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Volume 29, Number 10 - OCTOBER 1999

October Meeting Friday October 22, 1999

Broadcast Digital Television (High Definition or HD)

A small look into the technology.

Gary Youngs K6GLY will be giving us a presentation on some of the technical issues Facing the television industry's mandatory change to digital transmission. Gary will be bringing some examples of broadcast digital recording and display technology.  He hopes to show some of the off the air digital signals now in the bay area.

Gary has been involved in the broadcast industry in the bay area all of his 30+ year career.  He is active in SMPTE, past chair, and the SBE with CPBE certification.

This should be a fun night with lot to see and do.  Gary has asked for a couple of extra people to show up around 6 p.m. to help set up.  He said he will bring a couple of pizzas to share with any one that can help unload and load some heavy equipment and has a key to the room.

November Meeting

Les Zwiebel will speak on Restoring Old Boat Anchor Radios.


FARS Board: Charles Arney added.

Died: Jean Shepherd. See article later in this newsletter.

President's Corner

This is the month that we nominate officers and board members for the next year.  The election will be held at the November meeting, which is one week early on November 19th.  At the October meeting the board will present their slate of officers and board members to be nominated and then it will be open for nominations from the floor.  We are still in need for a training officer and one board member.  Please if you are going to nominate someone from the floor check with them first to make sure they are willing to serve.

It is time for you to send in your reservations for the banquet.  We do need to get some idea of how many will be attending.  We have asked PAARA to participate with us this year and so we should have a very good time together.

I want to say thank you to those of you that have been active in keeping the club station on the air.  The station will be participating in several contest this year and next and I hope that many of you will participate.  If you can help please let Mikel the Radio Officer know.

I would also like to start a buddy system to help the new Hams that join the club.  If interested you would be assigned a new ham and club member to help them through the early stages of becoming a good Ham.  If you are interested in doing this please contact me..

From the ARRL news letter and interesting note about a ten year old Ham riding in the back seat of the family car listening to his radio.  He heard a distress call from another Ham who had cut himself badly with plate glass.  He told his father who dialed up 911 and then the boy talking with the injured Ham got his address and other information which was then relayed by the father to 911.  Shows what even a new young Ham can do.

De Jack WA6YJR

Livermore Swap Meet - 1st Sunday of each month at Las Positas College in Livermore, 7:00 AM to noon, all year.  Talk in 147.045 from the west, 145.35 from the east. Contact Noel Anklam, KC6QZK, (510) 447-3857 eves.

Foothill Flea Market - 2nd Saturday of each month from March to October at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills.  FARS NET on 145.23 repeater Thursday nights at 8 PM.

Jim, WE6V is running W1AW code practice sessions on the 145.23 repeater every Tuesday evening 8:00 to 8:30.


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For many years SARS/SPARK has been able to offer free emergency autodial service to the general ham community.  This has enabled any licensed radio amateur to call an emergency agency when there was a problem to report.  It has also enabled disabled hams to call Ready Wheels and similar agencies for assistance.

A few weeks ago, I was in a seminar most of the day and was unable to monitor the repeater.  I subsequently found out that someone had repeatedly dialed up 77 on the emergency autodial and either let the phone hang, played touch tones, or done other unacceptable things.  This was not the first time this had happened. The emergency autodial numbers take the caller directly to the 911 dispatch center.  The center knows immediately what phone number originated the call.  We needed to do something immediately to prevent having the FCC put restrictions on our repeater operation because of the continued nuisance calls to emergency services. 

While all the emergency autodial numbers are still good, they will ONLY be usable when a control operator is actively monitoring the repeater.  If you have an emergency or something to report, come up on frequency, announce your call, and request a control operator to activate the patch so you can place your call.  If the control operator does not know you, he may ask a few questions to try to verify that you are not the phone jammer who has been causing problems, so please be patient.  Since ham radio is not the only thing in the lives of the control operators, one may not always be available. So there may be times when the emergency autodial will not be usable due to lack of a control operator. 

