ARRL East Bay Section

Archive for May, 2009

ARRL Seeks Member Support for HR 2160

Posted by af6aq on 12th May 2009

To support HR 2160The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009 — the ARRL is asking its membership to contact their members of the US House of Representatives with a request to become co-sponsors of this significant piece of legislation.

“Getting a bill successfully through Congress is a formidable task — one that is going to require the involvement of every ARRL member,” said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. “Working with our Washington consulting firm Chwat & Co, we are laying a dynamic approach that will allow us to make our case most effectively. We have developed a strategy to maximize our impact when dealing with each member of Congress.”

Since the anthrax scare that followed the 9-11 attacks, all incoming mail to Congress is delayed anywhere from four to six weeks while it is screened. This means using normal US Mail is no longer an effective method of letting Congress hear your voice. While e-mail is convenient, it is not effective, due to the large volume of e-mail that each Congressional office receives.

“To ensure that ARRL members’ letters are quickly and expediently received by Congress, our strategy is to ask ARRL members send their letters directly to Chwat & Co,” said Henderson . “Chwat’s staff will sort the letters by Congressional district and hand-deliver them to the appropriate House offices, providing a direct point of contact with the Congressman and their staff. This personal contact gives us the chance to provide not only letters from constituents, but information from the ARRL on why this legislation is important.”

The ARRL has provided a sample letter for League members to personalize and send to their Congressional representative. “Personalized letters make a better impression than a standard form letter or petition,” Henderson explained. You can find the name and address for your Congressman on the ARRL Members Only Web page.

Once personalized, ARRL members should send their letter to Chwat & Co using one of three methods:

As a signed attachment to an e-mail

 As a signed fax to 703-684-7594

 As a regular letter to:

John Chwat,

Chwat & Co

625 Slaters Lane

Suite 103

Alexandria, VA 22314.


If you choose to e-mail your letter, please send it as an attachment to the e-mail instead of it being the text of the e-mail. This allows the letter to be easily printed and delivered. Should you decide to draft your own letter supporting HR 2160 instead of editing the sample, Henderson asked that you please remember a couple of things:

·          Identify the bill by number and title: HR 2160 — The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009

·          Keep the letter brief and on topic — one page at the most

·          Ask them to consider becoming a cosponsor

·          Thank them for their consideration

 “Simple is better when making this kind of request to a representative,” said Henderson . “They and their staff are looking to gauge interest and support for the Bill. A lengthy letter that strays off-topic can detract from the focus of asking for support for the legislation.”

Should you decide not to send your letter to Chwat & Co but directly to your Representative, it is still important that you send a copy of your correspondence to Chwat & Co. This allows them to discuss accurately with the Congressman and their staff the amount of support for the bill in each individual district. “There is strength in numbers,” Henderson added.

Besides bill sponsor Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18), the ARRL is fortunate to already have six additional members of Congress who have signed on as co-sponsors of HR 2160 — Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), Zoe Lofgren (CA-16), Blaine Luetkemeyer, (MO-9) and Bennie Thompson (MS-02).

“We congratulate ARRL Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, and his grassroots legislative action team in Kentucky for securing the support of Representative Guthrie — the first new co-sponsor of the bill,” Henderson said. “It shows that our grassroots effort can work!”

You may be asking yourself “What should I do if my Representative has already signed on as a co-sponsor for HR 2160?” The answer is simple: Thank them for their support. If your Congressman is one of those listed as a co-sponsor, please send them a letter thanking them for their support. Use the same contact information for Chwat & Co. “It is important to convey your appreciation to your Representative when they sign on as a co-sponsor or support the bill,” Henderson explained. “That simple ‘thank you’ may help open the door the next time their help is needed.”

Once you have prepared and sent your letter supporting HR 2160, your job is not over: Feedback is an important part of the process. “What your Congressman has to say in regards to your contact can provide the ARRL with important information as we try to push our bill forward,” Henderson noted. “This feedback can possibly help us identify potential new support for the bill or a weakness in the legislation we may need to address.”

When you receive a response from your Congressman, please forward a copy to the Regulatory Information Office at ARRL Headquarters via e-mail or hard copy to Regulatory Information, ARRL, 225 Main St , Newington , CT 06111 .

“HR 2160 presents the Amateur Radio Service with a unique opportunity — but also carries with it the important responsibility of making your voice heard,” Henderson summarized. “HR 2160 stands as the first step in trying to address the long standing problem of extending the protections afforded Amateur Radio operators under PRB-1 to deed restrictions and covenants. To be clear, passing HR 2160 is not going to achieve that goal right away. But it will help lay the ground work by assessing the impact such restrictions have on our ability to train for and respond to disasters and other emergencies.”

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Special Guest Speaker at Hornet Amateur Radio Club June Meeting

Posted by af6aq on 11th May 2009

Reflections: Marconi and Ionospheric Propagation

San Francisco , California USA :

Marconi sent three dots, the letter “S”, across the Atlantic by wireless in
December, 1901. Or did he?

