISS is to continue a schedule of Amateur Radio contacts with schools, so students can interview the astronauts and cosmonauts directly--as a major component of a classroom project. NASA "clearly supports the educational outreach aspects" of the ARISS project, US delegation member Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, told the Netherlands gathering.
Bauer is scheduled to discuss progress on the ARISS project during the Dayton Hamvention AMSAT forum Saturday, May 20. (ARRL Letter)
SO, WHERE'S MY NEW TICKET?
Despite an infusion of temporary help, Volunteer Examiner Coordinators continue struggling to process the huge influx of exam session paperwork resulting from Amateur Radio "restructuring" that went into effect April 15. As a result, license grants from post-April 15 applications are taking up to four weeks.
"How do y'all spell 'busy'?" asks ARRL-VEC Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, who, along with his staff, has been putting in a lot of overtime and weekend hours lately. Jahnke jokes about imposing a moratorium on sick leave.
Fred Maia, W5YI, cites a similar situation for applications filed via his W5YI-VEC, where he's added a couple of temporary employees. "We've got mail buckets everywhere," he said this week.
Jahnke and Maia urge amateur applicants to refrain from calling or e-mailing either their respective VECs or the FCC to inquire as to the progress of individual applications. "If we respond to the phone calls and e-mails," Maia said, "we can't handle the processing. We're going as fast as we possibly can."
Maia believes that a lot of the impatience in the amateur community has come from those wanting to either file a vanity call sign application or to upgrade their Volunteer Examiner status. Neither can be accomplished without a license grant from the FCC reflecting the applicant's upgraded class. In a few cases, applicants are awaiting first-time amateur licenses and do not even have interim operating authority.
Boxes of applications continue arriving to be logged in at ARRL-VEC, which has added three temporary staffers. Jahnke says the ARRL-VEC now has caught up with the paperwork backlog from pre-April 15 test sessions. The ARRL-VEC served nearly 35,800 applicants between January 1 and April 14. It continues to deal with the nearly 16,000 applications logged in from April 15 through April 25, most of them from April 15 test sessions. Jahnke points out that while VE teams have 10 days to ship session paperwork to ARRL-VEC, the transit time can be as long as a week.
"At this point, Jahnke said this week, we're just wrapping up the April 18 receipts and moving on to April 19 and 20.
Once keyed in and sent on electronically to the FCC, most applications are granted overnight. Jahnke says the care ARRL-VEC takes in checking VE session paperwork and applications for "completeness, accuracy and integrity" pays off in avoiding potential problems or questions from the FCC down the road. "We're still saying at least 3-1/2 weeks from exam to FCC grant," Jahnke says, "including transit time from the VEs to us."
Maia cites a similar number. He said it's taking about three weeks "from receipt to filing" and says that license grants applied for via W5YI-VEC are taking up to a month from the exam date. "Right now, we're filing sessions received at W5YI-VEC April 25," he said.
Statistics to date suggest a total of more than 13,000 new Generals and more than 10,000 new Extra class hams as a result of restructuring--and those numbers undoubtedly will continue to rise. As ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, recently put it: "Amateur Radio is on a roll!" (ARRL Letter)
FCC DEBUTS ULS INTERNET FILING!
Amateurs now can file Universal Licensing System applications via the Web! With little fanfare, the FCC opened ULS to Internet filers on April 29. It formally announced the system this week.
ULS users now can file applications and notifications via the Internet for all services previously only available by dial-up connection to the Commission's Wide Area Network. To access the new capability, visit the ULS home page http://www.fcc.gov/wtb/uls and click on "Online Filing." (Users may ignore the on-line survey.) Applicants must first be registered with ULS and use their ULS password to log onto the system.
The ULS--the FCC's interactive on-line licensing application, modification and renewal system for wireless telecommunications services--was deployed for the Amateur Service last August 16. ULS also lets users research the status of applications filed in ULS and licenses issued by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
WTB Chief Thomas Sugrue said this week that many ULS users had requested the ability to access ULS through the Internet in order to utilize their high speed Internet connectivity. He also addressed concerns about the security of transactions handled via the Internet.
"We now have the technology in place that assures the integrity and security of data transmitted over the Internet along with high speed connectivity," he said. "This is another step forward in the expanding functionality of ULS."
