W3BE'S BE Informed!
 
Home1.0 Checklist1.1 RF Safety1.2 Antenna Structures1.3 Quiet Zones1.4 60 Meters1.5 Take A Job?1.6 Hams At Sea1.7 Chinese Radios1.8 Reciprocal Operation1.9 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 Our Real Purpose1.18 Transmitter Stability1.19 Selling Over Ham Radio1.20 Still A Ham?1.21 Use My Station?1.22 Digi-Standards1.23 No Secrets1.24 Where's My License?1.25 You Answer This2.0 Ham Needs To Know2.1 VE System Management2.2 What A VE Does2.3 TV Testing2.4 Get Our Pools Right2.5 Go VE Green!2.7 Pool Reset2.6 No Time To memorize2.8 GOTA: License Qualifier?2.9.1 Get Your Ham Call Sign2.10 Become A General2.10 Become A General July 20152.11 Top 102.12 Amnesty2.13 Grumpy Old Hams2.14 VE's Universe3.0 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 minutes4.6 Special Event 1 by 15.0 Our TPMSP Class5.2 Where's The Rule?5.3 Big Red Switch5.5 Rulemaking For GOTA6.0 Constitution Go-By6.1 Club Station License6.3 Club Stations Control Op7.0 EMERGENCY!7.1 Volunteer Emergency Comm7.2 RACES7.3 Commandeer Channels7.4 Non-pros emergency7.5 Disaster Radio7.6 Dipole dimensions7.9 Industrial Communications7.10 Test & Drill8.0 Repeater, Remote Base, et al8.2 Remote Base OK?8.3 Frequency Coordination8.4 Automatic Control8.5 Remote Base/Repeater9.0 Historic Telegraphy9.1 QCWA Caribbean Cruise9.2 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta10.0 Disconnect10.1 Filing Comments10.2 Deceased's Call Sign10.3 Comments in WT Docket 12-28310.4 Comments in RM-11708

 W3BE-O-GRAMS

Why would you want a reference copy of your license grant document?

Q. When I did a presentation to our ham club on paperless licensing, the reaction from the group was, "Nice that it's on the ULS, but I would feel 'naked' without having a paper copy in my possession." Then, I got a question I wasn't really sure how to answer: When you apply for your State license ham plates or a CEPT license, isn’t the "OFFICIAL" watermarked license necessary? If so, why would you want a "Reference" copy other than taking that copy to a VE for an upgrade license exam session?"

A.  Thanks for your good and timely observations and for helping hams learn about our regulator’s new process. The presence of the Internet and the availability of the ULS to anyone with an access device are making the age-old reliance on documents passé. Change rarely seems to come easy. For those not familiar with the FCC’s amateur service license granting process, read BE Informed No. 1.24 Where Is My License?

   Section 97.505 requires our VEs to give specified element credit to an examinee holding certain license documents. So, the "OFFICIAL" watermarked license document appears to be the appropriate answer to your license upgrade question.

    The ham vehicle license plate requirement, moreover, would depend upon the requirements of your State department of motor vehicles. Maybe your State authority requires a copy of your watermarked "OFFICIAL" document, or maybe it will accept a printout of the public information concerning your grant as shown on the ULS. It might just take your word for it or even consult the ULS directly via the Internet.

   As to the “CEPT” issue, subject to the regulations in force in the country visited, a U.S. citizen holding a General, Advanced, or Amateur Extra Class amateur radio service operator license grant from the FCC is authorized to utilize temporarily an amateur station in a European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) country that has implemented Recommendation T/R 61-01. While operating an amateur station in a CEPT country, a ham visitor from the U. S. must have in his or her possession a copy of a FCC Public Notice, proof of U.S. citizenship, and evidence of the FCC license grant. These documents must be shown to proper authorities upon request. So, the issue here is which type document - if any - the authorities in the CEPT country visited accept as “evidence of a FCC license grant.”

   In either event, such requirements are not codified in our regulators’ rules. They must come from the State authority issuing the vehicle license ham tag or from the authority in each CEPT country visited.

    In places where the FCC regulates our amateur service, the rules granting operator/primary station permissions are: Section 97.5 says in pertinent part: (a) The station apparatus must be under the physical control of a person named in an amateur station license grant on the ULS consolidated license database or a person authorized for alien reciprocal operation by §97.107 of this part, before the station may transmit on any amateur service frequency from any place that is: (1) Within 50 km of the Earth's surface and at a place where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC; (more); and Section 97.7 says: When transmitting, each amateur station must have a control operator. The control operator must be a person:(a) For whom an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears on the ULS consolidated licensee database, or (b) Who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation by §97.107 of this part.

