The Airwaves
March 2006
SIERRA AMATEUR RADIO CLUB
An ARRL Special Services Club
-- RACES -- ARES --
P.O. Box 1442, Ridgecrest, California 93556-1442

BOARD    President    Bill Burns    WA6QYR    375-8566   
    First VP    John Andrus    KC6UWM    371-2190   
OF    Second VP    Fred Moses    KG6STR    371-4034   
    Secretary    Lloyd Brubaker    WA6KZV       
OFFICERS    Treasurer    Pam Evans    KC6UUS    375-4240   

SARC Owned and Maintained Repeaters

Randsburg WA6YBN 145.34 MHz (-600 kHz), PL 100.0 Hz, Wide Area Coverage, Emerg. Pwr.
Ridgecrest WA6YBN 146.64 MHz (-600 kHz), Translator, No Squelch Tail, Emergency Power
Ridgecrest WA6YBN 147.00 MHz (+600 kHz), PL 107.2 Hz, Autopatch, linked to 145.34
Ridgecrest YBNBBS:WA6YBN, 145.050 MHz, Bulletin Board, 1200 Baud
Ridgecrest #YBNSW:WA6YBN-4, 223.580 MHz, Node, 1200 Baud
Ridgecrest #YBNSW:WA6YBN-4, 439.025 MHz, Node, 9600 Baud

SARC Committees

Technical Assistance: Greg, WA7IRW 446-4383 Public Relations: John, KC6UWM 375-5324
Program: Fred, KG6STR 446-1315 Airways Editor: Mike, WA6ARA 275-5324
RF Interference: Bill, WA6QYR 375-8566 Emergency and Public Service: Jerry, KK6PA 446-2228


THE AIRWAVES CALENDAR

Every Monday Night

ARRL Audio News
1910 (7:10 PM) on 146.64 MHz

IWV Emergency Net
Visitors Welcomed!
1930 hrs (7:30 PM) 
WA6YBN Translator 146.64 MHz (-)

East Kern County Emergency Net
Visitors Welcomed!
Rand repeater 145.340, pl 100
2000 hrs (8 PM)
     
March 8 SARC Meeting
Heritage Inn -- WA7IRW, see details inside

March 11 Hidden Transmitter Hunt
	   See details inside! 

April 21 Boy Scout Camporall Demonstration 

June 24-25 FIELD DAY! 

AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE EXAMS
Second Saturday, Even months
April 8 Volunteer License Exam Sessions
Kern County Library Ridgecrest Branch
131 East Las Flores Ave. Meeting Room
Pre-register by 05 Apr.
All must sign in at 9 AM.  Code test 11 AM. 
Contact Elvy NØLV 760-384-3589
E-mail  ehopkins@ridgenet.net


From the President's Shack

Wow! We just had January and now March is zooming in on us.

The horse ride events in January and February went well. More operators could have made things easier for all. People need to think if they are going to be ready to communicate when some event happens. They need to practice getting on the air. Being able to put that 2 meter rig in the car and operate with out a bunch of fix that and modify this stuff. Gee I need to get 12 volts and some 10 amps for this rig. Most cigarette lighter sockets are limited to about 10 amps. Where is the fuze for it located? How do I get the magmount antenna on the newer car than when I purchased the magmount? This is just some stuff you have to go through to put the radio in the car. But the event has happened and where did I stick that antenna anyway? Take the opportunity to get prepared to go mobile at one of these easy events, then you will be prepared for the bad one when it comes and you need to get out of the house.

Most of the horse ride events we have are more than just operating the radio. You get to meet some nice people riding those horses. They have to do some interesting things to get their horses to go around the trails for the 50 or 100 miles. They have to be prepared for their part of the event just like we need to be prepared to help them. Once in a while we do need to help them with a situation and it is nice to be prepared then too. We have some people from other countries come to ride and test their horse and both rider and horse endurance. Just like the bike rides we have helped on in the past, we are there to provide help getting help when needed. We are in the outdoors and get to see some areas maybe not seen before.

During this last ride there were hundreds of Snow Geese flying to the hills to the south for grass and then back home in Ridgecrest for other meals. It was interesting to watch them trying to fly into the wind. Lots of honking going on to encourage the flight leader and tell every one what is happening back in the line of birds. Come on out and try providing communications for these events. You will learn something and have fun at it too.

