Socorro Amateur Radio Association

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


There were twenty members in attendance at the September 11 meeting.


SARA to Be Featured in QST Article

As most of you recall, SARA was named the Organization of the Year last year by the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce. This award recognized our public service and community involvement. Coupled with other achievements, such as having 1.2 percent of our city's population licensed, SARA has an impressive list of achievements. A few months ago, it was suggested that our success story would make a good article for QST. That article now has been accepted for publication in QST. The publication date is uncertain, but look for SARA to be featured in the next few months. The article, entitled, "Socorro, New Mexico: Ham City USA?" tells of our activities and how we managed to recruit our friends and families into ham radio. (D. Finley)

Ham-Astronomer Is NRAO's Jansky Lecturer

The NRAO Jansky Lecture this year will be delivered by a distinguished radio astronomer who got his start as a ham radio operator at the age of 13. Dr. James M. Moran, K1AKE, will deliver the lecture, entitled, "Brilliant Masers and Mysterious Black Holes," on Friday, October 18, at 8:00 p.m., in New Mexico Tech's Macey center. The lecture is free and everyone is invited.

Moran, a professor of astronomy at Harvard University, is best known for his application of the techniques of Very Long Baseline Interferometry to the study of astronomical masers. Masers are the radio equivalent of lasers. These techniques allow astronomers to image celestial objects at a level of detail unmatched by any others. Recently, Moran and his colleagues showed that the center of a galaxy 21 million light-years away contains a black hole with 36 million times the mass of the sun.

Moran was encouraged by his father, James Moran, Sr., W1QUO, to become a ham. Licensed as a Novice at age 13, Moran upgraded to General, built a Viking Valiant transmitter kit, and was active on 40-meter CW and 10-meter phone. In high school, his ham radio background led him to try making a radio telescope as a science-fair project. Using a World War II surplus 430 MHz downconverter and a Hallicrafters SX-100 receiver, he managed to detect radio emissions from the sun and to win the top prize in the science fair.

Moran received a degree in Electrical Engineering from Notre Dame and his Ph.D. from MIT. He has been prominent in observational astronomy, is co-author of a widely-used text on radio astronomy, and has authored 160 research papers. He has received numerous prizes and awards for his work in astronomy.

Today, Moran and his father, both Advanced-class licensees, still keep a weekly schedule on 20-meter CW.

Come out and hear this excellent lecture by a scientist who began his career as a ham operator. (D. Finley)

Enchanted Skies Star Party

Enchanted Star Party will be the 10th - 13th of October. This third annual event will attract amateur and professional astronomers from around the U.S. and the World. Events include: nightime observing from the Etscorn Observatory, a dark, dark-sky night at the Pound Ranch, lectures, an art contest, prizes and displays. This year's keynote speaker is Jack Schmitt, scientist-astronaut on Apollo 17, one of the missions to visit the lunar surface. For more information, contact the Socorro Chamber of Commerce at 505-835-0424.

JOTA '96

Jamboree On The Air, or JOTA, is an annual Scouting and amateur radio event sponsored by the World Bureau of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement. It is always held during the third full weekend of October. This years Jamboree On The Air is from Saturday, October 19th at 00:01 hours local time, to Sunday, October 20th, at 23:59 hours local time. Local scouts have expressed an interest in Amateur Radio Operations, and a demonstration is tentatively planned for October 19th in the SARA club house. Finalized plans will be discussed at the October meeting.

SARA Hamfest

The 1996 SARA Hamfest will be held in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium on Saturday, November 23rd.
Click here to see a map.

SARA Roster

Members will receive a current copy of the SARA Membership list with this newsletter. This is intended to provide members with information regarding other members. Please review the information for your entry. If there are additional items that might be included, or if you would like to update your information, please contact me (D. Johnson; for info: see section on "Submissions to SARA Newsletter" below).