   One reason for having copies of your watermarked "OFFICIAL" document on hand include the posting necessities for tele-command. Another reason is Section 97.315 (b)(3). It provides an exception to FCC certification of external RF power amplifier manufactured or imported for use at an amateur station when the amplifier is sold to an amateur operator for use at that operator’s station. Having possession of a copy of the buyer’s watermarked “OFFICIAL” document may protect the seller. In yet another circumstance, a foreign regulator might insist upon you showing a watermarked "OFFICIAL" document when applying for a guest or reciprocal permit.

   In still other circumstances, it might be easier to just show some sort of document to the uninformed rather than try to explain to them about our regulator’s modernized official electronic authorization process.

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Could I be called up?

Q. As an amateur, could I be called up by the government to provide public safety communications during a civil disturbance?

A. Not under any obligation brought about by having your FCC amateur service license grant. If you are enrolled in a RACES civil defense organization, however, you might want to check with that organization as to any commitments to which you may have agreed.

Q. Can I use my amateur station to voluntarily provide emergency communications during civil disturbances?

A. Possibly. Section 97.403 Safety of life and protection of property, says that no provision of Part 97 prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radio communication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available. Public safety entities normally rely upon Part 90 radio systems. During a public disturbance, therefore, those systems would have to be unavailable in order for amateur stations to become directly involved.

Q. Could my amateur station transmit communications for an employer during a civil disturbance?

A.  Yes, but only to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

Q. Doesn't Section 97.113(a)(3)(i) exempt professional communicators during communication emergencies?

A.  No. That rule only authorizes a station licensee or station control operator to participate on behalf of an employer in an emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill. Unless the controlling authority calls such a test or drill during a civil disturbance, amateur stations and bona fide amateurs or professional communicators are bound by Section 97.403. It only authorizes providing essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property during times when normal communication systems are unavailable.

Q. Who can call a communications emergency drill?

A. Anyone for whom at least some in our amateur service community are willing to answer the call. Unless a drill is government sponsored, it is limited in duration.

Q. As a FCC-licensed amateur, am I under any obligation to provide public service?

A. Yes, but chances are you are already providing it just as long as your radio communicating activities are in full compliance with Part 97. Section 97.1 says the rules and regulations in Part 97 are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in five principles, the first of which is: (a) 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. As long as we comply with the rules in Part 97, our regulator’s expectations for our amateur service should be achieved to its satisfaction. 

Q. But Section 97.3(a)(4) defines our amateur service as: A radio communication service for the 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. So, which is it?

A. Section 97.3(a)(4) is consistent with SEC. 3. [47 USC 153](2) of the Communications Act as well as No. 1.56 of the international Radio Regulations (RR) and the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 Section 2.1(c).

   The text in Section 97.1, on the other hand, sets forth a promise for our regulators to satisfy, rather than for us - the regulated - to implement.

Q. Why are there two purposes codified?

A. Section 97.3(a)(4) sets out the purpose for our amateur service. Section 97.1 states our regulator’s purpose for its rules. It came along post WWII when we lost a hotly contested argument with our regulator over its codification. Since then, it has become the topic of countless after-dinner speeches and is the time-proven easily remembered citation espoused by pontificators unfamiliar with the main body of our rules.

   The add-on phrase particularly with respect to providing emergency communications in Section 97.1(a), moreover, is often cited to rationalize a makeover of our amateur service into a low-cost junior version of the Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Services. Those rules establish a Public Safety Radio Pool and provide for the licensing of non-federal governmental entities - including law enforcement and fire protection - as well as medical services, rescue organizations, veterinarians, persons with disabilities, disaster relief organizations, school buses, beach patrols, establishments in isolated places, communications standby facilities, and emergency repair of public communications facilities. 

For more Q/A on this topic,

read BE informed No. 7.3 Can Professional Communicators Commandeer Our Channels?

 

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What Was That Callsign?

   Contact Radio Amateur Callsign Historian Pete Varounis NL7XM before tossing out any old Callbook Magazine!  "Pete the Greek" offers us an old amateur station call sign lookup service.  He will find a first license date as shown in his extensive collection.  E-mail to twelvevdc@aol.com.