Bill WA6QYR


Board of Officers Meeting Minutes
By Secretary Lloyd Brubaker (WA6KZV)

5 in attendance

Called to order by the President Bill Burns at 1900 hrs. A check was made with the board for any business. There wasn't anything that needed done with the upcoming activities. (See announcements below)

Minutes of the General Meeting
By Secretary Lloyd Brubaker (WA6KZV)

Membership (20 in attendance)

Bill passed out assignments and schedules to the 20 Mule Team horse ride participants. A 21 April Boy Scout demonstration announced. Mark your calendar. This will last from 11am to 12 am. More details later.

The speaker was Gene Brewer, KI6LO, on the nature of various digital systems in use and experimented with.

Meeting adjourned following the 50/50 drawing at 1830

The next meeting will be at 7pm for the board, 7:30 for general membership at the Heritage Inn on Wednesday March 8th. The speaker TBA


TREASURER'S REPORT

Treasurer's Report as of February 21, 2005:

Draft Account $ 1,166.69 
Share Account $ 5,072.76 
BALANCE:      $ 6,239.45 
submitted by Pam Evans, KC6UUS


And Additional comments...

We received a letter of thanks from the Valley Riders (Fire Mountain Fifty Horse Ride) and a check for $150.00 for the club treasury. Nancy Burton, ride manager, expressed her thanks knowing that we were keeping track of all the riders. Many of the riders themselves expressed that thanks individually as well. Good job guys and gals.

Each year we send out a February newsletter to all the hams listed in the FCC data base in the valley inviting them to join SARC. Every year we get a bundle of them back marked Not Deliverable. FCC rules require that the station address be kept up to date. Of course the station location and the mailing address may not be the same but each amateur needs to be aware of the problem and be sure the correct address is listed with the FCC.

March Meeting Program

Greg WA7IRW will demonstrate an HP E3238 spectrum surveillance system. The FCC has used these to monitor the spectrum usage, and tune in on possible violators. "It is basically a spectrum analyzer on steroids." It can search for signals from 2 MHz to 3 GHz in about 1.5 seconds. It can "drop" a receiver onto a signal that it finds so the signal can be demodulated and monitored.

Greg will set up the E3238 with a wideband discone antenna and a single receiver. The program will start with a 16 minute HP video that describes many of the features of the equipment, then maybe a few slides that discuss the differences between a regular scanner, a spectrum analyzer, and the E3238. For the demonstration of the equipment Greg will "tour" the spectrum, zoom in on some signals, such as a pager to show the modulation, and end with the grand finale of having someone key up a low power handheld, begin talking, and show how fast the system finds the signal and tunes the receiver onto it.
73
Fred KG6STR


Hidden Transmitter Hunt!

It's time again for another hidden transmitter hunt! Also known as a T-hunt, fox hunt, etc. This month's hunt will be on 11 March, starting at the Heritage Inn parking lot at 9am. Usually these hunt last about an hour and everyone has fun. No equipment?, no problem. You can hook up with someone who does and ride along. Be sure to bring along your handheld, so you too can twirl around trying to find it in the end. The frequency is 146.565 Mhz. Everyone is encouraged to give it a try. For more info contact Mike, WA6ARA or Greg, WA7IRW.


2006 20 Mules Team Horse Ride Results
19 Feb 2006

 
I arrived at the Fairgrounds at 06:15 and picked up a list of riders from Jackie, KE6IFG, the leader of the 20 Mule Team 100 mile Endurance Horse Ride event. There were some 48 -35 milers, 68 -65milers and 53 -100 milers. I checked with the man that was keeping track of horse numbers as they left the start point on the ride so I had a good list to work from. The 100 milers left at 06:00 and would travel out to the Vet 3/5 site (Highway 395/ Brown Road/ China Lake Blvd intersection) and on to Vet 1 (the old Sand Pit north of Black Mountain), around Black Mountain to Vet 2 (the intersection of Red Rock/Inyokern Road with the road from the Highway 14 Billboards), then back around to Vet 1 and back into the Fairground for the first 65 miles. They would then travel the loop around to Vet 1 (LD) (the old Railroad Crossing on Highway 395) cross 395 to the old trestle and back to Vet 3/5 and then back to the Fairgrounds. The 65 milers just took the first large loop. The 35 milers went around the second loop. The 65 milers left at 07:00. The 35 milers left at 07:30. We had operators at Vet 1 (ld) Bob Phillips KA6PLU. Dave Stone, KC6UUR at Vet 1. Fred Moses, KG6STR at Vet 2 with a beam antenna to reach the SARC portable repeater (147.060 +) placed on the concrete slab above the College by Greg Roush, WA7IRW at about 06:00.

