Socorro Amateur Radio Association

SARA Newsletter ----- "All the news that fits, we print" ----- September, 1997


... was held on August 13th with 13 members in attendance.


President's Corner

As the month of August closes, Socorro hams have once again demonstrated the value of amateur radio by providing communications and traffic control for the tenth running of the Socorro Triathlon. This was especially rewarding when some of the triathlon participants thanked our members for being there as they passed. Thank you for noticing. We look forward to being there next year.

This month gives us another chance to bring our services to the public. The Fat Tire Fiesta is scheduled for September 19th through the 21st. This is a call for volunteers. You can stop by the store, or call to commit your services to this event. SARA needs you!

November 15 is rapidly approaching. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for the hamfest. This will be a major topic at our September meeting, so plan to be there and put in your two cents.

Finally, we will wind up the meeting with a presentation by Bill Brundage titled "What's All This Stuff About Antenna Gain, Anyhow?".

No pain, no gain

"What’s all this stuff about antenna gain, anyhow?", by Bill Brundage (K8HUH) - a short tech talk to be presented as part of the September meeting. Perhaps this will be the start of a regular series of “Tech Talks” by several members.


Keith Hayes conducted a Skywarn training program for SARA members and other Socorro residents on the evening of Wednesday, July 30th. Of the 31 people who took advantage of this opportunity, 14 were amateur radio operators. Keith was pleased with the response and plans to hold another training session in the future to accommodate those who were unable to attend the first session.

SARA and the Socorro Triathlon

Sunday, August 10th marked the annual running of the Socorro Triathlon. This year’s event boasted over 100 participants, double the number last year., and once again SARA was there. Event organizers expressed appreciation for the communications provided by SARA members.

Fat Tire Fiesta

Al (AC5BX) has received a letter from the Socorro Chamber of Commerce asking SARA to participate in the Fat Tire Fiesta again this year. The Sixth Annual Fat Tire Fiesta is scheduled for September 19th to the 21st.. Dave (KB5YIW) and Mitch Plummer are co-chairmen for the Fat Tire Fiesta this year. Detailed planning for SARA participation will take place at the September SARA meeting.

Uncle Sam Wants You

General, Advanced and Extra license holders are invited to become part of the SARA VE team. Volunteer Examiners serve the crucial function of administering examinations for licensing new and upgrading amateurs. Your participation is crucial to the future of amateur radio: in Socorro and in the world. Does it seem just a little more worthwhile? Contact Kalman AT 835-5225 for information.

Area 51?

Yes, the Area 51 QRP expedition did occur for the NorCal sponsored QRP To The Field contest. There were four of us involved: myself, Doug Hendricks KI6DS (NorCal founder), Ron Stark KU7Y (editor of QRP Quarterly) and Bob Follet (ARCI official for the Dayton QRP forum). We traveled to the site near Rachel, Nevada and were on the air around 10:30 am local. The bands however were lousy, and it was not until mid-afternoon that contacts on 20 and 40M became fairly plentiful. We operated until around 5 pm, then drove back to Vegas. We used our individual calls. We did not have as many contacts as we wanted to due to the poor propagation at the onset of the contest, and also just due to four of the quasi-famous QRPers getting together ... ending up shooting the bull at times more than getting on the air -hi. There is a 4-5 page write up on the event in the current (Summer) issue of NorCal's QRPp journal with photos.

September 20th is the annual QRP Afield, identical to the NorCal QRP To The Field, except sponsored by the east coast guys. Both are basically the field days for QRPers. Howard K9PV is planning on operating from the NM/Mexico border for that one to be a "DX" contact. Now I've got to think up something even better. Hmmm... (72, Paul NA5N QRP ... mine's smaller than yours!).

(eds note: Paul offered to provide photos of the Area 51 event that could be used in the SARA newsletter. I’ve given too little thought to photos for the newsletter, and could not take advantage of the offer for this edition. Let me work on it and perhaps in the November edition I can bring this rag into the 20th Century. Its about time since it is almost over.)

