Newsletter for December, 1999

Greetings and Salutations VARECS members,

    The newsletter is back, and we will try to provide something of interest for everyone reading it. We'll try to put this out every couple of months, and if there is information that needs to get out, or if the membership desires, we can try to publish a monthly newsletter.

    We're soliciting comments, complaints, additions, retractions, etc., although the editors reserve the right to ignore nonsense. If you would like to get in touch with either of us, we can be reached via radio, telephone at (904) 427-7734, snailmail at 2002 Mallonee Rd., New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168, or perhaps the easiest method (particularly if you are making submissions) is via email at either [email protected]  or [email protected] .

    For those of you with internet access, you can also view this newsletter, and any updates at .  The VARECS web page has moved and can be viewed at

    With that being said, on to the news!

VARECS news:

There will be a meeting on Tuesday, December 21, 1999 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to be at our normal meeting place in the EOC, but this may be subject to change.

We'll be finalizing our plans for Y2K, among other sundries. Bernie Farling, NP2CB, District Emergency Coordinator for East Central Florida, will be giving a talk on Y2K preparations within the state.

Please listen to the 147.240 repeater for updates and changes. As always, the weekly VARECS net will be at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Emergency Related News:

It's been such an active year for hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, fires, and other disasters that it would be a disaster trying to list them all here. Suffice it to's been a busy year.

New Smyrna Beach is instituting a program to issue identification to residents, contractors, emergency personnel, etc. during disasters. Dick (AF4OY) is looking into what this will mean to VARECS, and what we will need to do should something happen in New Smyrna. So far, New Smyrna Beach authorities haven't been particularly responsive.

The risk of death from hurricanes is no longer greatest for those living in coastal areas.  This according to Hurricane forecaster Ed Rapapport who says that in recent years, the majority of hurricane-related deaths have actually occurred inland because of swollen rivers and overwhelmed drainage systems. (from the Amateur Radio Newsline #1159 11/04/99)

Assorted news from the world of the FCC and ham radio:

The 1999 Newsline Young Ham of the Year is Michelle Swann, KE4EZI, from Warner Robbins, GA. She's a 17-year-old Tech Plus who was licensed in June of 1995. Involved in her local ARES group, she assisted during the tornado emergency and the aftermath in Atlanta, GA last year. She was a awarded with an all expense trip to the Huntsville Hamfest, Yaesu radio equipment, and CQ magazine will treat her to an expense-paid week at Spacecamp in Huntsville, AL. Past winners of this award include one of our own, Richard Paczkowski, Jr. (KF4BIA), who won last years award. (Thanks to

The FCC has relaxed some of restrictions regarding Spread Spectrum experimentation by amateurs. Proposed in 1997, the FCC has very recently issued the Report and Order on Spread Spectrum rules. Below is  a quote from that Report and Order that sums up the three main changes.
            "We amend our rules to remove the limitation that amateur stations transmit SS emission types using
              only frequency hopping and direct sequence spreading techniques.
              We adopt a requirement that amateur stations use automatic transmitter power control to limit
              transmitter power to the minimum power necessary to maintain communications. We amend our rules to
              remove now unnecessary recordkeeping and station identification
              requirements that apply only to stations transmitting SS emissions."
Those desiring the full text of the Report and Order can find it at .

The FCC has submitted a reorganization plan. It mainly centers around commercial interests, nor did they mention amateur radio. This plan is not related to the reorganization of amateur radio licensing as proposed by the ARRL. The FCC is emphasizing a desire to reduce government regulation by allowing competition more freedom. Also, they would like to promote new technologies, opening up more of the spectrum for use by these new technologies. Consequentially, it is likely that hams will be sharing more of the spectrum in the VHF/UHF range which we've been allocated.

As of November 8, 1999, the FCC has created two new bureaus, the Enforcement Bureau and the Consumer Information Bureau, in an effort to coordinate and consolidate the many sub-bureaus already in existence. More information about this reorganization plan can be found at (from The ARRL Letter Vol. 18, No. 43)

The next FCC Commission meeting will be on December 15 of this year. No agenda has been set as of this

New computer networking technologies will be generating more RFI in the HF bands. The latest version of home networking for computers over phone line will generate signals in the 2-30 MHz range. An existing networking protocol generates signals between 5.5 to 9.5 MHz, creating interference across this spectrum, and is extremely sensitive to transmissions in the 40 meter band.

As well as these problems with 'home networking,' certain *DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) protocols also broadcast into the HF spectrum. IDSL, in particular, seems to be a problem, as it also broadcasts across the entire amateur HF spectrum.

There are also other high bandwidth networks in development which could pose similar problems. Media Fusion L.L.C., a company out of North Dallas, TX, has a $1.5 billion dollar deal with an electric cooperative, serving 30 million customers to deliver high bandwidth internet access over power lines. Similar projects have been tried in Great Britain, with varied success.

(Thanks to Ham Radio Online for the above stories.)

This past year, there were several bills introduced to congress that would have greatly affected amateur radio. So far as I've been able to track them down, none of them managed to pass this year, though several made it out of the House and into the Senate. A few of the more notable ones include The Wireless Privacy Act, Telecommunications Merger Review Act of 1999, and the appropriations bill for 2000/2001.

The Wireless Privacy Enhancement Act of 1999 sought to make it illegal to manufacture or sell any device, either designed or easily modifiable, that will receive or decode personal radio communications, specifically pagers, cellular, and public safety bands.

The Telecommunications Merger Review Act of 1999 was written "To restrict the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to review mergers and to impose conditions on licenses and other authorizations assigned or transferred in the course of mergers or other transactions subject to review by the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission," which would have made it difficult, if not impossible to protect the
frequencies which have been allocated to amateur radio use.

On a slightly different note, an effort was made in the appropriations bill for 2000/2001 to restrict the National Weather Service from offering any services that are, or could be, offered by commercial entities. While this wouldn't have directly affected amateur radio, it's likely that it would have had a serious impact upon SKYWARN and ARES activities.

As of August 16, 1999, anyone wanting a new, renewed, or modified ham license must register with the FCC using a new Form 606. The Universal Licensing System, or ULS, has been available for approximately two years, but has only recently become compulsory. They must provide the commission with their Taxpayer Identification Number, among other things (for most of us, that's our Social Security Number.) This was mandated by the Debt Collection Incentive Act of 1996, which was ostensibly an effort to track down deadbeat dads.

The ULS hasn't yet managed to win over many hams. As of November, only about 3% of hams had registered. Problems have plagued the system, ranging from browser incompatibilities to license upgrades being reversed.

For more information on the ULS, you can call toll-free 888-CALL FCC (225-5322).

If you'd like to register online, you can visit .

For paper registration, use Form 606, as mentioned above.

(Thanks to CQ-VHF magazine for the above.)

The FCC has approved a new test reimbursement fee: The FCC has announced that the maximum Amateur Radio examination fee reimbursement that Volunteer Examiners and Volunteer Examiner Coordinators can collect during calendar year 2000 is $6.66. The ARRL/VEC has set its 2000 test fee at $6.65. Per ARRL-VEC policy, there is no examination charge for those taking only Elements 1A or 2. A $6.65 fee will be collected from applicants seeking to upgrade using a physician's certification to waive the Morse code examination.--Bart J. Jahnke, W9JJ

(from the ARRL Letter Vol. 18, No. 44)

And finally, anyone looking a free web page, email address, or email forwarding address (which is great for
anyone who changes email addresses can use one of these to redirect mail to another address,
which is great if you ever switch isps, or get tired of spam in your free email account, or whatever) should take a
look at  . This is a service operated by amateurs for amateurs. Your email address would be
[email protected] Web page space is unlimited, provided the thrust of your page is related to amateur radio.

Area Nets:

We would like to collect and present all of the known nets in the general area, for those interested. I've
included those I know about, so please send us any which we haven't included. If they aren't here, we
don't know about them!

All Nets meet daily unless otherwise noted.

VARECS net: Every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Meets on the 147.240 (+, no tone) repeater. Simplex
on the third Wednesday of the month.

VCTN (the Volusia County Traffic Net): meets daily on the 147.240 (+, no tone) at 6:30 p.m.

DBARA (Daytona Beach Amateur Radio Association): meets every Sunday on 147.150 (+, no tone) at 7:30

CWA (Coronado Wireless Association): meets every Thursday on 145.330 (-, no tone) at 7:30 p.m. Note:
The CWA club repeater is currently down, so the net is operating simplex on 145.330

There is a Simplex net out of Jacksonville on 146.460 (FM) 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday evenings.

There is a 2-meter SSB net on 144.240 at 8:30 p.m. every Saturday evening.

SVTN (Seminole VHF Traffic Net): meets every day (except the first Monday, I believe) on 147.285 (+, no
tone.) Early checkins are taken starting at 7:15 p.m., and the net officially starts at 7:30 p.m.

Lake County has a net on 147.000 (+, no tone) at 7:00 p.m.

FPTN (Florida Phone Traffic Net): meets on 3.940 at 6:55 am.

FMTN (Florida Midday Traffic Net): meets on 7.242 at noon (warm-up beings at 11:50 am.)

TPTN (Tropical Phone Traffic Net): meets on 7.243 in the spring/summer and 3.940 through the rest of
the year at 5:00 p.m.