 
Not all operators needed to be on site very early. There was a time table worked out by Bill, WA6QYR as to when the site needed to be manned so the operator didn't have to spend a bunch of dead time waiting for horses to arrive. The idea of the radio operators was to keep track of horse numbers going through their site so if someone ended up missing we could back track records and possibly know where they were last seem. We also let Alex, KD6ZUV on the water and hay detail know when supplies were low.

Early on we had a rider that some how ended up off her horse and on to the ground with suspected broken collar bone and leg problems. Operators radioed for a horse taxi and the ladies' support car to get the horse back to the Fairgrounds and then the lady to the hospital. Most of the rest of the event was just trying to keep numbers of leaders and end horses straight for each group of riders.

 
Operators whose site was clear of horses got to head back home after serving well. The final operators were Bill, Greg and Lloyd waiting for the last of the 100 milers to make it around the last loop. Mike returned later in the evening and stayed with Greg and Alex at Vet 3/5 until the last horses moved on. Finally at 02:00 the last riders made it through Vet 3/5. Greg shut down the repeater and went home. Bill make a list of the 12 riders out on the trail heading for the Fairgrounds and passed that to the Fairground Vet crew and went home too.

The weather had been cool, sunny and breezy for most of the day. Snow Geese were in abundance (over 300) flying from the Ridgecrest Fields to the south mountain grass areas and back. Evening came with heavy cloud cover and cold wind, which kept every one inside vehicles. All in all it was a good communications event that the riders were very thankful for us being there.

Bill Burns WA6QYR


Upcoming Public Service Opportunity

The Boy Scout Camporall is to be held April 21-23 in Keysville near Lake Isabella. SARC will be taking the tower trailer and Phelps, W6PTH will bring his portable station. The plan is to set up a station to demo for the Scouts what Amateur Radio iw all about and let them talk to someone. Kind of a promo for Radio merit Badge too. Others are welcome to come up for a day on Saturday and join in the fun of talking with the Scouts and demonstrating the radio hobby. The contact is Bill Burns, WA6QYR


Antenna Comparison

I am in the process of upgrading the ARES/RACES Portable Packet stations(PPS). They need to be capable of sending email formatted messages to a local WL2K packet station for transfer out of the area to WL2K "mailbox".

Since the four PPSs are being changed over from 1-1/4 mtrs to 2m/70cm I needed a good antenna to run 9600 bd packet into the ELPASO node up on Laural Peak. I borrowed the Comet GP-3 antenna Gregg (WA7IRW) purchased for the RACES portable crossband repeater. With the antenna set up on one of the PPS supports at about 6 feet I tried hitting ELPASO at 50 watts. It seemed work quite nicely. I dropped the power to 5 watts and was amazed to get perfect communications without any rejected packets. I found that the 2mtr connection to the WA6YBN BBS at 5 watts was also excellent. The results on both bands impressed me. Especially having many rejects when using the original 1-1/4 mtr setup.

Gregg said he didn't really have any particular reason for choosing the Comet. I've previously had Comet antennas and was never overly impressed with them. I compared the specs of the Comet with a similar Diamond. The Comet GP-3 is a 5' 11" dual bander with gains of 4.5/7.2 dBi for 2/70. The Diamond X50A is 5' 7" long with the same gain and the same price.

Hum! Now what? The Comet proved it will do what I want. Do I buy four Comets or four Diamonds?

Gregg came to the rescue. He suggested I buy one Diamond and we'll compare the reception of it to the Comet. We set his Yaesu VR-5000 on his portable table in my driveway. Put the two antenna up on their own similar supports. Gregg went across the street with his 300 mw HT and we compared the signal strength between the two antennas.

Which one is the best one?? They are basically the same. The construction seems the same. In fact, the plastic sleeve they come in are the same, right down to the color. On two meters the Diamond was a 1/2 db better than the Comet. On 70 cm the Comet was a 1/2 db better. We checked Gregg's collinear (4X) against the Diamond's (3X) on 2 mtrs. As you would expect, Gregg's collinear was 2 db better.

It appears to boil down to personal preference. Since 70cm, 9600 bd packet needs the strongest signal possible, I'll probably buy the three Comets.

Jerry Brooks, KK6PA kk6pa@hotmail.com


FCC noncommittal on "Morse code" proceeding
ARRL Bulletin 3  ARLB003 
From ARRL Headquarters   
Newington CT  February 14, 2006 
Just when the FCC will act on the ''Morse code'' proceeding, WT Docket 05-235, remains hazy. The Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order (NPRM&O) last July proposing to eliminate the Element 1 (5 WPM) Morse code requirement for all license classes. The Amateur Radio community filed more than 3800 comments on the proceeding, and additional comments continue to show up, even though the formal comment deadline was last fall. The next--and most-anticipated--step for the Commission is to formally adopt any revisions to its rules and conclude the proceeding with a Report and Order (R&O) that spells out the changes and specifies their effective date.