Gatherings, gatherings

Upcoming events

Just over the horizon


From the ARRL

LEAGUE PETITIONS FCC TO CHANGE NEW RF SAFETY RULES - The ARRL has petitioned the FCC to reconsider and reverse portions of the Commission's August 1, 1996, Report and Order that imposed RF-emission safety standards on Amateur Radio, including a 50-W threshold to trigger an RF-safety evaluation. In setting the 50-W threshold, the ARRL said, the FCC failed to consider the effect of antenna height, antenna gain, emission mode, duty cycle or operating frequency. The League asked the FCC either to scale the evaluation threshold by frequency to match the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits--directly corresponding to the way the regulations scale the exposure levels with frequency--or to set the evaluation threshold for all HF operation at 150 W at a distance of 10 meters from all parts of the antenna.

At or below that power level and at that distance from the radiator, "you'd be well on the side of safe, even at 100% duty cycle, with any antenna likely to be encountered on HF," said ARRL Laboratory Supervisor Ed Hare, KA1CV, our HQ staff liaison to the ARRL RF Safety Committee. "Some VHF/UHF and microwave station configurations could result in an RF exposure exceeding the requirements of the regulations, so the 50-W limit to trigger an evaluation is more appropriate above 30 MHz," said Hare. The ARRL Laboratory staff is working on a QST article that explains the new RF-safety regulations. "The article will tell hams how to evaluate their stations to be in compliance with the new rules," Hare explained.

Hare also emphasized that all stations, regardless of output power or frequency, still must abide by the specified MPE limits for RF. "Even my 10-mW HF station has to be in compliance with the MPE limits.

At that power level, even under the existing rules, I don't have to evaluate whether it is compliance, however; it is presumed that stations running less than 50 W PEP are in compliance."

The new rules, effective January 1, 1997, require licensees of amateur stations running 50 W output or more on any band to conduct a routine RF-safety evaluation to determine if the station could expose people to RF levels that exceed the MPE limits specified in the new rules. (Mobile installations using push-to-talk, regardless of power, are exempt from the environmental evaluation requirement.) In its reconsideration filing, the League called the 50-W threshold "regulatory overkill" and "without scientific basis." Among other things, the League said the means to conduct RF radiation evaluations are not yet available, and the ability to reconfigure a station that might exceed the new limits "is highly problematic."

Coupled with any state and local land-use and RF-exposure regulations that might exist, application of the new rules "may constitute a de facto revocation or modification of the station license," the League said.

"If amateurs cannot operate using outdoor antennas due to deed restrictions, and they cannot use indoor antennas due to concern about exceeding the MPE levels, all amateur communications are precluded."

In addition, the ARRL contends that rules imposed in the Commission's Report and Order "were adopted through flawed procedures." The League said the FCC adopted the rules without advance notice and opportunity for prior comment by those who would be most affected. "Neither the League, nor radio amateurs generally, had any opportunity to comment on, or suggest alternatives to, the rules adopted by the Commission," the ARRL petition said. "The Commission cannot impose substantive rule changes without adequate notice."

The ARRL said that the new rules differentiate between ham stations and other Commission licensees, "which are treated far less restrictively." While the FCC preempted state and local government regulation of personal wireless service facilities based on environmental effects of RF emissions, it refused to do the same for ham radio "without any basis for the distinction."

The League's petition also said the rules in the Report and Order "contain substantive obligations" that affect both individual hams and the preparation of ham radio examinations. The ARRL already has asked the FCC to extend the deadline to change amateur examinations and modify question pools, but the Commission has yet to act on the request. "The Commission failed to address the impact on radio amateurs, amateur groups, or publishers of Amateur Radio examination preparation materials" the League said. Noting that the FCC has not yet issued revised documents to assist Amateur Radio licensees in determining MPE compliance, the League said that, as it now stands, hams have no way to determine the scope of their obligations under the new rules.

The League suggested the FCC vacate its new RF safety rules governing amateur stations and issue a further notice to permit comment on the proposed rules, and, in particular, the 50-W threshold. Hare said the League's proposed HF threshold of 150-W at 10 meters distance from the antenna "encompasses a much greater range of typical Amateur Radio operation without compromising safety."

