BE Informed No. 2.15
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More HF for TECHS?
John B. Johnston W3BE
Q. Just like we do on Field Day, several
Techs - with my permission - use my call sign whenever they are working the Extra Class HF bands. There has been absolutely
no issue with this arrangement. About half of our U.S. amateur service community is comprised of Techs. It is high time to
let them to work HF with their own call signs and obtain QSL cards for their personal award collections. That would help sell
more HF radios. What rule changes would be required to make this happen?
A. For one, Section 97.301(a) would have to be amended – through a (likely lengthy) formal government rulemaking procedure - to make available those
Amateur Extra Class operator HF bands or segments deemed appropriate to stations having a Section 97.105 control operator who has been granted a Technician Class operator license.
Next, our VEs should move to their Element 2 question pool – from their Element 3 and Element 4 questions pools - those questions that they consider consistent with Section 97.503(a). It says: 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.
Q. Techs already have frequency privileges on segments of the 10, 15, 40, and 80 meter bands. That should
cover the matter of qualifications.
That would be for our Section 97.507 preparing VEs to decide. Section 97.523 says: Each question on each VEC question pool must be prepared by a VE holding the required FCC-issued operator license.
Section 97.307(f)(9) says: A station having a control operator holding a Novice or Technician Class operator license may only transmit a CW
emission using the international Morse code on segments of the 80, 40, and 15 meter bands authorized in Section 97.301(e). It also authorizes Novice and Technician Class Section 97.105 control operators privileges in the 28.0-28.5 MHz segment of the 10 meter band. Section 97.305(c) authorizes RTTY and data emissions in the 28.0-28.3 MHz frequency segment, subject to Section 97.307(f)(4). Our VEs, therefore, should already be preparing and administering Element 2 examinations for Technician Class operator
such as to prove that the examinee possesses the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the
duties of an amateur service licensee as encountered at an HF amateur station.
Q. What are emission types J3E and R3E?
A. Any FCC-licensed ham should be able to explain it to you. They
should have learned that in Section 2.201(b) it says: Three symbols are used to describe the basic characteristics of emissions. Emissions are classified and symbolized
according to the following characteristics:
(1) First symbol—type of modulation of the main carrier;
(2) Second symbol—nature of signal(s) modulating the main carrier;
(3) Third symbol—type of information
to be transmitted.
instance, the first symbol R stands for single-sideband, reduced or variable level carrier. The first symbol J stands
for single-sideband, suppressed carrier.
Second symbol 3 stands for single channel containing analogue information.
Third symbol E stands for Telephony (including sound broadcasting).
Q. Element 2, therefore, already contains all the
questions/answers that our VEs consider necessary to proving that the examinee possesses the operational and technical qualifications
required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee who causes or allows a station to transmit SSB on an
A. Yes, on
a segment of the 10-meter band at least. It is one of the ten bands in the HF range.
Q. Isn’t it also true that the FCC has directed our VEs to give exam credit to
former hams who let their licenses expire?
A. Yes. But they will still have to pass Element 2.
Q. Then our regulator doesn’t seem to have much regard for Elements 3 and 4 and
there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for ham policing of frequencies. The GOTA protocol has proven to our amateur
service community, at least, that no exam is necessary.
A. For some Q/A on that topic, read GOTA Experience as Our License Qualifier BE
Informed No. 2.8.
Q. Our VEs are the
roadblock. The exams they prepare and administer for General and Extra are way above what is needed for anyone to operate
a ham station properly. Our VEs are mired in the 1964 incentive licensing theory. Practically all of the questions in the
Extra pool are superfluous. Our VEs can - without any rulemaking – relax the questions in the General and Extra pools
exactly like they did with the Technician pool.
A. A written examination is supposed to 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. Element
3 is supposed to be concerned with the privileges of a General Class operator license. Element 4 is supposed to be concerned
the privileges of an Amateur Extra Class operator license. It seems that there is growing recognition that the VEs have padded
these two elements unnecessarily with extraneous trivia.
Q. As a VE, I don’t like telling a 95-year old man that he has to take a test.
A. Then you probably shouldn’t be
a VE. One’s age should not have anything to do with our Section 97.509 administering VEs’ determinations. Either an applicant does or does not need to prove his/her possession of the operational and technical qualifications required
to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee.
Q. Why do those Techs use someone else’s call sign while they are on HF?
A. Obviously to fool the listeners within
our amateur service community into thinking they are entitled to be there. They seem to get away with it with increasing acceptability.
Our amateur service community seems to be way out in front of our regulators on this.
Q. Why doesn’t the FCC do something?
A. For one thing, maintenance monitoring of our amateur service has been outsourced. For another, it is not a life-threatening interference-causing disruption. Resolving such matters seems
to be where our regulator is concentrating its compliance resources currently.
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April 7, 2016
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