"There really is no news," an FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) staffer told ARRL this week on background. ''We certainly hope to release WT Docket 05-235 sometime this year, but we're not making any predictions at this time.'' The WTB staffer indicated there would be no ''big announcements'' at the Dayton Hamvention FCC Forum either.

Beyond eliminating the Morse requirement, the FCC declined in its NPRM&O to go forward with any other suggested changes to Amateur Service licensing rules or operating privileges.

The proceeding began with 18 petitions for rule making-- many just calling for the elimination of the Morse requirement but some asking for more far-reaching changes in the Amateur Service rules. The various petitions attracted a total of some 6200 comments. The FCC subsequently consolidated the petitions--including one from the ARRL asking the FCC to establish a new entry-level license class and to retain the Morse requirement for Amateur Extra class applicants--into a single proceeding designated WT 05-235.

Worth noting is that the FCC did not propose in WT 05-235 to extend HF privileges to current Technician licensees who have not passed a Morse code examination. In its NPRM&O the FCC suggested that in a no-Morse- requirement regime, such ''codeless Techs'' would be able to gain HF access by taking the Element 3 General class written examination.

Before it releases an R&O on the Morse code proceeding, however, the WTB wants to wrap up action in another Amateur Radio-related docket--the ''Phone Band Expansion'' (or ''Omnibus'') NPRM in WT Docket 04-140, released last April 15. A dozen petitions for rulemaking, some dating back to 2001, were consolidated in the Omnibus proceeding. In that NPRM, the Commission proposed to go along with the ARRL's Novice refarming plan aimed at reallocating the current Novice/Tech Plus subbands to expand portions of the 80, 40 and 15 meter phone bands. The FCC also agreed with an ARRL proposal to extend privileges in the current General CW-only HF subbands to present Novice and Tech Plus licensees (or Technicians with Element 1 credit).

Any FCC decision to eliminate the 5 WPM Morse code requirement for HF access would have no impact on either the current HF CW-only subbands or on the CW privileges of Amateur Radio licensees. The Morse code proceeding neither put forward nor recommended any changes in CW allocations or privileges.

From The ARRL Web Site


League Complains to FCC Regarding BPL Database Irregularities

NEWINGTON, CT, Feb 14, 2006--Calling the FCC-mandated BPL Interference Resolution Web site "woefully incomplete and improperly managed," the ARRL has called on the FCC to order database manager United Telecom Council (UTC) to fix it immediately or appoint "a competent database manager" to repair the problems. "The database management is either shamefully incompetent on the part of UTC or simply nonexistent," the ARRL said in a complaint today to the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET). "The database is merely 'garbage in, garbage out,' and in its present form cannot serve any useful purpose at all, much less a 'sufficient' means of addressing BPL interference." A copy of the complaint also went to the FCC's Enforcement Bureau as well as to UTC.

ARRL Denied Access

Error message ARRL received while trying to access BPL Interference Resolution Database.

In an apparently related development, UTC has terminated the ARRL's access to the BPL Interference Resolution Web site. The League plans to file a separate complaint to the FCC on that issue. The BPL database should be accessible from other ISPs, however, and the ARRL wants to hear from anyone else spotting discrepancies as well as from those whose database access has been curtailed or cut off altogether. A notice on the opening page of the BPL database declares that individuals are allowed "a limited number" of searches each month. "Individuals are advised not to conduct random searches of the database, or their access to the database may be further restricted," the UTC warns.

League efforts to access the database yielded this error message: "The system has determined that this line of searching constitutes unauthorized use of the database. Cease operations immediately." The ARRL already has complained about the UTC database's use of ZIP codes as a sole database access key and has requested that the FCC require UTC to provide a list of ZIP codes where BPL systems are in operation or going into operation to simplify searches.

BPL Database Required by FCC Rules

The FCC ordered creation of the BPL Interference Resolution database in October 2004, when it adopted new Part 15 rules to govern BPL systems.

"The primary intent of our notification and database requirements is to ensure that licensed users of the spectrum have a publicly accessible and centralized source of information on BPL operations to determine whether there may be Access BPL operations on particular frequencies within their local area so that any incident of harmful interference can be resolved should it occur," the FCC said in its Report and Order. FCC rules require Access BPL operators to provide certain information 30 days before commencing operations. The database is supposed to include the name of the BPL provider, frequencies of operation, postal ZIP codes served, manufacturer and type of BPL equipment, a point-of- contact telephone number and e-mail address for interference inquiries and resolution, and the proposed or actual date the system will start operation. The database manager has three days from the date of receipt to enter the information into the database.

Database of Mutual Benefit

Having correct and up-to-date information in the BPL Interference Resolution Database benefits both BPL providers and licensed services, the League has pointed out. For example, a radio amateur suspecting BPL interference might be able to rule out the possibility by consulting the database. ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI--the League's point man on BPL technical issues--says that while the BPL database has shortcomings limiting its usefulness, ARRL staff have until now made extensive use of it to help the Amateur Radio Service appropriately deal with interference questions and problems.

"In the past, when amateurs have reported BPL interference, one industry response has been to claim that the amateur station is hearing some other noise and thinking that it's BPL," Hare said "By locating these systems soon after they've appeared in the database, the League has been able to advise amateurs in affected ZIP codes that they should document current noise and noise levels. This way, when the BPL system becomes operational, it will be easy to tell whether there is any significant change in noise levels, or not, preventing erroneous reports that could have occurred otherwise." The ARRL's BPL Interference Database page provides more information about BPL systems than "the minimal database maintained by the UTC," Hare added.

Fox in the Henhouse

The ARRL said in its complaint that even assuming UTC intends its BPL database to be available to radio amateurs to determine the source of possible BPL interference, the FCC should require UTC "to revisit every entry in the database and verify independently the information provided." Alternatively, the League requested that the FCC relieve UTC as database manager and appoint a new one that will supervise it properly. "The fox, therefore, should be withdrawn from the henhouse," the League said.

Complaint Includes Database Discrepancies

Attached to the League's letter of complaint was a compilation of BPL database errors and omissions the ARRL discovered between January 27 and February 14, 2006. "There may be others," the ARRL noted. "The attached list includes eight BPL systems that are not in the database at all, which are clearly in operation in violation of the Commission's Rules. It includes two systems which were placed in operation prior to, or contemporaneous with, their listing in the database, rather than 30 days after their listing in the database."

One listing lacks contact information, systems operating in two ZIP codes contain no equipment information, and nearly three dozen systems said to be in operation and entered in the database lack FCC ID numbers or equipment model numbers, the League says. Three listings contain no frequency information, while another five contain incorrect, ambiguous, or incomplete information about the frequencies being used. Hare said the ARRL has a responsible program for dealing with other types of interference, and it wants to continue that with BPL interference and ensure that amateurs having problems properly identify and report it. "The UTC's escalating restrictions on access to the database will serve little other purpose other than to make it harder for amateurs to identify BPL interference correctly," he said.

Scofflaw Attitudes

In its complaint, the League said the FCC is obliged under its Part 15 rules to apply sanctions on BPL providers not complying with the database requirements. "The eight systems that are operating but which are not included in the database should be shut down immediately," the League added.

Most noteworthy are the Briarcliff Manor, New York, and Allentown, Pennsylvania-area BPL systems that have been the cause of substantial interference to Amateur Radio stations. The League recently asked the FCC to shut down the Briarcliff Manor system because of longstanding interference complaints to which the FCC has not adequately responded.

"Those BPL operators have no incentive whatsoever to comply with the database requirements, since their scofflaw attitudes about compliance with the few BPL regulations that the Commission has imposed to date, and with interference resolution obligations, have been rewarded by Commission inaction on the complaints filed," the ARRL complaint said.


RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2006

Download the Membership Application (PDF) print, fill out and mail to SARC. Members who fail to renew by March will be dropped from the roll.


RACES, ARES and INDIAN WELLS VALLEY EMERGENCY NET MEMBERS

In case of impending or current emergency, monitor the SARC translator on 146.64/04 MHz or the backup simplex frequency of 146.52 MHz. KK6PA, Jerry, the local RACES EC, will coordinate mobilization. An Emergency Net Control Station will direct radio communications. Check in. State your capabilities. Be prepared to go outside the IWV for at least three days.

An E-Pac should contain: your RACES card, radios and accessories, batteries, charger, paper, pen, clipboard, flashlight with spare batteries, timepiece, headgear, sunglasses, spare glasses, your medications, your medical history, first aid kit, severe weather clothing, non-perishable food, 3 gal. water, sleeping bag.

Updated Sun Mar 19 14:29:42 PST 2006