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Get Your Own HAM CALL SIGN!

   The quickest, easiest, and inexpensive way is to memorize the questions and answers in BE Informed EXAMINATIONS No. 2.9.1 W3BE's NOTES - Get Your Call Sign. Take/retake the free on-line practice examinations until you pass consistently. Then visit a VE session for a license examination.  

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]

To apply for a free subscription to FCC Daily Digest, click here.

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   This is a free-to-use website here to answer your questions on what the rules say for our amateur service in places where it is regulated by the United States Federal Communications Commission.  Should you receive a solicitation for this website, it is a scam! Nothing herein is sold or offered for sale. All legitimate communications relating to this website take place by e-mail or discussion at hamfests or other gatherings. No postal mail or telephone calls, please. Kindly do not ask for speculation on whether or not you can get away with something.

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W3BE LIBRARY CATALOG

BASICS 

   Before causing or allowing a station to transmit from any place where our amateur service is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, review your duties using BE Informed No. 1.0 W3BE Checklists.  There is one checklist for your station licensee duties and another checklist for your control operator duties.

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   Whatever did you sign?  When applying for an FCC amateur service license grant, you must use either FCC Form 605 or NCVEC Form 605.  They both require signing, among other things, this certification:

   I certify that I have read and will comply with Section 97.13(c) of the Commission's Rules regarding radiofrequency radiation safety and the amateur service section of OST/OET Bulletin Number 65.

   For the text and the tables that you must certify that you have read, and for which you must give your word to comply, read BE Informed No. 1.1 Certification Regarding Radiofrequency Radiation Safety.  It also includes what it is that you will need to understand in order to make your certifications meaningful to you.

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   How tall can my antenna be?   There are restrictions for aviation safety, environmental protection, quiet zones, and locality concerns for safety and appearances.  There are also the matters of arrangements that you have made with the owners of the land on which your station antenna stands or the entity from whom you obtained the land.  Read BE Informed No. 1.2 Amateur Station Antenna Structures.

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   Is your station in a radio quiet zone?  There are radio quiet zones within places where our amateur service is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.  It is necessary for radiation from your amateur station to be restricted.  Know where these quiet zones are located.  Disallow disrupting transmissions being made by your amateur station from within them.  Read BE Informed No. 1.3 Quiet Zone Directory – What To Do About It.

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   Why Is 60 meters channelized?  Our 60 meter band is exceptionally unique.  It is not an amateur service band internationally. We have but secondary status on five designated  frequency channels in places where our amateur service is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.  This arrangement comes with distinctive operational and technical standards - traditionally absent from our rules - necessary to sharing with the primary users.  It is to facilitate the cessation of interference to those primary users.  It enables them to ascertain the call signs of our amateur station 60 meter band users and request corrective reaction by our regulator whenever necessary.  Read BE Informed No. 1.4 60 Meter Privileges.

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  Can I take a paying job at an amateur station?  Perhaps.  Your prospects are limited, but have been expanding.  Read BE Informed No. 1.5 Can I Take a Paying Job as a Profe$$ional Communicator at an Amateur Station?  Also, read BE Informed No. 1.20 Am I Still an Amateur?

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   How must I ID my station on a cruise ship?  That all depends upon your wishes and the rules of your station’s transmitting authority.  Read BE Informed No. 1.6 Hams at Sea.

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   Can I Use Chinese Radios?  Very likely.  Many transceivers manufactured in China are apparently compliant because they are being used at FCC-licensed amateur stations.  Read BE Informed No. 1.7 Can I Use A Chinese Radio?

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   A Canadian citizen holding a Canadian amateur operator license has permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate a ham station in the U.S.  That permission is codified in Section 97.107.  It says that a non-citizen of the United States ("alien") holding an amateur service authorization granted by the alien's government is authorized to be the control operator of an amateur station located at places where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC, provided there is in effect a multilateral or bilateral reciprocal operating arrangement, to which the United States and the alien's government are parties, for amateur service operation on a reciprocal basis. The FCC issues public announcements listing the countries with which the U.S. has such an arrangement. Canada is one of the countries so listed.   No citizen of the U.S. or person holding an FCC amateur operator/primary station license grant is eligible for the reciprocal operating authority granted by Section 97.107.  Read BE Informed No. 1.8  Reciprocal Operation In Places Where Our Amateur Service Is Regulated By The FCC. 

