W3BE'S BE Informed!
Home1.0 W3BE Checklists1.1 RF Safety1.2 Antenna Structures1.3 Quiet Zones1.4 60 Meter Privileges1.5 Paid Hams?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 Management2.0 Ham Needs To Know2.1 VE System Management2.2 What A VE Does2.3 TV Testing2.6 No Time To memorize2.8 GOTA Experience: License Qualifier?2.9.1 Get Your Ham Call Sign2.10 Be A General July 20152.12 Amnesty2.13 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 VPOD5.2 Where's The Rule?5.3 Big Red Switch6.0 Constitution Go-By6.1 Club Station License6.3 Club Stations Control Op7.0 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 Sign



Q. What does the possession of an amateur radio license signify?

A. In places where the FCC regulates our amateur service, an amateur operator/primary station grant shown on the FCC ULS database signifies that the person named therein has been certified by three volunteer examiners (“VEs”) as having proven their operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of a FCC-authorized amateur service licensee (“ham”). Under reciprocal arrangements, several other countries accept an FCC-issued amateur operator/primary station grant as proof of qualifications and vice-versa. 

Q. What are those duties?                                                                                                               

A. Here are three basic duties:

  Every ham should understand the possibilities for, and the avoidance of, excessive RF radiation to themselves, their families, friends, neighbors, and the general population. Read Radio Frequency Radiation Safety BE Informed No. 1.1.

  Every ham should avoid causing any disruption to the reception of transmissions from stations in any legitimate radio services, including our own amateur service. 

  Every ham should cooperate in maintaining an orderly functioning of our amateur service.

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

A. Every ham should have the ability to read the rules – including knowledge of the numerous technical terms that must be understood in order to make meaningful Part 97 Amateur Radio Service and the applicable Sections of:

   Part 0 Commission Organization;

   Part 1 Practice and Procedure;

   Part 2 Frequency Allocations and Radio Treaty Matters; General Rules and Regulations;

   Part 17 Construction, Marking, and Lighting of Antenna Structures, and

   Part 214 Procedures for the Use and Coordination of the Radio Spectrum During a Wartime Emergency.

   Every ham should have the ability to determine whether or not an amateur station’s transmissions are compliant with the technical standards in Part 97 Subpart D Section 97.301 through Section 97.313. Self-policing is a long established tradition in our amateur service.

   Every ham should have the ability to assemble amateur stations composed of apparatus not necessarily FCC certificated. Contributing to the advancement of the radio art is encouraged. The FCC does not review amateur station transmitter types. The Section 97.103 station licensee, rather, is the only person accountable for the amateur station being compliant with the pertinent technical standards. FMI: Can I Use Chinese Radios? BE Informed No. 1.7.

   Every ham should have the ability to assemble systems of amateur stations. The FCC does not pre-approve systems of amateur stations transmitting in the amateur service.

   Every ham should know the good amateur practice transmitting protocols in use in the amateur service.

   Read: Terms Used in Part 97 of The FCC Rules BE Informed No. 1.14.

Q. Where can I obtain a summary of those needed abilities?

A. 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.

Q. How does a person prove their abilities to their volunteer examiners?

A. That is done by the means of a written examination prepared by the VEs and administered to the person by three VEs. When the person passes the examination, each VE certifies in writing that person is qualified. A volunteer-examiner coordinator then forwards the information to the regulator for a license grant.

   For more Q/A on this topic, read What does the possession of an amateur radio license signify? BE Informed No. 2.18.

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Q. Is automatic control authorized for every type of station operation. Yes or no?

A. No. Only certain special operation stations sanctioned in Part 97 may utilize Section 97.109(d) automatic control. Even then, the station is supposed to cease transmitting upon failure to achieve full rule compliance or upon notification by a FCC District Director that it is transmitting improperly or causing harmful interference to other stations.

Q. Where automatic control is disallowed, what other methods for station control are authorized?

A. There is Section 97.109(b) local control and there is Section 97.109(c) remote control. Any station may utilize local control or remote control

Q. What are the types of operation where an amateur station may be automatically controlled? 

A. There are five types of special operations authorized for automatic control:

   1. A Section 97.201 auxiliary station may be automatically controlled.

   2. A Section 97.203 beacon station may be automatically controlled while it is transmitting on the 28.20-28.30 MHz, 50.06-50-08 MHz, 144.275-144.300 MHz, 222.05-222.06 MHz or 432.300-432.400 MHz segments, or on the 33 cm and shorter wavelength bands. 

  3. A Section 97.205 repeater station may be automatically controlled. 

  4. An amateur station may be automatically controlled while transmitting a RTTY or data emission on the 6 meters or shorter wavelength bands, and on the 28.120-28.189 MHz; 24.925-24.930 MHz, 21.090-21.100 MHz, 18.105-18.110 MHz, 14.0950-14.0095 MHz, 10.140-10.150 MHz, 7.100-7.105 MHz, or 3.620-3.635 MHz segments.  Read Section 97.221(b).

    5. An amateur station may be automatically controlled while transmitting a RTTY or data emission on any other frequency authorized for such emission types provided the station is responding to interrogation by a station under local or remote control and no transmission from the automatically controlled station occupies a bandwidth of more than 500 Hz. Read Section 97.221(c).  

   Note that Section 97.109(e) says that no station, except a station transmitting a RTTY or data emission, may be automatically controlled while transmitting third party communications. Even then, every message that is retransmitted must originate at a station that is utilizing local or remote controlled. Also note that auxiliary stations as well as repeater stations enjoy Section 97.3(a)(22) frequency coordinationrecognition. Read Frequency Coordination BE Informed No. 8.3

   For more Q/A on this topic, read Automatic Control & Part 97 BE Informed No. 8.4.

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Q. I want to study the current Technician license exam requirements and recommend possible changes.

A. You won’t have far to look. First, you should read Section 97.503. 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.

   If you want more detail, 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. It has one checklist of duties for a Section 97.103 station licensee and another checklist of duties for a Section 97.105 control operator.

   For our Section 97.507 preparing volunteer examiners’ definitive Technician Class operator license examination requirements, you should read the Section 97.523 question pool for Element 2 maintained by our Section 97.521 volunteer-examiner coordinators.

  For more Q/A, read What Will Be Stereotype W Ham? BE Informed No. 2.13.

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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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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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   This is a free-to-use website. Should you receive a solicitation for this website, it is a scam! There is no speculation on whether or not you might get away with something Nothing herein is sold or offered for sale. No e-mail, postal mail or telephone calls, please.

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If you cannot view any of the following files from the navigation column (HOME page upper left), request a .pdf copy from john@johnston.net.


Before causing or allowing a station to transmit from any place where the FCC regulates our amateur service, review your duties. BE Informed No. 1.0 W3BE Checklists has one checklist for your Section 97.103 station licensee duties and another checklist for your Section 97.105 control operator duties.

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Whatever did you sign? When applying for an FCC amateur service license grant, you must certify that you have read, and give your word to comply certain documents. Read BE Informed No. 1.1 Certification Regarding Radiofrequency Radiation Safety. 

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How tall can my antenna be? There are restrictions for aviation safety, environmental protection, quiet zones, locality concerns for safety and appearances, and 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 the FCC regulates our amateur service. Know where these quiet zones are located. 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 not an amateur service band internationally. This arrangement comes with distinctive operational and technical standards - traditionally absent from our rules - necessary to sharing with the primary users. Read BE Informed No. 1.4 60 Meter Privileges.

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Paying job as a ham? Perhaps. Read BE Informed No. 1.5 Can I Take a Paying Job as a Profe$$ional Communicator at an Amateur Station? 

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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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May I Use Chinese Radios? Very likely, using circular logic. Read BE Informed No. 1.7 Can I Use A Chinese Radio?

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For Q/A on reciprocal operating privileges, read BE Informed No. 1.8.0 Reciprocal Operation in Places Where the FCC Regulates Our Amateur Service.

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A Canadian citizen holding a Canadian amateur operator license has permission from the FCC to operate a ham station in the U.S. Read BE Informed No. 1.8.1 Reciprocal Privileges For Canadian Citizens In Places Where the FCC Regulates Our Amateur Service.

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Do it right! Read BE Informed No. 1.8.2 Station Identification Announcements by Reciprocal-Privileged Stations in Places Where the FCC Regulates Our Amateur Service.

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Can’t get enough about this? Read BE Informed No. 1.8.3 More Q/A About Reciprocal Privileges In Places Where the FCC Regulates Our Amateur Service.

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These are dangerous times. Read BE Informed No. 1.8.4 Hear Something – Say Something.

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Hams can have very creative interpretations of Section 97.115 for third party communications. Read BE Informed No. 1.9 All About One, Two, and Third Party Communications.

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Our most controversial era.  Read BE Informed No. 1.10 What Was Incentive licensing?

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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. Read BE Informed No. 1.11 Geps & Gaps – Good Engineering and Good Amateur Practices.

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Our amateur service community speaks in a unique jargon. 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? 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 FCC 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 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 FCC more or less agree on the purpose of our amateur service. But the FCC also has its own agenda for our amateur service. 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 is permissible in places where the FCC regulates our amateur service. 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. 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? 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. Read BE Informed No. 1.22 Digi-Standards.

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No amateur station shall transmit messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning. Read BE Informed No. 1.23 There Are No Secrets in Ham Radio. 

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Where is my License? Take action if you want to obtain a paper authorization the next time that you renew, upgrade, relocate, or change your name. Our regulator no longer routinely mails a document to you. Read BE Informed No. 1.24 Where Is My License?

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Do you know everything you need to know? A written examination for a FCC license grant 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. 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 envisioned our VEs taking the lead and their volunteer-examiner coordinators (VECs) acting in a supporting role. Read BE Informed No. 2.1 Who Is in Charge of Our VE System?

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You have been accredited as a VE? Whatever have you gotten yourself into now? 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. Our regulator is satisfied that remote testing methods have been developed that makes TV testing 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 were 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. 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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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. 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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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. Read BE Informed No. 2.12 The Light Is On For You.

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Citizen Class Operator Ahead? Our volunteer-examiner coordinators have petitioned our regulator to make our amateur service accessible to as many citizens as possible. Read BE Informed No. 2.13 Are Grumpy Old Hams Passé?

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Can someone offer exams to anyone anywhere that is convenient for all involved? Read BE Informed No. 2.14 Our VEs’ Universe.

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Are your communications authorized for transmission by an amateur station? Give it the BE Informed No. 3.0 Section 97.113 Smell Test. 

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Our maintenance monitors 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 No. 3.1 Amateur Volunteer Maintenance Monitoring.

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How do the FCC rules incorporate the international rules for our amateur radio service? Read BE Informed 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? Read BE Informed No. 3.3 Collection of Excuses - Reasons Cited for Not Complying with the FCC Rules.  

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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. Read BE Informed 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. Read BE Informed No. 3.5 We Are Regulatable (Aren't We?) - Arguments for Complying with the FCC Rules.

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Broadcasting by FCC-licensed amateur stations is prohibited. Read BE Informed No. 3.6 No Broadcasting! - Not on Our Ham Bands.

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Are your station records in order? Read BE Informed No. 3.7 What To Keep in Your Station Records

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Which call sign should be transmitted, his or yours? Read BE Informed No. 4.0 Which Call Sign?  - Your options and accountability when someone uses your station apparatus or vice-versa. 

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Have an urge to adorn your FCC-assigned call sign with indicators? Read BE Informed No. 4.1 Including a Self-assigned Indicator with Your Station Call Sign. 

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Never compromise your station identification announcement. Read BE Informed 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. Read BE informed No. 4.3 ID every 10 minutes.

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Air Force? Army? Coast Guard? Marines? Navy? Read BE Informed No. 4.4 Recognition of amateur operators who have served in the U.S. military.                                                              

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Always by the control operator? Read BE Informed No. 4.5 Who Must Give The Station Identification Announcement?

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Those 1 by 1 call signs. Read BE Informed No. 4.6 What Is So Special About A Special Event Station?

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Indicators without complications. Read BE Informed No. 4.7 Non-Appended Self-Assigned Indicator.

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Need a go-by template for your club's document of organization? Read BE Informed No. 6.0 Document of Organization Go-by.

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To qualify for a club station call sign, there must be 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. Read BE Informed 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 No. 6.3 Control Operator Designation.

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Scope of our amateur stations providing emergency communications? Read BE Informed No. 7.0 Providing Emergency Communications (“EmComm”)

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Want to volunteer your services? If you have an amateur operator license, you've come to the right radio service. Read BE Informed No. 7.1 Volunteer Emergency Communications.

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The POTUS has special War Emergency Powers. Read BE Informed No. 7.2 What Is RACES?

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Want to exchange business messages for an employer? Read BE Informed No. 7.3 Commercial Communications and Section 97.113(a)(3)(i) Operational Testing.

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Amateurs can still provide emergency communications. Read BE Informed No. 7.4 What Should Non-professional Amateur Operators Do When Providing Emergency Communications?   

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Make the best use of our amateur service community for intercommunications during emergencies. Read BE Informed No. 7.6 Bring Back the Disaster Radio Service.

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Part 97 codifies the extent to which our spectrum is to be used for providing emergency communications (“PEC”) in places where the FCC regulates our amateur service. Read BE Informed No. 7.11 Isn’t Amateur Radio Supposed To Be For Emergencies?

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No special technical standards in our rules just for repeaters. Read BE Informed No. 8.0 Part 97 & Repeaters.

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What is an auxiliary station? Read BE Informed No. 8.1 Part 97 & Auxiliary Stations.

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Part 97 doesn't even mention "remote base." Read BE Informed No. 8.2 Part 97 & Remote Bases.

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Can we choose either repeater segment for receive or either segment for transmit? Read BE Informed No. 8.3 Frequency Coordination.

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There are some very divergent ideas about automatic control. Read BE Informed No. 8.4  Part 97 & Automatic Control? 

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Do the rules authorize our amateur stations to be connected with the Internet? Read BE Informed No. 8.5 Part 97 & the Internet.

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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

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