BE Informed No. 1.11
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Geps & Gaps
John B. Johnston W3BE
Section 97.101(a) says that in all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules each amateur station must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice. The following
is an eclectic collection of some good engineering practices (“GEPs”) and good amateur practices (“GAPs”).
C1. Part 97 is our basic registry of permissions authorized to Section 97.103 station licensees and Section 97.105 control operators.
C2. Rely exclusively
on the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Beware of misinformed pontifications and unfounded rumors.
C3. The FCC rules mean what they say.
No contest rule can legitimately override the FCC rules for our amateur service.
C5. Attaining a respectable
compliance level depends primarily upon cooperating Section 97.103 station licensees and Section 97.105 control operators as well as the self-policing that takes place within our amateur service community.
C6. The extensive privileges afforded to our amateur service in Part 97 are attributable to the reputation it has earned for self-enforcement.
C7. Our regulator cannot be faulted for assuming
that we comprehend that FCC rule observance is in our own best interest.
Our Amateur Volunteer Maintenance Monitors should be doing whatever needs to be done to encourage rule compliance.
C9. Be aware that our highly accommodating FCC rules are irresistibly tempting to those who would misuse our privileges.
C10. An un-monitor-able communication system practically invites abuse by those
persons having a need for free unchecked stealth communications.
C11. Whenever you become aware of a station transmitting on the amateur service bands without
the authority of a Section 97.5 station license grant, notify our Amateur Volunteer Maintenance Monitors.
C12. The Section 97.103 station licensee must use diligence when designating the Section 97.105 control operator.
C13. Always rely upon the
ULS. Beware: An official-looking copy of almost any document can be forged easily.
C14. Ham radio is unbelievably resilient and has many dedicated amateurs
who are deeply concerned for its continued wellbeing.
C15. Assaults on the necessity for an attentive Section 97.105 control operator may be an expression of a fundamental disagreement with the need for every amateur station control operator to qualify
for privileges by examination and/or with our frequency-based-incentive operator license class structure.
C16. While an
untarnished record of strict compliance with the rules might not necessarily guarantee the future of our amateur service,
it sure can’t hurt.
FR1. In many countries, amateur radio is a form of recreation. In the places where
the FCC regulates the amateur services, however, the rules are supposed to be designed to provide an amateur radio service
having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: Recognition and enhancement of the value of the
amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency
communications; Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art;
Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication
and technical phases of the art; Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators,
technicians, and electronics experts; and Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international
Section 97.5 station license grant is analogous to a vehicle registration, with the license plate characters being similar to a radio station call sign.
FR3. The Section 97.7 amateur operator license grant is analogous to a driver’s license, with the Section 97.105 control operator making timely expert decisions and causing/allowing appropriate actions to occur.
FR4. An amateur service license grant must be exposed to scrutiny
on the ULS such that the person(s) accountable can be determined.
FR5. A system of Section 97.5 amateur stations is permissible as long as each Section 97.103 station licensee and its Section 97.105 control operator is in compliance.
Sections 97.313(b) through (h) where it says that no station may transmit with a transmitter power exceeding a certain number of watts for various combinations
of Section 97.105 control operator class, frequency bands and segments and locations, good amateur practice considers that a transmitter
is all of the apparatus that produces and modulates an RF signal on one channel for conveyance to an antenna system.
Making proper Section 97.119 station identification announcements is the key to maintaining a legitimate amateur radio service.
OTA2. Ham radio needs a set of good amateur practices; don’t count on the FCC telling
us what they are.
The test of whether certain communications are appropriate for the amateur radio and amateur-satellite services is their consistency
with the service’s 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.
Read Section 97.3(a)(4).
OTA4. Don’t let your
actions bolster the spectrum sharks’ arguments for our frequencies.
OTA5. Listen on a channel for the absence of on-going communications
before causing or allowing the station to transmit thereon.
OTA6. Our amateur service seems to best provide the public with emergency communications
through our ad hoc networks using our unique array of “abilities:” know-how capability, situational adaptability,
technical flexibility, operator availability, et al.
OTA7. RACES training drills and tests are not entitled to exclusive use of any
spectrum. The participating stations must share with our amateur stations the spectrum allocated to our amateur service. Rather
than load our allocation with government communications, the wiser model to follow is that employed by the Military Affiliate
Radio System wherein over 5,000 amateur operators use their apparatus for transmitting on government channels.
OTA8. All repeater providers
and users should participate actively in selecting the entity to do the coordinating for their area.
OTA9. Our amateur service community should strive to prove in our
over-the air communicating that our amateur service is still worth its valuable spectrum allocations that it utilizes.
OTA10. No Section 97.103 station licensee can rely comfortably upon most of those receiving the transmissions are incapable of interpreting correctly international
Morse telegraphy signals into call signs. A pre-programmed voice station “IDer” device should do as well, if not
much better, than Section 97.105 control operators could possibly do in timing and generating the Section 97.119(a) station identification announcements.
OTA11. Analyzing a system
for compliance is the sole responsibility of each user of a system.