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   Some hams have very creative interpretations of Section 97.115 for third party communications.  It might help them to better accept and respect the privileges for third party communications by first understanding making one and two party communications.  Don’t be bamboozled.  Read BE Informed No. 1.9 All About One, Two, and Third Party Communications.

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   Whatever was incentive licensing?  (Shhh!)  That term is so tarnished as to best not say it aloud in ham radio conversation. It can evoke painful memories and even outrage.  Read BE Informed No. 1.10  Our Most Controversial Era.

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   Section 97.101(a) says that our stations must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice in all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules.  This file is a collection of observations, including proposed good engineering practices GEPs and good amateur practices GAPs.  Sections include:  Compliance, Rules, License Qualification System, Over-the-Air, and Rulemaking Process.  Read BE Informed No. 1.11 GEPS AND GAPS – Good Engineering and Good Amateur Practices.

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   Our amateur service community intercommunicates in a unique jargon.  Some of which is from the 19th Century telegraphy.  Read BE Informed No. 1.12 HAMSLANGUAGE – What Are Those Hams Saying?

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   What are the rules for visitors who want to operate an amateur station?   Don’t be bamboozled.  Read BE Informed No. 1.13 Visiting Operators.

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   Our amateur service rules use unfamiliar terms.  To make them meaningful, read BE Informed  No. 1.14 Terms Used In Part 97.

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   The Communications Act says the term “amateur station” means a radio station operated by a duly authorized person interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.  The Federal Communication Commission more or less concurs – but takes major exceptions - and goes on to say that an amateur station consists of all of the transmitters, receivers and combinations thereof, and all accessory apparatus, at any one location, necessary for carrying on radio-communications in any of our three amateur radio services.  Read BE Informed No. 1.15 What Is An Amateur Station?

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  There are a lot of superseded license documents in the hands of our amateur service community.  They can appear to be valid to those who are not yet aware of the ULS and the license-by-rule provisions codified in Section 97.5 and Section 97.7.  They are the result of operator class upgrading, changing of names and mail addresses and the obtaining of vanity call signs.  Caution!  They pose a risk of falling into the hands of persons who would misuse them to steal your identity. Read BE Informed No. 1.16 Of Licenses and Call Signs.
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  The ITU, the Congress, and the Federal Communications Commission more or less agree on the purpose of our amateur service.  But the FCC also has its own agenda for our amateur service.  It is codified in a basis and purpose of its Part 97 rules.  It is sometimes incorrectly switched for the bona fide purpose of our amateur service.  Don’t be bamboozled.  Read BE Informed No. 1.17 What Is Our Real Purpose?

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   Your amateur station transmissions must be sufficiently steady such that all emissions resulting from modulation are confined to the frequency band or segment authorized to the control operator.  Read BE Informed No. 1.18 How Steady Must My Transmitter Be?

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   Using your amateur station to sell items might be feasible in places where our amateur service is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.  There is one set of rules for bona fide amateurs and another set for professional communicators.  Read BE Informed No. 1.19 Selling Stuff Over Ham Radio.

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   There was no question when I first got my ham license that I was a duly authorized person interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.  As I grew to adulthood, however, I gravitated more toward commerce and morphed into becoming a professional.  Until I retire and return to a clear-cut amateur status, am I still a bona fide amateur?  Read BE Informed No. 1.20 Am I Still An Amateur?

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   Who - other than the control operators that I choose to designate - can use my ham station?  Don’t be bamboozled.  Read BE Informed No. 1.21 Who Can Use My Ham Station?

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   Where in the rules are the digi-rates for HF, VHF and UHF specified?  Some digi-heads that say the rules do not specify baud rates in these bands.  Digi-hang in there and digi-read BE Informed No. 1.22 Digi-Standards.

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   Section 97.113(a)(4) says that no amateur station shall transmit messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.  Does this mean it can’t transmit WEP?  If its usage would result in non-compliance with our rules, then the answer is no it can’t.  Amateur stations must be capable of understanding the communications of other amateur stations.  Read BE Informed 1.23 There Are No Secrets in Ham Radio. 

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LICENSE EXAMINATIONS
Do you know everything you need to know?  Our volunteer examiners make those determinations when they are preparing and administering our license examinations.  Section 97.503 says that a written examination for a FCC license grant 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.  For a Q&A discussion on this topic, read BE Informed No. 2.0 What Do Hams Really Need to Know and When Do They Need to Know It?