We regret having to operate in this way. It is an inconvenience for all. We wish the 523 repeater could continue to operate in the more open, honor system mode it has operated in for years. We hope that once the perpetrators of the jamming have been stopped we will be able to resume normal operation.

de Rich, W6APZ

Jean Shepherd K2ORS 1921 - 1999

Jean Shepherd is a writer, humorist, satirist, actor, radio raconteur, TV & film personality and an American original. He is a master storyteller in the league of Mark Twain, S.J. Perlman and P.G. Wodehouse. Taking bits and pieces from his own life, he weaves tales of the joys, humor, intrigue and angst of growing up. His youth in Hammond, Indiana, his adventures in the Army Signal Corps and stories of the obscure and infamous were all fertile sources for his tales. For almost three decades, he told these stories to eager radio audiences. 
His most popular and well known work is the film "A Christmas Story" (1983) which he co-wrote and narrated. Here Shep gives us a compendium of his youth (as "Ralphie") including the infamous "Double Dog Dare", his sidekicks Flick and Schwartz, the bullies Farkus and Grover Dill, and the saga of the Lady's Leg Lamp. Ralphie's ultimate quest is to get a "Genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle" for Christmas despite all the grownup warnings that "you'll shoot your eye out". 
Shep is also a long time amateur radio operator (his mother always told him: "Watch out for the live wires!").
Does Shepherd have other talents? How about "Kopfspeilen", that obscure musical art form played on one's head!

[The above is from a Web page about Shep. My late wife Isabel KD6WRF and I used to drive 200 miles round trip from Philadelphia to New York to catch his gig on Saturday night at the Limelight in the Village. DW]
Amateur Radio Newsline

FCC starts acting in Southern California repeater jamming cases 

"I think what most of the people in this room agree with is that we need some enforcement in Southern California. Can we please get some enforcement here in Southern California!" 

That was the plea of one Southern California ham made to Riley Hollingsworth when the FCC official spoke on the Queen Mary Ocean Liner attraction in Long Beach.  Now, less than two weeks later, Hollingsworth has acted by issuing two Los Angeles Area hams stern warning letters regarding alleged malicious interference to several area repeaters. 

Receiving the letters are Todd Young, W6TLY of Culver City and Brian Frobisher, WA6JFK, of Los Angeles. Both are accused in ongoing malicious interference to the KJ6TQ repeater on 449.925 MHz operated by the Metropolitan Amateur Radio System and the WB6TZY repeaters on 2 meters and 70 centimeters owned by the Cresenta Valley Amateur Radio Club. 

The FCC says that the interference has occurred at various times starting in 1997 and includes the playing of tapes and music to jam the repeaters. The letters from Hollingsworth to Young and Frobisher does not mince any words. He tells them that this type of operation will not be tolerated by the FCC. He also says that one more incident will result in fines and legal action to remove both hams from the airwaves. 

The warning letters to Young and Frobisher are believed to be the first of several dozen that are expected to go out in the coming weeks. If they don't meet with success, look for the government to take stronger action against rules violators in the Southern California region. 


BOMA challenges FCC on mandated access 

The Building Owners and Managers Association International, a real estate action lobby has challenged the FCC's mandatory access to private property rules for telecommunications installations. BOMA says that mandated access to private property is unnecessary, unmanageable and unconstitutional. 

BOMA International takes the position that the taking of space by telecommunications service providers within office buildings for the installation of equipment and wiring for free or at low, government-established prices -- prevents property owners and managers from maintaining control of the basic security and integrity of their buildings. 

In its filing to the FCC in association with the Real Access Alliance, BOMA empirically the commercial real estate industry enthusiastically supports and recognizes that competition in telecommunications is beneficial for office buildings and their tenants. BOMA's position is that the real estate marketplace, which by nature is competitive and adapts daily to marketplace price signals and customer demand, can efficiently negotiate and govern building access without government intervention. 

(BOMA Press Release) 

Scarcity of repeater sites 

Speaking of real estate, of late more and more hams are complaining that its getting hard to find a site for their repeaters. Others wake up to find a notice of eviction with no reason given. In all, it appears as if commercial radio site owners seem to be turning a deaf ear on the needs of ham radio and in this report, Newsline's David Black, KB4KCH takes a look at why this is happening. 

Consolidation of broadcasting and other telecommunications properties is having an adverse impact on ham radio repeaters finding and keeping sites. More and more repeater operators are reporting receiving letters from their site landlords telling them that the days of free or reduced tower rental space are over. Others are getting notes telling them that their site has been sold and that the new owners don't want experimental or hobby radio systems at their sites. And as some hams have already found out, no amount of begging, pleasing or arguing will persuade the site owner to change its mind. 

Most of the problems seem to stem from a recent spate of commercial site buy-outs by a small number of large management corporations. New owners could be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. These companies usually hire a single individual to look after all their properties in a given geographic region. Many of these site managers are business people with no background in two-way radio. Their job is to maximize profit. This means that any non-paying guests are being asked to leave.  About 99% of these are ham radio repeaters. 

There is also the issue of corporate liability. In the litigious society we live in, site owners want to minimize their risks. If a ham gets hurt working on a radio or falls from the tower, the site owner knows that a lawyer will soon be knocking at the door. To prevent this, many sites are now off limits to hams, even if the repeater sponsors are willing to pay the commercial rate for the site. And that number is growing as more and more radio sites change hands and the mega-corporations tell Amateur Radio that the welcome mat has been withdrawn. 