The SARA/TARA Hamfest Cometh

Planning is well underway for this year’s ARRL sanctioned SARA/TARA Hamfest. The event is sponsored by the Socorro Amateur Radio Association, Tech Amateur Radio Association, and the City of Socorro. The date is set for Saturday, November 15th. We expect that this year’s edition will be held in yet another venue, Sarricino Middle School. The school has a large gymnasium for the swap meet, vendors and displays, and classrooms for the VE sessions and smaller featured sessions. In addition, the school has a large, modern auditorium suitable for large group sessions. Hours for this years hamfest will be from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm local time. Registration for the VE sessions will be from 8:00 am to 11:00 am with the exams starting at noon.

Upcoming events

Just Over the Horizon


Gatherings, gatherings


From the ARRL

President Clinton Names New FCC Chair, Member - President Clinton announced Wednesday that he plans to tap William E. Kennard of California as the next chairman of the FCC, subject to Kennard's confirmation by the Senate as an FCC member. Kennard, 40, already had been nominated to succeed retiring commissioner James Quello. He would step into the top spot being vacated by Reed Hundt. Kennard has served as general counsel of the FCC since December 1993. As general counsel, Kennard is the Commission's principal legal advisor and represents the agency in court. He has prior experience in communications law.

Kennard is a graduate of Stanford and of Yale Law School. If confirmed, he would be the first African-American to head the FCC.

The president also announced the nomination of Michael K. Powell of Virginia to a seat on the FCC. Powell, the son of Gen Colin Powell, is now the chief of staff of the Antitrust Division in the US Department of Justice. He also has experience in telecommunications law. He's a graduate of The College of William and Mary and of Georgetown University Law Center (The ARRL Letter Online, Volume 16, Number 31; August 8, 1997).

One less Little LEO - The Little LEO industry that has been seeking access to spectrum below 1 GHz, including amateur bands, is about to have one less player. On July 14, CTA Incorporated of Rockville, Maryland, and Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, announced an agreement for Orbital to purchase CTA's satellite manufacturing and communications service business units. The deal is expected to close in August.

Orbital is already in a joint venture with Teleglobe to provide Little LEO services through Orbital Communications Corp. (ORBCOMM).

ORBCOMM's system is already licensed and is operational on a limited basis. Uplinks are 2400 bps FSK in the 148-149.9 MHz band and user downlinks are 4800 bps FSK in the 137-138 MHz band, with beaconing in the 400-401 MHz band. In its press release announcing the acquisition, Orbital said that a CTA service it had purchased, called GEMtrak, may be expanded to use the ORBCOMM network in the future. GEMtrak is a system for tracking truck trailers and rail cars and their cargoes.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, noted that the combining of CTA's satellite business with ORBCOMM's will reduce by one the number of companies seeking Little LEO licenses. ''CTA was one of the companies that sponsored the ill- conceived and controversial 'flexible allocation' proposal that we had to oppose earlier this year,'' he said. ''ORBCOMM did not endorse the flexible allocation concept.''

The Little LEO issue is on the agenda for the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-97) to be held this fall. ARRL Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, is a member of the US delegation. The US is now finalizing its proposals for the conference. At this point, no US Little LEO proposal for WRC-97 would affect ham radio (ARRL Bulletin 45, August 8, 1997).

RF exposure update - The FCC has revised the power level thresholds to trigger a routine Amateur Radio station RF exposure evaluation, and the changes will be welcome news for most hams. When the FCC first decreed a year ago that ham radio stations would have to comply with RF exposure guidelines, it set a 50-W threshold level. The updated guidelines, announced August 25, increase that threshold level on all HF bands except 10 meters, where it remains at 50 W. The FCC made no changes in the RF exposure limits it announced last year. The new RF safety guidelines are scheduled to become effective January 1, 1998, for Amateur Radio stations.

The FCC went along in part with a request by the ARRL to establish a sliding scale for threshold levels, depending upon frequency. The revised thresholds are 500 W for 160 through 40 meters, 425 W on 30 meters (where the maximum permissible power is 200 W), 225 W on 20 meters, 125 W on 17 meters, 100 W on 15 meters, 75 W on 12 meters and 50 W on 10 meters. The threshold for all VHF bands is 50 W. On UHF, the threshold level is 70 W on 70 cm, 150 W on 33 cm, 200 W on 23 cm, and 250 W on 13 cm and above. Stations operating at or below these respective power levels are categorically excluded from having to perform a routine RF radiation evaluation. However, all stations, regardless of power level, still must comply with the RF exposure limits.

