With one meeting down, and eleven to go, you would like to see more than my hairy face up front. This is a call for anyone with interesting things to talk about to "volunteer" for presentations, demonstrations, show-and-tell, or just plain recollections. Anyone who would like to give a presentation, please let me know. You can stop by the store, or send me an e-mail (AC5BXATjuno.com).
For too many "junque email" is becoming more than a nuisance. The inclusion of SARA member's email addresses in the association's directory is intended as a means to communicate with and inform members of matters related to SARA that they are likely to have an interest in. There is little to be gained by sending information regarding a local event to members in other cities and states when it is unlikely that they will attend. Whether you are using SARA member's email listings or those of others, please take the time to carefully select each of the recipients for your message by asking the question, "Will this person really be interested in this?"
Issues of special interest to radio amateurs that were taken up in preparation for WRC 97 included the possibility of additional frequency allocations to the Mobile Satellite Service operating below 1 GHz--familiar to hams as ''the little LEO issue.'' No specific frequencies have been identified in the CPM report for reallocation. Although the report does address a number of sharing possibilities, it makes no mention of sharing with the Amateur Service. In addition, a new concept of ''broad allocations'' was introduced. If adopted, this concept would result in individual nations being able to identify and allocate frequencies from a broad pool of service allocations. This concept, being quite new and unstudied, only resulted in a call for future studies by the ITU.
However, it will be watched closely by radio amateurs as it might have the potential of representing a threat to our bands. It is likely that any such studies will be prolonged over a multi-year period.
Of course, the work of WRC 97 will be guided by specific proposals submitted by individual nations. At present, countries have not yet finalized nor submitted their proposals. Until they do, the amateur community will not be able to accurately assess the threats to our bands for this conference.
Unfortunately, the Little LEOs are not the only new service searching for spectrum. One newcomer is the Earth Exploration Satellite Service's use of synthetic aperture radar (EESS active) for a system of spaceborne sensors designed to collect information about environmental issues and other similar data. A variety of frequencies is being sought, possibly including 430 to 440 MHz. The amateur and amateur satellite service status in this band is somewhat complex, varying by ITU Region and even by individual country. So far, studies of sharing possibilities between the amateur and EESS (active) have not shown them to be compatible because of the interference level experienced when the two classes of stations are within line of sight.
There is also a type of EESS (active) which would make use of 1215 to 1300 MHz which is of concern to amateurs. Studies here show compatibility with some types of services but still represent a potential source of interference to amateur operations.
Over the next 90 days, the various member countries of ITU interested in seeking specific allocations for these services at WRC 97 will be making proposals for the work of the conference.
The ARRL--as the spokesman for Amateur Radio in the US--is actively participating in the work of the relevant ITU bodies on these matters along with the IARU (ARRL Bulletin 25).
FCC revises 610s - The FCC has just released a new Form 610, dated March 1997, that includes a space for your Internet address. The new form is available via the FCC's Internet site (http://www.fcc.gov) and via the FCC's fax-on-demand service at 202-418-0177, to obtain Form 610, the form number to request is ''000610.''
The form is much the same as the previous Form 610, dated March, 1995, except that item 3A asking for the applicant's ''Internet Address'' is included on the same line as the street address. The environmental impact question, formerly item 6, has instead become a statement in the applicant certification section where the applicant certifies that ''the construction of the station would not be an action which is likely to have a significant environmental effect (see the Commission's Rules 47 CFR Sections 1.1301-1.1319 and 97.13a).'' The former item 7 has become item 6 on the new Form 610.
According to staff members at the Gettysburg FCC office, the FCC will continue to accept any of the three Forms 610 (dated November 1993, March 1995 and March 1997) until further notice.
In addition to the new Form 610, a revised version of the electronic Amateur Station Vanity Call Sign Request form (FCC Form 610V) is now available on the Internet at http://www.fcc.gov/wtb/amradsrv.html. Under ''Amateur Station Vanity Call Sign System'' choose ''Interactive Vanity Call Sign Application.'' This version allows a user to file multiple applications using one FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice), thus permitting several applicants to file vanity applications at the same time and combine their fee payments.
The fee will calculate and preprint on the FCC Form 159, depending on the number of applications submitted. Detailed instructions are available by clicking on the item number on the Internet form.
Previously, applicants had to complete a separate FCC Form 159 for each application submitted electronically.
Electronic payment is not yet available, and applicants must mail a completed FCC Form 159 with payment to FCC, Box 358994, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-5994, immediately after submitting any electronic application(s).
For technical assistance, contact the FCC Technical Support Group, 202-414-1250. For general questions regarding the application or fee, call the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Consumer Assistance staff, 800-322-1117 (ARRL Bulletin 27).
Congress acts to protect volunteers - The US House and Senate have passed companion bills aimed at shielding volunteers from lawsuits resulting from their activities as volunteers. The Senate has passed S 544, and the House has passed a companion bill, HR 911, each described as ''The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997.'' The Senate is expected to adopt the House version of the bill and send to President Clinton for signature.
