THE SPARK GAP A monthly publication of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club September 1999
Special Update from W5XX - ARRL Simulated Emergency Test
FCC Enacts Internet Morse Code Requirement
From Ham Radio Online Humor page
The FCC, under pressure to clean up the Internet, especially after the Communications Decency Act provisions regarding Internet content regulation were stricken as violating the U.S. Constitution, has decided instead to require a Morse code requirement for Internet users. Citing the success of the Amateur Radio Service and the general belief that its requirement for operators to pass a Morse code proficiency exam and other technical requirements, has kept the A.R.S. "clean", the FCC will enact a 5 word-per-minute requirement for all Internet users. They are leaving open the issue of whether there should be a "codeless" class of Internet user and are soliciting comments on this proposal.
Persons wishing to develop a web site having only links to other web sites having links to other web sites, and so forth, must pass a 13 word-per-minute test and demonstrate proficiency in HTML, the Internet authoring language.
Persons wish to develop web sites that have actual content, as compared to just links to other web sites, must pass a 20 word-per-minute Morse proficiency test, demonstrate proficiency in HTML and the Java programming language, and show that they have mastery of at least one human language, such as English.
The FCC, which lacks budgetary authority to implement the testing program, has stated that it intends to create Volunteer Examiner programs for Internet applicants.
WX NOTES by WB5OCD
The weather pattern is changing back to the usual fall pattern of afternoon thunderstorms. We have not had the severe weather from the hurricanes and tropical storms that have affected North Carolina and other Atlantic states. With the coming of the fronts pushing cold air southward we will see increased activity so please prepare your stations and do not be surprised if you hear net activity.
The SET is still scheduled for 18 September from 0800 to 1030 hours local. Many types of disasters are scheduled for the state and several state agencies will be playing. It looks to be an interesting morning. Jim WB5OCD
ARRL Simulated Emergency Test
The ARRL National Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is scheduled for October 2-3 (see page 113 of September QST), however the SET will be conducted in Mississippi on Saturday, September 18 from 0800 to 1030. Actually, ARRL sections are given the latitude to conduct their SETs anytime between September 1 and November 30. The third weekend in September was chosen last year to avoid the Greenville, Memphis, and Gulf Coast Hamfests and the AMSAT Convention in Vicksburg. Little did we know that Georges would show up on our doorstep during the fourth weekend in September making us count our lucky stars that we had conducted our first SET since 1990 during the previous weekend. So we will stick with the same weekend this year (and again avoid the Memphis Hamfest).
On Saturday, September 18 the SET action will start on the Mississippi Section Phone Net Frequency (3862 KHZ) at 0800 and spread to the two meter nets as emergency management agencies start to ask for information.
This year several agencies will be participating including the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service at Slidell, Jackson, and Memphis, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Corps of Engineers, and Entergy. Ham stations will be set up at all of these locations to handle traffic.
The Net Control Station will be W5XX in Vicksburg, who will be operating on 3862 and will be monitoring the Vicksburg (147.27/87), Jackson (146.34/94), and PBRA (147.09/69) machines (with help by N5JGK and N5QDE). Those hams that don't have HF privileges are encouraged to get access to an HF receiver so they can monitor the action on 3862.
If a question comes up that he/she can answer, this answer can be relayed into a VHF net to a station having HF capability, who then in turn can pass the information on 3862 to the agency requesting the information.
A typical situation would be that the Jackson NWS detects a possible tornado on Doppler Radar at Harrisville. KD5EPT sees the tornado, but cannot call in on 3862 because he has not yet passed his general, but he can call the NWS Jackson with the information on the 34/94 Net. Alternatively, if the tornado has taken out 34/94, KD5EPT could call W5XX on the Vicksburg machine, who in turn could relay the information to the Jackson NWS on 3862.
Currently, Mississippi has 19 Emergency Coordinators covering 25 counties. Each of these EC's have been encouraged to develop a scenario for an emergency situation at the local level and to ensure that their local VHF emergency net is active during the SET. Thus, Mississippi hams will be responding to problems at the state level as well as the local level. This ought to make for total chaos for a couple of hours and really stretch our emergency communications capabilities to the hilt. Sure there are going to be some problems, but that is why we have an SET. Better to work the bugs out of the system in a practice drill than during the real thing.
Don't be hesitant to check into 3862 or your local VHF net because you are afraid you might be asked to do something that your are not sure how to handle. Remember this is a learning experience for everybody. See you on September the 18th at 0800!
73 de W5XX
CCARS Radio repeater site now in operation
By EMERY WOOTEN - Special to the Times Leader
The Clay County Amateur Radio Society (CCARS) has completed work on the new West Point repeater site at the Prestage Farms feed mill building on West Church Hill Road. The club, made up of area "Ham" radio operators, has operated a local repeater from the Clay County courthouse building for the past several years, but the 110 ft. height of the courthouse tower limited the effective range of the system. The new location places the antenna and radio equipment atop the 275 ft. tall feed mill and provides coverage over a 50 mile radius. This gives West Point one of the widest coverage amateur radio systems in the Southeast. Amateur radio operators are federally licensed volunteers, not to be confused with Citizen's Band operators.