I had checked the sunspot numbers for December 1901 and discovered (for the first time as far as I know) that that number was exactly zero. The fly in this ointment is that propagation models do not permit Marconi to get across, or the AM skip either for that matter. Marconi didn’t trust experts, and the models may not be as good as one would hope.

Was there D-layer absorption that would prevent Marconi’s signals from reaching the F-layer and skipping across the pond?

The Hornet Amateur Radio Club invites you to come and join us on Saturday June 13th and hear Bart’s story about Marconi. 

We start at noon aboard the USS Hornet museum ship docked in Alameda .  Directions to the ship .  We want to make sure we have a big enough room for this popular event so please RSVP and let us know you are coming.  Go to the center gangway and tell them you are a visitor to the radio club and ask for directions or we will meet you at the entrance.  Tour the ship after the meeting and save $14.



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Register your group for National Preparedness Month

Posted by af6aq on 11th May 2009

Last year, hundreds of clubs and ARES groups registered as participants for National Preparedness Month.  (We swamped their list with clubs and groups so much that for a time ham groups outnumbered all the others put together).  We got a lot of recognition for that!  In most cases, all groups needed to do was what they were doing anyway – nothing special – as we are already always working on preparedness issues.  Why not get credit for it in federal eyes?


Let’s do it again! J


Allen Pitts, W1AGP


Dear Citizen Corps Partners and Affiliates:

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and 436 organizations have already registered as Coalition Members! If you have not yet signed up to be a 2009 Coalition Member, visit to register. Becoming a Coalition Member means you pledge to promote emergency preparedness during the month of September.  This can be done either by providing information, hosting events and/or sponsoring activities for your customers, members, employees, stakeholders, and communities. Please remember, even if you were a Coalition Member last year, you still need to re-register this year if you intend to participate.

National Preparedness Month Coalition membership is open to all public and private sector organizations for free. Once you register you will receive access to the NPM Web site where you can find a toolkit full of templates, resources, and tips to assist you with promoting emergency preparedness.  

As we mentioned during the Webinar, Ready brochures are limited. So, for those of you who are interested in obtaining more than the maximum order quantity of brochures, we encourage you to use our two-page printer-friendly versions that may be printed out and duplicated as needed. You can download these at These two-page versions are perfect for distributing to your employees, colleagues, members, or stakeholders to help spread the preparedness message.

We are looking forward to a successful NPM this year! As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, please write us at

Thank you,

The Ready Campaign

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BARC/BERT Participates in Benicia Emergency Response Communications Test

Posted by af6aq on 11th May 2009

Benicia Times-Herald

Benicia tests backup emergency response communications

By Jessica A. York/Times-Herald staff writer

Posted: 05/05/2009 02:00:19 AM PDT


Chris Riley/Times-Herald

Art Mayoff, Benicia Amateur Radio Club treasurer and emergency response coordinator, listens in on a ham radio at the Benicia Fire Department.

BENICIA — If this city lost all its phone lines like Santa Clara County recently did, there’s at least a 94 percent chance that emergency communications wouldn’t miss a beat.

That’s because of a small army of Ham Radio enthusiasts who tested an alternative communication network Sunday with nearly perfect results.

The city’s Ham Radio volunteer emergency response team members spread out to 13 different points throughout Benicia in a drill simulating loss of all phone communication.

After running 52 tests under various scenarios, only three tests failed, said Art Mayoff, Benicia Amateur Radio Club treasurer and emergency response coordinator. Those failed tests relied on the tiny walkie-talkie antennas, which hams would not necessarily be reduced to in an emergency, Mayoff said.

“I wanted to make it the most difficult situations to see where the weaknesses were,” Mayoff said. “I wanted to break the rules a little bit. A perfect situation would have proven nothing.”

Mayoff said the comprehensive drill was inspired by last month’s vandalism of Santa Clara County fiber optic cables. Land lines, cell phones, Internet service and

911 service were all rendered nearly useless during the incident. Ham operators in the area were called on to help, Mayoff and Benicia Fire Department Division Chief Tim Winfield.

The Benicia testing was the first in which the emergency team worked side by side with the city’s emergency dispatch center, which fields call for both police and fire department officials. “That group of ham radio operators are an outstanding resource to public safety and we’re glad that their training operation was a success,” Police Lt. Mike Daley said of the drill.

Winfield echoed Daley, saying the three-hour drill proved the amateur radio operators would be of great use in an emergency situation.

“It was well-attended and well worth the effort,” Winfield said of the event.

Mayoff said his biggest concern before the testing was that ham equipment might interfere with the dispatch center’s computers and radio communications. The worst effect turned out to be a slight temporary buzzing on a dispatcher’s radio, which could easily be remedied, Mayoff said.

“We selected a day when, if anything did happen, it wouldn’t affect (dispatchers) as drastically,” Mayoff said.

The test also gave emergency responders a chance to test out a new portable radio station on wheels, dubbed a “Go-Kit.” The kit contains items like headphones, cables, a large antenna, and enough energy to power a 50-watt radio for five to seven days, Mayoff said.

“I have 47 years in this (ham radio) — it’s just something that needed to be done, and I did it,” Mayoff said of producing the Go-Kits.

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