Take Your Radio Overseas
This article is from the March, 2000, issue of the "W3OK Corral", the newsletter of the Delaware - Lehigh Amateur Radio Club via ARNS.
In March, I will have the privilege of traveling to Ireland to watch my son Joe, and the rest of the award-winning William Allen High School marching band, perform in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin. In addition to the opportunity I'll have to watch the band and do some genealogical research, I'm really looking forward to taking along my 2 meter HT to enjoy some "short skip DX" on the local repeaters in Dublin and Limerick.
Previously, getting permission to operate your radio in a foreign country was an involved and often an expensive process that had to be repeated for each country you visited. But all of that has changed if you are traveling to a country participating in the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). As a U.S. Amateur, you can now operate in all of these participating European countries without obtaining special licenses, and best of all, at no cost.
There are two classes of CEPT licenses available to U.S. amateurs. Class 1 requires knowledge of the international Morse code, and carries all operating privileges available in the host country. U.S. license classes of Technician Plus and higher qualify for a Class 1 CEPT license. The Class 2 CEPT license does not require knowledge of code, and carries operating privileges available in the host country above 30 MHZ. The codeless Technician operator's licenses will qualify you for this class. The U.S. novice license is not eligible for any CEPT operating privileges.
When traveling in a participating CEPT country you must carry the following documents and show them to any proper authorities upon request: 1. Your Original FCC license. 2. Proof of U.S. citizenship (your passport), and 3. A copy of the FCC's June 7,1999 Public Notice which contains information in English, French and German. While operating under a CEPT license, you are only permitted to use either mobile or portable mode. No fixed base operations are permitted.
So if your future plans include taking a trip to Europe, bring your radio along and add a new dimension to your travels. You'll meet other people who share your interest in the hobby and have a richer experience than the average tourist. You can find information about CEPT operations as well as rules governing other Countries by going tohttp://www.arrl.org/field/regulations/io/index.html.
I'm looking forward to experiencing the beauty of Ireland and experiencing the legendary hospitality of the Irish people. I'll give you a report of my adventures in the newsletter after I return. Even with all of the sight seeing and other activities we have planned for the trip, I still plan on taking time to go to the pub. After all, both the HT and I will need time to recharge our batteries. de Jim, KB3BYU
The text of the Hollingsworth letter
Dear Messrs. Buxton and Labb:
This is in response to your 01 November 1999 letter to Representative David Drier. In that letter you enclosed a "Meeting Notice" published by the Southern California Repeater and Remote Base Association (SCRRBA). You complained that the notice stated that voting on the issues to be discussed at the meeting was limited to "full members," i.e., those who had paid their dues and who own or operate a coordinated relay system in the bands SCRRBA coordinates.
You contend that such a policy is exclusionary and in violation of the Commission's policy regarding frequency coordination in the Amateur Radio Service. You requested that we issue a "cease and desist order" directing SCRRBA to halt all further activities until such time as it complies with the Commission's frequency coordination policy.
You were previously informed by D'wana R. Terry, Chief of the Public Safety and Private Wireless Division of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, in a letter dated 20 October 1999, of the Commission's policy in such matters. In that letter, the Wireless Bureau stated that "Changing coordinators is the mechanism that the Commission anticipates Amateur Radio operators in a local or regional area would use to replace a frequency coordinator that was not representative of all local Amateur radio operators or otherwise meeting their needs."
In view of the above, SCRRBA's action does not warrant enforcement and we decline to take action in this matter.
W. Riley Hollingsworth
Special Counsel, Amateur Radio Enforcement Bureau
What the letter means The FCC's Enforcement Bureau is making it clear that it will not get involved in issues involving repeater coordination, regardless of what Hams might want. The story goes this way. As previously reported, Dale Buxton, W6PWY, and Larry Labb, KI7AX, had formed a new repeater council, the Southern California FM Association, to attempt to assume coordination the 70 centimeter band in Southern California after the incumbent coordinator, the Southern California Repeater and Remote Base Association (SCRRBA), voted to change the area bandplan from 25 kHz to 20 kHz. Buxton and Labb, and a large number of other amateurs, favored a bandplan using 12.5 kHz inter-system spacing and provision to introduce 6.25 kHz spacing when technology allows.
But as non-members of SCRRBA, they were not permitted to vote on the issue. So they complained to their congressmen who in turn approached the FCC regarding its oversight of coordination issues. That lead to the 20 October 1999 letter from D'wana R. Terry, Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Private Wireless Division published in its entirety in Worldradio late last year.
But the Terry letter did not really give Buxton and Labb the authority to overturn SCRRBA they were looking for. So they next complained to Hollingsworth's office claiming that SCRRBA's "members only" voting policy on band planning was exclusionary and that it was therefore in violation of the Commission's Amateur Radio frequency coordination policy. Labb and Buxton even asked the agency issue a "cease and desist order" directing SCRRBA to halt all further activities until it complies with the policy.