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Who is in charge of our VE system?  The enabling statute reads as though Congress envisioned our volunteer examiners taking the lead and their volunteer-examiner coordinators (VECs) performing in a supporting role.  The common meaning of the term coordinator is a non-management facilitator who conducts liaison between various organizational components to achieve harmonization.   For a Q&A discussion on this topic, read BE Informed No. 2.1 Who Is in Charge of Our VE System?

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Have you been accredited as a VE?  Whatever have you gotten yourself into now?  For a Q&A discussion on this topic, read BE Informed No. 2.2  So, I’m a VE, Now What? 

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VEs do not have to be present in the exam room.  Field trials have proven the worthiness of the VEs doing their observing from afar via video images.  Our regulator has been satisfied that remote testing methods have been developed - including audio and video links either hard-wired to a site or available through Internet or satellite technologies - that makes TV testing feasible and warranted.  Read BE Informed No. 2.3 Smile –You’re On TV!

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Keynote Address to the 2009 NCVEC’s Gettysburg Conference.  Our VECs are urged to repudiate their call to make “… the amateur service accessible to as many citizens as possible.”  Read BE Informed No. 2.4 Get Our pools right!

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Our VE system is a pencil-to-paper clerical-intensive artifact.  It wastes the time, talent and money of our 32,000 volunteers.  The bottleneck is our own inertia.  For a Q&A discussion of this topic, read BE Informed No. 2.5 Let’s Go VE Green!

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Have you ever been asked to arrange for someone to take the exam for someone else?  For one response to that solicitation, read BE Informed No. 2.6 I Don’t Have Time to Memorize Answers – Who will take the exam for me?

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Which type of HF wire antenna should be in your FCC Minimal Amateur Radio Emergency Go-Kit?  The answer is one for which every person who currently holds – or who will hold in the foreseeable future - an FCC-issued amateur operator/primary station license grant should know and observe.  The FCC has reported to the Congress that hams need training in homeland security.  That and other developments call for yet another reset in our volunteer examiner system.  Read BE Informed LICENSE No. 2.7 It’s Time for Another Question Pool Reset.

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Get-On-The-Air experience provided to unlicensed and under-licensed persons is superior to training currently being received from book study.  GOTA facilitates immediate hands-on training by Elmers at actual transmitting amateur stations.  For Q/A discussion of this topic, read BE Informed No. 2.8 GOTA Training as Our License Qualifier.

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Memorize the correct answers that our VEs want a Technician Class operator to know.  Read BE Informed No. 2.9.1 W3BE’s NOTES – Get Your Ham Call Sign.

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Memorize the correct answers that our VEs want a General Class operator to know.  Read BE Informed No. 2.10 W3BE’s NOTES Become a General.

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W3BE’s Top Ten for the Continuance of Our Amateur Service in Our United States of America.  Read BE Informed No. 2.11.

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Amnesty to former hams. Our regulator wants to encourage ex-hams to become involved again in the technical self-training and public service communications opportunities provided by our amateur service.  They will only have to pass our basic Element 2 written examination for a license grant, but may be excused from the Element 3 examination for the General Operator class. Read more at BE Informed No. 2.12 The Light Is On For You.

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Citizen Class Operator Ahead? Our U.S. amateur service community organizers are currently pursuing a licensee expansion initiative.  In RM-10870, our volunteer-examiner coordinators petitioned our regulator to make our amateur service accessible to as many citizens as possible.  There are still other initiatives underway.  Technician Class constitutes by far the most populated segment of our amateur service community.  Read Q/A at BE Informed No. 2.13.

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Can someone offer exams to anyone anywhere that is convenient for all involved?  Yes, as long that someone is a CVET (certifying VE trio) coordinated by a VEC and each examinee provides a mailing address within an area where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC and can receive mail delivery by the United States Postal Service.  Read more at BE Informed No. 2.14 Our VEs’ Universe.

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COMPLIANCE

Are your communications authorized for transmission by an amateur station?  Give it the BE Informed COMPLIANCE No. 3.0 Section 97.113 Smell Test.  For amateurs, with updates for professional communicators.

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Find out about our maintenance monitors.  Their objectives are to foster a wider knowledge of and better compliance with laws, rules and regulations governing the amateur service, to extend the concepts of self-regulation and self-administration of the service, and to enhance the opportunity for individual amateurs to contribute to the public welfare.  Read BE Informed COMPLIANCE No. 3.1 Amateur Volunteer Maintenance Monitoring.