The FCC has told the ARRL that making online payments--to file a vanity call sign application and pay on line, for example--requires that users be running the 128-bit encryption version of Netscape Communicator Ver 4.73 or later. The FCC says Netscape 4.7, 4.61 and 4.51 have been tested and are compatible with the ULS. While different browsers and platforms other than Windows-based systems may work for some ULS functions, the FCC currently supports only these recent versions of Netscape for online filing tasks. Netscape 4.6 and versions earlier than 4.51 are not compatible with ULS, however.
Filers should configure browsers to enable Java and Java Script and to accept all cookies. Users also will need to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 or later as a plug-in to their Web browser. Netscape and Acrobat are available free via the Internet.
ULS support for other browsers and platforms, such as the Mac, is in the works and should be available shortly. The FCC will continue to provide dial-up access to the ULS. Information on making a dial-up connection is available via the ULS home page by clicking on "Connecting to ULS."
Those experiencing problems logging onto the ULS should contact ULS Tech Support at 202-414-1250.--FCC
FCC AUDITS ARRL-VEC EXAM SESSION
The FCC is looking into possible irregularities at an ARRL-VEC examination session held last July in North Carolina. On April 26, the Commission wrote Advanced licensee Leo C. Mallard Jr, W4KEM, Extra licensee Ronald J. Knapp, W9EF, and Advanced licensee Edward Gunter, N2VEA, all of Kinston, and Robert E. Jones, KQ4PK, of Dover, North Carolina. All are listed as participating Volunteer Examiners in the July 30, 1999, session in Washington, North Carolina. The ARRL-VEC alerted the FCC to possible discrepancies at the session.
The audit focuses on Form 610 packages submitted for Technician licensees James L. Smith Jr, KB4EIA; Frances B. Freck, KB4EIB; and Charles R. Collins, KG4EIC. The FCC asked the VEs for specific information involving erasure marks, check marks--some of which appeared to have been erased--and circles drawn around correct answers on answer sheets for one or more applicants. The FCC also asked each VE to state if he was present for the July 30 session; if the Form 610 was initialed or signed by him, and if not, whether he authorized anyone to apply the signature; and his involvement, if any, in the session.
FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth reminded the four about penalties for willfully false or misleading responses to inquiries of this type, and he invited them to contact him with any questions. (ARRL Letter)
FCC: USE YOUR CALL -- NOT YOUR PHONETICS
The nations top ham radio cop is putting the Amateur Radio Community on notice. He says that you must use your full callsign -- not just phonetics to identify your station. And in his weekly audio column on RAINREPORT.COM, FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement, Riley Hollingsworth says that there is a proper way to identify and the FCC expects everyone to abide by the rules:
"We have been getting some questions, and I think you have too about identifying with phonetics. Now I just wanted to point out that phonetics are to assist the intended operator in understanding the callsign. They are not a substitute for identifying. The identification rule is very simple, and requires that the callsign be used in English. But now phonetics are not callsigns, they are just facilitators. And it is particularly disturbing to hear signals that are 30 and 40 over and the operator is using phonetics that are repeated. Or only phonetics." Hollingsworth
Hollingsworth says that not only does identifying only with phonetics not comply with the Amateur Service Rules, but excessive use of phonetics is entirely unnecessary. This is not the first time that Hollingsworth has brought the matter of proper identification to the attention of the nations ham community. Last year a number of DX net operators became openly agitated after Hollingsworth told them that partial callsign recognition was OK -- but only if all stations identified properly according to the FCC's rules.
(FCC via Amateur Radio Newsline)
Riley Hollingsworth: Is my face red?
FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth says he was just trying to see if the amateur community was paying attention when he suggested on his recent Radio Amateur Information Network enforcement news report that the use of phonetics during station identification was contrary to the amateur rules. As Hollingsworth has since conceded, after being challenged from several quarters, the applicable FCC station ID rule--§97.119(b)(2)--specifically encourages "use of a standard phonetic alphabet as an aid for correct station identification" [emphasis added]. "I plead temporary insanity," Hollingsworth told the ARRL. "I was working too close to my antennas the evening before."
