Socorro Amateur Radio Association

SARA Newsletter ----- "All the news that fits, we print" ----- June 1996

The May Meeting

... was held on May 8th with 20 members in attendance.


The repeater seems to be working reasonably well. We are getting check-ins from Albuquerque on our Wednesday night net. And speaking of the net, we need more volunteers for net control. Talk to Paul, N5YGC, at the meeting.

During the past few weeks the "anti-kerchunk" filter got turned on, and many of our members thought the repeater was off the air. If the `filter is on, you must hold down the PTT on your radio for several seconds before the repeater will respond. Be sure to check this the next time you try to bring up the repeater and get no response. The purpose of the filter is to prevent the repeater from being keyed up repeatedly on those days when we get long-distance propagation from other parts of the state.

On a very related topic, see the ARRL News section for important news concerning our 2-m and 70-cm bands. Write now!

Field Day

Field day is coming the weekend of June 22-23. Once again, SARA will field three stations --- one to the hinterlands of Datil, one on campus at Macey Center, and one out by Escondida for the QRPers. It's always great fun and a good chance to get on HF for awhile. Plan to participate!

Disaster Drill

Socorro County is preparing for a disaster drill sometime later this summer. The drill will be a "mock," large magnitude earthquake. The county folks have needed a lot of help with this, and several SARA members have pitched in. We now have a draft of an emergency preparedness plan, and it will be improved during this month. SARA members need to be prepared to help --- we will talk more about it at the meeting. Paul, N5YGC, SARA's EC, is preparing lists of what you should have in your "personal preparedness kit." We will also have some training sessions to prepare ourselves in disaster procedures. Stay tuned!

VE Exams

At the recent exam session, two of our members upgraded --- Ken, KC5HGG, is now a Tech+, and Tom, KA0YYP, is now a General. Also, Nigel, from South Africa, earned his Tech+ and American callsign. Congratulations!


Thanks to our newest member, Paul Lilie, for donating a pair of Heliax N-connectors.


This month's program will be from our very own field correspondent, Paul Harden, NA5N. Paul was invited to go and talk at the QRP Forum in Dayton. He will tell us all about it at the meeting. Don't miss it!


Gatherings, gatherings

Upcoming events

From the ARRL:

2m and 70cm bands threatened!

Write Now! --- Dave Sumner, K1ZZ

Get out a pen and paper, or boot up your computer. There's work to be done! Your help is needed to defend two meters and 70 cm. Yes, that's right --- the two most popular and crowded amateur VHF/UHF bands! But don't panic, and don't "go ballistic." Here's what's happening, and what you can do about it.

The United States is preparing for the 1997 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-97. In the past, the public has been able to participate in the preparations for such conferences by responding to FCC Notices of Inquiry. In March, the FCC announced a streamlining of its International Bureau's preparatory processes for WRCs. Under the new scheme, the NOIs have been eliminated in favor of increased emphasis on WRC Advisory Committees.

For WRC-97, a series of Informal Working Groups (IWGs) of the Advisory Committee has been created to address specific agenda items. The output of each IWG will go directly to a joint FCC-NTIA-Department of State Steering Committee of the Advisory Committee. There, draft proposals as received from the IWGs will be reviewed and forwarded to the FCC for possible release as preliminary U.S. proposals for public comment.

In announcing the streamlined WRC preparatory process, the FCC tried to reassure those who might be concerned about reduced opportunities for public participation: "Interested parties should note that input to the Advisory Committee may be sent at any time directly to the Chair of the WRC-97 Advisory Committee; the Chairs of the Advisory Committee's Informal Working Groups: Cecily C. Holiday, the FCC's federal officer of the WRC-97 Advisory Committee, and Damon C. Ladson, the alternate federal officer."

Hold that thought while we shift gears to the substance of the issue.

One of the WRC-97 agenda items includes consideration of possible additional frequency allocations for the mobile-satellite service. So-called "little LEOs," low-earth orbit satellites below 1 GHz, already have allocations. Their proponents claim these are inadequate and are trying for more. The needs of little LEOs are being addressed in IWG-2A, chaired by Warren Richards of the Department of State. The ARRL technical relations staff participates in IWG-2A to represent Amateur Radio interests.

At the IWG-2A meeting on May 7, an industry representative proposed a list of "candidate bands" for little LEOs. The list includes a number of bands that would negatively impact existing services, and does not include others that would be technically more feasible but to which strong objection from incumbents could be expected --- the point being that some political, rather than purely technical, judgment already has influenced the list.