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Compare the FCC rules with the international rules for our amateur radio service.  Read BE Informed COMPLIANCE No. 3.2 How the ITU Radio Regulations Article 25 and Recommendation ITU-R M.1544 are implemented in FCC 47 C.F.R.

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What is your excuse for not complying with the FCC rules?  If it isn't already in the assemblage, please-mail it to john@johnston.net.  Otherwise, read BE Informed COMPLIANCE No. 3.3 Collection of Excuses - Reasons Cited for Not Complying with the FCC Rules.  

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Central to the legitimacy of our amateur service, we must know and understand the rules for our station's operation especially when it is a constituent of one of our ad hoc amateur service communication systems.  Our systems are not regulated as such; they are predicated upon every station licensee and every control operator in each system making certain that there is rule compliance.  For Q&A on this topic, read BE Informed COMPLIANCE No. 3.4 Read the Rules & Heed the Rules. 

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Don't undermine our reputation of being a legitimate, relatively untroubled, lightly regulated, open-architecture hobby.  Our amateur service community has been trusted to participate in the rulemaking process and to comply with our regulators' rules and our own good amateur and engineering practices.  That has been the key to obtaining the vast privileges that we enjoy today.  We need to prove every day in every way that our service is regulatable and that it is worth our valuable spectrum allocations and public resources that it requires to administer it.  For Q&A on this topic, read BE Informed COMPLIANCE No. 3.5 WeAre Regulatable (Aren't We?) - Arguments for Complying with the FCC Rules.

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Broadcasting by FCC-licensed stations is prohibited.  Not even code practice, information bulletins, or emergency communications. Find out how the term is defined in our rules, and the types of one-way transmissions that are authorized.  Read BE Informed COMPLIANCE No.  3.6 No Broadcasting! - Not on Our Ham Bands.

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STATION IDENTIFICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS

When your ham friend operates your amateur station apparatus, which call sign should be transmitted, his or yours?  The one person eligible to answer your question authoritatively is... YOU!  Your answer, will establish which call sign must be used.  It will also determine the extent of your accountability.  Make your choice carefully.  Read STATION IDENTIFICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS No. 4.0 Which Call Sign?  - Your options and accountability when someone uses your station apparatus or vice-versa. 

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Appending a self-assigned indicator to a government-assigned call sign in the station identification announcement is an expedient way to inform listeners that the station is transmitting under the rules for special operations, from an unexpected portable location, or from a vehicle.  The desire to keep the indicator to as few characters as possible raises the issue of the listeners understanding just what it is that the shortened identifier is intended to mean.  For Q&A discussion on this topic, read STATION IDENTIFICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS No. 4.1 Including a Self-assigned Indicator with Your Station Call Sign. 

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Never compromise your station identification announcement.  Our regulator makes available the ULS from which listeners can find out the identity and class of operator license granted to the station licensee.  Your station ID identification announcement is indispensable in our uniquely unstructured radio service.   It enables maintenance monitoring and self-policing.  It exposes personal identities.  It helps to create and maintain a culture of rule and good amateur practice observance.  It is our major deterrent against would-be rule violators.  It alsodiscourages mischief-makers from causing annoying interference to our intercommunications.  For Q&Adiscussion on this topic, read STATION IDENTIFICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS No. 4.2 About That Station ID

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Let us not allow the rules to stand in the way of some pontification about our antiquated protocols for station identification.  They werebarely appropriate for the 20th Century, let alone for the 21st.  They are how-to-ism artifacts from the very beginnings of wireline telegraphy and they now attract nit-picking.  Station identification can and should becarried out automatically in the background and shown on a viewable display.  Use some contemporary techniques brought over from more forward-looking radio services.  For Q&A discussion on this topic, read STATION IDENTIFICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS No. 4.3 ID every 10 minutes.

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THIRD PARTY MESSAGE-STATING PARTICIPANTS
Is the "anything goes" mindset destructive?  Do non-licensees really have privileges on our amateur service spectrum?  Read TPMSP No. 5.0 Our TPMSP "Class." 

