Socorro Amateur Radio Association


SARA Newsletter ----- "All the news that fits, we print" ----- February, 1995

The January Meeting

... was held on January 4th with 28 members in attendance.

License Class ---

Our 1995 license class has begun! We met for the first time on January 26, with 14 students and lots of spectators. If you have a no-code Tech and want to learn enough code to pass your 5 wpm, come on down! We are meeting Thursday nights, 7:00--9:00 PM at the Mineral Science Bldg (Bullock & Lopezville), in room 103.

ARES ---

Paul Rhodes is now the Emergency Coordinator (EC), after having been promoted from Assistant EC. Congrats, Paul!

Repeater ---

The repeater operations committee had their first meeting during January. See their recommendations elsewhere in this newsletter.

HF Station ---

Chuck Broadwell was appointed to research the purchase of an HF station for the clubhouse. The club voted to establish a committee to explore price and use of a HF station at the clubhouse.

501(c)(3) Status ---

Huh??? Dave Finley has volunteered to do the background work and research needed to get IRS 501(c)(3) status for SARA. This would make us an official non-profit, tax-deductable corporation. This would allow members to make donations and receive tax deductable receipts from SARA. On a related item, the SARA constitution is out-of-date. It must be updated in the 501(c)(3) process, so we can do both at once.

Goodbye & Good luck ---

Dave MacDonald, N5WNB, has left us. Dave served as SARA vice-president for the past year-and-a-half. He has moved to Albuquerque in search of fame and fortune. We appreciate all of Dave's help and energy. Thanks, Dave! Come back and visit often! A new vice-president was elected. Chuck Broadwell will serve the rest of Dave's term. Thanks, Chuck!


President's Corner ---

... A New Class

Our new licensing class has begun, and once again we have a group of potential new hams getting ready to join our ranks. It's great to see this effort, led by SARA's excellent team of instructors, underway again.

For those who already have licenses, the start of a new class means that, in about a month and a half, we'll be having another VE session here in town. That's plenty of time to hit the books and get ready to take the test for an upgrade. And yes, it's still plenty of time to drag out the software and get your code proficiency built up before the test date arrives.

As you'll see in detail later in this newsletter, it looks like the days of long waits for new hams to get their licenses are over. Soon after the VE session, we'll be welcoming Socorro's new hams on the air. I'm sure many of those who got their licenses last year, when the waiting times were the longest in recent memory, will quickly tell the newcomers about how terrible things were "in the old days!"

... Busy Committees

At our next meeting, we will have the reports of our two new committees to consider. The Repeater Operations Committee report appears in this newsletter, and our thanks go to that group for their work in putting together these recommendations.

Also, we'll be hearing from the committee that researched details on establishing an HF Club Station at the clubhouse. We look forward to hearing their findings. With the recent announcement by the FCC that they once again will start issuing callsigns to club stations, SARA will be able to have its own distinct on-the-air identity.

Members of these committees have given a lot of effort and thought to the topics on which they volunteered to help us. This kind of support from members willing to provide their time and expertise is what allows our Association to grow and flourish.

... and Coming Up

1995 is shaping up as another busy year for SARA. Spring is coming and that means our Highway Cleanup Day will soon be upon us. It's not too soon to be thinking about Field Day again. I already have received the paperwork for obtaining ARRL sanction for our 1995 Hamfest, and I'd be glad to hear any suggestions for new events or activities to add to the next Hamfest.

This year also offers the possibilities for new, unique events that could give SARA some nationwide visibility. Come to the February meeting to hear about these...

--- Dave Finley, N1IRZ


Announcements ---

Nets ---

Gatherings, gatherings ---


Recommendations of the Repeater Ops Committee ---

The operations committee (R. Ferraro, C. Seagraves, J. Oty, P. Rhodes and D. Johnson) met on the evening of 1/11/95, and in a very productive session established recommendations for both routine and emergency operations of the AA5RH repeater. Please communicate the following recommendations to the membership of SARA.