According to the September 9, 1996, issue of Radio Communications Report, the ARRL was not the only one to challenge the RF exposure guidelines. Others filing petitions for reconsideration or clarification are the Personal Communications Industry Association, the Electromagnetic Energy Association, Hammett & Edison Inc (a consulting firm) and the US Department of Defense.
(The ARRL Letter, Vol. 15, No. 9; September 13, 1996)

UNAMSAT-B IN ORBIT - UNAMSAT-B, the first Mexican Amateur Radio satellite, has been launched into orbit from Plesetsk, Russia. The successful launch on September 5, 1996, follows years of postponements and disappointments, including the destruction of UNAMSAT-1. The satellite was built at the Autonomous University of Mexico under the tutelage of David Liberman, XE1TU.

UNAMSAT-B functions as a 1200-baud store-and-forward packet file server similar to OSCARs 16 and 19. Uplinks: 145.815, 145.835, 145.855 and 145.875 MHz; downlink: 437.206 MHz.

In addition to its packet capability, UNAMSAT carries a meteor experiment. The satellite will transmit pulses on 40.997 MHz to detect the presence of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere. By analyzing the data files, which will be made available on the server, hams can get a glimpse of meteor activity over various parts of the globe at specific times.

Reports indicate the satellite is sending strong signals back to Earth. AMSAT says a first look at telemetry from UNAMSAT indicates all is working well aboard the satellite.

Congratulations to the UNAMSAT team at the National Autonomous University of Mexico! For more information, see their Web page at
(The ARRL Letter, Vol. 15, No. 9; September 13, 1996)

From Newsline

ARRL WRC CW SURVEY - Tod Olson, K0TO, the Chairman of ARRL's WRC 99 Planning Committee, needs input the ham radio community with respect to opinions and attitudes in the ham radio community regarding the future of the CW mode. Olson's committee is running a survey in the current issue of QST Magazine. Its found on pages 49 and 50 in September issue. If you want your voice heard on the no-code issue, cut it out, fill it out and mail it in, today. (Newsline Radio - CBBS Edition #995 - 09/06/96)

WISCONSIN SENATOR SEEKS LOCAL CONTROL OVER RFI - A Wisconsin Senator has decided to unilaterally try to rewrite the nations communications law because he does not like it that the FCC no longer handling consumer interference cases. Acting in response to what he says is nearly 45,000 complaints to the FCC every year, first term Senator Russ Feingold as introduced Senate Bill 2025.

Feingold says his measure will give state, county and local governments the ability to regulate interference from CB radio. This, when interference results from a violation of FCC rules.

Saying his bill simply allows common sense to prevail, Feingold reasons his measure would give states and localities the ability to investigate and enforce Federal law, "thereby protecting the rights of their residents. The bill would only affect unauthorized CB transmitters or amplifiers.

Municipalities could prohibit use of the equipment and levy fines or other monetary sanctions. It has already drawn strong opposition from personal communications and business radio user groups. They fear that states and cities will abuse this new power if its ever made available to them. (Newsline Radio - CBBS Edition #995 - 09/06/96)

Submissions to SARA Newsletter

Contributions related to amateur radio will be considered for inclusion in the SARA Newsletter. Text should be of general interest to readers, and on the order of 200 to 300 words. Each month ads to buy, sell, or trade may be included. The usual caveat applies, items must be ham-related. Material will be included on a space available; first come, first served basis; and pretty much at the discretion of the editor. To be assured of consideration for the next newsletter, material must be received by the 25th day of the month. I would prefer to have submissions in the form of a DOS ASCII file. Email is ideal (to, snail mail to 325 McCutcheon St., Socorro, NM 87801, or you can FAX text to (505) 835-6436. Telephone queries will be received at 835-1432 @ hm, or 835-5771 @ wk. D. Johnson - Ed.


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW
SARA Newsletter Editor

325 McCutcheon St. W.
Socorro, NM 87801-4535