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The VPOD Protocol Theory hypothesizes that some persons can compliantly originate the speech transmitted by an amateur station as well as formulate and act upon judgments that are otherwise the responsibility of, and are normally carried out by, the station control operator.  After a close inspection, it seems that GOTA Rule 4.1.1 would more likely stem from the VPOD Protocol theory than from the Third party communications theory.  Both possibilities are discussed in TPMSP No. 5.1 The VPOD Protocol.  

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Can you solve the mystery of the GOTA Rules?  GOTA Rule 4.1.1.3 says:  As per FCC rules, this station must have a valid control operator present if operating beyond the license privileges of the participant using the station.  GOTA rule 4.1.1.2 says that a GOTA station may be operated by any person licensed since the previous Field Day, regardless of license class.  Non-licensed persons may participate under the direct supervision of an appropriate control operator.  Field Day 2011 rule 4.1.1, moreover, says that a GOTA station may operate on any HF or VHF Field Day band. These amazing anything goes contest rules, however, do not cite any specific FCC rule upon which they declare to be based.  Read TPMSP No. 5.2 Where's the Rule?

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Can the control operator's timely judgments and actions really be carried out properly by third party message-speaking participant?   For a collection of Q&A about transmitter activation during third party communications, read TPMSP No. 5.3 Who Must Throw That Big Red Switch?

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Do you personally have to be in your station at all times while your Tech friend uses it on 20-meters to make contacts with hams in Europe?  Yes, unless your station control point is somewhere other than at the transmitting site.  Even then, most European countries do not have agreements allowing third party communications with the U.S.  Read TPMSP No. 5.4 Techs On 20.

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CLUB STATIONS

Need a go-by template for your club's document of organization?  Here's one you can tailor to your club's situation.  Read BE Informed CLUB STATIONS No. 6.0 Document of Organization Go-by.

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To qualify for a club station call sign, an assemblage of at least four persons must have a name, a document of organization, management, and a primary purpose devoted to amateur service activities consistent with Part 97.  Submit your application to a Club Station Call Sign Administrator (CSCE).  Read BE Informed CLUB STATIONS No. 6.1 Obtaining a Club Station License Grant.

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Hey club station licenses trustees!  Make it clear to everyone - and document - exactly who it is that you designate as a club station control operators and the standards that you expect those control operators to observe. Read BE Informed CLUB STATIONS No. 6.3 Control Operator Designation.

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PROVIDING EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS

Connect the dots for several disjointed FCC pronouncements concerning what ham operators are expected to do during a communications emergency.  Bottom line:  Our regulator recommends that the Department of Homeland Security work with state, local, and tribal authorities to develop disaster area access policies and qualifications for trained amateur operators who provide emergency communications support.  Read BE Informed No. 7.0 Emergency!  

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If you want to volunteer your services in providing emergency communications and have an amateur operator license, you've come to the right radio service.  In places where the FCC regulates our amateur service, Section 97.1(a) says the rules and regulations in Part 97 are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in five principles, the foremost of which is (a) 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.  Read BE Informed No. 7.1 Volunteer Emergency Communications.

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The Communications Act gives the President the authority to invoke special War Emergency Powers.  In the event of an emergency that necessitates the President invoking those powers, amateur stations participating in RACES may only transmit on the frequency segments authorized pursuant to Part 214 Procedures for the Use and Coordination of the Radio Spectrum during a Wartime Emergency.  Read BE Informed No. 7.2 What Is RACES?

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 Professional communicators can commandeer our amateur service frequency channels.  Section 97.101(c) says that at all times and on all frequencies, each control operator must give priority to stations providing emergency communications, except to stations transmitting communications for training drills and tests in RACES.  Read BE Informed No. 7.3 Can the Emergency Professional Communicators Commandeer Our Channels? 

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Non-professional amateur operators can still provide emergency communications.  We are still here to do what our amateur service community does best:  Providing emergency communications through our ad hoc radio networks using our unique array of abilities: know-how capability, situational adaptability, technical flexibility, operator availability, et al.  Read BE Informed No. 7.4 What Should Non-professional Amateur Operators Do When Providing Emergency Communications?   

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Bring Back the Disaster Radio Service.  Make the best use of our national resource of our amateur service community for intercommunications related to emergencies.  Reconstitution the former Disaster Radio Service, Part 99.  The service model recommended to follow would be that of the Military Affiliate Radio Systems sponsored by our Army, Navy and Marine Corps, and Air Force.   Read BE Informed No. 7.6 Bring Back the Disaster Radio Service.  Available only by e-mail request to john@johnston.net

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A half-wave dipole antenna is one of our most relied upon amateur station antennas.  It consists of two metal conductors oriented in line with each other, with a small gap between them.  It can be constructed of copper wire.  A coaxial feed line from the transmitter - and/or receiver - is attached to the dipole's two conductors at its center.  Read BE Informed No. 7.6 Phone Band Dipole Dimensions.

