Q. Would authorizing Phone emission privileges on the 80, 40, and 20 meter bands to Techs enhance
more HF privileges to current and prospective Technician Class operators would be a gift obviously enhancing its value to
them. But its value to our amateur service community might not be appreciated by the current General, Advanced, and Amateur
Extra Class operators who passed our Section 97.507 preparing VEs’ examinations in order to qualify for more HF Phone privileges. It could, moreover, have serious unintended negative consequences.
Q. How could giving more HF phone privileges to
Techs possibly hurt anyone?
For one, authorizing telephony on 80 meters would obviously hurt on-going spectrum-sharing practices. No FCC-licensed stations
- regardless of the class of operator license grant held by their Section 97.105 control operators - currently has Section 97.3(c)(5) Phone emission type privileges on 80 meters. Only CW, RTTY, and data emission types are authorized there.
For another, its unfairness would hurt our forgotten higher class minority
segments of our amateur service community whose unique privileges would be compromised. To authorize 80-meter phone privileges
to amateur stations with Technician Class operators while continuing to withhold same from those who climbed-the-ladder might
not be well received.
Q. With the possibility
of Techs working 20-meter DX on the horizon, they should only be required to confirm 50 countries for DXCC.
A. That is something for its sponsor to
Q. The cost of VHF/UHF ham
radios has dramatically dropped by over an order of magnitude to below $25 since the Technician Class operator was reconstituted
as an entry-level ham radio enticement. The same could happen to HF radios. What would they cost if Techs get phone on 80,
40, and 20 meters?
that is a valid precursor, possibly in the $100 range or even below. It appears that U.S. sales volume might
have a lot to do with offshore manufacturing costs.
Q. Are such contemplations even realistic?
A. Probably not in the foreseeable future because authorizing more privileges to Technician
Class licensees would involve adding even more rules to Part 97. Federal agencies, however, are currently supposed to be reducing their regulations by 75% or more. Read A New Era for
Amateur Radio BE Informed No. 10.3.
Q. Our VEs’ Element 2 exams
already cover more material than necessary for an entry-level exam.
A. That is likely because our Section 97.507 preparing VEs’ examiners are determined to carry out their obligation as codified in Section 97.503: A written examination must be such as to prove that the examinee possesses the operational and technical qualifications
required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee. Each written examination must be comprised of a question
set as follows: (a) Element 2: 35 questions concerning the privileges of a Technician Class operator license. The minimum
passing score is 26 questions answered correctly.
For more Q/A on this topic, read What Does a Ham Really Need to Know? BE Informed No. 2.0.
Q. From an entry-level licensee electro-magnetic
radiation safety standpoint, transmissions on 80 meters are supposed to be a lot safer for human exposure than their current
Correct. Section 97.13(c) restrictions on station locations requires the Section 97.103 amateur station licensee to perform an RF environmental evaluation wherever the output power exceeds a certain limit. That limit is a function of
the wavelength band. In the instance of 80 meters, the PEP output limit is 500 watts, while for 10 meters, it is only 50 watts.
Q. What are the limits for the 40 meter and 20
is also 500 watts maximum for 40 meters. For 20 meters, it is 225 watts.
For more Q/A on this topic, read Radiofrequency Radiation Safety BE Informed No. 1.1.
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Q. I firmly believe we are attracting the wrong people
to the hobby.
A. Your use
of the term "we" apparently refers to our current amateur service community. So, you may have a difficult job ahead
of convincing us that we are the wrong people for our hobby. Don't expect us to be happy upon learning of your belief.
Q. What sort of people should we be attracting to ham radio?
A. As far as our regulator's rules are concerned, no one
is under any obligation to attract anyone to our amateur service. In Section 97.1(d), in fact, our regulator assures us that
Part 97 is already designed to expand the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians,
and electronic experts. Your motivation to attract people to share our amateur spectrum bounty, therefore, must come
from somewhere else.
If, for instance,
as a business model, your objective is to sell amateur station apparatus, related paraphernalia, services, etc., you would
want to attract people with the inclination and wherewithal to frequently purchase such commercial offerings.
If, rather, you want to help satisfy our regulators’ expectation, you would want
to attract willing people having the capability of providing an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure
impacted by an emergency.
If, rather, you want to participate on behalf of an employer in a Section 97.113(a)(3)(i) emergency preparedness
or disaster readiness test or drill, you would want to attract employees of entities willing to entrust their communication
needs to you.
you are a Section 97.519 volunteer-examiner coordinator, you just want to make the amateur service accessible to as many
citizens as possible.
rather, you want to strictly observe the long-standing pertinent statutes and international regulations, you would want to
attract people interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest who want to
engage in self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations.