What happens next?
I think that you can see that the above referenced letter changes little since the letter from D'wana Terry was issued. Both hers and Hollingsworth clearly state that it is up to the Amateur Radio community (of a given geographic area) to facilitate a change in coordinators, when and if the community deems this to be necessary.
But some questions are not addressed by the FCC and I kind of doubt if they ever will be. For instance: What is the community? Is it the repeater owner-operators on a given band? Is it all repeater owner-operators in a given geographic area? Is it all of the system owners and their users in a region or, as many contend, is it all licensed radio amateurs in that region who by virtue of their holding a license have the right to be a deciding factor in the change of coordinator process?
More important, once the "who" is determined, the next thing to determine is the process by which the change of coordinators can be accomplished. Do you do it by holding a meeting and count the heads of those who show up? Do you canvass all the radio clubs and then add up the votes?
What about those who don't belong to a radio club? Or those who have call signs but are inactive? The variables are so horrendous that there is really only one answer. Its the one I firmly believe the FCC's D'wana Terry is pointing out which the Ham community, for its own tunnelvision, has refused to see. This would be a mail-in referendum sponsored by the challenging want-to-be coordinator encompassing all amateurs residing in the geographic region in question, as pruned from the FCC's own sign database. And it would have to utilize the normal safeguards that any mail-in election (like those run by the ARRL to elect its Directors) including bonded and certified vote counting to assure accuracy.
Who would pay the bill ?
Have you any idea what such a referendum would cost?
Suppose you have formed the "American Repeater Coordinating Committee" and want to replace the Acme Repeater Coordination Council" that operates in your geographic area. "Acme" protests dares you to overturn it. Wanting to be the "nice guy" you decide to sponsor a referendum vote. You begin by researching the number of amateurs who live in '"geographic region" and come up with a total of 4,500.
First there is the printing of 4,500 ballots, cover letters, outgoing envelopes and return envelopes.
My local printer says that constitutes pretty small one-time order and you have to figure close to a $.50 per ballot package. So we start with $2,250 in printing.
Next comes postage both ways. 4,500 Its outgoing at 33 cents each means another $1,485 in outgoing postage and $1,485 in return postage.
Of course you need a temporary post office box. Figure at least three months to elect as many votes as are going to arrive at $50 a month. That's another $150
To keep from having any air of improprieties regarding such a referendum, an outside audit house like Price-Water-house-Coopers (www.pcglobal.com) would be needed. I have no idea what this would cost so lets take a guess and peg it at about $5,000 for a small referendum like this.
If all of our numbers are even close, that's $10,370. Even if you decide to eliminate the expensive audit house and ask a local Amateur Radio Club to perform the tally, you still will be spending over $5,000 to decide on who is going to perform a thankless job, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, while receiving nothing more than the scorn of your disgruntled fellow Hams in return.
So, lets suppose the vote goes in favor of the clean, new and ultra friendly "American Repeater Coordinating Committee'' but the "Acme" group refuses to accept the results of the vote. In fact, they send an overt warning to the newcomers: "...keep your nose out of our business or you are going to wind up being sued!"
Applying this to the realm of repeater coordination, including demands to an upstart or replacement coordination entity to cease and desist from interfering in any way with the ongoing work of an existing coordinator -- even if the existing coordinator is not really doing very much to aid its community.
I fully expect to see litigation on the part of established coordinators trying to enjoin newbie coordinators from invading their territory. I also expect to see action filed by the new coordinators who are trying to get a foothold in a given geographic region.
Can this really happen? It already has all happened before -- back in the 1980s in the case of the 220 FCC vs. the 220 SMA in California. And, few people ever learn from past mistakes. In the end, these suits will almost assuredly force a judge and jury to decide the validity of all coordination in the Amateur Radio Service. Especially now that the FCC has said it is not going to get involved in settling these disputes.
Where will the first cases take place? Not surprisingly, I believe the first two will occur here in Southern California and Indiana. Both regions are known for taking the leadership initiative and being "first" -- be they right or wrong. Both regions have escalating "coordinator vs. coordinator" feuds going on where the groups involved view one another as avowed enemies. In both regions there is not even any unofficial communications taking place. I think it is only a matter of time before one or more of these groups decides to sue.
Could there be government intervention?
Here lies another dicotome. Remember, that a court finding could not only validate the concept of coordination it would also mandate the need for coordination in the first place. In doing so it could actually force the FCC to recognize the authority of coordinators and the validity of the overall process. As already stated, this is something the government is defiantly reluctant to do.
As you can see, even with the pressure from a congressional representative, the FCC is standing very firm in its resolve to not get any further involved in the issue of coordination of Amateur Radio Service repeaters (as there is no incentive in doing so). As the overall coordination community wants direct recognition of its works and legal standing in the eyes of the Commission, the only other option left to anyone seeking to force the issue is the federal court system.
The bottom line to all of this -- in my humble opinion there will be a lot of attempts to overthrow existing coordinators but only in geographic regions where the existing coordinator is apathetic toward the masses will there be any success. In most cases it will be an exercise in utter futility with money being spent on legal bills that could better be spent having fun.
The best repeaters in town -Columbia, SC
When I first met Renee Worthington, WB2BCO, she was a 14 year old 'oddity' on the 6-Meter band. A product of New York City in the 60s, Renee was your typical 'All American Girl.' But she was, and by her own admission she still is, a bit of a rebel. When "society" expected her to be playing with Barbie dolls and the like, Renee chose a Lafayette HE-45 6-meter AM transceiver instead.
Renee recently moved to Columbia, South Carolina where she has become involved with a rather unique radio club. Not only does the Columbia Amateur Radio Club do all the things that you would expect a club to do, it also sponsors one of the most interesting FM repeater systems to be found.
The system consists four repeaters, all require a CTCSS tone of 156.7 Hz. The first repeater is the 147.330(+) located in downtown Columbia, and provides coverage to downtown Columbia, central and western Richland County, and central and eastern Lexington County.
The next repeater is the 146.775(-) located on the far eastern side of Fort Jackson. This repeater covers areas such as Kershaw, Sumter, Lee and Florence Counties.
The third repeater is the 145.430(-) in western Lexington County near Gilbert, SC. It provides coverage to western Lexington County, eastern Aiken County, and eastern Saluda County.
The last is the 444.200 (+). This repeater is located on the tallest building in West Columbia, SC. It is the backbone of the linked system. This repeater provides coverage to eastern Lexington County, western Richland County, and most of downtown Columbia. Usually all the repeaters are linked together, but they can be unlinked if needed.
Renee also told me about club member Bruce Schweitzer, AE4NO, a Science and Technology teacher at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School. The school call sign is W4HHS and the school has an extensive assortment of Amateur Radio gear. According to WB2BCO, the school also supports the two local radio clubs and offers its grounds for field days. It is also her understanding that the school club has several younger members of the local Ham radio community involved.
More information on the Columbia Amateur Radio Club and its repeater is available on the club's website at: http:// www.qsl.net/kf4ghc/colarep.html. -- Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, can be reached at: 28197 Robin Ave., Saugus, CA 91350, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, AOL: BILL WA6ITF, Netcom: email@example.com, 24-hr voice/ fax: 805/296- 7180.
It's a Good Idea
(Every so often, an idea will show up which should be passed along. This idea from the Mount Baker ARC, in Bellingham WA is one of those. This appeared in their December, 1999 issue Ed.)
RIG TESTING UPCOMING AGAIN
For the last couple of years, the club has sponsored a very popular activity. We will test your rig for you. Bring your hand-held, your mobile rig, your antenna, even your HF rig and several tests can be made. Deviation checks on your 2m rigs are very useful. We can measure your antenna to see if it ought to resonate on 2 meters. Numerous other tests can be administered by Bob, WA7ZWG and helpers.
This well-attended project was the inspiration of W7DAR a few years ago. All kinds of rigs came off the shelves. The intent was to provide some kind of printed report showing what, if anything, should be done to your rig. They may be able to do that at this time.
Meet on the 11th (Saturday) at the SAR Radio Room from 10 AM to 2PM. Be prepared to QRX a bit. Last time a lot of Amateurs showed up.
GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB
MINUTES OF GENERAL MEETING 6/21/00
BY Pete, N2PYV
The meeting was called to order by Pat at 6:40 PM.
All present introduced themselves.
TREASURER'S REPORT –
Finances continue to be in good shape.
REPEATER REPORT –
The repeaters appear to be working good. Gordon and Pat visited the Bethpage site and adjusted the squelch. The Hauppaugue repeater is working in emergency mode without the capability to shut it down remotely.
NET REPORT –
Sunday 40-Meter Net was good. The Wednesday 20-Meter Net was good. Not many check-ins for the Thursday 2-Meter Net.
VE REPORT –
There were five applicants who did not take a test but were upgraded under the new rules. Three were upgraded to General, two to Extra, including Ted, KD2UB
WAG REPORT –
Plant 5 is being cleaned out in preparation for sale. Plant 14 is being renovated for Northrop Grumman use including a cafeteria. Plant 1 will be sold. The move of the trailer is on hold. We are now looking at the southwest parking lot of Plant 25.
A letter has been sent to the Bethpage Water District, asking them to let us make a presentation to the board concerning the possibility of installing the repeater antenna on top of the water tower,
Pat reminded everyone to look at the ARRL Hudson Division web page and send letters to their Assemblyman and Senator supporting the bill concerning tower restrictions.
Paul, WA2FOF, passed out a handout with all the information about Field Day 2000. There was a discussion about the things that needed to be done.
A video about a Dxpedition to Peter I Island in Antarctica was shown.