Socorro Amateur Radio Association

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

The February Meeting

... was held on February 8th with 20 members in attendance, including several new members: Pat Ryan, KC5LHY; Kevin Ryan, KC5LHX; Tom Fitch, KC5LHO; Polly Fitch, KC5MAO; and Michael Fitch, KC5LHN. Welcome!

License Class ---

Our license class is continuing with ten hardy souls. We have scheduled an exam for March 30. If you would like to take an exam on the 30th, talk with Kálmán, AJ5B, for details.

ARES ---

Last month, Paul Rhodes, N5YGC, was promoted to Emergency Coordinator (EC) from Assistant EC. This month, Ken Wolf, KC5HGG, was appointed the new Assistant EC. Congrats, Ken!

Repeater ---

Dave, KB5YIW, sent an updated repeater info sheet to the ARRL for the next repeater directory.

Grant, N5YFX, researched overvoltage protection for the repeater, and recommended one to buy. The club voted to spend $150 for it.

HF Station ---

Chuck, W5UXH, Tom, N5PLX, and Howard, K9PV, came up with a list of recommendations for an HF rig for the club shack. The club voted to spend $1200 to purchase a new station. Chuck ordered an ICOM IC-728 with power supply. Several members offered to donate accessories, so we should have a first-rate HF station soon.

--- New Business ---

Trinity Site ---

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the bomb test at the Trinity site. It will be open to the public on July 16 for this special occasion. Dave, N1IRZ, has contacted the folks in charge at White Sands and has secured permission for us to operate several transmitters in a special event station on the anniversary from the site. This once-in-a-lifetime occasion will garner national exposure for SARA. July will bring near 100 degree temperatures, so hardy operators are needed! Stay tuned for details.

Club call ---

With vanity calls come club calls ... the FCC will soon again be issuing club calls. The club voted to apply for one ASAP.

Hamfest ---

The past two years, we has seen tremendous growth in our hamfest. So much, it seems, that we have outgrown the Finley gym. Dave, KB5YIW, volunteered to look into other facilities for this year's hamfest.

Highway cleanup --- coming in April!

President's Corner ---

...Ham Radio Obsolete?

Recently, on an Internet news group, someone posted an article contending that the Internet and online computer services such as Compuserve and America On Line will soon kill off amateur radio. This came within a month of a newspaper wire-service story recounting the use of electronic mail in getting messages into the earthquake-ravaged city of Kobe, Japan. This newspaper story quoted someone who said, essentially, that e-mail was the modern means of disaster communications, replacing ham radio "of the old days."

No one making these claims is a ham. Anyone who contends that using a commercial online computer service rivals the excitement of amateur radio communications obviously has no experience with our hobby. Still, others similarly unfamiliar with the amateur radio service might give some credence to such claims. That makes it worthwhile to point out some of the reasons why they're wrong.

The Internet article said that the world-wide communications capability of the online services and their ability to retrieve vast amounts of information render amateur radio obsolete. This contention overlooks the principal difference between such services and amateur radio. When using an online service or the Internet, you are a CONSUMER; when using amateur radio, you are a PARTICIPANT.

A couple of weeks ago, I worked stations in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. I was using a 5-watt transmitter and a wire antenna. That was enjoyable, rewarding and satisfying. Now, I could have sent e-mail to most of those countries, looked at World Wide Web pages from many of them, or picked up the telephone and talked to someone in each of them. As any ham knows, that just wouldn't be the same thing. As long as people find it exciting to do such things with equipment in their own homes, without the benefit of untold thousands of technicians maintaining their network links, amateur radio will have a place as a rewarding pastime.

Any non-amateur who cannot understand the difference between amateur radio and use of commercial communication services should find a local ham and ask to sit in while the ham makes some contacts, perhaps on HF, VHF weak-signal, or via amateur satellites. I'm sure that few people will go away from such an experience without knowing the difference. If you know any non-amateurs who think ham radio is obsolete, offer to give them a demonstration.

I'm happy when the Internet or any other medium can help out during emergencies, but that doesn't make ham radio's role in emergencies any less important. Though online services can sometimes contribute to communications in an emergency, amateur radio will be a valuable resource in emergencies for many years to come. Its value comes from the fact that hams who prepare themselves for emergency service are a completely self-sufficient communications resource. Commercial services still largely rely on a surviving infrastructure; hams plan to work without infrastructure. That is, after all, what Field Day is all about.

Another role amateur radio has to play is in education. It provides the crucial element of hands-on experience for young and old alike who want to explore the world of science and technology. Many scientists and engineers will happily tell you they were first inspired toward their careers by amateur radio. Most people who pursue careers in science and engineering will agree that what gets young people excited about these fields is not reading or listening to lectures, but actually getting your hands on some equipment and making it work. Amateur radio is an excellent way to encourage budding technical professionals.

