Thursday, March 31, 2011

The ARRL Letter, 31 March

+ Public Service: Hams Help When Phones Fail at Southern California Hospital
Public Service : Western Pennsylvania Hams Respond as Tornado Sweeps Through Area
+ Amateur Radio in Space: Two Astronauts Get Their Ham Ticket
+ NCVEC Deletes Question from Amateur Extra Question Pool
+ ARRL Nebraska Section Introduces "Elmer Squad"
+ New Mars Rover to Feature Morse Code
On the Air : NIST to Conduct Time and Frequency User Survey
Solar Update
+ Silent Key: Internet Pioneer Paul Baran, W3KAS (SK)
+ Silent Key: Owner of Industrial Communication Engineers Mike Koss, W9SU (SK)
This Week on the Radio
Upcoming ARRL Section, State and Division Conventions and Events
+ Available on ARRL Audio News

+ Public Service: Hams Help When Phones Fail at Southern California Hospital

When nurses and other caregivers picked up their phones at Children's Hospital of Orange County in California in the early morning on March 21, there was no dial tone. A power surge caused the central processor in the hospital's phone switch to fail. Following established procedures, the lead operator at the hospital switchboard immediately activated the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System, using an off-switch tie-line to reach April Moell, WA6OPS, head of this ARES® group that specializes in helping hospitals when their communications fail. Read more here.

Public Service : Western Pennsylvania Hams Respond as Tornado Sweeps Through Area

This tornado -- as seen just outside of Pittsburgh -- swept through Western Pennsylvania on March 23, destroying at least 30 homes and damaging another 90. [Photo courtesy of Rebecca Mink and Rabe Marsh, W3TNU]

At approximately 4:30 on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 23, severe thunderstorms started to roll into Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, producing golf ball-sized hail and heavy winds. Members of the Westmoreland County Public Service/ARES® group began to meet on the W3CRC repeater in Derry, Pennsylvania, which serves as the main ARES®/SKYWARN repeater in Westmoreland County. Soon after, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area and the Public Service Net was opened formally at 5 PM. Walter Bashaw, W3ZEH, began taking check-ins and reports of severe weather, relaying them to the NWS in Pittsburgh. Read more here.

+ Amateur Radio in Space: Two Astronauts Get Their Ham Ticket

Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR (left), and Luca Parmatano, KF5KDP, will journey to the International Space Station in 2013.

Even though they aren't scheduled to go to the International Space Station until 2013, two astronauts -- Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano -- are now licensed amateurs. Cassidy, who received the call sign KF5KDR, is scheduled to head to the ISS in March 2013 as part of Expedition 35. Parmitano -- an Italian from the European Space Agency -- is KF5KDP; he goes to the ISS three months later in May, as part of Expedition 36.

"Our aim is to have at least one crew member licensed and trained in on-air protocol, who is somewhat excited about ham radio and the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program, per expedition," explained ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO. NASA ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, told the ARRL that both Cassidy and Parmitano are "excited and interested in the educational aspects of Amateur Radio on board the ISS." Read more here.

+ NCVEC Deletes Question from Amateur Extra Question Pool

Due to the FCC revising the rules concerning Spread Spectrum, the Question Pool Committee of the National Council of Volunteer Examiner Coordinator ( NCVEC) has decided to delete a question from the Amateur Extra class question pool. According to QPC Chairman Rol Anders, K3RA, as of April 29 when the new Spread Spectrum rule change goes into effect, the answer to question E1F13 in the Amateur Extra class question pool will no longer be correct . Read more here.

+ ARRL Nebraska Section Introduces "Elmer Squad"
The Nebraska Elmer Squad made its first official appearance earlier this month at the ARRL Nebraska State Convention in Lincoln. Darwin Piatt, W9HZC, and Darrel Swenson, K0AWB, were on hand to answer questions about the Squad's mission and plans. According to ARRL Nebraska Section Manager Art Zygielbaum, K0AIZ, the Squad is gathering a list of volunteer Elmers throughout the state who are willing to assist not only new Amateur Radio operators, but current operators who need some technical assistance.
Darwin Piatt, W9HZC (left) and Darrel Swenson, K0AWB, discuss the ARRL Nebraska Section's "Elmer Squad" with ARRL Field Organization Supervisor Steve Ewald, WV1X (standing) at the ARRL Nebraska State Convention earlier this month. [Barry Buelow, W0IY, Photo]

"Mentoring of new or prospective hams will be an ongoing part of the mission," Zygielbaum told the ARRL. "The intent is to have Elmers participate in their local area radio clubs and give presentations on various subjects relating to Amateur Radio." Nearly a dozen hams signed up at the State Convention to be a part of the Elmer Squad.