Routine Operations:

  1. Anti-kerchunk filter --- off; except during periods of repeater cycling induced by interference. The anti-kerchunk enable/disable code would be circulated to selected SARA members who would aid in the use of this function.
  2. DTMF Repeater Access --- not available.
  3. Repeater Timeout = 3 minutes.
  4. Repeater Timeout reset --- not available.
  5. Autodial access code --- change to nonalpha characters. This change will occasion some confusion among those members who are currently using autodial. May I recommend that we select 2/12/95 (Sunday) as the date for the new access code to become effective.
  6. DTMF muting (for DSQ) --- not available.
  7. Long distance dialing --- not available
  8. 911 access via autodial --- available
  9. Autopatch timeout = 3 minutes
  10. Autopatch reset --- available; for emergency use
  11. Reverse autopatch --- not available

Emergency Operations --- As above except:

  1. Anti-kerchunk filter --- code available to emergency control operators.
  2. Reverse autopatch --- available without code access; reverse patch enable/disable codes available to emergency control operators.

--- Dave Johnson, KB5YIW


Packet, packet, who has the packet?

It is time to put out some updated information about the club-owned packet equipment. As most of the members know, SARA purchased a packet station some time ago with the plan of installing it on M Mountain to provide a link to the outside world. This equipment was also meant to provide a direct link from Albuquerque to Las Cruces. After many months of trial and error, both on my part and by the operators on the other ends, the equipment seemed to be working quite well. But, just before the Socorro Hamfest, the receiver in the GE Master II transceiver decided it didn't want to hear any more so the system was brought down off the mountain for repair. From the repairs and tests I have made, it is ready to return to the mountain.

While the system will work as is, I would like to see some changes made. Right now, the system is limited to a baud rate of 1200 and only operates on VHF (145.07 MHz.). This is fine for local operation as most stations in Socorro operate in that mode. To improve the communications to Albuquerque and Las Cruces, a UHF link, running at 9600 baud needs to be built and installed. The idea would be for the local operators to connect to the mountain top equipment using their 1200 baud VHF equipment. The Node (that is what the packet people call a remote system) would automatically connect to the high speed 9600 baud UHF link and provide access into both Albuquerque and Las Cruces. As a service to the packet network, we would also provide a high speed link between those two cities.

This all sounds great but it hasn't happened. There are several things that need to be ironed out. Number one is money. While the club owns some of the equipment required, additional equipment needs to be procured. Specifically a UHF transceiver and a high speed TNC (modem). Some coordination with our friends to the North and South is also required. But more important, how many club members want to be involved in this project? There has been some interest shown by various members and hopefully if this Node is up and running, the Socorro packet operators will have a new window into the world of amateur radio.

If anyone is interested in helping this project get off the ground, please feel free to contact me. I would love to talk packet radio with you.

--- Jim Oty, WB5GWH


FCC News ---

Electronic Filing of License Apps

Effective Friday, January 13, 1995, the ARRL/VEC was instructed by the FCC to begin filing all Form 610 application data with them electronically, via electronic mail, and to no longer forward Form 610 applications to Gettysburg. Therefore, all new license and upgrade applications for rotuinely processed test sessions are being handled by the ARRL/VEC in this manner.

[For a short time, applications delayed due to missing information or applications pending at the FCC, are still being forwarded by us to the FCC via hardcopy].

Although, since December 1, 1994, the ARRL/VEC has been submitting data to the FCC electronically via diskette, we were also required to send the FCC the hardcopy original Form 610 application as well. Effective Friday, however, the ARRL/VEC was directed to retain the original Form 610 applications (for 15 months) for data that has been forwarded electronically to the FCC.

Total processing time for a new or upgraded FCC license is expected to be within two weeks of the test date. If three full weeks have lapsed and their is no record at FCC of a license grant, and if an application was part of a ARRL/VEC-coordinated examination, contact the ARRL/VEC at 203-666-1541 so that we can look into the application status.

To learn if an FCC license has been granted, an FCC toll free telephone number is in place. That number is 800-322-1117 (touch tone #1 after connecting, or wait for an operator). Their hours are 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Eastern, M--F). Please allow a week from the test date to pass before contacting the FCC. Most licenses should be granted within two weeks.

Total processing time that we have seen varies presently from several weeks to just a few days. The quickest test session to license grant that we have experienced involved two tests (held in Illinois and Indiana) on Wednesday January 11, 1995, that resulted in FCC license grants on Friday January 13, 1995. That's new FCC licenses or upgraded licenses, as coordinated through the ARRL/VEC, in just two days! In this example, the VE team mailed their test results to the ARRL/VEC, and we processed and forwarded the results to the FCC after we screened the test documents and keyboarded the application information for the successful applicants, all in two days time. While this quick turnaround is certainly atypical for most test sessions, seven to 10 days would be a usual timeline---assuming the VE team processed and mailed the test results to the ARRL/VEC shortly after the test session. ARRL/VEC processing turnaround is routinely one to two business days.

