ARRL Letter: FCC/RFI and callsigns

frenaye at frenaye at
Fri Apr 26 19:04:41 EDT 1996

Excerpts from this week's ARRL letter (available at
(note: I've assuming that these clips are useful to those on the contest 
reflector - please let me know if not!  73 Tom


The FCC has quietly ended a pilot program in Tampa, Florida, that referred 
consumer-electronics interference cases to a local repair shop for 
resolution. Jim Dailey, the FCC engineer in charge in Kansas City and head 
of the FCC's privatization task force, says the FCC's data showed the 
program "had no takers" because the complainants did not want to spend money 
to eliminate the interference.

Fear was another reason, says Roy Lewis, W4WLY, whose Vulcan Electronics in 
Tampa was the only shop certified by the FCC (from August 1995 until 
February 1996) to deal with interference problems. Lewis reports that all of 
the approximately two dozen complaints of RFI to televisions, stereos, 
telephones and even air conditioners, stemmed from unlicensed, high-power 
operations that the customers already had identified. He said the customers 
not only didn't want to pay to have the problems resolved, "they were afraid 
of retaliation if I went out there."

In an April Public Notice, the Commission said it cannot resolve most of the 
thousands of complaints of interference to TVs, radios, stereos and 
televisions "because the cause of this interference is the design or 
construction of these products and not a violation of any FCC rule." 
Resolving interference problems will be the responsibility of manufacturers 
and consumers, Dailey said. "We are separating the issue of interference 
from the issue of compliance. We are not in the television or telephone 
repair business." Daily said consumers who buy an electronic device "have a 
presumption that it ought to work when they buy it."

The FCC's Telephone Interference Bulletin encourages consumers experiencing 
telephone interference to write equipment manufacturers, and it even 
provides a sample complaint letter to make it easy.

Lewis said the consumers complaining about RFI problems believe the 
government should do something about it. Extremely high-powered 11-meter 
operations are common in the Tampa area, Lewis reports. He said the 
scofflaws often cascade several illegal power amplifiers to obtain extremely 
high power levels, and he'd like to see the FCC beef up enforcement, "at 
least in metro areas."

In the same Public Notice, the Commission emphasized that its Compliance and 
Information Bureau "will continue to take appropriate enforcement action 
where it has been determined that the interference is caused by violations 
of the Communications Act or the Commission's rules or policies."

ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, KA1CV, says he's cautiously optimistic about 
the FCC's stance on interference, as reflected in the Public Notice. "I 
truly hope the Commission's statement represents a shift in the way the FCC 
will handle these matters," he said. But he noted that the FCC has not taken 
"appropriate enforcement action" in any of the cases referred to Lewis' 
shop. Ralph Barlow, engineer in charge of the FCC's Tampa office, agrees 
that such illegal operators generate lots of interference complaints, but 
says it would take more than complaints before his office would treat it as 
a compliance issue. For example, a properly operating amplifier could cause 
telephone interference, but "it's still the telephone's problem," he 
suggested, until the FCC has good reason to believe the interference source 
also is breaking the law. Then, "we would address it only as a compliance 
issue" and on a priority basis. "Which probably means we'd never get to it," 
Barlow conceded. Tracking down an offending operator can sap a lot of 
resources the FCC needs to apply elsewhere, he said. "We go after the worst 

Dailey concurred that the FCC's staff is thinly spread and that other 
issues--primarily those involving safety--come first. After the FCC's 
reorganization is complete, he'll have one person for each of the four 
states in his region. "We have to look at what we can accomplish with the 
resources available to us," he said.

Hare says the ARRL will continue to cooperate with the FCC and manufacturers 
in cases of interference that involve Amateur Radio.

The FCC provides basic consumer information about interference problems via 
the Internet on the FCC Compliance and Information Bureau's home page at (The list also is available 
through the Commission's Fax on Demand service at 202-418-2830. Request 
document 6904.) Documents available for viewing and downloading include the 
Interference Handbook and the Telephone Interference Bulletin. The 
Interference Handbook includes a list of equipment manufacturers who provide 
specific assistance with interference problems.

The ARRL makes available several RFI-information packages through its 
Technical Information Service. Specific packages are available for 
interference to TV, cable, VCRs, telephone, computer and audio equipment as 
well as on electrical and automotive interference. Each package costs $2 for 
ARRL members and $4 for nonmembers, postpaid. Write to the ARRL Technical 
Department Secretary, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Most are also 
available on the Hiram BBS (860-594-0306) or the ARRL FTP site

* The long-awaited vanity call sign program is still in the works, but the 
FCC has not yet announced when the program's various gates will open. As of 
press time in late April, the FCC was saying it was still on track for a 
mid-year start. According to the Commission, the delays have been a result 
of having to deal with a second wave of Petitions for Reconsideration, and 
wrapping up their computer-system preparations for the vanity call sign 
program.--Bart Jahnke, KB9NM

E-mail: frenaye at  
Tom Frenaye, K1KI, P O Box 386, West Suffield CT 06093 Phone: 860-668-5444

>From Ward Silver <hwardsil at>  Fri Apr 26 23:15:21 1996
From: Ward Silver <hwardsil at> (Ward Silver)
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 15:15:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Rain Static
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.3.93.960426150519.5573B-100000 at>

On Fri, 26 Apr 1996, De Syam wrote:

> 1) The severity of the precip static is not proportional to the amount of 
> rainfall, but appears to be associated with the propensity of the storm 
> to contain lightning.

This would probably indicate that the raindrops carry a charge which
varies considerably based on the cloud's internal charging "engine".  So
we could have "noisy" storms and "quiet" storms.  This certainly squares
with my Seattle vs. Midwest experiences.  Out here we consider lightning
to be rare.  I hear maybe a dozen strikes a year and they're never of the
intensity I observed in Missouri.  My rain static now is minimal compared
to what I had to deal with during thunderstorm season in the Midwest.

> 2) The precip static is never a problem with my quad antenna.

Ditto at my QTH.  Maybe rain static comes mostly from raindrops hitting
the ends of the elements, which are pretty high impedance.  The quad has
high-impedance points, too, but are they as high as the open ends of
tubing?  Maybe insulating just the ends of the elements would be helpful.

> 3) Precip static is often noted even when there is no rain falling, but 
> when there is a thunderstorm in the area.

I guess each little "splat" could radiate some energy at RF as the charge
transfers to ground.  Do we have any atmospheric physicists on the
reflector?  Sounds like a great thesis, "A Study of Rain Static as
Observed at Several Harmonically Related Frequencies Across the HF

73, Ward N0AX

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