Piatt and Swenson said that they believe that people should remember that Amateur Radio is a hobby -- and it should be fun. Both men are QRP operators and builders; part of their enjoyment comes from passing on the fun of building to others.

The Elmer Squad will be traveling around Nebraska this summer and fall, giving presentations and signing up more Elmers. In addition, Piatt and Swenson are working on a Nebraska Elmer Squad website. Zygielbaum said that this will provide a central contact point to match Elmers with those who would like assistance. Once the site is up and running, the URL will be posted on the ARRL Nebraska Section website.

"Our motto is 'Hey, this is a hobby -- it is supposed to be fun!'" Zygielbaum explained. "We're looking for good people to help us keep it that way."

+ New Mars Rover to Feature Morse Code
As the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) builds the next Mars rover -- this one is named Curiosity -- to deploy to the red planet in the fall of 2011, they're having a little fun with it. Back in 2007 when the Curiosity team was putting together the rover, its wheel cleats had a raised pattern with the letters "JPL," leaving a little stamp of the rover's birthplace everywhere it rolled. "At the time, I asked whether the real rover would have those wheels, and they said, no, they weren't going to get to advertise JPL with each turn of each of the rover's six wheels; the real rover would have some other pattern," said Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society in her blog. Lakdawalla is the organization's Science and Technology Coordinator.
JPL's Mars Science Laboratory Lead Engineer Jaime Waydo with Curiosity -- and the rover's old wheels. [Emily Lakdawalla, Photo]

Lakdawalla said that there is nothing special about the shapes of the markers in Opportunity's wheels; they are just square holes through the wheels through which the wheels were bolted to the lander during cruise and landing." Opportunity is the name of the rover that went to Mars back in 2003. "But Curiosity didn't need holes in its wheels for attaching to any lander -- there isn't one. So the engineers got to make the markers in any shape they wanted to."

But in March 2011, she saw a video of the rover as it is today: "I had to chuckle at those 'visual odometry markers' [on its tires]. Before I explain why, I'll point out that they really are useful things to have in rover wheels. The repeating pattern of the 'visual odometry markers'...makes it fairly easy for both the rover and human operators to determine visually how far the rover has roved using rear-view imagery."
The tires on the new Mars rover -- set to launch in November or December 2011 -- will display the letters JPL in Morse code. [Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL]

So what pattern did JPL choose to put on Curiosity's wheels? One that Lakdawalla called "very amusing. The holes are in a pattern of short squares and longer rectangles -- almost like dots and dashes. Morse code." And what does it spell out in Morse code? JPL.

According to JPL, Curiosity is about the size of a small SUV -- 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall -- or about the height of a basketball player -- and weighs 2000 pounds. It features a geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, a rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras. Curiosity will search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life and for conditions capable of preserving a record of life. It is set to launch between November 25-December 18, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida and will arrive on Mars between August 6-20, 2012. The prime mission will last one Mars year, or about 23 Earth months

On the Air : NIST to Conduct Time and Frequency User Survey

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Time and Frequency Division is conducting a survey to learn more about its users, seeking to determine how the agency can make its services more useful in the future. NIST services include WWV, WWVH and WWVB, which provide reference time and frequency signals via radio. The NIST also provides the Internet Time Service -- which provides accurate time synchronization to computer systems -- and several other services to offer accurate time information via telephone or web pages. Radio amateurs are encouraged to complete the survey. Read more here.

Solar Update

The Sun, as seen on Thursday, March 31, 2011 from NASA's SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. This image was taken at 304 Angstrom; the bright material is at 60,000 to 80,000 Kelvin.