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SPECIAL OPERATIONS
Technical standards for repeaters? There are no special technical standards in our rules just for repeaters.  Part 97 Subpart D contains the essential technical standards that apply to all of our amateur stations, including repeaters, remote bases, et alSubpart C contains accommodations for special operations.  Beyond that, it is our amateur service community that establishes the detailed standards, such as our repeater channel spacing and input offsets.  Read BE Informed SPECIAL OPERATIONS No.  8.0 Repeater, Remote Base, and Other Systems.

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Part 97 doesn't mention the term "remote base."  BE Informed No. 31 Hamslanguage describes a remote base as a remotely controlled amateur station having a radio or wireline control link between the station and its distant control point.  Should you have in mind an HF station located at a distance from its control point such that it cannot function properly under local control, note that Section 97.109 says that any station may be remotely controlled.  The accommodations for telecommand of an amateur station are in Section 97.213.  Read BE Informed SPECIAL OPERATIONS No. 8.2 Is My Remote Base OK?

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Can we choose either repeater segment for receive or either segment for transmit?  Yes.  Section 97.101(b), however, says each station licensee and each control operator must cooperate in selecting transmitting channels and in making the most effective use of the amateur service frequencies.  This arrangement seems to be the very model for regulation of our open-architecture let's-not-entrap-ourselves-with-rules-based-upon-yesterday's-technology systems.  For more on this topic, Read BE Informed Special Operations No. 8.3 Frequency Coordination.

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There are some very divergent ideas going around about automatic control.  Automatic control is one of the three methods authorized for amateur station control.  Any FCC-licensed amateur station may be under local or remote control.  Only five explicit types, however, may be automatically controlled.  Even then, it must cease upon notification that the station is transmitting improperly or causing harmful interference to other stations.  For more on this, Read BE Informed Special Operations No. 8.4  What IS Automatic Control? 

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HAM HOLIDAYS
Telegraphy communication without wires became practical at the turn of the 20th Century.  For hams having a curiosity in the history of pre-radio telegraphy, these places are recommended for a visit.  Read BE Informed HAM HOLIDAYS No. 9.0 Pre-radio Telegraphy Places.

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180 QCWA members, their families and friends, enjoy spectacular weather for an eastern Caribbean cruise.   Read BE Informed HAM HOLIDAYS No. 9.1 QCWA Caribbean Cruise. 

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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  View photos on BE Informed HAM HOLIDAYS TRAVEL No. 9.2.

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SPECIAL REPORTS
There is a major disconnection between the pool content for - and the privileges authorized to - Technician Class operators.   This is also evident, although to a lesser extent, for the General Class operator pool.  Read BE Informed Special Reports No. 10.0 The Privileges-Requirement Disconnect.

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Tell the FCC what you think about its rulemaking proposals.  You can file comments using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal via the Internet.  Read BE Informed Special Reports No. 10.1 Filing Comments on FCC Rulemaking Proposals. 

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A call sign held by a person now deceased, unless otherwise claimed, becomes available under the first-come-first-served provision of the vanity system after a hold period of two years and one day following the license expiration or cancellation.  Read BE Informed Special Reports No. 10.2 How to Obtain a Deceased Ham's Former Call Sign.

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Our regulator would instruct our VEs to give examination credit for holding any FCC-issued amateur service license document regardless of when it was issued (the FCC came into being in 1934) or when it expired.  Read BE Informed Special Reports No. 10.3 W3BE Comments in WT Docket No. 12-283.

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Should our rules be amended to permit greater flexibility in digital data communications?  Read BE Informed Special Reports No. 10.4 W3BE Comments in RM-11708. 

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Read the rules – Heed the rules

www.gpoaccess.gov/ecfr/ [title 47] then [Part 97].

Also see Parts 0, 1, 2, 17 and 214.

http://wireless.fcc.gov/ [amateur] or [ULS]

Question about the amateur service rules?

BE Informed!  http://www.w3beinformed.org

Want to get in touch? You can send me e-mail at:

john@johnston.net