Along with its August 25 Second Memorandum Opinion and Order announcing the changes, the FCC released the ''core'' text of its long-awaited Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) Bulletin 65, Evaluating Compliance with FCC Guidelines for Human Exposure to Radio frequency Electromagnetic Fields. The bulletin contains generic equations that can be used to analyze fields due to almost all antennas, although the FCC warns that ''the resulting estimates for power density may be overly conservative in some cases.'' Hams leery of formulas might opt to wait for the easier-to-use Supplement B to OET Bulletin 65, which will include information designed specifically for evaluating Amateur Radio installations. The supplement promises to detail how hams can determine more simply if their individual stations comply with the new regulations. The FCC says the supplement will contain ''information on projected minimum exclusion distances from typical amateur antenna installations.''

The FCC said it would issue Supplement B ''as soon as a review of the current draft is complete.'' When it's ready, Supplement B will be available to download from the FCC's Web site, The FCC directed inquiries as to the availability of the supplement and other RF-related questions to its RF Safety Program, 202-418-2464; e-mail

Last year, the FCC established time-averaged maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits for RF fields in two tiers--for controlled environments (ie, a ham's immediate household, including visitors) and uncontrolled environments (ie, neighbors, the general public).

If a routine evaluation of a ham station indicates that human exposure to RF fields could be in excess of the FCC's MPE limits, the licensee must act to correct the problem and ensure compliance. This could include changing operating patterns, relocating antennas, restricting access, changing frequency, output power or emission type or any combination of these and other remedies.

The FCC says that ham radio facilities ''represent a special case for determining exposure, since there are many possible antenna types that could be designed and used for amateur stations.''

The revised regulations categorically exclude most mobile installations, including those in the Amateur Radio Service, from having to comply with the RF- exposure or station evaluation guidelines. Since the FCC issued its guidelines, additional questions on RF safety have been added to the Amateur Radio examination question pool.

OET Bulletin 65 and the FCC Second Memorandum Opinion and Order are available at More details on the FCC's latest announcement on RF safety will appear in the October issue of QST (ARRL Bulletin 49, August 26, 1997).

Abstract of the Minutes for the August SARA Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 7:35 pm. Thirteen members were present including one visitor, Galen Watts (KF0YJ).

Reports - Minutes of the July 9th meeting were read and accepted.
The Treasurer’s report was read and accepted.

Announcements - see “Skywarn” (above). Jim (WB5GWH) and Dave (N1IRZ) think Keith (Hayes) might be interested in giving a program for our club, and possibly for our hamfest.
See “SARA and the Socorro Triathlon” (above).

Old Business - None

New Business - Al (AC5BX) received a letter from the Chamber of Commerce asking that we participate in the Fat Tire Fiesta again this year. See “Fat Tire Fiesta” (above).
Al has contacted the ARRL to get an official hamfest packet. Kalman (AJ5B) needs details about the Exams to advise the ARRL. Al will check with the school principle, whether students will want to provide refreshments to earn money - otherwise we will arrange something.
Paul (N5YGC) volunteered to make new signs directing people to Exam rooms, various programs, etc. See “The Hamfest Cometh” (above).
Bill (K8HUH) heard a suggestion of having a Technicolor presentation at some meetings. Dave (N1IRZ) is working on this; clubs provide him with a list of speakers and their topics, and he will possibly compile a list of speakers each year.
Dave (N1IRZ) moved and Bill (K8HUH) seconded that we adjourn at 8:40 pm. Respectfully submitted: Agnes M. Halls (KA5KIE).

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 from SARA members 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. For information on the cost of advertising by nonmembers contact 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 1307 Lopezvillle Rd., Socorro, NM 87801-4853, or you can FAX text to (505) 835-6436. Telephone queries will be received at 835-1432 AT hm, or 835-5771 AT wk. (D. Johnson - ed.)

Thank you

The Socorro Amateur Radio Association would like to thank the Albuquerque District office of Lanier Worldwide, Inc. for its generous support of the SARA Newsletter.

SARA Officers

President: Al Braun (AC5BX) : 505-835-1061
V. President: Bill Brundage (K8HUH) : 505-835-3916
Secretary: Agnes Halls (KA5KIE) : 505-835-4985
Treasurer: Tom Frawley (KA0YYP) : 505-835-3931


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW
SARA Newsletter Editor

1307 Lopezville Rd.
Socorro, NM 87801-4853