Tad "The Sun is shining, it's a lovely day" Cook, K7RA, reports: The activity we could see recently on our Sun's far side -- thanks to the STEREO mission -- has been rotating into view, producing some nice sunspot activity, resulting in improved upper-HF propagation. Compared to the previous week (March 17-23), the past week (March 24-30) showed average daily sunspot numbers up more than 61 points to 102.1, while the average daily solar flux was up nearly 20 points to 114.7. Geomagnetic conditions were quieter as well, and reports from readers show greatly improved propagation on 20, 15 and 10 meters. This table shows a new sunspot group on March 23, two more groups appeared March 24, two more on March 25 and another two more on March 27. The latest prediction from USAF/NOAA sees improving conditions, with the projected solar flux for March 31-April 1 at 125 and 130, then 135 on April 2-7. The predicted planetary A index is 10 and 8 on March 31 and April 1, followed by 5 on April 2-7 and 8 on April 8. Conditions should be very good for the next week, especially when compared to this time last year. Look for more information on the ARRL website -- including an updated forecast and reports from readers, as well as the latest 3-month moving average of sunspot numbers -- on Friday, April 1. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page. This week's "Tad Cookism" is brought to you by the song Avenue Q Theme from the musical Avenue Q.

+ Silent Key: Internet Pioneer Paul Baran, W3KAS (SK)

Paul Baran, W3KAS (SK)

Paul Baran, W3KAS -- an engineer who helped create the technical underpinnings for the ARPANET, the government-sponsored precursor to today's Internet -- died March 27 at his home in Palo Alto, California. He was 84. According to his son David, the cause of death was related to complications from lung cancer. Baran was one of the three inventors of packet-switched networks.

In the early 1960s, Baran was working on a "survivable" communications system when he thought up one of its core concepts: Breaking up a single message into smaller pieces, having them travel different, unpredictable paths to their destination and only then putting them back together. It's called packet switching and it's how everything still gets to your e-mail inbox. Read more here.

+ Silent Key: Owner of Industrial Communication Engineers Mike Koss, W9SU (SK)

Mike Koss, W9SU (left), receives the IRCC Technical Excellence Award in 2005 from Jack Parker, W8ISH. [Photo courtesy of the ARRL Indiana Section]

Mike Koss, W9SU, of Indianapolis, Indiana, passed away Monday, March 28. He was 57. According to his friend Brian Smith, W9IND, Koss was found on his workshop floor and paramedics were unable to revive him. Industrial Communications Engineers (ICE) is well known in the amateur community for surge protectors, line filters, RF switches and more.

On March 31, ICE released the following statement concerning the company: "Industrial Communication Engineers (ICE), Ltd, its employees and the Indianapolis Amateur Radio community mourn the passing of company founder Mike Koss, W9SU, on March 28, 2011. Due to Mike's sudden and unexpected death, ICE has temporarily suspended accepting new orders. We are in the process of reorganizing the company, as well as identifying and fulfilling current open orders and products returned for repair. Read more here.

This Week on the Radio
This week:

April 2-3 -- Missouri QSO Party; QCWA Spring QSO Party; ARCI Spring QSO Party; SP DX Contest; EA RTTY Contest
April 5 -- ARS Spartan Sprint

Just as in this Gil cartoon from the March 1965 issue of QST, we, too, must show some patience for sunspots. The way Solar Cycle 24 is coming along, we are sure to be in for some exciting times on the higher bands!

Next week:

April 9 -- PODXS 070 Club PSK 31 Flavors Contest (local time); EU Spring Sprint (CW)
April 9-10 -- Montana QSO Party; New Mexico QSO Party; Georgia QSO Party; JIDX CW Contest
April 10 -- SKCC Weekend Sprint; UBA Spring Contest (SSB)
April 11 -- 144 MHz Spring Sprint (local time)
April 13 -- NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint
April 13-14 -- CWops Mini-CWT Test
All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, the ARRL Contest Update and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar for more info. Looking for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL Special Event Stations Web page.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State and Division Conventions and Events
April 2-3 -- ARRL New Jersey State Convention, Ewing, New Jersey
April 22-24 -- ARRL Idaho State Convention, Boise, Idaho
April 23 -- ARRL Louisiana State Convention, Monroe, Louisiana; ARRL North Carolina State Convention, Raleigh, North Carolina
May 7 -- ARRL South Carolina State Convention, Spartanburg, South Carolina
June 3-5 -- ARRL Northwestern Division Convention (SeaPac), Seaside, Oregon; ARRL Wyoming State Convention, Cheyenne, Wyoming
June 4 -- ARRL Atlantic Division Convention, Rochester, New York; ARRL East Bay Section Convention, Berkeley, California; ARRL Georgia State Convention, Marietta, Georgia
June 10-11 -- ARRL National Convention, Plano, Texas
June 11 -- ARRL Tennessee State Convention, Knoxville, Tennessee
To find a convention or hamfest near you, click here.