As a result, volunteers of nonprofit organizations and government entities will, in the words of the House Judiciary Committee report on the bill, ''generally be relieved of liability for harm caused if . . . the volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities.''
This will be good news to Volunteer Examiners, Official Observers, ARES and RACES volunteers and others working under the sponsorship of a qualifying non-profit organization, all of whom appear to be covered by HR 911. The pending new law means that you aren't as likely to be sued as a result of harm unintentionally caused to someone else, if your actions were part of your responsibilities as a volunteer working on behalf of a government agency or a non-profit organization.
Amateurs and other volunteers are advised that until the bill is signed by the President and its various loopholes pass the scrutiny of the legal community, they should not assume they'll automatically be covered. It appears, for example, that ham volunteers not working under the sponsorship of a qualifying organization and who provide communication during a marathon, bicycle race or other public service or public safety event might not be covered. The same exclusion might apply to frequency coordinators and certain others who--though they are volunteers--aren't participating on behalf of a non-profit entity. The law will clearly protect only those who are ''volunteers of a non-profit organization or government entity.'' The definition is less clear with respect to ''non-profit organizations.'' These can be Section 501(c)(3) entities, that is, an organization holding a certain tax exemption from the IRS. But, they also include those organizations which may not be tax-exempt, but which are organized and conducted for public benefit and operated primarily for charitable, civic, educational, religious, welfare, or health purposes.
The growing reluctance of private citizens to volunteer for fear of lawsuits triggered interest in this legislation. Some states have enacted volunteer protection statutes, but inconsistency among the various state laws prompted the League to promote liability legislation in Congress, initially to protect VEs and Amateur Auxiliary members.
The new legislation requires that the volunteer be licensed, certified or authorized, ''if appropriate or required'' by state or local authorities. It does not provide protection where the harm was caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or conscious, flagrant indifference to rights or safety of the individual(s) harmed by the volunteer. The House version of the legislation would not cover any volunteer who inadvertently caused harm to another person while operating a motor vehicle that requires an operator license or insurance. Also, certain limitations in existing state volunteer liability laws are not preempted by the Federal protection under the bill.
ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, is studying copies of the House and Senate bills to determine the impact of the new legislation on Amateur Radio volunteers(ARRL Bulletin 28).
Contact Filming Involved Coordination, Cooperation - Dave Finley, N1IRZ, of the National Radio Astronomy observatory in Socorro, New Mexico, is looking forward to seeing the Warner Bros movie, Contact, due to appear in theaters this summer. That's because Finley and many of his NRAO colleagues were heavily involved in helping to bring the film to fruition--including a week of filming at NRAO last fall. "I've never been that big a movie fan," Finley said, "but I was impressed with the actors and the crew."
Finley also was impressed with Contact star Jodie Foster. She plays astronomer Ellie Arroway, who, as a girl, gets her ham ticket along with her father in the late 1960s, then goes on to become a radio astronomer and the first person to decipher a message received on Earth from extraterrestrial intelligent life. Eventually, she's among the team sent into space to explore the message's origin. The story is based on Carl Sagan's 1985 novel of the same name. Finley says Foster had done her homework on radio astronomy. "She's quite sharp," he said. But he doesn't think the experience was enough to entice Foster to get her ticket in real life.
Realism was a major goal of the filmmakers, Finley said. "They were a very professional group of people." The crew got in touch with NRAO very early on in the project, he said, noting that the first person to call them was none other than Carl Sagan himself. In the movie, the first signal is received at the Very Large Array (VLA) at New Mexico. "They used the actual VLA" in the movie, Finley said.
Finley, who served as the liaison between the film company and the observatory, called the week of filming "an intense experience." The potential of RFI from the crew's wireless mikes and communication gear was a big concern for the sensitive ears of the NRAO. The observatory also was not able to stop work to accommodate the filming, but the Warner Bros crew was able to work around the NRAO to get the shots it needed. "It was a different way of operating for both of us," he said. Despite the movie crew's "overwhelming presence," Finley said the encounter, like the movie's plot, "opened my eyes to a world I'd not seen before."
Filming in some locations was simply impractical. In one instance, WB completely and accurately replicated one of the facility's radio telescope control rooms in meticulous detail on another set. "When I walked up to their set, you would really think you were in the control room," Finley said. He hopes the same sense of realism carries over into the ham radio aspects of the movie.
The NRAO, which is run by the US government, gained from the experience too. In exchange for disrupting the observatory's maintenance schedules to get shots of the large arrays being aimed a particular way, Warner Bros reimbursed the government. In addition, WB gave money to the NRAO's educational fund to redo the visitors' center. "All of our visitors will eventually benefit," said Finley.
In addition to Foster, Contact stars James Woods and Matthew McConaughey. Robert Zemeckis directed the film. The ARRL provided the filmmakers with an ARRL map and other League publications of the 1960s, while staff members supplied vintage QSLs and advised Warner Bros on the types of antennas and equipment they'd need to make the movie set realistic.
Contact is due out in mid-July. For more information, see http://www.contact-themovie.com (The ARRL Letter Vol. 16, No. 25; June 20, 1997).
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