Although "Ham" radio is a fun and rewarding pastime, the hobby has a serious side. Amateur operators are frequently called upon to provide key communications support in the event of civil emergencies. In the southeastern United States the primary roles of "Ham" operators with emergency management are tornado spotting and assisting emergency agencies with communications in the aftermath of tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. The local club has affiliations with the West Point Fire Department /Clay County Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi State Climatology Laboratory, Clay County Medical Center, and the National Weather Service/ NOAA.
The club sponsors storm spotter classes conducted locally by the NWS each spring, and local spotters report directly to the MSU Climate Lab and NOAA via area amateur repeater systems. For cities in Mississippi, amateur radio frequently provides the first warnings of approaching tornadoes and a reliable communications system in the aftermath of disasters when phone lines and power systems are destroyed.
The CCARS would very much like to thank several local businesses and agencies who have made the new repeater system possible. Our thanks go first of all to Prestage Farms, whose management and personnel have been exceedingly cooperative in providing the location and helping install the equipment. This is exemplary corporate citizenship, and Prestage is providing a service that might someday save lives in their hometown. Henson Construction Co., Sherwin Williams, Seitz Lumber Co., and General Machine Works also provided construction materials for the project. It should also be noted that the West Point Fire and Police departments as well as the Clay Co. Chancery Clerk and Board of Supervisors provide continuing support to the CCARS in the interest of emergency management.
Anyone interested in Amateur Radio is invited to attend a CCARS meeting at 7:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the old fire station building on East Broad Street. The local club would welcome new members and will provide guidance to anyone interested in becoming involved and securing an operator license. "Ham" radio has something for all to enjoy!
ULS opened for amateur business August 16
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT August 13, 1999
To all radio amateurs
The FCC's Universal Licensing System opened its doors to Amateur Radio Monday, August 16. The FCC reported August 13 that the ULS would be out of service until then to prepare for implementation. Amateurs should wait until the ULS is back on-line August 16 to register.
The ULS ushers in an era of electronic, interactive filing and handling of Amateur Radio applications and marks a major change in the way Amateur Radio applicants will deal with the FCC. It also means the demise of the familiar paper FCC Form 610 series in favor of the ''universal'' Form 605--primarily designed for electronic use but also available on paper. Amateurs filing applications with the FCC under the ULS will use Form 605 for all purposes except--at least for now--club station applications.
The FCC began a weeklong ULS phase-in period for the Amateur Service August 8 and has been converting existing Amateur Radio licensing data into the ULS database. Electronic Amateur Radio renewal using FCC Form 900 was scheduled to end August 9. Electronic vanity call sign application using Form 610V was to terminate August 13 at 5:30 PM Eastern Time. Hams should not try to file renewal or vanity applications until the ULS comes up August 16.
Before using the ULS to file an application, renew or modify a license, or apply for a vanity call sign, all amateurs must register. When registering, individuals eligible to hold a Social Security Number must provide this number--which the FCC refers to as a Taxpayer Information Number or TIN. This requirement is a mandate of Congress, not of the FCC. All hams must be registered in the ULS to do business with the FCC.
Applicants use TIN Registration Form 606 for both electronic or manual registration. To register electronically, visit and click on ''TIN/Call Sign Registration".
Applicants first register their Social Security Number (or TIN), then enter a call sign. Applicants also must specify a password and a personal identifier.
Registrants receive a nine-character Licensee Identification Number. Amateurs may use this number in place of a Social Security Number in future dealings with the FCC.
For now, applications for club, military recreation, and RACES licenses should be filed on the ''old'' FCC Form 610B. Trustees and custodians of these licenses should not use their personal Social Security Number as the TIN for these applications but should contact ULS Technical Support (202-414-1250) to obtain a FCC-generated identification number for Form 610B.
Applications for new licenses or upgrades will continue to be filed through a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. VECs will use a special NCVEC Form 605--a variation of Form 605--to file with the FCC for test sessions.
Starting August 16, hams already registered in the ULS may file applications using the new FCC Form 605 electronically at any time of day, seven days a week. FCC Form 605 will be used for license renewals, modifications, cancellations, application withdrawals and amendments, as well as requests for a vanity call sign, duplicate license, change of address or other clerical license modification. Visit the WTB ULS page, and click ''Connecting to ULS'' for information on accessing the ULS system. Accessing the ULS database requires a telephone modem. A toll-free number, 800-844-2784, connects users to the FCC's Wide Area Network.
Among other things, the ULS features a renewal reminder sent 90 days prior to a license's expiration date. The ULS also simplifies the process of submitting fees to the FCC. The FCC said it also anticipates that the ULS will be capable of accepting credit card payments on-line ''in the near future.'' For more information, visit the FCC's ULS page: http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/searchAmateur.jsp
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