Incredibly, 144-148 and 420-450 MHz were included on the list! This is the first time in memory that another service has been proposed for the two-meter amateur band. We must make sure it is also the last time.

We do not need to explain to ARRL members the extensive use that is made of these bands by amateurs. The two bands provide the backbone of our local public service communications effort. Voice and data, mobile and fixed, even television --- the list of present amateur uses is a long one, and of future uses is even longer. Both are already used for satellite services and for moonbounce and extended-range terrestrial operations requiring extremely sensitive receivers and high levels of effective radiated power.

Apparently we did need to explain all this to the little LEO industry representatives, so we did just that --- both at the meeting and in a followup letter on May 15. We also explained that we had to regard the matter as extremely serious. No one with the slightest background in radiocommunication could possibly believe that a mobile-satellite service could be introduced into either band without disrupting existing and future amateur operations. Therefore, we said, if we did not receive assurance that they would be taken off the list of candidate bands by the deadline for this issue of QST, we would have no choice but to bring the matter to the attention of the entire membership.

The response we received was unsatisfactory. In effect, we were told the little LEO industry would consider our views but that until their spectrum needs are satisfied, all bands must remain under consideration.

So, this is a call to action. We must get across to the industry and government participants in IWG-2A that the 144-148 MHz and 420-450 MHz bands cannot be considered as candidates for mobile-satellite services. We need to drive the point home so forcefully, with so many grassroots responses, that no one is ever tempted to try this again.

Which brings us back to that invitation for "interested parties" to send input "at any time." There's no time like the present! Here are the key addresses, including those of the mobile-satellite industry folks who seem to have started the ruckus:

Cecily C. Holiday
International Bureau, FCC
Washington, DC 20554
FAX (202) 418-0748

Damon C. Ladson
International Bureau, FCC
Washington, DC 20554

Warren G. Richards
Chair, IWG-2A
Department of State
CIP 2529
Washington, DC 20520
FAX (202) 647-7407

William T. Hatch
Vice Chair, IWG-2

Tom Keller
Vice Chair, IWG-2A

Tracey Weisler
FCC Rep., IWG-2A
International Bureau, FCC
Washington, DC 20554
FAX (202) 418-2824

Mary Kay Williams
Final Analysis, Inc.
7500 Greenway Center, Ste. 1240
Greenbelt, MD 20770
FAX (301) 474-3228

Leslie Taylor
6800 Carlynn Court
Bethesda, MD 20817
FAX (301) 229-3148

Do comment. But be civil. Don't abuse people who are simply doing their jobs. We have to get across that casting covetous eyes on amateur bands is counterproductive, and contrary to the public interest. To accomplish this we need a lot of comments, including yours. But remember that the objective is to educate and persuade, not to intimidate. We don't need to. The facts are on our side.

To monitor the FCC's ongoing WRC-97 preparations, visit its WRC-97 home page at:

Write now. Right now! --- David Sumner, K1ZZ


Editor's Note --- Developments since press time:

The FCC has requested that all correspondence for WRC-97 go to a new e-mail address: The comment should reference the Advisiory Committee public record file number "Reference No. ISP-96-005" and the appropriate Advisory Committee Informal Working Group number, IWG-2A. The FCC staff will ensure that comments filed are considered in the appropriate groups. We suggest that you send your comments to all the above addresses AND this one.

Also, the ARRL has extablished a "Ham band threat page" at

--- WB5RZX

The Threat Is Real And You Need to Act
--- Dave Finley, N1IRZ

Over the years, you've probably heard people from the ARRL and other organizations urge you on numerous occasions to write letters or make phone calls on behalf of amateur radio. Like most of us, you probably didn't act every time.

This time, it's no joke. Action is required. By all of us. And NOW.

The threat to our 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands is real and serious. After the bulletin from the ARRL (reproduced in this issue) arrived by electronic mail last week, I uncovered additional information that indicates clearly the seriousness of this threat.

The "Little LEO" industry has laid its groundwork for this frequency grab. They have produced, and delivered to government officials, documents showing the supposed economic benefits of their satellite-communication systems. They do not care about the honored history of amateur radio or our longstanding tradition of public-service and emergency communications. They care about their own profits.

Industry representatives made a calculated decision to target our frequencies. They refused to back down after the importance of these bands to amateur radio was made clear to them. They are aware that they have challenged amateur radio to a political battle, and they obviously believe they have a reasonable chance of winning. If commercial interests can take these two bands from us, no amateur spectrum at any frequency is safe.