FMSN (All Florida Medium Speed Net): meets on 3.061 through the spring/summer and 3.651 through
the rest of the year at 5:30 p.m.

FAST/Early (Florida Amateur Sideband Traffic Net-Early): meets on 3.940 at 6:00 p.m.

NFPN (North Florida Phone Net): meets on 3.950 at 7:30 EDST or 6:30 Eastern (as the case may be.

QFN/Early (All Florida Fast CW Traffic Net-Early): meets on 3.651 at 7:00 p.m.

QFNS (All Florida Slow CW Traffic Net): meets on 3.715 at 8:00 p.m.

QFN/L (All Florida Fast CW Traffic Net-Late): meets on 3.651 at 10:00 p.m.

FAST/Late (Florida Amateur Sideband Traffic Net-Late): meets on 3.940 at 10:30 p.m.

(Thanks to KE4DNO for most of these.)

Loose Ends:

Not many loose ends to clear up as this is our first issue.

The EC's Corner:

By Dick Paczkowski / E. C. Volusia County

Since the last time that I wrote for the newsletter, VARECS has been very busy. Some new goals have been set
for the future, and some past goals have already been completed. It is my recent understanding that the 147.240
county repeater has been repaired. As you have probably noticed, most of the noise is gone. The coverage is not
what I really want it to be, but I think that after a few more meetings with the county emergency management
our repeater will be working at its maximum. We have KF4TM ( Doug Hubbs ) to thank for coordinating the
process, Rafael Torres ( KD4MTF ) for mapping the coordinates, and every volunteer who gave their time on a
recent Saturday riding through the county and checking the out put of the repeater. With daily usage of the
repeater we can still find some spots that have either weak or no coverage.

We now have a back-up repeater. It is the 146.865 in Ormond Beach. The repeater has a negative offset and is
not tone controlled. We have Mr. Harold Keister to thank for this. He has given VARECS complete control of
his repeater in times of emergency. If you can not get into the 147.240 repeater, please go to the 146.865. It has a
very wide coverage and you should be able to use it all over Volusia.

Orange County has donated a 440 repeater for our cause. Hopefully it will be up within the next few months. We
were thinking of installing it right off of 92 and Indian Lake Road. There is a 300 foot tower there that belongs
to the county. Now I just have to contact the repeater council and get the frequencies for it, have the new
crystals installed, and then have the county set it in place. Orange County was very gracious donating this
repeater to us. They could have used it someplace in their own county.

Field  Day 99 was a first for VARECS this year, and it was a great success. We started at 9 A. M. Saturday
morning setting off the east and west tones on the 240 repeater to let everyone know where it was going to be
held. Members started to show up at Lake Helen by 10:30 A.M. and started to set up their own equipment. Dave
Jollymore ( WA1RWO) made the most contacts on C. W.. Once his fingers started to tap out morse code, we
couldn't pry him away from his key. Although Dave made the most contacts, John KF4TQX made the best
contact. John was working 2 meter sideband and made a contact with WB0DGF in Lincoln, NE. Doug ( KF4TM
) tried his luck with packet to no avail. The Salvation Army came out to feed us. They fed 20 of us pepper steak
with all the trimmings and two large coolers filled with drinks. Lake Helen let us camp out there in their town
common over night, and the Lake Helen Police came around every once in a while to make sure everything was
still ok with us. We couldn't have asked for a better place to set up. Thank You Lake Helen. We all had a great
time with our VARECS drill.

Two things which have to be discussed at out next meeting. Y2K problems with the county, and the antennas
that were set up on the shelters. As of this date, Volusia County has no idea of what they are going to do about
Y2K. Most other counties around the state already have their plans in order. The State E O C is going to be
activated, as well as Orange County. I've heard rumors that the Orange County ARES unit was requested to
have operators stand by to man the police cars on 31 Dec. 99 . If Volusia County doesn't have anything planned
for 31 Dec., we may be going over to Orange, or other counties, as a mutual aid for them, just to give them a
hand. County shelters. Plans are being made to go to all the shelters to make sure that all of the antennas that
were installed are in proper working order. SWR readings will have to be taken along with the accesability of the
feed lines. If we have a good antenna with good coverage, it won't do us any good if we can't get to the feed line.
I've noticed an antenna on Mainland High School. It was a copper j pole and seemed to be in a very good
location. The feed line was left in the proper place above the ceiling tile in the cafeteria office, but the ceiling
was 12 feet high, and no one had any ladders.

Dick AF4OY / E C Volusia county

In Closing:

We'd like to thank you all for your continued support of VARECS, and we hope you enjoyed this issue of the newsletter. As we said, we're just starting to get this together, and we would welcome any input that you folks have. Until next time,

Joette (KG4CVI) and Derek (KG4CLC) Barnett, editors