OTA12. Un-policed repeaters, unfortunately, seem to attract hams looking for a venue
to receive gratification from provoking a confrontation. Repeaters offer such anti-social nerds a wonderful opportunity to
annoy more of us simultaneously than most of our other communications systems. Expert judgment must be used in deciding whether
an over-the air confrontation will improve the circumstances. Often, just ignoring someone of that demeanor is the better
Your approval for the exclusive use of certain channels must come from the Section 97.105 control operators entitled to them. Our repeater system channeling arrangement is based upon such a near-unanimous concession.
OTA14. The word “point”
(as in “control point”) usually refers to a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position.
In this context, the Section 97.105 control operator must be situated such as to be able to exercise expert judgment while doing those things that the control operator does:
view and interpret all indicators showing the status of the regulated transmitting parameters; manipulate appropriately the
apparatus dials and switches controlling of these parameters; ensure that the message content of each transmission is appropriate
for the amateur service; making certain that the channel is not already occupied before transmitting; etc.
OTA15. Section 97.113(a)(5) says: No amateur station shall transmit communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively
through other radio services.
Steer clear of all use of the term broadcast. Section 97.3(a)(10) defines broadcasting to mean transmissions intended for reception by the general public, either direct
or relayed. Section 97.113(b) says that an amateur station shall not engage in any form of broadcasting.
OTA17. For the purpose of Section 97.119(a) station identification announcements, the FCC assigns call signs – in accord with international arrangements - and maintains the ULS from which our Maintenance Monitors and other listeners can ascertain the identity of the Section 97.103 station licensee.
OTA18. Transmitting a proper
Section 97.119(a) station identification announcement is especially critical to our uniquely unstructured radio service when it comes to creating and maintaining a culture of
observing the FCC rules and using good amateur practices. Having that capability is our major deterrent to would-be rule violators.
It facilitates self-policing and discourages interference-causing transmissions and annoying mischief making because it exposes
While you are the Section 97.105 station control operator of an amateur station, don’t allow your Section 97.115(b) third party message stating participant to key your mike, tap your telegraphy key, use VOX, etc., unless you are convinced absolutely your TPMSP will do exactly
as you intend.
amateur service spectrum should not be used as a substitute for the spectrum allocated to the Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Services.
OTA21. Although non-repeater
transmissions are authorized in the various repeater sub-bands, it is good amateur practice for such transmissions to generally
give way to a repeater.
The Section 97.105 control operator should be extra careful when selecting a simplex channel within the Section 97.205(b) repeater segments.
OTA23. Every Section 97. 201 auxiliary station and every Section 97.205 repeater should be coordinated.
Section 97.5 amateur station should transmit its call sign early on during an inter-communication with an unfamiliar station to protect
the legitimacy of our amateur service.
To encourage compliance, the Section 97.105 control operator of one of the participating stations in a multi-station QSO should call for a station break every 10 minutes to allow the
stations to transmit their Section 97.119(a) identification announcements.
OTA26. Each Section 97.103 station licensee should know where the quiet zones are located.
Each Section 97.105 control operator should keep on-the-air tune-ups to a minimum and never on a channel while it is use by other stations.
OTA28. There should be a photocopy of the Section 97.5 station license and a label with the name, address, and telephone number of the Section 97.103 station licensee and at least one designated Section 97.105 control operator posted in a conspicuous place at an amateur station while it is being Section 97.109(d) automatically controlled.
OTA29. Each Section 97.109(c) remotely controlled station should have at least one Section 97.109(a) control point at a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service.
OTA31. For a Section 97.205 repeater having no automatic Section 97.119 station identification announcement capability, clearly making the source of the transmissions known to those receiving them can be accomplished – with
the approval of the Section 97.205 repeater station licensee - by a user station transmitting in its Section 97.119(a) station identification announcements: “This is (user station call sign) through the (repeater station call sign) repeater.”
OTA 32. Disassociate your Section 97.119(c) optional self-assigned indicator from your station call sign, i.e., replace the “/” character with a
short “pause” during the transmitted station identification announcements. Then
the self-assigned indicator becomes just another part of your station’s transmitted
text. Such must be in compliance with Section 97.113(a)(4). It prohibits messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning. For the objective of
documenting publically the meanings of the various non-appended indicators – as well as their purposes – there
a schedule is being compiled in BE Informed No. 4.7.
OTA 33. The EmComm protocol for alerting the Section 97.105 control operators of non-participating Section 97.103 amateur stations that a Section 97.101(c) channel occupancy priority has been declared by competent authorities and that normal amateur service intercommunications and technical investigations
have been suspended on the channels is for the EmComm stations to make periodic announcements explaining the declaration.
For more frequent notification, the EmComm stations could append a suitable Section 97.119(c) indicator to the call sign at the end of each Section 97.119 station identification announcement cycle.
OTA 34. Section 97.113(a)(3)(ii) says an amateur operator may notify other amateur operators of the availability for sale or trade of apparatus normally
used in an amateur station, provided that such activity is not conducted on a regular basis. Each Section 97.103 amateur station should limit such activity to a total transmitting time of one hour per week; except that no more than twice in any calendar
year, such notifications may be transmitted for a period not to exceed 72 hours.
OTA 35. Each Section 97.105 control operator should practice systematic avoidance of excessive RF exposure.
OTA 36. Our amateur service community should be especially wary of
endorsing any long-term channel assignment that would impair our Section 97.105 control operator’s real-time channel selection prerogatives.
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Supersedes all prior editions