ENFORCEMENT: $8000 FINES UPHELD AND ORDERED PAID
Two Texas hams that the FCC says they caught in the act of interfering with a local repeater have been ordered to pay some very stiff fines. The Notices of Apparent Liability to Monetary Forfeiture had been issued last January to Paul Holcombe, K4TOF and Robert L. Meyers N5WLY. According to rules enforcer Riley Hollingsworth, the fines stand:
"Two $8000 forfeitures were ordered. Notices of Apparent Liability have been issued in January to Paul E. Holcombe, K4TOF of Houston and Robert L. Meyers also of Houston, N5WLY. Those Notices of Apparent Liability happened on January 13th. That was for deliberate interference to the Memorial Emergency Repeater Associations repeater operations on 145.470 there in Houston in 1999. And after viewing the replies of Meyers and Holcombe the decision was made not lower the $8000 amounts. And each has 30 days to pay or file an appeal." Hollingsworth
(FCC via Amateur Radio Newsline)
ENFORCEMENT: UK HAM FINED FOR THE WRONG WORDS
A United Kingdom ham has been fined for using what a British court deemed to be the wrong kind of language on that nations ham radio airwaves. Keith Jermey, 45, of Clicket End, Basildon, has been convicted of using offensive language while communicating across two south-east counties.
"On the 20th of April, Basildon Magistrates' Court was told that, after many complaints about the use of offensive language over both the Kent and Essex amateur repeater stations, Radiocommunications Agency officers and two police officers entered the home of Keith Jermey last August and removed radio transmitting equipment.
"Mr. Jermey, whose amateur radio callsign is G7WCM, denied the offence of using apparatus for wireless telegraphy contrary to the conditions of his amateur radio licence. The Court found him guilty and fined him 75. He also denied using offensive language while transmitting, but the Court found him guilty and fined him 25. He was also ordered to pay 50 costs. (G4NJH)
The Low Land DXpedition Team says that this year's "Caribbean Tour 2000" which will take place August 23rd to September 9th from the islands of Antigua and Barbados. The operators plan to have two High Frequency stations on 160 through 10 meters running CW, SSB, RTTY and PSK. Their aim is to focus again on Europe and Japan, and especially on the WARC bands. More information is on the web at: www.qsl.net/LLDXT.
W3HC reports that EP2FM is active most days, SSB, CW and RTTY from Iran. Listen for Abdulah between 02:30 and 04:00 UTC or a little later on his working days. He is also active again during the afternoons from around 15:00 UTC.
ARRL TO LOS ANGELES COUNTY: NO CHOPPERS AT 2.4 GHZ
The American Radio Relay League has reiterated its opposition to a request for a declaratory ruling to the FCC by Los Angeles County. This, to operate air to ground television links in the 2.4 GHz ham radio band. The ARRL is continuing its opposition to attempts by Los Angeles County, California, to obtain an experimental license permitting airborne microwave TV downlinks (TVDL) in the 2402-2448 MHz range. Amateurs have a primary domestic allocation at 2402-2417 MHz. In a filing with the FCC, the ARRL again asked the Commission to deny the County's application.
The LA County proposal, filed last August 9, seeks FCC authorization to develop a TVDL system for public safety purposes using four 10-MHz channels at 2.4 GHz to transmit video images from helicopter borne cameras for use by public safety agencies. The ARRL has called the application a "foot in the door" toward gaining a permanent berth in the 2.4 GHz band. The League also has filed a Petition for Reconsideration of the granting of a similar experimental application filed by the City of Los Angeles. In a Reply to Opposition to Informal Objection filed in late April, the ARRL reiterated that Los Angeles County has failed to justify its experimental authorization request. The League said the County has not provided any assurance that the TVDL system would not cause harmful interference to amateur users. The ARRL also contends that it would be impractical, if not impossible, to use frequency coordination, frequency agility, directional antennas and other technology, as the County has suggested, to cooperatively share amateur spectrum and still prevent unintentional interference.
The LA County proposal characterizes the 2402-2448 MHz band as "underutilized" and asserts that current occupants, including Amateur Radio and industrial, scientific and medical instrumentation, would not suffer harmful interference. The League called the LA County monitoring studies "fatally flawed" and said they don't reflect current band occupancy. Citing ATV repeaters and video links as well as the impending Phase 3D amateur satellite operation, the League said the 2.4 GHz band enjoys significant use by the LA area Amateur Radio community.
The League's Reply points out that TVDL operation already is permitted in the public safety frequency pool at 2450 to 2483.5 MHz. LA County is licensed for video operations on a single 2.4 GHz channel but says it encounters conflicts with broadcasters. I'm Rick Lindquist N1RL As we go to air there has been no comment on the latest ARRL position statement from Los Angeles County or any of the other cities that have signed the declaratory ruling request. (ARRL viaAmateur Radio Newsline)
Feedline is a member-supported publication of the Cary Amateur Radio Club and is published monthly. Deadline for submissions is the second Thursday of the month. Editor: Tom Klimala, KM4LB Send snail mail to 1545 Seabrook Avenue Cary, North Carolina 27511 firstname.lastname@example.org
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