New FCC antenna system 

The Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of installing an all band delta loop antenna at the FCC's Gettysburg, Pennsylvania location. The seventy-five foot high sky hook will be used to assist commission personnel in the real-time monitoring of the Amateur Radio service. It will also serve as what engineers call a force multiplier as part of the FCC's High Frequency Direction Finding Center located in Laurel, Maryland. 

Midland Amateur Radio Club

I am in receipt of the Spring 1999 edition of MARCSPACE, their newsletter, by email. "Why did it take so long?" You ask. Well you might. Even people who have been there forget sometimes that the seasons are opposite ours. Their Spring edition is marked, "September". 

I?m not sure I believe the photos in their newsletter. They show hamshacks which are very neat. We all know that can?t be true. 

The Midland club is in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. This is due North of Wilkesland (A sobering thought). A friend is living temporarily in Tasmania. I asked her to find me some post cards showing penguins in Wilkesland (Don?t ask why). She says she can?t find any. Bummer! 


September Homebrew Night

We probably should hold this in October; Homebrew night brings out some silliness rarely seen in staid amateur radio clubs. 

Arv WA6UUT took first prize with a key made out of twigs. 

Floyd K6BSU was more traditional with a QRP rig and accessories.

Howard KE6PWH took us back to the good old days when our earning power as kids did could not buy the things we wanted so we made them ourselves. His antennas were inexpensive (not cheap).

Charley KF6CUU submitted a strategy for winning auctions on EBAY. We were wondering where he was going with it, but he is bidding on electronic equipment.

Paul AA6PZ showed us how to whip together a working balun out of coax. That?s one of the reasons we need him on Field Day.

Radio Society of Great Britain 

Researchers for the TV Programme "Neighbours from Hell" have approached the EMC Committee about a high profile breakthrough case in the South of England. From here it appears to be drifting in the direction of a programme about amateur radio and interference in general. It seems very unlikely that something as difficult to understand as EMC, immunity and EMC regulations could be adequately covered in a popular programme. It goes without saying that it would be highly undesirable for an exaggerated account of amateur radio interference problems, based on the relatively rare occurrence of acrimonious disputes, to be screened as if this sort of thing were the norm. 

Anyone, whether or not they are a member of the RSGB, who is approached by the media on this subject is requested to contact the Chairman of the EMC Committee before making any statement. 
FARS Banquet 2000


Larry Moore and I made tentative arrangements for our banquet. I say tentative because until the $200 deposit is paid down the road it won't be permanent.

We are going to go back to Michael's at Shoreline where we had our banquet in January 1998.  The date we selected is January 14, 2000.  This is a Friday night It seems that January has become very popular for holiday parties as well as November and December.

We have decided on three menus.  Roast Prime Rib of jus $29.80.  Breast of Chicken.  Piccata $24.65.  Broiled Salmon, Lemon Beurre Blanc $27.55.  Each entree is served with seasonal greens, "intermezzo" pasta, fresh vegetables, potato du jour, french rolls and coffee.  We have selected cheesecake for dessert.  The above prices include service at 17% and tax of 8.25%.

We will have a NO HOST BAR.  Wine can be purchased for dinner by anyone desiring it. Incidentally house wine from the bar will cost $3.75.

We have chosen not to have Hors D'oeuvres during the cocktail hour.  We felt it would increase to the price too much and weren't really necessary since it is a big dinner with the separate pasta dish.  An alternative might be to have the Club buy the Hors D'oeuvres.  To do it right would cost $200 to @ $250 for four to five trays with 50 items per tray.  This can be discussed if anyone thinks we really need them.

The sooner people get this on their calendars the greater our chances of a good turnout.  Of course a good program is important to a good turnout. The program committee should get busy.  We have done our part.

We have indicated to Michaels a group of 50-60 with a tentative possibility of up to 100 if Paara joins us. They are flexible on this. We will discuss guarantees when it is time for the deposit.

Dick N6ATD


How to get to meetings:

(Visitors always welcome)

FARS meets at the Covington School District building, 201 Covington Road, Los Altos.  Take the El Monte exit (The same exit as for the Foothill Fleamarket) off of I-280 and go East on El Monte.  Cross Foothill Expressway and turn right at the next light on to Covington (Note Saint William church on corner).  Stay to your left as the road forks. Just past the fork, turn left into the school parking lot.  Walk through the center hallway and turn right.  The meeting room is the first door on the left. Talk in on 145.23 or 145.27, negative offset, 100 PL.

[meeting map]