For more Q/A on this topic, read What Does a Ham Really Need to Know? BE Informed No. 2.0.
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did the Novice Class operator license become available?
A. Novice Class operator licenses were first issued following the contentious rulemaking
proceeding Docket No. 9295. The Report and Order was adopted January 29, 1950. They were valid for one year and could not
be renewed. The transmitter had to be “crystal-controlled” with a maxim input of 75 watts. Code was authorized
for 80 and 10 meter sub-bands. Code and voice were authorized in a 2-meter sub-band at 145-147 MHz.
Q. What was the purpose of the Novice Class?
A. It seems that issue was a settled topic
about a decade before the proceeding itself. Immediately prior to the entrance of our United States into World War II, National
Defense was receiving serious consideration from our amateur service community organizers. Radio telegraphers were in short
supply and “ham operator” was practically synonymous with “Morse code.” Urgency,
therefore, gave rise to the possibility of a one-time, one-year ham telegraphy learner’s authorization.
The idea was that it takes too many months to get up to 13 or 15 wpm on a buzzer, while every amateur knows from
his (sic) own experience that once one on is on the air speed is increased rapidly. During the wartime shutdown
of ham radio, however, that notion became something else to tend to when ham radio returned after “the duration.”
Until that happened in late 1945, our military took care of CW training in its own uniquely disciplined fashion.
Q. What was meant by a “crystal-controlled transmitter?”
A. It was likely meant to be a simple
transmitter whose frequency was generated by oscillator circuitry utilizing the mechanical resonance of a vibrating wafer
of piezoelectric material. That rule was obviously meant to increase the likelihood that stations having learner operators
did not inadvertently drift onto channels reserved for proficient operators. The availability of variable frequency crystal
oscillator circuity eventually rendered the term meaningless for that regulatory intention.
Q. How many Novice Class operators are there?
A. As of August 30, there were 11,252 such listings on the ULS.
Q. Why don’t those lingers just
upgrade to Technician?
Excellent observation. Maybe they are just not all that interested in ham radio. Their presence on the ULS, however, should prove to those advocating easy-to-get, renewable licenses, that the database will become loaded with a lot
of dead wood.
If our VEs were to stand on street corners passing out ham licenses to every passerby, not everyone would accept one. Of those
who do, not everyone would buy a radio – not even a $25 belt-clip model. Nor would they all upgrade.
Q. Why are no new Novice licenses granted?
A. Because Section 97.17(a) says, in pertinent text: No new license grant will be issued for a Novice or Advanced Class operator/primary station.
Q. What is the purpose of the Novice Class?
A. Part 97 does not give a purpose for any one of its five operators classes (Novice, Technician, General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra).
Rather, in Section 97.3(a)(4), the purpose for the amateur services is stated: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training,
intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio
technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
In the case of the initial Novice Class operator, it was expected that
before the end of the one-year term, the Novice would upgrade to General Class operator by passing a 13 wpm code test/written
test or go off the air. For many of those who completed the course, the experience was highly memorable.
For more Q/A on this topic, read Our
Novice Artifact BE Informed No. 10.6.
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Amateur radio is
as old as the radio art. Intended as a non-commercial radio service for hobbyists, it has become a tradition-encrusted, largely
unstructured, “hear and be heard,” two-way world-wide social media. It relies upon control operators – peer-certified
in the U.S. - performing properly certain duties that are deeply rooted in mid-19th century telegraphy communications.
Read the Rules - Heed the Rules!
Our ham radio is an internationally
recognized hobby. It is comprised of millions of amateur operators worldwide who must know how to cause or allow their amateur
stations to transmit properly. We utilize electromagnetic radiation technology that knows no political borders. We are, consequently,
subject to wide ranging domestic and international regulation. A working knowledge of the relevant rules is essential to not
endangering ourselves, our families, or our neighbors; and to not disrupting other radio communications.
What are the penalties for violating the rules?
(a) If the FCC finds that you have willfully
or repeatedly violated the Communications Act or the FCC Rules, you may have to pay as much as $10,000 for each violation, up to a total of $75,000. (See Section 503(b) of the Communications
(b) If the FCC finds that you have violated any section of the Communications Act or the FCC Rules, you may be ordered to
stop whatever action caused the violation. (See Section 312(b) of the Communications Act.)
(c) If a Federal court finds that you have
willfully and knowingly violated any FCC Rule, you may be fined up to $500 for each day you committed the violation. (See
Section 502 of the Communications Act.)
(d) If a Federal court finds that you have willfully and knowingly violated any provision of
the Communications Act, you may be fined up to $10,000, or you may be imprisoned for one year, or both. (See Section 501 of
the Communications Act.)
[48 FR 24890, June 3, 1983, as amended at 57 FR 40343, Sept. 3, 1992]
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