ARRL Letter - 11/8/96 excerpts

frenaye at frenaye at
Fri Nov 8 23:24:07 EST 1996

(full text available at

The ARRL Letter
Vol. 15, No. 11
November 8, 1996
* Electronic edition circulation, Kathy Capodicasa, N1GZO, 
(kcapodicasa at
* Editorial, Rick Lindquist, N1RL, (rlindquist at


* Gate 2 call signs issued!
* IARU club station NU1AW
* Update: SAR threat on 70 cm band
* IOY nominations open
* Ukrainian packet network
* "The Phantom" jailed
* In Brief: ARRL National Exam Days;
   ARRL catalog on Web; ARRL/VEC test fee to rise;
   New Outgoing QSL Service fee; Electronic processing;
   DXCC processing status; Another H-T QSO with Mir;
   Youngest Extra redux; Happy Birthday, Walter;
   W1B; Shannon Lucid plugs ham radio; STSORBIT PLUS
   Ver 9643; SAYLARC Net; Aurora '97


After an approximately six-week wait, most of the hams who got their 
applications to the FCC on the opening day of vanity call sign Gate 2 were 
rewarded with one of their new call sign choices. The logjam broke on 
Election Day, just before the close of business at the FCC's Gettysburg, 
Pennsylvania, office, where the amateur computer system had been down for 
more than a week. A spokesman at the FCC said the computer system was 
finally fixed that morning, and most of the approximately 4500 first-day 
vanity applications were successfully run. According to the KI4HN (now K4MA) 
call sign database, 3790 new call signs were issued.

For the most part, hams were ecstatic. "The wait is over. I, for one, am 
very pleased with the results!" said Joe DiPaolo, W2DI (ex-AA2LZ), in a 
message of thanks to the ARRL. "Christmas came early," messaged Lawrence 
Macionski, W8LM (ex-WA2AJQ). Several other enthusiastic hams--eager to tell 
the world about their new Amateur Radio identities--posted their new call 
signs to various Web groups and broke them in on the air. But one veteran 
Midwestern ham--apparently bitter that he did not get one of his three 
choices and that the FCC did not base its selection system on seniority in 
the hobby--wrote HQ to say he was getting out of the hobby altogether.

While some applicants got their initials for call sign suffixes, others 
obviously applied their imaginations. For example, W4FEZ was issued to the 
Yaarab Shrine Temple Communications Unit in Atlanta, Georgia (get it?). The 
call sign NS4DX went to the North Shenandoah DX Association in Boyce, 
Virginia. NU1AW is the new call sign of the International Amateur Radio 
Union club station (see NU1AW story below). As of Thursday, November 7, some 
200 first-day vanity applications were being held up due to unspecified 
problems or errors on the application. The FCC indicated it would process 
these soon. A spokesman in Gettysburg estimated that "between 500 and 550" 
applications were dismissed because the FCC was unable to grant a new call 
sign. Applicants who did not get one of their choices will have to apply in 
writing for a refund of the $30 filing fee. The FCC will mail to all 
unsuccessful applicants a copy of the application (including FCC processing 
numbers) and a copy of their check. To request a refund, applicants then 
must send a letter to the FCC, 1270 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg PA 17325-7245, 
along with their taxpayer ID number (Social Security number).

Applicants can check for their new call signs via the ARRLWeb page at The site has proved to be extremely 
popular with the Amateur Radio community, and it recorded more than 12,000 
call sign lookups within seven hours after word hit the streets that the 
first batch of Gate 2 call signs had been processed.

The earlier computer problems had not only affected the vanity program but 
caused the FCC to rescind all call sign grants after October 24 because of 
widespread errors. In some cases, the FCC's Gettysburg office had reissued 
call signs that had already been issued. An FCC spokesman said that the 
unspecified computer problems were not related to the vanity call sign 

The FCC says it wants to see how the day-one processing fared before it 
attempts to process vanity call sign applications for subsequent days. This 
should happen within "a few days," a spokesman at Gettysburg said this week. 
Day-one applicants also can check the popular database programs on the 
Internet to find out if they got one of their call sign choices. Check the 
WM7D call sign server, 
or the CallBook Server (CBS) Summary at The KI4HN/K4MA call sign server is 
moving to a new system, and the new address is not yet available.

The FCC has not announced opening dates for vanity Gates 3 and 4.


Anyone who browses for interesting vanity call signs may spotted the one for 
NU1AW, the International Amateur Radio Union club station. Trustee and ARRL 
Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, relates the story behind this 
call sign:

Last year, when the FCC resumed issuing club call signs, IARU Secretary 
Larry Price, W4RA, and I thought it was time for the IARU to have one of its 
own. I applied for and received a "plain vanilla" KB1 call for the IARU. 
When Gate 2 opened, I submitted an application for a vanity call to replace 
the original call, paying the fee out of my own pocket. Why NU1AW? Glad you 
asked. When transoceanic amateur communication became commonplace by 1924, a 
problem immediately became apparent: typical call signs consisted of one 
numeral and two or three letters and no built-in means of determining who 
was where. At first, hams used an informal system of prefixes (called 
"intermediates" at the time), where "A" stood for Australia, "B" for 
Belgium, "C" for Canada, "F" for France, "G" for Great Britain, "J" for 
Japan, "U" for United States, "Z" for New Zealand, and so on. The 
single-letter system worked fine until it became apparent that Amateur Radio 
was spreading to too many countries for this system to accommodate. The 
January 1927 QST unveiled a new intermediate list--the work of the Executive 
Committee of the International Amateur Radio Union. It was a two-letter 
system with the first letter indicating the continent ("E" for Europe, "A" 
for Asia, "N" for North America, "F" for Africa, etc.) and the second letter 
indicating the country (mostly following the old system). Thus, stations in 
the 48 United States used the intermediate "NU." The new system was soon 
overtaken by events. Regulations adopted by the Washington International 
Radiotelegraph Conference later that same year included the allocation of a 
series of "call signals" such as K, N, and W for the United States, and 
mandated that stations have a call signal from the series. August 1928 QST 
noted that Canadian amateur calls had changed to VE in April, and September 
1928 QST announced the effective date of October 1, 1928, in the US for the 
W prefix (K outside the 48 states). Thus, United States amateurs sported 
voluntary NU prefixes for just 20 months before they became Ws. The founding 
president of the International Amateur Radio Union was, of course, Hiram 
Percy Maxim, 1AW, who remained in that office until his death in 1936. The 
call sign NU1AW commemorates HPM and the IARU's creative--if 
short-lived--solution to the problem of international identification of 

Sumner said that he intends NU1AW to be a "permanent special-event station," 
operating in connection with World Telecommunication Day, significant IARU 
anniversaries, the IARU HF World Championship, and other events that will 
call attention to the contributions of the IARU to organized Amateur 
Radio.--David Sumner, K1ZZ

[stuff deleted]


* New Outgoing QSL Service fee: The fee for the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service is 
going up. Effective January 1, 1997, the fee for the Outgoing QSL Service 
will be $4 per pound or any portion of a pound. The fee remains at $1 for 
ten cards or fewer.--Joe Carcia, NJ1Q

* DXCC Processing Status: The DXCC Desk reports that the number of 
unprocessed applications at the end of October 1996 was 604 (46,284 QSLs). 
It received 340 applications (25,602 QSLs) for endorsements and new awards 
during the month. Applications being sent out at the end of October were 
received less than a month earlier. A few applications received prior to 
that time were in the process of being audited, and so had not yet been 
completed. For more information, contact Bill Kennamar, K5FUV, tel 
860-594-0291; e-mail bkennamar at

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

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