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ARRL DX News for 31 March

ARLD013 DX news

QST de W1AW 
DX Bulletin 13  ARLD013
From ARRL Headquarters 
Newington CT  March 31, 2011
To all radio amateurs  

ARLD013 DX news

This week's bulletin was made possible with information provided by
NC1L, QRZ DX, The Daily DX, the OPDX Bulletin, DXNL, INDX, Contest
Corral from QST and the ARRL Contest Calendar and WA7BNM web sites.
Thanks to all.

UGANDA, 5X.  Sergei, UV5EVJ is QRV as 5X1VJ from Entebbe until June
8.  Activity is on all HF bands using CW and SSB.  QSL to home call.

plan to be QRV as 9L5MS from April 2 to April 18.  Activity will be
with three stations on 160 to 6 meters using CW, SSB and RTTY.  QSL
direct via PA3AWW.

LIBERIA, EL.  A group of operators are QRV as 5M2TT until April 13.
Activity is on 80 to 6 meters using CW, SSB and RTTY with three
stations active simultaneously.  QSL direct via I2YSB.

TAJIKISTAN, EY.  Rakkim, EY7AD has been active on 17 meters using
SSB around 1400z.  QSL direct.

SCOTLAND, GM.  A group of operators will be QRV as GS4MWS from Arran
Island, IOTA EU-123, from April 2 to 7.  QSL via M0PAI.

SAUDI ARABIA, HZ.  Peter, HZ1PS has been active using RTTY on 15
meters between 1700 and 1800z.  QSL via IZ8CLM.

SVALBARD, JW.  Francois, F8DVD is QRV as JW/F8DVD from the
Longyearbyen radio club on Spitsbergen, IOTA EU-026, from April 1 to
8.  Activity is on all HF bands using CW and SSB.  QSL via bureau.

MARIANA ISLANDS, KH0.  Kirk, WE8A is QRV as WE8A/KH0 until April 2.
Activity is on 80 to 10 meters, with an emphasis on the newer bands,
using CW and SSB.  QSL direct.

BULGARIA, LZ.  Some members of the Bulgarian Federation of Radio
Amateurs are QRV as LZ85R until December 31 to celebrate the 85th
anniversary of the first radio club of Bulgaria.  QSL via LZ1BJ.

GREENLAND, OX.  Michael, DB5MH is QRV as OX/DB5MH until April 7.  He
is using QRP power on 20 meters SSB around 2000 to 2200z.  QSL to
home call.

ARUBA, P4.  Dee, W1HEO will be QRV as P4/W1HEO from April 3 to 16.
Activity will be on 160 to 10 meters using CW and SSB with an
emphasis on 30 to 10 meters.  QSL to home call.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, TL.  Christian, TL0A is QRV from Bakouma
for the next five weeks.  QSL direct.

MACQUARIE ISLAND, VK0.  Kevin, VK0KEV is usually QRV in his spare
time between 0530 to 0645z and again from 0745 to 0845z.  QSL via

BERMUDA, VP9.  Operators Wade, AA8LL and Liz, K8LIZ are QRV as
VP9/homecalls from Hamilton Parish until April 4.  Activity is
holiday style on most HF bands using CW, SSB and RTTY.  QSL to home

VIET NAM, XV.  Retu, OH4MDY will be QRV as XV2RZ from April 4 to 17.
Activity will be on 80 to 6 meters using CW and SSB.  QSL direct via

ALBANIA, ZA.  Franck, F4DTO will be QRV as ZA/F4DTO from Elbasan
from April 2 to 16.  Activity will be on 40 to 10 meters using
mostly SSB.  QSL to home call.

active on 20 meters using SSB around 1700z.  QSL via ZS1A.