Perhaps the most disturbing development so far is that Warren Richards, the State Department official who chairs the Informal Working Group considering this matter, has reportedly made statements that bring his objectivity into serious question. A ham in Pennsylvania reported calling Mr. Richards last week to register his concern. Bob Puharic, WF3H, reported that Mr. Richards responded with expletives, was extremely hostile, and insisted very firmly that the ham bands would remain under consideration for reallocation and that he considered the email he was receiving on this matter an attempt by hams to intimidate him.

As chairman of the working group, Mr. Richards is supposed to be willing to receive and even to solicit public opinion regarding this matter. That he is so hostile to hams who simply are providing their rightful input to the decision process is quite worrisome.

The ARRL is busy working to handle this situation, but they need our help. Whether you're a member of ARRL or not, this affects you. We all must help produce the large volume of mail needed to fight this attempt to steal our frequencies. The ARRL is hoping this situation can be resolved in our favor through lots of Washington "jawboning." Their efforts must be backed by our cards, letters, emails, FAXes and phone calls.

With an overwhelming response from hams (and yes, if you can persuade some of your non-ham friends to write, too, it will help), the frequency grab may be nipped in the bud. If the industry proposal proceeds to the next step in the process, we may face a potentially bruising public-relations battle. The enemies of ham radio would attempt to minimize the value of our radio service and damage our hobby in the public eye. They would try to portray us as an obstacle to providing thousands of "high-tech" jobs in the satellite industry. They have lots of money for their own public-relations campaign. Ham radio can, with a lot of effort, win such a battle, because our history and record is long and outstanding. Still, it would be far better to stop this threat before it reaches that point.

That is why it is so important that you write NOW. A card or letter today can help prevent the need for a long and potentially expensive battle later.

The past few days, the members of IWG-2A have been particularly unreceptive to e-mail and phone calls from hams. It is their job to solicit and listen to input from the public, and they have shown that they are biased against hams. It is time to "go over their heads." They must answer to congress and the President, so please also write to them. Be sure to include your address when you write.

Congressman Steve Schiff
2404 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Congressman Joe Skeen
2367 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Congressman Bill Richardson
2209 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Senator Pete V. Domenici
328 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 25010-3101

Senator Jeff Bingaman
703 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 25010

President Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Vice President Gore
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500


Field Day Mystique --- Dave Watrous, WD2K

What is it about that weekend in June that drives sane people to join other Amateurs in a lemming-like migration to the local Field Day site? Some instinctive drive makes them perform feats of strength and daring, erecting outlandish antennas and attaching them to every tree or other structure in sight.

Attired in headgear emblazoned with callsigns, these otherwise staid pillars of the community swarm up shaky towers and undersized trees trailing masses of wire and coax, while chanting, "Only forty-five minutes left" and "Did anyone check the generator?" Or they implore each other to find "just one more barrel connector."

At ground level an equally fanatic group searches for the missing mike being carried around by another group looking for "the rig." But "the rig" is still in the trunk of a car now hurrying off-site to pick up the extension cord promised by the guy who just called on the repeater to say, "I can't make it before four."

At this time the need for the coffee maker becomes critical. The instructions to the appointed person: "Try to make it better than last year's mud." Soon after he measures the coffee, he screams, "Nobody brought any water---again!" He disappears racing over the hill toward the potable water spigot at the far end of the campground.

As two o'clock nears, it becomes clear that all is lost. The classic cry goes up, "Let's get one dipole up, so we can start with at least one station on the air." Someone attaches coax to two pieces of wire that might be an antenna. Someone else fires up the generator, and runs an extension cord to a rig on a table where a forlorn group huddles over a mike in abject sorrow.

Then there's a cry from the trees, "The antennas are up." Log sheets appear next to now-operating rigs, cups of thick black coffee appear from nowhere, and the bands erupt with, "CQ Field Day."

Soon the annual madness peaks; long-time friends stop screaming at each other and settle down to logging QSOs, as they have for many years. The ritual again enacted, the gods of radio are appeased.

And soon someone sows the seeds of future madness with a simple remark like, "You know, next year we should move the beam a few feet west, to that rise yonder." The cycle, begun anew, will culminate a year hence in another irresistibie urge to migrate to "the site."

---from the Troy, NY ARA "TARA News" --- Jack Culliton, N2LBZ, Editor.


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @