W3BE'S BE Informed!
Home1.0 W3BE Checklists1.1 RF Safety1.2 Antenna Structures1.3 Quiet Zones1.4 60 Meter Privileges1.5 Take A Paying Job?1.6 Hams At Sea1.7 Chinese Radios1.8.0 Reciprocal Privileges1.8.1 For Canadians1.8.2 Reciprocal I.D.1.8.3 More Reciprocal Q&A1.8.4 Hear Something Say Something1.9 Third Party Communications1.10 Incentive Licensing1.11 GEPs and GAPs1.12 Hamslanguage1.13 Visiting Operators1.14 Terms in Part 971.15 Amateur Station?1.16 Licenses & Call Signs1.17 All About Spectrum1.18 Transmitter Stability1.19 Selling Over Ham Radio1.20 Still an Amateur?1.21 Use My Station?1.22 Digi-Standards1.23 No Secrets1.24 Where's My License?1.25 Spectrum Management1.26 A Little Bit Commercial2.0 Ham Needs To Know2.1 VE System Management2.2 What A VE Does2.3 Remote Testing2.4 Get Your Pools Right2.8 GOTA Experience: License Qualifier?2.9.1 Get Your Ham Call Sign2.12 Former Hams2.13 Stereotype W2.14 VE's Universe2.15 More HF for Techs2.16 Can A VE Accept Pay2.17 VEC Supposed To Do2.18 Significance of license3.0 Smell Test3.1 Maintenance Monitoring3.2 International/domestic3.3 Excuses3.4 Heed The Rules!3.5 Regulatable3.6 No Broadcasting3.7 Station Records4.0 Which Call Sign?4.1 Self-assigned indicator4.2 Station ID4.3 ID Every 10 minutes4.5 Indicator Schedule4.6 Special Event 1 by 14.7 Non-Appended Indicator4.8 Club Station ID5.0 Our TPMSP Class5.1 VPoD Protocols5.3 Big Red Switch6.0 Constitution Go-By6.1 What Ia A Radio Club?6.2 School Radio Club6.3 Club Stations Control Op6.4 Radio Club Repeater Station7.0 EmComm7.2 RACES7.3 Commercial Communications7.11 Supposed To Be7.12 Emergency Responders & Part 978.0 Repeaters & Part 978.1 Auxiliary Stations & Part 978.2 Remote Control, Telecommand & Part 978.3 Frequency Coordination8.4 Automatic Control & Part 978.5 The Internet & Part 978.6 Beacons & Part 978.7 Automatic Control & Part 978.8 Frequency Coordination & Part 9710.0 Comments in RM-1170810.2 Deceased's Call Sign10.3 A New Era for Ham Radio10.4 New Era Q/A



Q. Are the VEs and VECs government employees?

A. No, not as far as volunteering their uncompensated services is concerned. They are not, by reason of having provided such services under SEC. 4 of the Communications Act, considered Federal employees. Their reward is supposed to be in the knowledge that they are helping strengthen and preserve the legitimacy of our amateur radio service in a very direct and meaningful way. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others.

Q. I don’t understand the difference between a VE and a VEC.

A. A VE prepares and/or administers examinations. Section 97.3(a)(49) defines a VE to be a volunteer examiner. Section 97.525 codifies the rules for a person being accredited as a VE. Section 97.507 codifies the rules for VEs preparing an examination. Section 97.509 codifies the rules for VEs administering an examination. There are reportedly 32,000 VEs around the world.

   A VEC accredits VEs, coordinates examination sessions, and processes the results. Section 97.3(a)(50) defines a VEC to be a volunteer-examiner coordinator. Section 97.521 codifies the qualifications for an organization serving as a VEC. Section 97.519 codifies the rules for coordinating examination sessions. There are 14 VECs listed on the FCC webpage. All are located in our United States.

   For more Q/A on this topic, read:

What Do Hams Really Need to Know? BE Informed No. 2.0; and

What Is a VEC Supposed to Do? BE Informed No. 2.17.

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Q. Although the number of FCC-licensed amateur operators is at an all-time high, our amateur service community organizers seem to want to recruit still another segment of the general population into our amateur service community: those persons who are unmotivated to obtain ham licenses as the exams now stand. Why must there be exams?

A. There are examinations because Section 97.501 says: Each applicant must pass an examination for a new amateur operator license grant and for each change in operator class.

Q. What is the ability to memorize a few answers supposed to prove?

A. Section 97.503 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.

Q. Why are there three examinations?

A. They provide a stepladder for those who are learning as they go: beginner, intermediate, and expert. In Element 2 reside the basic questions that concern the duties corresponding to the bedrock privileges common to all three operator license classes. As of June 5, 2017, the ULS listed 797,832 operators, with 50.5% holding the beginner Technician Class operator license.

   The next step up is Element 3, where there resides our VEs’ questions concerning the duties corresponding to the privileges of the intermediate General Class operator that are over and above those of the beginner. As of June 5, 2017, the ULS showed 29.4% of our operators holding the intermediate General or no-longer-available Advanced Class operator license.

   The third and final step up is Element 4, where reside our VEs’ questions concerning the duties corresponding to the privileges of the expert Amateur Extra Class operator that are over and above those of the intermediate operator. As of June 5, 2017, the ULS showed 18.7% of our operators having made it all the way.  

Q. What are those duties?

A. For a catalogue of those duties, read W3BE Checklists for Domestic and Foreign Amateur Service Licensees in Places Where the U.S. FCC Is Our Regulator BE Informed No. 1.0.

   W3BE-O-GRAM: Ideally, it would seem there are three fundamental duties to carried out by persons licensed by our federal government to cause or allow an amateur radio station to transmit electromagnetic energy from practically anywhere:

  1. Understand and avoid the possibilities for causing excessive RF radiation to themselves, their families, friends, neighbors, and the general population. 

  2. Make correct decisions and take actions necessary to avoid causing any disruption to the reception of transmissions from stations in any legitimate radio service, including our own amateur service. 

  3. Cooperate in maintaining an orderly over-the-air functioning of our amateur service while conducting self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations normally expected from duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

Q. What abilities are required in order to perform these duties properly?

A. They can be summarized under five topics:

   1. Possess the ability to read, understand, apply, and follow the rules – including knowledge of eighty technical terms (e.r.p., isotropically radiated power, modulation index, multiplex, PEP, etc.) that must be understood in order to make the rules meaningful.

   2. Possess and apply the ability to determine whether or not an amateur station’s transmissions are compliant with the technical standards codified in Part 97 Subpart B Technical Standards Section 97.301 through Section 97.313. This provides the assurance that the transmitting apparatus can be exempt from FCC equipment authorization oversight without unwanted consequence.

   3. Possess and apply the ability to properly assemble amateur stations composed of apparatus not necessarily FCC equipment authorized. Section 97.1(b) states our regulators’ expectation for the continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art. The FCC does not include amateur station transmitters in its equipment authorization oversight. The Section 97.103 station licensee, rather, is the only person accountable for the amateur station being compliant with the necessary technical standards.

   4. Possess and apply the ability to properly assemble systems of amateur stations. The FCC does not pre-approve systems of amateur stations transmitting in the amateur service. The individual participating stations do not even have to be provided by the same Section 97.103 station licensee.

   5. Possess knowledge of and utilize the Section 97.101(a)-required good amateur practice transmitting protocols in widespread use in the amateur service.

Q. Who determines what duties are included in the exams?

A. Section 97.523 says: each question on each VEC question pool must be prepared by a VE holding the required FCC-issued operator license. Our Section 97.507 preparing VEs have the task of preparing each written question set administered to an applicant.

Q. But everyone knows that the questions with multi-choice answers are all written by a Question Pool Committee according to a 4-year publishing business model schedule.

A. The QPC is the creation of the private entity National Conference of Volunteer-Examiner Coordinators. Section 97.523 requires that: All VECs must cooperate in maintaining one question pool for each written examination element. Each question pool must contain at least 10 times the number of questions required for a single examination. Each question pool must be published and made available to the public prior to its use for making a question set. It is from these coordinators that comes the decision to utilize the multi-choice format, and comes the offer of right/wrong answers for the convenience of our Section 97.509 administering VEs to rely upon as they see fit.

Q. Don’t those of us duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest who want to conduct self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations have any protection from those who aim to tinker with the exams as a means of recruiting more licensees for their own purposes?

A. There is No. 53 of the ITU Radio Regulations (Geneva, 1990) - the essence of which is carried over to the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, then on to Section 2.1, and finally to Section 97.3(a)(4). It clearly defines our amateur service as being intended for bona fide amateurs such as yourself.

Q. Maybe our exam tinkerers have in mind the revised role for us that our regulator has told the Congress?

A. For the time being, in places where the FCC is our regulator, at least, we are expected to use our radios to supplement emergency communications activities during disasters as an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by the emergency. We are expected to provide an alternative infrastructure in the form of a network of amateur radio operators and our stations that relay messages, build and maintain repeater stations and repeater networks, operate HF message networks to send messages greater distances than are practical with mobile or transportable transmitters, and develop new technologies to improve the reliability of these networks. We are also expected to conduct Section 97.113(a)(3)(i) emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drills, including participation on behalf of employers.

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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.

   For Q/A on this topic, read Remote Control, Telecommand & Part 97 BE Informed No. 8.2.

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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. The rules were translated from legalese into plain language over a generation ago. They have been amended from time-to-time as our regulator has deemed necessary, with the expectation of us offering  an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by (an) emergency.

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 Act.)

   (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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