Memorial CW Bash, LZ Open 40-Meter CW Sprint Contest, ARCI Spring CW
QSO Party, SP DX Contest, EA RTTY Contest, Missouri QSO Party and
the RSGB RoPoCo SSB are all on tap for this weekend.  RSGB 80-Meter
Club CW Championship is scheduled for April 4.  The ARS Spartan CW
Sprint is scheduled for April 5.  Please see April QST, page 80 and
the ARRL and WA7BNM contest web sites for details.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery lands Wednesday, Sun Becoming More Active

Ten meters was open yesterday afternoon, maybe this is the reason. Gonna start checking 10 and 6 more often!
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

K7RA weekly Solar Update

Courtesy of the ARRL, here is Tad Cook, K7RA's weekly solar propagation column:

Solar activity is rising again, but the average sunspot numbers and solar flux are down, compared with last week. This week, the average daily sunspot number declined more than 14 points to 50.9, and the average daily solar flux was off 7 points to 96.8. The average daily planetary A index rose from 6.1 to 9, and the average mid-latitude A index was about the same, declining from 5.4 to 5.1. Sunspot numbers for February 24-March 2 were 23, 31, 49, 44, 54, 72 and 83, with a mean of 50.9. The 10.7 cm flux was 88.9, 88.2, 90.2, 90.4, 95.8, 110.5 and 113.4, with a mean of 96.8. The estimated planetary A indices were 3, 3, 4, 2, 3, 31 and 17, with a mean of 9. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 0, 1, 2, 1, 2, 18 and 12, with a mean of 5.1.
You can see daily sunspot and solar flux numbers, updated after 0230 here. Geomagnetic indices are updated 8 times per day here. Our weekly data reports in this bulletin run Thursday through Wednesday, so at the above links you can see that yesterday (Thursday, March 3), the planetary A index dropped from 17 to 12, and the daily sunspot number went from 83 to 71. The most active day for geomagnetic indexes was March 1, with a planetary A index of 31; the planetary K index rose as high as 6 on that day. Polar propagation paths were disturbed, with the College A index (measured near Fairbanks, Alaska) for March 1-3 at 53, 43 and 23.
NOAA and USAF predict solar flux of 120 on March 4-11, 110 on March 12-15, 105 on March 16-17 and 100 on March 18-21. The planetary A index is forecast at 12 on March 4-5, 5 on March 6-13, 7 on March 14-15 and 5 on March 16-21. You can get the daily NOAA/USAF prediction for solar flux and planetary A index here. The forecast is usually updated by 2130 daily. Geophysical Institute Prague predicts unsettled geomagnetic activity March 4-5, quiet to unsettled March 6, quiet March 7, quiet to unsettled March 8-9 and quiet again on March 10.
It looks like good conditions for the ARRL International SSB DX Contest this weekend, or at least much more interesting than the past few years, due to increased solar activity. Along with this comes the greater risk of geomagnetic disruption from solar flares, coronal mass ejections and gusts of solar wind. I received some comments from 80 and 160 meter DXers during the recent minimum, noting that they loved the absence of solar activity because everything was so quiet and stable.
For this year’s DX contest, we are seeing sunspot numbers in the range of 20-100, but for the first 10 days of March 2010, the average sunspot number was 20.1. For 2009 it was 2.4, 2008 it was 3.7, 2007 it was 14.9 and in 2006, it was 14.1.
The monthly average of sunspot numbers for December 2010-February 2011 was 22, 32.2 and 53.5, reflecting the rise in solar activity. The three-month moving average of sunspot numbers centered on January -- an average of all daily sunspot numbers for December 2010 through February 2011 -- was 35.3. The three-month moving average of daily sunspot numbers centered on each month of 2010 was 22.4, 25.7, 22.3, 18.5, 16.4, 20.4, 23.2, 28.9, 33, 35.6, 31 and 30.1. The average centered on January 2011 is back up to the level it was in November 2010, 35.6.
The big news this week was about the solar model explaining the deep solar minimum we’ve just experienced. Thanks to all the readers who sent emails about this. See the story hereherehere and here.
Jonathon Ballard, KI4UKF, lives in Stokes County, North Carolina, less than 10 miles south of the Virginia state line. On Wednesday, March 2 at 1655 (just before noon local time), he heard Claudio Costa, LW2ECC (Argentina), calling CQ on 2 meter FM, on 144.48 MHz. KI4UKF was using a Moxon wire antenna tacked to a wall, and said the signal was steady for several minutes at about S6, then faded away. He e-mailed Claudio, who confirmed the transmission. Claudio was using three 5/8 wave verticals and 160 W.
John Shew, N4QQ, of Silver Spring, Maryland was in Curacao for the ARRL DX CW Contest and operated at PJ2T. He had some interesting observations about trans-equatorial propagation on 6 meters into South America: “Thursday evening around 8 PM (0000 February 19), W9VA and I decided to check 6 meters, looking south for TE propagation. The equipment at PJ2T is a Yaesu FT-2000 and a M2 5-element at 70 feet with a clear shot over water to South America. Much to our joy, the band was full of LU beacons at S9 strength. At 0015, we tuned up to 50.110 and I called CQ using the call PJ2/N4QQ. Over the next 15 minutes, I worked 16 stations in 14 grid squares. Signal strengths were S7-S9 plus. “We kinda worked the band empty after 15 minutes but it was still open, but there were no more stations calling us so we moved back over to the HF bands.
“It was a great thrill for me to experience TE propagation for the first time after reading about it many times in the ARRL VHF column over the last 50 years. Signals sounded slightly hollow, but were quite strong with no obvious fading. The band appeared to open to all areas at once, with no obvious flashlight effect, experienced during E-skip. I plotted the grid squares I worked, and they fall in a band about 600 miles deep between 2700 and 3300 miles to the south, crossing the entire South American continent. The plotted skip zone appears to slightly skew from southwest to northeast, with stations to the west farther south than those to the east.
“As I have no experience with TE, I don’t know if this propagation is common for this time of year, or if it occurs throughout the year or if it is enhanced by recent solar events. Solar flux peaked somewhere between 115-125 during our time in PJ2. With our attention focused on the DX contest, we didn’t have a lot of time to check 6 meters, but the few days we did check it appeared open to the south from 0000 to at least 0200.
“It was my impression that TE is a very reliable mode of communication to the south from the southern Caribbean this time of year in the early evening. I have been checking 6 meter spots for the last week, and the Brazilians and Argentineans have been having a field day beaming north in the late afternoon and early evening, with numerous contacts with KP4, TI, FM, YV, P40 and the like. PY5XX and others have also worked Spain and Portugal in Southern Europe and the Canary Islands in Africa. In fact, I think now I understand one reason why 6 meters is so popular with the Southern Brazilians and Argentineans. From PJ2, it appears there are only five countries we can work on TE -- Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. I worked all but one in less than 15 minutes. Maybe four or five more countries can be worked from PJ2 via TE, if one counts islands with DXpeditions like Juan Fernandez or Trinidad. On the other hand, Brazilians and Argentineans see in their regular TE skip zone maybe 25 countries with active 6 meter populations; the countries include the northern coastal South American countries, much of Central America, the Yucatan and most of the Caribbean from Puerto Rico south.”
Thanks, John for a fascinating report!

An example of the letter that will be generated.

The Honorable Brad Miller
United States House of Representatives
1127 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

March 5, 2011

Dear Representative Miller:

As a voter in your district and as one of the nearly 700,000 federally licensed
Amateur Radio operators across the nation, I ask that you oppose H.R. 607, the
"Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011" in its current form. H.R. 607 was
introduced by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and referred to the House Committee
on Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 607 proposes to allocate the "D-Block" of frequencies (frequencies previously
occupied by analog television) to be developed into an interoperable Public Safety
wireless network. Earlier, it had been expected that the D-Block would be auctioned
by the FCC for commercial use, but there is now substantial support for the allocation
of the D-Block to Public Safety. H.R. 607 also provides for the reallocation of other
spectrum for auction to commercial users, in order to offset the loss of revenue
anticipated by the auction of the D-Block.

While I strongly support the work of the Public Safety officials who put their lives
on the line for our safety, my opposition to the bill stems from the inclusion of the
420-440 MHz spectrum (the UHF 70-cm band) as part of a frequency swap and auction.
Very little of this spectrum is allocated to Public Safety, and only in very limited
areas. Rather, it is allocated to government radiolocation services on a primary basis,
with Amateur Radio allocated on a secondary basis. The Federal government uses this
band for critical defense purposes, including Pave Paws radars for detecting
surface-launched missiles aimed at the United States, and for airborne radars used
for drug interdiction. The Amateur Service carefully coordinates its uses of this band
to insure compatibility. The two services have a very good record of sharing this
spectrum successfully, putting it to good use for both military and civilian purposes
in the national interest.

Amateur radio emergency communications rely heavily on our limited frequency
allocations in the VHF and UHF radio bands. The loss of access to the 420-440 MHz
spectrum would make it very difficult for us to maintain this capability and would
mean we could no longer use numerous systems that have been constructed on our own
time and at personal expense to provide this important communications support.

Amateur Radio operators across the country repeatedly demonstrate our commitment to
public service and emergency communications. Through our work with FEMA and other
Homeland Security activities, state and local Emergency Management offices, and
numerous charitable relief agencies, volunteer Amateur Radio operators assist the first
responders, doing so at no cost to the agencies we support. The role of the Amateur
Radio Service as a partner to Public Safety in providing supporting public service and
emergency communications necessitates our retention of full access to the entire
70-cm band.

We understand and support that Public Safety officials must have the spectrum they need
to do their jobs. However, it is not necessary to do so in the ill-conceived manner
proposed in this bill. Other pending legislation provides for this important goal
to be realized without the proposed reallocation of non-Public Safety spectrum for
commercial auction that is included in H.R. 607. I urge you to oppose H.R. 607
in its current form. Thank you for your consideration.


Your Name
Your Address
Your city and zip

Attention all Amateur Radio Operators - your action is needed!

HR-607 has been introduced into Congress which will take away a majority of the Amateur Radio 420 - 450 MHz band.  Here's an explanation from the ARRL of the proposed legislation, and examples of how some amateurs have been incorrectly responding to the situation.  Today I received this email from the Flex Radio reflector which contains more detail, and a link to a website which will allow a ham to easily prepare a response to this issue, and also determines who your House Representative is.  Here's the text of that email:
A FLASH message from the West Gulf Division Director, David Woolweaver,

Your assistance to defend one of our amateur bands is urgently
requested.  Please read and follow through on the requested action
described below.  This is an important issue for every Amateur Radio
Operator in the nation.

You may have already heard that our 440 MHz band is being threatened by
a bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives.  In its
current form, HR 607 provides for the creation and maintenance of a
nationwide Public Safety broadband network.  As a part of that network,
the bill proposes to allocate the so-called D-Block of frequencies
in the 700 MHz range.  The D-Block consists of two, 5 MHz wide
segments of spectrum (758-763 MHz and 788-793 MHz) that became
available when the FCC ended analog television broadcasts in June 2009.
It was initially expected that the D-Block would be auctioned for
commercial use.

HR 607 provides for the reallocation of other spectrum for auction to
commercial users in order to offset the loss of revenue that will occur
as the result of the allocation of the D-Block to Public Safety
instead of commercial auction.  Among the bands to be reallocated for
commercial auction within ten years of passage of HR 607 are the paired
bands of 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz.

The concept for this proposed network has merit.  Everyone wants first
responders to have the radio systems they need in order to protect
themselves and us.  However, there is absolutely no need to reallocate
for auction the 440 MHz band to make it happen.  We must let our U.S.
Representatives know we oppose the current wording of HR 607.

What can I do?  A web site to automatically prepare a letter opposing
HR 607 has been created to assist you.  Go to

Insert your call sign where indicated and follow the simple
instructions. The name and address of your U.S. Representative will
automatically be inserted into the letter along with your name and
address.  The letter will then be displayed ready to be printed and

IMPORTANT: Please be certain to observe the following once you have
printed your letter:

- Be sure to sign it.  Letters without a handwritten signature are not

- Signed letters can be sent by fax or postal mail to -

John Chwat
Chwat & Co.,
Suite 103, 625 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax number: (703) 684-7594

- The letter can also be signed and scanned into .pdf format and then
E-Mailed as a file attachment to:  Chwat and
Co. is the ARRL s legislative relations firm in Washington, D.C.

- Do not send this letter or any letter about HR 607 to your U.S.
Senators at this time. The bill has only been filed in the U.S. House
of Representatives.  .

-WHY should the letter be mailed to John Chwat and NOT your
Representative?  There are two reasons.  First, all postal mail
addressed to members of the U.S. Congress is delayed 6 to 8 weeks to
search for the inclusion of hazardous materials.  Remember the Anthrax
incident?  Second, Mr. Chwat will increase the value of your individual
letter by combining it with others.  He will then hand carry the stack
of letters directly to your Representative's office. This manner of
delivery makes a particular impact on members of Congress.

Share the web site information with your amateur radio friends.  It is
not necessary to be an ARRL member to use the site.
  The more
letters sent to Representatives the better.

This is your opportunity to make a stand against this legislation.
Help save the 70cm band by completing and mailing the opposition letter
as requested.

The highlighting of that sentence above is mine.  You do not have to
be a League member to act to protect our precious spectrum.