BE Informed No. 2.13
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What Will Be
John B. Johnston W3BE
I read where our amateur service community is no longer saddled with the stereotype of a ham radio operator being a grumpy,
older guy in his basement with a big tower and antenna in his backyard talking to other parts of the world. Now it is a lot
of people — mainly in the 25-40 demographic — who are very intrigued by learning electronics as a skill set and
they're turning to ham radio to learn basic fundamental electronics. They earn a Technician license and get a $100 handheld
radio that allows them to communicate with people in their general, local area. It's a way for them to serve their community
in times of need - not just during disasters, but during public events like races, parades, things like that. What are
today’s ham radio stereotypes?
A. Our United States amateur service community seems to currently be comprised
of three major categories:
Stereotype X: Modern Ham less than 25-year tenure. 364,000 Technician Class operators -“Mainly in the 25-40 demographic - who are very intrigued by learning electronics as a skill set and they have
turned to ham radio to learn basic fundamental electronics. They have a $100 handheld radio that allows them to communicate
with people in their general, local area. It's a way for them to serve their community in times of need — not just during
disasters, but during public events like races, parades, things like that.” They are amazed to find that ham radio
electronics is just a matter of memorizing answers from a book and looking at ads for unaffordable imported radios. Have heard
something of hamfests. Irked at learning new HTs are now $30. Long range objective: Get a working battery for the HT tomorrow
or maybe next month; possibly even a mag mount next year.
Stereotype Y: Pre-retirement ~25 to 40-year tenure. General and Amateur Extra
Class – mainly in the 41-65 demographic. Looking forward to hamming all day, lunching with other retired hams, Caribbean
cruising, finally getting that cranky club repeater working right, and going south for the cold months. Attends local hamfests.
Objective: Positioning to get a good call sign now held by a certain aging Stereotype Z.
Stereotype Z: Over-the-hill 40+ year tenure. Old school.
“Grumpy, older guys in their basements with big towers and antennas in their backyards talking to other parts of
the world.” Advanced & Amateur Extra Class – mainly in the 66+ demographic. They have caches of old radios
and war surplus in their man-caves. Only emerge between DX-peditions and for lunch with other stereotype Zs. Have blown their
401Ks on linear amplifiers and those big towers & antennas. Still irate over incentive licensing and no-code. Fondly remember
ham conventions and flea-markets. Hoarding all of the good call signs. Objective: Keep on hamming: “That stereotype
Y SOB will have to pry this 1-by-2 from my cold, cold hands.”
Q. Some amateur community organizers are advocating a new entry-level license class. It would have
a more targeted examination with limited privileges that would attract a new generation of amateurs.
A. Stereotype X Technician
Operator class is the most populated segment of our amateur service community. There are about as many Technician Class
operators than there are all of the other classes combined. They are doing exceedingly well right now. They have proven they
are qualified for:
all Section 97.305 emission type privileges;
maximum 1500 watt Section 97.313 transmitter power privileges;
all Section 97.201 auxiliary station privileges;
all Section 97.203 beacon station privileges;
all Section 97.205 repeater station privileges;
all Section 97.207 space station privileges;
all Section 97.209 earth station privileges; and
all Section 97.211 space telecommand privileges.
They also enjoy Section 97.301 station transmitting frequency privileges in some or all of the amateur service bands HF, VHF, UHF and above.
In fact, the only privileges they are not authorized are serving as Section 97.507 examination-preparing volunteer examiners and Section 97.509 examination-administering volunteer examiners, certain Section 97.301 station transmitting frequency privileges in the MF amateur service bands and in certain HF segments, and access to Groups A and B call signs.
Q. Some amateur community organizers are advocating
a new entry-level license class. It would have a more targeted examination with limited privileges that would attract a new
generation of amateurs. What will it be?
Generalities abound, but specifics for that are hard to pin down. The trend seems to be toward a Stereotype W youth-oriented
amateur operator class less-demanding than Technician Operator class, maybe something like this:
- Below 17 years of age;
- Expected to obtain Technician, General, or Amateur Extra Operator class license grant sometime before age
- Non-programmable throwaway VHF/UHF radio
five watts or less;
- Radio must be exempt from
all FCC equipment authorization procedures;
- Use only radios commercially-manufactured
- No home building of transmitters
- No secondhand radios permitted;
- Radio may include HAM/FRS/GMRS/MURS channels;
- Radios supplied by FEMA;
- Radios must be yellow in color with the term EmComm stenciled in bold red;
- Radio must not have any sharp edges;
- External RF power amplifier not supposed to be used.
Each such amplifier capable of providing more than 50 watts PEP to an antenna must be bold red in color and bear a depiction
of the Jolly Roger skull and crossbones;
use repeaters or simplex;
- Expected to participate
in the GN Docket 12-91 network alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by an emergency, if not the next one, maybe the one after that;
- Seven correct answers out of ten question examination and 2 hours of GOTA experience, or five correct answers and 4 hours of GOTA;
Eligible to serve as Amateur Volunteer Maintenance Monitors;
- Eligible to prepare and administer examinations
to future Stereotype V hams anticipated for year 2024, Stereotype U for 2029, and Stereotype T for 2030.
- Ham clubs and/or the VECs will issue licenses and maintain database.
Q. So, how do we get that ball rolling for that?
A. It is already rolling. Our U.S. amateur
service community organizers are currently pursuing a licensee expansion initiative. In RM-10870, our Section 97.519 volunteer-examiner coordinators petitioned our regulator to make our amateur service accessible to as many citizens as possible. There are still
other initiatives underway.
One initiative, for instance, is to bypass our VEs' examinations and facilitate persons to experience firsthand actual
amateur radio intercommunicating without licensure. Such activity helps dispel the very notion of the need for any examination.
The availability of sophisticated imported amateur station apparatus virtually eliminates the antiquated necessity for user
operating and technical skills.
want to expand our amateur service community by introducing our youth and as many other citizens as possible to our hobby.
Exams scare off a lot of folks. People don't learn to drive a car from memorizing multiple-choice answers from the owner's
manual; they practice driving a car. Likewise, the Get-On-The-Air experience we provide to unlicensed and
under-licensed persons is superior to training currently being received from book study. GOTA faci1litates immediate hands-on
training by Elmers at actual transmitting amateur stations. What rule amendments would be necessary in order for GOTA training
to become our license qualifier?
Our amateur service community seems to have embraced the GOTA protocol. One approach would be to require the VEs to give examination
element credit for GOTA experience. There is already Section 97.505 Element credit that provides the fitting rubric. Just add an additional element credit for GOTA training.
Q. The radio spectrum belongs to all citizens. The only reason for the exams is to
give the VEs a brief rush of importance and get into hamfests free. There should be one - and ONLY one - class of ham license.
It should authorize all possible privileges, including broadcasting and conversing with any citizen, anywhere, anytime, using
any mode. I want to support the VECs' efforts for a Citizen amateur operator license. How can I contact them?
A. You can refer to the NCVEC site and take it from there.
are the requirements for a ham license today?
A. In places where the FCC regulates, an applicant must pass an Element 2 pencil-on-paper examination. The multiple-choice questions therein represents what
it is that our Section 97.507 examination-preparing volunteer examiners deem the most minimal operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service
licensee holding any FCC-issued amateur operator license.
Q. What must a Tech do to become qualified for the privileges being currently denied?
A. He or she must memorize some more answers
to our VEs' multiple-choice questions.
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September 14, 2016
Supersedes all previous editions