Amateur radio not only helps young people enter technical careers, but it also serves as a vital interface between people in technical careers and those in non-technical careers. Since the world is an increasingly-technical place, anything we can do to improve the technical literacy of the workforce is good for the nation. Over the years, ham radio has consistently drawn people with no technical background at all who develop a curiosity about not only radio but also other technical subjects. In this way, ham radio has expanded their intellectual horizons and possibly made them better workers, managers and voters.

The evidence contradicts any assertion that amateur radio's numbers are dwindling. With the no-code license, the service is growing at a healthy rate, and those who enter by this route are participating in public-service events, serving in their local clubs, and upgrading their licenses in large numbers. As the use of new digital modes and the numbers of amateur satellites increase, the scope of amateur participation and experimentation increase. New manufacturers offering ham gear, new ham publications, new ham stores and swelling local radio clubs are hardly the sign of a dying hobby.

Finally, try to say that amateur radio is obsolete to a classroom full of schoolkids who just talked to an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle via 2 meters.

--- Dave Finley, N1IRZ

Announcements ---

Nets ---

Gatherings, gatherings ---

Receiver needed ---

I have assembled, or identified, several components that might be used for a voter/link system that would be intended to provide coverage for the shadowed portions of Socorro's AA5RH repeater. Among these components are VHF and UHF receivers for the link, however these are either broadband receivers or parts of transceivers that have greater value as is. If you have a narrowband receiver that might be applied to this purpose, please let me know.

--- Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

News from Newsline ---

RFI Certification

Interference to ham radio and consumer entertainment equipment may soon get a lot worse. This is because the FCC is considering permitting the manufacturers of computers and computer peripherals to market their equipment without having to apply for equipment certification and await commission approval.

Under current regulations, these devices must be FCC certified to ensure that they do not cause interference to radio services, including amateur radio. Certification requires that all measurement data and a detailed description of the product be submitted to the Commission's laboratory for review and approval. This process can take 35 days or more.

But the FCC calls the current regulations particularly burdensome for small manufacturers. They say that eliminating the wait could save the computer industry some $250 million a year. Also, that the proposed new authorization procedure would further align FCC requirements for personal computers with those used successfully in other parts of the world.

It all sounds good until you read the fine print. This is because the proposed new procedure as outlined in ET Docket 95-19 means that FCC authorization would be replaced by paper. By a process based on a manufacturer's or supplier's Declaration Of Conformity. In simpler terms, a letter from the manufacturer or supplier to the FCC that says a given piece of computer equipment meets or exceeds minimum standards.

But that's not all. The Commission also has proposed the option of permitting personal computer compliance to be based on tests and Declarations Of Conformity of individual components of parts without further testing of completed assemblies.

Right now, we hams are the ones who usually get the complaints. If this all comes to pass, you may soon be protesting to your neighbor about his PC wiping out 20 meters during a major DX opening!

W4OYI Recovery Update

American Radio Relay League President George Wilson, W4OYI, is still hospitalized following a serious stroke that he suffered the evening of February 11th while in Washington, DC. We have some relatively good news on President Wilson's condition, from ARRL Executive Vice President Dave Sumner, K1ZZ.

"As of Monday afternoon, February 20th, George's condition appeared to be improving. The doctors were quite optimistic that, having gotten through the most critical period, he would continue to improve. They are gradually bringing him out of the induced state of suspension they've had him in, in order to avoid further damage to the brain. It appears as if very little permanent damage has been done, based on the best assessments they can make at this time. So we are all quite encouraged. It sounds as if he may be able to be transferred to a hospital at his home in Kentucky in about three weeks." Dave Sumner, K1ZZ.

Dave adds that it is a little premature to make any final assessment, but the doctors are not ruling out that George may be permitted to eventually go back to work.

Get well wishes can be sent to President Wilson in care of ARRL Headquarters, 225 Main Street, Newington, Connecticut 06111 or directly to George at his Callbook address.

W9YZE, Morse Champ S.K.

World famous Morse Code champ Harry A.~Turner, W9YZE, died December 21, 1994, in Alton, Illinois. While in the military in 1942, Turner was clocked at 35 wpm using a hand telegraph key. In 1964 he applied to the Signal Corps for certification of his code speed record. His request was granted making him the record holder. W9YZE was 88 years old when he passed away.

Cordless phones now ECPA protected

WA2RCB reports that Public Law #103-114 has amended the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to cover all cordless telephone frequencies. This was part of the recently passed Wiretap Act. As such, it is now just as illegal to monitor cordless telephone frequencies on your scanner as it is to monitor 800 MHz cellular phones.

No word yet from scanner manufacturers if they will delete coverage of these frequencies from their current production on the assembly line or future models.

Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @