W3BE'S BE Informed!
Home1.0 W3BE Checklists1.1 RF Safety1.2 Antenna Structures1.3 Quiet Zones1.4 60 Meter Privileges1.5 Hams For Hire1.6 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 VPOD5.3 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 Bases & Part 978.3 Frequency Coordination8.4 Automatic Control & Part 978.5 The Internet & Part 9710.2 Deceased's Call Sign10.3 A New Era for Ham Radio10.4 New Era Q/A



Q. I use GOTA operators at my contest station with absolutely no problem. After some short hands-on training, they do quite well. Such experience is more effective than answer memorizing.

A. A major disillusionment with the current system is that the Section 97.509 administering VEs' work is predominantly accounting in nature. These VEs, moreover - quite disappointingly - do not seem to follow up an examination using their own expertise to enlighten the examinee as needed, even though their incorrect answer choices pin down for them the specific areas where it is that their examinee's technical and/or operational knowledge is faulty. 

   Our Section 97.507 preparing VEs, moreover, seem to be caught up in a 1960s-era incentive licensing time warp. The Element standards they are supposed to be using are codified in Section 97.503. They are supposed to prepare written examination 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 2 is supposed to be concerned with the privileges of the basic Technician Class operator; Element 3 with the privileges of the intermediate General Class operator; and Element 4 with the expert Amateur Extra Class operator.

   If, in their Element 2 questions, the VEs have accurately identified the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of a Technician Class operator, there should be little need for additional qualifications for the General Class and practically none for the Amateur Extra Class.

Q. But it is the FCC rules that stipulate 35 more questions for General and 50 more questions for Extra. So we have to pad our Elements 3 and 4 pools with hundreds of superfluous questions.

A. There is your roadblock. Somewhere during the period starting with the 1983 initiation of the volunteer examiner system, our VEs should have called this inconsistency to the attention of our regulator and advocated for more reasonable numbers of examination questions. Perhaps Section 97.503 should be divested altogether of specifying numbers of questions.

   For more Q/A on this topic, read GOTA Experience as Our License Qualifier BE Informed No. 2.8.

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Q. Why do I have to pass a test in order to get a FCC call sign? 

A. 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 exam all about?

A. Section 97.503 says that a written examination for a 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. Possessing about 75% of those qualifications is the minimum acceptable for passing.

Q. Just who decides what those operational and technical qualifications are?

A. In places where the FCC is our regulator, our Section 97.507 preparing VEs are charged with doing that. It says: Each question on each VEC question pool must be prepared by a VE holding the required FCC-issued operator license. In other places, the qualifications are determined by the regulatory authority there.

Q. What are the credentials of those VE question writers?

A. Our Section 97.507 preparing VEs are VEC-accredited hams holding FCC expert Amateur Extra Class operator license grants. Section 97.507 also authorizes intermediate General and Advanced Class operators to prepare questions for certain examination elements.  

Q. Does it matter which 25% the examinee doesn’t know about operational and technical qualifications?

A. It should matter very much, but our Section 97.509 administering VEs apparently are unconcerned. They reportedly do not routinely take any action to remedy an examinee’s partial lack of correct knowledge.

   For more Q/A on this topic, read What Do Hams Really Need to Know? BE Informed No. 2.0.

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Q. I asked a ham about the need for getting a call sign. He said that my question was in the gray area of the rules. Now, what did he mean by that?

A. The translation is: “I don’t really know the answer to your rules question. And obviously neither do you. So, let us not miss out on this opportunity for us to enjoy listening to me pontificate.”

   For more Q/A on this topic, read HAMSLANGUAGE Meanings of jargon and colloquial speech used by our amateur service community BE Informed No. 1.12.

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Q. Who exactly is the station licensee?

A. The Section 97.103 station licensee is the station manager for an amateur station transmitting on our amateur service frequency bands from a place where our amateur service is regulated by the United States Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”). It is the person shown on the ULS as holding the grant for the call sign being transmitted in the Section 97.119 station identification announcements. An amateur station license grant carries no operating privileges. For a catalogue of the station licensee’s 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.

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File amateur radio interference complaint with the FCC: CLICK


   The quickest, easiest, and inexpensive way is to memorize the VEs' questions and the VECs' answers in BE Informed 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]

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   Thanks to everyone who posed the questions and to those insightful hams who provided answers, advice, views, details, editing, encouragement, and other kinds of support in making this website possible. 

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