Contact us at the ARRL/VEC if you have any questions (203-666-1541 or vec@arrl.org).

Bart J. Jahnke, KB9NM
Manager, ARRL/VEC

Vanity Calls

In recognition of the strong sense of identity among amateur operators that is grounded in the call signs of their stations, the Commission has decided to offer a vanity call sign system to the amateur service community. The Commission will also resume issuing new club and military recreation station licenses. The Commission said these actions are fundamental to its commitment to putting the needs of people first in providing the services that they want.

Each new amateur station licensed by the FCC is assigned a unique call sign. An automated process selects the call sign in accordance with the sequential call sign system. Until recently, the Commission was unable to accommodate the many thousands of requests for call signs of the licensee's choice. The Commission stated that one of its many steps in reinventing Government is to implement new licensing processing capabilities that make it practicable to grant such requests.

The Commission will implement the new system by using a series of four "starting gates." Gate One would allow a previous holder of a call sign to apply for that call sign or, where the holder is deceased, a close relative could apply. Gate Two would allow the 66,000 Amateur Extra Class operators, who have passed the most difficult license examinations, to apply. Gate Three would allow the 112,000 Advanced Class operators, who have passed the second most difficult license examinations, to apply; and Gate Four would open the system to any licensee, including a club station license trustee applying for the call sign of a deceased former holder. The Commission will announce the opening of each gate by a Public Notice. The first gate will open as soon as the new application form, FCC Form 610-V, is available and the Commission's licensing facility is prepared to begin procesing the applications.

With respect to new club station licenses, the Commission stated that persons not already holding a club station license must first apply for and receive a license before filing an application with the fee collection contractor requesting that the license be modified to show a vanity call sign. However, the Commission will begin accepting applications for new club and military recreation station licenses on the date the Report and Order in this proceeding becomes effective.

Action by the Commission December 23, 1994, by Report and Order (FCC 94-343). Chairman Hundt, Commissioners, Quello, Barrett, Ness, and Chong.

News from Newsline ---

California VE may turn evidence

A former ARRL Volunteer Examiner accused in the widespread California testing fraud scandal has apparently agreed to help the government to try and convict others in the case. This, in exchange for less severe punishment against him.

The FCC says that Amateur Extra Class licensee James B. Williams, AA6TC, of Wilmington, CA, has agreed to a one year suspension of his Amateur Radio operator's license and to make a voluntary contribution of $500 to the U.S. Treasury. This as an alternative to having his license revoked.

More important, Williams has also agreed to cooperate fully with the FCC's Private Radio Bureau in its ongoing investigation of possible additional fraud in all California volunteer amateur radio license testing. With over two dozen Southern California VEs still under government scrutiny, the decision by Williams to cooperate may well bring others to justice more quickly.

Meanwhile, the FCC has acted to cancel the licenses of two other accused volunteer examiners tied to the same case. Robert L. Flores, N6WPQ, and Rose Marie Flores, N6WPR, both of Santa Monica, California were facing FCC show-cause and suspension orders. The FCC alleged that the VEs willfully signed Certificates of Successful Completion for persons who did not actually take exams. The Commission also said that the VEs later misrepresented material facts during the investigation. The Flores' decided to turn in their licenses for cancellation rather than fight the FCC.

PRB-1 tower victory

A big court win for ham radio. A Lyme, Connecticut ham has won a federal court go-ahead to install a 78-foot tower. This, after a battle of some three years.

F. Parker Heinemann, W1YG, says that in March of 1991 he was denied a special exception permit by the town planning and zoning commission. When all negotiations failed to resolve the problem, he filed a civil suit against the town.

In late October the verdict came in and it was good news for W1YG. U.S. District Judge Gerard L. Goettel said that the town had acted in good faith based on the information it had at the time of the application, but still ordered that the tower approved. The reason? Judge Goettel said and we quote, "I think federal law is on the side of ham radio operators in this case."


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @ nmt.edu