W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 8.2

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Remote Control, Telecommand

&

Part 97

John B. Johnston, W3BE

Q. What is remote control?

A. Section 97.3(a)(39) defines that term as: The use of a control operator who indirectly manipulates the operating adjustments in the station through a control link to achieve compliance with the FCC Rules. Section 97.109(c) authorizes any amateur station to be remotely controlled.

Q. Then what is telecommand?

A. Section 97.3(a)(43) defines the term telecommand as a one-way transmission to initiate, modify, or terminate functions of a device at a distance. Section 97.211 provides special operation telecommand eligibility to any amateur station designated by the licensee of a Section 97.3(a)(41) space station. Section 97.215 provides special operation telecommand eligibility to an amateur station transmitting signals to control a model craft. Section 97.213 provides special operation telecommand eligibility for all other Section 97.5 amateur stations.

Q. Then telecommand and remote control are the same?

A. For all practical purposes those two terms are interchangeable. Telecommand, however, seems to be the term of choice for our amateur-satellite service activities. In our amateur radio service, Section 97.213 authorizes an amateur station on or within 50 km of the Earth's surface to be under telecommand where:

   (a) There is a radio or wireline control link between the control point and the station sufficient for the control operator to perform his/her duties. If radio, the control link must use an auxiliary station. A control link using a fiber optic cable or another telecommunication service is considered wireline.

   (b) Provisions are incorporated to limit transmission by the station to a period of no more than 3 minutes in the event of malfunction in the control link.

   (c) The station is protected against making, willfully or negligently, unauthorized transmissions.

   (d) A photocopy of the station license and a label with the name, address, and telephone number of the station licensee and at least one designated control operator is posted in a conspicuous place at the station location.

Q. I hear the term remote base. What is that?

A. That is an unofficial term generally referring to a Section 97.5 amateur station being remotely controlled. Hamslanguage BE Informed No, 1.12 says it is a Section 97.213(a) remotely controlled station having a Section 97.213(a) radio or wireline interconnection with its Section 97.3(a)(14) control point  that enables the designated Section 97.105 control operator to perform his/her duties. For Q/A on this topic, read Remote Base & Part 97 BE Informed No. 8.8

Q. What is a control link?

A. Hamslanguage BE Informed No. 1.12 describes a control link as a radio or wireline connection between the control point and a remotely controlled station for the purpose of enabling the control operator to perform his/her duties. 

   Section 97.3(a)(38) employs that term in the definition of remote control as the use of a the Section 97.105 control operator who indirectly manipulates the operating adjustments in the station through a control link to harmonize with the FCC Rules. Section 97.213(a) says that if by radio, the control link must use a Section 97.201 auxiliary station. Section 97.3(a)(7) defines the term auxiliary station as an amateur station, other than in a Section 97.219 message forwarding system, that is transmitting communications point-to-point within a system of cooperating amateur stations. 

Q. What frequencies can be used for my radio control link?

A. Section 97.213(b) auxiliary stations are authorized to transmit on at least one segment in all of our VHF and shorter wavelength bands except 6 meters.

Q. Could the uplinks and downlinks be implemented via the Internet?

A. Yes. An amateur station may be under Section 97.213 telecommand where there is a wire-line control link between the control point and the remote base sufficient for the control operator to perform his/her duties. Section 97.213(b) says: A control link using a fiber optic cable or another telecommunication service is considered wireline.

Q. Could another ham use my remotely controlled 40-meter base station with his auxiliary station being interconnected via the VHF uplink and UHF downlink?

A. Yes provided, you - the Section 97.103 station licensee – designate him the Section 97.105 control operator of your remotely controlled 40-meter station. Consult Section 97.301 for the 40-meter segments available to the station for your friend’s operator class of license.  

   You also have the option of transferring Section 97.5(a) physical control of your 40-meter station apparatus to him. In which case the call sign transmitted in the Section 97.119 station identification announcement would be that assigned to his station.

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August 1, 2017

Supersedes all prior editions